Inspiration: Poems

Poem: ” Do Not!,” by Stevie Smith

Poem: ” Do Not!,” by Stevie Smith

Do not despair of man, and do not scold him, Who are you that you should so lightly hold him? Are you not also a man, and in your heart Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart? Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel, Do you not think of yourself as usual,...

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Poem: “Good People,” by W.S. Merwin

Poem: “Good People,” by W.S. Merwin

From the kindness of my parents I suppose it was that I held that belief about suffering imagining that if only it could come to the attention of any person with normal feelings certainly anyone literate who might have gone to college they would comprehend pain when...

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Poem: Just This Breath,” by Danna Faulds

Poem: Just This Breath,” by Danna Faulds

Settle in the here and now. Reach down into the center where the world is not spinning and drink this holy peace. Feel relief flood into every cell. Nothing to do. Nothing to be but what you are already Nothing to receive but what flows effortlessly from the mystery...

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Poem: “Epigrams,” by Edwin Markham

Poem: “Epigrams,” by Edwin Markham

Preparedness FOR all your days prepare, And meet them ever alike: When you are the anvil, bear-- When you are the hammer, Strike. Outwitted He drew a circle that shut me out-- Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that...

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Poem: “Protest,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poem: “Protest,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men. The human race Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised Against injustice, ignorance, and lust, The inquisition yet would serve the law, And guillotines decide our least disputes. The few who...

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Poem: “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Poem: “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas! When the sun is bright on the upland slopes; When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass, And the river flows like a stream of glass; When the first bird sings and the first bud opes, And the faint perfume from its...

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Poem: “Lincoln,” by Carl Sandburg

Poem: “Lincoln,” by Carl Sandburg

Lincoln? He was a mystery in smoke and flags Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags, Yes to the paradoxes of democracy, Yes to the hopes of government Of the people by the people for the people, No to debauchery of the public mind, No to personal malice nursed and...

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Poem: The Calf-Path

Poem: The Calf-Path

Sometimes taking the path of compassion means abandoning the well-traveled path, as this 1895 poem by Sam Walter Foss reminds us: One day through the primeval wood A calf walked home, as good calves should; But made a trail all bent askew, A crooked trail as all...

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Poem: “Mysteries, Yes,” by Mary Oliver

Poem: “Mysteries, Yes,” by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood. How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of the lambs. How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising. How two hands touch and the bonds will never be...

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Poem: “The Orange,” by Wendy Cope

Poem: “The Orange,” by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange— The size of it made us all laugh. I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave— They got quarters and I got a half. And that orange, it made me so happy, As ordinary things often do Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park....

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Poem: “The Shoelace,” by Charles Bukowski

Poem: “The Shoelace,” by Charles Bukowski

a woman, a tire that’s flat, a disease, a desire: fears in front of you, fears that hold so still you can study them like pieces on a chessboard… it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse. death he’s ready for, or murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood…...

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Poem: “Peacemaking,” by Caryn Leigh Wideman

Poem: “Peacemaking,” by Caryn Leigh Wideman

Leave the violence to those                 who believe in violence Leave the aggression to those                 who are aggressive. Live the alternative. Seek out the immigrant, the handicapped,                 the queer, the woman, the child,                 the...

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Poem: “I Won’t Hatch,” by Shel Silverstein

Poem: “I Won’t Hatch,” by Shel Silverstein

Oh I am a chicken who lives in an egg, But I will not hatch, I will not hatch. The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg, But I will not hatch, I will not hatch. For I hear all the talk of pollution and war As the people all shout and the airplanes roar, So I’m...

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Poem: “Aimless Love,” by Billy Collins

Poem: “Aimless Love,” by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore, I fell in love with a wren and later in the day with a mouse the cat had dropped under the dining room table. In the shadows of an autumn evening, I fell for a seamstress still at her machine in the tailor's window, and...

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Poem: “You see this,” by Octavia Butler

Poem: “You see this,” by Octavia Butler

You see this This is what is in you What makes you What connects you You are more than flesh and bone More than blood and sinew More than tendon and cartilage You are forever You are everything everywhere All at once You are universes and galaxies Still undiscovered...

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Poem: “A New National Anthem,” by Ada Limon

Poem: “A New National Anthem,” by Ada Limon

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets red glare” and then there are the bombs. (Always, always, there is war and bombs.) Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw...

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Poem: “The Good News,” by Thích Nhat Hanh

Poem: “The Good News,” by Thích Nhat Hanh

They don’t publish the good news. The good news is published by us. We have a special edition every moment, and we need you to read it. The good news is that you are alive, and the linden tree is still there, standing firm in the harsh winter. The good news is that...

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Poem: “Autopsy,” by Sherman Alexie

Poem: “Autopsy,” by Sherman Alexie

Last night, I dreamed that my passport bled. I dreamed that my passport was a tombstone For our United States, recently dead. I dreamed that my passport was made of bone— That it was a canoe carved out of stone. “But I can’t swim,” I said. “I will drown If I can’t...

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