poem index

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Come Slowly—Eden (211)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
Come slowly—Eden
Lips unused to Thee—
Bashful—sip thy Jessamines
As the fainting Bee—

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums—
Counts his nectars—
Enters—and is lost in Balms.
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Prague
Khadijah Queen

Yes as thievery, except if saved for
a fantasy in which I in a backless
dress encounter

you on a typical balcony
overlooking Vltava, gripping the latticework,
metal, a barrier to leaping

into an esoteric night, fixed and ornate
enough, like my penchant for the infinite
within the singular, encounter you

as tributary, serpentine, the heat of your fingers
on my spine, my head turning
as you bend to catch the yes

I'd held latent, a mine you trigger with
your tongue, neither of us
mean to stop exploding.

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The Orchid Flower
Sam Hamill
Just as I wonder 
whether it's going to die, 
the orchid blossoms 

and I can't explain why it 
moves my heart, why such pleasure 

comes from one small bud 
on a long spindly stem, one 
blood red gold flower 

opening at mid-summer, 
tiny, perfect in its hour. 

Even to a white-
haired craggy poet, it's 
purely erotic, 

pistil and stamen, pollen, 
dew of the world, a spoonful 

of earth, and water. 
Erotic because there's death 
at the heart of birth, 

drama in those old sunrise 
prisms in wet cedar boughs, 

deepest mystery 
in washing evening dishes 
or teasing my wife, 

who grows, yes, more beautiful 
because one of us will die.
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A Greek Island
Edward Hirsch, 1950

Traveling over your body I found

The failing olive and the cajoling flute,

Where I knelt down, as if in prayer,

And sucked a moist pit

From the marl

Of the earth in a sacred cove.


You gave yourself to the god who comes,

The liberator of the loud shout,

While I fell into a trance,

Blood on my lips,

And stumbled into a temple on top

Of a hill at the bottom of the sky.

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The Look
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
Strephon kissed me in the spring,
      Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
      And never kissed at all.

Strephon's kiss was lost in jest,
      Robin's lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin's eyes
      Haunts me night and day.
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When You are Old
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
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The White Rose
John Boyle O'Reilly
The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
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What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.
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Never give all the heart
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

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He would not stay for me, and who can wonder
A. E. Housman, 1859 - 1936
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
  He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
  And went with half my life about my ways.
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I Do Not Love Thee
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
   And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
   And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
   Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
   Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
   And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.
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Love's Secret
William Blake, 1757 - 1827
Never seek to tell thy love,   
  Love that never told can be;   
For the gentle wind doth move   
  Silently, invisibly.   
  
I told my love, I told my love,
  I told her all my heart,   
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.   
  Ah! she did depart!   
  
Soon after she was gone from me,   
  A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:   
  He took her with a sigh.
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Remember
Christina Rossetti, 1830 - 1894
Remember me when I am gone away,
   Gone far away into the silent land;
   When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
   You tell me of our future that you planned:
   Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
   And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
   For if the darkness and corruption leave
   A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
   Than that you should remember and be sad.
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The Gift
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
What can I give you, my lord, my lover,
You who have given the world to me,
Showed me the light and the joy that cover
The wild sweet earth and restless sea?

All that I have are gifts of your giving—
If I gave them again, you would find them old,
And your soul would weary of always living
Before the mirror my life would hold.

What shall I give you, my lord, my lover?
The gift that breaks the heart in me:
I bid you awake at dawn and discover
I have gone my way and left you free.
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Opal
Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925
You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.
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The Flight
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,
Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,
Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain—
But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,
Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;
Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door—
But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?

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Not
Sophie Cabot Black

that you are unloved
but that you love
and must decide which

to remember; tracks left
in the field, a language
of going away or coming back—

and to look up
from the single mind,
to let untangle

the far-off snow
from sky
until no longer

held as proof
is also where birds
find agreement

strung along branches
each with their own song
for the other,

every note used
to sing anyway—
how to hold the already

as the not yet

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What Do I Care
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all?
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call.

But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent, 
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.
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from Please Bury Me in This
Allison Benis White

Maybe my arms lifted as a woman lowers a dress over my head.

This is not what I want to tell you.

Looking at red flowers on her mother’s dress as she sat on her lap on a train is Woolf’s first memory.

Then the sound of waves behind a yellow shade, of being alive as ecstasy.

Maybe her mind, as I read, lowering over my mind.

Maybe looking down, as I sit on the floor, at the book inside the diamond of my legs.

Even briefly, to love with someone else’s mind.

Moving my lips as I read the waves breaking, one, two, one, two, and sending a splash of water over the beach.

What I want to tell you is ecstasy.

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My life has been the poem I would have writ
Henry David Thoreau, 1817 - 1862

My life has been the poem I would have writ
But I could not both live and utter it.