Collected Poems of John Holmes

Holmes, John A., Jr.


The known world [Map of my country]

The known world [Map of my country]



A map of my native country is all edges,

The shore touching sea, the easy impartial rivers

Splitting the local boundary lines, round hills in two townships,

Blue ponds interrupting the careful county shapes.

The Mississippi runs down the middle. Cape Cod. The Gulf.

Nebraska is on latitude forty. Kansas is west of Missouri.

When I was a child, I drew it, from memory,

A game in the schoolroom, naming the big cities right.

Cloud shadows were not shown, nor where winter whitens,

Nor the wide road the day's wind takes.

None of the tall letters told my grandfather's name.

Nothing said, Here they see in clear air a hundred miles.

Here they go to bed early. They fear snow here.

Oak trees and maple boughs I had seen on the long hillsides

Changing color, and laurel, and bayberry, were never mapped.

Geography told only capitals and state lines.

I have come a long way using other men's maps for the turnings.

I have a long way to go.

It is time I drew the map again,

Spread with the broad colors of life, and words of my own

Saying, Here the people worked hard, and died for the wrong reasons.

Here wild strawberries tell the time of year.

I could not sleep, here, while bell-buoys beyond the surf rang.

Here trains passed in the night, crying of distance,

Calling to cities far away, listening for an answer.

On my own map of my own country

I shall show where there were never wars,

And plot the changed way I hear men speak in the west,

Words in the south slower, and food different.

Not the court houses seen floodlighted at night from trains,

But the local stone built into house walls,

And barns telling the traveler where he is

By the slant of the roof, the color of the paint.

Not monuments. Not the battlefields famous in school.

But Thoreau's pond, and Huckleberry Finn's island.

I shall name an unhistorical hill three boys climbed one morning.

Lines indicate my few journeys,

And the long way letters come from absent friends.

Forest is where green ferns cooled me under the big trees.

Ocean is where I ran in the white drag of waves on white sand.

Music is what I heard in a country house while hearts broke.

Not knowing they were breaking, and Brahms wrote it.

All that I remember happened to me here.

This is the known world.

I shall make a star here for a man who died too young.

Here, and here, in gold, I shall mark two towns

Famous for nothing, except that I have been happy in them.


Living for poetry, I live in light.

The darkness driven back by words I write,

And words I read, and words I hear in my head

In a twentieth-century room in honor said,

Borders the undiscovered country round.

Here trembles in my mind the coming sound

Of a summer wind, and wakens me to care

Lest others may not move in a shining air

Where listening I have never been alone.

I live in the deep happiness I have known,

And wonder at my fathers' wonder now

Lest life they fared and fought for might be lost.

From their old root my life along the bough

With new green words and a wild love is crossed,

A springing need to put man's story well

Into the best bare words a man may tell.

Nothing is swift enough that I can say.

I envy most the music-maker's way,

Knowing how wholly he must be rejoiced

To change it into music many-voiced.


Big as a table-top, the white map lies under my right hand,

Scrawled over, sketched on, dense with memory as the hand moves.

Arrows run west.

My eastern grandfather ploughed two farms there,

Built houses twice, lost one, and a green crop with it in wind,

But sent home for his brother, writing in rusty ink,

Tell all our friends they need not die indoors."

I have written names outdoors, large in the northeast,

For my father's fathers, and all their sons' children,

Good and the same, using the same names often, dying old.

Here I have drawn, from a family memory moving my fingers,

Their square, big, plain, many-windowed houses,

Built round a fieldstone fireplace chimney for the warmth,

The back doors closed upon a valley-view.

Their names were Webster, Upham, Robinson, Nash.

They knew green days, and warm roofed-over nights of love,

Knew rage, delight, despair not found in the town clerks' records.

One struck his wife down, ran in a hundred-year-old night

Over the lake ice, fell in the black water, was drowned and damned.

Some owed too much money, some fought too long in the wars,

All dreamed, bought, worked, hated and hurried well.

But there must have been singers in the clover, in the pines,

Shouters to the mountain echo, listening.

Shall I draw crossed knives on this crowded map?

And near which names the shivering edge of joy,

Near which the shrewd point stuck in the back?

What heaven did they believe in, what good, what gods,

As I believe the life in words is as long as heaven to live in?

I hereby give and bequeath

To my Beloved Son: William Holmes

My Gun, my clock, and my Writing Desk."

They gave their sons Death Ready, Time Passing, the Word Written.

I shall not give my own son more, but hope to tell him

I had my heaven on earth, as they had theirs, and knew it.

They buried their kind in Kansas and Vermont,

And the tombstones put down roots.


Once upon a time dragons in the curled wave,

Nights of waiting in starlight for the wind,

Sails tall under the slow antique Pacific clouds at sunrise;

Once upon a time, and a long time ago now,

Slim men on neat narrow decks, with good manners, and guns.

The elaborate legend of the great-uncle's voyage to Japan.

Once upon a time red stripes

In the striped flags whipping in sun.

Dark blue uniforms. Gilt and green carven

High-breasted ship's figure-head. Cannon. Once upon a time.

The foreign shoreline compared by a Boston man to Boston.

Brass glinting, the western ship's clean deck easy at anchor.

Speeches and gifts under the awnings,

The foreign costumes, the fans. Once upon a time.

A long time ago now. The strangeness; letters; the diary.

Clothes are queer. Visited a temple. I send my love."

At home, later, the fat blue porcelain jar of dry rose petals.

In my grandmother's parlor, in my aunts' houses,

The table screens of faded rich brocade, the ivory carvings

In a motionless procession forever in a brick Boston house,

The inlaid cabinets full of kid gloves, calling cards,

Pictures of the children, souvenirs of the World's Fair.

At my mother's table, in my uncle's office,

Later, a little at a time, family talk:

His good clothes of gray cloth, his job at the Navy Yard,

His long walks on Sundays in Charlestown, under Bunker Hill,

Alone, carrying a thin cane, and his linen very clean.

Had he seen the Emperor? Had he tasted the metal music

Of gongs in some shrine in the Japanese hills, worn the costume

Of moonlight on a curved bridge to some flowery island?

His silence at dinner. His sudden angers.

As if he had seen in a war more than he could bear thinking about,

Hearing the people at home talk and ask questions.

His death at forty-two.

The pencil color of his pocket diaries.

Writing my cousins' names here, I think of him, call to him,

And I keep his color still rare, though mixed with time.

We believe he climbed the bridge to the island

Shaken with music, and

Came back.

His passion in us is poetry, music, painting, theater.

I have shown this on the map everywhere,

Painting red and bronze over white and black, swirling;

Telling in color here how the west went east, telling

What he remembered on his Sunday walks, alone, slim, silent,

Telling it at last only in his blood.

He knows we know him. We think he voyaged well.


