DayPoems: A Seven-Century Poetry Slam
93,142 lines of verse *
Timothy Bovee, editor

Spring Song

William Griffith


Softly at dawn a whisper stole
Down from the Green House on the Hill,
Enchanting many a ghostly bole
And wood-song with the ancient thrill.

Gossiping on the country-side,
Spring and the wandering breezes say,
God has thrown Heaven open wide
And let the thrushes out to-day.


James Colgan

21st Century

Borne upon an aura of bliss the angel sings.
Then with scornful words you'll clip her wings.

Buy her a diamond ring and hope they grow back.
Hope it makes up for the love you lack.

Rip the muscle and tear sinew,
with my words, flesh shall be made anew.

What Place Is Besieged?

Walt Whitman


What place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the siege?
Lo, I send to that place a commander, swift, brave, immortal,
And with him horse and foot, and parks of artillery,
And artillery-men, the deadliest that ever fired gun.

Robin and Makyne

Robert Henryson


ROBIN sat on gude green hill,
Kepand a flock of fe:
Mirry Makyne said him till
'Robin, thou rew on me:
I haif thee luvit, loud and still,
Thir yeiris twa or thre;
My dule in dern bot gif thou dill,
Doutless but dreid I de.'

Robin answerit 'By the Rude
Na thing of luve I knaw,
But keipis my scheip undir yon wud:
Lo, quhair they raik on raw.
Quhat has marrit thee in thy mude,
Makyne, to me thou shaw;
Or quhat is luve, or to be lude?
Fain wad I leir that law.'

'At luvis lair gif thou will leir
Tak thair ane A B C;
Be heynd, courtass, and fair of feir,
Wyse, hardy, and free:
So that no danger do thee deir
Quhat dule in dern thou dre;
Preiss thee with pain at all poweir
Be patient and previe.'

Robin answerit hir agane,
'I wat nocht quhat is lufe;
But I haif mervel in certaine
Quhat makis thee this wanrufe:
The weddir is fair, and I am fain;
My scheip gois haill aboif;
And we wald prey us in this plane,
They wald us baith reproif.'

'Robin, tak tent unto my tale,
And wirk all as I reid,
And thou sall haif my heart all haill,
Eik and my maiden-heid:
Sen God sendis bute for baill,
And for murnyng remeid,
In dern with thee bot gif I daill
Dowtles I am bot deid.'

'Makyne, to-morn this ilka tyde
And ye will meit me heir,
Peraventure my scheip may gang besyde,
Quhyle we haif liggit full neir;
But mawgre haif I, and I byde,
Fra they begin to steir;
Quhat lyis on heart I will nocht hyd;
Makyn, then mak gude cheir.'

'Robin, thou reivis me roiff and rest;
I luve bot thee allane.'
'Makyne, adieu! the sone gois west,
The day is neir-hand gane.'
'Robin, in dule I am so drest
That luve will be my bane.'
'Ga luve, Makyne, quhair-evir thow list,
For lemman I luve nane.'

'Robin, I stand in sic a styll,
I sicht and that full sair.'
'Makyne, I haif been here this quhyle;
At hame God gif I wair.'
'My huny, Robin, talk ane quhyll,
Gif thow will do na mair.'
'Makyn, sum uthir man begyle,
For hamewart I will fair.'

Robin on his wayis went
As light as leif of tre;
Makyne murnit in hir intent,
And trowd him nevir to se.
Robin brayd attour the bent:
Then Makyne cryit on hie,
'Now may thow sing, for I am schent!
Quhat alis lufe at me?'

Makyne went hame withowttin fail,
Full wery eftir cowth weip;
Then Robin in a ful fair daill
Assemblit all his scheip.
Be that sum part of Makynis aill
Out-throw his hairt cowd creip;
He fallowit hir fast thair till assaill,
And till her tuke gude keip.

'Abyd, abyd, thow fair Makyne,
A word for ony thing;
For all my luve, it sall be thyne,
Withowttin departing.
All haill thy hairt for till haif myne
Is all my cuvating;
My scheip to-morn, quhyle houris nyne,
Will neid of no keping.'

'Robin, thow hes hard soung and say,
In gestis and storeis auld,
The man that will nocht quhen he may
Sall haif nocht quhen he wald.
I pray to Jesu every day,
Mot eik thair cairis cauld
That first preissis with thee to play
Be firth, forrest, or fauld.'

'Makyne, the nicht is soft and dry,
The weddir is warme and fair,
And the grene woid rycht neir us by
To walk attour all quhair:
Thair ma na janglour us espy,
That is to lufe contrair;
Thairin, Makyne, baith ye and I,
Unsene we ma repair.'

'Robin, that warld is all away,
And quyt brocht till ane end:
And nevir agane thereto, perfay,
Sall it be as thow wend;
For of my pane thow maid it play;
And all in vane I spend:
As thow hes done, sa sall I say,
"Murne on, I think to mend."'

