Hair

H
El Beso by Angelina Weld Grimké
Angelina Weld Grimké
Twilight—and you,
Quiet—the stars;
Snare of the shine of your teeth,
Your provocative laughter,
The gloom of your hair;
Lure of you, eye and lip ;
Yearning, yearning,
Languor, surrender;
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40
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Images by Bert Meyers
Bert Meyers
for Odette I

Bales of hay—cartons
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42
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Full Fathom Five by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Old man, you surface seldom.
Then you come in with the tide’s coming
When seas wash cold, foam-

Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung,
A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves
Crest and trough. Miles long

Extend the radial sheaves
Of your spread hair, in which wrinkling skeins
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Map of the New World by Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott
I Archipelagoes At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.
At the rain's edge, a sail.

Slowly the sail will lose sight of islands;
into a mist will go the belief in harbours
of an entire race.

The ten-years war is finished.
Helen's hair, a grey cloud.
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Spring and All: XIV Of death by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
Of death
the barber
the barber
talked to me

cutting my
life with
sleep to trim
my hair —
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The Beauty of Black by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs
(May 22, 1965) When we look at ourselves
We see ourselves through eyes
Which have been schooled
To see comely only the opaque,
Comely to us skin that is fair,
Comely to us eyes that are light,
Comely to us hair that is straight,
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Plena by Frank Lima
Frank Lima
During the day I play at drowning
looking for the smoke
of eyelashes and faded hair
the lilac shadows of blood
and the ruins of coffee
but a night
I dream of the last syllable
in my mother's heart
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Munich, Winter 1973 (for Y.S.) by James Baldwin
James Baldwin
In a strange house,
a strange bed
in a strange town,
a very strange me
is waiting for you.

Now
it is very early in the morning.
The silence is loud.
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In the Middle of This Century by Yehuda Amichai
Yehuda Amichai
In the middle of this century we turned to each other
With half faces and full eyes
like an ancient Egyptian picture
And for a short while.

I stroked your hair
In the opposite direction to your journey,
We called to each other,
Like calling out the names of towns
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Yves Tanguy by Shuzo Takiguchi
Shuzo Takiguchi
Is it a weightless pistol —
your hand.

The tail of smoke
like a limitless conversation
risks blooming and death.
The head of a desert.
A blank crawls parallel to lines of combed hair.
A barometer pursued its dream
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He wishes his Beloved were Dead by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
Were you but lying cold and dead,
And lights were paling out of the West,
You would come hither, and bend your head,
And I would lay my head on your breast;
And you would murmur tender words,
Forgiving me, because you were dead:
Nor would you rise and hasten away,
Though you have the will of wild birds,
But know your hair was bound and wound
About the stars and moon and sun:
O would, beloved, that you lay
Under the dock-leaves in the ground,
While lights were paling one by one.
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Old Woman Nature by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder
Old Woman Nature
naturally has a bag of bones
tucked away somewhere.
a whole room full of bones!

A scattering of hair and cartilage
bits in the woods.

A fox scat with hair and a tooth in it.
a shellmound
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Dawn on the Somme by Robert Nichols
Robert Nichols
Last night rain fell over the scarred plateau
And now from the dark horizon, dazzling, flies
Arrow on fire-plumed arrow to the skies
Shot from the bright arc of Apollo's bow;
And from the wild and writhen waste below,
From flashing pools and mounds lit one by one,
O is it mist or are these companies
Of morning heroes who arise, arise
With thrusting arms, with limbs and hair aglow
Toward the risen god, upon whose brow
Burns the gold laurel of all victories,
Hero and hero's god, th' invincible Sun?
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His Suicide by May Swenson
May Swenson
He looked down at his withering body and saw a hair
near his navel, swaying.

And now he saw his other hairs rise up.

He felt a hectic current in his veins.
Looking within, he saw the bubbling of his blood.

