Friday, February 27, 2015

Pop quiz, or Where’s Waldo?

Here are four poems for your perusal.
Please tell me who they’re by. (Refusal
To comply with my request will make me sad.)
I am a poet too, you know.
(Not one of mine is shown below
Because mine go from bad to verse;
Trust me, they get worse and worse.)
Tell me the poet,
And for extra credit,
Tell me the title too.
All four poets are American.
Ready? You may now begin.
(Go, my children, go and sin no more make me glad.)

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -

The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter “Little Prig.”
Bun replied,
“You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it’s no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I’m not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I’ll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ: all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut.”

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me -
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

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.

P.S. -- Please do not cheat. Either you know the answers or you don’t. The correct answers will appear in my next post.


  1. The last poem is surely by Maya Angelou. I am afraid that I am not so hot on American poets.

  2. Can I guess? #1 seems Emily Dickinson-ish to me. #2 I have no idea. #3 I never heard before, but I did read John Griffin's Black Like Me and seem to have thought at some point in my life that the title had some connection to Langston Hughes, so I'll guess that. #4 I think is Maya Angelou.

    So, guesses, yes, but educated guesses. I look forward to the answers!

  3. Well now you're talkin' my language honey -
    Emily Dickinson
    Langston Hughes
    Maya Angelou.

    And yes, I knew them all.
    I like yours the best. *laughs*.

  4. Oh yes, and by the way, the tags you have put on the bottom of the post have all their names listed! I've just noticed that! Hahahahaha.

  5. Thanks to all 3 of you for your answers! I think I made the quiz too easy.

  6. I confess that I failed this class miserably. I will no doubt have to go to summer school to catch up. Next time can we have an open-book test?

  7. Pam/Hilltop, thanks for checking in anyway! I'm making no promises about "next time"....