Poems by Louisa May Alcott

downloadAmerican novelist and poet Louisa May Alcott worked hard her entire life and eventually was able to make a name for herself. Born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Alcott came into the world as the daughter of two transcendentalist parents. She died on March 6, 1888 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

 

 

 

Fairy Song

The moonlight fades from flower and rose 
And the stars dim one by one; 
The tale is told, the song is sung, 
And the Fairy feast is done.
 
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers, 
And sings to them, soft and low.
 
The early birds erelong will wake: 
'T is time for the Elves to go.
 

O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass, 
Unseen by mortal eye, 
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float 
Through the quiet moonlit sky;-- 
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see, 
And the flowers alone may know, 
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell; 
So't is time for the Elves to go
 

From bird, and blossom, and bee, 
We learn the lessons they teach; 
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win 
A loving friend in each.
 
And though unseen on earth we dwell, 
Sweet voices whisper low, 
And gentle hearts most joyously greet 
The Elves where'er they go.
 

When next we meet in the Fairy dell, 
May the silver moon's soft light 
Shine then on faces gay as now, 
And Elfin hearts as light.
 
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky 
With sunlight soon shall glow.
 
The morning star shall light us home: 
Farewell! for the Elves must go.



 

The Rock and The Bubble

 Oh! a bare, brown rock 
Stood up in the sea, 
The waves at its feet 
Dancing merrily.
 

A little bubble 
Once came sailing by, 
And thus to the rock 
Did it gayly cry,-- 

"Ho! clumsy brown stone, 
Quick, make way for me: 
I'm the fairest thing 
That floats on the sea.
 

"See my rainbow-robe, 
See my crown of light, 
My glittering form, 
So airy and bright.
 

"O'er the waters blue, 
I'm floating away, 
To dance by the shore 
With the foam and spray.
 

"Now, make way, make way; 
For the waves are strong, 
And their rippling feet 
Bear me fast along.
" 

But the great rock stood 
Straight up in the sea: 
It looked gravely down, 
And said pleasantly-- 

"Little friend, you must 
Go some other way; 
For I have not stirred 
this many a long day.
 

"Great billows have dashed, 
And angry winds blown; 
But my sturdy form 
Is not overthrown.
 

"Nothing can stir me 
In the air or sea; 
Then, how can I move, 
Little friend, for thee?" 

Then the waves all laughed 
In their voices sweet; 
And the sea-birds looked, 
From their rocky seat, 

At the bubble gay, 
Who angrily cried, 
While its round cheek glowed 
With a foolish pride,-- 

"You SHALL move for me; 
And you shall not mock 
At the words I say, 
You ugly, rough rock.
 

"Be silent, wild birds! 
While stare you so? 
Stop laughing, rude waves, 
And help me to go! 

"For I am the queen 
Of the ocean here, 
And this cruel stone 
Cannot make me fear.
" 

Dashing fiercely up, 
With a scornful word, 
Foolish Bubble broke; 
But Rock never stirred.
 

Then said the sea-birds, 
Sitting in their nests 
To the little ones 
Leaning on their breasts,-- 

"Be not like Bubble, 
Headstrong, rude, and vain, 
Seeking by violence 
Your object to gain; 

"But be like the rock, 
Steadfast, true, and strong, 
Yet cheerful and kind, 
And firm against wrong.
 

"Heed, little birdlings, 
And wiser you'll be 
For the lesson learned 
To-day by the sea.



 

Transfiguration

 Mysterious death! who in a single hour 
Life's gold can so refine 
And by thy art divine 
Change mortal weakness to immortal power! 

Bending beneath the weight of eighty years 
Spent with the noble strife 
of a victorious life 
We watched her fading heavenward, through our tears.
 

But ere the sense of loss our hearts had wrung 
A miracle was wrought; 
And swift as happy thought 
She lived again -- brave, beautiful, and young.
 

Age, pain, and sorrow dropped the veils they wore 
And showed the tender eyes 
Of angels in disguise, 
Whose discipline so patiently she bore.
 

The past years brought their harvest rich and fair; 
While memory and love, 
Together, fondly wove 
A golden garland for the silver hair.
 

How could we mourn like those who are bereft, 
When every pang of grief 
found balm for its relief 
In counting up the treasures she had left?-- 

Faith that withstood the shocks of toil and time; 
Hope that defied despair; 
Patience that conquered care; 
And loyalty, whose courage was sublime; 

The great deep heart that was a home for all-- 
Just, eloquent, and strong 
In protest against wrong; 
Wide charity, that knew no sin, no fall; 

The spartan spirit that made life so grand, 
Mating poor daily needs 
With high, heroic deeds, 
That wrested happiness from Fate's hard hand.
 

