Give yourself a hug by Grace Nichols

Give yourself a hug,
When you feel unloved

Give yourself a hug,
When people put on airs
to make you feel a bug

Give yourself a hug
When everyone seems to give you
a cold shoulder shrug.

Give yourself a hug –
A big, big hug

And keep on singing…
‘Only one in a million like me,
Only one in a million-billion-thrillion-zillion
like me.’


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

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.


The Fair Young Wife by Helen Adam

This is a tale for a night of snow.
It was lived in the north land long ago.
And old man, nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

A wife to keep his house in the woods.
His house of echoes and solitudes,
’Mid forests gloomy and unexplored,
Hunting ground of the wolves abhored.

Through miles of forest the wolves ran light.
She heard them running at dead of night.
She heard them running, though far away,
And her heart leapt up like a beast of prey.

“Lie still, my lady, lie still and sleep.
Though the north wind blows and the snow drifts deep.
My timid love, in our curtained bed,
The whine of the wolves you need not dread.”

Hunger, when the north wind blows.
Starving wolves on the winter snows.
When old age sags in a sleep profound,
The rush of the wolves is the only sound.

She dreamt she walked in the forest shade,
Alone, and naked, and unafraid.
The bonds of being dissolved and broke.
Her body she dropped like a cast off cloak.

Her shackled soul to its kindred sped.
In devouring lust with the wolves she fled.
But woke at dawn in a curtained bed.
By an old, grey man, in an airless bed.

She dreamt she walked where the wolf eyes gleam.
And soon she walked, and it was no dream.
She fell on fours from the world of man,
And howled her bliss when the rank beasts ran.

The morning life, and the mid-night life.
The sun and moon of the fair young wife.
The moon in the north land rules the sky.
She prays to it as it rises high.

“Moon in glory, shining so cold.
Oh! moon at my window big and bold.
On fields near the forest the snow lies white,
Will it show our tracks when we run tonight?

For fifty leagues on the frozen snow,
I’ll feel through my fur the north wind blow,
As I run to drink of a bounding flood,
With the mighty pack on its quest for blood.

Strong, free, furious, swift to slay,
But back to his bed by the break of day!
Can I lie down at a husband’s will,
When wild love runs, and my heart cries, Kill!”

“Wife, are you ready to come to bed?”
Her husband calls from the room overhead.
“The lights are out in the distant town.
And I can’t sleep until you lie down.”

Softly panting, she climbs the stair.
The moon lights the bed with a livid glare.
“I’ll draw the curtains, and hug you near.
And we’ll lie hid from the moon, my dear.”

Curtains drawn in the deep of night.
Through smothering velvet no glimmer of light.
He turns to his love, lying warm in the dark.
In her eyes, shining near him, he sees a red spark.

A spark as bright as the break of day.
She tosses him down in ravenous play.
To the edge of the forest ring his cries.
“A beast! A beast! on my body lies!”

The wolf pack howls in the waste of snow.
She howls to answer them long and low.
But she will not run with the wolves tonight
Though the full moon shines with a blinding light.

Behind the curtains her jaws drip red.
She has found her prey in her own dark bed;
The man, who nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

Song by John Keats

You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun’s, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth-
O love me truly!
You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid’s nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!
You say you love, – but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea-
They never pout for kisses-
O love me truly!
You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is, like a statue’s, dead,
While mine to passion burneth-
O love me truly!

Yesterday by Nora May French

Now all my thoughts were crisped and thinned
To elfin threads, to gleaming browns.
Like tawny grasses lean with wind
They drew your heart across the downs.
Your will of all the winds that blew
They drew across the world to me,
To thread my whimsey thoughts of you
Along the downs, above the sea.

Beneath a pool beyond the dune—
So green it was and amber-walled
A face would glimmer like a moon
Seen whitely through an emerald—
And there my mermaid fancy lay
And dreamed the light and you were one,
And flickered in her sea-weed’s sway
A broken largesse of the sun.