He cursed his fever, saying:
“It is the chemistry of prayer.
It increases in frequency,
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A Lady Dressed By Youth by Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish
Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish
Her hair was curls of Pleasure and Delight,
Which on her brow did cast a glistening light.
As lace her bashful eyelids downward hung:
A modest countenance o'er her face was flung:
Blushes, as coral beads, she strung to wear
About her neck, and pendants for each ear:
Her gown was by Proportion cut and made,
With veins embroidered, with complexion laid,
Rich jewels of pure honor she did wear,
By noble actions brightened everywhere:
Thus dressed, to Fame's great court straightways she went,
To dance a brawl with Youth, Love, Mirth, Content.
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Lucky by Dorothea Tanning
Dorothea Tanning
Ever imagining the dire, the sudden
the menace with no thought of the
gradual, the lingering itch of whatever.
That was my sister.
A stomach ache had to be diagnosed.
“Oh, come on, it’s no big deal.”
“How do you know? You aren’t me.”

At the doctor’s office she waited.
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Trees by Joyce Kilmer
Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
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Sometimes, When the Light by Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller
Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

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A Friend Killed in the War by Anthony Hecht
Anthony Hecht
Night, the fat serpent, slipped among the plants,
Intent upon the apples of his eyes;
A heavy bandoleer hung like a prize
Around his neck, and tropical red ants
Mounted his body, and he heard advance,
Little by little, the thin female cries
Of mortar shells. He thought of Paradise.
Such is the vision that extremity grants.

In the clean brightness of magnesium
Flares, there were seven angels by a tree.
Their hair flashed diamonds, and they made him doubt
They were not really from Elysium.
And his flesh opened like a peony,
Red at the heart, white petals furling out.
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sisters by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
for elaine philip on her birthday me and you be sisters.
we be the same.
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“Tournez, Tournez, Bon Chevaux De Bois” by Edith Sitwell
Edith Sitwell
Turn, turn again,
Ape’s blood in each vein!
The people that pass
Seem castles of glass,
The old and the good
Giraffes of the blue wood,
The soldier, the nurse,
Wooden-face and a curse,
Are shadowed with plumage
Like birds, by the gloomage.
Blond hair like a clown’s
The music floats—drowns
The creaking of ropes,
The breaking of hopes,
The wheezing, the old,
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Amelia’s First Ski Run by Nora Marks Dauenhauer
Nora Marks Dauenhauer
Eaglecrest, Juneau, February 24, 1989 Amelia, space-age girl
at top of Sourdough
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Noon Concert by Dorothea Grossman
Dorothea Grossman
These frail, white widows
who get their hair done weekly
in tight curls,
like little flowers,
bend their heads
until the applause
says it’s time
to be brave again.
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Barrels by Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest
Y otras pasan; y viéndome tan triste,
toman un poquito de ti
en la abrupta arruga de mi hondo dolor.
Cesar Vellejo
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Portrait of an Old Woman on the College Tavern Wall by Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton
Oh down at the tavern
the children are singing
around their round table
and around me still.
Did you hear what it said?

I only said
how there is a pewter urn
pinned to the tavern wall,
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Sweet Romanian Tongue by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
Drew down the curse of heaven on her umbrella
furled and smelling of wet cigarettes,
Jo ran off in rain one pitchy night,
one bloody a.m. found her staring, snoring.

“Why do we all stay up so late?” Jo queried.
“Though I don’t stay up so late as my friends.”
She tripped the little bomb of wasps.
They got her.
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La Figlia che Piange by T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
O quam te memorem virgo ... Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—
Lean on a garden urn—
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We Have Not Long to Love by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
We have not long to love.
Light does not stay.
The tender things are those
we fold away.
Coarse fabrics are the ones
for common wear.
In silence I have watched you
comb your hair.
Intimate the silence,
dim and warm.
I could but did not, reach
to touch your arm.
I could, but do not, break
that which is still.
(Almost the faintest whisper
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The Poster Girl’s Defence by Carolyn Wells
Carolyn Wells
It was an Artless Poster Girl pinned up against my wall,
She was tremendous ugly, she was exceeding tall;
I was gazing at her idly, and I think I must have slept,
For that poster maiden lifted up her poster voice, and wept.

She said between her poster sobs, ‘I think it’s rather rough
To be jeered and fleered and flouted, and I’ve stood it long enough;
I’m tired of being quoted as a Fright and Fad and Freak,
And I take this opportunity my poster mind to speak.

‘Although my hair is carmine and my nose is edged with blue,
Although my style is splashy and my shade effects are few,
Although I’m out of drawing and my back hair is a show,
Yet I have n’t half the whimseys of the maidens that you know.

