Poems and Poetry



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 Messy Room

by Shel Silverstein

 

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

His underwear is hanging on the lamp.

His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,

And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.

His workbook is wedged in the window,

His sweater's been thrown on the floor.

His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,

And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.

His books are all jammed in the closet,

His vest has been left in the hall.

A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,

And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!

Donald or Robert or Willie or--

Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,

I knew it looked familiar!

 

 

Shel Silverstein Biography:

 

A truly unique and multi-faceted artist, Shel Silverstein was a renowned poet, playwright, illustrator, screenwriter, and songwriter. Best known for his immensely popular children’s books including The Giving Tree, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic, Silverstein has delighted tens of millions of readers around the world, becoming one of the most popular and best-loved children's authors of all time. 

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 I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You

by Pablo Neruda

 

I do not love you except because I love you;

I go from loving to not loving you,

From waiting to not waiting for you

My heart moves from cold to fire.

 

I love you only because it's you the one I love;

I hate you deeply, and hating you

Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you

Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

 

Maybe January light will consume

My heart with its cruel

Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

 

In this part of the story I am the one who

Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,

Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

 

 

Pablo Neruda Biography:

 

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls' secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily "La Mañana", among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia - his first publication - and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal "Selva Austral" under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

 

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

 

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el Corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterised by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el Corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

 

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, Consul General in Mexico, where he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto General, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda's production. Shortly after its publication, Canto General was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

 

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla's repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las Uvas y el Viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda's exile. In Odas elementales (1954- 1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns - things, events and relations - are duly presented in alphabetic form.

 

Neruda's production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras Completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.  

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 Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

 

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 back yard.

 

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.

 

Maya Angelou Biography:

 

 Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Among her volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (Random House, 1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.

 

In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East, and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. She accepted a lifetime appointment in 1981 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, "On The Pulse of the Morning," at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton at his request.

 

The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries "Three Way Choice." She has also written and produced several prize-winning documentaries, including "Afro-Americans in the Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Maya Angelou was twice nominated for a Tony award for acting: once for her Broadway debut in Look Away (1973), and again for her performance in Roots (1977).

 

 

 

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                                                                 A Dream Within A Dream

by Edgar Allan Poe

 

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow--

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand--

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep--while I weep!

O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

 

 

EDGAR ALLEN POE was born in Boston, January 19, 1809, and after a tempestuous life of forty years, he died in the city of Baltimore, October 7, 1849.

 

His father, the son of a distinguished officer in the Revolutionary army, was educated for the law, but having married the beautiful English actress, Elizabeth Arnold, he abandoned law, and in company with his wife, led a wandering life on the stage. The two died within a short time of each other, leaving three children entirely destitute. Edgar, the second son, a bright, beautiful boy, was adopted by John Allen, a wealthy citizen of Richmond. Allen, having no children of his own, became very much attached to Edgar, and used his wealth freely in educating the boy. At the age of seven he was sent to school at Stoke Newington, near London, where he remained for six years. During the next three years he studied under private tutors, at the residence of the Allen's in Richmond. In 1826 he entered the University of Virginia, where he remained less than a year.

 

After a year or two of fruitless life at home, a cadetship was obtained for him at West Point. He was soon tried by court-martial and expelled from school because he drank to excess and neglected his studies. Thus ended his school days.

 

In 1829 he published "Al Aaraaf, and Minor Poems." "This work," says his biographer, Mr. Stoddard, "was not a remarkable production for a young gentleman of twenty." Poe himself was ashamed of the volume.

 

After his stormy school life, he returned to Richmond, where he was kindly received by Mr. Allen. Poe's conduct was such that Mr. Allen was obliged to turn him out of doors, and, dying soon after, he made no mention of Poe in his will.

 

Now wholly thrown upon his own resources, he took up literature as a profession, but in this he failed to gain a living. He enlisted as a private soldier, but was soon recognized as the West Point cadet and a discharge procured.

 

In 1833 Poe won two prizes of $100 each for a tale in prose, and for a poem. John P. Kennedy, one of the committee who made the award, now gave him means of support, and secured employment for him as editor of the "Southern Literary Messenger" at Richmond. After a short but successful editorial work on "The Messenger," his old habits returned, he quarreled with his publishers and was dismissed. While in Richmond he married his cousin, Virginia Clem, and in January, 1837, removed to New York. Here he gained a poor support by writing for periodicals.

