I make it a point to read a book of poetry at least once each year. I know that I probably didn’t like cabbage the first time that I ate it, but I love it now. So, I am hoping that through continued exposure I will develop the same kind of taste for poetry.
The peace of great books be for you,
Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages,
Bleach of the light of years held in leather.
~ Carl Sandburg, from his poem “For You”, in Harvest Poems: 1910-1960
The dwarf sees farther than the giant, when he has the giant’s shoulder to mount on.
~ in The Friend (1828)
Facts are not truths; they are not conclusions; they are not even premises. The truth depends on, and is only arrived at, by a legitimate deduction from all the facts which are truly material.
The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.
I believe Plato and Socrates. I believe in Jesus Christ.
He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.
~ in Moral and Religious Aphorisms
But he who is unable to live in society, or who has not need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.
~ In Politics, bk. I, ch. 2, 1253a
If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.
~ In Politics
That which has become habitual becomes, as it were, a part of our nature; in fact, habit is something like nature, for the difference between “often” and “always” is not great, and nature belongs tot he idea of “always,” habit to that of “often.”
~ in Rhetorica 1.11
All art, all education, can be merely a supplement to nature.
Every action must be due to one or other of seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, anger, or appetite.
I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.
One who throws a stone has power over it until he has thrown it, but not afterwards.
Reason is a light that God has kindled in the soul.
Anybody can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises to give even his life- knowing that under certain conditions it is not worth while to live.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis
it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”
“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”
Haiku is an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Uniquely Japanese, they somehow seem utterly appropriate for felines — indeed, one could almost imagine them being a cat’s preferred form of communication!
The food in my bowl
Is old, and more to the point
Contains no tuna.
So you want to play.
Will I claw at dancing string?
Your ankle’s closer.
There’s no dignity
In being sick – which is why
I don’t tell you where.
I am locked in the closet.
For once I need you.
Tiny can, dumped in
Plastic bowl. Presentation,
One star; service: none.
Am I in your way?
You seem to have it backwards:
This pillow’s taken.
Your mouth is moving;
Up and down, emitting noise.
I’ve lost interest.
The dog wags his tail,
Seeking approval. See mine?
My brain: walnut-sized.
Yours: largest among primates.
Yet, who leaves for work?
Most problems can be
Ignored. The more difficult
Ones can be slept through.
My affection is conditional.
Don’t stand up,
It’s your lap I love.
Cats can’t steal the breath
Of children. But if my tail’s
Pulled again, I’ll learn.
I don’t mind being
Teased, any more than you mind
A skin graft or two.
So you call this thing
Your “cat carrier.” I call
These my “blades of death.”
(HT: Dan Phillips)
- 1981 – F.R. Scott, The Collected Poems of F.R. Scott
- 1982 – Phyllis Webb, The Vision Tree: Selected Poems
- 1983 – David Donnell, Settlements
- 1984 – Paulette Jiles, Celestial Navigation
- 1985 – Fred Wah, Waiting for Saskatchewan
- 1986 – Al Purdy, The Collected Poems of Al Purdy
- 1987 – Gwendolyn MacEwen, Afterworlds
- 1988 – Erin Mouré, Furious
- 1989 – Heather Spears, The Word for Sand
- 1990 – Margaret Avison, No Time
- 1991 – Don McKay, Night Field
- 1992 – Lorna Crozier, Inventing the Hawk
- 1993 – Don Coles, Forests of the Medieval World
- 1994 – Robert Hilles, Cantos from a Small Room
- 1995 – Anne Szumigalski, Voice
- 1996 – E. D. Blodgett, Apostrophes: Woman at a Piano
- 1997 – Dionne Brand, Land to Light On
- 1998 – Stephanie Bolster, White Stone: The Alice Poems
- 1999 – Jan Zwicky, Songs for Relinquishing the Earth
- 2000 – Don McKay, Another Gravity
- 2001 – George Elliott Clarke, Execution Poems
- 2002 – Roy Miki, Surrender
- 2003 – Tim Lilburn, Kill-site
- 2004 – Roo Borson, Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida
