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 Oppressionists by Jayne Cortez
Jayne Cortez
what do the art
care about art
they jump on bandwagons
wallow in press clips
& stink up the planet
with their
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There It Is by Jayne Cortez
Jayne Cortez
My friend
they don't care
if you're an individualist
a leftist a rightist
a shithead or a snake
They will try to exploit you
absorb you confine you
disconnect you isolate you
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And Now She Has Disappeared in Water by Diane Wakoski
Diane Wakoski
For Marilyn who died in January april 1
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“Oh could I raise the darken’d veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Oh could I raise the darken’d veil,
Which hides my future life from me,
Could unborn ages slowly sail,
Before my view—and could I see
My every action painted there,
To cast one look I would not dare.
There poverty and grief might stand,
And dark Despair’s corroding hand,
Would make me seek the lonely tomb
To slumber in its endless gloom.
Then let me never cast a look,
Within Fate’s fix’d mysterious book.
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Nosce Teipsum: of Human Knowledge by John Davies
John Davies
Why did my parents send me to the schools
That I with knowledge might enrich my mind?
Since the desire to know first made men fools,
And did corrupt the root of all mankind.

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“I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long” by William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
I broke the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet’s idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more,
For Poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.

I broke the spell–nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.
Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget
Its causes were around me yet?
For wheresoe’er I looked, the while,
Was Nature’s everlasting smile.

Still came and lingered on my sight
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Book 6, Epigram 30 by Thomas Bastard
Thomas Bastard
Upon the plain as I rode all alone,
Assaulted by two sturdy lads I was;
I am a poor man Sires, let me be gone.
Nay, but ye shall be poor before ye pass.
And so I was: yet lost nothing thereby.
Would they had robbed me of my poverty.

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The Acts of Youth by John Wieners
John Wieners
And with great fear I inhabit the middle of the night
What wrecks of the mind await me, what drugs
to dull the senses, what little I have left,
what more can be taken away?

The fear of travelling, of the future without hope
or buoy. I must get away from this place and see
that there is no fear without me: that it is within
unless it be some sudden act or calamity
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Kora in Hell: Improvisations XI by William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams

Why pretend to remember the weather two years back? Why not? Listen close then repeat after others what they have just said and win a reputation for vivacity. Oh feed upon petals of edelweiss! one dew drop, if it be from the right flower, is five years’ drink!

Having once taken the plunge the situation that preceded it becomes obsolete which a moment before was alive with malignant rigidities.

When beldams dig clams their fat hams (it’s always beldams) balanced near Tellus’s hide, this rhinoceros pelt, these lumped stone—buffoonery of midges on a bull’s thigh—invoke,—what you will: birth’s glut, awe at God’s craft, youth’s poverty, evolution of a child’s caper, man’s poor inconsequence. Eclipse of all things; sun’s self turned hen’s rump.

Cross a knife and fork and listen to the church bells! It is the harvest moon’s made wine of our blood. Up over the dark factory into the blue glare start the young poplars. They whisper: It is Sunday! It is Sunday! But the laws of the country have been stripped bare of leaves. Out over the marshes flickers our laughter. A lewd anecdote’s the chase. On through the vapory heather! And there at banter’s edge the city looks at us sidelong with great eyes—lifts to its lips heavenly milk! Lucina, O Lucina! beneficent cow, how have we offended thee?

Hilariously happy because of some obscure wine of the fancy which they have drunk four rollicking companions take delight in the thought that they have thus evaded the stringent laws of the county. Seeing the distant city bathed in moonlight and staring seriously at them they liken the moon to a cow and its light to milk.
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As the Dead Prey Upon Us by Charles Olson
Charles Olson
As the dead prey upon us,
they are the dead in ourselves,
awake, my sleeping ones, I cry out to you,
disentangle the nets of being!

I pushed my car, it had been sitting so long unused.
I thought the tires looked as though they only needed air.
But suddenly the huge underbody was above me, and the rear tires
were masses of rubber and thread variously clinging together
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A Story About Chicken Soup by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
In my grandmother’s house there was always chicken soup
And talk of the old country—mud and boards,
The snow falling down the necks of lovers.

