Greed

G
On Buying and Selling by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
And a merchant said, Speak to us of
Buying and Selling.
And he answered and said:
To you the earth yields her fruit, and you
shall not want if you but know how to fill
your hands.
It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth
that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.
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Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
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The Violent Space (or when your sister sleeps around for money) by Etheridge Knight
Etheridge Knight
Exchange in greed the ungraceful signs. Thrust
The thick notes between green apple breasts.
Then the shadow of the devil descends,
The violent space cries and angel eyes,
Large and dark, retreat in innocence and in ice.
(Run sister run–the Bugga man comes!)

The violent space cries silently,
Like you cried wide years ago
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Rejoice in the Abyss by Stephen Spender
Stephen Spender
The great pulsation passed. Glass lay around me
Resurrected from the end. I walked
Along streets of slate-jabbering houses,

Against an acrid cloud of dust, I saw
The houses kneel, revealed each in its abject
Prayer, my prayer as well: 'Oh God,
Spare me the lot that is my neighbour's.'

Then, in the upper sky, indifferent to our
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Staggerlee wonders by James Baldwin
James Baldwin
1

I always wonder
what they think the niggers are doing
while they, the pink and alabaster pragmatists,
are containing
Russia
and defining and re-defining and re-aligning
China,
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War Mothers by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
There is something in the sound of drum and fife
That stirs all the savage instincts into life.
In the old times of peace we went our ways,
Through proper days
Of little joys and tasks. Lonely at times,
When from the steeple sounded wedding chimes,
Telling to all the world some maid was wife—
But taking patiently our part in life
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Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
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Stone Gullets by May Swenson
May Swenson
Stone gullets among Inrush FeedBacksuck and
The borders swallowOutburst Huge engorgements Swallow
In gulps the seaTide crams jaggedSmacks snorts chuckups Follow
In urgent thirstJaws the hollowInsurge Hollow
Gushing evacuations follow Jetty it must Outpush Greed
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At a Solemn Musick by Delmore Schwartz
Delmore Schwartz
Let the musicians begin,
Let every instrument awaken and instruct us
In love’s willing river and love’s dear discipline:
We wait, silent, in consent and in the penance
Of patience, awaiting the serene exaltation
Which is the liberation and conclusion of expiation.

Now may the chief musician say:
“Lust and emulation have dwelt amoung us
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Moly by Thom Gunn
Thom Gunn
Nightmare of beasthood, snorting, how to wake.
I woke. What beasthood skin she made me take?

Leathery toad that ruts for days on end,
Or cringing dribbling dog, man’s servile friend,

Or cat that prettily pounces on its meat,
Tortures it hours, then does not care to eat:

Parrot, moth, shark, wolf, crocodile, ass, flea.
What germs, what jostling mobs there were in me.
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You and your whole race. by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
You and your whole race.
Look down upon the town in which you live
And be ashamed.
Look down upon white folks
And upon yourselves
And be ashamed
That such supine poverty exists there,
That such stupid ignorance breeds children there
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Art vs. Trade by James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson
Trade, Trade versus Art,
Brain, Brain versus Heart;
Oh, the earthiness of these hard-hearted times,
When clinking dollars, and jingling dimes,
Drown all the finer music of the soul.

Life as an Octopus with but this creed,
That all the world was made to serve his greed;
Trade has spread out his mighty myriad claw,
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The cat’s song by Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy
Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother’s forgotten breasts.

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.
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In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. by June Jordan
June Jordan
I

honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born

America

tomorrow yesterday rip rape
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Middle Passage by Robert Hayden
Robert Hayden
I

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:

Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,
sharks following the moans the fever and the dying;
horror the corposant and compass rose.

Middle Passage:
voyage through death
to life upon these shores.
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Otranto by Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest
At sunset from the top of the stair watching

the castle mallets wrenched from their socket

fell from ambush into flame flew into hiding;

above the stoneware a latch like muscle hid

the green; he stood waist high under the rapt

ceiling and hanged the sparrow; where the kitchen

had been a mirror of eggs served in a tumbler he

saw the ring when a lancet pierced and threw it.
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The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion by Christopher Middleton
Christopher Middleton
Local his discourse, not yet exemplary,
Nowadays he is old, the translator,
So old he is practically transparent.

