Culture

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What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Reflections of an African-American Mother) by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs
1963 What shall I tell my children who are black
Of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin
What shall I tell my dear one, fruit of my womb,
Of how beautiful they are when everywhere they turn
They are faced with abhorrence of everything that is black.
Villains are black with black hearts.
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What Shall We Tell Our Children? An Addenda, 1973 by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1963. Then, my concernwas particularly for my own people and this version was written especially for them. I am happy that it has done and is doing its job. However, I want it to be known, that I am not a proponent of the concept of cultural nationalism. I dearly love and am proud of my good, serious, sincere black people, yet at the same time, my concern is with all people of goodwill no matter the color. I make no mystique of blackness. I am a humanist. Indeed, I am auniversalist. This truth, I know. The liberation of black people in the United States is tightly linked with the liberation of black people in the far flungdiaspora. Further, and more important, the liberation of black and oppressed people all over the world, is linked with the struggles of the workers of the world of every nationality and color against the common oppressors, overlords, and exploiters of their labor.
Thus it was only natural that I should write "What Shall We Tell Our Children?" in 1973. I have tried to tell them the facts of life and the truth as I see it:
I hope I have succeeded.
What shall we tell our children who are black?
What shall we tell our children who are white?
What shall we tell children of every race and hue?
For all children are the children of all of us
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The Wife-Woman by Anne Spencer
Anne Spencer
Maker-of-sevens in the scheme of things
From earth to star;
Thy cycle holds whatever is fate, and
Over the border the bar.
Though rank and fierce the mariner
Sailing the seven seas,
He prays, as he holds his glass to his eyes,
Coaxing the Pleiades.
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Scorpio, or, The Scorpion by Joseph Gordon Macleod
Joseph Gordon Macleod
Now as the farmer sits at his accounts
Reviewing fleeces neath deciduous beeches
And notes in red contented ink
Net profits of his quite impossible serenity;
As graded apples marketably beautiful
Into the bushel-baskets sink
And trussed hay to the tin roof reaches,
And where red tiles through darkening trees are reared
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Axe Handles by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder
One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
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from The Prodigal: 10 by Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott
I

The ground dove stuttered for a few steps then flew
up from his path to settle in the sun-browned
branches that were now barely twigs; in drought it coos
with its relentless valve, a tiring sound,
not like the sweet exchanges of turtles in the Song
of Solomon, or the flutes of Venus in frescoes
though all the mounds in the dove-calling drought
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Archibald Higbie by Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
I loathed you, Spoon River. I tried to rise above you,
I was ashamed of you. I despised you
As the place of my nativity.
And there in Rome, among the artists,
Speaking Italian, speaking French,
I seemed to myself at times to be free
Of every trace of my origin.
I seemed to be reaching the heights of art
And to breathe the air that the masters breathed,
And to see the world with their eyes.
But still they’d pass my work and say:
"What are you driving at, my friend?
Sometimes the face looks like Apollo’s,
At others it has a trace of Lincoln’s."
There was no culture, you know, in Spoon River,
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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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The Vein by Tom Raworth
Tom Raworth
But I have been familiar with ruins too long to dislike desolation.
(Lord Byron, November 1816)  what happens in any

sovereign body is created
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The Minister of Culture Gets His Wish by Mark Strand
Mark Strand
The Minister of Culture goes home after a grueling day at the office. He lies on his bed and tries to think of nothing, but nothing hap-pens or, more precisely, does not happen. Nothing is elsewhere doing what nothing does, which is to expand the dark. But the minister is patient, and slowly things slip away—the walls of his house, the park across the street, his friends in the next town. He believes that nothing has finally come to him and, in its absent way, is saying, “Darling, you know how much I have always wanted to please you, and now I have come. And what is more, I have come to stay.”
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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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Poste Restante by R. S. Thomas
R. S. Thomas
I want you to know how it was,
whether the Cross grinds into dust
under men’s wheels or shines brightly
as a monument to a new era.

There was a church and one man
served it, and few worshipped
there in the raw light on the hill
in winter, moving among the stones
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Envy by Mary Lamb
Mary Lamb
This rose-tree is not made to bear
The violet blue, nor lily fair,
Nor the sweet mignionet:
And if this tree were discontent,
Or wished to change its natural bent,
It all in vain would fret.

And should it fret, you would suppose
It ne’er had seen its own red rose,
Nor after gentle shower
Had ever smelled its rose’s scent,
Or it could ne’er be discontent
With its own pretty flower.