Memory streaming behind me in the wind

Unfolds in blowing colors, and is lost,

Unless words call it out of the air to keep;

Torrents and banners in the rain and sun,

Until I hang the wind of time on a wall.

Today is noise all day in the nearest street,

A name now, a hurt here, and work well done.

Today is now, and tomorrow dimly written.

But I am up early to remember and believe.

Surely as earth goes turning underfoot

To speed me toward the light, and light beyond,

The days to come will ripple the brimming past,

And memory take my color in the wind.


Clear afternoons when I was young,

The rounded arch of heaven hung

So lightly over me I knew

The earth turned over slow and true.

Men strode along my native street

On confident, habitual feet,

As if no almost visible line

Marked out direction's stiff design.

Look right, look left, direction said.

Unwavering, they walked ahead

As if, I thought, they walked inside

An endless tunnel shoulder-wide.

Rails went somewhere, double, bright,

Wires went somewhere out of sight,

And under trees that arched in files

Ran wheels unrolling a reel of miles.

If all my faith, when I was young,

Was given the laws I lived among,

To gravity, to air, to flight,

To the sense of touch, the sense of light,

It had been true a long time then

That builders were the wisest men.

They knew that every living thing

Had skill of root, or leg, or wing.

They built that secret stone by stone,

To make a wall stand up alone.

They stripped that muscle almost bare

And left it tense and tall in air,

Clasping light, and not the soil,

In motionless and breathless toil.

A builder knew the sleeping strength

In idle stone or timber-length,

The wings in wood, the solid shoulder

Thrusting up in the buried boulder.

I needed a language all of signs

For surfaces and working lines.

Not names of things, but the way they look.

The nail. The wheel. The hinge. The hook.

Suddenly printed bright and bare,

The color of fire and fine as hair.

I sent my mind inside their minds

And found the thing a builder finds

Who watches men heave up a load,

Or lean to the curve along a road;

Who watches birds balance themselves

On lakes of air and airy shelves,

Or watches a tree grip soil and grow,

And guesses boughs of root below.

I climbed a tree so high I weighed

In wind no more than leaves. I swayed

With the leafy boughs, alone and free,

Riding above geography.

I gazed from the street beyond my street

To where the sky and highway meet

Where the land rises like a wave in green,

And falls away, but falls unseen

On the further side of noon and here.

Then suddenly I looked down sheer

At roof-slope, sidewalk, backyard fence,

Roof, dormer, roof, and their difference.

I saw that tower, man, and tree

Rose parallel to gravity,

Although great shapes of windy air

Crowded against them standing there.

Look and come down. Deep grass received

A child who knew, but now believed.

Then I walked knowing I could feel

Earth rolling backward under heel,

Knowing forever I should know

That I must bear my part of snow,

My weight of darkness, rain, and light

Like any field or mountain height.


The bells rang every hour from the tower in the trees

In the springtime every day. A bell said, Go,

And we went, from gym to Greek to chlorophyll,

To coffee at ten in the morning, back to the Bible,

And met the girls we were in love with, after class.

We had been fourteen when the War was over, too young

For that one; then, as it happened, too old for the next.

We were graduated in nineteen-twenty-nine, a year,

We were told at Commencement, great, the greatest,

Opening out like a broad road up the map

From youth to yonder, to heaven, to anywhere.

We shall never know so much as long as we live

About God or verbs again, or be so in love.

Here it is: bells, books, coffee, evenings in spring.

Here's the night we walked. Streetlights. Leaves in rain.

We made notes. We were very good at making notes

On what the professor thought we thought he said,

And at gazing at him and thinking of something else,

Poems, maybe . . . or maybe last night . . . or something.

Not Sacco and not Vanzetti, in the papers then.

We were very important, were very busy, expected

At all the dances, and always seen there dancing.

We spoke our mind in print, in the college weekly,

Definitely against the examination system.

The bells rang every hour from the tower in the trees.

What was it going to be like, we had asked ourselves?

Everyone reading, we thought. The books! The books!

Not drudgery, but all blown in a new exciting light,

Fiercely, and not indoors, but everywhere,

Walking, working, talking everywhere about new ideas.

College is a place where no one reads the papers.

College is a long four years that will never end.

But the secret of civilization was ours to ask for:

A magic: kneel in the classroom, rise, and know all.

The thing for the map is the thick crowd of names,

Not of heroes or readers, but names of those who were there,

Assigned to our dormitories by the registrar,

Chosen by upperclassmen to join our clubs,

Beside us in lectures because of the alphabet,

Therefore our friends.

Only the careless and hard,

The gay, the stubborn, the wild self-powered, were worth it,

And most of them never obeyed or heard the bells

In the stone tower, at twenty minutes past the hour.

Their hour was midnight, or after, reading aloud,

Talking, eating, listening to Bach and to Beethoven,

Drinking coffee, laughing, talking, reading aloud,

Working their way to France on a freighter, and home,

Crazy and glorious, poor, always poor, and talking.

Maybe the secret of civilization was this, off-campus,

Proving that Dante is best if read in Italian,

And somebody's new album of Brahms' First Symphony;

Witty and careless, with coffee and more music, and midnight.

In the morning the President, by special appointment,

Would see the editor, campus figure, and sleepy.

If only he could be told about Brahms, and Italian,

And coffee and civilization and books and no money.

And he could have been told, but I couldn't tell him.

I couldn't tell him, and now I can't tell even myself.

I can't call back what it was I wanted to say.

And what if he'd asked me how I liked the college?

It was not what we thought. Better? Well, different.

Duller? No. Different, not what we thought. Worth it?

Yes, worth it. But not for the reasons they told us. Then what?

For the people. For the professor of chemistry I hated,

Who knew it, and showed me his dearest research, as if

Two artists consulted, so shouldering me toward my art;

For the professor whose B was precious, as some A's were not;

For Tommy, for Peg, for Larry, for Chan, for Duke;

And for the letter-carrier, and the night watchmen.

The seeing so many people, and naming them every day.

For the people; the place; the times hung in memory;

Nights on the Chapel steps whispering closely, or not;

The crazy excitement of May in our senior year,-

The last classes, the last everything, the remembering

Supper hours warm and noisy at the fraternity house,

The tired silence when at last the presses were running

Too loud for talk when the college paper was yours

And you knew every word in type in the forms by heart.

O God, you say, that was all good, and it was good.

Then they all come in a whirl of mornings and faces,

Too many men and women, a photograph-album world.

Here's the spring night we walked in, after the movies,

Here's Braker Hall, I think this was our junior year.

The book riffles. There's Gene remember Gene Goss he

Played the banjo he died there's Henry remember Henry

Thompson he died look there's what was her name look

Mark's married who's that Jim I saw Jim the other day

He asked for you who's-that-who's-Dave-there's-Joe-


Shut the book. It's a good book. But a long time ago.


