Identity

I
Leaves by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Years do odd things to identity.
What does it mean to say
I am that child in the photograph
at Kishamish in 1935?
Might as well say I am the shadow
of a leaf of the acacia tree
felled seventy years ago
moving on the page the child reads.
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from The Book of the Dead: The Book of the Dead by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
These roads will take you into your own country.
Seasons and maps coming where this road comes
into a landscape mirrored in these men.

Past all your influences, your home river,
constellations of cities, mottoes of childhood,
parents and easy cures, war, all evasion’s wishes.

What one word must never be said?
Dead, and these men fight off our dying,
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Plurality by Louis MacNeice
Louis MacNeice
It is patent to the eye that cannot face the sun
The smug philosophers lie who say the world is one;
World is other and other, world is here and there,
Parmenides would smother life for lack of air
Precluding birth and death; his crystal never breaks—
No movement and no breath, no progress nor mistakes,
Nothing begins or ends, no one loves or fights,
All your foes are friends and all your days are nights
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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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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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O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
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Who Steals My Good Name by W. D. Snodgrass
W. D. Snodgrass
For the person who obtained my debit card number and spent $11,000 in five days My pale stepdaughter, just off the school bus,
Scowled, "Well, that's the last time I say my name's
Snodgrass!" Just so, may that anonymous
Mexican male who prodigally claims
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A Little Language by Robert Duncan
Robert Duncan
I know a little language of my cat, though Dante says
that animals have no need of speech and Nature
abhors the superfluous.My cat is fluent.He
converses when he wants with me.To speak

is natural.And whales and wolves I’ve heard
in choral soundings of the sea and air
know harmony and have an eloquence that stirs
my mind and heart—they touch the soul.Here
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Poem about My Rights by June Jordan
June Jordan
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
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Problems of Translation: Problems of Language by June Jordan
June Jordan
Dedicated to Myriam Díaz-Diocaretz 1

I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
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Street Musicians by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
One died, and the soul was wrenched out
Of the other in life, who, walking the streets
Wrapped in an identity like a coat, sees on and on
The same corners, volumetrics, shadows
Under trees. Farther than anyone was ever
Called, through increasingly suburban airs
And ways, with autumn falling over everything:
The plush leaves the chattels in barrels
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The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Inamoratas, with an approbation,
Bestowed his title. Blessed his inclination.

He wakes, unwinds, elaborately: a cat
Tawny, reluctant, royal. He is fat
And fine this morning. Definite. Reimbursed.

He waits a moment, he designs his reign,
That no performance may be plain or vain.
Then rises in a clear delirium.
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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
1
Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

2
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
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Hyperion by John Keats
John Keats
(excerpt) BOOK I
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
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In a London Drawingroom by George Eliot
George Eliot
The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.
For view there are the houses opposite
Cutting the sky with one long line of wall
Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch
Monotony of surface & of form
Without a break to hang a guess upon.
No bird can make a shadow as it flies,
For all is shadow, as in ways o'erhung
By thickest canvass, where the golden rays
Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering
Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye
Or rest a little on the lap of life.
All hurry on & look upon the ground,
Or glance unmarking at the passers by
The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages
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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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Silence Wager Stories by Susan Howe
Susan Howe
When I come to view
about steadfastness
Espousal is as ever
Evil never unravels
Memory was and will be
yet mercy flows
Mercies to me and mine
Night rainy my family
in private and family
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Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight by Yvor Winters
Yvor Winters
Reptilian green the wrinkled throat,
Green as a bough of yew the beard;
He bent his head, and so I smote;
Then for a thought my vision cleared.

The head dropped clean; he rose and walked;
He fixed his fingers in the hair;
The head was unabashed and talked;
I understood what I must dare.
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Wildflowers by Richard Howard
Richard Howard
for Joseph Cady

Camden, 1882 Is it raining, Mary, can you see?
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