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Poetry Alley

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But then there comes that moment rare
When, for no cause that I can find,
The little voices of the air
Sound above all the sea and wind.

The sea and wind do then obey
And sighing, sighing double notes
Of double basses, content to play
A droning chord for the little throats—

The little throats that sing and rise
Up into the light with lovely ease
And a kind of magical, sweet surprise
To hear and know themselves for these—

For these little voices: the bee, the fly,
The leaf that taps, the pod that breaks,
The breeze on the grass-tops bending by,
The shrill quick sound that the insect makes.

(Poem is in the Public domain)

Kathleen Mansfield Murry (née Beauchamp; 1888 –1923) was a New Zealand writer, essayist and journalist, considered one
of the most influential and important authors of the modernist movement. Her works are celebrated across the world, and have been published in many languages. Wikipedia

We cannot all be men of fame,
We cannot all be men of wealth,
We cannot all be known by name,
We cannot all have perfect health,
We cannot all be men of power,
We cannot all be of one mind;
But we can all be, every hour,
Hopeful, cheerful men, and kind.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881 – 1959) was a British-born American poet who became known as the People's Poet. His family moved from England to Detroit, Michigan when he was ten years old and he lived there the rest of his life. He worked for the Detroit Free Press for 64 years. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 12,000 poems. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life. Of his poems he said, "I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them. "His popularity led NBC to produce a weekly 15-minute radio program, “Guest in Your Home,” which ran from 1931 to 1942.The Globe editorialized his passing by quoting Philip Coldren, the late editorial page editor who wrote that the key to Guest’s greatness was “that among the thousands of Guest poems, ‘there has not been a single one that has promoted wickedness or meanness or anything else but kindness and gentleness and peace and hope"

By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow'd his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill'd with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I'll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity

Anne Bradstreet (née Dudley; (1612 – 1672) Born to a wealthy Puritan family in Northampton, England, she was the most prominent of early English poets of North America and first writer in England's North American colonies to be published. She is the first Puritan figure in American Literature and notable for her large corpus of poetry, as well as personal writings published posthumously. Read more

Image: Frontispiece for An Account of Anne Bradstreet The Puritan Poetess, and Kindred Topics, edited by Colonel Luther Caldwell (Boston, 1898) (cropped).No portrait of her lifetime exists.

Only a night from old to new!
Only a night, and so much wrought!
The Old Year's heart all weary grew,
But said: "The New Year rest has brought."
The Old Year's hopes its heart laid down,
As in a grave; but, trusting, said:
"The blossoms of the New Year's crown
Bloom from the ashes of the dead."
The Old Year's heart was full of greed;
With selfishness it longed and ached,
And cried: "I have not half I need.
My thirst is bitter and unslaked.
But to the New Year's generous hand
All gifts in plenty shall return;
True love it shall understand;
By all my failures it shall learn.
I have been reckless; it shall be
Quiet and calm and pure of life.
I was a slave; it shall go free,
And find sweet peace where I leave strife."
Only a night from old to new!
Never a night such changes brought.
The Old Year had its work to do;
No New Year miracles are wrought.

Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year's morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.


Helen Hunt Jackson - (1830 – 1885) Pen name, H.H.; born Helen Maria Fiske; was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. She described the adverse effects of government actions in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona (1884) dramatized the federal government's mistreatment of Native Americans in Southern California after the Mexican–American War and attracted considerable attention to her cause. Commercially popular, it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times. The novel was so popular that it attracted many tourists to Southern California who wanted to see places from the book....Wikipedia

          Winter-Time

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

(Poem is in the public domain)

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894) Born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson;  was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped and A Child's Garden of Verses. Stevenson was prone to illness and spent many of his early winters in bed, entertained only by his imagination and a great love of reading but continued to write prolifically and travel widely. In 1890, he settled in Samoa He died of a stroke in his island home at age 44.


I KNOW the splendor of the Sun,
And beauty in the leaves, and moss, and grass;
I love the birds' small voices every one,
And all the hours have kindness as they pass;

But still the heart can apprehend
A deeper purport than the brain may know:
I see it at the dying daylight's end,
And hear it when the winds begin to blow. 

It strives to speak from all the world,
Out of dumb earth, and moaning ocean-tides;
And brooding Night, beneath her pinions furled,
Some message writ in starry cipher hides.

Must I go seeking everywhere
The meanings that behind our objects be --
A depth serener in the azure air,
A something more than peace upon the sea?

Not one least deed one soul to bless?
Unto the stern-eyed Future shall I bear
Only the sense of pain without redress,
Self-sickness, and a dull and stale despair?

Nay, let me shape, in patience slow,
My years, like the Holy Child his bird of clay,
Till suddenly the clod its Master know,
And thrill with life, and soar with songs away.

Poem published in 1868  as part of "The Hermitage and Other Poems" by the house of Leypoldt and Holt.