I remember cities for this broad and brightening map

Where friends have disappeared into their lives,

The last word third-hand, years later.

Did the boy next door thirty years ago take over his father's business,

Is that his name in the newspaper? Walter Martin.

Alexa with the black hair teaches in South America, I heard.

My college room-mate shipped in the fruit-boats, I heard.

Jack Moody was in New York, the last I knew.

I didn't get to that high-school class reunion, couldn't make it.

Bernie Glaser is in the army. Don Woods is in the army.

Dan Smythe is in the army. What was the name of the fellow

Who showed me how to make a tuning coil and crystal detector?

Who, in that distance, who under the sun

That I could have cared so much for?

Why, after this space of time?

But they were important once, and I lost them.

Oh, where? And I still remember.

Or they died at whatever age too young, still strong, still needed.

John Cousens. Robert Newdick. Albert Kahn. Charles Gott.

These were the always-believed-in, these were the foundations

On which I was to build a new world in their names.

I remember cities, decades to come, loves, all lacking my friends.

I imagine for my own map of my known world regions of silence,

I cry their names in the desert places,

I draw the black boundaries black.

In what lives, I ask now of few who answer, and always fewer,

In what towns now might have been good will, stride, wit, height,

All their warm wise power, all the pride they had to spend?


Listen. John Cousens looked right through you, and you'd better be sure he'd see nothing you'd be ashamed of. He worked hard, with a grim love, with life for his material, knowing time short. You wouldn't do less than your best for the president of your college. You couldn't. He'd know. You gave him your first book; the years he gave you to make it you had given him back, you thought, when he dropped dead a few months after. It was a long time before you could walk past his office window, and not go in, and not look, and not accept death. Robert Newdick wrote you letters you read like the morning paper, and answered like telegrams. Loving the same great living poet, you both poured all you knew into one deep pool; and books, teach-in, hope, joy. He was so busy. He planned so much work. You couldn't believe the clipping from the Columbus paper. Not Bob. Not dead.

And why does it always come without warning? In the midst of life?

What are the words of the preacher but the words of the preacher?

And why does it always take the men it must not take from us?

Listen. Albert Kahn was a lawyer who liked music, and had a houseful of good books and two sons. You never really knew him as you were to have known him, and he guessed it; we both knew and never said so. He was tall, he was wise, he was kind and eager and sad. Even now you catch yourself thinking, I must tell Albert about this, this is something Albert would like. It was better to be talking a little while with him anywhere than with the best talkers in the world every day in the week. You didn't get it often. Too many things stood in the way, death the last one.

Charles Gott was the best boss you ever had. He knew all the answers even if you didn't ask the questions, and you didn't. You knew what he wanted, he knew what your work was. He told the best stories you ever heard, you looked forward to seeing him every day, his mind made your mind clear and calm when you talked things over. You were just thinking you could work a lifetime for him and like it, when he died. He died.

All these red lines, like blood, mean letters coming and going,

Netting the wordless land with words.

See how they tighten boundaries round areas of love and life.

Here's when my brother was in Philadelphia, who remembers

Walter Martin next door thirty years ago, and Jack Moody.

We used these thousands of words to keep the family feeling.

To Dorothy in England, to Warren in India,

To Robert Frost, to Carroll Towle, to Dave Morton, to Ted Packard,

Asking in New Hampshire and Vermont and the Berkshire country

About books, health, children, visits, poetry.

Here's Beal in Madison, Ciardi in Kansas City, part of me gone away

And the long lines out from name to name, saying

Don't forget me, Keep on thinking about me, Tell me, Tell me.


Put terrors where no knowledge is,

Said the old cartographers,

Fear comets, and serpents that swallow ships.

Keep away from the edge of the known world.

So they showed whirlpools, and dragons in the margins,

And giants and terrible winds.

Those old maps are very decorative, quaint, desirable for framing.

They were right, though. There are some things you can't do anything about.

You do fall into the whirlpool sometimes, you do get hit by a comet,

You get blown by a black wind out to the edge of the known world,

Slammed against a brick-wall question, and no answer.

A woman was crying as if she couldn't stop.

I listened, but I didn't know who lived there.

Somebody's bad luck, I said; like that.

I watched an ambulance at the hospital door.

They were being very careful with the stretcher,

It was small, it was white, it must have been a child.

Somebody's bad luck.

The morning paper, under a big blurred picture

Of a man with his face turned aside, says . . .

No one I know.

Somebody's bad luck in the newsreels last night.

Somebody's bad luck this morning in the street-car,

Told by a short man with his back to me, I couldn't hear all of it.

Somebody I saw downtown, looking sick, looking scared,

Nowhere to go. Somebody, no one I know.


Who's hurt?

Where is he now? Where are you?

I'm coming. I'm crying your name in the night everywhere.

You. I'm coming. Answer me. Where are you?

Where are they? Who?

Now that I draw the known world, they are all here near me.

I'm hurt, and you.

I'm scared, too.

It was Johnny carried away in that ambulance, my son,

Or was it your son?

That was you sobbing in the next house.

That was me with my back against the street-car door.

The names in my poem of ecstasy and ancestor

Are yours and mine and might be anybody's-it's all been done.

You climbed the trees I climbed, they hated the same deaths,

We remember the spring-moonlit-leaves at school.

It's drawn here, it belongs to everyone.

Will you follow the map's lines

Past gaps in knowledge, into my deserts and darkness,

And read the reasons for the lines I drew-

Or have you been there, too?

Since the thirtieth year of my age I've heard the cry

That on a seventeenth-century night no one in England answered,

O God! 0 save me! Black silence, and another blow.

I believe the man died in a ditch, of many wounds, and no name.

I believe there is more murder than they print in the papers,

And the news I read I scarcely understand,

but I have bad dreams.

I dream magazine-pictures of refugees with bundles, plodding,

The road full of them, a long road going somewhere, nowhere,

A road leading away from home,

And they might be my wife, my child, myself with a push-cart, plodding.

Where did they sit down? When did they open the clumsy package,

And what had I put in it, shirts, toys, insurance policies,

Food out of the icebox, what did I save?

The day after this dream I say little.

People notice my bad temper.

But I am not angry, it isn't anger.

What can we save? What have we got that goes best in a bundle?

When I was young, I was the center of my world,

And said from where I sat, serenely, greenly curled,-

Give up, go home and die, no one would care,-

To old, gross, fat, sad, ugly hopeful people everywhere.

But each one was the center of his world, and cared,

And was not old or ugly; but I was sad, I cared,

When I grew up, whether or not they died,

And what they hoped for, and to whom they cried.

I am remembering a cry I heard and answered.

I heard a girl scream; got out of bed and dressed; I was asleep;

She flung herself out of his car and ran up the street home

Just as I got there, and he drove around the block to where I stood.

