Sky

S
The Black Finger by Angelina Weld Grimké
Angelina Weld Grimké
I have just seen a most beautiful thing
Slim and still
Against a gold, gold sky,
A straight black cypress,
Sensitive,
Exquisite,
A black finger
Pointing upwards.
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Do not compare: what lives is incomparable. by Osip Mandelstam
Osip Mandelstam
Do not compare: what lives is incomparable.
I felt a a kind of tender fear
as I took on the plains' equality
and the wide sky became my malady.

I summoned the air, my serving man,
expected from him services or news,
made ready to set out, sail on the arc
of expeditions that could never start.
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The Snow Arrives After Long Silence by Nancy Willard
Nancy Willard
The snow arrives after long silence
from its high home where nothing leaves
tracks or strains or keeps time.
The sky it fell from, pale as oatmeal,
bears up like sheep before shearing.

The cat at my window watches
amazed. So many feathers and no bird!
All day the snow sets its table
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When the Red Goose Wakes by Marilyn Dorf
Marilyn Dorf
The sky a pure river of dawn
and the red goose wakes, the
breeze weaving, interweaving
leaves newly turned.
In the valley a song,
with no one to sing it,
some voice of the past
or the future. The red goose
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40
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Fragmentary Blue by Robert Frost
Robert Frost
Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.
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A blue anchor grains of grit in a tall sky sewing by John Ashbery
John Ashbery
A blue anchor grains of grit in a tall sky sewing

I inch and only sometimes as far as the twisted pole gone in spare colors

Too late the last express passes through the dust of gardens
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A Child's Drawing, 1941 by Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
A woman ladder leans
with her two-year-old boy in her arms.
Her arms & legs & hands & feet
are thin as crayons.

The man ladder
is holding his glass of bourbon,
he is coming out of the child’s drawing
in his old open pajamas—
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The Legs of the Sky by René Magritte
René Magritte
The floor, moonlit, the moon behind you, is not enclosed by walls; a patch of sky is hidden by distant trees. But a patch of floor is 
itself hidden by the sky’s legs, standing on it, and this cannot be the 
opportunity for useless thoughts.Translated from the French
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After the War by May Wedderburn Cannan
May Wedderburn Cannan
After the war perhaps I'll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.

I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.
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A Lament by Katharine Tynan
Katharine Tynan
(For Holy Cross Day, 1914) Clouds is under clouds and rain
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Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries by A. E. Housman
A. E. Housman
These, in the days when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.


Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and the earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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The Armadillo by Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
for Robert Lowell This is the time of year
when almost every night
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41
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That Bright Grey Eye by Hilda Morley
Hilda Morley
The grey sky, lighter & darker
greys,
lights between & delicate
lavenders also
blue-greys in smaller strokes,
& swashes
of mauve-grey on the Hudson—
openings
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Opportunity by Robert Winner
Robert Winner
Opportunity I love you
Windows and watermelons march down the street
The air is nobody

Sky is in position
I am ready to endure my freedom

A riderless horse on a saffron plain
A lake that spins
A tree that lets the wind decide
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Today We Fly by Curzio Malaparte
Curzio Malaparte
One Sunday morning,
instead of studying The Illiad,
I escaped with Bino to Florence,
to see what miracles the aviator Manissero
would perform.

Whether he would demonstrate the art of Daedalus
or the folly of Icarus.

We found the whole city festooned with banners
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45
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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 Country Autumns by Clark Coolidge
Clark Coolidge
But it could not be brought to see what it
could be brought. And the leaves are
away again, teamed. A parent at the
last and a parent in the middle. And
as stones I thought it right.

Two plates, and on the other side all the
forest pieces. The clock says stay.
The books lower the earth, and in gardens
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To the Fringed Gentian by William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven’s own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.

Thou comest not when violets lean
O’er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o’er the ground-bird’s hidden nest.

Thou waitest late and com’st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.

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Midwinter by John Unterecker
John Unterecker
At dusk, a great flare of winter lightning photographed the bay:
Waves were broken scrolls. Beyond Donegal, white mountains
hung in a narrow bas-relief frozen on sky.

Later, there was sleet: trees down
on the Drumholm road; near Timoney’s farm, a frantic goose
pinned under branches.

