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IB Summer Packet of Poems



Name: ___________________________

IB Literature, Juniors & Seniors



by William Shakepeare


Notes for certain words in the following poems appear immediately below the poem.




When I do count the clock that tells the time,

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

When I behold the violet past prime,

And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white;

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,

Which erst◦ from heat did canopy the herd,

And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves,

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

Then of thy beauty do I question make,

That thou among the wastes of time must go.

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake

And die as fast as they see others grow;

And nothing ‘gainst time’s scythe can make defense

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.






Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed▫;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair that thou ow’st٭:

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal line to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee


▫ loses its beauty

٭ you own



When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless◦ cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee – and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.












When to the sessions◦ of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless▫ night,
And weep afresh love's long since canceled woe,
And moan the expense٭ of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.


◦sittings of a court






Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon▫ permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack◦ on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine
With all triumphant splendor on my brow;
But out, alack!٭ he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud¤ hath mask'd him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain· when heaven's sun staineth.



◦a wind-driven mass of high, broken clouds


¤the clouds in the vicinity

·be stained






Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;

But you shall shine more bright in these conténts

Than unswept stone, besmeared◦ with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars◦ his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn

The living record of your memory.

‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room

Even in the eyes of all posterity

That wear this world out to the ending doom◦

So, till the judgment that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.



◦Roman god of war

◦Christian Judgment Day; end of the world




Since brass, nor◦ stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out,
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack▫,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


◦since there is neither brass nor







No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
Oh, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.






That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see’st the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west;

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the deathbed whereon it must expire,

Consumed with that which it was nourished by.

This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere◦ long.










Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixéd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.▫
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.◦
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


▫although its elevation may be measured

◦Judgment Day, the end of the world





Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;

Enjoyed no sooner but despiséd straight:

Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,

Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,

On purpose laid to make the taker mad:

Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof◦, and proved◦, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell


◦in the experience

◦once experienced







My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked,◦ red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;◦

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.


◦having patches of different colors






When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her, though I know she lies,

That she might think me some untutored youth,

Unlearnéd in the world’s false subtleties.

Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although she knows my days are past the best,

Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:

On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed.

But wherefore◦ says she not she is unjust?

And wherefore◦ say not I that I am old?

Oh, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,

And age in love loves not to have years told.

Therefore, I lie with her and she with me,

And in our faults by lies we flattered be.







Contemporary Free Verse Poems


Story Books on a Kitchen Table

by Audre Lorde










Out of her womb of pain my mother spat me

into her ill-fitting harness of despair

into her deceits

where anger re-conceived me

piercing my eyes like arrows

pointed by her nightmare

of who I was not





















Going away

she left in her place

iron maidens to protect me

and for my food

the wrinkled milk of legend

where I wandered through the lonely rooms of afternoon

wrapped in nightmares

from the Orange and Red and Yellow

Purple and Blue and Green

Fairy Books

where white witches ruled

over the empty kitchen table

and never wept

or offered gold

nor any kind enchantment

for the vanished mother

of a black girl.









The Yellow Star that Goes with Me

by Jessica Greenbaum
































Sometimes when I’m really thirsty, I mean really dying of thirst

For five minutes

Sometimes when I board a train

Sometimes in December when I’m absolutely freezing


For five minutes

Sometimes when I take a shower

Sometimes in December when I’m absolutely freezing

Sometimes when I reach from steam to towel, when the bed has soft, blue sheets


Sometimes when I take a shower

For twenty minutes, the white tiles dripping with water

Sometimes when I reach from steam to towel, when the bed has soft, blue sheets

Sometimes when I split an apple, or when I’m hungry, painfully hungry


For twenty minutes, the white tiles dripping with water

As the train passes Chambers Street.  We’re all crammed in like laundry

Sometimes when I split an apple, or when I’m hungry, painfully hungry

For half an hour, sometimes when I’m on a train


As it passes Chambers Street.  We’re all crammed in like laundry

It’s August.  The only thing to breathe is everybody’s stains

For half an hour.  Sometimes when I’m on a train

Or just stand along the empty platform


It’s August.  The only thing to breathe is everybody’s stains

Sometimes when I board a train

Or just stand along the empty platform—

Sometimes when I’m thirsty, I mean really dying of thirst.







Occupational Hazzards

by Sherman Alexie

(poem continues on next page)




















































Working graveyard shift at a 7-11

in Seattle, making minimum

everything, when I got robbed


by a guy with a pistol.  Now

I was thinking as it happened

thinking the gun ain’t loaded


everything is under control

this guy don’t want to hurt me

he understands I ain’t got much


more than he does.  I got

an old car, high rent, even

the same dark skin as his


and my best shirt is the one

I have to wear to work

with 7-11 stitched on my chest.


But the robber takes me back

into the cooler, makes me

kneel on the cold floor


with my hands on my head/ my back turned to him/ and I wet

my pants when he puts the pistol/ up against my skull/ I keep

thinking/ I’m going to die/ between the broken eggs/ and the

expired milk/ and I keep thinking/ I’ll make a move/ on the

robber/ and tear the gun from him/ and I keep thinking/ I’d

rather die fighting/ and/ I’d rather die brave and crazy/


but the robber laughs, runs

out of the store, out

of the rest of my life


and leaves me to the police

and their sketch artist.