Would you like to talk to me, he said.

He told me his bad luck, he was married, he was in love with this girl.

When she said, We've got to stop this, it's all wrong,

This is getting us nowhere, and my family doesn't like it,

He hit her. He didn't mean to, but he hit her.

He was going to kill himself that night, he said.

I was very cold sitting in his car late listening to his bad luck.

I was in love myself at that time,

I was very sure about it, I told him,

Very lucky; and at that time I was, and I was very happy.

I think he went home, he got quiet after he told me the story;

I never knew, and he didn't tell me his name.

He had planned to drive his car into the river.


The house I lived in was a place

Of warm and lighted blocks of space,

And when my life outdoors was done,

Roof made them all by night seem one.

I sprawled upon the floor and read,

But more than book was in my head.

I felt then how the house must feel

To be a thing built right and real.

The great speech given against the noise of life,

Dogs barking, airplanes in the sky, oil-trucks, noise,

Gets printed the next day, read by the next generation.

What I have come here to tell you is that every man

Is a soul as real as a fenced-in field on a mountain

Where grass grows, and the clouds stand high over him.

The sun shines on every man, on every man's mountain;

I tell you nothing can darken that sun-" noise,

Train-whistles, traffic crowding at the corner, horns.

The ceiling met wall's upward thrust

With tranquil whiteness, flat and just.

Floor-boards were nailed to beam, nailed tight,

And only late on a winter's night,

When floors cracked in the driven cold,

Did I ever think they might not hold.

By daylight, or in later weather,

They stretched as easily together

As I did in my flesh and bones.

"I tell you the history of the soul is made for a man

By that sun, every day-" noise, tires on the wet street,

A loud voice a hundred times amplified, the loud

Mechanical voice carried slowly through every street.

This soul, this man, this green and growing field,

Quietly in his seasons knows his God; and nothing

Shall trespass on this acre, none shall lay waste

This mountain pasture." Trolley-cars. Radio. Noise.

What is he saying now?"

Something about mountains."

Who did they say he is?"

Some speaker. I don't know."

The houseframe timbers on their stones,

Wearing between their ribs the wall

Since I knew anything at all,

Were jointed deep and chosen stout

To keep the cold and darkness out.

Ash barrels, fire engines, noise, radio, noise.

And the soul of modern man is a commonwealth

By this man governable, by this man-noise-

I ask you to climb up the mountain where the grass

Is every man's-noise-sun is every man's, where

History is ready for a new chapter, where"-noise-.

The telephone, carpenters, radio, what did he say

I couldn't hear let's get out of this place forget it.

I felt the whole house concentrate

Its homely mind to stand and wait.

To be within itself. To be.

To be the house by sheltering me.

I knew above this floor another,

Tall doors that opened and stood still,

And walls that kept the rooms together

As if to keep them was their will.

Weather and time were nothing, night

Was nothing, or names. I took the weight

Of the roof of the house I lived in then

On my shoulder and gave it back again.

The inner and outer walls would stand,

Based on the old deep underground,

And I thought some pride in being there

As they were built, and sheer and square,

Was what they knew. I know I trusted

Beams unsplit, and nails unrusted,

And rock in the old foundation tight

Under the house in the hollow night.


Listening down five o'clock streets to hear,

If I could hear it, the sound of American life in my time,

I got lawn-mowers, mill whistles, piano practice, and trolley cars

Bringing people home to eat to sleep to get ready to go back to work.

I heard, somewhere off Maine, a hundred-trap lobsterman

Cut his old motor and drift the boat in to the mooring.

Rubber-booted and sky-blue-eyed,

He rowed the skiff standing up, lifted bait-baskets out on the rocks.

A few white gulls hung over the dark pines, over the still tide.

Somewhere in the plains country a Ford truck with a week's supplies

Kicked rocks out of the road, cutting around a bend,

House six miles away, night not cold yet but the sun down,

And leather jackets felt good, and the sky high.

I heard men curse and wonder, joking in drug stores,

Talking in bars, in grocery stores, in the up-country trains,

Taking a long time in Minnesota to say,

When I was a boy, we all had to go to Sunday School.

Not saying much in Kentucky, saying as if they wanted to know,

What do you think, are we going to win this war?

Waiting a while, looking out a Vermont post-office window, saying,

I never thought he'd go like that, a big man like him.

Listen to this map. There is a big old slow clock ticking.

My father is nailing up a box. The camp bugle blows over the lake.

In a silence at Herbert's funeral his mother sobs once. Listen.

In the house in Somerville there is a sound of poems.

The map here shows a midnight fifteen years ago, the door shut,

Words running and speaking from the pencil in my hand, saying,

O heart be quick, this late hour like the first,

And pride be rock in you to rest upon.

Of all that years may bring you, this is worst,

And will not come again, and now is gone.

Be secret. Do not call the lonely name

Once hers, and now forever set apart.

Be kind. Be full of gifts at every claim

Of pity for your three-times-iron heart.

Here the map says noontime in Massachusetts, and I open the window.

Two children roller-skating on the uneven bricks.

An old man's thin soles on the wooden porch next door, shuffling.

A crib in the next room squeaks. A plane scratches a long line on the sky.

I saw men painting whiter the white houses with green shutters,

Painting signs brighter; saw grass, striped flags, stony rivers,

Saw taxicabs, and lights and flowers and eyes.

From my own front steps I saw the Northern Lights.

From my own windows I saw the local sunset

When my mother called me to come quick and look.

And turned back to my room full of books; and the medallion tile

That said Terar Dum Prosim; and the clumsy ship-model.

Turning the typed pages, I listened to my poems again.

God bless your evening road,

And bless tomorrow then;

Lighten whatever load,

And bring you here again.

Time crowds upon us black,

But your talk had a glow

That fought the darkness back,

And I did not tell you so,

Because my clumsy tongue

Lacked grace to give good-night.

That was a homely wrong,

But in my power to right.

There are wrongs enough and more

Almost past hope to mend,

But by Fire and Food and Door,

Let this one have an end.

And on the next page, the next night, with another heart,

Be proud and fierce

Like a wild thing better dead than tamed.

Be like the wrestler no one can throw.

When the ringside

Thinks your shoulders touch the mat,

And shouts they do,

And hopes they do,

Then twist, you losers, twist.

Take a big breath, come out from under,

Saying, Not this time.

The wrestler no one can throw.

I have painted my map man-color and country-color,

Rubbing in colors of autumn, or ocean, or childhood.

Childhood's color is blue corduroy overalls;

The sound is a tin truck on a bare floor,

(And the same song hummed all morning.)

I've said here the dirt roads, the Christmas wreaths,

The girls' soft bright sweaters in a classroom, the searchlights;

Saying on the map tools, uniforms, restaurants, costumes,

Saying the color of life isn't all here without billboards and printer's ink,

Stop-signs, magazines, mountain meadows in the sun.