Edward Rowland Sill (1841– 1887) was an American poet, essayist and educator born in Windsor, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1861 and entered the Harvard Divinity School but left it to work for the New York Evening Mail. After teaching for three years in Ohio he moved to California where he became principal of Oakland High School. In 1874 he was appointed Professor Of English language at California University. Much of his work was published posthumously.

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881 – 1959) was a British-born American poet who became known as the People's Poet. His family moved from England to Detroit, Michigan when he was ten years old and he lived there the rest of his life. He worked for the Detroit Free
Press for 64 years. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 12,000 poems. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life. Of his poems he said, "I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them. "His popularity led NBC to produce a weekly 15-minute radio program, “Guest in Your Home,” which ran from 1931 to 1942. The Joplin Globe editorialized his passing by quoting Philip Coldren, the late editorial page editor who wrote that the key to Guest’s greatness was “that among the thousands of Guest poems, ‘there has not been a single one that has promoted wickedness or meanness or anything else but kindness and gentleness and peace and hope."


O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

This was John Keats' first poem and it was published in 1817 (This poem is in the public domain)

John Keats - (1795-1821) English poet of the second generation of Romantic poets. He published only fifty-four poems during his short life time, having died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Although his poems were indifferently received in his lifetime, his fame grew rapidly after his death. Today his poems and letters remain among the most popular and analyzed in English literature. Read more

Upon the silent sea-swept land
 The dreams of night fall soft and gray,
          The waves fade on the jeweled sand
               Like some lost hope of yesterday.

The dreams of night fall soft and gray
 Upon the summer-colored seas,
  Like some lost hope of yesterday,
               The sea-mew’s song is on the breeze.

Upon the summer-colored seas
 Sails gleam and glimmer ghostly white,
      The sea-mew’s song is on the breeze
               Lost in the monotone of night.

Sails gleam and glimmer ghostly white,
     They come and slowly drift away,
          Lost in the monotone of night,
               Like visions of a summer-day.

They shift and slowly drift away
     Like lovers’ lays that wax and wane,
          The visions of a summer-day
               Whose dreams we ne’er will dream again.

Like lovers’ lays wax and wane
     The star dawn shifts from sail to sail,
          Like dreams we ne’er will dream again;
               The sea-mews follow on their trail.

The star dawn shifts from sail to sail,
     As they drift to the dim unknown,
          The sea-mews follow on their trail
               In quest of some dreamland zone.

In quest of some far dreamland zone,
     Of some far silent sea-swept land,
          They are lost in the dim unknown,
               Where waves fade on jeweled sand
                    And dreams of night fall soft and gray,
                         Like some lost hope of yesterday.


Carl Sadakichi Hartmann ( 1867 - 1944 ) Was a poet, playwright, and art critic. He was born on the artificial island of Dejima, Nagasaki, to a Japanese mother Osada Hartmann (who died soon after childbirth) and German businessman Carl Herman Oskar Hartmann and raised in Germany. He came to the U.S. in1882 and became an American citizen in1894. (His application for naturalization shows little regard for the correct spelling of his Japanese or German names. containing two misspellings). Hartmann was an important early participant in Modernism and he was a friend of such diverse figures as  Walt Whitman, Stéphane Mallarmé and Ezra Pound. Read more

This poem is in the public domain. 

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.
And he answered, saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales ot weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

(This poem is in the public domain)

Khalil Gibran (1883 - 1931) Lebanese-American poet and writer. He was the author of The Prophet, The Broken Wings , Beloved, The Three Ants and many others (His name is sometimes spelled Kahlil)

I waited on
In the late autumn moonlight,
A train droning out of thought—

The mind on moonlight
And on trains.

Blind as a thread of water
Stirring through a cold like dust,
Lonely beyond all silence

And humming this to children,
The nostalgic listeners in sleep,

Because no guardian
Strides through distance upon distance,
His eyes a web of sleep.


Yvor Winters, (1900 - 1968), was an American poet, literary critic and professor. Winters was the author of many books. He married the poet and novelist Janet Lewis in 1926. He was awarded the 1961 Bollingen Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems. Read more

“The Moonlight” was published in Secession no. 7 (Winter, 1924).This poem is in the public domain.


Fearless riders of the gale,
In your bleak eyes is the memory
Of sinking ships:
Desire, unsatisfied,
Droops from your wings.

You lie at dusk
In the sea’s ebbing cradles,
Unresponsive to its mood;
Or hover and swoop,
Snatching your food and rising again,
Greedy,
Unthinking.

You veer and steer your callous course,
Unloved of other birds;
And in your soulless cry
Is the mocking echo
Of woman’s weeping in the night.

Leonora Speyer, (1872 - 1956) was an American poet and professional violinist born in Washington, D.C. She studied music in Brussels, Paris, and Leipzig and started writing poetry in 1915 when she moved back to N.Y. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1927 for her poetry collection "Fiddler’s Farewell" which was followed by other poetry collections........ Wikipedia
This poem is in the public domain.