List One - My Favorite Poems

1. You Who Never Arrived, by Rainer Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...

2. Falling Stars, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes--do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers
of stars: each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.

3. We Never Know How High We Are, by Emily Dickinson

We never know how high we are
Till we are asked to rise
And then if we are true to plan
Our statures touch the skies --

The Heroism we recite
Would be a normal thing
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
For fear to be a King --

4. 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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!

5. Remember Me, by Christina Rosetti

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 plann'd:
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.

6. Phenomenal Woman, by Maya Angelou

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
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
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
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 for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I love poetry. In my opinion, rainy days are best spent tucked into a quiet corner of a bookstore, revisiting favorite poems, or discovering new enthralling works. It's easy to get lost in a book of prose while listening to the pitter patter of raindrops. Reading at our local bookstore is especially enchanting, as the hypnotizing fragrances of coffee concoctions and fresh pastries dance through the air. This list is composed of my six favorite poems, each with my favorite verses highlighted, in descending order. I love them all for different reasons....some because of the way they make me feel, some because of the memories I have associated with them, and others simply because of the way the words roll off my tongue. What are your favorite poems?

(one down, fifty-one to go)

{all images via weheartit}


Jeannie said...

Ashley, I love your choice of poems. As you know your grandmother was good at writing, she loved to write poetry. My favorite would have to be one she wrote that was published in 1994 in The National Library of Poetry-River of Dreams.

A Dreamer's Dream
Hazy were the days of my youth.
No thought was given to my mind of older days.
Like a butterfly filtering through the wind, so went my life.
I sought beauty in the wind as the leaves fluttered in the tops of the trees.
Blue was the sky as I dreamed from aloft of mama's chicken house, all the time floating on with the creatures I imagined I saw in the clouds.
Never again, never again will we see those days again.
That longing we have in our soul of yesteryears, seeing me and my sister pitter pattering barefoot here and there, hearing our mother calling, children it's time to come in.
But still I heard another voice calling from the wind - a voice unlike the one I heard in former days - a voice that could tug at your very soul.
The one I heard in the little white church on the hill. But still as a butterfly you fly this way and that floating in the wind, until I heard this voice unlike my mother's say child it's time to come in. (I did)

Ashley said...

Mom, I have always loved this poem! Thank you for adding it. Beautiful!!

Gina said...

I love all those poems, but the two I love the best on your list are "If" and "Phenomenal Woman." Reading "If" for the first time - just now - it brought tears to my eyes. What great advice for a son - or anyone. My favorite poem is "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. I actually blogged about it awhile back if you're interested in reading it:


I also used to competitively perform poetry in High School. My favorite poems to perform were by Anne Sexton. She wrote really well about what it was like to live in a mental institution with drug addictions etc. My favorite of hers are "The Addict" and "Ringing the Bells." They're fun to read out loud. ;)