All night long, we spoke of loneliness,
long winter, while winter sang in the chimneys.
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A Poplar by William Faulkner
William Faulkner
Why do you shiver there
Between the white river and the road?
You are not cold,
With the sun light dreaming about you;
And yet you lift your pliant supplicating arms as though
To draw clouds from the sky to hide your slenderness.

You are a young girl
Trembling in the throes of ecstatic modesty,
A white objective girl
Whose clothing has been forcibly taken away from her.
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Spring Day by Amy Lowell
Amy Lowell
Bath

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot, and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.
The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.


Breakfast Table

In the fresh-washed sunlight, the breakfast table is decked and white. It offers itself in flat surrender, tendering tastes, and smells, and colours, and metals, and grains, and the white cloth falls over its side, draped and wide. Wheels of white glitter in the silver coffee-pot, hot and spinning like catherine-wheels, they whirl, and twirl—and my eyes begin to smart, the little white, dazzling wheels prick them like darts. Placid and peaceful, the rolls of bread spread themselves in the sun to bask. A stack of butter-pats, pyramidal, shout orange through the white, scream, flutter, call: “Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!” Coffee steam rises in a stream, clouds the silver tea-service with mist, and twists up into the sunlight, revolved, involuted, suspiring higher and higher, fluting in a thin spiral up the high blue sky. A crow flies by and croaks at the coffee steam. The day is new and fair with good smells in the air.


Walk

Over the street the white clouds meet, and sheer away without touching.
On the sidewalks, boys are playing marbles. Glass marbles, with amber and blue hearts, roll together and part with a sweet clashing noise. The boys strike them with black and red striped agates. The glass marbles spit crimson when they are hit, and slip into the gutters under rushing brown water. I smell tulips and narcissus in the air, but there are no flowers anywhere, only white dust whipping up the street, and a girl with a gay Spring hat and blowing skirts. The dust and the wind flirt at her ankles and her neat, high-heeled patent leather shoes. Tap, tap, the little heels pat the pavement, and the wind rustles among the flowers on her hat.
A water-cart crawls slowly on the other side of the way. It is green and gay with new paint, and rumbles contentedly, sprinkling clear water over the white dust. Clear zigzagging water, which smells of tulips and narcissus.
The thickening branches make a pink grisaille against the blue sky.
Whoop! The clouds go dashing at each other and sheer away just in time. Whoop! And a man’s hat careers down the street in front of the white dust, leaps into the branches of a tree, veers away and trundles ahead of the wind, jarring the sunlight into spokes of rose-colour and green.
A motor-car cuts a swathe through the bright air, sharp-beaked, irresistible, shouting to the wind to make way. A glare of dust and sunshine tosses together behind it, and settles down. The sky is quiet and high, and the morning is fair with fresh-washed air.


Midday and Afternoon

Swirl of crowded streets. Shock and recoil of traffic. The stock-still brick façade of an old church, against which the waves of people lurch and withdraw. Flare of sunshine down side-streets. Eddies of light in the windows of chemists’ shops, with their blue, gold, purple jars, darting colours far into the crowd. Loud bangs and tremors, murmurings out of high windows, whirring of machine belts, blurring of horses and motors. A quick spin and shudder of brakes on an electric car, and the jar of a church-bell knocking against the metal blue of the sky. I am a piece of the town, a bit of blown dust, thrust along with the crowd. Proud to feel the pavement under me, reeling with feet. Feet tripping, skipping, lagging, dragging, plodding doggedly, or springing up and advancing on firm elastic insteps. A boy is selling papers, I smell them clean and new from the press. They are fresh like the air, and pungent as tulips and narcissus.
The blue sky pales to lemon, and great tongues of gold blind the shop-windows, putting out their contents in a flood of flame.


