There used to be no one here,
where cypresses and oaks play
shadow puppets on sawgrass.
You heard the music before
I did: tambourines, pan pipes.
Remember how I woke clean
to meet you each morning?
The dew and the dust?
Remember how you’d catch me
as I fell from trees? Someone
heard and hurt us. I’m Black-Eyed
Pea. You’re just Skull Kid.
We wanted our genius to last.
We never wanted chalkboards
or snow. We never came home
before the streetlights buzzed.
All we do is dance in leaves.
Cackle and Dreaming, we call it.
Our mothers call it grief.
This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.
Read about poetic terms and forms from Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary (Harcourt, 2014), a book ten years in the making that defines the art form of poetry.
Refresh and expand your poetic vocabulary with this collection of poetic forms, complete with historical contexts, examples, and more. For more on poetic forms, browse our selection of terms from Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary or check out our quick teaching guide on essential poetic terms.
The instructor said, Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you— Then, it will be true. I wonder if it's that simple? I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem. I went to school there, then Durham, then here to this college on the hill above Harlem. I am the only colored student in my class. The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas, Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page: It's not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page. (I hear New York, too.) Me—who? Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. I like a pipe for a Christmas present, or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach. I guess being colored doesn't make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races. So will my page be colored that I write? Being me, it will not be white. But it will be a part of you, instructor. You are white— yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. That's American. Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me. Nor do I often want to be a part of you. But we are, that's true! As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me— although you're older—and white— and somewhat more free. This is my page for English B.
THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL. We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon.