by NONA BLYTH CLOUD
This is the second in our series of May poets — and it’s almost ‘Too Many Poets” — seventeen poets. There are probably even more, but these have either published in English, or had their poems translated into English.
Of course, we can’t really ever have too many poets, but it’s been a real challenge to come up with a format or a theme. So I decided to just list them in order by birthday, with mini-bios, and give you some poems you might not have discovered yet.
- Robert Browning (1812-1889)
- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
- Fenton Johnson (1888-1958)
- Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)
- Darwin T. Turner (1931-1991)
- Angela O. Carter (1940-1992)
Most English-speakers have read at least one poem by the famous English Victorian poet Robert Browning, but in the 21st century the rest of these poets, some very well-known in their day, may not be familiar to you.
Rabindranath Tagore was born in British India’s Calcutta (now Kolkata), and if you’re from India, you know he’s had a major influence on Bengali literature and music. He was also very popular with the Flower Children in the 1960s. His brief poems in the collection Fireflies are still favorites of mine.
My fancies are fireflies, —
Specks of living light
twinkling in the dark.
The butterfly counts
not months but moments,
and has time enough.
The soil in return for her service
keeps the tree tied to her,
the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.
The tyrant claims freedom to kill freedom
and yet to keep it for himself.
Trees are the earth’s endless effort to
speak to the listening heaven.
While God waits for his temple
to be built of love,
men bring stones.