Night and Sleep

The day takes her ease in slippered yellow. Electric signs gleam out along the shop fronts, following each other. They grow, and grow, and blow into patterns of fire-flowers as the sky fades. Trades scream in spots of light at the unruffled night. Twinkle, jab, snap, that means a new play; and over the way: plop, drop, quiver, is the sidelong sliver of a watchmaker’s sign with its length on another street. A gigantic mug of beer effervesces to the atmosphere over a tall building, but the sky is high and has her own stars, why should she heed ours?
I leave the city with speed. Wheels whirl to take me back to my trees and my quietness. The breeze which blows with me is fresh-washed and clean, it has come but recently from the high sky. There are no flowers in bloom yet, but the earth of my garden smells of tulips and narcissus.
My room is tranquil and friendly. Out of the window I can see the distant city, a band of twinkling gems, little flower-heads with no stems. I cannot see the beer-glass, nor the letters of the restaurants and shops I passed, now the signs blur and all together make the city, glowing on a night of fine weather, like a garden stirring and blowing for the Spring.
The night is fresh-washed and fair and there is a whiff of flowers in the air.
Wrap me close, sheets of lavender. Pour your blue and purple dreams into my ears. The breeze whispers at the shutters and mutters queer tales of old days, and cobbled streets, and youths leaping their horses down marble stairways. Pale blue lavender, you are the colour of the sky when it is fresh-washed and fair . . . I smell the stars . . . they are like tulips and narcissus . . . I smell them in the air.
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Five Poems about Poetry by George Oppen
George Oppen
1

THE GESTURE

The question is: how does one hold an apple
Who likes apples

And how does one handle
Filth? The question is

How does one hold something
In the mind which he intends
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Freely Espousing by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
a commingling sky

a semi-tropic night
that cast the blackest shadow
of the easily torn, untrembling banana leaf

or Quebec! what a horrible city
so Steubenville is better?
the sinking sensation
when someone drowns thinking, “This can’t be happening to me!”
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In the Green Morning, Now, Once More by Delmore Schwartz
Delmore Schwartz
In the green morning, before
Love was destiny,
The sun was king,
And God was famous.

The merry, the musical,
The jolly, the magical,
The feast, the feast of feasts, the festival
Suddenly ended
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Land’s End by Weldon Kees
Weldon Kees
A day all blue and white, and we
Came out of woods to sand
And snow-capped waves. The sea
Rose with us as we walked, the land
Built dunes, a lighthouse, and a sky of gulls.

Here where I built my life ten years ago,
The day breaks gray and cold;
And brown surf, muddying the shore,
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love is more thicker than forget by E. E. Cummings
E. E. Cummings
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
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I dwell in Possibility – (466) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
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Navy Field by William Meredith
William Meredith
Limped out of the hot sky a hurt plane,
Held off, held off, whirring pretty pigeon,
Hit then and scuttled to a crooked stop.
The stranger pilot who emerged—this was the seashore,
War came suddenly here—talked to the still mechanics
Who nodded gravely. Flak had done it, he said,
From an enemy ship attacked.
They wheeled it with love
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To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
Whither, 'midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight, to do thee wrong,
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
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Autumn Sky by Charles Simic
Charles Simic
In my great grandmother's time,
All one needed was a broom
To get to see places
And give the geese a chase in the sky.



The stars know everything,
So we try to read their minds.
As distant as they are,
We choose to whisper in their presence.



Oh Cynthia,
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Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
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The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee by N. Scott Momaday
N. Scott Momaday
I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
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The Embankment by T. E. Hulme
T. E. Hulme
(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.) Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
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The end of the world by Miroslav Holub
Miroslav Holub
The bird had come to the very end of its song
and the tree was dissolving under its claws.

And in the sky the clouds were twisting
and darkness flowed through all the cracks
into the sinking vessel of the landscape.

Only in the telegraph wires
a message still
crackled:
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Feeling Fucked Up by Etheridge Knight
Etheridge Knight
Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split
and I with no way to make her
come back and everywhere the world is bare
bright bone white crystal sand glistens
dope death dead dying and jiving drove
her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
and her softness and her midnight sighs—

Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky
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The Four Seasons by Henry Carlile
Henry Carlile
*
In the shape of a submarine
frost lengthens on a window.
Outside, winter sparrows perch
in rhinoceros-colored trees.
Mare's tails chase whitely
past brick chimneys.
I have seen those lights before,
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i carry your heart with me(i carry it in by E. E. Cummings
E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
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50
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Part for the Whole by Robert Francis
Robert Francis
When others run to windows or out of doors
To catch the sunset whole, he is content
With any segment anywhere he sits.

From segment, fragment, he can reconstruct
The whole, prefers to reconstruct the whole,
As if to say, I see more seeing less.

