Courage

C
Nuances of a Theme by Williams by Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
It’s a strange courage
you give me, ancient star:

Shine alone in the sunrise
toward which you lend no part!

I
Shine alone, shine nakedly, shine like bronze,
that reflects neither my face nor any inner part
of my being, shine like fire, that mirrors nothing.
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Something in the Belly by Deena Metzger
Deena Metzger
I wanted to have a poem and I was pregnant. I was very thin. As if I’d lived on air. A poet must be able to live on air, but a mother must not attempt it. My mother wanted me to buy a set of matching pots, Wearever aluminum, like the ones she had. They were heavy and had well fitting lids so my suppers wouldn’t burn. My husband wanted me to give dinner parties. John F. Kennedy was running for office.

I sensed danger. Kennedy wasn’t against the Bomb or for nuclear disarmament. I joined SANE at its inception. Also Concerned Scientists. I spoke with Linus Pauling and encouraged my husband to help his partner organize Physicians for Social Responsibility.

There was a baby in my belly. I wanted to write poems. I had a crazy idea that a woman could write a real novel, the kind that shook the world. I hallucinated that a woman could be a poet, but she would have to be free. I couldn’t imagine that freedom for myself even though I could see it in Isla Negra when I followed Pablo Neruda. I could see it in the way he walked. Even if he were walking inside a dictatorship, among guns, soldiers and spies, there was nothing between him and his vision. Anything he saw, he was able to take into himself–there was no sight, no image, no vision to which he didn’t feel entitled. In his heart, everything–everything–belonged to him. Pablo Neruda was–more than anything–a poet, and so he was an entitled man.

I was a woman and entitled to nothing. I had nothing except a husband, a rented house, a set of pots, living room furniture, a frenzy of obligations, credit cards, anxious relatives, too many acquaintances, a gift of future diaper service, two telephones, no time to read, a plastic wrapped cookbook of recipes gleaned from the pages of the New York Times, and a hunger, a terrible hunger for the unimaginable, unlimited freedom of being a poet, and a baby in my belly.

I would have called Pablo long distance if I had the courage, if I had the ability to speak Spanish fluently, if we had ever talked about real things. But, what would a man know about a baby in the belly? And what did it matter if there were to be one poet more or less in the world when so many in his country were dying?

I woke up one morning and thought–I can’t have this child. My husband said, “You’ll have to get a job after it’s born so we can buy a house. You’ll need an advanced degree so you can do something.” I thought, I can’t. I have to write poems. My mother found a crib. Someone painted it white. A friend sent a pastel mobile with tame wood animals. I thought about blue curtains, making bedspreads, and abortions.

Pablo was silent. He was walking so far from me, I couldn’t hear him. My husband objected to donating more free medical care to the Black Panthers. I tried to make dolmades from scratch and located grape leaves preserved in brine at the Boys’ Market twenty miles away. I organized a write-in campaign for peace to challenge JFK. My husband thought it would be nice to have teatime with the children and romantic dinners by ourselves. The new formula bottles lined up on the sink like tiny bombs. The U.S. was pursuing over ground testing; I was afraid the radiation would cross the milk barrier. I had a poem in me howling for real life but no language to write in. The fog came in thick, flapping about my feet like blankets unraveling. I became afraid to have a daughter.

I called Pablo Neruda in the middle of the night as he walked underwater by Isla Negra. He moved like a dream porpoise. He seemed pregnant with words. They came out of his penis in long miraculous strings. The sea creatures quivered with joy. I said, “Pablo, I want to know how to bear the child in my belly onto this bed of uranium and I want to know if a woman can a be a poet.” He was large as a whale. He drank the sea and spouted it in glistening odes, black and shiny. I said, “I can’t have this child,” and he laughed as if he had never done anything but carry and birth children.
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The Tunning of Elenor Rumming by John Skelton
John Skelton
Tell you I chyll,
If that ye wyll
A whyle be styll,
Of a comely gyll
That dwelt on a hyll:
But she is not gryll,
For she is somwhat sage
And well worne in age;
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Defeat by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be leveled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
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Maggid by Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy
The courage to let go of the door, the handle.
The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very
stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles
of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,
a child’s naughtiness, a loud blattering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.

