Homage to Black Madonnas by Margaret Burroughs
Margaret Burroughs
Venerable black women
You of yesterday, you of today.
Black mothers of tomorrow yet to be
These lines are homage to you, for you.

Magnificent black women
The poets and singers have been remiss
Have sung too few poems and songs of you
And the image makers have not recorded your beauty.
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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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from Aurora Leigh, Second Book by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

'There it is!–
You play beside a death-bed like a child,
Yet measure to yourself a prophet's place
To teach the living. None of all these things,
Can women understand. You generalise,
Oh, nothing!–not even grief! Your quick-breathed hearts,
So sympathetic to the personal pang,
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Chaos by Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss
There are places for chaos on the page,
meaningful, apparent
confusion — temps en temps on the continent
does not mean “time to time” in Kent,
or Greenwich. From stone through weeds and parchment,
through bad times, words made their way to the printed page.
Bibles now not just for those who go to worship by carriage,
but for those who pray with bare feet,
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Everything by Lawson Fusao Inada
Lawson Fusao Inada
When the river rose that year, we were beside it
and ourselves with fear; not that it would do anything
to us, mind you—our hopes were much too high for that—
but there was always that remote, unacknowledged possibility
that we had thrown one stone too many, by the handful,
and that by some force of nature, as they called it,
it might rain and rain for days, as it had been,
with nothing to hold it and the structure back,
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from At the Somme: The Song of the Mud by Mary Borden
Mary Borden
This is the song of the mud,
The pale yellow glistening mud that covers the hills like satin;
The grey gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys;
The frothing, squirting, spurting, liquid mud that gurgles along the road beds;
The thick elastic mud that is kneaded and pounded and squeezed under the hoofs of the horses;
The invincible, inexhaustible mud of the war zone.

This is the song of the mud, the uniform of the poilu.
His coat is of mud, his great dragging flapping coat, that is too big for him and too heavy;
His coat that once was blue and now is grey and stiff with the mud that cakes to it.
This is the mud that clothes him. His trousers and boots are of mud,
And his skin is of mud;
And there is mud in his beard.
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Speech: “To be, or not to be, that is the question” by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
(from Hamlet, spoken by Hamlet) To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
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The Vanity of the Dragonfly by Nancy Willard
Nancy Willard
The dragonfly at rest on the doorbell—
too weak to ring and glad of it,
but well mannered and cautious,
thinking it best to observe us quietly
before flying in, and who knows if he will find
the way out? Cautious of traps, this one.
A winged cross, plain, the body straight
as a thermometer, the old glass kind
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New Personal Poem by Ted Berrigan
Ted Berrigan
to Michael Lally You had your own reasons for getting
In your own way. You didn’t want to be
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Christian Virtues by Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
Oh, dear!
The Christian virtues will disappear!
Nowhere on land or sea
Will be room for charity!
Nowhere, in field or city,
A person to help or pity!
Better for them, no doubt,
Not to need helping out
Of their old miry ditch.
But, alas for us, the rich!
For we shall lose, you see,
Our boasted charity!—
Lose all the pride and joy
Of giving the poor employ,
And money, and food, and love
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A Reverie by Joanna Baillie
Joanna Baillie
Beside a spreading elm, from whose high boughs
Like knotted tufts the crow’s light dwelling shows,
Where screened from northern blasts, and winter-proof,
Snug stands the parson’s barn with thatched roof;
At chaff-strewed door where, in the morning ray,
The gilded motes in mazy circles play,
And sleepy Comrade in the sun is laid,
More grateful to the cur than neighbouring shade.
In snowy shirt unbraced, brown Robin stood,
And leant upon his flail in thoughtful mood:
His full round cheek where deeper flushes glow,
The dewy drops which glisten on his brow;
His dark cropped pate that erst at church or fair,
So smooth and silky, showed his morning’s care,
Which, all uncouth in matted locks combined,
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Slavery by Hannah More
Hannah More
If Heaven has into being deigned to call
Thy light, O Liberty! to shine on all;
Bright intellectual Sun! why does thy ray
To earth distribute only partial day?
Since no resisting cause from spirit flows
Thy universal presence to oppose;
No obstacles by Nature’s hand impressed,
Thy subtle and ethereal beams arrest;
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The Village: Book I by George Crabbe
George Crabbe
The village life, and every care that reigns
O'er youthful peasants and declining swains;
What labour yields, and what, that labour past,
Age, in its hour of languor, finds at last;
What forms the real picture of the poor,
Demands a song—the Muse can give no more.
Fled are those times, if e'er such times were seen,
When rustic poets praised their native green;
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About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter by Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski
he lives in a house with a swimming pool
and says the job is
killing him.
he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to
get rid of
him. his novels keep coming
back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams
“go to New York and pump the hands of the
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Ars Poetica? by Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz
I have always aspired to a more spacious form
that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.

