Bill Withers

Bill Withers is an American singer and song writer. He was born on July 4, 1938 in West Virginia. Bill joined the US Navy when he was 18 and served for 9 years. Afterwards, he moved to California and began his music career. Bill Withers has written some of the most well known songs of our time; “Ain’t No Sunshine“, “Grandma’s Hands“, “Just The Two Of Us” and many more. Below you can listen to Bill sing his song, “Lean On Me”. Also below is a video of the song with lyrics you can read.

Let us know what you think about the song in the comments section.

Is it a happy song or a sad song?

What does the phrase ‘lean on me‘ mean?

Do you have someone to ‘lean on‘ or does someone often ‘lean on‘ you?

What does the phrase ‘swallow your pride’ mean?

Have you ever had to ‘swallow your pride‘?

Listen to some of Bill Withers’ other songs and tell us what you’re favorite is.

Read the lyrics below…Read More »

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

Since it’s summer, and a very hot one at that, we thought we’d share a poem about summer with you. It’s a sonnet by William Shakespeare. Below the poem you will find definitions for some of the more difficult words and Chinese and Spanish translations; above you can watch a video of someone reading it. Enjoy:

Sonnet 18

by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

shall = should, thee = you, thou = you, art = are, hath = has, thy = your, owest = owe, wander’st = wander, growest = grow

18.

許吾將卿比做明媚夏日?

卿更可愛更知溫柔克制:

五月嫩蕊常遭狂風摧遲,

夏之賃期*則又苦短難滯。

有時九天之眼烈焰狂悍,

時常其金容則受蔽黯淡,

世之美者,其美類皆存難,

有時不測,有時歲月自然;

然卿之永恆夏將不凋殘,

卿之所美者,卿永擁其屬,

當卿隨此永恆詩篇*殖展,

冥神亦難誇卿遊其死谷:

但許人可吐息,目可識丁,

此詩即活,且賦生命與卿。

XVIII

¿A un día de verano compararte?

Más hermosura y suavidad posees.

Tiembla el brote de mayo bajo el viento

y el estío no dura casi nada.

A veces demasiado brilla el ojo

solar, y otras su tez de oro se apaga;

toda belleza alguna vez declina,

ajada por la suerte o por el tiempo.

Pero eterno será el verano tuyo.

No perderás la gracia, ni la Muerte

se jactará de ensombrecer tus pasos

cuando crezcas en versos inmortales.

Vivirás mientras alguien vea y sienta

y esto pueda vivir y te dé vida.

Write On!

Click on the picture below to read autobiographies, poems, interviews and advice written by this past year’s Evening Classes. There are also some writing prompts towards the end. Let us know what you think about these writings in the comment section and send us your writings at usadultliteracy@gmail.com   Congratulations to all of the students on a successful year. Write On!

writes

Poets in Unexpected Places

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More poetry coverage for National Poetry Month. This is a story from the New York Times about a group from New York who performs poetry in public places.

Watch the video and read the article (don’t forget to read some of the NYT comments to see what others think about this story).

poetrypic

Comment below, let us know what you think about the video and answer some of these questions:

How do you feel about performers on the subway?
Do you prefer to be left along, or enjoy the show?
Have you seen any of these performers on your train rides?

You can find more information about Pop Up Poets here.

You can also read some great poems about New York here. Which one is your favorite?

subwaypoem

Robert Frost

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Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. He is well known for his realistic writings of rural life and his use of American informal (slang) speech. His poems were often set in rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, and used these settings to look at complex social and philosophical themes. Frost has often been quoted by other people. He was honored often during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

The Road Not Taken

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 marked 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.

yellow_wood

A Poet in New York

Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca

The New York Public Library on 42nd St. (the big one next to Bryant Park with the two big lions sitting in front) has a special free exhibit about one of Spain’s most famous poets: Federico Garcia Lorca. He came to New York in 1929 to study English as a Second Language and also learn about America. They have his letters, manuscripts, and drawings on display, as well as his guitar and passport.

Since it’s National Poetry Month, why not go check it out? It’s going to be there till July 20th.

The exhibit’s name is Back Tomorrow: Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York. From the NYPL website:

In June 1929, at a time when young writers and painters dreamed of living in Paris, Federico García Lorca (1898–1936), Spain’s greatest modern poet and playwright, broke boldly with tradition and sailed for New York. His nine months here, followed by three months in Havana, changed his vision of poetry, the theater, and the social role of the artist.

Lorca came to New York to study English but devoted himself instead to writing Poet in New York, a howl of protest against racial bigotry, mindless consumption, and the adoration of technology. “What we call civilization, he called slime and wire,” the critic V. S. Pritchett once wrote. But Lorca’s book reaches beyond New York—“this maddening, boisterous Babel”—into the depths of the psyche, in a search for wholeness and redemption.

In 1936, the poet left the manuscript of Poet in New York on the desk of his Madrid publisher with a note saying he would be “back tomorrow,” probably to discuss final details. He never returned. Weeks later, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he was brutally murdered by fascist elements in Granada, his body thrown into an unmarked mass grave. The book was published posthumously in 1940, but the manuscript mysteriously disappeared, lost to scholars for decades. The Fundación Federico García Lorca in Madrid and The New York Public Library exhibit it now for the first time, together with drawings, photographs, letters, and mementos—traces of a Poet in New York . . . and of New York in a poet.

To get more information, click here.

And here’s one of his poems about New York, translated into English:

Dawn by Federico Garcia Lorca

Dawn in New York has
four columns of mire
and a hurricane of black pigeons
splashing in the putrid waters.

Dawn in New York groans
on enormous fire escapes
searching between the angles
for spikenards of drafted anguish.

Dawn arrives and no one receives it in his mouth
because morning and hope are impossible there:
sometimes the furious swarming coins
penetrate like drills and devour abandoned children.

Those who go out early know in their bones
there will be no paradise or loves that bloom and die:
they know they will be mired in numbers and laws,
in mindless games, in fruitless labors.

The light is buried under chains and noises
in the impudent challenge of rootless science.
And crowds stagger sleeplessly through the boroughs
as if they had just escaped a shipwreck of blood.

Dawn in

National Poetry Month

Spring is finally here and April is National Poetry Month.

poetry

We are going to have some posts, activities and contests this month to celebrate all things poetry. So enjoy and start  reading some poetry…all the cool kids are doing it.

Click here to read poems about Spring to get started.

First, maybe you noticed the Poet’s Corner in the lobby of 175 Eldridge St. You’ll find a magnetic poetry board (pictured below) for you to play and experiment with. Check it out, have some fun. Also here is a link for you to play with magnetic poetry on your computer.

Board Pictures 002

Also, don’t forget to sign up for Poem-A-Day. You’ll get a new poem sent to you everyday. It’s a great way for you to improve your English skills and a great way to start your day.

Finally, we have some prizes from the Poetry Foundation . The first 3 students to tell us their favorite poem in the comments section will win a prize!