Friday, May 3, 2013


Congrats to the organizers, coaches, judges, and participants for a remarkable Poetry Out Loud competition! I shared some thoughts earlier this week about what I saw of the final.

From the Poetry Out Loud site: "For the State and National Finals, students are required to recite at least one poem that was written before the 20th century and one that is 25 lines or fewer. However, one poem (for example, Christina Rossetti’s “A Birthday”) can fulfill both criteria at once."

I'm sharing some poems today that were on the list of approved poems written before the 20th century. You can imagine how beautiful they would sound recited aloud:

Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)
by Herman Melville

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
   The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
   The forest-field of Shiloh
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
    Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
   And natural prayer
   Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
   Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
   But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
    And all is hushed at Shiloh.


Lute in Darkness by Yamato Hasumi

Thou Art My Lute
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Thou art my lute, by thee I sing,—
   My being is attuned to thee.
Thou settest all my words a-wing,
   And meltest me to melody.

Thou art my life, by thee I live,
   From thee proceed the joys I know;
Sweetheart, thy hand has power to give
   The meed of love—the cup of woe.

Thou art my love, by thee I lead
   My soul the paths of light along,
From vale to vale, from mead to mead,
   And home it in the hills of song.

My song, my soul, my life, my all,
   Why need I pray or make my plea,
Since my petition cannot fall;
   For I’m already one with thee!


By Mary Weston Fordham

Sleep, love sleep,
The night winds sigh,
In soft lullaby.
The Lark is at rest
With the dew on her breast.
So close those dear eyes,
That borrowed their hue
From the heavens so blue,
Sleep, love sleep.

Sleep, love sleep,
The pale moon looks down
On the valleys around,
The Glow Moth is flying,
The South wind is sighing,
And I am low lying,
With lute deftly strung,
To pour out my song,
Sleep, love sleep.


From No Coward Soul is Mine
by Emily Brontë

...Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.


Next week, I'll open up registration for the 2013 Summer Poem Swap!

Liz has the Poetry Friday round-up this week.


Linda B said...

All wonderful poems, Tabatha. I love that "Serenade" the best of these, though. What fun it must be to hear the competitions. Thanks, & I'm excited for the poem swap! Much fun!

Liz Steinglass said...

I love watching videos of Poetry Out Loud. The participants are just amazing. They really bring the poems to life.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thanks for sharing these, Tabatha! And what a terrific event each year.

"Shiloh" got to me here today - seems so long ago and yet not that long ago, really.

Bridget Magee said...

These poems are amazing, Tabatha! POL participants are fabulous talents, too. 'Serenade' resonated with me. Thanks for sharing. =)

Mary Lee said...

I would have loved doing this as a high schooler.

Come to think of it, is there an adult version?!?

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh yes! I melted with Thou Art My Lute.