In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.
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The Bachelor’s Soliloquy by Edgar Albert Guest
Edgar Albert Guest
To wed, or not to wed; that is the question;
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The bills and house rent of a wedded fortune,
Or to say “nit” when she proposes,
And by declining cut her. To wed; to smoke
No more; And have a wife at home to mend
The holes in socks and shirts
And underwear and so forth. ’Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To wed for life;
To wed; perchance to fight; ay, there’s the rub;
For in that married life what fights may come,
When we have honeymooning ceased
Must give us pause; there’s the respect
That makes the joy of single life.
For who would bear her mother’s scornful tongue,
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The Bungalows by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
Impatient as we were for all of them to join us,
The land had not yet risen into view: gulls had swept the gray steel towers away
So that it profited less to go searching, away over the humming earth
Than to stay in immediate relation to these other things—boxes, store parts, whatever you wanted to call them—
Whose installedness was the price of further revolutions, so you knew this combat was the last.
And still the relationship waxed, billowed like scenery on the breeze.

They are the same aren’t they,
The presumed landscape and the dream of home
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Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror by Peter Dale Scott
Peter Dale Scott

I am writing this poem
about the 1965 massacre
of Indonesians by Indonesians

which in an article ten years later
I could not publish
except in Nottingham England with

a friend Malcolm Caldwell who has since
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here rests by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
my sister Josephine
born july in '29
and dead these 15 years
who carried a book
on every stroll.

when daddy was dying
she left the streets
and moved back home
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from Hero and Leander: "It lies not in our power to love or hate" by Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows; let it suffice
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?
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Letter to the Local Police by June Jordan
June Jordan
Dear Sirs:

I have been enjoying the law and order of our
community throughout the past three months since
my wife and I, our two cats, and miscellaneous
photographs of the six grandchildren belonging to
our previous neighbors (with whom we were very
close) arrived in Saratoga Springs which is clearly
prospering under your custody
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Money by Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov
an introductory lecture This morning we shall spend a few minutes
Upon the study of symbolism, which is basic
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Sad Wine (I) by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
It’s a fine fact that whenever I sit in a tavern corner
sipping a grappa, the pederast’s there, or the kids
with their screaming, or the unemployed guy,
or some beautiful girl outside—all breaking
the thread of my smoke. That’s how it is, kid,
I’m telling it straight, I work at Lucento.
But that voice, that sorrowful voice of the old man
(forty-ish, maybe?) who shook my hand
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Variations on a Text by Vallejo by Donald Justice
Donald Justice
Me moriré en Paris con aguacero ... I will die in Miami in the sun,
On a day when the sun is very bright,
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Silent Prophet by Carl Dennis
Carl Dennis
It’s the last day, but I’m keeping the news to myself.
If yesterday it made sense for letter carriers
To carry letters from door to door,
The job still ought to be worth doing.
Why tell what I know and risk a walkout?
Let firefighters race to the last fire.
Let platoons of police set up their last lines
So the factions that come to the demonstration
Do battle only in words and gestures.

