Work

W
Blue Work Shirt by Gail Mazur
Gail Mazur
I go into our bedroom closet
with its one blue work shirt, the cuffs

frayed, the paint stains a loopy non-
narrative of color, of spirit.

Now that you are bodiless
and my body’s no longer the body you knew,

it’s good to be reminded every morning
of the great mess, the brio of art-making.
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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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Any by George Bowering
George Bowering
Fresh out of the icebox, this brain looks
the wrong way from time to time, and misses
the cat stepping by, Gerry on the screen
laboring to tell the nuances his pink matter
almost notices, he’s not my brother, not really
my close friend, just my necessary neighbor
on a bicycle going by like a whistle from
the lips of someone I trust. He has a peculiar
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from The Book of the Dead: Absalom by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
I first discovered what was killing these men.
I had three sons who worked with their father in the tunnel:
Cecil, aged 23, Owen, aged 21, Shirley, aged 17.
They used to work in a coal mine, not steady work
for the mines were not going much of the time.
A power Co. foreman learned that we made home brew,
he formed a habit of dropping in evenings to drink,
persuading the boys and my husband —
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The Work of Happiness by May Sarton
May Sarton
I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
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Points of View by Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed
The pioneers and the indians
disagree about a lot of things
for example, the pioneer says that
when you meet a bear in the woods
you should yell at him and if that
doesn't work, you should fell him
The indians say that you should
whisper to him softly and call him by
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“There is a gold light in certain old paintings” by Donald Justice
Donald Justice
1

There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.
It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and from nowhere at once, this light,
And the poor soldiers sprawled at the foot of the cross
Share in its charity equally with the cross.

2
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To be of use by Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
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A. E. F. by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart,
The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust.
A spider will make a silver string nest in the
darkest, warmest corner of it.
The trigger and the range-finder, they too will be rusty.
And no hands will polish the gun, and it will hang on the wall.
Forefingers and thumbs will point casually toward it.
It will be spoken among half-forgotten, whished-to-be-forgotten things.
They will tell the spider: Go on, you're doing good work.
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Crumbling is not an instant's Act (1010) by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Crumbling is not an instant's Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation's processes
Are organized Decays —

'Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust —
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His Carpets Flowered by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
William Morris I
—how we’re carpet-making
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My Ambition by James Laughlin
James Laughlin
For Wade Hall is to become a footnote
in a learned work of the

22nd centurynot just a
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Monologue of a Commercial Fisherman by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
“If you work a body of water and a body of woman
you can take fish out of one and children out of the other
for the two kinds of survival. The fishing is good,
both kinds are adequate in pleasures and yield,
but the hard work and the miseries are killing;
it is a good life if life is good. If not, not.
You are out in the world and in in the world,
having it both ways: it is sportive and prevenient living
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An Offering for Patricia by Anthony Hecht
Anthony Hecht

The work has been going forward with the greatest difficulty, chiefly because I cannot concentrate. I have no feeling about whether what I am writing is good or bad, and the whole business is totally without excitement and pleasure for me. And I am sure I know the reason. It’s that I can’t stand leaving unresolved my situation with Pat. I hear from her fairly frequently, asking when I plan to come back, and she knows that I am supposed to appear at the poetry reading in the middle of January. It is not mainly loneliness I feel, though I feel it; but I have been lonely before. It is quite frankly the feeling that nothing is really settled between us, and that in the mean time I worry about how things are going to work out. This has made my work more difficult than it has ever been before.

– From a letter to his parents dated November 9, 1955, Rome.

Hardly enough for me that the pail of water
Alive with the wrinkling light
Brings clearness home and whiter
Than mind conceives the walls mature to white,
Or that the washed tomatoes whose name is given
To love fulfill their bowl
And the Roman sea is woven
Together by threading fish and made most whole.