Above the world as evening fell
I made my heart into a sky,
And through a twilight like a shell
I saw the shining sea-gulls fly.
I found between the sea and land
And lost again, unwrit, unheard,
A song that fluttered in my hand
And vanished like a silver bird.

Distance by Madison Cawein


I dreamed last night once more I stood
Knee-deep on purple clover leas;
Her old home glimmered through its wood
Of dark and melancholy trees:
And on my brow I felt the breeze
That blew from out the solitude,
With sounds of waters that pursued,
And sleepy hummings of the bees.


And ankle-deep in violet blooms
Methought I saw her standing there,
A lawny light among the glooms,
A crown of sunlight on her hair;
The wood-birds, warbling everywhere,
Above her head flashed happy plumes;
About her clung the wild perfumes,
And woodland gleams of shimmering air.


And then she called me: in my ears
Her voice was music; and it led
My sad soul back with all its fears;
Recalled my spirit that had fled.—
And in my dream it seemed she said,
“Our hearts keep true through all the years;”
And on my face I felt the tears,
The blinding tears of her long dead.

Entry October 15 by Walter Benton

Everyone is sleeping. Nothing wakes. The woods
are motionless. The wind is down to a whisper.
Sleep hums like current – yes, audibly – through the bright steel night.

The evening star rises like a flaming wick.
Hills fit into hills like lovers, their great dark straddling thighs
clasping still greater darkness where they meet. A star breaks,
arcs down the night – like God striking a match across the cathedral ceiling.

Therefore I wish: see my lips move – making your name. It is so still,
so still. I am sure that you must hear me.

Canto II from The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore

When I behold the skies aloft
   Passing the pageantry of dreams,
The cloud whose bosom, cygnet-soft,
   A couch for nuptial Juno seems,
The ocean broad, the mountains bright,
   The shadowy vales with feeding herds,
I from my lyre the music smite,
   Nor want for justly matching words.
All forces of the sea and air,
   All interests of hill and plain,
I so can sing, in seasons fair,
   That who hath felt may feel again.
Elated oft by such free songs,
   I think with utterance free to raise
That hymn for which the whole world longs,
   A worthy hymn in woman’s praise;
A hymn bright-noted like a bird’s,
   Arousing these song-sleepy times
With rhapsodies of perfect words,
   Ruled by returning kiss of rhymes.
But when I look on her and hope
   To tell with joy what I admire,
My thoughts lie cramp’d in narrow scope,
   Or in the feeble birth expire;
No mystery of well-woven speech,
   No simplest phrase of tenderest fall,
No liken’d excellence can reach
   Her, thee most excellent of all,
The best half of creation’s best,
   Its heart to feel, its eye to see,
The crown and complex of the rest,
   Its aim and its epitome.
Nay, might I utter my conceit,
   ’Twere after all a vulgar song,
For she’s so simply, subtly sweet,
   My deepest rapture does her wrong.
Yet is it now my chosen task
   To sing her worth as Maid and Wife;
Nor happier post than this I ask,
   To live her laureate all my life.
On wings of love uplifted free,
   And by her gentleness made great,
I’ll teach how noble man should be
   To match with such a lovely mate;
CAnd then in her may move the more
   The woman’s wish to be desired,
(By praise increased), till both shall soar,
   With blissful emulations fired.
And, as geranium, pink, or rose
   Is thrice itself through power of art,
So may my happy skill disclose
   New fairness even in her fair heart;
Until that churl shall nowhere be
   Who bends not, awed, before the throne
Of her affecting majesty,
   So meek, so far unlike our own;
Until (for who may hope too much
   From her who wields the powers of love?)
Our lifted lives at last shall touch
   That happy goal to which they move;
Until we find, as darkness rolls
   Away, and evil mists dissolve,
That nuptial contrasts are the poles
   On which the heavenly spheres revolve.

A Prayer in the Spring by Robert Frost

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.