The day is different, but only for me,
Knowing as I do that it offers the last chance
For a cautious investor to resist his nature enough
To back a grocery in a battered district,
And the last chance for the would-be grocers
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An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Karshish, the picker-up of learning's crumbs,
The not-incurious in God's handiwork
(This man's-flesh he hath admirably made,
Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste,
To coop up and keep down on earth a space
That puff of vapour from his mouth, man's soul)
—To Abib, all-sagacious in our art,
Breeder in me of what poor skill I boast,
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The Beasts' Confession by Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
To the Priest, on Observing how most Men mistake their own Talents When beasts could speak (the learned say,
They still can do so ev'ry day),
It seems, they had religion then,
As much as now we find in men.
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Benjamin Banneker Helps to Build a City by Jay Wright
Jay Wright
In a morning coat,
hands locked behind your back,
you walk gravely along the lines in your head.
These others stand with you,
squinting the city into place,
yet cannot see what you see,
what you would see
—a vision of these paths,
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A Dialogue between Old England and New by Anne Bradstreet
Anne Bradstreet
New England.
Alas, dear Mother, fairest Queen and best,
With honour, wealth, and peace happy and blest,
What ails thee hang thy head, and cross thine arms,
And sit i’ the dust to sigh these sad alarms?
What deluge of new woes thus over-whelm
The glories of thy ever famous Realm?
What means this wailing tone, this mournful guise?
Ah, tell thy Daughter; she may sympathize.

Old England.
Art ignorant indeed of these my woes,
Or must my forced tongue these griefs disclose,
And must my self dissect my tatter’d state,
Which Amazed Christendom stands wondering at?
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The Disappointment by Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
ONE Day the Amarous Lisander,
By an impatient Passion sway'd,
Surpris'd fair Cloris, that lov'd Maid,
Who cou'd defend her self no longer ;
All things did with his Love conspire,
The gilded Planet of the Day,
In his gay Chariot, drawn by Fire,
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Discrimination by Kenneth Rexroth
Kenneth Rexroth
I don’t mind the human race.
I’ve got pretty used to them
In these past twenty-five years.
I don’t mind if they sit next
To me on streetcars, or eat
In the same restaurants, if
It’s not at the same table.
However, I don’t approve
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Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
The First Sestiad

(excerpt) On Hellespont, guilty of true love's blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin'd by Neptune's might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
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I Grant You Ample Leave by George Eliot
George Eliot
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Pro Femina by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
From Sappho to myself, consider the fate of women.
How unwomanly to discuss it! Like a noose or an albatross necktie
The clinical sobriquet hangs us: codpiece coveters.
Never mind these epithets; I myself have collected some honeys.
Juvenal set us apart in denouncing our vices
Which had grown, in part, from having been set apart:
Women abused their spouses, cuckolded them, even plotted
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The Star-splitter by Robert Frost
Robert Frost
"You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
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The Sun Rising by John Donne
John Donne
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from Troilus and Criseyde: Book V by Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer

From Book V The morwen com, and gostly for to speke,
This Diomede is come un-to Criseyde;
And shortly, lest that ye my tale breke,
So wel he for hym-selven spak and seyde,
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Unstable Dream by Sir Thomas Wyatt
Sir Thomas Wyatt

Unstable dream, according to the place,
Be steadfast once, or else at least be true.
By tasted sweetness make me not to rue
The sudden loss of thy false feignèd grace.
By good respect in such a dangerous case
Thou broughtest not her into this tossing mew
But madest my sprite live, my care to renew,
My body in tempest her succour to embrace.
The body dead, the sprite had his desire,
Painless was th'one, th'other in delight.
Why then, alas, did it not keep it right,
Returning, to leap into the fire?
And where it was at wish, it could not remain,
Such mocks of dreams they turn to deadly pain.
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Parmi beaucoup de poèmes / Among Many Poems by Jacques Roubaud
Jacques Roubaud
Parmi beaucoup de poèmes
Il y en avait un
Dont je ne parvenais pas à me souvenir
Sinon que je l'avais composé
En descendant cette rue
Du côté des numéros pairs de cette rue
Baignée d'une matinée limpide
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