5 Great Poems By U.S. Poet Laureates

The United States Poet Laureate—serves as the official poet of the United States. During their term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. Here are 5 great poems by U.S. Poet Laureates.

1. Cloud by Kay Ryan, Poet Laureate from 2008-'10

A blue stain

creeps across

the deep pile

of the evergreens.

From inside the

forest it seems

like an interior

matter, something

wholly to do

with trees, a color

passed from one

to another, a

requirement

to which they

submit unflinchingly

like soldiers or

brave people

getting older.

Then the sun

comes back and

it's totally over.

2. History Lesson By Natasha Trethewey, poet laureate from 2012-present
I am four in this photograph, standing
on a wide strip of Mississippi beach,
my hands on the flowered hips
of a bright bikini. My toes dig in,
curl around wet sand. The sun cuts
the rippling Gulf in flashes with each
tidal rush. Minnows dart at my feet
glinting like switchblades. I am alone
except for my grandmother, other side
of the camera, telling me how to pose.
It is 1970, two years after they opened
the rest of this beach to us,
forty years since the photograph
where she stood on a narrow plot
of sand marked colored, smiling,
her hands on the flowered hips
of a cotton meal-sack dress.

3. Candle Hat by Billy Collins, poet laureate from 2001-'03

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:

Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,

Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,

Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather

from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror

and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio

addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew

we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head

which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,

a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like

to be wearing such a chandelier on your head

as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read

any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him

lighting the candles one by one, then placing

the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,

the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house

with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door

one dark night in the hill country of Spain.

"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself,"

as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,

illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

artrocks.ca

4. An Extraordinary Morning by Phillip Levine, poet laureate from 2011-2012
Two young men—you just might call them boys—
waiting for the Woodward streetcar to get
them downtown. Yes, they're tired, they're also
dirty, and happy. Happy because they've
finished a short work week and if they're not rich
they're as close to rich as they'll ever be
in this town. Are they truly brothers?
You could ask the husky one, the one
in the black jacket he fills to bursting;
he seems friendly enough, snapping
his fingers while he shakes his ass and sings
“Sweet Lorraine," or if you're put off
by his mocking tone ask the one leaning
against the locked door of Ruby's Rib Shack,
the one whose eyelids flutter in time
with nothing. Tell him it's crucial to know
if in truth this is brotherly love. He won't
get angry, he's too tired for anger,
too relieved to be here, he won't even laugh
though he'll find you silly. It's Thursday,
maybe a holy day somewhere else, maybe
the Sabbath, but these two, neither devout
nor cynical, have no idea how to worship
except by doing what they're doing,
singing a song about a woman they love
merely for her name, breathing in and out
the used and soiled air they wouldn't know
how to live without, and by filling
the twin bodies they've disguised as filth.
5. Selected Haiku By Issa by Robert Hass, poet laureate 1995-1997
Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house
casually.
New Year's Day—
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.
The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.
Goes out,
comes back—
the love life of a cat.
Mosquito at my ear—
does he think
I'm deaf?
Under the evening moon
the snail
is stripped to the waist.
Even with insects—
some can sing,
some can't.
All the time I pray to Buddha
I keep on
killing mosquitoes.
Napped half the day;
no one
punished me!

loveinabandb.blogspot.com

For more inspiring stories, follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Only Good News Newsletter.

Childhood Friends Love of Baseball Bolsters Community - OG Sports with Scott Stanford (E5)

OG Sports is an OGTV series all about the inspirational sports stories you love to hear. Veteran Sports anchor Scott Stanford will interview unique and uplifting sports heroes and members of organizations who, in their own way, are trying to change the world for the better through sports.

In this episode, Scott talks to Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman, boyhood friends who eat, drink, and breath baseball, and are the co-creators of Cespedes Family BBQ. This Twitter account, named for a goofy backyard video by NY Mets outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes, is where their 100,000+ followers come for fun and lively wall-to-wall Baseball Banter, especially In October during the MLB Playoffs and World Series.

Keep reading... Show less

3 Ways To Enjoy The Outdoors -Happiness Made Simple with Dr. Woody

Everyone could use a little help in their daily lives…and watching a good DIY video can always make a difference! OnlyGood TV videos help make your life easier, more manageable, happy and stress free!

Happiness is a choice, and one we all want to make. Happier people tend to live healthier lives and you often find the keys to happiness just outside your door. In this episode of Happiness Made Simple, host Dr. Woody Woodward describes how being out and about near a babbling brook, a luscious green field, or an iconic museum stimulates our ears, eyes, and mind and helps us to be more engaged with the nature, culture and people around us.

Keep reading... Show less

Non-Profit Matches Veterans with Therapy Dogs for Life Changing Support

** In celebration of "National Pets For Vets Day", we wanted to share this heart warming story about how a service dog is helping a Vet with PTSD **

Brett Simon was a veteran K9 police officer who went on to work as a contractor for the Department of the Army as a bomb dog handler. However, after serving two tours in Iraq, he returned home suffering from PTSD.

Led by his Mom, Shari Duval, who had worked for veteran's charities near their home in Jacksonville Florida, Brett's family undertook two years of research to find a solution to help Brett and others with this condition.

Their research focused on canine assistance for PTSD. Ultimately, they started a non-profit organization. K9s For Warriors, dedicated to providing service dogs to warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress and/or traumatic brain injury as a result of their military service (post 9/11).

Keep reading... Show less
Series - Only Good Heroes

This Hero Talks to Strangers to Build Communities - Only Good Heroes (E19)

In the OnlyGood TV original series, Only Good Heroes, you'll meet some remarkable individuals and organizations who are making a huge difference in communities across the country, sparking action that pulls people together to battle the impact from this pandemic.

In this episode, host Lucia Nazzaro talks with Robbie Stokes Jr., Founder of nonprofit "I Talk To Strangers". Robbie's organization explores the idea of what would happen if more people decided to reach out and have a positive conversation with a stranger. Whether it's a community, college campus, or corporate setting, Robbie has faith that through training, events, and positivity, we can break down barriers and discover what connects us.

Keep reading... Show less

The Lonesome Boy And The Blonde Haired Angel

When Alex Fischetti thinks back to when he was 9, he realizes how he was different from other kids. "Some people can say that you are odd," he remembers. "Some people can say that you are a little out there." Diagnosed back then with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition that made it hard for him look people in the eye and interact normally, Alex missed many parties and other social events and often felt isolated. But if you look at him today, you see a completely different person.

Now 27, Alex has learned to deal with his condition with the help of some very special people along the way. He works a regular job, has written a personal memoir of his experiences, and has now become the self-described "social butterfly" of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Keep reading... Show less

Mobile App Quist Brings LGBTQ History To Life

Take a step back in time with Quist, a new app that educates users about events in LGBTQ history.

Open it up and you'll see how years ago to the very date, events took place that changed the course of equality. Each event illustrates how far the world has come in making a safer, more equal environment for the LGBTQ community and their supporters.

Keep reading... Show less

How to Make Mouth Watering Macaroni & Cheese - Cook with Peter

This 10-year old chef can make you a superstar in the kitchen!

Cook with Peter on OnlyGood TV features simple recipes kids love to eat and make! In this episode, Chef Peter demonstrates his version of the all time family favorite - Macaroni & Cheese!

Keep reading... Show less

Teaching At-Risk Kids to Love Cooking - Sprouts Cooking Club

Sprouts Cooking Club is an organization that empowers youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds to eat and live sustainably by teaching them how to cook healthy meals for themselves and their families.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube

* PODCASTS *

* OGTV Top Videos *

mailbox

Get your Only Good TV Newsletter