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No Second Troy by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?
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"For All We Have And Are" by Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
1914 For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
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War and Peace by Edgell Rickword
Edgell Rickword
In sodden trenches I have heard men speak,
Though numb and wretched, wise and witty things;
And loved them for the stubbornness that clings
Longest to laughter when Death's pulleys creak;

And seeing cool nurses move on tireless feet
To do abominable things with grace,
Deemed them sweet sisters in that haunted place
Where, with child's voices, strong men howl or bleat.

Yet now those men lay stubborn courage by,
Riding dull-eyed and silent in the train
To old men's stools; or sell gay-coloured socks
And listen fearfully for Death; so I
Love the low-laughing girls, who now again
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In Memory of George Calderon by Laurence Binyon
Laurence Binyon
Wisdom and Valour, Faith,
Justice,—the lofty names
Of virtue’s quest and prize,—
What is each but a cold wraith
Until it lives in a man
And looks thro’ a man’s eyes?

On Chivalry as I muse,
The spirit so high and clear
It cannot soil with aught
It meets of foul misuse;
It turns wherever burns
The flame of a brave thought;

And wheresoever the moan
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S. I. W. by Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
I will to the King,
And offer him consolation in his trouble,
For that man there has set his teeth to die,
And being one that hates obedience,
Discipline, and orderliness of life,
I cannot mourn him.
W.B. YEATS
I. THE PROLOGUE

Patting good-bye, doubtless they told the lad
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Joining the Colours by Katharine Tynan
Katharine Tynan
There they go marching all in step so gay!
Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells and guns.
Blithely they go as to a wedding day,
The mothers' sons.

The drab street stares to see them row on row
On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
Into the dark.

With tin whistles, mouth-organs, any noise,
They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
Love cannot save.

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Barbury Camp by Charles Hamilton Sorley
Charles Hamilton Sorley

We burrowed night and day with tools of lead,
Heaped the bank up and cast it in a ring
And hurled the earth above. And Caesar said,
"Why, it is excellent. I like the thing."
We, who are dead,
Made it, and wrought, and Caesar liked the thing.

And here we strove, and here we felt each vein
Ice-bound, each limb fast-frozen, all night long.
And here we held communion with the rain
That lashed us into manhood with its thong,
Cleansing through pain.
And the wind visited us and made us strong.

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Sergeant-Major Money by Robert Graves
Robert Graves
It wasn't our battalion, but we lay alongside it,
So the story is as true as the telling is frank.
They hadn't one Line-officer left, after Arras,
Except a batty major and the Colonel, who drank.

'B' Company Commander was fresh from the Depot,
An expert on gas drill, otherwise a dud;
So Sergeant-Major Money carried on, as instructed,
And that's where the swaddies began to sweat blood.
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The Lullaby of a Lover by George Gascoigne
George Gascoigne
Sing lullaby, as women do,
Wherewith they bring their babes to rest,
And lullaby can I sing too
As womanly as can the best.
With lullaby they still the child,
And if I be not much beguiled,
Full many wanton babes have I
Which must be stilled with lullaby.

First lullaby my youthful years;
It is now time to go to bed,
For crooked age and hoary hairs
Have won the haven within my head.
With lullaby, then, youth be still;
With lullaby content thy will;
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Walking Parker Home by Bob Kaufman
Bob Kaufman
Sweet beats of jazz impaled on slivers of wind
Kansas Black Morning/ First Horn Eyes/
Historical sound pictures on New Bird wings
People shouts/ boy alto dreams/ Tomorrow’s
Gold belled pipe of stops and future Blues Times
Lurking Hawkins/ shadows of Lester/ realization
Bronze fingers—brain extensions seeking trapped sounds
Ghetto thoughts/ bandstand courage/ solo flight
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Lincoln by Henrietta Cordelia Ray
Henrietta Cordelia Ray
To-day, O martyred chief, beneath the sun
We would unveil thy form; to thee who won
Th’applause of nations for thy soul sincere,
A loving tribute we would offer here.
’T was thine not worlds to conquer, but men’s hearts;
To change to balm the sting of slavery’s darts;
In lowly charity thy joy to find,
And open “gates of mercy on mankind.”
And so they come, the freed, with grateful gift,
From whose sad path the shadows thou didst lift.

