Tag Archives: American poetry

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

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A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,

Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly

That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

The Hunter by Ogden Nash

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The Hunter

by Ogden Nash

The hunter crouches in his blind
‘Neath camouflage of every kind
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys
This grown-up man, with pluck and luck
is hoping to outwit a duck

The Crosses Grow On Anzio by Audie L. Murphy

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THE CROSSES GROW ON ANZIO

Oh, gather ‘round me, comrades
And listen while I weep;
Of a war, a war, a war…
where hell is six feet deep.

Along the shore, the cannons roar.
Oh how can a soldier sleep?
The going’s slow on Anzio
And hell is six feet deep.

Praise be to God for this captured sod
That’s rich where blood does seep;
With yours and mine, like butchered swine;
And hell is six feet deep.

That death does wait
There’s no debate;
No triumph will we reap
The crosses grow on Anzio,
Where hell is six feet deep.

Written in 1948 by Audie Murphy

Tampa Robins by Sidney Lanier

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Tampa Robins

by Sidney Lanier

The robin laughed in the orange-tree:
“Ho, windy North, a fig for thee:
While breasts are red and wings are bold
And green trees wave us globes of gold,
Time’s scythe shall reap but bliss for me
— Sunlight, song, and the orange-tree.

Burn, golden globes in leafy sky,
My orange-planets: crimson I
Will shine and shoot among the spheres
(Blithe meteor that no mortal fears)
And thrid the heavenly orange-tree
With orbits bright of minstrelsy.

If that I hate wild winter’s spite —
The gibbet trees, the world in white,
The sky but gray wind over a grave —
Why should I ache, the season’s slave?
I’ll sing from the top of the orange-tree
`Gramercy, winter’s tyranny.’

I’ll south with the sun, and keep my clime;
My wing is king of the summer-time;
My breast to the sun his torch shall hold;
And I’ll call down through the green and gold
`Time, take thy scythe, reap bliss for me,
Bestir thee under the orange-tree.'”

The Singing Girl by Joyce Kilmer

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The Singing Girl

by Joyce Kilmer

(For the Rev. Edward F. Garesche, S. J.)

There was a little maiden
In blue and silver drest,
She sang to God in Heaven
And God within her breast.

It flooded me with pleasure,
It pierced me like a sword,
When this young maiden sang: “My soul
Doth magnify the Lord.”

The stars sing all together
And hear the angels sing,
But they said they had never heard
So beautiful a thing.

Saint Mary and Saint Joseph,
And Saint Elizabeth,
Pray for us poets now
And at the hour of death.

A Ballad of Trees and the Master by Sidney Lanier

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A Ballad of Trees and the Master

by Sidney Lanier

Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent.
Into the woods my Master came,
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him,
The little gray leaves were kind to Him:
The thorn-tree had a mind to Him
When into the woods He came.

Out of the woods my Master went,
And He was well content.
Out of the woods my Master came,
Content with death and shame.
When Death and Shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last:
‘Twas on a tree they slew Him – last
When out of the woods He came.

Kit Carson’s Ride by Joaquin Miller

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Kit Carson’s Ride

by Joaquin Miller

Room! room to turn round in, to breathe and be free.
To grow to be giant, to sail as at sea
With the speed of the wind on a steed with his mane
To the wind, without pathway or route or a rein.
Room! room to be free where the white border’d sea
Blows a kiss to a brother as boundless as he;
Where the buffalo come like a cloud on the plain.
Pouring on like the tide of a storm-driven main,
And the lodge of the hunter to friend or to foe
Offers rest; and unquestion’d you come or you go—
My plains of America! Seas of wild lands!
From a land in the seas in a raiment of foam.
That has reached to a stranger the welcome of home,
I turn to you, lean to you, lift you my hands.

