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A Compilation of Poems with Exceptional Meaning and Learning Opportunities

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A collection of poems written by various authors and compiled by David Lange


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Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

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.

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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.

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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.

I Hear America Singing

By Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

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Ode to Health

By Mary Darby Robinson

   COME,bright-eyed maid,
    Pure offspring of the tranquil mind,
    Haste, my fev'rish temples bind
    With olive wreaths of em'rald hue
    Steep'd in morn's ethereal dew,
    Where in mild HELVETIA's shade,
    Blushing summer round her flings
Warm gales and sunny show'rs that hang upon her wings. 

    I'll seek thee in ITALIA'sbow'rs,
    Where supine on beds of flow'rs
    Melody's soul-touching throng
Strike the soft lute or trill the melting song:
    Where blithe FANCY, queen of pleasure,
    Pours each rich luxuriant treasure.
    For thee I'll climb the breezy hill,
    While the balmy dews distill
    Odours from the budding thorn,
    Drop'd from the lust'rous lids of morn; 

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    Who, starting from hershad'wy bed,
Binds her gold fillet round the mountain's head. 

  There I'll press from herbs andflow'rs
  Juices bless'd with opiate pow'rs,
    Whose magic potency can heal
  The throb of agonizing pain,
    And thro' the purple swelling vein
  With subtle influence steal:
    Heav'n opes for thee its aromatic store
    To bathe each languid gasping pore;
But where, O where, shall cherish'd sorrow find
The lenient balm to soothe the feeling mind. 

    O, mem'ry! busy barb'rous foe,
    At thy fell touch I wake to woe:
    Alas! the flatt'ring dream is o'er,
    From thee the bright illusions fly,
    Thou bidst the glitt'ring phantoms die,
And hope, and youth, and fancy, charm no more. 

  No more for me the tip-toe SPRING
  Drops flowrets from her infant wing;
  For me in vain the wild thymes bloom
  Thro' the forest flings perfume;
    In vain I climb th'embroider'd hill
  To breathe the clear autumnal air;
    In vain I quaff the lucid rill
  Since jocund HEALTH delights not there
  To greet my heart:no more I view,
  With sparkling eye, the silv'ry dew 

Sprinkling May's tears upon the folded rose,
As low it droops its young and blushing head,
Press'd by grey twilight to its mossy bed:
  No more I lave amidst the tide,
    Or bound along the tufted grove,
    Or o'er enamel'd meadows rove,
    Where, on Zephyr's pinions, glide
Salubrious airs that waft the nymph repose. 

    Lightly o'er the yellowheath
    Steals thy soft and fragrant breath,
    Breath inhal'd from musky flow'rs
    Newly bath'd in perfum'd show'rs.
    See the rosy-finger'd morn
    Opes her bright refulgent eye,
    Hills and valleys to adorn,
While from her burning glance the scatter'd vapours fly. 

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    Soon, ah soon! the painted scene,
    The hill's blue top, the valley's green,
    Midst clouds of snow, and whirlwinds drear,
    Shall cold and comfortless appear:
    The howling blast shall strip the plain,
    And bid my pensive bosom learn,
    Tho' NATURE's face shall smile again,
    And, on the glowing breast of Spring
    Creation all her gems shall fling,
    YOUTH's April morn shall ne'er return. 

  Then come, Oh quickly come, HygeianMaid!
  Each throbbing pulse, each quiv'ring nerve pervade.
  Flash thy bright fires across my languid eye,
  Tint my pale visage with thy roseate die,

  Bid my heart's current own a temp'rateglow,
And from its crimson source in tepid channels flow. 

  O HEALTH, celestial Nymph! without thyaid
  Creation sickens in oblivions shade:
  Along the drear and solitary gloom
  We steal on thorny footsteps to the tomb;
  Youth, age, wealth, poverty alike agree
  To live is anguish, when depriv'd of Thee.
  To THEE indulgent Heav'n benignly gave
  The touch to heal, the extacy to save.
  The balmy incense of thy fost'ring breath
  Wafts the wan victim from the fangs of Death,
  Robs the grim Tyrant of his trembling prize,
  Cheers the faint soul, and lifts it to the skies.

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  Let not the gentle rose thy bountydrest
  To meet the rising son with od'rous breast,
  Which glow'd with artless tints at noon-tide hour,
  And shed soft tears upon each drooping flower,
  With with'ring anguish mourn the parting Day,
  Shrink to the Earth, and sorrowing fade away. 

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By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

       Does it dry up

       like a raisin in the sun?

       Or fester like a sore—

       And then run?

       Does it stink like rotten meat?

       Or crust and sugar over—

       like a syrupy sweet?

       Maybe it just sags

       like a heavy load.

       Or does it explode?

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

 And sorry I could not travel both

 And be one traveler, long I stood

 And looked down one as far as I could

 To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 Then took the other, as just as fair,

 And having perhaps the better claim,

 Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

 Though as for that the passing there

 Had worn them really about the same,

 And both that morning equally lay

 In leaves no step had trodden black.

 Oh, I kept the first for another day!

 Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

 I doubted if I should ever come back.

 I shall be telling this with a sigh

 Somewhere ages and ages hence:

 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

 I took the one less traveled by,

 And that has made all the difference.

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