Eleven years have rolled their seasons round,
Since its most tragic close thy life-work found.
Yet through the vistas of the vanished days
We see thee still, responsive to our gaze,
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The Two Armies by Henry Timrod
Henry Timrod
Two armies stand enrolled beneath
The banner with the starry wreath;
One, facing battle, blight and blast,
Through twice a hundred fields has passed;
Its deeds against a ruffian foe,
Steam, valley, hill, and mountain know,
Till every wind that sweeps the land
Goes, glory laden, from the strand.

The other, with a narrower scope,
Yet led by not less grand a hope,
Hath won, perhaps, as proud a place,
And wears its fame with meeker grace.
Wives march beneath its glittering sign,
Fond mothers swell the lovely line,
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That Evening At Dinner by David Ferry
David Ferry
By the last few times we saw her it was clear
That things were different. When you tried to help her
Get out of the car or get from the car to the door
Or across the apartment house hall to the elevator
There was a new sense of heaviness
Or of inertia in the body. It wasn’t
That she was less willing to be helped to walk
But that the walking itself had become less willing.
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Yom Kippur 1984 by Adrienne Rich
Adrienne Rich
I drew solitude over me, on the long shore.
—Robinson Jeffers, “Prelude”

For whoever does not afflict his soul through this day, shall be
cut off from his people.
—Leviticus 23:29
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To the Swimmer by Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen
Now as I watch you, strong of arm and endurance, battling and struggling
With the waves that rush against you, ever with invincible strength returning
Into my heart, grown each day more tranquil and peaceful, comes a fierce longing
Of mind and soul that will not be appeased until, like you, I breast yon deep and boundless expanse of blue.

With an outward stroke of power intense your mighty arm goes forth,
Cleaving its way through waters that rise and roll, ever a ceaseless vigil keeping
Over the treasures beneath.

My heart goes out to you of dauntless courage and spirit indomitable,
And though my lips would speak, my spirit forbids me to ask,
“Is your heart as true as your arm?”

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from Dante Études: Book Three: In My Youth Not Unstaind by Robert Duncan
Robert Duncan
[Étude from the Fourth Treatise of the Convivio, Chapter XXVII]

In my youth, not unstaind
and in much ignoble; in manhood,
struggling to ring true yet
knowing often my defection from
these graces Dante lists
proper to Man: temperance, courage,
love, courtesy,
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Old Lem by Sterling A. Brown
Sterling A. Brown
I talked to old Lem
and old Lem said:
“They weigh the cotton
They store the corn
We only good enough
To work the rows;
They run the commissary
They keep the books
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as freedom is a breakfastfood by E. E. Cummings
E. E. Cummings
as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
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Ode for the American Dead in Asia by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
1.

God love you now, if no one else will ever,
Corpse in the paddy, or dead on a high hill
In the fine and ruinous summer of a war
You never wanted. All your false flags were
Of bravery and ignorance, like grade school maps:
Colors of countries you would never see—
Until that weekend in eternity
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For My People by Margaret Walker
Margaret Walker
For my people everywhere singing their slave songs
repeatedly: their dirges and their ditties and their blues
and jubilees, praying their prayers nightly to an
unknown god, bending their knees humbly to an
unseen power;

For my people lending their strength to the years, to the
gone years and the now years and the maybe years,
washing ironing cooking scrubbing sewing mending
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Life Cycle of Common Man by Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov
Roughly figured, this man of moderate habits,
This average consumer of the middle class,
Consumed in the course of his average life span
Just under half a million cigarettes,
Four thousand fifths of gin and about
A quarter as much vermouth; he drank
Maybe a hundred thousand cups of coffee,
And counting his parents’ share it cost
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The Wife Speaks by Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
Husband, today could you and I behold
The sun that brought us to our bridal morn
Rising so splendid in the winter sky
(We though fair spring returned), when we were wed;
Could the shades vanish from these fifteen years,
Which stand like columns guarding the approach
To that great temple of the double soul
That is as one – would you turn back, my dear,
And, for the sake of Love’s mysterious dream,
As old as Adam and as sweet as Eve,
Take me, as I took you, and once more go
Towards that goal which none of us have reached?
Contesting battles which but prove a loss,
The victor vanquished by the wounded one;
Teaching each other sacrifice of self,
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Schemhammphorasch by Rose Terry Cooke
Rose Terry Cooke
‘This is the key which was given by the angel Michael to Pali, and by Pali to Moses. If “thou canst read it, then shalt thou understand the words of men, … the whistling of birds, the language of date-trees, the unity of hearts, ... nay, even the thoughts of the rains.”’
Gleanings after the Talmud
Ah! could I read Schemhammphorasch,
The wondrous keynote of the world,
What voices could I always hear
From tempests, with their black wings furled,
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Bartow Black by Timothy Thomas Fortune
Timothy Thomas Fortune
’Twas when the Proclamation came,—
Far in the sixties back,—
He left his lord, and changed his name
To “Mister Bartow Black.”

