The Hug by Thom Gunn
It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined
Half of the night with our old friend
Who’d showed us in the end
To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.
Already I lay snug,
And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side.
I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,
Suddenly, from behind,
In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:
Your instep to my heel,
My shoulder-blades against your chest.
It was not sex, but I could feel
The whole strength of your body set,
Or braced, to mine,
And locking me to you
As if we were still twenty-two
When our grand passion had not yet
My quick sleep had deleted all
Of intervening time and place.
I only knew
The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.
The Hug by Thom Gunn
So now is come our joyful feast, Let every man be jolly; Each room with ivy leaves is dressed, And every post with holly. Though some churls at our mirth repine, Round your foreheads garlands twine, Drown sorrow in a cup of wine, And let us all be merry. Now all our neighbors’ chimnies smoke, And Christmas blocks are burning; Their ovens they with baked meats choke, And all their spits are turning. Without the door let sorrow lie, And if for cold it hap to die, We’ll bury it in a Christmas pie, And evermore be merry. Now every lad is wondrous trim, And no man minds his labor; Our lasses have provided them A bagpipe and a tabor. Young men and maids, and girls and boys, Give life to one another’s joys; And you anon shall by their noise Perceive that they are merry. Rank misers now do sparing shun, Their hall of music soundeth; And dogs thence with whole shoulders run, So all things aboundeth. The country-folk themselves advance, For crowdy-mutton’s come out of France; And Jack shall pipe and Jill shall dance, And all the town be merry. Ned Swatch hath fetched his bands from pawn, And all his best apparel; Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn With droppings of the barrel. And those that hardly all the year Had bread to eat or rags to wear, Will have both clothes and dainty fare, And all the day be merry. Now poor men to the justices With capons make their errands; And if they hap to fail of these, They plague them with their warrants. But now they feed them with good cheer, And what they want they take in beer, For Christmas comes but once a year, And then they shall be merry. Good farmers in the country nurse The poor, that else were undone; Some landlords spend their money worse, On lust and pride at London. There the roisters they do play, Drab and dice their land away, Which may be ours another day; And therefore let’s be merry. The client now his suit forbears, The prisoner’s heart is eased; The debtor drinks away his cares, And for the time is pleased. Though others’ purses be more fat, Why should we pine or grieve at that; Hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, And therefore let’s be merry. Hark how the wags abroad do call Each other forth to rambling; Anon you’ll see them in the hall, For nuts and apples scrambling; Hark how the roofs with laughters sound, Anon they’ll think the house goes round; For they the cellar’s depths have found, And there they will be merry. The wenches with their wassail-bowls About the streets are singing; The boys are come to catch the owls, The wild mare in is bringing. Our kitchen boy hath broke his box, And to the dealing of the ox Our honest neighbors come by flocks, And here they will be merry. Now kings and queens poor sheep-cotes have, And mate with everybody; The honest now may play the knave, And wise men play at noddy. Some youths will now a mumming go, Some others play at rowland-hoe, And twenty other gameboys moe; Because they will be merry. Then wherefore in these merry days Should we, I pray, be duller? No, let us sing some roundelays To make our mirth the fuller. And whilst we thus inspired sing, Let all the streets with echoes ring; Woods, and hills, and everything Bear witness we are merry.
Peacefully, with reverence I view the river
Quietly meandering toward this sand dune.
I sit with spirits who have come before me
Watching as the sun prepares for the moon.
The evening sky, hot with dancing fire colors,
Glows like the old spear maker’s ember pile.
Autumn oak leaves add more brilliant hues
To comfort those who pause here for a while.
Steamboats paddle and churn their way west
Coursing between gray dredge piled banks,
Carrying the life stores of many brave settlers
Who at day’s end stop to eat and give thanks.
Months will pass before they reach the plains.
Some will continue to Rocky Mountains high.
Pristine land where the Missouri River is born
Among jagged peaks rising to touch a big sky.
Tamarack candles radiate their golden light
On spruce trees adorned with cones and snow.
White smoke curls from a field stone chimney,
Herds of elk and deer play in valleys below.
This place where the setting sun finds refuge
And wild cutthroats swim sparkling streams.
Here my spirit has flown this Christmas Eve
Watching the spirits dancing in my dreams.
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.