 

His literary work may be summed up as follows: In 1838 appeared a fiction entitled "The Narrative of Arthur Gorden Pym;" 1839, editor of Burton's "Gentleman's Magazine," Philadelphia; next, editor of "Graham's Magazine;" 1840, "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque," in two volumes; 1845, "The Raven," published by the "American Review;" then sub-editor of the "Mirror" under employment of N. P. Willis and Geo. P. Norris; next associate editor of the "Broadway Journal."

 

His wife died in 1848. His poverty was now such that the press made appeals to the public for his support.

 

In 1848 he published "Eureka, a Prose Poem."

 

He went to Richmond in 1849, where he was engaged to a lady of considerable fortune. In October he started for New York to arrange for the wedding, but at Baltimore he met some of his former boon companions, and spent the night in drinking. In the morning he was found in a state of delirium, and died in a few hours.

 

The most remarkable of his tales are "The Gold Bug," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Murders of the Rue Morgue," "The Purloined Letter," "A Descent into Maelstrom," and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar." "The Raven" and "The Bells" alone would make the name of Poe immortal. The teachers of Baltimore placed a monument over his grave in 1875.

 

Poe has been severely censured by many writers for his wild and stormy life, but we notice that Ingram and some other prominent authors claim that he has been willfully slandered and that many of the charges brought against him are not true. His ungovernable temper and high spirit led him into disputes with his friends, hence he was not enabled to hold any one position for a great length of time. Like Byron and Burns, he had faults in personal life, but his ungovernable passions are sleeping, while the sad strains of "The Raven," the clear and harmonious tones of "The Bells," and the powerful images of his fancy live in the immortal literature of his time.

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 The Road Not Taken

     by Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born in San Francisco, California. His father William Frost, a journalist and an ardent Democrat, died when Frost was about eleven years old. His Scottish mother, the former Isabelle Moody, resumed her career as a schoolteacher to support her family. The family lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, with Frost's paternal grandfather, William Prescott Frost, who gave his grandson a good schooling. In 1892 Frost graduated from a high school and attended Darthmouth College for a few months. Over the next ten years he held a number of jobs. Frost worked among others in a textile mill and taught Latin at his mother's school in Methuen, Massachusetts. In 1894 the New York Independent published Frost's poem 'My Butterfly' and he had five poems privately printed. Frost worked as a teacher and continued to write and publish his poems in magazines. In 1895 he married a former schoolmate, Elinor White; they had six children.

 

From 1897 to 1899 Frost studied at Harvard, but left without receiving a degree. He moved to Derry, New Hampshire, working there as a cobbler, farmer, and teacher at Pinkerton Academy and at the state normal school in Plymouth. When he sent his poems to The Atlantic Monthly they were returned with this note: "We regret that The Atlantic has no place for your vigorous verse."

 

In 1912 Frost sold his farm and took his wife and four young children to England. There he published his first collection of poems, A BOY'S WILL, at the age of 39. It was followed by NORTH BOSTON (1914), which gained international reputation. The collection contains some of Frost's best-known poems: 'Mending Wall,' 'The Death of the Hired Man,' 'Home Burial,' 'A Servant to Servants,' 'After Apple-Picking,' and 'The Wood-Pile.' The poems, written with blank verse or looser free verse of dialogue, were drawn from his own life, recurrent losses, everyday tasks, and his loneliness.

 

While in England Frost was deeply influenced by such English poets as Rupert Brooke. After returning to the US in 1915 with his family, Frost bought a farm near Franconia, New Hampshire. When the editor of The Atlantic Monthly asked for poems, he gave the very ones that had previously been rejected. Frost taught later at Amherst College (1916-38) and Michigan universities. In 1916 he was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. On the same year appeared his third collection of verse, MOUNTAIN INTERVAL, which contained such poems as 'The Road Not Taken,' 'The Oven Bird,' 'Birches,' and 'The Hill Wife.' Frost's poems show deep appreciation of natural world and sensibility about the human aspirations. His images - woods, stars, houses, brooks, - are usually taken from everyday life. With his down-to-earth approach to his subjects, readers found it is easy to follow the poet into deeper truths, without being burdened with pedantry. Often Frost used the rhythms and vocabulary of ordinary speech or even the looser free verse of dialogue.