Now and then, out of her savings
She sent them a dowry. Imagine
The rice-powdered faces!
And the smell of the bride, like chicken soup.
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Song, the Winds of Downhill by George Oppen
George Oppen
‘out of poverty
to begin

again’ impoverished

of tone of pose that common

of parlance Who
so poor the words

would with and take on substantial
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from The Seasons: Winter by James Thomson
James Thomson
See, Winter comes to rule the varied year,
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train—
Vapours, and clouds, and storms. Be these my theme,
These, that exalt the soul to solemn thought
And heavenly musing. Welcome, kindred glooms!
Congenial horrors, hail! With frequent foot,
Pleas’d have I, in my cheerful morn of life,
When nurs’d by careless solitude I liv’d
And sung of Nature with unceasing joy,
Pleas’d have I wander’d through your rough domain;
Trod the pure virgin-snows, myself as pure;
Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burst;
Or seen the deep-fermenting tempest brew’d
In the grim evening-sky. Thus pass’d the time,
Till through the lucid chambers of the south
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Kaddish by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
For Naomi Ginsberg, 1894—1956 I
Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
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Ode for the American Dead in Asia by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath

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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The Coming Woman by Mary Weston Fordham
Mary Weston Fordham
Just look, ’tis quarter past six, love—
And not even the fires are caught;
Well, you know I must be at the office—
But, as usual, the breakfast ’ll be late.

Now hurry and wake up the children;
And dress them as fast as you can;
‘Poor dearies,’ I know they’ll be tardy,
Dear me, ‘what a slow, poky man!’
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Telling Fortunes by Alice Cary
Alice Cary
‘Be not among wine-bibbers; among riotous eaters of
flesh; for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to
poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.’
Proverbs, 23: 20, 21
I’ll tell you two fortunes, my fine little lad,
For you to accept or refuse.
The one of them good, and the other one bad;
Now hear them, and say which you choose!
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The Birth-day by Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Here bounds the gaudy, gilded chair,
Bedecked with fringe and tassels gay;
The melancholy mourner there
Pursues her sad and painful way.

Here, guarded by a motley train,
The pampered Countess glares along;
There, wrung by poverty and pain,
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The Bridge of Change by John Logan
John Logan
The bridge barely curved that connects the terrible with the tender.
—Rilke 1

The children play at the Luxembourg fountain.
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The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheared the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed,
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
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Soliloquy on an Empty Purse by Mary Jones
Mary Jones
Alas, my Purse! how lean and low!
My silken Purse! what art thou now!
One I beheld—but stocks will fall—
When both thy ends had wherewithal.
When I within thy slender fence
My fortune placed, and confidence;
A poet’s fortune!—not immense:
Yet, mixed with keys, and coins among,
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To Wordsworth by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know
That things depart which never may return:
Childhood and youth, friendship and love’s first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel’st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter’s midnight roar:
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Winter by Anne Hunter
Anne Hunter
Behold the gloomy tyrant’s awful form
Binding the captive earth in icy chains;
His chilling breath sweeps o’er the watery plains,
Howls in the blast, and swells the rising storm.

See from its centre bends the rifted tower,
Threat’ning the lowly vale with frowning pride,
O’er the scared flocks that seek its sheltering side,
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“Yet to die. Unalone still.” by Osip Mandelstam
Osip Mandelstam
Yet to die. Unalone still.
For now your pauper-friend is with you.
Together you delight in the grandeur of the plains,
And the dark, the cold, the storms of snow.

Live quiet and consoled
In gaudy poverty, in powerful destitution.
Blessed are those days and nights.
The work of this sweet voice is without sin.

Misery is he whom, like a shadow,
A dog’s barking frightens, the wind cuts down.
Poor is he who, half-alive himself
Begs his shade for pittance.
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Eliza Harris by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild,
A woman swept by us, bearing a child;
In her eye was the night of a settled despair,
And her brow was o’ershaded with anguish and care.

She was nearing the river—in reaching the brink,
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think!
For she is a mother—her child is a slave—
And she’ll give him his freedom, or find him a grave!

’Twas a vision to haunt us, that innocent face—
So pale in its aspect, so fair in its grace;
As the tramp of the horse and the bay of the hound,
With the fetters that gall, were trailing the ground!