'Makyne, the howp of all my heill,
My hairt on thee is sett;
And evirmair to thee be leill
Quhill I may leif but lett;
Never to faill as utheris feill,
Quhat grace that evir I gett.'
'Robin, with thee I will nocht deill;
Adieu! for thus we mett.'

Makyne went hame blyth anneuche
Attour the holttis hair;
Robin murnit, and Makyne leuche;
Scho sang, he sichit sair:
And so left him baith wo and wreuch,
In dolour and in cair,
Kepand his hird under a huche
Amangis the holttis hair.

In the Mushroom Meadows

Thomas Walsh


Sun on the dewy grasslands where late the frost hath shone,
And lo, what elfin cities are these we come upon!
What pigmy domes and thatches, what Arab caravan,
What downy-roofed pagodas that have known no touch of man!
Are these the oldtime meadows? Yes, the wildgrape scents the air;
The breath of ripened orchards still is incense everywhere;
Yet do these dawn-encampments bring the lurking memories
Of Egypt and of Burma and the shores of China Seas.


John Liddell Kelly

Born 2/19/1850

At twenty-five I cast my horoscope,
And saw a future with all good things rife --
A firm assurance of eternal life
In worlds beyond, and in this world the hope
Of deathless fame. But now my sun doth slope
To setting, and the toil of sordid strife,
The care of food and raiment, child and wife,
Have dimmed and narrowed all my spirit's scope.

Eternal life -- a river gulphed in sands!
Undying fame -- a rainbow lost in clouds!
What hope of immortality remains
But this: "Some soul that loves and understands
Shall save thee from the darkness that enshrouds";
And this: "Thy blood shall course in others' veins"?

De Massa ob de Sheepfol'

Sarah Pratt McLean Greene


De massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Look out in de gloomerin' meadows
Whar de long night rain begin --
So he call to de hirelin' shephe'd:
"Is my sheep -- is dey all come in?"

Oh den, says de hirelin' shephe'd,
"Dey's some, dey's black and thin,
And some, dey's po' ol' wedda's --
But de res', dey's all brung in.
But de res', dey's all brung in."

Den de massa ob de sheepfol'
Dat guard de sheepfol' bin,
Goes down in de gloomerin' meadows
Whar de long night rain begin --
So he le' down de ba's ob de sheepfol',
Callin' sof': "Come in! Come in!"
Callin' sof': "Come in! Come in!"

Den up t'ro de gloomerin' meadows,
T'ro de col' night rain an' win',
An' up t'ro de gloomerin' rain-paf
Whar de sleet fa' piercin' thin --
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol'
Dey all comes gadderin' in.
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in!

The Ninety and Nine

Rose Elizabeth Smith

20th Century

There are ninety and nine that work and die,
In hunger and want and cold,
That one may revel in luxury,
And be lapped in the silken fold.
And ninety and nine in their hovels bare,
And one in a palace of riches rare.

From the sweat of their brow the desert blooms
And the forest before them falls;
Their labor has builded able homes,
And cities with lofty halls;
And the one owns cities and houses and lands
And the ninety and nine have empty hands.

But the night so dreary and dark and long,
At last shall the morning bring;
And over the land the victor's song
Of the ninety and nine shall ring,
And echo afar, from zone to zone,
"Rejoice! for Labor shall have its own."

Scum o' the Earth

Robert Haven Schauffler



At the gate of the West I stand,
On the isle where the nations throng.
We call them "scum o' the earth";

Stay, are we doing you wrong,
Young fellow from Socrates' land? --
You, like a Hermes so lissome and strong
Fresh from the Master Praxiteles' hand?
So you're of Spartan birth?
Descended, perhaps, from one of the band --
Deathless in story and song --
Who combed their long hair at Thermopylae's pass?
Ah, I forget the straits, alas!
More tragic than theirs, more compassion-worth,
That have doomed you to march in our "immigrant class"
Where you're nothing but "scum o' the earth".


You Pole with the child on your knee,
What dower bring you to the land of the free?
Hark! does she croon
That sad little tune
That Chopin once found on his Polish lea
And mounted in gold for you and for me?
Now a ragged young fiddler answers
In wild Czech melody
That Dvorak took whole from the dancers.
And the heavy faces bloom
In the wonderful Slavic way;
The little, dull eyes, the brows a-gloom,
Suddenly dawn like the day.
While, watching these folk and their mystery,
I forget that they're nothing worth;
That Bohemians, Slovaks, Croatians,
And men of all Slavic nations
Are "polacks" -- and "scum o' the earth".


