POETIC BLOOMINGS, a site established in May 2011 and which reunites Marie Elena Good and Walter J Wojtanik to help nurture and inspire the poetic spirit.

Archive for the category “Poetic Bloomings Reading Room”


This American poet, writer, and editor won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Carl August Sandburg had been regarded as a major player in modern literature. His appeal as a poet was unmatched in his day, perhaps because the scope of his experiences connected him with so many sectors of Americana. On his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that Carl Sandburg was America. He was more than the sum of the voice of America, and poet of who possessed strength and genius. Today’s poem is Mr. Sandburg’s, “Who Am I?”


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by Carl Sandburg

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
reach my hands and play with pebbles of
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
reading “Keep Off.”

My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive
in the universe.


Next Wednesday will mark the 50th entry into the reading room. At that point we will take a brief respite from the Reading Room for some other feature (undecided as of yet).

Also I will be posting the instructions for the next phase of the July P.E.O.D Challenge next week.


This week’s poet is regarded as one of the greatest British poets, and his influence remains in his widely read works. Byron’s magnum opus, Don Juan, ranks with John Milton’s Paradise Lost as two of the most important poems by England’s honored poets. The masterpiece was an epic of its time, and had roots deep in literary tradition. Even though it was shocking to early Victorians, it  concerns itself with its own contemporary world — social, political, literary and ideological. We present one of the best romantic poetry verses by this great author. This is Lord George Gordon Byron’s “THY DAYS ARE DONE”.


Lord Byron


by Lord (George Gordon) Byron

Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
Thy country’s strains record
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The slaughter of his sword!
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
The freedom he restored!

Though thou art fall’n, while we are free
Thou shalt not taste of death!
The generous blood that flow’d from thee
Disdain’d to sink beneath:
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy spirit on our breath!

Thy name, our charging hosts along,
Shall be the battle-word!
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
From virgin voices pour’d!
To weep would do thy glory wrong:
Thou shalt not be deplored.


Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning-author Toni Morrison has passed away at age 88. Her contributions to the literary world covered over six decades and her honorariums included the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The world took comfort from Morrison’s wisdom both within the pages of her work and her inspired speeches. Here in the POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM, we honor her by featuring some of Morrison’s most stirring and powerful thoughts on various subjects including writing, art, death and love.

Toni Morrison

On Love:

You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” —Song of Solomon, 1977

On Writing:

Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” —During her Nobel Prize speech in 1993

On Art:

Your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.” —During her Wellesley College Commencement address in 2004

On Freedom:

“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” —Song of Solomon, 1977

On history:

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” —Beloved, 1987

On death:

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” —During her Nobel Prize speech in 1993


Emily Dickinson was an American poet. A prolifically private poet, very few of her nearly eighteen hundred best poems were published during her life. Many publishers edited her works to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems were quite unique for the times in which she wrote. Her poems generally dealt with themes of love, death and immortality. Dickinson lived much of her life in isolation. Thought to be an eccentric by locals, she had a penchant for wearing white clothing. Somewhat anti-social, Emily was known for her reluctance to greet guests or even leave her room. She had never married.

Emily Dickinson

I Cannot Live With You

by Emily Dickinson

I cannot live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup

Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down,
You could not.

And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’.
That new grace

Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by. 


When Browning died in 1889, he was regarded as a philosopher-poet who had made contributions to Victorian social and political discourse. Unusually for a poet, societies for the study of his work were founded while he was still alive. He was an English poet and playwright. Robert Browning had a flair for dramatic monologue which made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are known for their irony, characters, dark humor, while playing on social commentary and historical settings. Browning married the older poet Elizabeth Barrett in 1846. 

Image result for Robert Browning

by Robert Browning

I wonder do you feel to-day
As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?
For me, I touched a thought, I know,
Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.
Help me to hold it! First it left
The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft,
Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating wet,
Where one small orange cup amassed
Five beetles,–blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it.


Alfred Lord Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and is one of the most popular British poets to this day. Much of his verse was inspired by classic mythology. A large and bearded man, Tennyson regularly wore a cloak and a broad brimmed hat which enhanced his notoriety. He possessed a loud booming voice, which gave his poetry readings a powerful presence. One of his most famous lyric poems, this is “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.



by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!



Born Asa Bundy Sheffey, Robert Hayden lived a traumatic childhood. During his parent’s contentious marriage, Robert witnessed fights and suffered beatings, the chronic anger would stay with him throughout his life. Also against him were his severe visual problems which prevented him from participating in sports as an escape. Because of these traumas, he suffered debilitating periods of depression that he would call “my dark nights of the soul”. Robert Hayden served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1976–78, (which today is known as US Poet Laureate.) He became the first African-American writer to hold that office. Here in his most famous poem, “Those Winter Sundays” he deals with the memory of fatherly love and loneliness.

Robert Hayden.jpg

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?


Ted Kooser is an American poet who had served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (2004 to 2006). Kooser was one of the first poet laureates from the Great Plains. His style of poetry could be considered conversational. He had earned the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book “Delights and Shadows.” Ted Kooser writes on the recurring themes that include love, family, place, and time. He writes of the Midwestern life, yet does not take claim to being a “regional” poet. Kooser teaches as a Presidential Professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Please enjoy Ted Kooser’s “A Birthday Poem.”

Photo Credit: Kathleen Rutledge

A Birthday Poem

by Ted Kooser

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.


Raymond Carver was an American poet and writer who described his poetry as being steered toward brevity and intensity. Carver, known more for his short stories, was a driving force in literature, in the revitalization of the American short story during the 1980s. Carver was a troubled soul who tended to take heavily to the bottle. In his own admission, he gave up writing and took to full-time drinking. In the fall semester of 1973, Carver while a visiting lecturer in writers’ workshop stated that he did less teaching than drinking and almost no writing. He died of lung cancer at age fifty. In his brief stint, Carver wrote and published his first book of poems, Near Klamath, under poet Dennis Schmitz’s tutelage. Offered for your consideration today is Raymond Carver’s poem entitled “Happiness”.

Raymond Carver


by Raymond Carver

So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren’t saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other’s arm.
It’s early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn’t enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.


Elizabeth Bishop was one of the great modern era American poets. She had been selected as Poet Laureate of the USA, was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the National Book Award. Elizabeth published her first book 1946 (North & South) and was the winner of the Houghton Mifflin Prize for poetry. Her imagery and focus on detail made this selection of her work stand out for me. Vivid and warm, a memoir of sort, FILLING STATION by Elizabeth Bishop.

Elizabeth Bishop

Filling Station

by Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, but it is dirty!
–this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color–
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.


*Taboret – a low stool or small table.

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