It takes hours to describe


the robber, detail by detail

the color of his hair, eyes, skin

his height, weight, age


all approximated, estimated.

After all that work

the sketch artist asks


if I’ve remembered everything

perfectly, if I’m sure

I’ve described the robber




exactly as he looked, exactly

as he lived and breathed

and I tell the sketch artist






“Yes, I could never forget”

and then he shows me his sketch

shows me my memory, my vision




and the face on the page

is the same face I always see

when I look in my mirror





in those last seconds

before I walk out the door

and leave home for work.










First Indian on the Moon

by Sherman Alexie



Can I tell you now

that I’ve dreamed of your hair

in a good way?





I’ve dreamed your hair

could save us all.








Its length is a rope

for climbing ivory walls.

Its strength is a knot

for holding Skins together.

Its smell is the smoke

from the powwow campfire.

Its shine is the moonlight

and its shine makes you










the first Indian on the moon.

The first Indian on the moon

is a woman.

The first Indian on the moon

is you

and if my dream is long

as your hair

and if my dream is strong

as your hair










then maybe you can let all your hair down

find me somewhere alone on earth

and maybe I can reach up and take hold.

Maybe you can let all your hair down

and maybe I can reach up and take hold.

Maybe you can let all your hair down

and maybe I can reach up and take hold















and although the whites say

you can’t hear anything in space

I say we’ll hear each other breathe

I say we’ll hear each other move

I say we’ll hear each other whisper

I love you

and I will say it in my own language

I’ll say it in the little piece

of my own language that I know

and I’ll say it like it’s the last thing I’ll ever say:


quye han-xm=enc, quye han-xm=enc, quye han-xm=enc.



Halley’s Comet

by Stanley Kunitz






























Miss Murphy in first grade

wrote its name in chalk

across the board and told us

it was roaring down the stormtracks

of the Milky Way at frightful speed

and if it wandered off its course

and smashed into the earth

there’d be no school tomorrow.

A red-bearded preacher from the hills

with a wild look in his eyes

stood in the public square

at the playground’s edge

proclaiming he was sent by God

to save every one of us,

even the little children.

“Repent, ye sinners!” he shouted,

waving his hand-lettered sign.

At supper I felt sad to think

that it was probably

the last meal I’d share

with my mother and my sisters;

but I felt excited too and scarcely touched my plate.

So mother scolded me

and sent me early to my room.

The whole family’s asleep

except for me.  They never heard me steal

into the stairwell hall and climb

the ladder to the fresh night air.











Look for me, Father, on the roof

of the red brick building

at the foot of Green Street—

that’s where we live, you know, on the top floor.

I’m the boy in the white flannel gown

sprawled on this coarse gravel bed

searching the starry sky,

waiting for the world to end.









The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window

by Joy Harjo

(this poem continues on the next page)








She is the woman hanging from the 13th floor

window.  Her hands are pressed white against the

concrete moulding of the tenement building.  She

hangs from the 13th floor window in east Chicago,

with a swirl of birds over her head.  They could

be a halo, or a storm of glass waiting to crush her.












She thinks she will be set free.

The woman hanging from the 13th floor window

on the east side of Chicago is not alone.

She is a woman of children, of the baby, Carlos,

and of Margaret, and of Jimmy who is the oldest.

She is her mother’s daughter and her father’s son.

She is several pieces between the two husbands

she has had.  She is all the women of the apartment

building who stand watching her, watching themselves.




When she was young she ate wild rice on scraped down

plates in warm wood rooms.  It was in the farther

north and she was the baby then.  They rocked her.










She sees Lake Michigan lapping at the shores of

herself.  It is a dizzy hole of water and the rich

live in tall glass houses at the edge of it.  In some

places Lake Michigan speaks softly, here, it just sputters

and butts itself against the asphalt.  She sees

other buildings just like hers.  She sees other

women hanging from many-floored windows

counting their lives in the palms of their hands

and in the palms of their children’s hands.






She is the woman hanging from the 13th floor window

on the Indian side of town.  Her belly is soft from

her children’s births, her worn levis swing down below

her waist, and then her feet, and then her heart.

She is dangling.











The woman hanging from the 13th floor hears voices.

They come to her in the night when the lights have gone

dim.  Sometimes they are little cats mewing and scratching

at the door, sometimes they are her grandmother’s voice,

and sometimes they are gigantic men of light whispering

to her to get up, to get up, to get up.  That’s when she wants

to have another child to hold onto in the night, to be able

to fall back into dreams.








and the woman hanging from the 13th floor window

hears other voices.  Some of them scream out from below

for her to jump, they would push her over.  Others cry softly

from the sidewalks, pull their children up like flowers and gather

them into their arms.  They would help her, like themselves.




But she is the woman hanging from the 13th floor window,

and she knows she is hanging by her own fingers, her

own skin, her own thread of indecision.