 

In 1920 Frost purchased a farm in South Shaftsbury, Vermont, near Middlebury College where he cofounded the Bread Loaf School and Conference of English. His wife died in 1938 and he lost four of his children. Two of his daughters suffered mental breakdowns, and his son Carol, a frustrated poet and farmer, committed suicide. Frost also suffered from depression and the continual self-doubt led him to cling to the desire to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. After the death of his wife, Frost became strongly attracted to Kay Morrison, whom he employed as his secretary and adviser. Frost also composed for her one of his finest love poems, 'A Witness Tree.'

 

Frost travelled in 1957 with his future biographer Lawrance Thompson to England and to Israel and Greece in 1961. He participated in the inauguration of President John Kennedy in 1961 by reciting two of his poems. When the sun and the wind prevented him from reading his new poem, 'The Preface', Frost recited his old poem, 'The Gift Outright', from memory. Frost travelled in 1962 in the Soviet Union as a member of a goodwill group. He had a long talk with Premier Nikita Khrushchev, whom he described as "no fathead"; as smart, big and "not a coward." Frost also reported that Khrushchev had said the United States was "too liberal to fight," it caused a considerable stir in Washington. Among the honors and rewards Frost received were tributes from the U.S. Senate (1950), the American Academy of Poets (1953), New York University (1956), and the Huntington Hartford Foundation (1958), the Congressional Gold Medal (1962), the Edward MacDowell Medal (1962). In 1930 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Amherst College appointed him Saimpson Lecturer for Life (1949), and in 1958 he was made poetry consultant for the Library of Congress.

 

At the time of his death on January 29, 1963, Frost was considered a kind of unofficial poet laureate of the US. "I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world," Frost once said. In his poems Frost depicted the fields and farms of his surroundings, observing the details of rural life, which hide universal meaning. His independent, elusive, half humorous view of the world produced such remarks as "I never take my side in a quarrel", or "I'm never serious except when I'm fooling." Although Frost's works were generally praised, the lack of seriousness concerning social and political problems of the 1930s annoyed some more socially orientated critics. Later biographers have created a complex and contradictory portrait of the poet. In Lawrance Thompson's humorless, three-volume official biography (1966-1976) Frost was presented as a misanthrope, anti-intellectual, cruel, and angry man, but in Jay Parini's work (1999) he was again viewed with sympathy: ''He was a loner who liked company; a poet of isolation who sought a mass audience; a rebel who sought to fit in. Although a family man to the core, he frequently felt alienated from his wife and children and withdrew into reveries. While preferring to stay at home, he traveled more than any poet of his generation to give lectures and readings, even though he remained terrified of public speaking to the end..."

 

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 There is another sky

by Emily Dickinson

 

There is another sky,

Ever serene and fair,

And there is another sunshine,

Though it be darkness there;

Never mind faded forests, Austin,

Never mind silent fields -

Here is a little forest,

Whose leaf is ever green;

Here is a brighter garden,

Where not a frost has been;

In its unfading flowers

I hear the bright bee hum:

Prithee, my brother,

Into my garden come!

 

 

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a family well known for educational and political activity. Her father, an orthodox Calvinist, was a lawyer and treasurer of the local college. He also served in Congress. Dickinson's mother, whose name was also Emily, was a cold, religious, hard-working housewife, who suffered from depression. Her relationship with her daughter was distant. Later Dickinson wrote in a letter, that she never had a mother.

 

Dickinson was educated at Amherst Academy (1834-47) and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (1847-48). Around 1850 she started to compose poems - "Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine, / Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!" she said in her earliest known poem, dated March 4, 1850. It was published in Springfield Daily Republican in 1852.

 

The style of her first efforts was fairly conventional, but after years of practice she began to give room for experiments. Often written in the metre of hymns, her poems dealt not only with issues of death, faith and immortality, but with nature, domesticity, and the power and limits of language. From c.1858 Dickinson assembled many of her poems in packets of 'fascicles', which she bound herself with needle and thread. A selection of these poems appeared in 1890.

 

In 1862 Dickinson started her life long correspondence and friendship with Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911), a writer and reformer, who commanded during the Civil War the first troop of African-American soldiers. Higginson later published Army Life in a Black Regiment in 1870. On of the four poems he received from Dickinson was the famous 'Safe in their Alabaster Chambers.'

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 Sonnet 43 - How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

                by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

 

 

MRS. BROWNING was born in London, England, in 1809, and she died at Casa Guidi, Florence, June 29, 1861.

 

Her father, Mr. Barrett, was an English country gentleman. Possessing some means, he helped his daughter to acquire an excellent classical education; and, possessing considerable ability, he became, as she says, her public and her critic.