It isn't all clear on the map without Johnny's toys when he was five,

And got the color of them into every room in the house every day.

Then I remembered the world, and here on a smaller map

A poem hides color in sound, shines in a memory of light:

With his forefinger curled, and then uncurled,

He spun on its spindle the bright-colored world

Slowly, letting it lunge up and over in space

At what he thought, for weight, would be its speed.

His was the one Hand here that fulfilled the need

Of light again, and time again, and the right place.

Almost invisibly to him the slow tide

Moved on the world's waters blue and wide.

The round bulk carried his own country down,

Then slowly up, and, turning steady, swung

Even the small house in this anonymous town

Toward all the stars the world revolves among.

But not if he spun the world all night tonight

Would any country overtake another,

Or, spaced in their orbits like wild birds in flight,

These starry travels bring two worlds together.

He let the world run down, and let it stop.

The lamplight made a shiny place on top,

On the blue ocean, and on some country colored red.

He put the world in a box, and went to bed.

Then lying awake in the small house somewhere on the world in a wooden box,

I thought of the poet Gogarty, his clean rich Irish speech,

And of an old man on the street I was told was Whitehead;

I thought of Fish Ellis, who played football like a scientist's poem,

Whirling and running, hard, fast, reckless, and right and winning;

I thought of Jeffers, a wary Indian, brown and lean;

Of Jim Curley slowly pulling on gray gloves in a barbershop door;

Of Margaret Osgood at ninety warming her soft hand in mine

While I told her she was too old to die, and too deep and strong;

And I thought of sleep, and age, of Elinor in white;

Of a long story someone had told me, the words repeating words

Without getting to the end, and the last day my grandmother Murdock

Came downstairs to a meal, and she cried, and her hair fell,

And she would but she could not stay with us all there,

And I carried her to her bed in my arms, and she thanked me.

That stroke of gray, that streak like smoke in the room,

Blue-gray in daylight, dark in the year's shadow, is time.

Time keeps names alive in my country,

Drives them or drains them of color,

Stays them, or swings and stirs them,

Brings them in storm together, shields them with silence.

Grief (love) brightens and lights the run of the wave.

Memory (history) is the wave lengthening as it fails forward.

Names break over the world's edges where they reach.


Coming out the front door of my house, east was at my left hand,

North at my back, and south at the end of the street under trees.

To my right was west as I walked down the front steps into the world.

There is hardly space under my hand now for more color or contour.

Music runs over the state lines like storm on a weather-map.

Names and the days I remember crowd on famous houses,

Shadow and travel with, spread, echo, and brighten beloved lives.

Home is the compass-star in the nearest lowest corner;

The scale is the distance a voice travels from room to room,

The distance a word moves from page to heart;

It shows memory, a match struck in the kitchen at midnight,

Memory, a green fern opening on the windowsill.

But how shall I measure the distance, and was it a main highway,

From Charles Gott to the desert places? How many years to the mile?

How far is it from home to the fortieth birthday?

The scale said, All roads as wide as this are main highways,

And all roads lead home, or away from home.

How far from the Governor's hand on my hand on the whistle, when men

Chopped ropes that dropped gates at the Charles River Dam,

To the Sunday night I cursed the news of Roy Baxter,

Dead in Australia? How shall the live man tell the dead boy

Home is the compass, and time is the scale to measure by?

Dear Roy,

Your letter from Hickam Field, telling me of seeing the movie of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" in California, was good to get. I had forgotten you were in that freshman English class the year I first read it. But you hadn't forgotten. Your signature was a surprise: Lieutenant Roy Baxter. You'd laugh, but I read that letter to my classes last week. You could have signed it Roy Baxter, freshman- Roy Baxter who worked afternoons in the library- Roy Baxter who read aloud to the other pilots on the Pacific transport. Now it is Lieutenant Roy Baxter, killed in action, my first student, a good reader, and a long way from home.

Yours faithfully

Needing a scale to help me understand

Distances in this land,

I have written on this map in my own hand,

Decades are measured with the names of friends.

East is an ocean smell when the wind changes.

Age is an old calendar. Peace is a room.

Home is the compass, and the scale is time."

I knew a tough sea captain who had good luck.

He bought the broken old house he had run away from at nineteen;

His money made it comfortable for the ghosts:

His dead sisters enjoyed, he said, the flagstoned gardens.

Henry Thompson took me there, Henry whose road never got him home,

Henry who kept his own, mine, and a thousand secrets,

And crashed them all into a tree one midnight.

Needing a north for that story

I have drawn compass, legend, color, scale.

Blue is the glass in one of Charles Connick's windows.

White is a tablecloth at Sunday night supper.

The longest distance I ever traveled

Was from the kitchen to the telephone,

Ten years ago, knowing what the ring meant.

The deepest I ever went down

Was into the night that Johnny, aged three, spent alone,

Bruised, bandaged, drugged, in the hospital after an accident.

Some young mothers and fathers know how we clung together awake

All night that night; how quiet the house was in the morning.

That was years after the evening

I first heard her singing

Up ladders and flights and skies

Of many measured voices,

Then her one voice no more,

But the praise to God of the great sounding music

At Bethlehem of the Bach choir in the Mass in B minor.

And how should I know her after that, I, of the listening crowd?

But found her and brought her home.

Measure from the first meal the first day in our first house

To London under the bombs, Greece after the bombs, or France.

Measure the darkness

Of our living room any night in the sixth year, the eighth year,

The last lamp-switch snapped off, the chairs there unseen,

Our hands finding each other's hands, and we go up to bed,-

And the darkness in the dark

Behind bandaged eyes by a wall in Czechoslovakia the same night.

The scale reads no distance here.

The scale says near.

All the roads lead home and away from home.

One from this book-walled, print-hung, lamp-lit room

To an English writer's lost burned library, and back.

One from our family Sunday afternoons, all the children,

Food, music, a garden, to a Chinese town, and back; grim.

One from my own voice speaking to my son

To my father's voice to me, thirty years ago, and back.

I have come a long way using other men's maps for the turnings.

I have a long way to go. I have drawn the map again,

Spread with the broad colors of life, and words of my own.

I could not say where I am now until I knew where I had been.

Until I found my way here I would not know how to go on.

I am in the happiest house since I was a boy;

Big, airy, quiet in the mornings, with trees outside all the windows.

Our furniture is full of stories, the books speak,

The rooms are scarcely empty yet of our friends here yesterday.

I am almost forty. I worry. Sometimes it is very bad.

The planes drone often, like conscience, or fear, overhead,

My son asks what the whistles are for and I tell him trains.

Sometimes I forget to worry. We are all here

Where our planning brought us and our luck and love.

It is enough, I think, at the table; we have enough food.

So we eat the good moments, the meat; we have one another.

