by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Once, when I wandered in the woods alone,
An old man tottered up to me and said,
"Come, friend, and see the grave that I have made
For Amaryllis."  There was in the tone
Of his complaint such quaver and such moan
That I took pity on him and obeyed,
And long stood looking where his hands had laid
An ancient woman, shrunk to skin and bone.

Far out beyond the forest I could hear
The calling of loud progress, and the bold
Incessant scream of commerce ringing clear;
But though the trumpets of the world were glad,
It made me lonely and it made me sad
To think that Amaryllis had grown old.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


The Story of the Ashes and the Flame

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

No matter why, nor whence, nor when she came,
There was her place.  No matter what men said,
No matter what she was; living or dead,
Faithful or not, he loved her all the same.
The story was as old as human shame,
But ever since that lonely night she fled,
With books to blind him, he had only read
The story of the ashes and the flame.

There she was always coming pretty soon
To fool him back, with penitent scared eyes
That had in them the laughter of the moon
For baffled lovers, and to make him think
Before she gave him time enough to wink
Her kisses were the keys to Paradise.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Dear Friends

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Dear friends, reproach me not for what I do,
Nor counsel me, nor pity me; nor say
That I am wearing half my life away
For bubble-work that only fools pursue.
And if my bubbles be too small for you,
Blow bigger then your own: the games we play
To fill the frittered minutes of a day,
Good glasses are to read the spirit through.

And whoso reads may get him some shrewd skill;
And some unprofitable scorn resign,
To praise the very thing that he deplores.
So, friends (dear friends), remember, if you will,
The shame I win for singing is all mine,
The gold I miss for dreaming is all yours.

Note:  A recitation may be heard here.



by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Friendless and faint, with martyred steps and slow,
Faint for the flesh, but for the spirit free,
Stung by the mob that came to see the show,
The Master toiled along to Calvary;
We gibed him, as he went, with houndish glee,
Till his eyes for us did overflow;
We cursed his vengeless hands thrice wretchedly,
And this was nineteen hundred years ago.

But after nineteen hundred years the shame
Still clings, and we have not made good the loss
That outraged faith has entered in his name.
Ah, when shall come love's courage to be strong!
Tell me, O Lord—tell me, O Lord, how long
Are we to keep Christ writhing on the cross!

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Mein Schutzengel

von Günter Grass

Er schüttet mich aus:

das Kind mit dem Bade.

Ich springe nicht gerne:
wer springt, fällt in Gnade.

Soviel ich auch stemme:
er zinkt die Gewichte.

Will ich mit der Tante:
beschützt er die Nichte.

Zerwerfe ich Schreiben:
er handelt mit Kitt.

und geh ich verloren:
mein Finder geht mit.



by Ina Coolbirth

On Hearing Kelley’s Music to ‘Macbeth’

O melody, what children strange are these 
   From thy most vast, illimitable realm? 
   These sounds that seize upon and overwhelm 
   The soul with shuddering ecstasy! Lo! here 
   The night is, and the deeds that make night fear; 
Wild winds and waters, and the sough of trees 
   Tossed in the tempest; wail of spirits banned, 
   Wandering, unhoused of clay, in the dim land; 
The incantation of the Sisters Three, 
   Nameless of deed and name – the mystic chords 
   Weird repetitions of the mystic words; 
   The mad, remorseful terrors of the Thane, 
   And bloody hands – which bloody must remain. 
   Last, the wild march; the battle hand to hand 
Of clashing arms, in awful harmony, 
   Sublimely grand, and terrible as grand! 
The clan-cries; the barbaric trumpetry; 
   And the one fateful note, that, throughout all, 
   Leads, follows, calls, compels, and holds in thrall.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Away above a Harborful...

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Away above a harborful 
                                              of caulkless houses   
among the charley noble chimneypots 
                  of a rooftop rigged with clotheslines   
             a woman pastes up sails 
                                          upon the wind 
hanging out her morning sheets 
                                             with wooden pins 
                                  O lovely mammal 
                                             her nearly naked breasts   
                        throw taut shadows 
                                             when she stretches up   
to hang at last the last of her 
                                              so white washed sins   
                  but it is wetly amorous 
                                                   and winds itself about her   
                     clinging to her skin 
                                                   So caught with arms   
            she tosses back her head 
                                              in voiceless laughter   
    and in choiceless gesture then 
                                                 shakes out gold hair 

while in the reachless seascape spaces 

                           between the blown white shrouds   

         stand out the bright steamers 

                                                to kingdom come

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.