 

"Her studies were early directed to the poets of antiquity, and, under the guidance of her blind tutor, Boyle, whose name she always warmly cherished, she mastered the rich treasures of AEschylus. The sublime Grecian possessed for her a charm which was only equaled by the fascination held over her wondering spirit by Shakespeare." While she was profoundly versed in Greek literature, and intimately acquainted with all the Attic writers in tragedy and comedy, she was thoroughly versed in pure and undefiled English. In her extensive correspondence with contemporaries, she shows a thorough knowledge of English literature, from Chaucer to her own time.

 

Physically she was very delicate, but nature made up for her fragile frame by giving her a superior mental and spiritual organization. Miss Mitford, her intimate friend, describes her as a "slight, delicate figure, with a shower of dark curls falling on each side of a most expressive face, large tender eyes, richly fringed by dark eyelashes, and a smile like a sunbeam." Such, in brief, is a description of the attainments and person of the lady who, according to E. C. Stedman, was not only "the greatest female poet that England has produced, but more than this, the most inspired woman so far as known, of all who have composed in ancient or modern tongues or flourished in any land or clime."

 

Almost before her childhood had passed, she showed remarkable preferences for the arts, but especially for the poetic art. Some of her poems written before she was fifteen, show strong marks of genius, and are worthy of preservation. Her first publication was an "Essay on Mind, and other Poems." This, it is said, was written in her seventeenth year. In 1833 appeared her excellent translation of "Prometheus;" 1838, her second volume of original poetry, "The Seraphim, and other poems;" and in 1839, "The Romance of the Page."

 

While thus busily engaged in her work, she met with a personal calamity. A blood-vessel burst in her lungs, which forced her to remain at home close confinement for some time. At length her physician ordered that she be removed to a milder climate. In company with friends she went to reside at Torquay. At that place an accident occurred which saddened her life, and gave a deeper hue of thought and feeling to her poetry. Her favorite brother and two friends were taking a pleasure ride on a small vessel when the boat sank, and all on board were drowned. The shock caused a severe sickness, from which she never entirely recovered. It was a year before she was able to be removed to her father's house in London. For many years she remained in a darkened chamber, and received no visitors except her own family and a few devoted friends. While thus secluded from the outward world, she read extensively the valuable books in almost every language.

 

In 1844 she came forth from her seclusion in two volumes of "Poems by Elizabeth Barrett." The melancholy thought showed traces of the sadness of much of her former life.

 

In 1846, her thirty-seventh year, she was married to Robert Browning, noted English poet. In hopes of finding health, Mr. Browning removed to Italy. His wish was gratified, for under the sunny skies of Florence, his wife found the health which had forsaken her in her native land. In her adopted home she remained till her death.

 

The revolutionary outbreak in 1848, furnished the theme for her next work. "Casa Guidi Windows" is a poem relating to the impressions that were made upon her mind by the events which she saw from the windows of her house in Florence. It shows great warmth of feeling for the Italians. In 1856 "Aurora Leigh" was published. This is a novel in blank verse, which the poetess declared to be her most mature work. While the poem is full of splendid passages, yet as a whole it is not considered satisfactory. It contains a prodigality of genius, with discordant mixture of material. Notwithstanding the lack of unity, which is so essential for a poem of such magnitude, a large number of critics consider "Aurora Leigh" the chief source of Mrs. Browning's fame. But perhaps an equal number look upon "Casa Guidi Windows" as "containing her ripest growth and greatest intellectual strength." Indeed the circumstances under which this poem was written, were such as to call out her best efforts. She was looking from her window, and beholding the Italians struggling for freedom. Being in full sympathy with them, her utterances were in accordance with her heart--they were lavish and unrestrained. In 1860 appeared her last publication, "Poems Before Congress," which evinced her deep interest in the people of Italy. She died in the following year, and a marble tablet in front of the villa of the Brownings records that in it wrote and died Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who, by he songs, created a golden link between Italy and England, and that in gratitude Florence had erected that memorial. "Last Poems," published in 1862, contained the literary remains of the priestess of English poetry.

 

Some of her poems are especially admired. "Cowper's Grave," "The Cry of the Children," "A Child Asleep," and "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep," are jewels that shine with the brilliancy of the sun.

