What is a Poem you love?

Hephzi Mars asks the alumni literature group to name their favorite poems. Hephzi is from the class of 2011, and is an active participant in the literature groups – a group for readers, writers and literary enthusiasts from the alumni community.

Full message from Hephzi below:

Happy Sunday Morning Everyone!

April is a month close to my heart! Since it’s my B’day month! 😄 But also because April is known for other things that bring me joy, like poetry and books.

April 23rd is celebrated as World Book Day and US celebrates April as the Month of Poetry. On that note I was wondering if I could check with the people in this group –

What is a Poem you love?
I’ll go first, I love “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson.

Here’s the poem:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Asha, also from 2011 had this response: Leisure by W H Davies, we read it in our 5th grade. Hardly remember how it was taught, but for some reason I have loved it since then. There are many other poems I love and appreciate but every time someone talks about poetry, this is the first poem that comes to my mind.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Steve (2000) : This is one of my fav poems. Taught the 6yr old daughter for her class talent show and she recited it

Lone Dog – by Irene Rutherford McLeod

I’m a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog, and lone;
I’m a rough dog, a tough dog, hunting on my own;
I’m a bad dog, a mad dog, teasing silly sheep;
I love to sit and bay the moon, to keep fat souls from sleep.
I’ll never be a lap dog, licking dirty feet,
A sleek dog, a meek dog, cringing for my meat,
Not for me the fireside, the well-filled plate,
But shut door, and sharp stone, and cuff and kick, and hate.
Not for me the other dogs, running by my side,
Some have run a short while, but none of them would bide.
O mine is still the lone trail, the hard trail, the best,
Wide wind, and wild stars, and hunger of the quest!

Benedict (2007):

Keeping Quiet – Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about...
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.


Yours truly:
In Flanders Fields - John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Other notable mentions:
Since it was Jane Goodall's birthday on the day of discussion, we add an excerpt from a poem on her:

Jane Goodall 1961 - Campbell McGrath


Our century, our life and times, will be remembered
not for its artistic glory or triumphs of technology
but for its incalculable losses, for rain-matted bodies
at makeshift markets on the road to Kisangani,
civets, dik-diks, monkeys, anteaters, elephants, apes,
dead animals, vanished species, the earth’s ravishment
by humankind, our kind, by you and by me.
Even as we recoil at the thought of ancient savagery,
cannibalism in some tribal past, medieval tortures,
our great-great-grandparents’ embrace of slavery,
so the future will hold us accountable for this holocaust
against our brothers and sisters. What makes us human
makes us fellow creatures, creeping things,
fauna of a fragile terrestrial biosphere,
neither more nor less. All lives are consequential,
there is no hierarchy of consciousness or intellect.
To feel the warm, oxygenated exhalation of the jungle
is to know life as the planet intended it,
morning fog above the forest is the earth’s imagination
made literal, hovering and nourishing. Great trees
are more humble and profound than we could ever be…
Chimps are our veiled reflection in time’s mirror,
rough drafts, pots drawn early from the kiln.
In a universe of vast unlikeness, a universe
of voids and atoms and protozoa, we are first cousins,
next of kin. What makes us human makes us
forked branches on evolution’s zygotic tree.
Of course giving them names was wrong […]
sentimental, anthropomorphic, unscientific,
but isn’t that what we do, name the world, create order
in our heart’s image? As surely they gave to me
a name composed of odor, posture, uncouth movements,
my skin of repetitive khaki cloth, my long pale hair,
a name composed of habits, and habitation,
She Who Lives in the Strange Hard Nest,
She of the Bananas and Eggs, She Who Swims,
She Who Watches from the Peak, who sees our life
in the forest as it has been for millions of years,
who bears witness to the abyss of its annihilation,
she who comes to write our epitaph, or to save us.


The Men That Don't Fit In - Robert W. Service

Dulce et Decorum Est - Wilfred Owen


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