He learned to think himself a man,
And privileged, you know,
To adopt a new and different plan,—
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Charles Sumner by Charlotte L. Forten Grimké
Charlotte L. Forten Grimké
On seeing some pictures of the interior of his house, Washington, D.C. Only the casket left, the jewel gone
Whose noble presence filled these stately rooms,
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To Wordsworth by Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Thine is a strain to read among the hills,
The old and full of voices — by the source
Of some free stream, whose gladdening presence fills
The solitude with sound; for in its course
Even such is thy deep song, that seems a part
Of those high scenes, a fountain from the heart.

Or its calm spirit fitly may be taken
To the still breast in sunny garden bowers,
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Gerontion by T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thou hast nor youth nor age
But as it were an after dinner sleep
Dreaming of both. Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
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Lincoln, Man of the People by Edwin Markham
Edwin Markham
When the Norn Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour
Greatening and darkening as it hurried on,
She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down
To make a man to meet the mortal need.
She took the tried clay of the common road—
Clay warm yet with the genial heat of Earth,
Dashed through it all a strain of prophecy;
Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears;
Then mixed a laughter with the serious stuff.
Into the shape she breathed a flame to light
That tender, tragic, ever-changing face.
Here was a man to hold against the world,
A man to match the mountains and the sea.

The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
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Light Shining out of Darkness by William Cowper
William Cowper
1
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

2
Deep in unfathomable mines
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1977: Poem for Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer by June Jordan
June Jordan
You used to say, “June?
Honey when you come down here you
supposed to stay with me. Where
else?”
Meanin home
against the beer the shotguns and the
point of view of whitemen don’
never see Black anybodies without
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Alexandreis by Anne Killigrew
Anne Killigrew
I sing the man that never equal knew,
Whose mighty arms all Asia did subdue,
Whose conquests through the spacious world do ring,
That city-raser, king-destroying king,
Who o’er the warlike Macedons did reign,
And worthily the name of Great did gain.
This is the prince (if fame you will believe,
To ancient story any credit give.)
Who when the globe of Earth he had subdued,
With tears the easy victory pursued;
Because that no more worlds there were to win,
No further scene to act his glories in.

Ah that some pitying Muse would now inspire
My frozen style with a poetic fire,
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Aubade by Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
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Darwin’s Bestiary by Philip Appleman
Philip Appleman
PROLOGUE

Animals tame and animals feral
prowled the Dark Ages in search of a moral:
the canine was Loyal, the lion was Virile,
rabbits were Potent and gryphons were Sterile.
Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride—every peril
was fleshed into something phantasmic and rural,
while Courage, Devotion, Thrift—every bright laurel
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A Dialogue, between the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
Courage, my Soul, now learn to wield
The weight of thine immortal shield.
Close on thy head thy helmet bright.
Balance thy sword against the fight.
See where an army, strong as fair,
With silken banners spreads the air.
Now, if thou be’st that thing divine,
In this day’s combat let it shine:
And show that Nature wants an art
To conquer one resolvèd heart.

PLEASURE
Welcome the creation’s guest,
Lord of earth, and heaven’s heir.
Lay aside that warlike crest,
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The Disabled Debauchee by John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot Earl of Rochester
As some brave admiral, in former war
Deprived of force, but pressed with courage still,
Two rival fleets appearing from afar,
Crawls to the top of an adjacent hill;

From whence, with thoughts full of concern, he views
The wise and daring conduct of the fight,
Whilst each bold action to his mind renews
His present glory and his past delight;

From his fierce eyes flashes of fire he throws,
As from black clouds when lightning breaks away;
Transported, thinks himself amidst the foes,
And absent, yet enjoys the bloody day;

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Early Morning, Left-Handed by Hilda Raz
Hilda Raz
Lear's five nevers over
the fool hanged, and Cordelia
and Lear dead at last, Edmund
reported and yes he was loved
by both evil sisters, so what.
I'm awake in the dawn. Cold
stone floors. The cat. His
father loved him too, I tell
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Give All to Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good-fame,
Plans, credit and the Muse,—
Nothing refuse.

