I judge a poem’s quality in part by the ability of its lines to function collectively and disparately. In a notebook I’ve written many line fragments from poems that speak to me more powerfully because of their briefness. Here’s a few favorites.
By the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there arous’d – the fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
You were a stranger. You were dark and brief.
And I am humbled by the size of your grief.
You hate me
so well –
only because you have practiced
(rigorous scales, taskmaster metronome)
All species have a notion of emptiness, and yet the flowers don’t quit opening.
Edgar Lee Masters
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.
You await a handsome savior,
but the plain man draws near…
I have loved the prairie as a man with
a heart shot full of pain over love.
William Somerset Maugham
The tragedy of love is indifference.
Adam Lindsay Gordon
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone –
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in our own.
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.
Now, God be thanked, who has matched
us with this hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us