poem

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 - 1926

The Veteran

The Veteran When I was young and bold and strong, Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong! My plume on high, my flag unfurled, I rode away to right the world. "Come out, you dogs, and fight!" said I, And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad Are woven in a crazy plaid. I sit and say, "The world is so; And he is wise who lets it go. A battle lost, a battle won-- The difference is small, my son."

Inertia rides and riddles me; The which is called Philosophy.

 

~ Dorothy Parker

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.

A Story That Could Be True

If you were exchanged in the cradle and your real mother died without ever telling the story then no one knows your name, and somewhere in the world your father is lost and needs you but you are far away.
He can never find how true you are, how ready. When the great wind comes and the robberies of the rain you stand on the corner shivering. The people who go by - you wonder at their calm.
They miss the whisper that runs any day in your mind, "Who are you really, wanderer?" and the answer you have to give no matter how dark and cold the world around you is: "Maybe I'm a king."

~William Stafford

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

~ William Ernest Henley

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice - though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations - though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice, which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do - determined to save the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

Revelation

We make ourselves a place apart Behind light words that tease and flout, But oh, the agitated heart Till someone find us really out.
'Tis pity if the case require (Or so we say) that in the end We speak the literal to inspire The understanding of a friend.
But so with all, from babes that play At hide-and-seek to God afar, So all who hide too well away Must speak and tell us where they are.

~ Robert Frost