I delight in each of these, delight moreover
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Book 2, Epigram 8 by Thomas Bastard
Thomas Bastard
Walking the fields a wantcatcher I spied,
To him I went, desirous of his game:
Sir, have you taken wants? Yes, he replied,
Here are a dozen, which were lately ta’en.
Then you have left no more. No more? quoth he.
Sir I can show you more: the more the worse;
And to his work he went, but 'twould not be,
For all the wants were crept into my purse.
Farewell friend wantcatcher, since 'twill not be,
Thou cannot catch the wants, but they catch me.

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The Pipe by Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé
Yesterday I found my pipe while pondering a long evening of work, of fine winter work. Thrown aside were my cigarettes, with all the childish joys of summer, into the past which the leaves shining blue in the sun, the muslins, illuminate, and taken up once again was the grave pipe of a serious man who wants to smoke for a long while without being disturbed, so as better to work: but I was not prepared for the surprise that this abandoned object had in store for me; for hardly had I drawn the first puff when I forgot the grand books I was planning to write, and, amazed, moved to a feeling of tenderness, I breathed in the air of the previous winter which was now coming back to me. I had not been in contact with my faithful sweetheart since returning to France, and now all of London, London as I had lived it a year ago entirely alone, appeared before my eyes: first the dear fogs that muffle one’s brains and have an odor of their own there when they penetrate beneath the casements. My tobacco had the scent of a somber room with leather furniture sprinkled by coal dust, on which the thin black cat would curl and stretch; the big fires! and the maid with red arms pouring coals, and the noise of those coals falling from the sheet-iron bucket into the iron scuttle in the morning—when the postman gave the solemn double knock that kept me alive! Once again I saw through the windows those sickly trees of the deserted square—I saw the open sea, crossed so often that winter, shivering on the deck of the steamer wet with drizzle and blackened from the fumes—with my poor wandering beloved, decked out in traveller’s clothes, a long dress, dull as the dust of the roads, a coat clinging damply to her cold shoulders, one of those straw hats with no feather and hardly any ribbons that wealthy ladies throw away upon arrival, mangled as they are by the sea, and that poor loved ones refurbish for many another season. Around her neck was wound the terrible handkerchief that one waves when saying goodbye forever.
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The Blessing of the Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
To be blessed
said the old woman
is to live and work
so hard
God’s love
washes right through you
like milk through a cow

To be blessed
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I Am the People, the Mob by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget.
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then—I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.
The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then.
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Cloud No Bigger than a Man’s Hand by Dick Allen
Dick Allen
It approaches from the sea, too small
For thunder and lightning
But ominous as a closed fist
And what it will bring

Nearing us, growing larger,
Is completely unknown.
Beware the leaves blowing, beware
The spot on the sun.

All is turned toward it. It rides
The brow of the mind.
Soon, it will shadow one cliff
And a small coastal shrine.

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Four-Leaf Clover by Ella Higginson
Ella Higginson
I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blooms burst with snow,
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
And one is for love, you know,
And God put another in for luck—
If you search, you will find where they grow.

But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
You must love and be strong – and so—
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

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Prayer by Marin Sorescu
Marin Sorescu
Oh you saints,
Let me enter your society,
If only as a statistician.

You’re old,
Perhaps the years are
Getting you down by now,
Laying themselves over you
In layers of color.
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Sonnet to Vauxhall by Thomas Hood
Thomas Hood
“The English Garden.”—Mason The cold transparent ham is on my fork—
It hardly rains—and hark the bell!—ding-dingle—
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The West Country by Alice Cary
Alice Cary
Have you been in our wild west country? then
You have often had to pass
Its cabins lying like birds’ nests in
The wild green prairie grass.

Have you seen the women forget their wheels
As they sat at the door to spin—
Have you seen the darning fall away
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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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He Lived—Childhood Summers by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
He lived—childhood summers
thru bare feet
then years of money’s lack
and heat

beside the river—out of flood
came his wood, dog,
woman, lost her, daughter—
prologue
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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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His mother stepped about her kitchen ... by Charles Reznikoff
Charles Reznikoff
His mother stepped about her kitchen, complaining in a low
voice;
all day his father sat stooped at a sewing machine.
When he went to high school Webber was in his class.
Webber lived in a neighborhood where the houses are set in
lawns with trees beside the gutters.
The boys who live there, after school, take their skates and
hockey sticks and play in the streets until nightfall.
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Night-Piece by Charles Reznikoff
Charles Reznikoff
I saw within the shadows of the yard the shed
and saw the snow upon its roof—
an oblong glowing in the moonlit night.