Then we remember the starving.

What we want in our new house is more news of building,

Of a great love of building houses

For people like us now, and the child later.

What we want is a little more money; not much;

Money enough to rejoice with, and more time.

We want the world, not the moon. The world

Well, the world with sun shining in all rooms

As in ours through flowers on glass window-shelves.

What we want is the world making good news.

People like us talk this way, a kind of prayer.

We have the first child now, a boy growing.

We have the employer's caution, no warning really.

People like us trust him, he is anxious for many.

But we overhear, we wonder, and what we know

Is a crack showing in the outside house-wall;

Once in a while the wind through it a little.

What we want is to be let alone in our own house

With the child's noise, the day's letters, the door open,

A friend's painting on the wall, and meals, and music.

All this can be taken away from people like us.

But why? To us it is ours, to others nothing.

Takers destroy what they take, they never gain.

We govern our country kindly, our seven rooms,

Naming our holidays. And who, what neighbors,

Envy or need our books, our flowers, our evenings?

People like us would build in the wilderness, build

If there were two stones on ground to set together.

We never ask who made wilderness, man or God.

People like us hear the world's wars, but think

Beyond. What we want, and always wanted, is peace.

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 Title Page
 Editor's Note
 On hearing someone say that every possible subject has been covered in poetry
 Sonnet [To someone I know]
 Low fog
 [Lines about a great space]
 To Joanne
 The soul's loneliness
 You, who understood
 What things I can
 The father
 The gleam
 My tree
 My little world
 The vale impassable
 The forgotten hero
 The garden
 A monument
 A death at evening
 Recipe for a journey
 From a window
 Sight and death
 In the days when the eternal hills go down
 Something from the soft wind
 The moon
 In a time of misunderstanding
 The constant battle
 A prayer [A prayer on failing eyesight]
 On being thankful
 Pleasant solitude
 Somehow, sometime, somewhere
 The pines
 A shield and a strong defence
 The high heart
 Bewilderment in church
 Advice on success in writing poetry
 Three wishes
 Tobacco and a pipe
 Grandmother's parlor
 O little sails, make haste!
 Walking on the beach
 From the Window
 On the contemplation of vastness
 The king passes by
 Beneath a tree
 Beyond the hill
 To a statuette of a little girl
 Wanderer's song
 Joshua Peabody
 Against poms and carelessness
 The way of least resistance
 Voice of the sea
 A letter unopened on my desk
 Fragments: Far horizon
 Fragments: The inquiring mind
 Fragments: The cigarette
 Fragments: History repeats
 Fragments: Yesterday, to-day, to-morrow
 Fragments: After the forest fire
 Fragments: Down to earth
 Fragments: Butter side down
 Fragments: A conversation
 Fragments: Fear
 Fragments: Inconsistency
 Fragments: A secret laughter
 To a small boy learning to read
 Reading sonnets late at night
 Walking home at night
 A ship's figure-head
 This house will never need
 Dusk falls down the roofs
 Words for a minuet
 Make yourself a way
 A childish chant
 Twice born
 Suddenly I knew
 Coming home from the library
 The visitor
 Four Songs
 The willow tree
 Rhymes of a very small boy
 Big enough
 Baggage into the land of Nod
 Song - Come again with me to Plymouth
 Portrait [The Great Man]
 A hopeful lover
 Portrait of a girl
 Writing in the woods
 Memory of A. L.
 The prisoner
 The warehouseman
 A timid lover
 Message to be found a hundred years hence
 What poetry is
 Wind on a hill
 Two o'clock
 Another sleeps
 Portrait [His enemy]
 A fancy
 At the end
 The eyesore
 The candle
 An intruder
 The street car
 On a hillside
 An old man tells a story
 Old groping
 Make believe
 Josita's banjo song
 Let it be said
 A yonge manne; an olde tale
 The cantadours pass by
 I sing
 Thoughts of a man asleep
 To poets: advice
 The reverent lover
 A quotation
 The unseen lady
 My bookshelf
 Thoughts at night
 Fall in Massachusetts
 I remember
 Lines to an old dish
 Window glass
 At a funeral
 The seekers
 Il Penseroso (R.S.)
 Effect of praise
 When hearts are young
 The clean winds
 The lover serenades
 The little street
 To one gone
 The dancers
 A poet burns some poems
 Walking in the rain
 A sacrifice to the sun
 To my cousin, H.R.B.
 The boat
 A song for you
 Window dreaming
 Rain the morning after
 A man's club
 From the tower
 Fairies by night
 The young poet
 Say good night
 The thought of you
 A youth
 The cabin boy climbs the crow's nest
 On going to bed
 Three roads
 To a girl who has black eyes
 The hilly place
 The call
 The poet's prayer
 The priest
 Two songs
 Westward ho!
 A man remembers suddenly
 At the museum
 Morning in the forest
 A charm to keep away evil
 The lover grows older
 An apology
 An old legend retold on the occasion of a certain death
 Old words
 Raw material
 The grace of god
 The skylark's flight
 The old chief
 Sudden pity
 To a young man cleaning a motor-car
 An old friend
 Fragment from an old dance
 A parting of the way
 Song of my elf
 Moon to a vagabond child
 The violinist
 A toast
 Dream places
 The second-hand bookshop
 The fireplace
 The breeze
 The seeker
 The market
 The world, the world...
 You asked
 Ask me not now
 Youth goes forth
 Prayer against blindness
 A memory
 Who has not known
 The pure of heart
 A life
 At camp-fire
 The end of day
 In the arbor
 A fireplace in December
 Poems on pictures
 Laus perennis
 The angel of love
 To a player at the Globe
 A portrait [My sister]
 An old poet
 From a hollow in the woods
 October dusk
 The shining road
 Old music
 Song to be said to my pillow
 If ever
 A door
 Trees in the wind
 The fog
 The puddle
 [Mood] Workman
 Conrad has an evening
 The child on the other shore
 A pale lady looks in a deep well
 A life
 Poetry and music [Poem] [A poem can tell]
 For the grave of unknown citizens
 To himself
 The coward
 [Moment macabre: symphony]
 Girl with a Spanish shawl (a picture)
 Conrad sleeping
 Tell me why
 An inscription
 An old, old man
 Rather than this
 If this were the last
 Portrait [His World]
 A letter in March
 Your head
 The old man and the moon
 The flaming lights
 The long watch
 On quiet hill
 Consideration of a friend
 Price of wisdom
 Jingle verse: The Boston Wanderlust
 A sailor's R.I.P.
 Turn from the fire
 Ballad of an ordinary man
