In Honor of National Poetry Month

I just learned that April is National Poetry Month, and that “This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture” (www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home).

So because of that, I thought I would post a few of my all-time favorite poems.  It will be tough for me to decide which one to use for the Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 21.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

 

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
(Translated by Mark Eisner)

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

 

O Love Me Truly!
John Keats (1795-1821)

You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun’s, who singeth
The soft vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth—
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid’s nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember—
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea—
They never pout for kisses—
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth;
It is like a statue’s, dead,—
While mine for passion burneth—
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should—O kiss
And in thy heart inurn me—
O love me truly!

 

Other Honorable Mentions:
If by Rudyard Kipling

I Like for You to Be Still by Pablo Neruda

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

 

Featured image (on homepage) by Antonio Litterio [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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