’T is a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
Untold intent:
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“More Light! More Light!” by Anthony Hecht
Anthony Hecht
for Heinrich Blücher and Hannah Arendt Composed in the Tower before his execution
These moving verses, and being brought at that time
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On Quitting by Edgar Albert Guest
Edgar Albert Guest
How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,
And where’er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
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Only a Dad by Edgar Albert Guest
Edgar Albert Guest
Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
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Respublica by Geoffrey Hill
Geoffrey Hill
The strident high
civic trumpeting
of misrule. It is
what we stand for.

Wild insolence,
aggregates without
distinction. Courage
of common men:
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Retrospect by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
There is a better thing, dear heart,
Than youthful flush or girlish grace.
There is the faith that never fails,
The courage in the danger place,
The duty seen, and duty done,
The heart that yearns for all in need,
The lady soul which could not stoop
To selfish thought or lowly deed.
All that we ever dreamed, dear wife,
Seems drab and common by the truth,
The sweet sad mellow things of life
Are more than golden dreams of youth.
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Sonnet by James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson
My heart be brave, and do not falter so,
Nor utter more that deep, despairing wail.
Thy way is very dark and drear I know,
But do not let thy strength and courage fail;
For certain as the raven-winged night
Is followed by the bright and blushing morn,
Thy coming morrow will be clear and bright;
’Tis darkest when the night is furthest worn.
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The Step Mother by Susanna Moodie
Susanna Moodie
Well I recall my Father’s wife,
The day he brought her home.
His children looked for years of strife,
And troubles sure to come—
Ungraciously we welcomed her,
A thing to scorn and blame;
And swore we never would confer
On her, a Mother’s name

I see her yet—a girl in years,
With eyes so blue and mild;
She greeted us with smiles and tears,
How sweetly too she smiled—
She bent to kiss my sullen brow,
With woman’s gentle grace;
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Two Quits and a Drum, and Elegy for Drinkers by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
1. ON ASPHALT: NO GREENS

Quarry out the stone
of land, cobble the beach,
wall surf, name it “street,”
allow no ground or green
cover for animal sins,
but let opacity of sand
be glass to keep the heat
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Upon the Hill and Grove at Bilbrough by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
TO THE LORD FAIRFAX See how the archèd earth does here
Rise in a perfect hemisphere!
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Advice to a Prophet by Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
Unable to fear what is too strange.
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An Afternoon at the Beach by Edgar Bowers
Edgar Bowers
I’ll go among the dead to see my friend.
The place I leave is beautiful: the sea
Repeats the winds’ far swell in its long sound,
And, there beside it, houses solemnly
Shine with the modest courage of the land,
While swimmers try the verge of what they see.

I cannot go, although I should pretend
Some final self whose phantom eye could see
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An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland by Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
The forward youth that would appear
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
Nor in the shadows sing
His numbers languishing.
’Tis time to leave the books in dust,
And oil th’ unused armour’s rust,
Removing from the wall
The corslet of the hall.
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46
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The Bad Old Days by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth
The summer of nineteen eighteen
I read The Jungle and The
Research Magnificent. That fall
My father died and my aunt
Took me to Chicago to live.
The first thing I did was to take
A streetcar to the stockyards.
In the winter afternoon,
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42
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The Castaway by William Cowper
William Cowper
Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast,
With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
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33
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A dreadful darkness closes in by Anne Brontë
Anne Brontë
A dreadful darkness closes in
On my bewildered mind;
O let me suffer and not sin,
Be tortured yet resigned.

Through all this world of whelming mist
Still let me look to Thee,
And give me courage to resist
The Tempter till he flee.
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37
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Last Words to Miriam by D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
Version 1 (1921)
Yours is the shame and sorrow,
But the disgrace is mine;
Your love was dark and thorough,
Mine was the love of the sun for a flower
He creates with his shine.

