April is my favorite time of year. Not for the showers (although, rain’s nice), nor for the beginning of spring; rather, April is my favorite time of the year because it’s officially National Poetry Month and that means I get to spam everyone I know on Facebook with poems everyday, and sometimes twice a day, for a whole month. It’s also the month of William Shakespeare’s birth and death, so I like to pay special attention to his sonnets and poems, as well as poetry that celebrates his work, during my favorite time of the year.
It’s really an English degree holder’s dream.
I want to share poetry with everyone this time of the year, and you are not immune. Here’s a poetry month starter kit of poetry for you to share with your friends, or to just read an enjoy, during my favorite month of the year.
National Poetry Month
by Elaine Equi
When a poem
speaks by itself,
it has a spark
and can be considered
part of a divine
Sometimes the poem weaves
like a basket around
two loaves of yellow bread.
“Break off a piece
of this April with its
raisin nipples,” it says.
“And chew them slowly
under your pillow.
You belong in bed with me.”
On the other hand,
when a poem speaks
in the voice of a celebrity
it is called television
or a movie.
“There is nothing to see,”
say Robert De Niro,
though his poem bleeds
all along the edges
like a puddle
with yellow tape
at the crime scene
“It is an old poem,” he adds.
I was very young
when I made it.”
Spring is like a perhaps hand
By E. E. Cummings
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and fro moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.
By Billy Collins
Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—
maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,
and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
By William Shakespeare
Love is too young to know what conscience is,
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove:
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body’s treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no farther reason,
But rising at thy name doth point out thee,
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her love, for whose dear love I rise and fall.
Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.
By Donald Justice
Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Was sick or
As I drove past
Is for whoever
Had the light on
This Is Just to Say
By William Calors Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
By Diane Di Prima
you are my bread
and the hairline
of my bones
you are almost
you are not stone
or molten sound
you have no hands
this kind of bird flies backward
and this love
breaks on a windowpane
where no light talks
this is not time
for crossing tongues
(the sand here
turned you with his toe
and you will
unspent and underground
By Adrienne Rich
The glass has been falling all afternoon,
And knowing better than the instrument
What winds are walking overhead, what zone
Of gray unrest is moving across the land,
I leave the book upon a pillowed chair
And walk from window to closed window, watching
Boughs strain against the sky
And think again, as often when the air
Moves inward toward a silent core of waiting,
How with a single purpose time has traveled
By secret currents of the undiscerned
Into this polar realm. Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.
Between foreseeing and averting change
Lies all the mastery of elements
Which clocks and weatherglasses cannot alter.
Time in the hand is not control of time,
Nor shattered fragments of an instrument
A proof against the wind; the wind will rise,
We can only close the shutters.
I draw the curtains as the sky goes black
And set a match to candles sheathed in glass
Against the keyhole draught, the insistent whine
Of weather through the unsealed aperture.
This is our sole defense against the season;
These are the things that we have learned to do
Who live in troubled regions.
In the Secular Night
By Margaret Atwood
In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It’s two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew smoke up the chimney,
and cried for awhile because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.
Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it’s baby lima beans.
It’s necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You’d be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.
There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, the sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn’t now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant
By Emily Dickinson
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind –
A. R. Ammons
The very longest swell in the ocean, I suspect,
carries the deepest memory, the information of actions
summarized (surface peaks and dibbles and local sharp
slopes of windstorms) with a summary of the summaries
and under other summaries a deeper summary: well, maybe
deeper, longer for length here is the same as deep
time: so that the longest swell swells least; that
is, its effects in immediate events are least perceptible,
a pitch to white water rising say a millimeter more
because of an old invisible presence: and on the ocean
floor an average so vast occurs it moves in a noticeability
of a thousand years, every blip, though, of surface and
intermediacy moderated into account: I like to go
to old places where the effect dwells, summit or seas
so hard to summon into mind, even with the natural
ones hard to climb or weigh: I go there in my mind
(which is, after all, where these things negotiably are)
and tune in to the wave nearly beyond rise or fall in its
staying and hum the constant, universal assimilation: the
information, so packed, nearly silenced with majesty
and communicating hardly any action: go there and
rest from the ragged and rapid pulse, the immediate threat
shot up in a disintegrating spray, the many thoughts and
sights unmanageable, the deaths of so many, hungry or mad.