Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Twenty Four-Line Poems and Two More


at this hour
death has more spark
than life.

-- Claribel Alegria
translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

* * *


The sheets and towels of rented rooms

a million ways
of failing to say home.

-- Selima Hill

* * *


You, I,  steadying
in our in-bourne, out-bourne sparks
of empathy, the flower
of Earth:  wet red fireworks-flower.

-- Jean Valentine

* * *


Were it indeed an accident of birth
That she looks on the gentle earth
And the seemingly gentle sky
Through one brown and one blue eye.

-- Paul Muldoon

* * *

"The lines of this new song are nothing"

The lines of this new song are nothing
But a tune making the nothing full
Stonelike become more hard than silent
The tune's image holding in the line.

-- Louis Zukofsky

* * *

"The Woodcut on the Cover of
Robert Frost's Complete Poems"

For Wendell Berry

A man plowing starts at the side of the field
Nearer home and works outward and away.
Why?  Because plowing is always an adventure.
Then walking home with the horses at end of day.

-- Hayden Carruth

* * *

"'The Vision of the Virgin'"

For his climactic Divine Comic strip
Illustrating Dante's Paradiso
Botticelli wrote this title, then stopped
And left the vellum blank.  It was as though

-- Ian Duhig

* * *

"Small Song:  Sandwiches"

So:  we are alive!
Bread, and between it
slices of summer afternoon.  Coffee,
talk, ash trees leaping into the astonished sky.

-- Jan Zwicky

* * *


Remember the wise philosophers:
Life is but a moment.
And yet whenever we waited for our girlfriends
it was an eternity.

-- Jaroslav Seifert
translated from the Czech by Ewald Osers

* * *


After many winters the moss
finds the sawdust crushed bark chips
and says old friend
old friend

-- W. S. Merwin

* * *

"The Florida Citrus Growers Association
Responds to a Proposed Law Requiring
Handwashing Facilities in the Fields"

An orange,
squeezed on the hands,
is an adequate substitute
for soap and water 

-- Martin Espada

* * * 

"The House"

The house I loved was demolished
Death walks in the stillness of the garden
The life whispered in the foliage
Broke and is no longer mine

-- Sophia de Mello Breyner
translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith

* * *


Mare's tail clouds cotton white
against a summer yacht blue
sky -- the extending of light into
the renewing of the evening

-- Tom Clark

* * *

"Epitaph for a Good Mouser"

Take, Lord, this soul of furred unblemished worth,
The sum of all I loved and caught on earth.
Quick was my holy purpose and my cause.
I die into the mercy of thy claws.

-- Anne Stevenson

* * *

"Snowmen in a Green Hayfield"

No one had expected the snow so early.
Children pulled out sledges, built snowmen and houses.
Today it's sunny and mild again.  The snowmen
are still there, alone, weeping in a green hayfield.

-- Olav H. Hauge
translated from the Norwegian by Robin Fulton

* * *

"At a Cocktail Party"

They are machines with few surprises
Circulating with little ado
On plottable courses, asking each other
What make are you?

-- C. H. Sisson

* * *

"A Valediction for My Father (1898 - 1974)"

all the old things
are gone now

and the people are

-- Jonathan Williams

* * *

"not all harsh sounds displease"

not all harsh sounds displease --
Yellowhead blackbirds cough
through  reeds and fronds
as through pronged bronze

-- Lorine Niedecker

* * *


the laundry basket lid is still there
though badly chewed up by the cat
but time has devoured the cat

-- Anselm Hollo

* * *

"To free myself from sleep, to be"

To free myself from sleep, to be
the slow explosion of seaside flowers
in the happy air, a fist aflame,
light cloven by the blaze of limestone white.

-- Eugenio de Andrade
translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin

* * *
* * *

Two more (in my estimation, the finest two
four-line poems in the English language):

"Upon Prew His Maid"

In this little urn is laid
Prewdence Baldwin (once my maid)
From whose happy spark here let
Spring the purple violet.

-- Robert Herrick

* * *

"Western Wind"

Western wind, when wilt thou blow
the small rain down can rain?
Christ, were my love in my arms
and I in my bed again.

-- Anonymous, c. mid 15th Century

* * *
* * *

thank you very much for the recommendations!!!!
I love discovering new poets :)
Glad to do it; I enjoy passing on poets whose work I love to others who share an interest in poetry.
Thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for your introduction to the statcounter. I've signed up, and look forward to seeing the results. And yes, we quilters are known for having unfinished projects and stacks of fabric! It can be a curse...
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