I could not rest or close my eyes,
although I knew that I must rise
early next morning and begin my work again,
and begin my work again.

That day was lost—that month as well;
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What Work Is by Philip Levine
Philip Levine
We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
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Adam’s Task by John Hollander
John Hollander
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field ... GEN. 2:20 Thou, paw-paw-paw; thou, glurd; thou, spotted
Glurd; thou, whitestap, lurching through
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Atlantic Oil by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
The drunk mechanic is happy to be in the ditch.
From the tavern, five minutes through the dark field
and you’re home. But first, there’s the cool grass
to enjoy, and the mechanic will sleep here till dawn.
A few feet away, the red and black sign that rises
from the field: if you’re too close, you can’t read it,
it’s that big. At this hour, it’s still wet dew.
Later, the streets will cover it with dust, as it covers
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A Country Incident by May Sarton
May Sarton
Absorbed in planting bulbs, that work of hope,
I was startled by a loud human voice,
“Do go on working while I talk. Don’t stop!”
And I was caught upon the difficult choice—
To yield the last half hour of precious light,
Or to stay on my knees, absurd and rude;
I willed her to be gone with all my might,
This kindly neighbor who destroyed a mood;
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Curriculum Vitae by Samuel Menashe
Samuel Menashe
1

Scribe out of work
At a loss for words
Not his to begin with,
The man life passed by
Stands at the window
Biding his time


2
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Deola Thinking by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
Deola passes her mornings sitting in a cafe,
and nobody looks at her. Everyone’s rushing to work,
under a sun still fresh with the dawn. Even Deola
isn’t looking for anyone: she smokes serenely, breathing
the morning. In years past, she slept at this hour
to recover her strength: the throw on her bed
was black with the boot-prints of soldiers and workers,
the backbreaking clients. But now, on her own,
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For the young who want to by Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
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Hard Luck by Edgar Albert Guest
Edgar Albert Guest
Ain’t no use as I can see
In sittin’ underneath a tree
An’ growlin’ that your luck is bad,
An’ that your life is extry sad;
Your life ain’t sadder than your neighbor’s
Nor any harder are your labors;
It rains on him the same as you,
An’ he has work he hates to do;
An’ he gits tired an’ he gits cross,
An’ he has trouble with the boss;
You take his whole life, through an’ through,
Why, he’s no better off than you.

If whinin’ brushed the clouds away
I wouldn’t have a word to say;
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I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
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The Journey by David Ignatow
David Ignatow
I am looking for a past
I can rely on
in order to look to death
with equanimity.
What was given me:
my mother’s largeness
to protect me,
my father’s regularity
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Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
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Night Thoughts by Carl Rakosi
Carl Rakosi
After the jostling on canal streets
and the orchids blowing in the window
I work in cut glass and majolica
and hear the plectrum of the angels.

My thoughts keep dwelling on the littoral
where china clocks tick in the cold shells
and the weeds slide in the equinox.

The night is cold for love,
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Ovid in the Third Reich by Geoffrey Hill
Geoffrey Hill
non peccat, quaecumque potest peccasse negare,
solaque famosam culpa professa facit.