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How many times these low feet staggered (238) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
How many times these low feet staggered -
Only the soldered mouth can tell -
Try - can you stir the awful rivet -
Try - can you lift the hasps of steel!

Stroke the cool forehead - hot so often -
Lift - if you care - the listless hair -
Handle the adamantine fingers
Never a thimble - more - shall wear -
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A Dandelion for My Mother by Jean Nordhaus
Jean Nordhaus
How I loved those spiky suns,
rooted stubborn as childhood
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s
big-headed children—the mats
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.
How sturdy they were and how
slowly they turned themselves
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars
barely visible by day, pale
cerebrums clinging to life
on tough green stems.Like you.
Like you, in the end.If you were here,
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show
how beautiful a thing can be
a breath will tear away.
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Louisiana Line by Betty Adcock
Betty Adcock
The wooden scent of wagons,
the sweat of animals—these places
keep everything—breath of the cotton gin,
black damp floors of the icehouse.

Shadows the color of a mirror’s back
break across faces. The luck
is always bad. This light is brittle,
old pale hair kept in a letter.
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Anna Maria Is Coming, or Maybe Thomas Barton, or Max! by Hilda Raz
Hilda Raz
New life! Will he toe out like Dolly, like John? Will her eyes be fires?
Blue and green, like Papa's, the ocean at the shore?
Will she sing in the bath? Play piano in her diapers?
Will her heart leap at large machinery? Will he say, "Dribe dribe,"
to his daddy, entering the tunnel? Will his hair be red? Will her hair curl?
Will her little face have the circumflex eyebrows of her mother?
The pointed chin?
Her hair be fair, bright blonde? Will she frown at the light by the river?
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Baby Villon by Philip Levine
Philip Levine
He tells me in Bangkok he’s robbed
Because he’s white; in London because he’s black;
In Barcelona, Jew; in Paris, Arab:
Everywhere and at all times, and he fights back.

He holds up seven thick little fingers
To show me he’s rated seventh in the world,
And there’s no passion in his voice, no anger
In the flat brown eyes flecked with blood.
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Be Still. The Hanging Gardens were a Dream by Trumbull Stickney
Trumbull Stickney
Be still. The Hanging Gardens were a dream
That over Persian roses flew to kiss
The curlèd lashes of Semiramis.
Troy never was, nor green Skamander stream.
Provence and Troubadour are merest lies
The glorious hair of Venice was a beam
Made within Titian’s eye. The sunsets seem,
The world is very old and nothing is.
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Before Parting by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
A month or twain to live on honeycomb
Is pleasant; but one tires of scented time,
Cold sweet recurrence of accepted rhyme,
And that strong purple under juice and foam
Where the wine’s heart has burst;
Nor feel the latter kisses like the first.

Once yet, this poor one time; I will not pray
Even to change the bitterness of it,
The bitter taste ensuing on the sweet,
To make your tears fall where your soft hair lay
All blurred and heavy in some perfumed wise
Over my face and eyes.

And yet who knows what end the scythèd wheat
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The Country Whore by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
The big front wall that blocks off the courtyard
often catches the newborn light of the sun
like the side of a barn. The body awakes
in the morning to a room, messy and empty,
that smells of the first, clumsy perfume.
Even that body, wrapped now in sheets,
is the same that it was when it thrilled in discovery.

Her body wakes alone to the extended call
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A Fable by Matthew Prior
Matthew Prior
In Aesop’s tales an honest wretch we find,
Whose years and comforts equally declined;
He in two wives had two domestic ills,
For different age they had, and different wills;
One plucked his black hairs out, and one his gray,
The man for quietness did both obey,
Till all his parish saw his head quite bare,
And thought he wanted brains as well as hair.

The Moral

The parties, henpecked William, are thy wives,
The hairs they pluck are thy prerogatives;
Tories thy person hate, the Whigs thy power,
Though much thou yieldest, still they tug for more,
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The Girl with Bees in Her Hair by Eleanor Wilner
Eleanor Wilner
came in an envelope with no return address;
she was small, wore wrinkled dress of figured
cotton, full from neck to ankles, with a button
of bone at the throat, a collar of torn lace.
She was standing before a monumental house—
on the scale you see in certain English films:
urns, curved drives, stone lions, and an entrance far
too vast for any home. She was not of that place,
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The Greatest Love by Anna Swir
Anna Swir
She is sixty. She lives
the greatest love of her life.

