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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis,...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Ambition
Essay on Man, Epistle II
by Alexander Pope
All those Attempts in the Changing Room!
by Anne Stevenson
Civilization
by Carl Phillips
Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Fisherman
by Kurt Brown
George Gray
by Edgar Lee Masters
See It Through
by Edgar Guest
That Everything's Inevitable
by Katy Lederer
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
To You
by Walt Whitman
Untranslatable Song
by Claudia Reder
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Famous

 
by Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.






From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Copyright 1995. Reprinted with permission of Far Corner Books, Portland, OR.
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