Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Nelson’

Ruth Stone (1915-2011)


Academy of American Poet – Ruth Stone

The Poetry Foundation – Ruth Stone

Modern American Poets – Ruth Stone

What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems

Poems Online

Madeleine DeFrees (1919-2015)

mdefreesPoet’s Website

Academy of American Poets – Madeleine DeFrees

Blue Dusk: New and Selected Poems (2001)

Denise Levertov (1923-1997)


Academy of American Poets – Denise Levertov

The Poetry Foundation – Denise Levertov

Modern American Poets – Denise Levertov

The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov (2014)

Poems Online

YT Clip

Maya Angelou (1928-2014 )

maya_angelou1 2Poet’s Website

The Academy of American Poets – Maya Angelou

The Poetry Foundation – Maya Angelou

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (2009)
Poems Online

Mary Oliver (1935-)


Publisher’s Website

The Academy of American Poets – Mary Oliver

The Poetry Foundation – Mary Oliver

New and Selected Poems, Vol. I (1992) and New and Selected Poems, Vol. II (2005)

Poems Online 

Louise Glück (1943-)

louise-gluckThe Academy of American Poets – Louise Glück

The Poetry Foundation – Louise Glück

Poems, 1962-2012

Poems Online

Marilyn Nelson (1946-)

marilynnelsonsm 2

Poet’s Website

The Academy of American Poets – Marilyn Nelson

The Poetry Foundation – Marilyn Nelson

Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems (1997) and Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011 (2012)

Poems Online

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

jane-kenyonThe Academy of American Poets – Jane Kenyon

The Poetry Foundation – Jane Kenyon

Otherwise: New & Selected Poems (1997)

Poems Online 

Joy Harjo (1951-)


Poet’s Website

The Academy of American Poets – Joy Harjo

The Poetry Foundation – Joy Harjo

How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, 1975-2001 (2002)

Poems Online  …

She Had Some Horses” (read aloud by the poet)

More: Native American Women Poets

Rita Dove (1952-)

ritadoveThe Academy of American Poets – Rita Dove

The Poetry Foundation – Rita Dove

Modern American Poets – Rita Dove

Achievement – Rita Dove

Selected Poems (1993)

Poems Online

Ana Castillo (1953-)


Poet’s Website

The Poetry Foundation – Ann Castillo

My Father was a Toltec and Selected Poems, 1973-1988 and I Ask the Impossible (2011)

Marilyn Chin (1955-)

Lamont_Poet_-__Chin_-_LargeThe Academy of American Poets – Marilyn Chin

The Poetry Foundation – Marilyn Chin

Modern American Poets – Marilyn Chin

Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2003)

and The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty (2009)

Read Full Post »

That first birth
when I pushed myself
free of her
and burst out
into invisible air
is as lost to me
as the months I floated
in that ocean of unbroken thought.

But passing on
the birth she gave me
has made me see Mama
face to face.

I understand now
what she means when she says
she loves me:
it’s the place you get to
when you’ve pushed
to the other side of pain.

A light grew in my belly
until my husband
could warm his hands by it.
I gave our son my broken sleep,
the fists, hands, fists, hands, fists
I made when he woke me
from my dream about his name.

I gave birth to him awed
by his apple-round head
in the bright glass above my knees.
I was given new strength
when he crowned
and my blood burst
like a chain of jewels
around his neck.

was my first image of God.
I remember how she leaned over my crib,
her eyes full of sky.

Marilyn Nelson
In the Fields of Praise (1997)

Read Full Post »

He was so pure
he only ate white flowers.
Nobody knew what his body
smelled like.  His lips
opened and closed around prayers,
his thin skin was a bag
for blood and bones and a heart
that sang, beating,
the glory of God.

I went to him once
on a morning heavy with rain
to ask why my man
was a stranger to me
and why my womb worried
itself over and over to death,
and hardly had knelt
at his punctured feet
when the dove of the Lord
entered my belly
and opened trembling wings.

It was a revelation.
Fire leapt like dogs
from my hair,
my mouth came alive,
I could read the secrets
in the scent of his robe,
birds tingled in my fingers,
I felt the shadows melt back
in my eyes.

Folding his hands
into his sleeves,
the saint arose.
“The way of woman
leads to darkness,”
he said, and threw himself
into that thicket there.
But the roses knew me
and drew in their thorns.
Their leaves caressed him
in my name, buds burst
into ecstatic blossom
all around him.

Marilyn Nelson
The Fields of Praise: 
New and Selected Poems

Commentary:  Marilyn Nelson is a poet of history.  She turns the truth about the past into lyric.  After seeing  Giotto’s frescos on the life of St. Francis, she wrote “The Life of a Saint,” of which “Seducing the Saint” (given above) is the third part.

I cannot help but love how Marilyn imagines herself, in the second stanza, to be like the Virgin Mary at the moment of the Annunciation, the moment of the Immaculate Conception.  “The dove of the Lord” enters her belly … when she stands, imaginatively, before St. Francis.  

Like Marilyn Nelson, I love St. Francis.  I grew up in the San Franciso Bay Area, and when I left California to become, among other things, a poet-in-exile living outside of Chicago, my aunt gave me a little triptych showing St. Francis preaching to the birds.  It was made in Rome, the Eternal City, which I visited for the first time last summer …

My father told me the story of St. Francis preaching to the birds when I was a little girl.  I loved that story. When I was grown, I learned that St. Francis was famous for saying, “Preach always.  If necessary, use words.”  But the heart of Francis himself so overflowed that, even when people would not listen, he spoke to the creatures God had made!  It makes me believe … that St. Francis had a poet’s heart.

In his Life of St. Francis, Bonaventure wrote of the saint:

The Cross strengthened him
to entrust his soul
to the wood of salvation
that would save him from the shipwreck of the world.

The truth of this was written in the hands and feet of St. Francis, and that is worth remembering.

Read Full Post »