Amores, III, xiv I love my work and my children. God
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Sad Wine (II) by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
The hard thing’s to sit without being noticed.
Everything else will come easy. Three sips
and the impulse returns to sit thinking alone.
Against the buzzing backdrop of noise
everything fades, and it’s suddenly a miracle
to be born and to stare at the glass. And work
(a man who’s alone can’t not think of work)
becomes again the old fate that suffering’s good
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from Second Book of Odes: 6. What the Chairman Told Tom by Basil Bunting
Basil Bunting
Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory—
The Desert Song.
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Smokers of Paper by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
He’s brought me to hear his band. He sits in a corner
mouthing his clarinet. A hellish racket begins.
Outside, through flashes of lightning, wind gusts
and rain whips, knocking the lights out
every five minutes. In the dark, their faces
give it their all, contorted, as they play a dance tune
from memory. Full of energy, my poor friend
anchors them all from behind. His clarinet writhes,
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Virginity by Anna Swir
Anna Swir
One must be brave to live through
a day. What remains
is nothing but the pleasure of longing—very precious.

Longing
purifies as does flying, strengthens as does an effort,
it fashions the soul
as work
fashions the belly.
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The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Randall Jarrell
Randall Jarrell
The saris go by me from the embassies.

Cloth from the moon. Cloth from another planet.
They look back at the leopard like the leopard.

And I....
this print of mine, that has kept its color
Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null
Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so
To my bed, so to my grave, with no
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Matisse, Too by Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker
Matisse, too, when the fingers ceased to work,
Worked larger and bolder, his primary colors celebrating
The weddings of innocence and glory, innocence and glory

Monet when the cataracts blanketed his eyes
Painted swirls of rage, and when his sight recovered
Painted water lilies, Picasso claimed

I do not seek, I find, and stuck to that story
About himself, and made that story stick.
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Bess by William E. Stafford
William E. Stafford
Ours are the streets where Bess first met her
cancer. She went to work every day past the
secure houses. At her job in the library
she arranged better and better flowers, and when
students asked for books her hand went out
to help. In the last year of her life
she had to keep her friends from knowing
how happy they were. She listened while they
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Checklist by Stephen Dunn
Stephen Dunn
The housework, the factory work, the work
that takes from the body
and does not put back.
The white-collar work and the dirt
of its profits, the terrible politeness
of the office worker, the work that robs
the viscera to pay the cool
surfaces of the brain. All the work
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The Copper Beech by Daryl Hine
Daryl Hine
It is half past ten in Stonington.
The trees droop apprehensive of the heat
And the sky has turned that pale suspicious colour
That means that it cannot support more light.
Here on the terrace I and a companion
Each pretends to read. The papers say
That it is 90 in New York today.

Across the street work is going forward
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Crossing 16 by Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore

You came to my door in the dawn and sang; it angered me to be awakened from sleep, and you went away unheeded.
You came in the noon and asked for water; it vexed me in my work, and you were sent away with reproaches.
You came in the evening with your flaming torches.
You seemed to me like a terror and I shut my door.
Now in the midnight I sit alone in my lampless room and call you back whom I turned away in insult.

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Finis by Marjorie Pickthall
Marjorie Pickthall
Give me a few more hours to pass
With the mellow flower of the elm-bough falling,
And then no more than the lonely grass
And the birds calling.

Give me a few more days to keep
With a little love and a little sorrow,
And then the dawn in the skies of sleep
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Fragment 5: Whom should I choose for my Judge? by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Whom should I choose for my Judge? the earnest, impersonal reader,
Who, in the work, forgets me and the world and himself!

Ye who have eyes to detect, and Gall to Chastise the imperfect,
Have you the heart, too, that loves, feels and rewards the Compleat?

What is the meed of thy Song? 'Tis the ceaseless, the thousandfold Echo
Which from the welcoming Hearts of the Pure repeats and prolongs it,
Each with a different Tone, compleat or in musical fragments.