A window to the east will serve as well
As window to the west, for eastern sky
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Port of Aerial Embarkation by John Ciardi
John Ciardi
There is no widening distance at the shore—
The sea revolving slowly from the piers—
But the one border of our take-off roar
And we are mounted on the hemispheres.

Above the waning moon whose almanac
We wait to finish continents away,
The Northern stars already call us back,
And silence folds like maps on all we say.
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Words from Confinement by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
We would go down to the fish market early
to cleanse our vision: the fish were silver,
and scarlet, and green, and the color of sea.
The fish were lovelier than even the sea
with its silvery scales. We thought of return.

Lovely too the women with jars on their heads,
olive-brown clay, shaped softly like thighs:
we each thought of our women, their voices,
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Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain by Li Bai
Li Bai
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
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Five Poems From “Helen: A Revision” by Jack Spicer
Jack Spicer
Nothing is known about Helen but her voice
Strange glittering sparks
Lighting no fires but what is reechoed
Rechorded, set on the icy sea.

All history is one, as all the North Pole is one
Magnetic, music to play with, ice
That has had to do with vision
And each one of us, naked.
Partners. Naked.

* * *

Helen: A Revision
ZEUS: It is to be assumed that I do not exist while most people in the vision assume that I do exist. This is to be one of the extents of meaning between the players and the audience. I have to talk like this because I am the lord of both kinds of sky—and I don't mean your sky and their sky because they are signs, I mean the bright sky and the burning sky. I have no intention of showing you my limits. The players in this poem are players. They have taken their parts not to deceive you [or me for that matter] but because they have been paid in love or coin to be players. I have known for a long time that there is not a fourth wall in a play. I am called Zeus and I know this.
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Helen: A Revision by Jack Spicer
Jack Spicer
zeus: It is to be assumed that I do not exist while most people in the vision assume that I do exist. This is to be one of the extents of meaning between the players and the audience. I have to talk like this because I am the lord of both kinds of sky—and I don't mean your sky and their sky because they are signs, I mean the bright sky and the burning sky. I have no intention of showing you my limits. The players in this poem are players. They have taken their parts not to deceive you [or me for that matter] but because they have been paid in love or coin to be players. I have known for a long time that there is not a fourth wall in a play. I am called Zeus and I know this.

thersites: [Running out on the construction of the stage.] The fourth wall is not as important as you think it is.

zeus: [Disturbed but carrying it off like a good Master of Ceremonial.] Thersites is involuntary. [He puts his arm around him.] I could not play a part if I were not a player.
thersites: Reveal yourself to me and don't pretend that there are people watching you. I am alone on the stage with you. Tell me the plot of the play.

zeus: [Standing away.] Don't try to talk if you don't have to. You must admit there is no audience. Everything is done for you.

thersites: Stop repeating yourself. You old motherfucker. Your skies are bad enough. [He looks to the ground.] A parody is better than a pun.

zeus: I do not understand your language.

[They are silent together for a moment and then the curtain drops.]

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bon bon il est un pays by Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
all right all right there’s a land
where forgetting where forgetting weighs
gently upon worlds unnamed
there the head we shush it the head is mute
and one knows no but one knows nothing
the song of dead mouths dies
on the shore it has made its voyage
there is nothing to mourn
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(“Come as you are...”) by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
VI

Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
If your braiding has come loose, if the parting of your hair be not straight, if the ribbons of your bodice be not fastened, do not mind.
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.

Come with quick steps over the grass.
If your feet are pale with the dew, if your anklets slacken, if pearls drop out of your chain, do not mind.
Come with quick steps over the grass.

Do you see the clouds wrapping the sky?
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(“Keep me fully glad...”) by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
II

Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.
In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list. Bind me close to you with nothing.
I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in my breast.
Make my life glad with nothing.
The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to the full my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.
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A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
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February Evening in New York by Denise Levertov
Denise Levertov
As the stores close, a winter light
opens air to iris blue,
glint of frost through the smoke
grains of mica, salt of the sidewalk.
As the buildings close, released autonomous
feet pattern the streets
in hurry and stroll; balloon heads
drift and dive above them; the bodies
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For Futures by Josephine Miles
Josephine Miles
When the lights come on at five o'clock on street corners
That is Evolution by the bureau of power,
That is a fine mechanic dealing in futures:
For the sky is wide and warm upon that hour.
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Half an Hour by Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
Hurt, hurtful, snake-charmed,
struck white together half an hour we tear
through the half-dark after

some sweet core,
under, over gravity,
some white shore ...

spin, hidden one, spin,
trusted to me! laugh sore tooth
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I Dreamed That in a City Dark as Paris by Louis Simpson
Louis Simpson
I dreamed that in a city dark as Paris
I stood alone in a deserted square.
The night was trembling with a violet
Expectancy. At the far edge it moved
And rumbled; on that flickering horizon
The guns were pumping color in the sky.

