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THIS IS AMERICA - Americans Chose Their Favorite Poems

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Robert Frost was forty years old before Americans began to read his poems and praise them.
Robert Frost was forty years old before Americans began to read his poems and praise them.

From VOA Learning English, welcome to This is America. I'm Steve Ember. April is National Poetry Month, and this week, Kelly Jean Kelly brings us some of the poems that Americans like best. Come along with us, on a journey through rhyme!

April is National Poetry Month in the United States. The Academy of American Poets started the celebration in 1996. The goal was to help more Americans add poetry to their lives.

The academy chose April as National Poetry Month because of a line in a poem. T.S. Eliot called April "the cruelest month" in his poem "The Waste Land." And many Americans think April is the cruelest month. They must pay their income taxes by April 15th.

National Poetry Month brings together publishers, booksellers, poetry groups, libraries, schools and poets around the country. They encourage people to write, read, and listen to poetry. In the southern state of Florida, the O, Miami Poetry Festival tries to bring a poem to every one of the 2.5 million people who live in the area. The group has dropped poems out of airplanes, sewn them into clothes, and put them on every bus in the city.

Poetry is very popular in the United States. America even has a chief poet, known as the Poet Laureate. Robert Pinsky was the Poet Laureate from 1997 until 2000. He started the Favorite Poem Project, to find out which poems Americans liked best. Thousands of Americans wrote to Mr. Pinsky about their favorite poems. He chose 200 poems by poets from the United States and from many other countries.

The poems are included in a book called "Americans' Favorite Poems." It was edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. We will read five of poems from the book by American poets.

Oglala Sioux Poet Describes Power of World as Circle

Our first poem is by Black Elk. He was a famous spiritual leader of the Oglala Lakota Native American tribe. He took part in two famous battles against American troops during the late 1800s. At the end of his life, he told about a number of his tribe's ceremonies and ideas about life. Among these was the poem called

"Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle."

"Everything the Power of the World does

is done in a circle. The sky is round,

and I have heard that the earth is round

like a ball, and so are all the stars.

The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.

Birds make their nests in circles,

For theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again

in a circle. The moon does the same,

And both are round. Even the seasons

form a great circle in their changing,

and always come back again to where they were.

The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood,

and so it is in everything where power moves."

Our next poem chosen as one of Americans' favorites is by Rita Dove. She was the youngest person and the first African-American ever named Poet Laureate of the United States. She served from 1993 to 1995.

Rita Dove is a professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Many of her poems are based on the lives of her family, especially her grandparents. Dove often writes about the experience of being a mother, like in this poem, called "Daystar."

"She wanted a little room for thinking:

but she saw diapers steaming on the line,

a doll slumped behind the door.

So she lugged a chair behind the garage to sit out the children's naps.

Sometimes there were things to watch –

the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,

a floating maple leaf. Other days

she stared until she was assured

when she closed her eyes

she'd see only her own vivid blood.

She had an hour, at best, before Liza appeared

pouting from the top of the stairs.

And just what was mother doing

out back with the field mice? Why,

building a palace. Later

that night when Thomas rolled over and

lurched into her, she would open her eyes

and think of the place that was hers

for an hour – where

she was nothing,

pure nothing, in the middle of the day."

Robert Frost Well Represented in Collection

Robert Frost was perhaps the most popular and beloved of twentieth century American poets. So it is not surprising that six of his poems are included in the book "Americans' Favorite Poems."

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry four times. He often wrote about the land and people of the northeastern American states.

His poems combine images of nature with ideas about how to live one's life. This one is called "The Road Not Taken." It is one of his most famous poems.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

Langston Hughes - A Major Figure in Harlem Renaissance

Langston Hughes published more than 30 books. He started with poetry and then expanded into novels, short stories, plays and personal memories.

He was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. During the Harlem Renaissance, African-American literature, art and music grew quickly in New York City.

Langston Hughes continued writing into the 1960s. His work often spoke plainly about the difficult lives of black people living in big cities.

This poem is called "Mother to Son."

"Well son, I'll tell you:

Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

It's had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor –

Bare.