I was diligent to explore you,
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34
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The Loneliness of the Military Historian by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Confess: it’s my profession
that alarms you.
This is why few people ask me to dinner,
though Lord knows I don’t go out of my way to be scary.
I wear dresses of sensible cut
and unalarming shades of beige,
I smell of lavender and go to the hairdresser’s:
no prophetess mane of mine,
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34
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Magic by Louis Untermeyer
Louis Untermeyer
We passed old farmer Boothby in the field.
Rugged and straight he stood; his body steeled
With stubbornness and age. We met his eyes
That never flinched or turned to compromise,
And “Luck,” he cried, “good luck!”—and waved an arm,
Knotted and sailor-like, such as no farm
In all of Maine could boast of; and away
He turned again to pitch his new-cut hay...
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36
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Nocturne Militaire by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
Miami Beach: wartime Imagine or remember how the road at last led us
Over bridges like prepositions, linking a drawl of islands.
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32
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Octaves by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson
I
We thrill too strangely at the master's touch;
We shrink too sadly from the larger self
Which for its own completeness agitates
And undetermines us; we do not feel—
We dare not feel it yet—the splendid shame
Of uncreated failure; we forget,
The while we groan, that God's accomplishment
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42
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On the Loss of the Royal George by William Cowper
William Cowper
Toll for the brave—
The brave! that are no more:
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore.
Eight hundred of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel
And laid her on her side;
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32
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Rugby Chapel by Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Coldly, sadly descends
The autumn-evening. The field
Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
Of wither'd leaves, and the elms,
Fade into dimness apace,
Silent;—hardly a shout
From a few boys late at their play!
The lights come out in the street,
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33
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Rutherford McDowell by Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
They brought me ambrotypes
Of the old pioneers to enlarge.
And sometimes one sat for me i
Some one who was in being
When giant hands from the womb of the world
Tore the republic.
What was it in their eyes? i
For I could never fathom
That mystical pathos of drooped eyelids,
And the serene sorrow of their eyes.
It was like a pool of water,
Amid oak trees at the edge of a forest,
Where the leaves fall,
As you hear the crow of a cock
From a far-off farm house, seen near the hills
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40
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Satire III by John Donne
John Donne
Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids
Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;
I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;
Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?
Is not our mistress, fair Religion,
As worthy of all our souls' devotion
As virtue was in the first blinded age?
Are not heaven's joys as valiant to assuage
Lusts, as earth's honour was to them? Alas,
As we do them in means, shall they surpass
Us in the end? and shall thy father's spirit
Meet blind philosophers in heaven, whose merit
Of strict life may be imputed faith, and hear
Thee, whom he taught so easy ways and near
To follow, damn'd? Oh, if thou dar'st, fear this;
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89
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Stella's Birthday March 13, 1727 by Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
This day, whate'er the Fates decree,
Shall still be kept with joy by me:
This day then let us not be told,
That you are sick, and I grown old;
Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills.
To-morrow will be time enough
To hear such mortifying stuff.
Yet, since from reason may be brought
A better and more pleasing thought,
Which can, in spite of all decays,
Support a few remaining days:
From not the gravest of divines
Accept for once some serious lines.

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33
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Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
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41
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That Evening at Dinner by David Ferry
David Ferry
By the last few times we saw her it was clear
That things were different. When you tried to help her
Get out of the car or get from the car to the door
Or across the apartment house hall to the elevator
There was a new sense of heaviness
Or of inertia in the body. It wasn’t
That she was less willing to be helped to walk
But that the walking itself had become less willing.
Maybe the stupid demogorgon blind
Recalcitrance of body, resentful of the laws
Of mind and spirit, was getting its own back now,
Or maybe a new and subtle, alien,
Intelligence of body was obedient now
To other laws: “Weight is the measure of
The force with which a body is drawn downward
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48
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The Afterlife: Letter to Sam Hamill by Hayden Carruth
Hayden Carruth
You may think it strange, Sam, that I'm writing
a letter in these circumstances. I thought
it strange too—the first time. But there's
a misconception I was laboring under, and you
are too, viz. that the imagination in your
vicinity is free and powerful. After all,
you say, you've been creating yourself all
along imaginatively. You imagine yourself
playing golf or hiking in the Olympics or
writing a poem and then it becomes true.
But you still have to do it, you have to exert
yourself, will, courage, whatever you've got, you're
mired in the unimaginative. Here I imagine a letter
and it's written. Takes about two-fifths of a
second, your time. Hell, this is heaven, man.
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44
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