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Grass by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.
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His Prayer for Absolution by Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick
For those my unbaptized rhymes,
Writ in my wild unhallowed times,
For every sentence, clause, and word,
That's not inlaid with Thee, my Lord,
Forgive me, God, and blot each line
Out of my book, that is not Thine.
But if, 'mongst all, Thou find'st here one
Worthy thy benediction,
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The House of Life: 66. The Heart of the Night by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
From child to youth; from youth to arduous man;
From lethargy to fever of the heart;
From faithful life to dream-dower'd days apart;
From trust to doubt; from doubt to brink of ban;—
Thus much of change in one swift cycle ran
Till now. Alas, the soul!—how soon must she
Accept her primal immortality,—
The flesh resume its dust whence it began?
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In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 118 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Contemplate all this work of Time,
The giant labouring in his youth;
Nor dream of human love and truth,
As dying Nature's earth and lime;

But trust that those we call the dead
Are breathers of an ampler day
For ever nobler ends. They say,
The solid earth whereon we tread

In tracts of fluent heat began,
And grew to seeming-random forms,
The seeming prey of cyclic storms,
Till at the last arose the man;

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Inside of King's College Chapel, Cambridge by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

Tax not the royal Saint with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the Architect who planned—
Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed Scholars only—this immense
And glorious Work of fine intelligence!
Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more;
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells,
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering—and wandering on as loth to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.
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The New Decalogue by Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce
Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.

Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.

Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.

Thy hand from Sunday work be held—
Work not at all unless compelled.
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39
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Our Hired Girl by James Whitcomb Riley
James Whitcomb Riley
Our hired girl, she's 'Lizabuth Ann;
An' she can cook best things to eat!
She ist puts dough in our pie-pan,
An' pours in somepin' 'at's good an' sweet;
An' nen she salts it all on top
With cinnamon; an' nen she'll stop
An' stoop an' slide it, ist as slow,
In th' old cook-stove, so's 'twon't slop
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40
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Prayer by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
God, I need a job because I need money.
Here the world is, enjoyable with whiskey,
women, ultimate weapons, and class!
But if I have no money, then my wife
gets mad at me, I can’t drink well,
the armed oppress me, and no boss
pays me money. But when I work,
Oh I get paid!, the police are courteous,
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32
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The Properly Scholarly Attitude by Adelaide Crapsey
Adelaide Crapsey
The poet pursues his beautiful theme;
The preacher his golden beatitude;
And I run after a vanishing dream—
The glittering, will-o’-the-wispish gleam
Of the properly scholarly attitude—
The highly desirable, the very advisable,
The hardly acquirable, properly scholarly attitude.
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27
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Queer People by Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
The people people work with best
Are often very queer
The people people own by birth
Quite shock your first idea;
The people people choose for friends
Your common sense appall,
But the people people marry
Are the queerest folks of all.
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35
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The Snow-Storm by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
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40
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They Will Say by Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
OF my city the worst that men will ever say is this:
You took little children away from the sun and the dew,
And the glimmers that played in the grass under the great sky,
And the reckless rain; you put them between walls
To work, broken and smothered, for bread and wages,
To eat dust in their throats and die empty-hearted
For a little handful of pay on a few Saturday nights.

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39
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To John Donne by Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Donne, the delight of Phoebus and each Muse
Who, to thy one, all other brains refuse;
Whose every work of thy most early wit
Came forth example, and remains so yet;
Longer a-knowing than most wits do live;
And which no affection praise enough can give!
To it, thy language, letters, arts, best life,
Which might with half mankind maintain a strife.
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35
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Tortoise Gallantry by D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
Making his advances
He does not look at her, nor sniff at her,
No, not even sniff at her, his nose is blank.

Only he senses the vulnerable folds of skin
That work beneath her while she sprawls along
In her ungainly pace,
Her folds of skin that work and row
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32
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The Tuft of Flowers by Robert Frost
Robert Frost
I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,
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57
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Work without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lines Composed 21st February 1825 All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
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34
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SMOKE by Philip Levine
Philip Levine
Can you imagine the air filled with smoke?
It was. The city was vanishing before noon
or was it earlier than that? I can't say because
the light came from nowhere and went nowhere.

This was years ago, before you were born, before
your parents met in a bus station downtown.
She'd come on Friday after work all the way
from Toledo, and he'd dressed in his only suit.

Back then we called this a date, some times
a blind date, though they'd written back and forth
for weeks. What actually took place is now lost.
It's become part of the mythology of a family,

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37
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