Like such a blind and senseless tree
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Hazard Faces a Sunday in the Decline by William Meredith
William Meredith
We need the ceremony of one another,
meals served, more love,
more handling of one another with love, less
casting out of those who are not
of our own household.

‘This turkey is either not cooked
enough or it’s tough.’
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Flaxman by Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
We deemed the secret lost, the spirit gone,
Which spake in Greek simplicity of thought,
And in the forms of gods and heroes wrought
Eternal beauty from the sculptured stone,—
A higher charm than modern culture won
With all the wealth of metaphysic lore,
Gifted to analyze, dissect, explore.
A many-colored light flows from one sun;
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Cleon by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
"As certain also of your own poets have said"—
(Acts 17.28)
Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles,
Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea
And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")—
To Protus in his Tyranny: much health!
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Davis Matlock by Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
Suppose it is nothing but the hive:
That there are drones and workers
And queens, and nothing but storing honey —
(Material things as well as culture and wisdom) —
For the next generation, this generation never living,
Except as it swarms in the sun-light of youth,
Strengthening its wings on what has been gathered,
And tasting, on the way to the hive
From the clover field, the delicate spoil.
Suppose all this, and suppose the truth:
That the nature of man is greater
Than nature's need in the hive;
And you must bear the burden of life,
As well as the urge from your spirit's excess —
Well, I say to live it out like a god
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For Louis Pasteur by Edgar Bowers
Edgar Bowers
“Who is Apollo?” College student How shall a generation know its story
If it will know no other? When, among
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A Grammarian's Funeral by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Shortly after the Revival of Learning in Europe Let us begin and carry up this corpse,
Singing together.
Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
Each in its tether
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Internal Migration: On Being on Tour by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
As an American traveler I have
to remember not to get actionably mad
about the way things are around here.
Tomorrow I’ll be a thousand miles away
from the way it is around here. I will
keep my temper, I will not kill the dog
next door, nor will I kill the next-door wife,
both of whom are crazy and aggressive
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Lines Written Near San Francisco by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
I wake and feel the city trembling.
Yes, there is something unsettled in the air
And the earth is uncertain.

And so it was for the tenor Caruso.
He couldn’t sleep—you know how the ovation
Rings in your ears, and you re-sing your part.

And then the ceiling trembled
And the floor moved. He ran into the street.
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Ode, Inscribed to William H. Channing by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Though loath to grieve
The evil time's sole patriot,
I cannot leave
My honied thought
For the priest's cant,
Or statesman's rant.

If I refuse
My study for their politique,
Which at the best is trick,
The angry Muse
Puts confusion in my brain.

But who is he that prates
Of the culture of mankind,
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The Properly Scholarly Attitude by Adelaide Crapsey
Adelaide Crapsey
The poet pursues his beautiful theme;
The preacher his golden beatitude;
And I run after a vanishing dream—
The glittering, will-o’-the-wispish gleam
Of the properly scholarly attitude—
The highly desirable, the very advisable,
The hardly acquirable, properly scholarly attitude.
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Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse by Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Through Alpine meadows soft-suffused
With rain, where thick the crocus blows,
Past the dark forges long disused,
The mule-track from Saint Laurent goes.
The bridge is cross'd, and slow we ride,
Through forest, up the mountain-side.

The autumnal evening darkens round,
The wind is up, and drives the rain;
While, hark! far down, with strangled sound
Doth the Dead Guier's stream complain,
Where that wet smoke, among the woods,
Over his boiling cauldron broods.

Swift rush the spectral vapours white
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“Speciously individual ...” by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
Speciously individual
like a solid piece of spit
floating in a cuspidor
I dream of free bravery
but am a social being.
I should do something
to get out of here
but float around in the culture
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Vowel Movements by Daryl Hine
Daryl Hine
Take a statement, the same as yesterday’s dictation:
Lately pain has been there waiting when I awake.
Creative despair and failure have made their patient.
Anyway, I’m afraid I have nothing to say.
Those crazy phrases I desecrated the paper
With against the grain ... Taste has turned away her face
Temporarily, like a hasty, ill-paid waitress
At table, barely capable but very vague.
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A Momentary Longing to Hear Sad Advice from One Long Dead by Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch
Who was my teacher at Harvard. Did not wear overcoat
Saying to me as we walked across the Yard
Cold brittle autumn is you should be wearing overcoat. I said
You are not wearing overcoat. He said,
You should do as I say not do as I do.
Just how American it was and how late Forties it was
Delmore, but not I, was probably aware. He quoted Finnegans Wake to me
In his New York apartment sitting on chair
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