But all the time

I'se been a-climbin' on,

And reachin' landin's,

And turnin' corners,

And sometimes goin' in the dark

Where there ain't been no light.

So boy, don't you turn back.

Don't you set down on the steps

'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.

Don't you fall now –

For I'se still goin', honey,

I'se still climbin,'

And life for me ain't been no crystal stair."

Edna Saint Vincent Millay's poetry is also included in "Americans' Favorite Poems." She lived during the first half of the twentieth century. She was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1923.

She was also famous for the free way she lived her life and for her many lovers. Here is one of her poems about love, called "Sonnet 24."

"When you, that at this moment are to me

Dearer than words on paper, shall depart,

And be no more the warder of my heart,

Whereof again myself shall hold the key;

And bed no more – what now you seem to be –

The sun, from which all excellences start

In a round nimbus, nor a broken dart

Of moonlight, even, splintered on the sea;

I shall remember only of this hour –

And weep somewhat, as now you see me weep –

The pathos of your love, that, like a flower,

Fearful of death yet amorous of sleep,

Droops for a moment and beholds, dismayed,

The wind whereon its petals shall be laid."

Our program was written by Shelley Gollust, and presented by Kelly Jean Kelly. Our poetry readers were Doug Johnson, Pat Bodnar, Shep O'Neal, Barbara Klein, and yours truly, Steve Ember.

Join us again next week for This is America from VOA Learning English.

网友的学习评论(9条):
作者:雄雄
April is National Poetry Month in the United States. The Academy of American Poets started the celebration in 1996. The goal was to help more Americans add poetry to their lives.
作者:雄雄
Poetry is very popular in the United States. National Poetry Month brings together publishers, booksellers, poetry groups, libraries, schools and poets around the country. They encourage people to write, read, and listen to poetry. Even The group has dropped poems out of airplanes,sewn them into clothes, and put them on every bus in the city.
作者:雄雄
This article brings us some of the poems that America like best , we embark on a journey through the rhyme with you together . This is a beautiful experience and enjoy.
作者:雄雄
These poems are very beautiful, very lively, very image, also touched me . Thanks UNSV. com ; Thanks VOA Learning English .
作者:雄雄
I wrote this poem, translated into English I don't know it is whether in English poetry :Say no longer think you, don't want to grief spread; I don't know why, the in the mind is always put you. Did I don't know your pain? How can you know I'm struggling? I don't want to be like this, originally not so easily forget you!
作者:雄雄
We never met, may not have the opportunity to let us meet; Meet you on the Internet, is right or wrong loving you ? What should I do to make people happy? Really want to put down the burden and heavy, travel light to travel to far far away; Do myself, unique to find happiness is the real meaning of peace. March 03 , 2014 , Nanning, Guangxi, China .
作者:雄雄
我写的这首诗,翻译成英文后我不知道它是否在英文诗歌里:说不再想你, 不想把悲伤蔓延下去; 不知道为什么, 心里总是放不下你。你的痛苦我何尝不知? 我的挣扎你何尝能知? 我不想这个样子, 原来忘记你没那么容易! 我们从未见过面, 也许没机会让我们相遇; 在网上见到你,爱你是对还是错? 我应该怎么做才能使人们满意?真想放下包袱与沉重, 轻装上阵去远方旅行; 做独一无二真实的自己, 寻找到幸福宁静的真谛。2014,3,3, 中国广西南宁.
作者:雄雄
Thank you UNSV.com (English Learning Channel ), thank you VOA Learning English, you give me speaking out of platform; you are guiding my train of thought, you are inspiring my inspiration; you inspire my passion, you touch my heart, you give me the courage to reveal my heart. Thank you, thank you sincerely!感谢你英语学习频道,感谢你美国之音英语学习, 是你们给了我吐露心声的平台,是你们引导我的思路,是你们激发我的灵感,你们启迪着我的激情,你们触动着我内心深处,你们给我袒露心胸的勇气。谢谢你们,衷心地感谢你们!
作者:雄雄
我的第三段评论中 that Americans like best 的 Americans 粗心写成 America , 我把这段话重新打一遍 : This article brings us some of the poems that Americans like best , we embark on a journey through the rhyme with you together . This is a beautiful experience and enjoy.
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