May Swenson’s poems have appeared in many anthologies and enjoyed by the general public. They have also been included in countless schoolbooks and have been studied by students as examples of fine poetry and also to show that poems can be fun. Many times her poems are used in standardized tests of student reading ability, because they are rapidly understood yet they focus on matters that students can relate to easily.
Here are just a few of her best-known poems. Her books contain the rest of her work.
Analysis of Baseball
and the mit.
bat, or it
hit ball, bat
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
to take bat's
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(twack) to mitt,
and goes out
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
to a place
has to quit
and the fans.
on a diamond,
and for fun.
home, and it's
|May Swenson, “Analysis of Baseball” from New and Selected Things taking Place. Coprygit 1978 by May Swenson.j Reprinted with the permission of The Literary Estate of May Swenson.|
Sleeping with Boa
|I show her how to put her arms around me,
but she’s much too small.
What’s worse, she doesn’t understand.
although she lies beside me, sticking
out her tongue, it’s herself she licks.She likes my stroking hand.
even lets me kiss.
But at my demand:
“Now, do it to me, like this,”
she backs off with a hiss.What’s in her little mind?
Jumping off the bed,
she shows me her behind,
but curls up on the rug instead.
I beg her to return. At first, she did,
then went and hid.under the covers. She’s playing with my feet!
“Oh, Boa, come back. Be sweet,
Lie against me here where I’m nice and warm.
Settle down. Don’t claw, don’t bite.
Stay with me tonight.”
Seeming to consent, she gives a little whine.Her deep, deep pupils meet mine
with a look that holds a flood …
But not my brand.
Not at all.
what’s worse, she’s much too small.
|May Swenson, “Sleeping With Boa” from Yale Review 81, no. 2 (January 1993). Copyright 1993 by May Swenson. Reprinted with the permission of The Literary Estate of May Swenson.|
Body my house
Where will I sleep
Where can I go
How will it be
With cloud for shift
|May Swenson, “Question” from Nature: Poems Old and New. Copyright 1994 by May Swenson. Reprinted with the permission of The Literary Estate of May Swenson.|