She walks arm-in-arm with her dear one,
her hair streams in the wind.
Her dear one says:
“You have hair like pearls.”

Her children say:
“Old fool.”
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Hot Sun, Cool Fire by George Peele
George Peele
Hot sun, cool fire, tempered with sweet air,
Black shade, fair nurse, shadow my white hair.
Shine, sun; burn, fire; breathe, air, and ease me;
Black shade, fair nurse, shroud me and please me.
Shadow, my sweet nurse, keep me from burning;
Make not my glad cause cause of mourning.
Let not my beauty’s fire
Inflame unstaid desire,
Nor pierce any bright eye
That wandereth lightly.

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“I am the last . . .” by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
I am the last Napoleonic soldier. It’s almost two hundred years later and I am still retreating from Moscow. The road is lined with white birch trees and the mud comes up to my knees. The one-eyed woman wants to sell me a chicken, and I don’t even have any clothes on.
The Germans are going one way; I am going the other. The Russians are going still another way and waving good-by. I have a ceremonial saber. I use it to cut my hair, which is four feet long.
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if mama / could see by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
if mama
could see
she would see
lucy sprawling
limbs of lucy
decorating the
backs of chairs
lucy hair
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Madrigal: "Like the Idalian queen" by William Drummond of Hawthornden
William Drummond of Hawthornden
Like the Idalian queen,
Her hair about her eyne,
With neck and breast’s ripe apples to be seen,
At first glance of the morn
In Cyprus’ gardens gathering those fair flowers
Which of her blood were born,
I saw, but fainting saw, my paramours.
The Graces naked danced about the place,
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Motherhood by May Swenson
May Swenson
She sat on a shelf,
her breasts two bellies
on her poked-out belly,
on which the navel looked
like a sucked-in mouth—
her knees bent and apart,
her long left arm raised,
with the large hand knuckled
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Photograph from September 11 by Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska
They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
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The Question by Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone
While needles of the evergreen
practice a windy chaos,
heads of snarled hair;
something in the tree
longs for old age;
bald brown knobs of skull
without subterfuge;
but it continues with its greedy
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Tiare Tahiti by Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke
Mamua, when our laughter ends,
And hearts and bodies, brown as white,
Are dust about the doors of friends,
Or scent ablowing down the night,
Then, oh! then, the wise agree,
Comes our immortality.
Mamua, there waits a land
Hard for us to understand.
Out of time, beyond the sun,
All are one in Paradise,
You and Pupure are one,
And Taü, and the ungainly wise.
There the Eternals are, and there
The Good, the Lovely, and the True,
And Types, whose earthly copies were
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sorrows by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
who would believe them winged
who would believe they could be

beautifulwho would believe
they could fall so in love with mortals

that they would attach themselves
as scars attach and ride the skin


sometimes we hear them in our dreams
rattling their skullsclicking their bony fingers

envying our crackling hair
our spice filled flesh
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The Anti-Suffragist by Eva Gore-Booth
Eva Gore-Booth
The princess in her world-old tower pined
A prisoner, brazen-caged, without a gleam
Of sunlight, or a windowful of wind;
She lived but in a long lamp-lighted dream.

They brought her forth at last when she was old;
The sunlight on her blanched hair was shed
Too late to turn its silver into gold.
“Ah, shield me from this brazen glare!” she said.
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A Ballad of Death by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Kneel down, fair Love, and fill thyself with tears,
Girdle thyself with sighing for a girth
Upon the sides of mirth,
Cover thy lips and eyelids, let thine ears
Be filled with rumour of people sorrowing;
Make thee soft raiment out of woven sighs
Upon the flesh to cleave,
Set pains therein and many a grievous thing,
And many sorrows after each his wise
For armlet and for gorget and for sleeve.

O Love's lute heard about the lands of death,
Left hanged upon the trees that were therein;
O Love and Time and Sin,
Three singing mouths that mourn now underbreath,
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The Ballad of God-Makers by G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.

