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Sophomore Poetry Package. April/May 2009. Sophomores will use the poems in this packet to assist them with their poetry assignments. You may NOT use a poem from this packet for assignment 1. These poems will be used throughout the next several weeks so do not misplace this packet.

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Sophomores will use the poems in this packet to assist them with their poetry assignments. You may NOT use a poem from this packet for assignment 1. These poems will be used throughout the next several weeks so do not misplace this packet.
  • You still have to find the citation information for these poems if you use them in your anthology for assignment 4.
an indian summer day on the prairie
An indian summer day on the prairie
  • Vachel Lindsay

In the Beginning

The sun is a huntress young,

The sun is red, red joy,

The sun is an Indian girl,

Of the tribe of the Illinois.


The sun is a smoldering fire,

That creeps through the high gray plain,

And leaves not a bush of cloud

To blossom with flowers of rain.


The sun is a wounded deer,

That treads pale grass in the skies,

Shaking his golden horns,

Flashing his baleful eyes.


The sun is an eagle old;

There in the windless west,

Atop of the spirit-cliffs

He builds him a crimson nest.

earth your dancing place
Earth your dancing place

– May Swenson

Beneath heaven’s vault

remember always walking

through halls of cloud

down aisles of sunlight

or through high hedges

of the green rain

walk in the world

highheeled with swirl of cape

hand at the swordhilt

of your pride

Keep a tall throat

Remain aghast at life

Enter each day

as upon a stage

lighted and waiting

for your step

Crave upward as flame

have keenness in the nostril

Give your eyes

to agony or rapture

Train your hands

as birds to be

brooding or nimble

Move your body

as the horses

sweeping on slender hooves

over crag and prairie

with fleeing manes

and aloofness of their limbs

Take earth for your own large room

and the floor of earth

carpeted with sunlight

and hung round with silver wind

for your dancing place

the black snake
The black snake
  • Mary Oliver

When the black snake

Flashed onto the morning road,

And the truck could not swerve—

Death, that is how it happens.

Now he lies looped and useless

As an old bicycle tire.

I stop the car

And carry him into the bushes.

He is as cool and gleaming

As a braided whip, he is as beautiful and quiet

As a dead brother.

I leave him under the leaves

And drive on, thinking

About death: its suddenness,

Its terrible weight,

Its certain coming. Yet under

Reason burns a brighter fire, which the bones

Have always preferred.

It is the story of endless good fortune.

It says to oblivion: not me!

It is the light at the center of every cell.

It is what sent the snake coiling and flowing forward

Happily all spring through the green leaves before

He came to the road.

the peace of wild things
The peace of wild things
  • Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in this beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

all one people
All one people
  • Carl Sandburg

What did Hiamovi, the red man, Chief of the Cheyennes, have?

To a great chief at Washington and to a chief of peoples across the waters, Hiamovi spoke:

“There are birds of many colors—red, blue, green, yellow,

Yet it is all one bird.

There are horses of many colors—brown, black, yellow, white,

Yet it is all one horse.

So cattle, so all living things, animals, flowers, trees.

So men in this land, where once were only Indians, are now men of many colors—white, black, yellow, red.

Yet all one people.

That this should come to pass was in the heart of the Great Mystery.

It is right thus—and everywhere there shall be peace.”

Thus Hiamovi, out of a tarnished and weatherworn heart of old gold, out of living dawn gold.

the print of the paw
The print of the paw
  • N. Scott Momaday

It lies among leaves. Indeed, a leaf,

fast and broken, is impressed in the

heel’s deep hollow. The leaf is yellow

and brown, and brittle at the edges. The

edges have been crushed; there is a fine

dust of color, like pollen, in the mold.

Deeper than the heel’s hollow are the

claw’s piercings. They are precisely

placed in the earth as if the great beast

moved with meticulous grace. The toes

turn inward, perhaps to describe like a

keel the center of gravity upon which

a great weight is balanced. Were I to

construct a model of this bear, based

upon this single print, it would turn

out to be mythic and wondrous thing.

It would be a cipher, a glyph, a huge

shape emergent on the wall of a cave,

a full figure in polychrome—splotches

of red and yellow in black outline.

And I would be an artist of the first

rank on this occasion, if on no other,

for I should proceed directly, in the

disinterested manner of a child, from

this nearly perfect print of the paw.

And all who should lay eyes uponm

my work would know, beyond any

shadow of a doubt, how much I love

the bear whose print this is.

Jemez Springs, 1997

to an aged bear
To an aged bear
  • N. Scott Momaday

Hold hard this infirmity.

It defines you. You are old.

Now fix yourself in summer,

In thickets of ripe berries,

And venture toward the ridge

Where you were born. Await there

The setting sun. Be alive

To that old conflagration

One more time. Mortality

Is your shadow and your shade.

Translate yourself to spirit;

Be present on your journey.

Keep to the trees and waters.

Be the singing of the soil.

Santa Fe, 1995

listen rain approaches
Listen! Rain approaches!
  • Navaho Traditional

Truly in the East

The white bean

And the great corn plant

Are tied with the white lightning.

Listen! It approaches!

The voice of the bluebird is heard

Truly in the East

The white bean

And the great squash

Are tied with the rainbow.

Listen! It approaches!

The voice of the bluebird is heard

calling one s own
Calling one’s own
  • Ojibwa Traditional

Awake! Flower of the forest, sky treading bird of the prairie.

Awake! Awake! Wonderful fawn-eyed One.

When you look upon me I am satisfied, as flowers that drink dew.

The breath of your mouth is the fragrance of flowers in the morning,

Your breath is their fragrance at evening in the moon of fading leaf.

Do not the red streams of my veins run toward you

As forest streams to the sun in the moon of bright nights?

When you are beside me my heart sings; a branch it is, dancing,

Dancing before the Wind spirit in the moon of strawberries.

When you frown upon me, beloved, my heart grows dark—

A shining river the shadows of clouds darken;

Then with your smiles comes the sun and makes to look like gold

Furrows the cold wind drew in the water’s face.

Myself! Behold me! Blood of my beating heart.

Earth smiles—the waters smile—even the sky of clouds smiles—but I,

I lose the way of smiling when you are not near.

Awake! Awake! My beloved.

spring song
Spring song
  • Chippewa

As my eyes


the prairie

I feel the summer

in the spring.