 What might have been
 Ease after pain
 An April afternoon
 Stone and roots
 To Peter, who is not a real person
 Two sonnets on death and immortal man [The cold shadow]
 To a girl I know
 My enemy
 On the new moon
 The shore
 Wind in the night
 On awakening suddenly
 To the easily forgotten
 On seeing the title 'Heart of darkness'
 The marchers in the shadow
 The hour
 Peter has an evening
 Tower of glass
 My attic room
 Tir na n'og
 The philosopher at home
 Counsel from a poet, middle-aged
 The answer afterwards
 Waking [One way of waking]
 The servants of the heart
 The password
 An armchair journey
 In praise of my god
 A tide of dreams
 Good bye to a garden
 The old men
 Prayer to be shouted
 The clock strikes ten [The bell]
 To a careful young man
 This was the way
 For he hath fed
 Cazevieille [Part one: The fire; Part two: Walking and rowing; Part three: Others; Part four: Things there are only one of; Part five: Plum island
 Knowing what I know
 To losers
 Rainy April noon
 Passage to India [What dragons]
 The word [Bird of the morning sea]
 To music first
 The right word
 Who that has heard him
 Einsteinian [Wind like music]
 Ten years old before the mast
 Three woodcuts: Motor at midnight; Ship in the night; Downtown ritual
 The way the eagles die
 Even a prayer
 Adventures in the dark
 March 17, 1939 [Matriarch]
 Native timber
 The launching
 Circumstance unforeseen
 Special performance
 A matter of time
 Whatever I have said before [Sun Worshipper]
 New England names
 Class poem 1929, Tufts College
 Sell it to them, ad man!
 In a college coffee house [College coffee house]
 Prologue for poems
 Dutch dream
 Marginal notes
 Citizen saint
 Civic ceremony
 Clean tall green still
 Coming of age
 Country morning
 Day among many
 Death be not proud
 Death this year
 Sometimes to be alone
 Lying awake
 The eleventh commandment
 Every day in books
 Faculty committee on teaching
 Familiar tale
 The family face
 Family letter [In our times]
 Hard times
 A meditation
 Like spring
 The symbols
 The soul in the possession
 Being so
 The fear of dying
 Fieldbook revised [Fieldbook for summer]
 The flying earth
 Ritual - For a cow to be killed [For a cow before killing] [Cow be killed]
 Four and a half [Boy]
 Go, cries the heart
 Great law
 The green door
 Having New England fathers
 Hearing music
 Heart's almanac
 I can hardly wait
 I live in a world
 Incredible greeting
 Journey's end
 The known world [Map of my country]
 The landmark
 Rock in the ground
 Do you know?
 The laws [Order clearly asking]
 Let them stand: for Robert Nichols, geologist
 The letter
 Letter to my mother
 Lines beginning 'I'
 Address to the living
 Along the row
 Anecdote of Robert Frost
 The architects
 As the heart beats
 Birthday: at Richard Eberhart's fiftieth
 Boy in August
 Boy to anyone
 Bucyrus [Booth, Bucyrus & Brazil]
 Business-like letter
 Carry me back
 The flowers (first version) [Home from Woodlawn]
 The certainty
 Edward Hicks's old picture
 Faithful reader
 The new porch
 Two of a kind
 In the Gardner museum
 The war between the states
 Margaret's choice
 Everyone knows about Boston
 Mailman blues
 The mask the living wear
 Memorandum of agreement
 Memory [Memory's color]
 Metaphor for my son
 The mirror
 Montaigne's pate
 Misery [Essay on misery]
 People in the street [At thirty-five]
 Do not pity the young
 West mountain spring [West mountain water]
 The second wonder
 The place he seeks
 The enduring
 New Proverbs
 The new view [Youth and age]
 Noah his ark
 Northward letter [In this moment]
 Nothing told me
 Old men and young men
 One day's rain
 Ordeal by love
 The overgrown back yard
 Panther in my mind [The panther in the mind]
 The people's peace
 Peter at his mirror
 But choose
 The pity is
 The place of light
 Open letter [Christmas letter] [From tonight]
 Pour down
 Puritan ancestor
 Questions for the candidate
 Reading aloud
 The rebellion
 The saving grace
 Seasonal wisdom
 The secret
 Self portrait
 Send, send
 Since you asked
 The skin of your face
 Sleep and poetry
 Sonnet for solace [O heart be quick]
 To the queen's men [Sonnet to the queen's men]
 Spring is the peace
 Summer morning porch (Chautauqua Lake)
 Summer opera
 September valentine
 Better than all [Better than all these]
 Take home this heart
 Then the sun came out
 The new art
 Then he will sleep
 Till music cries again
 To keep and not to keep [These conditions] [What to keep, what to lose]
 To live in
 The tower stands
 To my sisters and my brother [To my teacher]
 Truth about pictures
 Two and a little house
 The unforgiven
 Unlikely tale
 Unpublished preface to a Ph.D. thesis
 Ten-thirty class
 The valiant
 Very young, very old
 The voice
 Poem for my 27th year [For the poet's birthday]
 All except Mary Ann
 The way the stars went up
 Weather making
 What the books do
 Who are they?
 A willing suspension
 Without honor
 The wreath
 Sally [Warning with love]
 One place
 These ghosts
 Mellow and merry
 Living in cities
 Various loyalties
 Arrows and angry snakes
 Old Adam in us
 After two years
 King time
 The secret epilogue [Epilogue untold]
 That is the way you look [Face to face]
 Legend and truth
 From everlasting unto everlasting
 If I were old [The bitter thought]
 The mind by day
 Poets take heart
 You living look [A hundred years from now]
 Two kinds: bold and shy
 The voice
 Hold it up to the light
 Words of my own
 Dialogue alone [Even now]
 A cure of guilt
 The core [One sound]
 Country senses
 Chair in the field
 The broken one
 Between thousand and thousands
 Few in a million
 The fiery element
 The flower
 The folding key
 For sports section of Jumbo Book
 The fortune teller
 From Brooklyn
 Guard of honor
 Hamlet with a license
 Hearing Margaret, aged four
 Her walking
 Holiday, with gods
 I am singing. We are singing.
 I never get any work done
 If not silence, then restraint
 Living music
 Maybe for love [The carver and the wood]
 A lot going on
 The modern poet
 Moment of truth
 Mr. Holmes's brother
 My father's silence
 On a magazine picture of a mass burial
 Out of the room
 The oyster [The oyster as art]
 The pains of poetry
 Photograph of Robert Frost
 Plain girl: Sunday noon
 Portrait [Biography]
 A prayer on the night before Easter [Prayer on the night before Easter]
 Remembering you, long after
 The room
 The secret
 The Somerset Dam for supper
 To my mother
 Dog in the house
 The sickle
 It says in the book
 Poem number three ninety three
 Instead of albums
 The library: capitol of the world
 The Murdock saga
 Incoming mail [I can manage multiplicity]