Run? Run? See this flank, sir, and I do love him so!
But he’s blind, badger blind. Whoa, Pache, boy, whoa.
No, you wouldn’t believe it to look at his eyes.
But he’s blind, badger blind, and it happen’d this wise:

“We lay in the grass and the sunburnt clover
That spread on the ground like a great brown cover
Northward and southward, and west and away
To the Brazos, where our lodges lay,
One broad and unbroken level of brown.
We were waiting the curtains of night to come down
To cover us trio and conceal our flight
With my brown bride, yon from an Indian town
That lay in the rear the full ride of a night.

“We lounged in the grass—her eyes were in mine,
And her hands on my knee, and her hair was as wine
In its wealth and its flood, pouring on and all over
Her bosom wine red, and press’d never by one.
Her touch was as warm as the tinge of the clover
Burnt brown as it reach’d to the kiss of the sun.
Her words they were low as the lute-throated dove.
And as laden with love as the heart when it beats
In its hot, eager answer to earliest love.
Or the bee hurried home by its burthen of sweets.
“We lay low in the grass on the broad plain levels,
Old Revels and I, and my stolen brown bride;
“Forty full miles if a foot to ride !
Forty full miles if a foot, and the devils
Of red Comanches are hot on the track
When once they strike it. Let the sun go down
Soon, very soon,” muttered bearded old Revels
As he peer’d at the sun, lying low on his back.
Holding fast to his lasso. Then he jerk’d at his steed

And he sprang to his feet, and glanced swiftly around.
And then dropp’d, as if shot, with an ear to the ground;
Then again to his feet, and to me, to my bride.
While his eyes were like flame, his face like a shroud.
His form like a king, and his beard like a cloud,
And his voice loud and shrill, as both trumpet and reed,—
“Pull, pull in your lassoes, and bridle to steed,
And speed you if ever for life you would speed.
Aye, ride for your lives, for your lives you must ride!
For the plain is aflame, the prairie on fire.
And the feet of wild horses hard flying before
I heard like a sea breaking high on the shore,
While the buffalo come like a surge of the sea.
Driven far by the flame, driving fast on us three
As a hurricane comes, crushing palms in his ire.”

“We drew in the lassoes, seized saddle and rein.
Threw them on, cinched them on, cinched them over again.
And again drew the girth; and spring we to horse.
With head to the Brazos, with a sound in the air
Like the surge of a sea, with a flash in the eye,
From that red wall of flame reaching up to the sky;
A red wall of flame and a black rolling sea
Rushing fast upon us, as the wind sweeping free
And afar from the desert blown hollow and hoarse.

“Not a word, not a wail from a lip was left fall.
We broke not a whisper, we breathed not a prayer,
There was work to be done, there was death in the air.
And the chance was as one to a thousand for all.
Twenty miles ! . . . thirty miles ! . . . a dim distant speck . . .
Then a long reaching line, and the Brazos in sight!
And I rose in my seat with a shout of delight.
I stood in my stirrup, and look’d to my right—
But Revels was gone ; I glanced by my shoulder
And saw his horse stagger; I saw his head drooping
Hard down on his breast, and his naked breast stooping
Low down to the mane, as so swifter and bolder
Ran reaching out for us the red-footed fire.

He rode neck to neck with a buffalo bull.
That made the earth shake where he came in his course.
The monarch of millions, with shaggy mane full
Of smoke and of dust, and it shook with desire
Of battle, with rage and with bellowings hoarse.
His keen, crooked horns, through the storm of his mane.
Like black lances lifted and lifted again;
And I looked but this once, for the fire licked through.
And Revels was gone, as we rode two and two.

“I look’d to my left then—and nose, neck, and shoulder
Sank slowly, sank surely, till back to my thighs,
And up through the black blowing veil of her hair
Did beam full in mine her two marvelous eyes,
With a longing and love yet a look of despair
And of pity for me, as she felt the smoke fold her.
And flames leaping far for her glorious hair.
Her sinking horse falter’d, plunged, fell and was gone
As I reach’d through the flame and I bore her still on.
On! into the Brazos, she, Pache and I—
Poor, burnt, blinded Pache. I love him . . .That’s why.