Not Yet by Susan Coolidge

Not yet,” she cried, “not yet!
It is the dawning, and life looks so fair;
Give me my little hour of sun and dew.
Is it a sin that I should crave my share,
The common sunshine and the common air,
Before I go away, dark shade, with you?
Not yet!

“Not yet,” she cried, “not yet!
The day is hot, and noon is pulsing strong,
And every hour is measured by a task;
There is no time for sighing or for song.
Leave me a little longer, just so long
As till my work is done,—’tis all I ask.
Not yet!

“Not yet,” she cried, “not yet!
Nightfall is near, and I am tired and frail;
Day was too full, now resting-time has come.
Let me sit still and hear the nightingale,
And see the sunset colors shift and pale,
Before I take the long, hard journey home.
Not yet!”

And to all these in turn,
Comes Death, the unbidden, universal guest,
With deep and urgent meanings in his eyes,
And poppied flowers upon his brow, his breast,
Whispering, “Life is good, but I am best;”
And never a parted soul looks back and cries,
“Not yet!”


Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Aunt Tabitha – The Young Girl’s Poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Whatever I do, and whatever I say,
Aunt Tabitha tells me that is n’t the way;
When she was a girl (forty summers ago)
Aunt Tabitha tells me they never did so.

Dear aunt! If I only would take her advice!
But I like my own way, and I find it so nice
And besides, I forget half the things I am told;
But they all will come back to me – when I am old.

If a youth passes by, it may happen, no doubt,
He may chance to look in as I chance to look out;
She would never endure an impertinent stare, –
It is horrid, she says, and I must n’t sit there.

A walk in the moonlight has pleasures, I own,
But it is n’t quite safe to be walking alone;
So I take a lad’s arm, – just for safety, you know, –
But Aunt Tabitha tells me they did n’t do so.

How wicked we are, and how good they were then!
They kept at arm’s length those detestable men;
What an era of virtue she lived in! – But stay –
Were the men all such rogues in Aunt Tabitha’s day?

If the men were so wicked, I ‘ll ask my papa
How he dared to propose to my darling mamma;
Was he like the rest of them? Goodness! Who knows?
And what shall I say, if a wretch should propose?

I am thinking if Aunt knew so little of sin,
What a wonder Aunt Tabitha’s aunt must have been!
And her grand-aunt – it scares me – how shockingly sad
That we girls of to-day are so frightfully bad!

A martyr will save us, and nothing else can;
Let me perish – to rescue some wretched young man!
Though when to the altar a victim I go,
Aunt Tabitha ‘ll tell me she never did so.

May Perpetual Light Shine by Patricia Spears Jones

We have encountered storms
Perfect in their drench and wreck

Each of us bears an ornament of grief
A ring, a notebook, a ticket torn, scar
It is how humans know their kind—

What is known as love, what can become
the heart’s food stored away for some future

Love remains a jewel in the hand, guarded
Shared fragments of earth & air drift & despair.

We ponder what patterns matter other than moons and tides:
musical beats—rumba or waltz or cha cha cha
cosmic waves like batons furiously twirling
colors proclaiming sparkle of darkness
as those we love begin to delight
in the stars embracing

When I Should Have Been Doing Something Else by Jill Evenson Abenth

I fancy myself
an appreciator
of natural things.
That bird
emits a throat noise
but what’s telling
is my inability
to locate
the name of that bird
in my lexicon.
The bush here,
just budding,
no scientific category
I can recall.
These rocks,
artfully arranged
as a river bed,
granite? sedimentary?
Forget Dr. What’s His Name,
the crazy van driver
who sustained contempt
a whole semester
of my failing to correctly answer
a single pop question
before recklessly
hurling us all
onto the hills
of prehistoric formations.
Forget Tony My Supervisor
who taught me
how to teach
about owls and deer,
to recognize
the cattails
along our river hike.
My education is no use.
To my brain
my heart
my ears
my eyes
it makes no difference.

The Watch in the Wood by John Masefield

When Death has laid her in his quietude,
And dimmed the glow of her benignant star,
Her tired limbs shall rest within a wood,
In a green glade where oaks and beeches are,

Where the shy fawns, the pretty fawns, the deer,
With mild brown eyes shall view her spirit’s husk;
The sleeping woman of her will appear,
The maiden Dian shining through the dusk.

And, when the stars are white as twilight fails,
And the green leaves are hushed, and the winds swoon,
The calm pure thrilling throats of nightingales
Shall hymn her sleeping beauty to the moon.

All the woods hushed – save for a dripping rose,
All the woods dim – save where a glow-worm glows.

Brimming the quiet woods with holiness,
The lone brown birds will hymn her till the dawn,
The delicate, shy, dappled deer will press
Soft pitying muzzles on her swathèd lawn.

The little pretty rabbits running by,
Will pause among the dewy grass to peep,
Their thudding hearts affrightened to espy
The maiden Dian lying there asleep.

Brown, lustrous, placid eyes of sylvan things
Will wonder at the quiet in her face,
While from the thorny branch the singer brings
Beauty and peace to that immortal place.

Until the grey dawn sets the woods astir
The pure birds’ thrilling psalm will mourn for her.

The World We Want Is Us by Alice Walker

It moves my heart to see your awakened faces;
the look of “aha!”
shining, finally, in
so many
wide open eyes.
Yes, we are the 99%
all of us
refusing to forget
each other
no matter, in our hunger, what crumbs
are dropped by
the 1%.
The world we want is on the way; Arundhati
and now we
hearing her breathing.
That world we want is Us; united; already moving
into it.

Mindful by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

The Little Dog’s Day by Rupert Brooke

All in the town were still asleep,
When the sun came up with a shout and a leap.
In the lonely streets unseen by man,
A little dog danced. And the day began.

All his life he’d been good, as far as he could,
And the poor little beast had done all that he should.
But this morning he swore, by Odin and Thor
And the Canine Valhalla—he’d stand it no more!

So his prayer he got granted—to do just what he wanted,
Prevented by none, for the space of one day.
“Jam incipiebo, sedere facebo,”
In dog-Latin he quoth, “Euge! sophos! hurray!”

He fought with the he-dogs, and winked at the she-dogs,
A thing that had never been heard of before.
“For the stigma of gluttony, I care not a button!” he
Cried, and ate all he could swallow—and more.

He took sinewy lumps from the shins of old frumps,
And mangled the errand-boys—when he could get ’em.
He shammed furious rabies, and bit all the babies,
And followed the cats up the trees, and then ate’ em!

They thought ’twas the devil was holding a revel,
And sent for the parson to drive him away;
For the town never knew such a hullabaloo
As that little dog raised—till the end of that day.

When the blood-red sun had gone burning down,
And the lights were lit in the little town,
Outside, in the gloom of the twilight grey,
The little dog died when he’d had his day.

Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.