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His father carved umbrella handles... by Charles Reznikoff
Charles Reznikoff
His father carved umbrella handles, but when umbrella
handles were made by machinery, there was only one
man for whom his father could work.
The pay was small, though it had once been a good trade.
They lived in the poorest part of the ghetto, near the lots
where people dump ashes.
His father was anxious that his son should stay at school and
get out of the mess he himself was in. “Learning is the
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from Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart
Christopher Smart
let elizur rejoice with the partridge Let Elizur rejoice with the Partridge, who is a prisoner of state and is proud of his keepers.
For I am not without authority in my jeopardy, which I derive inevitably from the glory of the name of the Lord.
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from The Prelude: Book 2: School-time (Continued) by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace
My life through its first years, and measured back
The way I travell'd when I first began
To love the woods and fields; the passion yet
Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befal,
By nourishment that came unsought, for still,
From week to week, from month to month, we liv'd
A round of tumult: duly were our games
Prolong'd in summer till the day-light fail'd;
No chair remain'd before the doors, the bench
And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
The Labourer, and the old Man who had sate,
A later lingerer, yet the revelry
Continued, and the loud uproar: at last,
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Publication – is the Auction (788) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Publication – is the Auction
Of the Mind of Man –
Poverty – be justifying
For so foul a thing

Possibly – but We – would rather
From Our Garret go
White – unto the White Creator –
Than invest – Our Snow –
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To the Shade of Burns by Charlotte Smith
Charlotte Smith
Mute is thy wild harp, now, O Bard sublime!
Who, amid Scotia’s mountain solitude,
Great Nature taught to “build the lofty rhyme,”
And even beneath the daily pressure, rude,
Of laboring Poverty, thy generous blood,
Fired with the love of freedom—Not subdued
Wert thou by thy low fortune: But a time
Like this we live in, when the abject chime
Of echoing Parasite is best approved,
Was not for thee—Indignantly is fled
Thy noble Spirit; and no longer moved
By all the ills o’er which thine heart has bled,
Associate worthy of the illustrious dead,
Enjoys with them “the Liberty it loved.”

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“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face” by Osip Mandelstam
Osip Mandelstam
Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.
It’s going nowhere, and I—from nowhere.
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:
Miraculous, the breathing plain.

Meanwhile the sun squints at this starched poverty—
The squint itself consoled, at ease . . .
The ten-fold forest almost the same . . .
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread.
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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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The Famous Tay Whale by Knight of the White Elephant of Burmah William McGonagall
Knight of the White Elephant of Burmah William McGonagall
’Twas in the month of December, and in the year 1883,
That a monster whale came to Dundee,
Resolved for a few days to sport and play,
And devour the small fishes in the silvery Tay.

So the monster whale did sport and play
Among the innocent little fishes in the beautiful Tay,
Until he was seen by some men one day,
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The Foundry Garden by Stanley Plumly
Stanley Plumly
Myths of the landscape—
the sun going down in the mouths of the furnaces,
the fires banked and cooling, ticking into dark, here and there the sudden flaring into roses,
then the light across the long factory of the field, the split and rusted castings,
across the low slant tin roofs of the buildings, across fallow and tar and burnt potato ground. . . .
Everything a little still on fire, in sunlight, then smoke, then cinder,
then the milling back to earth, rich earth, the silica of ash.
The times I can taste the iron in the air, the gray wash like exhaust, smell the burn-off,
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Howl by Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
For Carl Solomon I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
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If It Were Not for You by Hayden Carruth
Hayden Carruth
Liebe, meine liebe, I had not hoped
to be so poor

The night winds reach
like the blind breath of the world
in a rhythm without mind, gusting and beating
as if to destroy us, battering our poverty
and all the land’s flat and cold and dark
under iron snow
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In A/C with Ghosts by Kenneth Slessor
Kenneth Slessor
You can shuffle and scuffle and scold,
You can rattle the knockers and knobs,
Or batter the doorsteps with buckets of gold
Till the Deputy-Governor sobs.
You can sneak up a suitable plank
In a frantic endeavor to see—
But what do they do in the Commonwealth Bank
When the Big Door bangs at Three?
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The Pilot in the Jungle by John Ciardi
John Ciardi

