“In the world of poetry, Gwendolyn Brooks is recognized as pioneer, teacher, benefactor, and hierophant and lauded for her intellectual prowess, her social consciousness, and her spiritual wealth. She knows the depth of the words of Langston Hughes, when he states, “We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.” This quote from “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” printed in 1926, points to the resiliency and tenacity of Brooks who echoes, in her own words, “Do not be afraid of no.”
-from “On Gwendolyn Brooks: Reliant Contemplation,” edited by Stephen Caldwell Wright
I shall never get you put together entirely,
Pieced, glued, and properly jointed.
Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles
Proceed from your great lips.
It’s worse than a barnyard.
Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle,
Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other.
Thirty years now I have labored
To dredge the silt from your throat.
I am none the wiser.
Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning
Over the weedy acres of your brow
To mend the immense skull plates and clear
The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.
A blue sky out of the Oresteia
Arches above us. O father, all by yourself
You are pithy and historical as the Roman Forum.
I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress.
Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered
In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke
To create such a ruin.
Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,
Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing.
– “The Colossus” by Sylvia Plath
“When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.
I know they support you,
and that your gentle weight
rises upon them.
Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.”
-from ‘Love Poems’ by Pablo Neruda
“No books ever leave Ambrosiana.
It’s a library you enter like a book,
and when you leave
the book leaves inside you.”
– from the poem ‘The Ambrosiana Library,’ from the book ‘God Particles’ by Thomas Lux