Genoese boy of the level brow,
Lad of the lustrous, dreamy eyes
A-stare at Manhattan's pinnacles now
In the first sweet shock of a hushed surprise;
Within your far-rapt seer's eyes
I catch the glow of the wild surmise
That played on the Santa Maria's prow
In that still gray dawn,
Four centuries gone,
When a world from the wave began to rise.
Oh, it's hard to foretell what high emprise
Is the goal that gleams
When Italy's dreams
Spread wing and sweep into the skies.
Caesar dreamed him a world ruled well;
Dante dreamed Heaven out of Hell;
Angelo brought us there to dwell;
And you, are you of a different birth? --
You're only a "dago", -- and "scum o' the earth"!


Stay, are we doing you wrong
Calling you "scum o' the earth",
Man of the sorrow-bowed head,
Of the features tender yet strong, --
Man of the eyes full of wisdom and mystery
Mingled with patience and dread?
Have not I known you in history,
Sorrow-bowed head?
Were you the poet-king, worth
Treasures of Ophir unpriced?
Were you the prophet, perchance, whose art
Foretold how the rabble would mock
That shepherd of spirits, erelong,
Who should carry the lambs on his heart
And tenderly feed his flock?
Man -- lift that sorrow-bowed head.
Lo! 't is the face of the Christ!

The vision dies at its birth.
You're merely a butt for our mirth.
You're a "sheeny" -- and therefore despised
And rejected as "scum o' the earth".


Countrymen, bend and invoke
Mercy for us blasphemers,
For that we spat on these marvelous folk,
Nations of darers and dreamers,
Scions of singers and seers,
Our peers, and more than our peers.
"Rabble and refuse", we name them
And "scum o' the earth", to shame them.
Mercy for us of the few, young years,
Of the culture so callow and crude,
Of the hands so grasping and rude,
The lips so ready for sneers
At the sons of our ancient more-than-peers.
Mercy for us who dare despise
Men in whose loins our Homer lies;
Mothers of men who shall bring to us
The glory of Titian, the grandeur of Huss;
Children in whose frail arms shall rest
Prophets and singers and saints of the West.

Newcomers all from the eastern seas,
Help us incarnate dreams like these.
Forget, and forgive, that we did you wrong.
Help us to father a nation, strong
In the comradeship of an equal birth,
In the wealth of the richest bloods of earth.

Muy Vieja Mexicana

Alice Corbin


I've seen her pass with eyes upon the road --
An old bent woman in a bronze-black shawl,
With skin as dried and wrinkled as a mummy's,
As brown as a cigar-box, and her voice
Like the low vibrant strings of a guitar.
And I have fancied from the girls about
What she was at their age, what they will be
When they are old as she. But now she sits
And smokes away each night till dawn comes round,
Thinking, beside the pinyons' flame, of days
Long past and gone, when she was young -- content
To be no longer young, her epic done:

For a woman has work and much to do,
And it's good at the last to know it's through,
And still have time to sit alone,
To have some time you can call your own.
It's good at the last to know your mind
And travel the paths that you traveled blind,
To see each turn and even make
Trips in the byways you did not take --
But that, `por Dios', is over and done,
It's pleasanter now in the way we've come;
It's good to smoke and none to say
What's to be done on the coming day,
No mouths to feed or coat to mend,
And none to call till the last long end.
Though one have sons and friends of one's own,
It's better at last to live alone.
For a man must think of food to buy,
And a woman's thoughts may be wild and high;
But when she is young she must curb her pride,
And her heart is tamed for the child at her side.
But when she is old her thoughts may go
Wherever they will, and none to know.
And night is the time to think and dream,
And not to get up with the dawn's first gleam;
Night is the time to laugh or weep,
And when dawn comes it is time to sleep . . .

When it's all over and there's none to care,
I mean to be like her and take my share
Of comfort when the long day's done,
And smoke away the nights, and see the sun
Far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black,
Through eyes that open inward and look back.

A Boy's Song

James Hogg


WHERE the pools are bright and deep,
Where the grey trout lies asleep,
Up the river and over the lea,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

Where the blackbird sings the latest,
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to track the homeward bee,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

Where the hazel bank is steepest,
Where the shadow falls the deepest,
Where the clustering nuts fall free,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

Why the boys should drive away
Little sweet maidens from the play,
Or love to banter and fight so well,
That 's the thing I never could tell.

But this I know, I love to play
Through the meadow, among the hay;
Up the water and over the lea,
That 's the way for Billy and me.

His Passionate Reply

J. Chester Ward

21st Century

If all the world were true to love,
and truth was spoken from every mouth,
and all riches were mine to gain,
all that is me would remain unmoved
until you were my love.

Time would then prove and reveal only
truth, where a lesser man would grow
cold. For my honey tongue and heart do
share, in fancy's spring, in all

Riches and material wealth soon fade, soon forgotten. Only a fool attempts to
purchase love, for his folly is ripe and
his reasons are rotten.

However my heart is at your feet and it
is my soul that I bare, my eyes
reach out with honesty and a burning
need to share.

But all that is me will remain unmoved
until you live with me, and be my love.

Then youth will last and love will
succeed. Our happiness no date with age
no need, and these delights my heart will prove, come, live with me and be my love.