There was the Front. But I was lonely here,
Left behind, abandoned by the army.
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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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Lines: The cold earth slept below by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The cold earth slept below;
Above the cold sky shone;
And all around,
With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow
The breath of night like death did flow
Beneath the sinking moon.

The wintry hedge was black;
The green grass was not seen;
The birds did rest
On the bare thorn’s breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds o’er many a crack
Which the frost had made between.
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On the Beach at Night by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
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50
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On the Seashore by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.
They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.
They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.
The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.

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35
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Ships that Pass in the Night by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun
And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
For I would hail and check that ship of ships.
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34
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Skywriting by Charles Tomlinson
Charles Tomlinson
Three jets are streaking west:
Trails are beginning to fray already:
The third, the last set out,
Climbs parallel a March sky
Paying out a ruled white line:
Skywriting like an incision,
Such surgical precision defines
The mile between it and the others
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28
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Small Woman on Swallow Street by W. S. Merwin
W. S. Merwin
Four feet up, under the bruise-blue
Fingered hat-felt, the eyes begin. The sly brim
Slips over the sky, street after street, and nobody
Knows, to stop it. It will cover
The whole world, if there is time. Fifty years’
Start in gray the eyes have; you will never
Catch up to where they are, too clever
And always walking, the legs not long but
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48
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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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31
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The Sorrow of Love by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.

A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;
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46
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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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41
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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Taylor
Jane Taylor
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
How could he see where to go,
If you did not twinkle so?

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34
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The View from an Attic Window by Howard Nemerov
Howard Nemerov
for Francis and Barbara 1
Among the high-branching, leafless boughs
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33
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Visions by William E. Stafford
William E. Stafford
1Once in Mexico an old man was
leading on a string—was it a cat?
And we saw it was a tarantula
sidling along in the dust, writing
a message from God for people who
thought they knew where creature-life ended.

2We came upon scenes like that,
the world back of a lurid pane of glass.
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31
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Waiting for a Ride by Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder
Standing at the baggage passing time:
Austin Texas airport—my ride hasn’t come yet.
My former wife is making websites from her home,
one son’s seldom seen,
the other one and his wife have a boy and girl of their own.
My wife and stepdaughter are spending weekdays in town
so she can get to high school.
My mother ninety-six still lives alone and she’s in town too,
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31
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Descent by Samuel Menashe
Samuel Menashe
My father drummed darkness
Through the underbrush
Until lightning struck

I take after him

Clouds crowd the sky
Around me as I run
Downhill on a high—
I am my mother's son
Born long ago
In the storm's eye
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46
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Rue by Samuel Menashe
Samuel Menashe
For what I did
And did not do
And do without
In my old age
Rue, not rage
Against that night
We go into,
Sets me straight
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39
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The Stars Are by Samuel Menashe
Samuel Menashe
The stars are
Although I do not sing
About them—
The sky and the trees
Are indifferent
To whom they please
The rose is unmoved
By my nose
And the garland in your hair
Although your eyes be lakes, dies

Why sigh for a star
Better bay at the moon
Better bay at the moon . . .
Oh moon, moon, moon
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47
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Egg by Linda Pastan
Linda Pastan
In this kingdom
the sun never sets;
under the pale oval
of the sky
there seems no way in
or out,
and though there is a sea here
there is no tide.
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34
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A Woman and Mountains by Helen Hoyt
Helen Hoyt
I am rounded, billowed out, hunched like you;
I am big like you, ugly and beautiful;
Eternal like you.
I have set my body solidly upon the earth, to confront all;
My head to the sky, the sky on my shoulders,
Feet rooted in the earth's depths as mountains are rooted.
Nothing can sweep over me to remove me;
This life in me is ancient, shall go down to the last days,
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37
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