 The good guys and the bad guys
 The ballad of Albert Woolson
 Poor Johnny roll
 The pipe which I was gave by Santa Claus
 Man as bear
 My old schools
 The thrifty elephant
 Do I not rage?
 For Sam Moses, printer
 Alight on the hill
 Time and my father's cousin
 The poet
 Billingham street [Our street]
 Love poems
 Bird pavilion
 On the twenty second anniversary
 The crisis at Valley Forge, 1931
 Contradictions in an ultimate spring
 Any next year
 To be forty
 Something out there
 Letter to S.V.B. [Stephen Vincent Benet] [Dear Steve]
 Thoughts on beginning another shaving stick
 Group photograph
 Program note [Three P's presents...]
 Goodbye to the campus
 Let the joyful speak [Your kind of joy]
 The fence
 Spring on the Hill
 Letter about weather
 The source
 The praise of poetry
 For Charles Gott [Lament for the dead] [The inconsolable]
 Boy reading
 The old professor
 The rewards of teaching
 Faculty counselor [In the dean's office]
 Teaching program
 In a classroom
 The name
 Somebody's bad luck
 The spiral
 The sword &
 A taste for revenge
 Teacher retired to Maine
 The thought
 Time no time
 To the girls formerly of Sigma Kappa at Tufts University and Cornell University
 To the gurnet
 True murder's course
 King Richard seventh
 The valley
 The wind in the elm trees
 A wish
 The word heart
 World the way it is
 Figure of speech
 For D.H.
 I can never be alone
 In cities
 Young man's poem
 Tireless testament [Testament]
 The chest of time
 Brother to brother, 1859
 The phoenix promise
 At a country fair
 In danger safely
 Aware of legends
 Death in the back yard
 The expectation [Expectations]
 O Lord of stars and sunlight
 Lady is a lady
 The long walk alone [Renewal]
 Odd moment
 The good, the great, the wise
 The secret tide
 The mountain farm
 An old song with a new refrain
 Penny for your thoughts
 Portrait two
 Street scene
 The summer after
 Remembered nights
 Nine o'clock
 Once in August
 The time is good
 The winter
 The apple
 Voices in a new world
 The woman who would not close her eyes
 Green things growing
 Death of a leaf
 Come and play
 He knows it is safe
 Is calm the thing?
 Maybe tomorrow
 Not you like music
 O Time!
 On finding certain lines marked in Santayana's sonnets
 Plainly said
 Prayer for to-morrow
 Sonnet to a friend twice my age
 Things I love
 Wars that rage: sonnet
 The watcher in the street
 Weave a circle round him
 Young promise
 Page in a diary: For Doris to remember the day by
 Pain I gave you
 A penny poem
 Perfectly deathless poem to Betty Rosenthal from John Holmes on receiving a necktie
 Photographer's Sunday
 Plato's table
 Poem for my 32nd birthday
 Poetry [Living for poetry]
 Whatever winds
 Reflection of a shadow
 The responsibilities
 Rhyme of going to the store [Going to the store]
 Shake well, throw away
 Should I?
 Sky once more
 Some in dreams
 Sonnet to a dancing-partner
 Sort of spring song, with ah!
 So you will know
 Spring: a sermon [The double root]
 Spring morning
 Subject for a poem
 Suddenly birds
 Sword on the wall
 Take a lot of people
 The tall men
 The Passing king
 To one I dislike
 A thing to say
 Time's noise
 ...To a desert island
 Against growing old
 Average reader
 Big girl now
 Bumps in the night
 Children try
 Clouds on a summer night
 Country quiet remembered
 Deep shore
 The druids
 At night
 Epitaph for Peter if he should die
 Essay of saints
 An exercise in humility
 Ezra Pound
 The face
 Four friends
 Gathering poem [Your move]
 Golden egg
 Holy Ballou
 Hello Ballou
 Hail Ballou
 The hamlet
 Hearing them speak
 His dazzled look [The look]
 How do I love thee?
 To a friend too kind
 To be tacked on the bulletin board at any writers' conference
 To Isabel with some poems
 Twenty eight Billingham Street
 Two men talking
 Understandable poem
 The visiting poets
 Cal Lowell [The visiting poets]
 We are waiting
 Wherever you lie
 Word from the west
 Words are so exciting
 The young men speaking
 I do it myself [I always did]
 In a dark wood
 A kind of silence
 Ladies and gentlemen ...
 Last night
 Letter to a young poet
 Letters: a metaphor
 A long poem entitled 'I love the Hillside Hardware & Paint Co.'
 First love recalled
 A man who came home late at night
 Music to me
 My pasenger [My passenger]
 My wife's grandfather's ring
 New name
 New woman in the house
 Next year's music
 No more music
 One act play
 One beautiful moment
 The cottage of broken dreams
 Woodrow-Wilson was-a-hero
 Open letter [Maybe you]
 Winter solstice
 Look east, look west
 The weight
 Past understanding
 A station in the journey
 1918: Armistice
 The change
 Historical event
 All the dead and some poets
 The world in my time [The world in my own time]
 Whose name was writ in water
 Slow child
 This time surely
 Portrait: My wife
 The island
 You have an interesting mind
 The world is one
 A man's world
 Child: Spring
 Cook's tour
 A room with books [Room with books]
 Far enough
 Hat weather
 The late Mr. Thorpe
 Looking at books
 A natural law
 First day
 Being young
 Fable with no moral
 Mornings at eleven
 The bookworm turns
 A sweet hope once
 Sweetly solemn thought
 Those were the days
 Table for one
 Work in progress
 The critic on the pan
 Dinner for eight
 The miserable gardener
 Good-night! Good-night!
 Letter to three men
 Political strategy
 To my teachers
 Notes for a history of sleep
 Thinker in bed
 Design for a skyscraper
 Problem father
 Wallpaper poem
 The double life
 Fair warning
 This one is father
 A year after
 Ode for the hundredth birthday of William Upham
 Peter sleeping
 Epitaph for any New Yorker
 Peter reads far into the night
 Letter from an exile
 The blessing
 Nineteen fifty one
 Old cheese and cold beer
 What the book salesman said
 Words enough
 Do you remember
 The hunted
 Tomorrow you
 Ballad of some of the boys
 The talking mirror
 The day's news
 What we hate most
 The snow-child
 For Karl Magnus Armens
 Boy at four
 Hummingbird and seagull
 The extent of his acres
 To remember one another
 All's well that ends
 John Holmes, his book
 The chance
 Lesson in the monkey-house
 The title-page
 Faculty and administration section
 The senior class section
 The activities section
 The organizations section
 The fraternities section
 Ode for scene 1, 'Hullaballou'
 Poetry defined
 On a cage of mice brought home for the week of school vacation
 Nothing odd
 Free will and fire-truck
 Verses in a very old tradition
 The stone
 The spring sun
 The fifty-first
 A prayer
 Evening meal in the twentieth century
 A little night-wording