Colors by Margaret E. Sangster

I love color.
I love flaming reds,
And vivid greens,
And royal flaunting purples.
I love the startled rose of the sun at dawning,
And the blazing orange of it at twilight.

I love color.
I love the drowsy blue of the fringed gentian,
And the yellow of the goldenrod,
And the rich russet of the leaves
That turn at autumn-time….
I love rainbows,
And prisms,
And the tinsel glitter
Of every shop-window.

I love color.
And yet today,
I saw a brown little bird
Perched on the dull-gray fence
Of a weed-filled city yard.
And as I watched him
The little bird
Threw back his head
Defiantly, almost,
And sang a song
That was full of gay ripples,
And poignant sweetness,
And half-hidden melody.

1 love color….
I love crimson, and azure,
And the glowing purity of white.
And yet today,
I saw a living bit of brown,
A vague oasis on a streak of gray,
That brought heaven
Very near to me.

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Elegy in Joy by Muriel Rukeyser

We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.

The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children:
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace. Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world. One life, or the faring stars.

The waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   
To you and me; so take the lively air,   
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   
What falls away is always. And is near.   
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   
I learn by going where I have to go.

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

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.

II

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.

III

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.

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.

maggie and milly and molly and may by E.E. Cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

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.

The Flowers Lesson by Louisa May Alcott

THERE grew a fragrant rose-tree where the brook flows,
With two little tender buds, and one full rose;
When the sun went down to his bed in the west,
The little buds leaned on the rose-mother’s breast,
While the bright eyed stars their long watch kept,
And the flowers of the valley in their green cradles slept;
Then silently in odors they communed with each other,
The two little buds on the bosom of their mother.
“O sister,” said the little one, as she gazed at the sky,
“I wish that the Dew Elves, as they wander lightly by,
Would bring me a star; for they never grow dim,
And the Father does not need them to burn round him.
The shining drops of dew the Elves bring each day
And place in my bosom, so soon pass away;
But a star would glitter brightly through the long summer hours,
And I should be fairer than all my sister flowers.
That were better far than the dew-drops that fall
On the high and the low, and come alike to all.
I would be fair and stately, with a bright star to shine
And give a queenly air to this crimson robe of mine.”
And proudly she cried, “These fire-flies shall be
My jewels, since the stars can never come to me.”
Just then a tiny dew-drop that hung o’er the dell
On the breast of the bud like a soft star fell;
But impatiently she flung it away from her leaf,
And it fell on her mother like a tear of grief,
While she folded to her breast, with wilful pride,
A glittering fire-fly that hung by her side.
“Heed,” said the mother rose, “daughter mine,
Why shouldst thou seek for beauty not thine?
The Father hath made thee what thou now art;
And what he most loveth is a sweet, pure heart.
Then why dost thou take with such discontent
The loving gift which he to thee hath sent?
For the cool fresh dew will render thee far
More lovely and sweet than the brightest star;
They were made for Heaven, and can never come to shine
Like the fire-fly thou hast in that foolish breast of thine.
O my foolish little bud, do listen to thy mother;
Care only for true beauty, and seek for no other.
There will be grief and trouble in that wilful little heart;
Unfold thy leaves, my daughter, and let the fly depart.”
But the proud little bud would have her own will,
And folded the fire-fly more closely still;
Till the struggling insect tore open the vest
Of purple and green, that covered her breast.
When the sun came up, she saw with grief
The blooming of her sister bud leaf by leaf.
While she, once as fair and bright as the rest,
Hung her weary head down on her wounded breast.
Bright grew the sunshine, and the soft summer air
Was filled with the music of flowers singing there;
But faint grew the little bud with thirst and pain,
And longed for the cool dew; but now ‘t was in vain.
Then bitterly she wept for her folly and pride,
As drooping she stood by her fair sister’s side.
Then the rose mother leaned the weary little head
On her bosom to rest, and tenderly she said:
“Thou hast learned, my little bud, that, whatever may betide,
Thou canst win thyself no joy by passion or by pride.
The loving Father sends the sunshine and the shower,
That thou mayst become a perfect little flower;—
The sweet dews to feed thee, the soft wind to cheer,
And the earth as a pleasant home, while thou art dwelling here.
Then shouldst thou not be grateful for all this kindly care,
And strive to keep thyself most innocent and fair?
Then seek, my little blossom, to win humility;
Be fair without, be pure within, and thou wilt happy be.
So when the quiet Autumn of thy fragrant life shall come,
Thou mayst pass away, to bloom in the Flower Spirits’ home.”
Then from the mother’s breast, where it still lay hid,
Into the fading bud the dew-drop gently slid;
Stronger grew the little form, and happy tears fell,
As the dew did its silent work, and the bud grew well,
While the gentle rose leaned, with motherly pride,
O’er the fair little ones that bloomed at her side.

Night came again, and the fire-flies flew;
But the bud let them pass, and drank of the dew;
While the soft stars shone, from the still summer heaven,
On the happy little flower that had learned the lesson given.

Early Spring by Fay Inchfawn

Quick through the gates of Fairyland
The South Wind forced his way.
‘Twas his to make the Earth forget
Her grief of yesterday.
“‘Tis mine,” cried he, “to bring her joy!”
And on his lightsome feet
In haste he slung the snowdrop bells,
Pushed past the Fairy sentinels,
And out with laughter sweet.

Clear flames of Crocus glimmered on
The shining way he went.
He whispered to the trees strange tales
Of wondrous sweet intent,
When, suddenly, his witching voice
With timbre rich and rare,
Rang through the woodlands till it cleft
Earth’s silent solitudes, and left
A Dream of Roses there!