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.

How This Mom Cracked The Code For Joy And Success—And How You Can Do The Same

** OGTV celebrates all Moms on Mother's Day with this story of perseverance by a Mom who had every reason to give up her hopes of a happy life but simply refused to give in and found a way to turn her life around. **

At the age of 24, Shilamida felt that she had found success: she was earning a six-figure income and had a nice boyfriend. But just 2 years, everything seemed to fall apart. Her relationship ended shortly before she discovered she was pregnant. Her father passed away from cancer and her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time; Shilamida found herself as a single mother and was living in poverty. This was rock bottom.

Keep reading... Show less

Random Acts Of Flowers Deliver Recycled Flowers To Deserving People

** OGTV celebrates the long awaited spring with our final GOOD STORY of the week about a man who performs acts of generosity that are blooming with color and kindness. **

In July 2007, Random Acts of Flowers' founder, Larsen Jay, was in a near-fatal accident. While recovering in the hospital, he received love, support and... flowers! They raised his spirits and added a positive boost to his recovery.

After a week in his hospital bed, Larsen started getting antsy. When he was able to get up and around a bit, he noticed how many other patients did not receive flowers. Since his room was now overflowing with arrangements, he decided to turn his flowers into several bouquets and gave them out around the hospital. Within moments the first "random act of flowers" delivery was made.

Keep reading... Show less

The Creation of Us (S2:E6) – Surprising Gender Reveal!

** In the final selection from this week's playlist, The Creation Of Us (S2), OGTV brings you the exciting countdown to the gender reveal of Heather and Christen's baby. Will it be a boy or a girl? **

Every couple expecting their first baby gets to this point. The pregnancy is getting to the third trimester, the anticipation from family and friends is starting to bubble, and the inevitable question begins to hover like an approaching thundercloud…what are you having? In this episode of The Creation of Us, the big question will be answered.

Keep reading... Show less

The JetBlue Crew Member Born To Help Others

** OGTV celebrates World Red Cross Day with this story about a truly caring JetBlue employee who is ready to drop everything and head out to help people in need at a moments notice. **

When you see someone follow their calling in life, it's a remarkable sight.

As a child, Debbie Martin grew up in a rough neighborhood, wishing she could help those who needed it. She followed that desire to a customer service career at JetBlue, where she also volunteers as a member of the airline's disaster relief team called, "Ready Team."

Keep reading... Show less

These Kids Are Flipping Houses To Help Build Their Community

** OGTV's second GOOD STORY of the week is about a driven young lady who is doing quite well in the real estate world by flipping houses with her team of Elementary School kids. **

Reality TV has a number of shows that highlight the fast paced, rough and tumble world of house flipping featuring adults who specialize in this area. Enter 9 year old Alianna Hines – she is the boss and CEO of Junior Flips, LLC, a company run by kids that takes distressed properties and transforms them into beautifully renovated single family homes in Washington, DC. and Maryland.

Keep reading... Show less

New York's ‘Addiction Angel’ Helps Addicts Cure Their Disease

** Only Good TV celebrates National Nurse's Day with this story of one person's dedication on behalf of others.... something we need now more than ever.... **

There are angels all around us, like Alicia Reddy. This selfless woman, also known as Addiction Angel, wants nothing more than to help those struggling with the disease of addiction. She is a RN and a drug interventionist. Her passion with helping others started when 3 family members struggled with addiction and she was there to help.

Keep reading... Show less

The Creation of Us (S2:E4) – A 30/60/90 Celebration

** In this second selection from this week's playlist, The Creation Of Us (S2), OGTV invites you to Christen's 30th birthday party where we discover something special about 3 generations of women in her family. **

The love and closeness of families can be traced to the traditions that are passed down that bind them together. In this episode of The Creation Of Us, Heather and Christen invite us in to share a unique event that links 3 generations of Christen's family in a special way.

Keep reading... Show less

How To Make Classic Guacamole For Cinco De Mayo - Unwritten Recipes With Felicia

** When Cinco De Mayo comes around, OGTV is ready to celebrate. This year we are sharing Felicia's holiday treat from her series, Unwritten Recipes, where she always has a family story to go with every tasty dish. **

Not every kitchen creation comes from a cookbook. Sometimes it's the story behind the recipe that makes it taste that much better! Felicia and husband Richie share their family secret that inspired this tasty recipe for Guacamole on this brand new episode of Unwritten Recipes with Felicia Levinson, an OnlyGood TV Original Series.

Keep reading... Show less

* PODCASTS *

* OGTV Top Videos *

Watch and Subscribe
It's a Positivity Movement
OnlyGood TV on YouTube

mailbox

Get your Only Good TV Newsletter