Wayland Free Public Library

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Anchor Poems

selected for

WAYLAND READS POETRY

anchor poem bookA selection of poems for discussion--

Find links to the individual poems below
OR download a pdf file of all the poems by clicking the image to the right:


Links to poems for adults:

BOOKS (text)
by Billy Collins

SAMURAI SONG (listen) (text)
by Robert Pinsky

TELL ALL THE TRUTH BUT TELL IT SLANT (listen) (text)
by Emily Dickinson

OUT AT LANESVILLE (listen) (text)
by David Ferry

FOR THE UNION DEAD (listen) (text)
by Robert Lowell

BASEBALL (listen) (text)
by Gail Mazur

FALL RIVER (text)
by David Rivard

ON BEING ASKED 'WHAT IS POETRY?' (text)
by Jill McDonough

NEW ENGLAND ODE (text)
by Kevin Young

AFTERNOON HAPPINESS (text)
by Carolyn Kizer

TO THE TRAILING ARBUTUS (text)
by Lydia Maria Child
(Wayland resident)
(Chosen in honor of Wayland's 375th anniversary)


 

Links to poems for kids:

WHEN I GROW UP (text)
by Janet Wong

BEE! I'M EXPECTING YOU! (text)
by Emily Dickinson

WHAT'S A POEM? (text)
by Charles Ghigna

KNOXVILLE TENNESSEE (text)
by Nikki Giovanni

THE DUCK (text)
by Ogden Nash


 

TEXT OF SELECTED POEMS

BOOKS
by Billy Collins

From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the library humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit, alphabetical shelves,
Giovanni Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low, gigantic chord of language.

I picture a figure in the act of reading,
shoes on a desk, head tilted into the wind of a book,
a man in two worlds, holding the rope of his tie
as the suicide of lovers saturates a page,
or lighting a cigarette in the middle of a theorem.
He moves from paragraph to paragraph
as if touring a house of endless, paneled rooms.

I hear the voice of my mother reading to me
from a chair facing the bed, books about horses and dogs,
and inside her voice lie other distant sounds,
the horrors of a stable ablaze in the night,
a bark that is moving toward the brink of speech.

I watch myself building bookshelves in college,
walls within walls, as rain soaks New England,
or standing in a bookstore in a trench coat.

I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
straining in circles of light to find more light
until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
that we follow across a page of fresh snow;

when evening is shadowing the forest
and small birds flutter down to consume the crumbs,
we have to listen hard to hear the voices
of the boy and his sister receding into the woods.

Credit: Billy Collins, "Books" from The Apple That Astonished Paris. Copyright 1999 by The University of Arkansas Press. Used with the permission of the publisher, www.uapress.com.

 

TO THE TRAILING ARBUTUS
by (Wayland's own) Lydia Maria Child
 
 (chosen in honor of Wayland's 375th anniverary)

THOU delicate and fragrant thing!
Sweet prophet of the coming Spring!
To what can poetry compare
Thy hidden beauty, fresh and fair?

Only they who search can find
Thy trailing garlands close enshrined;
Unveiling, like a lovely face,
Surprising them with artless grace.

Thou seemest like some sleeping babe,
Upon a leafy pillow laid;
Dreaming, in thy unconscious rest,
Of nest'ling on a mother's breast.

Or like a maiden in life's May,
Fresh dawning of her girlish day;
When the pure tint her cheeks disclose
Seems a reflection of the rose.

More coy than hidden love thou art,
With blushing hopes about its heart;
And thy faint breath of fragrance seems
Like kisses stolen in our dreams . 

Thou'rt like a gentle poet's thought,
By Nature's simplest lessons taught,
Reclining on old moss-grown trees,
Communing with the whisp'ring breeze.

Like timid natures, that conceal
What others carelessly reveal;
Reserving for a chosen few
Their wealth of feeIing, pure and true.

Like loving hearts, that ne'er grow old,
Through autumn's change, or winter's cold;
Preserving some sweet flowers, that lie
'Neath withered leaves of years gone by.

At sight of thee a troop upsprings 
Of simple, pure, and lovely things;
But half thou sayest to my heart,
I find no language to impart.