Machine stitched rivets ravel on a tree
Whose name he does not know. Left in the sky,
He dangles from a silken cumulus
(Stork’s bundle upside down
On the delivering wind) and sees unborn
Incredible jungles of the lizard’s eye:
Dark fern, dark river, a shale coliseum
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Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

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Sonnet 40: Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all:
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call—
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blamed if thou this self deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
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The Testament of Beauty by Robert Bridges
Robert Bridges
from Book I, Introduction

Man’s Reason is in such deep insolvency to sense,
that tho’ she guide his highest flight heav’nward, and teach him
dignity morals manners and human comfort,
she can delicatly and dangerously bedizen
the rioting joys that fringe the sad pathways of Hell.
Not without alliance of the animal senses
hath she any miracle: Lov’st thou in the blithe hour
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Autumn Shade by Edgar Bowers
Edgar Bowers

The autumn shade is thin. Grey leaves lie faint
Where they will lie, and, where the thick green was,
Light stands up, like a presence, to the sky.
The trees seem merely shadows of its age.
From off the hill, I hear the logging crew,
The furious and indifferent saw, the slow
Response of heavy pine; and I recall
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For a' That and a' That by Robert Burns
Robert Burns
Is there, for honest poverty,
That hings his head, an' a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Our toils obscure, an' a' that;
The rank is but the guinea's stamp;
The man's the gowd for a' that,

What tho' on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin-gray, an' a' that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their tinsel show an' a' that;
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The Four Ages of Man by Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet
Lo now! four other acts upon the stage,
Childhood, and Youth, the Manly, and Old-age.
The first: son unto Phlegm, grand-child to water,
Unstable, supple, moist, and cold’s his Nature.
The second: frolic claims his pedigree;
From blood and air, for hot and moist is he.
The third of fire and choler is compos’d,
Vindicative, and quarrelsome dispos’d.
The last, of earth and heavy melancholy,
Solid, hating all lightness, and all folly.
Childhood was cloth’d in white, and given to show,
His spring was intermixed with some snow.
Upon his head a Garland Nature set:
Of Daisy, Primrose, and the Violet.
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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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Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay
Claude McKay
I hear the halting footsteps of a lass
In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
To bend and barter at desire's call.
Ah, little dark girls who in slippered feet
Go prowling through the night from street to street!

Through the long night until the silver break
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Holy Thursday: Is this a holy thing to see by William Blake
William Blake
Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reducd to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak &bare.
And their ways are fill'd with thorns.
It is eternal winter there.

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I Am an Atheist Who Says His Prayers by Karl Shapiro
Karl Shapiro
I am an atheist who says his prayers.

I am an anarchist, and a full professor at that. I take the loyalty oath.

I am a deviate. I fondle and contribute, backscuttle and brown, father of three.

I stand high in the community. My name is in Who’s Who. People argue about my modesty.

I drink my share and yours and never have enough. I free-load officially and unofficially.

A physical coward, I take on all intellectuals, established poets, popes, rabbis, chiefs of staff.

I am a mystic. I will take an oath that I have seen the Virgin. Under the dry pandanus, to the scratching of kangaroo rats, I achieve psychic onanism. My tree of nerves electrocutes itself.

I uphold the image of America and force my luck. I write my own ticket to oblivion.
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Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College by Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray
Ye distant spires, ye antique tow'rs,
That crown the wat'ry glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry's holy Shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowr's among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields belov'd in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,
A stranger yet to pain!
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Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;—on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.
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Saturday Night by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
Music is most sovereign because more than anything
else, rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost
soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with
them and imparting grace.
—Plato, The Republic

The cranes are flying ...
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Saturday’s Child by Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen
Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black raccoon—
For implements of battle.

Some are swaddled in silk and down,
And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown
On a night that was black as tar.
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Song of the Two Crows by Hayden Carruth
Hayden Carruth
I sing of Morrisville
(if you call this cry
a song). I
(if you call this painful

voice by that great name)
sing the poverty of my
region and of
the wrong end of Morrisville.
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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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The Way to the River by W. S. Merwin
W. S. Merwin
The way to the river leads past the names of
Ash the sleeves the wreaths of hinges
Through the song of the bandage vendor

I lay your name by my voice
As I go

The way to the river leads past the late
Doors and the games of the children born looking backwards
They play that they are broken glass
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