by William Cullen Bryant
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.
About William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant’s poetry is affiliated with the Romantics, often reflecting an obsession with nature and a thoughtful desire for silence and solitude. Bryant was born on November 3, 1794. An American nature poet and journalist, Bryant wrote poems, essays, and articles that championed the rights of workers and immigrants. In 1829, Bryant became editor in chief of the New York Evening Post, a position he held until his death in 1878. His influence helped establish important New York civic institutions such as Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1884, New York City’s Reservoir Square, at the intersection of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, was renamed Bryant Park in his honor.
Why Poetry Can Be Hard For Most People
by Dorothea Lasky
Because speaking to the dead is not something you want to do
When you have other things to do in your day
Like take out the trash or use the vacuum
In the edge between the stove and cupboard
Because the rat is everywhere
Or more so walking
And it is doesn’t even notice you
It has its own intentions
And is searching for that perfect bag of potato chips like you once were
Because life is no more important than eating
Or talking someone into fucking
Or talking someone into something
Or sleeping calmly and soundly
And all you can hope for are the people who put that calm in you
Or let you go into it with dignity
Because poetry reminds you
That there is no dignity
You just muddle through and for what
Jack Jack you wrote to him
You wrote to all of us
I wasn’t even born
You wrote to me
A ball of red and green shifting sparks
In my parents’ eye
You wrote to me and I just listened
I listened I listened I tell you
And I came back
Poetry is hard for most people
Because of sound
About This Poem
“I wrote ‘Why Poetry Can Be Hard For Most People’ after reading and teaching some of Jack Spicer’s letters to Lorca. I became bewitched by the idea that we are always speaking to the dead when we write poems, especially Spicer’s line, ‘You are dead and the dead are very patient.’ I think the communication between the dead and undead is so full of real emotion because of its patience. Poetry is patient, too.”–Dorothea Lasky
About Dorothea Lasky
Born on March 27, 1978, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dorothea Lasky received her B.A. from Washington University. She continued her studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she received her M.F.A. She has also earned a masters degree in arts and education from Harvard University and a PhD in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania. Lasky is the author of two books of poetry, AWE (Wave Books, 2007), and Black Life (Wave Books, 2010). She has also authored numerous chapbooks and pamphlets, most recently Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She lives in New York.
by Walt Whitman
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the
And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I–I think no one was ever
happier than I,
And who has lavish’d all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,
And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son
alive–for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,
And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest
being of the universe,
And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the
And who has receiv’d the love of the most friends? for I know what it
is to receive the passionate love of many friends,
And who possesses a perfect and enamour’d body? for I do not believe
any one possesses a more perfect or enamour’d body than mine,
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with
About This Poem
Excelsior is a Latin term meaning “ever upward”; it is the official motto of the State of New York. A slightly different version of this poem first appeared as “Poem of the Heart of the Son of Manhattan Island” in the second edition of Leaves of Grass.
Walt Whitman was born in Huntington, New York, on May 31, 1819. He is best known for Leaves of Grass, a prodigious collection of poetry that he continually revised for most of his life. Whitman died in 1892. He is one of America’s most celebrated gay poets.