The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;
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The Black-Faced Sheep by Donald Hall
Donald Hall
Ruminant pillows! Gregarious soft boulders!

If one of you found a gap in a stone wall,
the rest of you—rams, ewes, bucks, wethers, lambs;
mothers and daughters, old grandfather-father,
cousins and aunts, small bleating sons—
followed onward, stupid
as sheep, wherever
your leader’s sheep-brain wandered to.
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The Cap and Bells by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
The jester walked in the garden:
The garden had fallen still;
He bade his soul rise upward
And stand on her window-sill.

It rose in a straight blue garment,
When owls began to call:
It had grown wise-tongued by thinking
Of a quiet and light footfall;
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from Epigrams: A Journal, #20 by J. V. Cunningham
J. V. Cunningham
After some years Bohemian came to this—
This Maenad with hair down and gaping kiss
Wild on the barren edge of under fifty.
She would finance his art if he were thrifty.
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An Epiphany by Ted Kooser
Ted Kooser
I have seen the Brown Recluse Spider
run with a net in her hand, or rather,
what resembled a net, what resembled
a hand. She ran down the gleaming white floor
of the bathtub, trailing a frail swirl
of hair, and in it the hull of a beetle
lay woven. The hair was my wife’s,
long and dark, a few loose strands, a curl
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The Healing Improvisation of Hair by Jay Wright
Jay Wright
If you undo your do you would
be strange. Hair has been on my mind.
I used to lean in the doorway
and watch my stony woman wind
the copper through the black, and play
with my understanding, show me she cóuld
take a cup of river water,
and watch it shimmy, watch it change,
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The House of Life: 36. Life-in-Love by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Not in thy body is thy life at all
But in this lady's lips and hands and eyes;
Through these she yields thee life that vivifies
What else were sorrow's servant and death's thrall.
Look on thyself without her, and recall
The waste remembrance and forlorn surmise
That liv'd but in a dead-drawn breath of sighs
O'er vanish'd hours and hours eventual.
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In Memory of Walter Savage Landor by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Back to the flower-town, side by side,
The bright months bring,
New-born, the bridegroom and the bride,
Freedom and spring.

The sweet land laughs from sea to sea,
Filled full of sun;
All things come back to her, being free;
All things but one.

In many a tender wheaten plot
Flowers that were dead
Live, and old suns revive; but not
That holier head.

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Mother and Child, Body and Soul by Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
Child
You've boarded me over like a window or a well.

Mother
It was autumn
I couldn't hear the students
only the music coming in the window,
Se tu m’ami
If you love me
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my dream about being white by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
hey music and
me
only white,
hair a flutter of
fall leaves
circling my perfect
line of a nose,
no lips,
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my dream about the second coming by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
mary is an old woman without shoes.
she doesn’t believe it.
not when her belly starts to bubble
and leave the print of a finger where
no man touches.
not when the snow in her hair melts away.
not when the stranger she used to wait for
appears dressed in lights at her
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"oh antic God" by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.

I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.
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Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
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The Snow Is Deep on the Ground by Kenneth Patchen
Kenneth Patchen
The snow is deep on the ground.
Always the light falls
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

This is a good world.
The war has failed.
God shall not forget us.
Who made the snow waits where love is.

Only a few go mad.
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Spider Crystal Ascension by Charles Wright
Charles Wright
The spider, juiced crystal and Milky Way, drifts on his web through the night sky
And looks down, waiting for us to ascend ...

At dawn he is still there, invisible, short of breath, mending his net.

All morning we look for the white face to rise from the lake like a tiny star.
And when it does, we lie back in our watery hair and rock.
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“Still to be neat, still to be dressed” by Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Still to be neat, still to be dressed,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powdered, still perfumed;
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art's hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet, all is not sound.

Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free;
Such sweet neglect more taketh me
Than all th'adulteries of art.
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
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To Helen by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
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A Workman to the Gods by Edwin Markham
Edwin Markham
Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
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Poem by Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Her tombstone told when she died.
Her two surnames stopped me still.
A virgin married at rest.
She married in this pouring place,
That I struck one day by luck,
Before I heard in my mother's side
Or saw in the looking-glass shell
The rain through her cold heart speak
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