She thinks of Carlos, of Margaret, of Jimmy.

She thinks of her father, and of her mother.

She thinks of all the women she has been, of all

the men.  She thinks of the color of her skin, and

of Chicago streets, and of waterfalls and pines.

She thinks of moonlight nights, and of cool spring storms.

Her mind chatters like neon and northside bars.

She thinks of the 4 a.m. lonelinesses that have folded

her up like death, discordant, without logical and

beautiful conclusion.  Her teeth break off at the edges.

She would speak.









The woman hangs from the 13th floor window crying for

the lost beauty of her own life.  She sees the

sun falling west over the grey plane of Chicago.

She thinks she remembers listening to her own life

break loose, as she falls from the 13th floor

window on the east side of Chicago, or as she

climbs back up to claim herself again.





The Daffodil

by Jorie Graham

(this poem continues on the next page)







with its neck broken in two

            places has outlived

the others.  It sees the floor,

            plays to the audience

of motes[1] its head deflects.

            It’s so still.









it’s a sundial.  Across the room

            the three good ones

cluck in the sunlight.

            Their water darkens

though to us it looks

            clear.  Around them









the room decides itself,

            rip-tide at my feet

called forever, now,

            a reason for stopping

where I do.  You are










who picked them with me,

            or, rather, watched me

rip them from the bed.

            When I broke this one,

sliding it through my palm

            like time till it snapped,









I wanted to say, I am

            careful, this is

great love, this catch

            as my thumb comes

too close.  You looked away

            like the owl









who snapped against my windowpane.

            He dove into my darker

daylight for a world

            with a boundary

so you know when you’ve entered.

            Inside, we keep turning









up splinters.  I think of you

            watching me, seeing

what’s here slipping out of

            what it represents.

I think of what you

            have to overlook






to see me.  Will the dust

            leave a flower

shaped like these yellow

            wings where it

has not fallen because they

            have not fallen?



Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

by Wallace Stevens












































Among twenty snowy mountains,

The only moving thing

Was the eye of the blackbird.



I was of three minds.

Like a tree

In which there are three blackbirds.



The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.

It was a small part of the pantomime.



A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a blackbird

Are one.



I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of inflections

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

The blackbird whistling

Or just after.



Icicles filled the long window

With barbaric glass.

The shadow of the blackbird

Crossed it, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An indecipherable cause.



O thin men of Haddam,

Why do you imagine golden birds?

Do you not see how the blackbird

Walks around the feet

Of the women about you?








































I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.



When the blackbird flew out of sight,

It marked the edge

Of one of many circles.



At the sight of blackbirds

Flying in a green light,

Even the bawds of euphony

Would cry out sharply.



He rode over Connecticut

In a glass coach.

Once, a fear pierced him,

In that he mistook

The shadow of his equipage

For blackbirds.



The river is moving.

The blackbird must be flying.



It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The blackbird sat

In the cedar-limbs.


“On the Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou 

(format on this is off; download Microsoft Word version for a better format)

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.

The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.


But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.


You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words


Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.


Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.


Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sang and sings on.


There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.


Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.


Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.


Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.


The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.


Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope—
Good morning.


“Ending Poem” by Rosario Morales & Aurora Levins Morales

I am what I am.

A child of the Americas.

A light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean.

A child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.

I am Puerto Rican.  I am U. S. American.

I am New York Manhattan and the Bronx.

A mountain-born, country-bred, homegrown jíbara child,

up from the shtetl, a California Puerto Rican Jew

A product of the New Your ghettos I have never known.

I am an immigrant

and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.

We didn’t know or forbears’ names with a certainty.

They aren’t written anywhere.

First names only or mija, negra, ne, honey, sugar, dear.


I come from the dirt where the cane was grown.

My people didn’t go to dinner parties.  They weren’t invited.

I am caribeña, island grown.

Spanish is in my flesh, ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips,

the language of garlic and mangoes.

Boricua.  As Boricuas come from the isle of Manhattan.

I am of latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent.

I speak from that body.  Just brown and pink and full of drums inside.


I am not African.

Africa waters the roots of my tree, but I cannot return.


I am not Taína.

I am a late leaf of that ancient tree,

and my roots reach into the soil of two Americas.

Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.


I am not European, though I have dreamt of those cities.

Each plate is different.

wood, clay, papier màché, metals basketrv, a leaf, a coconut shell.

Europe lives in me but I have no home there.


The table has a cloth woven by one, dyed by another,

embroidered by another still.

I am a child of many mothers.

They have kept it all going


All the civilizations erected on their backs.

All the dinner parties given with their labor.


We are new.

They gave us life, kept us going,

brought us to where we are.

Born at a crossroads.

Come, lay that dishcloth down.  Eat, dear, eat.

History made us.

We will not eat ourselves up inside anymore.


And we are whole.



[1] This word is a LOADED word. Look it up in lots of different places…. in fact, try a massively, huge, monstrous, unable-to-be-moved kind of dictionary at a library if at all possible.  Curie’s library has one of these kinds of dictionaries… Yes, I know it’s summer… but there is summer school going on…