We are alone, alone with what we are.
The body is a book and we the words.
[From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.]
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
the sustained one note of obligatory
hope, taken in, like a virus,
before the body grows accustomed to it and it
natural again—yes breathe it in,
—from “The Violinist at the Window, 1918”, Jorie Graham, Poetry, March 2008
If you pluck out the heart
To find what makes it move,
You’ll halt the clock
That syncopates our love.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Khirad ko ghulaami se azaar kar
Jawaano ko peeron ka ustaad kar
Allama Muhammad Iqbal - Poet, philosopher and inspirational voice behind Pakistan’s independence movement.
Release humanity from slavery.
Let the youth replace their leaders.
Jiggar se wohi teer phir paar kar
Tamanna ko seeno mai baidaar kar
Run that arrow through your heart again.
Bring that aspiration in your heart back to life.
Little candy in death’s candy shop,
I gave your sugar a lick
When no one was looking,
Took you for a ride on my tongue
To all the secret places,
Trying to appear above suspicion
As I went about inspecting the confectionary,
Greeting the owner with a nod
With you safely tucked away
And melting to nothing in my mouth.
—Charles Simic, from My Noiseless Entourage (HarcourtBooks, 2005)
How silently the heart pivots on its hinge.
Knopf & Tumblr present a LIVE celebration of poetry! Mark your calendars!
The ringing, defiant poetry of Adrienne Rich, who died yesterday at eighty-two, articulated the frustrations of women who came of age along clipped paths in the nineteen-forties and fifties, only to discover in the sixties and seventies the extent of their longing to tear up the grass. Her voice resounds, three generations on. From her 1963 poem “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” a modernist collage in which careless references to women’s lives from Horace, Diderot, Eliot, and Shakespeare are recast in tight, furious stanzas about domestic confinement (“Dolce ridens, dulce loquens / she shaves her legs until they gleam / like petrified mammoth-tusk) to her expansive later poems that elaborate the love between two women, Rich continually stretched categories of feminine identity. She was an explorer, “diving into the wreck,” as the title of one of her most famous poems has it, to help us find what is naked and unencumbered in ourselves: “the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth.”
We’ve gathered here seven of the twenty-eight poems by Rich published in this magazine between 1953 and 1958. In these early poems, we see the formal discipline and metric grace that Rich would maintain (and push against) throughout her long career. This is decorous verse becoming rude: the anger to which Rich would give such powerful voice bubbles beneath the taut surfaces of these fine poems.
“England and Always” (1953)
“The Marriage Portion” (1953)
“Living in Sin” (1954)
“At the Jewish New Year” (1956)
“Moving Inland” (1957)
“The Survivors” (1957)
Photograph by Neal Boenzi/New York Times/Getty Images.
I push my big grey wet snout through the green,
Dreaming the flower I have never seen.