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Do not go gentle into that good night


Dylan Thomas


Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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In thematic contrast, one of my favorite poems:


A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

John Donne


As virtuous men pass mildly away,

And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say,

"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."


So let us melt, and make no noise,

No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;

'Twere profanation of our joys

To tell the laity our love.


Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;

Men reckon what it did, and meant ;

But trepidation of the spheres,

Though greater far, is innocent.


Dull sublunary lovers' love

—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit

Of absence, 'cause it doth remove

The thing which elemented it.


But we by a love so much refined,

That ourselves know not what it is,

Inter-assurèd of the mind,

Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.


Our two souls therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

Like gold to aery thinness beat.


If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two ;

Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show

To move, but doth, if th' other do.


And though it in the centre sit,

Yet, when the other far doth roam,

It leans, and hearkens after it,

And grows erect, as that comes home.


Such wilt thou be to me, who must,

Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

And makes me end where I begun.

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What We Might Be, What We Are

by X. J. Kennedy


If you were a scoop of vanilla

And I were the cone where you sat,

If you were a slowly pitched baseball

And I were the swing of a bat,


If you were a shiny new fishhook

And I were a bucket of worms,

If we were a pin and a pincushion,

We might be on intimate terms.


If you were a plate of spaghetti

And I were your piping-hot sauce,

We'd not even need to write letters

To put our affection across,


But you're just a piece of red ribbon

In the beard of a Balinese goat

And I'm a New Jersey mosquito.

I guess we'll stay slightly remote.

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The Clause by C. K. Williams


This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness, this wedge of want my mind calls self, this self which doubts so much and which keeps reaching, keeps referring, keeps aspiring, longing, towards some state from which ambiguity would be banished, uncertainty expunged;


this implement my mind and self imagine they might make together, which would have everything accessible to it, all our doings and undoings all at once before it, so it would have at last the right to bless, or blame, for without everything before you, all at once, how bless, how blame?


this capacity imagination, self and mind conceive might be the "soul," which would be able to regard such matters as creation and destruction,

origin and extinction, of species, peoples, even families, even mine, of equal consequence, and might finally solve the quandary of this thing of being, and this other thing of not;


these layers, these divisions, these meanings or the lack thereof, these fissures and abysses beside which I stumble, over which I reel:

is the place, the space, they constitute,

which I never satisfactorily experience but from which the fear I might be torn away appalls me, me, or what might most be me?


Even mine, I say, as if I might ever believe such a thing; bless and blame, I say, as though I could ever not.


This ramshackle, this unwieldy, this jerry-built assemblage, this unfelt always felt disarray: is this the sum of me, is this where I'm meant to end, exactly where I started out?

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Parting by Emily Dickinson


My life closed twice before its close;

It yet remains to see

If immortality unveil

A third event to me


So huge, so hopeless to conceive

As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,

And all we need of hell.

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I Planned To Have a Border of Lavender

by Paul Goodman


I planned to have a border of lavender

but planted the bank too of lavender

and now my whole crazy garden

is grown in lavender


it smells so sharp heady and musky

of lavender, and the hue of only

lavender is all my garden up

into the gray rocks.


When forth I go from here the heedless lust

I squander—and in vain for I am stup*d

and miss the moment—it has blest me silly

when forth I go


and when, sitting as gray as these gray rocks

among the lavender, I breathe the lavender's

tireless squandering, I liken it

to my silly lusting,


I liken my silly indefatigable

lusting to the lavender which has grown over

all my garden, banks and borders, up

into the gray rocks

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The Man Who Finds That His Son Has Become a Thief by Raymond Souster


Coming into the store at first angry

At the accusation, believing in

The word of his boy who has told him:

I didn't steal anything, honest.


Then becoming calmer, seeing that anger

Will not help in the business, listening painfully

As the other's evidence unfolds, so painfully slow.


Then seeing gradually that evidence

Almost as if tighten slowly around the neck

Of his son, at first vaguely circumstantial, then gathering damage,

Until there is present the unmistakable odor of guilt

Which seeps now into the mind and lays its poison.


Suddenly feeling sick and alone and afraid,

As if an unseen hand had slapped him in the face

For no reason whatsoever: wanting to get out

Into the street, the night, the darkness, anywhere to hide

The pain that must show in the face to these strangers, the fear.


It must be like this.

It could hardly be otherwise.

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The Wordsworth Effect by Joyce Sutphen


Is when you return to a place

and it's not nearly as amazing

as you once thought it was,


or when you remember how you felt

about something (or someone) but you know

you'll never feel that way again.


It's when you notice someone has turned

down the volume, and you realize

it was you; when you have the


suspicion that you've met the enemy

and you are it, or when you get

your best ideas from your sister's journal.


