The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To A Daughter Leaving Home, Linda Pastan
Beginning My Studies, Walt Whitman
Wonderful World/Don’t Know Much About History, Sam Cooke
Theme for English B, Langston Hughes
When I Heard The Learned Astronomer, Walt Whitman
Last Night As I was Sleeping, Antonio Machado
You Learn, Jorge Luis Borges
Wisdom, Sara Teasdale
Love Is What We Are Born With, Marianne Williamson
If I Had My Life To Live Over, Nadine Stair
Now Is the Time To Know, Hafez
Wean Yourself, Rumi
This World Is Not Conclusion, Emily Dickinson
What a Wonderful World, George Douglas, et al.

* * *

On Starting Edith Grossman’s Translation, Elizabeth Saenger
Hard Knocks Life (Annie), Martin Chamin
Fear is What We Learn, Marianne Williamson
The Good People and the Bad People, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Up, Up My Friend and Quit Your Books, William Wordsworth
The Rules of Evidence, Lee Robinson
Love In The Classroom, Al Zolynas
The Rain in Spain, Lerner and Lowe (My Fair Lady)
Branch Library, Edward Hirsch
Harper Valley, P.T.A., Tom Hall
Mary’s Lamb, Sarah Josepha Hale
In The Library, Charles Simic
Ethics, Linda Pasten
I’ve Learned, Maya Angelou


Hiawatha’s Childhood
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By the shores of Gitche Goomie,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beath the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews:
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
“Hush! The Naked Bear will hear thee!”
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
“Ewa-yea! My little owlet!
Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-year! My little owlet!”

Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Iskoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of winter;
Showed the broad white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.

At the door on summer evenings,
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
“Minnie-wawa!” said the pine-trees,
“Mudway-aushka!” said the water.

Saw the fire-fly Wah-wah-taysee,
flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
“Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little flitting, white-fire-insect,
Little dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!”

Saw the moon rise from the water,
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, “What is that, Nokomis?”
And the good Nokomis answered:
“Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
‘Tis her body that you see there.”

Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky the rainbow,
Whispered, “What is that, Nokomis?”
And the good Nokomis answered:
“‘Tis the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the praire,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us.”

When he heard the owls at midnight
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
“What is that?” he cried in terror;
“what is that,” he said, “Nokomis?”
And the good Nokomis answered:
“That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other.”

Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in summer.
Where they hid themselves in winter,
Talked with them when’er he met them,
Called them “Hiawatha’s Chickens.”

Of all beasts he learned the language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the beavers built their lodges,
Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
Why the rabbit was so timid,
Talked with them when’er he met them.
Called them “Hiawatha’s Brothers.”


To A Daughter Leaving Home
by Linda Pastan

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Beginning My Studies
by Walt Whitman

Beginning my studies/the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion
The least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love
The first step, I say, awed me and pleas’d me much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish’d to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sign it in ecstatic songs.


Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes

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Wonderful World (Don’t Know Much About History)
by Sam Cooke

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When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


Last Night While I Was Sleeping
by Antonio Machado
(translated by Robert Bly)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous illusion —
that there was a spring breaking
out in my heart.

I said: Along which secret aqueduct
are you coming to me, o water,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous illusion! —
that there was a beehive
here in my heart.

And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey,
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error! —
that there was a fiery sun
here in my heart.
It was fiery because it gave
warmth as if from a hearth,
and it was sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
That there was God
here in my heart.


You Learn (Aprendiendo)
by Jorge Luis Borges

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by Sara Teasdale

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Love Is What We Are Born With
by Marianne Williamson

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If I Had My Life to Live Over
by Nadine Stair

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Now Is the Time
by Hafez

Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God?

Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child’s training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
with veracity
And love.

That is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
That is the time
For you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But Grace.

Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is Sacred


Wean Yourself*
by Rumi
(translated by Coleman Barks)

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, “The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark, with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer:

There is no “other world.”
I only know what I’ve experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

* Used with the kind permission of Coleman Banks. This poem and other Rumi poems can be found in The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Banks (Harper Collins 2004).

This World is Not Conclusion
by Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond—
Invisible, as Music——
But positive, as Sound—

It beckons, and it baffles—
Philosophy—don’t know—
And through a Riddle, at the last—
Sagacity, must go—

To guess it, puzzles scholars—
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown—

Faith slips—and laughs, and rallies—
Blushes, if any see—
Plucks at a twig of Evidence—
And asks a Vane, the way—
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit—
Strong Hallelujahs roll—
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul—


What a Wonderful World
by Bob Thiele and George Weiss

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