 

Her genius was perhaps as great as that of any poet of her generation, but circumstances retarded its highest possible development. In certain intellectual qualities she was inferior to Tennyson, and the author of `Sordello,' but in others she was their superior. Be her exact niche, however, what it may, she occupies a favored place in English literature, and is undoubtedly one of the few leading poets of the nineteenth century. Her poetry is that which refines, chastens, and elevates.

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 Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelou

 

 

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I'm telling lies.

I say,

It's in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It's the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can't touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can't see.

I say,

It's in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I'm a woman

 

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

Now you understand

Just why my head's not bowed.

I don't shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It's in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

'Cause I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

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Maya Angelou Biography

 

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Among her volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (Random House, 1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize.

 

In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East, and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. She accepted a lifetime appointment in 1981 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, "On The Pulse of the Morning," at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton at his request.

 

The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries "Three Way Choice." She has also written and produced several prize-winning documentaries, including "Afro-Americans in the Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Maya Angelou was twice nominated for a Tony award for acting: once for her Broadway debut in Look Away (1973), and again for her performance in Roots (1977).

 

 

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 If You Forget Me

by Pablo Neruda

 

 

I want you to know

one thing.

 

You know how this is:

if I look

at the crystal moon, at the red branch

of the slow autumn at my window,

if I touch

near the fire

the impalpable ash

or the wrinkled body of the log,

everything carries me to you,

as if everything that exists,

aromas, light, metals,

were little boats

that sail

toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

 

Well, now,

if little by little you stop loving me

I shall stop loving you little by little.

 

If suddenly

you forget me

do not look for me,

for I shall already have forgotten you.

 

If you think it long and mad,

the wind of banners

that passes through my life,

and you decide

to leave me at the shore

of the heart where I have roots,

remember

that on that day,

at that hour,

I shall lift my arms

and my roots will set off

to seek another land.

 

But

if each day,

each hour,

you feel that you are destined for me

with implacable sweetness,

if each day a flower

climbs up to your lips to seek me,

ah my love, ah my own,

in me all that fire is repeated,

in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,

my love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live it will be in your arms

without leaving mine

 

 

Pablo Neruda Biography

 

           Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls' secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily "La Mañana", among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia - his first publication - and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal "Selva Austral" under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

 

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

 

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el Corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterised by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el Corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

 

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, Consul General in Mexico, where he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto General, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda's production. Shortly after its publication, Canto General was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

 

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla's repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las Uvas y el Viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda's exile. In Odas elementales (1954- 1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns - things, events and relations - are duly presented in alphabetic form.

 

Neruda's production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras Completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.

 

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 I carry your heart with me

by E. E. Cummings

 

 

I carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

I fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

 

I carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

 

 

E. E. Cummings Biography

 

 

         Edward Estlin Cummings was born October 14, 1894 in the town of Cambridge Massachusetts. His father, and most constant source of awe, Edward Cummings, was a professor of Sociology and Political Science at Harvard University. In 1900, Edward left Harvard to become the ordained minister of the South Congregational Church, in Boston. As a child, E.E. attended Cambridge public schools and lived during the summer with his family in their summer home in Silver Lake, New Hampshire. (Kennedy 8-9) E.E. loved his childhood in Cambridge so much that he was inspired to write disputably his most famous poem, "In Just-" (Lane pp. 26-27)

 

Not so much in, "In Just-" but Cummings took his father's pastoral background and used it to preach in many of his other poems. In "you shall above all things be glad and young," Cummings preaches to the reader in verse telling them to love with naivete and innocence, rather than listen to the world and depend on their mind.

 

Attending Harvard, Cummings studied Greek and other languages (p. 62). In college, Cummings was introduced to the writing and artistry of Ezra Pound, who was a large influence on E.E. and many other artists in his time (pp. 105-107). After graduation, Cummings volunteered for the Norton-Haries Ambulance Corps. En-route to France, Cummings met another recruit, William Slater Brown. The two became close friends, and as Brown was arrested for writing incriminating letters home, Cummings refused to separate from his friend and the two were sent to the La Ferte Mace concentration camp. The two friends were finally freed, only due to the persuasion of Cummings' father.