We thought to weep, but sing for joy instead, 
Full of the grateful peace 
That follows her release; 
For nothing but the weary dust lies dead.
 

Oh, noble woman! never more a queen 
Than in the laying down 
Of sceptre and of crown 
To win a greater kingdom, yet unseen; 

Teaching us how to seek the highest goal, 
To earn the true success -- 
To live, to love, to bless -- 
And make death proud to take a royal soul.





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Mish-Mash of Inspiration

When I reflect on the word inspiration the the though that first comes to my mind is humanity. People can have great success financially; they can wield much power. However, if their humanity is lacking they will neither  be fulfilled nor will they truly contribute to society in any meaningful way. Image result for humanity

What is humanity and how do we cultivate it in ourselves? It is that part of us that speaks to our love, compassion, and interest for people (animals as well). How do we cultivate it? By starting with ourselves, for if we judge ourselves harshly or if we feel no inspiration to better our lives we will be unlikely to be very humane. If we cannot give ourselves these gifts, we will find it difficult to ourselves to grow, be an inspiration and better the sort of humankind – one person at a time.

Inspiration. Not perfection. Not putting all others before you. Inspiration to be your best.

 


Rudyard Kipling was an English poet who lived from 1865-1936. He also wrote many children’s stories. The poem’s line, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same,” is written on the wall of the players’ entrance at Wimbledon.

If

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

 



 

 


 

The Invitation By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This poem is an excerpt from the book, “The Invitation (1999)”, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Oriah is a spiritual counselor and story teller among other things. This poem offers an invitation to every single one of us to “show up” in the universe. She reminds us that we do not serve the universe by being small. Rather, we serve the universe by making the most out of our lives.

The Invitation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

 


 

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Poems by Max Ehrmann

Max Ehrmann

Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945 / Indianapolis, United States)

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

 


Whatever Else You Do

Whatever else you do or forbear,
impose upon yourself the task of happiness;
and now and then abandon yourself
to the joy of laughter.

And however much you condemn
the evil in the world, remember that the
world is not all evil; that somewhere
children are at play, as you yourself in the
old days; that women still find joy
in the stalwart hearts of men;

And that men, treading with restless feet
their many paths, may yet find refuge
from the storms of the world in the cheerful
house of love.


 
 

‘A Prayer’

Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times.

May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of a quiet river, when a light glowed within me, and I promised my early God to have courage amid the tempests of the changing years.

Spare me from bitterness and from the sharp passions of unguarded moments. May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.

Though the world knows me not, may my thoughts and actions be such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth, and let me not forget the uses of the stars. Forbid that I should judge others lest I condemn myself.

Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still.


‘Dark Days’

What fool shall say, “My days are fair,
God’s in his world and all is well,”
When half mankind shrieks in despair
Worse than in Dante’s flaming hell!I cannot sing in happy mood
While hostile armies take their toll.
On these dark days I toil and brood
With starless midnight in my soul.And yet, O World, O Life, O God!
I find myself, jest as the fool,
Believing in thy chastening rod,
Believing still that love must rule.



Poems by Maya Angelou

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Caged Bird

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.



Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.



 

Alone

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.



 

Equality

You declare you see me dimly
through a glass which will not shine,
though I stand before you boldly,
trim in rank and marking time.
You do own to hear me faintly
as a whisper out of range,
while my drums beat out the message
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

You announce my ways are wanton,
that I fly from man to man,
but if I’m just a shadow to you,
could you ever understand ?

We have lived a painful history,
we know the shameful past,
but I keep on marching forward,
and you keep on coming last.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

Take the blinders from your vision,
take the padding from your ears,
and confess you’ve heard me crying,
and admit you’ve seen my tears.

Hear the tempo so compelling,
hear the blood throb in my veins.
Yes, my drums are beating nightly,
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.



 

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.



 

Preacher Don’t Send Me

Preacher, don’t send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky
where rats eat cats
of the leopard type
and Sunday brunch
is grits and tripe.

I’ve known those rats
I’ve seen them kill
and grits I’ve had
would make a hill,
or maybe a mountain,
so what I need
from you on Sunday
is a different creed.

Preacher, please don’t
promise me
streets of gold
and milk for free.
I stopped all milk
at four years old
and once I’m dead
I won’t need gold.

I’d call a place
pure paradise
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.



 

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all

Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all

Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.

I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Tough guys fight
All alone at night
Life doesn’t frighten me at all.

Panthers in the park
Strangers in the dark
No, they don’t frighten me at all.

That new classroom where
Boys all pull my hair
(Kissy little girls
With their hair in curls)
They don’t frighten me at all.

Don’t show me frogs and snakes
And listen for my scream,
If I’m afraid at all
It’s only in my dreams.

I’ve got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn’t frighten me at all.



 

Woman Work

I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
‘Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own.



 

A Brave And Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.