poems & poets

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O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed


They stepped down into cool continual wind  
that smelled like wet rocks but caressed their faces.
The pit was dark. But even when the eye
adjusted there was nothing there to see.
All day the white hat stayed above somewhere.
There was no better place to spend July.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive


from American Poets

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Robert Lowell’s poem “Epilogue” comes at “the end of a long sequence,” as he said to an audience in December 1976 during one of his last recorded readings before his death in 1977. His final book of poems, Day by Day, was published in the same month, and “Epilogue” concludes the title group of poems, written in free verse “in the blue period after sickness,” as he explained apologetically to Elizabeth Bishop, “when I felt I could [write] nothing else well.”

As so often with Lowell’s poems, “Epilogue” belies its plainspoken manner while also being true to it—not simply constructed, either in form (he mostly adheres to a four-beat line, with variations, and despite protestations is assisted by plot and rhyme) or in thought; and yet not dissembling either. The poem speaks of the limitations of his art. But the poem also recalls the classical recusatio (refusal), in which the speaker claims he is unable to write the kind of poem the occasion

on Teaching Poetry

As a sixth-grade teacher, I often find that my spring parent-teacher conferences begin with the same answer to my first question: “So: how does Kevin think things are going this term?” I will ask. “We don’t know,” Kevin’s parents will say. “He never talks to us anymore!”

Anyone who interacts with middle school students on a regular basis knows the familiar answer to the question “How was your day?” is usually some combination of “Fine!” “Whatever!” or “[Nearly inaudible grunt]!” As these young men and women try on new identities for size and experiment with their desire for independence, they often create distance—sometimes a crack, sometimes a chasm—between themselves and their families.

Ironically, it is during their formative middle school years that young adults struggle with some of the most pressing questions they have ever encountered: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I from, and where am I going? As they work to answer these questions, they often want the

Poetic Terms/Forms

nocturne A night scene. John Donne was the first English poet to employ the term nocturnal to designate a genre in “A Nocturnal upon S. Lucy’s Day, being the shortest day” (1633). Donne sets his poem at midnight (“’Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s”) and creates an elegy on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, by borrowing from the night offices of the Roman Catholic canonical hours. In early church writings, the term nocturnes (Nocturni or Nocturna) refers to “night prayer” or night vigil. The notion of associating night with spiritual contemplation goes back at least as far as the Neo-Platonists. “I shall sing of Night, mother of gods and men,” one Orphic hymn begins. “The night is often the secret site of initiation, purification, and other threshold activities bridging the relation between what is human and what is not human and providing a context for changed roles and states of being,” Susan Stewart writes, pointing to the Japanese tradition of night


Poetry Book
So Much Synth by Brenda Shaughnessy
Please Excuse This Poem, edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
Poetry Book
Rival Gardens by Connie Wanek