Is also-to be fair-the thing that enables

you to walk for miles and miles chanting to

yourself in iambic pentameter


and to travel through Europe with

only a clean shirt, a change of

underwear, a notebook and a pen.


And yes: is when you stretch out

on your couch and summon up ten thousand

daffodils, all dancing in the breeze.

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Windows is Shutting Down by Clive James


Windows is shutting down, and grammar are

On their last leg. So what am we to do?

A letter of complaint go just so far,

Proving the only one in step are you.


Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.

A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad

Before they gets to where you doesnt knows

The meaning what it must be meant to had.


The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,

But evolution do not stop for that.

A mutant languages rise from the dead

And all them rules is suddenly old hat.


Too bad for we, us what has had so long

The best seat from the only game in town.

But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?

Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

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Youth by W. S. Merwin


Through all of youth I was looking for you

without knowing what I was looking for


or what to call you I think I did not

even know I was looking how would I


have known you when I saw you as I did

time after time when you appeared to me


as you did naked offering yourself

entirely at that moment and you let


me breathe you touch you taste you knowing

no more than I did and only when I


began to think of losing you did I

recognize you when you were already


part memory part distance remaining

mine in the ways that I learn to miss you


from what we cannot hold the stars are made


************************************************** *****


Good Night by W. S. Merwin


Sleep softly my old love

my beauty in the dark

night is a dream we have

as you know as you know


night is a dream you know

an old love in the dark

around you as you go

without end as you know


in the night where you go

sleep softly my old love

without end in the dark

in the love that you know

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The Pinnacle by W. S. Merwin


Both of us understood

what a privilege it was

to be out for a walk

with each other

we could tell from our different

heights that this

kind of thing happened

so rarely that it might

not come round again

for me to be allowed

even before I

had started school

to go out for a walk

with Miss Giles

who had just retired

from being a teacher all her life


she was beautiful

in her camel hair coat

that seemed like the autumn leaves

our walk was her idea

we liked listening to each other

her voice was soft and sure

and we went our favorite way

the first time just in case

it was the only time

even though it might be too far

we went all the way

up the Palisades to the place

we called the pinnacle

with its park at the cliff's edge

overlooking the river

it was already a secret

the pinnacle

as we were walking back

when the time was later

than we had realized

and in fact no one

seemed to know where we had been

even when she told them

no one had heard of the pinnacle


and then where did she go

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Now by Greg Watson


I told you once when we were young that

we would someday meet again.

Now, the years flown past, the letters

unwritten, I am not so certain.


It is autumn. There are toothaches hidden

in this wind, there are those determined

to bring forth winter at any cost.

I am resigned to dark blonde shadows


at stoplights, lost in the roadmaps of leaves

which point in every direction at once.

But I am wearing the shirt you stitched

two separate lifetimes ago. It is old


and falling to ash, yet every button blooms

the flowers of your design. I think of this

and I am happy, to have kissed

your mouth with the force of language,


to have spoken your name at all.

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Adding It Up by Philip Booth


My mind's eye opens before

the light gets up. I

lie awake in the small dark,

figuring payments, or how

to scrape paint; I count

rich women I didn't marry.

I measure bicycle miles

I pedaled last Thursday

to take off weight; I give some

passing thought to the point

that if I hadn't turned poet

I might well be some other

sort of accountant. Before

the sun reports its own weather

my mind is openly at it:

I chart my annual rainfall.

or how I'll plant seed if

I live to be fifty. I look up

words like "bilateral symmetry"

in my mind's dictionary; I consider

the bivalve mollusc, re-pick

last summer's mussels on Condon Point,

preview the next red tide, and

hold my breath: I listen hard

to how my heart valves are doing.

I try not to get going

too early: bladder permitting,

I mean to stay in bed until six;

I think in spirals, building

horizon pyramids, yielding to

no man's flag but my own.

I think of Saul Steinberg:

I play touch football on one leg,

I seesaw on the old cliff, trying

to balance things out: job,

wife, children, myself.

My mind's eye opens before

my body is ready for its

first duty: cleaning up after

an old-maid Basset in heat.

That, too, I inventory:

the Puritan strain will out,

even at six a.m.; sun or no sun,

I'm Puritan to the bone, down to

the marrow and then some:

if I'm not sorry I worry,

if I can't worry I count.

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Truth by Leonard Nathan


As children in the schoolroom game

whisper from one end of the class to the other

and garble the message they pass on or change it

beyond recognition, so we

pass on the truth of our kind.


My father heard it from his, something

vaguely involving God, and his father

heard it from his, and so on back

to Abraham, and so father

passed it on to me, but God had dropped out.


And so my son heard it, a wisdom

found inside a Chinese fortune cookie:

"Be good and hope," which he will pass on

to his son, but maybe with good

missing or hope, maybe with love added.


Though love was never meant to mean so much.

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