- 2005 – Anne Compton, Processional
- 2006 – John Pass, Stumbling in the Bloom
- 1950: William Carlos Williams – Paterson: Book III and Selected Poems
- 1951: Wallace Stevens – The Auroras of Autumn
- 1952: Marianne Moore – Collected Poems
- 1953: Archibald MacLeish – Collected Poems, 1917-1952
- 1954: Conrad Aiken – Collected Poems
- 1955: Wallace Stevens – The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
- 1956: W.H. Auden – The Shield of Achilles
- 1957: Richard Wilbur – Things of This World
- 1958: Robert Penn Warren – Promises: Poems, 1954-1956
- 1959: Theodore Roethke – Words for the Wind
- 1960: Robert Lowell – Life Studies
- 1961: Randall Jarrell – The Woman at the Washington Zoo
- 1962: Alan Dugan – Poems
- 1963: William Stafford – Traveling Through the Dark
- 1964: John Crowe Ransom – Selected Poems
- 1965: Theodore Roethke – The Far Field
- 1966: James Dickey – Buckdancer’s Choice
- 1967: James Merrill – Nights and Days
- 1968: Robert Bly – The Light Around the Body
- 1969: John Berryman – His Toy, His Dream, His Rest
- 1970: Elizabeth Bishop – The Complete Poems
- 1971: Mona Van Duyn – To See, To Take
- 1972: Frank O’Hara – The Collected Works of Frank O’Hara
- 1972: Howard Moss – Selected Poems
- 1973: A. R. Ammons – Collected Poems, 1951-1971′
- 1974: Allen Ginsberg – The Fall of America: Poems of these States, 1965-1971
- 1974: Adrienne Rich – Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972
- 1975: Marilyn Hacker – Presentation Piece
- 1976: John Ashbery – Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror
- 1977: Richard Eberhart – Collected Poems, 1930-1976
- 1978: Howard Nemerov – The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov
- 1979: James Merrill – Mirabell: Book of Numbers
- 1980: Philip Levine – Ashes: Poems New and Old
- 1981: Lisel Mueller – The Need to Hold Still
- 1982: William Bronk – Life Supports: New and Collected Poems
- 1983: Galway Kinnell – Selected Poems
- 1983: Charles Wright – Country Music: Selected Early Poems
- 1985: No Award
- 1986: No Award
- 1987: No Award
- 1988: No Award
- 1989: No Award
- 1990: No Award
- 1991: Philip Levine – What Work Is
- 1992: Mary Oliver – New & Selected Poems
- 1993: A. R. Ammons – Garbage
- 1994: James Tate – A Worshipful Company of Fletchers
- 1995: Stanley Kunitz – Passing Through: The Later Poems
- 1996: Hayden Carruth – Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey
- 1997: William Meredith – Effort at Speech: New & Selected Poems
- 1998: Gerald Stern – This Time: New and Selected Poems
- 1999: Ai – Vice: New & Selected Poems
- 2000: Lucille Clifton – Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000
- 2001: Alan Dugan – Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry
- 2002: Ruth Stone – In the Next Galaxy
- 2003: C. K. Williams – The Singing
- 2004: Jean Valentine – Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003
- 2005: W. S. Merwin – Migration: New & Selected Poems
- 2006: Nathaniel Mackey – Splay Anthem
- 2006: Troy Jollimore – Tom Thomson in Purgatory
- 2005: Jack Gilbert – Refusing Heaven
- 2004: Adrienne Rich – The School Among the Ruins
- 2003: Susan Stewart – Columbarium
- 2002: B.H. Fairchild – Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
- 2001: Albert Goldbarth – Saving Lives
- 2000: Judy Jordan – Carolina Ghost Woods
- 1999: Ruth Stone – Ordinary Words
- 1998: Marie Ponsot – The Bird Catcher
- 1997: Charles Wright – Black Zodiac
- 1996: Robert Hass – Sun Under Wood
- 1995: William Matthews – Time and Money
- 1994: Mark Rudman – Rider
- 1993: Mark Doty – My Alexandria
- 1992: Hayden Carruth – Collected Shorter Poems 1946-1991
- 1991: Albert Goldbarth – Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology
- 1990: Amy Gerstler – Bitter Angel
- 1989: Rodney Jones – Transparent Gestures
- 1988: Donald Hall – That One Day
- 1987: C.K. Williams – Flesh and Blood
- 1986: Edward Hirsch – Wild Gratitude
- 1985: Louise Gluck – The Triumph of Achilles
- 1984: Sharon Olds – The Dead and the Living
- 1983: James Merrill – The Changing Light at Sandover
- 1982: Katha Pollitt – Antarctic Traveler
- 1981: A.R. Ammons – A Coast of Trees
- 1980: Frederick Seidel – Sunrise
- 1979: Philip Levine – Ashes: Poems New and Old and 7 Years From Somewhere
- 1978: L. E. Sissman – Hello, Darkness: The Collected Poems of L. E. Sissman
- 1977: Robert Lowell – Day by Day
- 1976: Elizabeth Bishop – Geography III
- 1975: John Ashberry – Self-Portrait in A Convex Mirror