A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 30


Christina Rossetti1830 – 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.

This poem is in the public domain.




A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 29

Into the Light

Let the Light Enter

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper1825 – 1911

The dying words of Goethe.
“Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
   And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
   Light! more light! before I go.”
“Softly let the balmy sunshine
   Play around my dying bed,
E’er the dimly lighted valley
   I with lonely feet must tread.”
“Light! more light! for Death is weaving
   Shadows ‘round my waning sight,
And I fain would gaze upon him
   Through a stream of earthly light.”
Not for greater gifts of genius;
   Not for thoughts more grandly bright,
All the dying poet whispers
   Is a prayer for light, more light.
Heeds he not the gathered laurels,
   Fading slowly from his sight;
All the poet’s aspirations
   Centre in that prayer for light.


This poem is in the public domain. 

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 28

April 28th marks the observation of National Great Poetry Reading Day.

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck (Sonnet 14)

William Shakespeare1564 – 1616

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy;
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find.
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert:
   Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
   Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

This poem is in the public domain.

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 27


John Rollin Ridge1827 – 1867

I saw her once—her eye’s deep light
Fell on my spirit’s deeper night,
The only beam that e’er illumed
Its shadows drear. The glance was slight,
But oh, what softness it assumed!

I saw her twice—her glance again
Lit up its fire within my brain;
My thoughts leaped up, like lightning warm,
And felt a sweetness mixed with pain,
While gath’ring wildly round her form.

I saw her thrice—she was alone,
And her deep glance more deeply shone
Upon my heart with rapture chained,
The thrill was a meteor thrown
Athwart some sky where darkness reigned!

I saw her yet again—and clear,
But low, her rich tones met my ear;
They wandered thro’ my bosom sad,
As waters thro’ a woodland sere,
That make decay itself seem glad.

The fifth time I saw her—and still
She taught my quiv’ring heart to thrill,
Like some wild hand upon a lyre,
That’s borne along, without its will,
Across the strings of magic fire!

I saw her oft again—, each hour
Enhanced o’er me her conquering power;
Her image in my thought became
A spirit-planted, fadeless flower;
And all my music was her name!

I loved the earth on which she trod—
More beautiful than if a God
Had placed immortal foot-prints there!
I loved the world, though dark its load
Of ills, because she breathed its air!

I loved her slightest careless word—
More sweet than matin of the bird
That scales the Heaven on mounting wing!
It through my maddened pulses stirred,
As though it were a living thing.

Oh, that ’rapt heart’s forever gone,
That boweth once to Beauty’s throne,
And feels the bliss her looks inspire;
For, oh, the seeds of death are sown,
When love assumes its mad empire!


This poem is in the public domain.

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 26

National Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April; it is a civic holiday in Nebraska.

Winter Trees

Winter Branches

When winter-time grows weary, I lift my eyes on high
And see the black trees standing, stripped clear against the sky;

They stand there very silent, with the cold flushed sky behind,
The little twigs flare beautiful and restful and kind;

Clear-cut and certain they rise, with summer past,
For all that trees can ever learn they know now, at last;

Slim and black and wonderful, with all unrest gone by,
The stripped tree-boughs comfort me, drawn clear against the sky.

This poem is in the public domain.

A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 25

On Reason and Passion

Kahlil Gibran, 1883 – 1931

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have your consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields, and meadows—then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,—then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”

And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.


A Poem a Day Series 2019 – Day 24

Your Name

Winifred M. Letts1882 – 1972

When I can dare at last to speak your name
It shall not be with hushed and reverent speech
As if your spirit were beyond the reach
Of homely merry things, kind jest or game.
Death shall not hide you in some jewelled shrine
Nor set you in marmoreal pomp apart,
You who still share the ingle of my heart,
Participant in every thought of mine.

Your name, when I can dare to speak it, dear,
Shall still be linked with laughter and with joy.
No solemn panegyrist shall destroy
My image of you, gay, familiar
As in old happy days,—lest I discover
Too late I’ve won a saint but lost a lover. 

This poem is in the public domain.