Inspiration: Poems

Poem: “Relax,” by Ellen Bass

Poem: “Relax,” by Ellen Bass

Bad things are going to happen. Your tomatoes will grow a fungus and your cat will get run over. Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream melting in the car and throw your blue cashmere sweater in the drier. Your husband will sleep with a girl your daughter’s...

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Poem: “Empathy,” by George Eliot

Poem: “Empathy,” by George Eliot

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible Comfort of feeling safe with a person, Having neither to weight thoughts, Nor measure words--but pouring them All right out--just as they are Chaff and grain together, Certain that a faithful hand will Take and sift them, Keep what...

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Poem: “My Standard Response,” by Karenne Wood

Poem: “My Standard Response,” by Karenne Wood

I.     The first question is always phrased this way:     “So. How much Indian are you?” II.     We did not live in tepees.     We did not braid our hair.     We did not fringe our shirts.     We did not wear war bonnets.     We did not chase the buffalo.     We did...

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Poem: “Red Brocade,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Poem: “Red Brocade,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Arabs used to say, When a stranger appears at your door, feed him for three days before asking who he is, where he’s come from, where he’s headed. That way, he’ll have strength enough to answer. Or, by then you’ll be such good friends you don’t care. Let’s go back...

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Poem: “Experience,” by Carl Sandburg

Poem: “Experience,” by Carl Sandburg

This morning I looked at the map of the day And said to myself, “This is the way! This is the way I will go; Thus shall I range on the roads of achievement, The way is so clear—it shall all be a joy on the lines marked out.” And then as I went came a place that was...

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Poem: “Wage Peace,” by Judyth Hill

Poem: “Wage Peace,” by Judyth Hill

Wage peace with your breath. Breathe in firemen and rubble, breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds. Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields. Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees. Breathe in the...

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“The Trophy,” by Edwin Muir

“The Trophy,” by Edwin Muir

The wise king dowered with blessings on his throne, The rebel raising the flag in the market place, Haunt me like figures on an ancient stone The ponderous light of history beats upon, Or the enigma of a single face Handed unguessed, unread, from father to son, As if...

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Poem: “The Hidden Law,” by W.H. Auden

Poem: “The Hidden Law,” by W.H. Auden

The Hidden Law does not deny Our laws of probability, But takes the atom and the star And human beings as they are, And answers nothing when we lie. It is the only reason why No government can codify, And verbal definitions mar The Hidden Law. Its utter patience will...

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Poem: “Start Close In,” by David Whyte

Poem: “Start Close In,” by David Whyte

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take. Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way to begin the conversation. Start with your own question, give...

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Poem: “On The Fifth Day,” by Jane Hirshfield

Poem: “On The Fifth Day,” by Jane Hirshfield

On the fifth day the scientists who studied the rivers were forbidden to speak or to study the rivers. The scientists who studied the air were told not to speak of the air, and the ones who worked for the farmers were silenced, and the ones who worked for the bees....

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“A New National Anthem,” by Ada Limón

“A New National Anthem,” by Ada Limón

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: “Truth,” by Gwendolyn Brooks

Poem: “Truth,” by Gwendolyn Brooks

And if sun comes How shall we greet him? Shall we not dread him, Shall we not fear him After so lengthy a Session with shade? Though we have wept for him, Though we have prayed All through the night-years— What if we wake one shimmering morning to Hear the fierce...

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“Circle and Square,” by Edwin Muir

“Circle and Square,” by Edwin Muir

  ‘I give you half of me; No more, lest I should make A ground for perjury. For your sake, for my sake, Half will you take?’ ‘Half I’ll not take nor give, For he who gives gives all. By halves you cannot live; Then let the barrier fall, In one circle have all.’ “A...

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