 

This experience proved quite instrumental to Cummings writing; The Enormous Room is Cummings' autobiographical account of his time in the internment camp. E.E. was extremely cautious to attempt to publish The Enormous Room, however after great persuasion by his father, Cummings finally had a copy of the manuscript sent to Boston to be read. (Kennedy p. 213) Cummings greatest fan, Edward wrote after reading his son's manuscript, "I am sure now that you [E.E] are a great writer, and as proud of it now, as I shall be when the world finds out." (p. 213)

 

Cummings and Brown returned back to the states in January only to see Cummings drafted back to the war that summer. When Cummings returned after the armistice, he moved back in with Brown and soon met his first wife, Elaine Orr (p. 165). In 1920, Cummings began to concentrate on his writing and painting. For the next six years, Cummings wrote many pieces of work, Tulips and Chimneys (1923), & (1925), XLI Poems (1925), and Is 5 (1926). Also during that time, Cummings and Elaine's marriage ended in a rather complicated divorce. Cummings had no concept of how to treat his new wife correctly, so she found herself love in the arms of another man (p. 264).

 

In the same year that Is 5 was published, Cummings' father was abruptly killed and his mother was injured seriously in a car accident. With his new love-interest, Anne Barton, Cummings found out of his father's death at a small party in New York. Cummings and his sister, Elizabeth, immediately rushed to their mother's bedside. Although she was not expected to live through the week, Rebecca was inspired by her children to continue living and she miraculously survived a fractured skull. E.E. explained the catastrophe in these words,

 

"... a locomotive cut the car in half, killing my father instantly. When two brakemen jumped from the halted train, they saw a woman standing- dazed but erect- beside a mangled machine; with blood spouting (as the older said to me) out of her head. One of her hands (the younger added) kept feeling her dress, as if trying to discover why it was wet. These men took my sixty-six year old mother by the arms and tried to lead her toward a nearby farmhouse; but she threw them off, strode straight to my father's body, and directed a group of scared spectators to cover him. When this had been done (and only then) she let them lead her away." (Kennedy 293)

Cummings' father was an incredible influence on his work. At his death, Cummings' entered "a new poetic period." (p. 386) His father's death sobered E.E. to write about more important facets of life. Cummings began his new era of poetry by paying tribute to his father's memory in his poem, "my father moved through dooms of love" (Lane p. 41ñ43). This poem, used to cope with the death of his role model, was not a somber funeral drone, but rather, a celebration of the life and love that his father brought to Cummings' life and poetry. While making notes about his father, Cummings wrote, "He was the handsomest man I ever saw. Big was my father and strong with lightblue skies for eyes." (Kennedy p. 385)

 

From his father's death to 1932, Cummings survived a poor showing of his play Him (1927), and published two other works of his artistic talents in CIOPW (1931), and ViVa (1931). Cummings also successfully married and divorced Anne Barton in the five years after the accident that took his father away from him (p. 296). 1932 is an important year for Cummings because it is the year that he met the woman that he would ultimately spent his remaining life with. Marion Morehouse was twelve years younger than E.E. It is uncertain whether E.E. and Marion ever officially exchanged vows, although their role in each other's lives was certainly that of husband and wife (p. 338-340).

 

With a beautiful "wife", Cummings traveled the world. He ventured to Tunisia, Russia, Mexico, and France, among many other visits he made to lands across the Atlantic. Throughout these trips, Cummings manages to publish eight works: The Red Front (1933), Eimi (1933), No Thanks (1935), Tom (1935), Collected Poems (1940), 1x 1 (1944), and Santa Claus (1946). In Europe, Cummings wrote many anti-war poems in protesting America's involvement in Europe and the Pacific. E.E. wrote the poem "plato told" to continue the work that his late-father had done as the Executive Secretary of the World Peace Foundation. (Kennedy p. 286) His work was cut short for a brief period with the sudden deterioration of his mother's health. In January of 1947, Rebecca suffered a stroke and was put into a coma. She died a couple weeks later, never regaining consciousness. One of his poems was read at her funeral service, "if there are any heavens." (p. 413)

 

This memorial for Cummings mother is a true testament to the knowledge that E.E. had about his parents' love. He paints a picture to the reader of Cummings father waiting in heaven for his wife (Cummings' mother). His parents are described as strong and determined spirits, yet they have a comforting demeanor. Obvious from this poem, Cummings truly loved his parents, and had a sense of closure knowing that with his mother's death, the two were finally together.

 

Fifteen years after his mother's death, Edward Estlin Cummings collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage at his summer home in Joy Farm. Soon after his death, three more volumes of his verse were published (p. 484). Counting these works, Cummings died leaving behind over twenty-five books of prose, poetry, charcoal and pencil drawings, plays and stories. He did all this in his sixty-eight years of life.