Our Favorite Poet: Robert Frost

This week’s favorite poet is Robert Frost; a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, renowned for his work about New England and depicting everyday life of the common man. He was the special guest at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and became the unofficial “poet laureate” of The United States

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874. During his lifetime he had a ton of failed jobs, dropped out of Harvard and suffered through the deaths of his children and wife. In 1912, Frost published his first book of poetry, which was reviewed favorably other famous poets, Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas. Frost credits Thomas as inspiration for his most famous poem “The Road Not Taken” (seen below). Over the course of his life, he earned more than 40 honorary degrees and won the Pulitzer Prize for his books New Hampshire, Collected Poems, A Further Range and A Witness Tree.

At Kennedy’s inauguration not wanting to slip, trip and fall, he decided to recite a poem he committed to memory, rather than attempt to read the original that he had written. He died on January 29, 1963, from complications related to prostate surgery. His ashes were interred in a family plot in Bennington, Vermont.

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.

Our Favorite Poets: Emily Dickinson

This week’s favorite poet is none other than Emily Dickinson. Some argue that she might be the most important American poet and some argue that the title belongs to Walt Whitman. But no one can deny that she was incredibly talented, not even the trolls on the internet.

She was born on December 10th in 1830. She wrote almost 1,800 poems but only a few of them ever published during her life. Her poetry was starkly different for the time period (the late 1800s) in which it was published. Most of her poetry utilizes short lines, slant rhymes, and random use of capitalization and punctuation. Some of her works were altered when published to fit what was standard. Her poems are also known for dealing with death and the thought of immortality.

Personality wise, Emily was known as a bit of reclusive and barely socialized. Most of her friendships were maintained through letters. She also never married. One day when baking she fainted which may have been the primary cause of her death. She did not commit suicide as commonly believed. But the fumes from the oven left her weakened and made it difficult for her to breathe.

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility —

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess — in the Ring —
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain —
We passed the Setting Sun —

Or rather — He passed Us —
The Dews drew quivering and Chill —
For only Gossamer, my Gown —
My Tippet — only Tulle —

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground —
The Roof was scarcely visible —
The Cornice — in the Ground —

Since then — ’tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity —

Our Favorite Poets: Gertrude Stein

While not in the least bit traditional, Gertrude Stein is one of our all-time favorite poets.

Born in Allegheny, PA on February 3, 1874, she moved to Paris in the early 1900s where she became influenced by the Impressionistic Art of the time. While in Europ she began writing poetry about a variety of subjects including homosexual tendencies and alcohol. These works include Three Lives (1909), Tender Buttons (1914 and The Making of Americans (published in 1925). Taking the abstraction and cubism in prose, her poetry is almost unreadable. This why is she is referred to as a Modernist Poet because it breaks all forms of the tradition of classic poetry. She died in France in 1946 yet her legacy continues. Some critics are in support of her work saying that is defined a genre while other critics claim that her works are utter nonsense.

One of our favorite poems by her is Susie Asado.

You can hear it read out loud by this random YouTubber below. For me, her poetry is about the use of sounds rather than the literal story. What do you think?

Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Susie Asado.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Susie Asado.
Susie Asado which is a told tray sure.
A lean on the shoe this means slips slips hers.
When the ancient light grey is clean it is yellow, it is a silver seller.
This is a please this is a please there are the saids to jelly. These are the wets these say the sets to leave a crown to Incy.
Incy is short for incubus.
A pot. A pot is a beginning of a rare bit of trees. Trees tremble, the old vats are in bobbles, bobbles which shade and shove and render clean, render clean must.
Drink pups.
Drink pups drink pups lease a sash hold, see it shine and a bobolink has pins. It shows a nail.
What is a nail. A nail is unison.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.

Our Favorite Poets: Paul Simon

Although technically not a poet, I fundamentally believe that some of the song lyrics that Paul Simon work has the elements of poetry. This cannot be more clear in his song “Leaves That Are Green.” There are many different interpretations of this song. Some concepts that are explored in this song include the passage of time, lost love, life and death, and the impact of someone’s life on society as a whole. Music just a secondary layer that makes the poem even more thought-provoking because it is generally considered a happy tune compared to the darkness of the lyrics. But perhaps that was Simon’s intent all along. This has been done in other songs such as Hanson’s MMMbop where the tune is happy but the lyrics are quite depressing once dissected.

But if you still can’t figure it out, Simon gives you a clew in the 3 line of the song: Time Hurries On…

Take a read and listen below and tell us what you think:

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song
I’m twenty-two now, but I won’t be for long
Time hurries on
And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they whither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand

Once my heart was filled with love of a girl
I held her close, but she faded in the night
Like a poem I meant to write
And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they wither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand

I threw a pebble in a brook
And watched the ripples run away
And they never made a sound
And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they wither with the wind
And they crumble in your hand
Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello
Good-bye, Good-bye
Good-bye, Good-bye
That’s all there is

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

Our Favorite Poets: William Shakespeare

We admit; we’ve been on a little bit of Shakespeare kick lately. It’s very hard to not think of a more famous poet than Willaim Shakespeare, the Bard himself! In

Born on April 23, 1564, one of the greatest masters of the English language wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets. He was married to Anne Hathaway and together had three children Susanna, Hamnet, and Juliet. Sadly, Hamnet died at just the age of 11 years old. He spent most of the time in London writing and acting in his plays. He died in 1616, at the age of 52, but it is unclear how he died. Many theorize that he died of typhoid fever.

One of my favorite poems by him is All The World’s A Stage. It could be that I am an actor and therefore respond to his comments on life, however, it’s just beautifully written. Here’s reading by Morgan Freeman, with the actual verbiage below:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Our Favorite Poets: Maya Angelou

Our favorite poets are young and old and come from all walks of life. Whether it’s beatnik Jack Kerouac or the “Steinese” of Gertrude Stein, or even the simple rhymes of Shel Silverstein, each poet has their own style and each style can hold a special place in your heart. The most important thing to know about poetry is that it’s subjective. A favorite poet of mine, could be one of your least favorite poets. In order to love poetry, you must not simply dismiss is it before you give it a chance.

This series will highlight some of our favorite poets and feature one of their outstanding works. This week’s favorite poet is none other than the late Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. The details of her life have been chronicled in her many autobiographies, most famously in I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings. Once learning about her upbringing, her poems resonate even more with the reader. Here’s one of our favorite Maya Angelou poems:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise
I rise
I rise.