Good things and otherwise, evils done
Come home to him, too close to the bone
And so little transformed,
Him so transparent,
They float in and out of his window.
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Sonnets for Five Seasons by Anne Stevenson
Anne Stevenson
(i.m. Charles Leslie Stevenson, 1909-79)

This House

Which represents you, as my bones do, waits,
all pores open, for the stun of snow. Which will come,
as it always does, between breaths, between nights
of no wind and days of the nulled sun.
And has to be welcome. All instinct wants to anticipate
faceless fields, a white road drawn
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To James Fenton by John Fuller
John Fuller
The poet’s duties: no need to stress
The subject’s dullness, nonetheless
Here’s an incestuous address
In Robert Burns’ style
To one whom all the Muses bless
At Great Turnstile.

I’ve no excuses for this theme.
Prescription is less popular than dream
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The Tongues We Speak by Patricia Goedicke
Patricia Goedicke
I have arrived here after taking many steps
Over the kitchen floors of friends and through their lives.

The dun-colored hills have been good to me
And the gold rivers.

I have loved chrysantheumums, and children:
I have been grandmother to some.

In one pocket I have hidden chocolates from you
And knives.
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Consolation by Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska
Darwin.
They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.
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The Chant of the Vultures by Edwin Markham
Edwin Markham
We are circling, glad of the battle: we
joy in the smell of the smoke.
Fight on in the hell of the trenches: we
publish your names with a croak!
Ye will lie in dim heaps when the sunset
blows cold on the reddening sand;
Yet fight, for the dead will have wages—a
death-clutch of dust in the hand.
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Don Juan in Amsterdam by Daryl Hine
Daryl Hine
“e to allor li prega
Per quell' amor the i mena, e quei verranno.”
INFERNO V This also is a place that love is known in,
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Ghana Calls by W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois
Dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah I was a little boy, at home with strangers.
I liked my playmates, and knew well,
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Magda Goebbels (30 April 1945) by W. D. Snodgrass
W. D. Snodgrass
(After Dr. Haase gave them shots of morphine, Magda gave each child an ampule of potassium cyanide from a spoon.) This is the needle that we give
Soldiers and children when they live
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The Man with the Hoe by Edwin Markham
Edwin Markham
Written after seeing Millet’s World-Famous Painting

God made man in His own image,
in the image of God made He him. —Genesis. Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
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Morituri Salutamus: Poem for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Class of 1825 in Bowdoin College by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis,
Et fugiunt freno non remorante dies.
Ovid, Fastorum, Lib. vi. "O Cæsar, we who are about to die
Salute you!" was the gladiators' cry
In the arena, standing face to face
With death and with the Roman populace.
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Pig Song by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
This is what you changed me to:
a greypink vegetable with slug
eyes, buttock
incarnate, spreading like a slow turnip,

a skin you stuff so you may feed
in your turn, a stinking wart
of flesh, a large tuber
of blood which munches
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The Prospector by Robert W. Service
Robert W. Service
I strolled up old Bonanza, where I staked in ninety-eight,
A-purpose to revisit the old claim.
I kept thinking mighty sadly of the funny ways of Fate,
And the lads who once were with me in the game.
Poor boys, they’re down-and-outers, and there’s scarcely one to-day
Can show a dozen colors in his poke;
And me, I’m still prospecting, old and battered, gaunt and gray,
And I’m looking for a grub-stake, and I’m broke.
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The Seafarer by Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
May I for my own self song’s truth reckon,
Journey’s jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft.
Bitter breast-cares have I abided,
Known on my keel many a care’s hold,
And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent
Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship’s head
While she tossed close to cliffs. Coldly afflicted,
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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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Nightwatchman's Song by W. D. Snodgrass
W. D. Snodgrass
After Heinrich I. F. Biber I

What’s unseen may not exist—
Or so those secret powers insist
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