Thursday, 28 February 2013

Day 251: The Good News

Sick of bad headlines, tales of woe and worse? Well there is a place that publishes good news - what is the good news? 'The good news is that you're alive' - and you'll find this good news in poetry.

It's true. Read a poem. Feel your heart glow.

The Good News - Thich Nhat Hanh

They don’t publish
the good news.
The good news is published
by us.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
and the linden tree is still there,
standing firm in the harsh Winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
to touch the blue sky.
The good news is that your child is there before you,
and your arms are available:
hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
and help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the sidewalk,
smiling its wondrous smile,
singing the song of eternity.
Listen! You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head.
Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow
and preoccupation
and get free.
The latest good news
is that you can do it.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Day 250: In Just Spring

What's the big fuss about Spring?

Here ee cummings explores some of its magic, when the world is 'mud-luscious' and 'puddle wonderful' and spirits hopskotch along (note the structure) and soar like balloons, up, up and away 'wee'.

[in Just-] - ee cummings

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan          whistles

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Day 249: Blue

Why are we so taken with blue?

As Robert Frost notes here, all the blue hues we are taken with - blue in birds, in butterflies, in gem- stones, flowers, eyes, even sky - are just reminders, 'appetisers' if you will, for the blue we all truly desire - the blue 'so far above us', the celestial kind.

(If you want to read more about our fascination with blue, read here: 'Why So Blue?')

Fragmentary Blue - Robert Frost

Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet) -
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high, 
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Day 248:Spring Self

A Spring in your step... surely this is what it feels like -

Reckless Poem - Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves — you may believe this or not —
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
     tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
     is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
     red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Day 247: The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us sit back now and read this poem and fall into a dreamlike reverie, revelling in all  those selves we could yet be, all those adventures yet to come, all those lives and Life we could and should be living...


The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock - TS Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                              
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,                              
And seeing that it was a soft October night
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;                               
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—                              
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all;
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,                       
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                    
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
        .     .     .     .     .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets              
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
        .     .     .     .     .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?                 
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet–and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,                                             
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say, "That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,                                          
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."                                         
        .     .     .     .     .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two 

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .                                             
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown              
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 246: Music & Silence

A Quiet Poem - Frank O'Hara

When music is far enough away
the eyelid does not often move

and objects are still as lavender
without breath or distant rejoinder.

The cloud is then so subtly dragged
away by the silver flying machine

that the thought of it alone echoes
unbelievably; the sound of the motor falls

like a coin toward the ocean's floor
and the eye does not flicker

as it does when in the loud sun a coin
rises and nicks the near air. Now,

slowly, the heart breathes to music
while the coins lie in wet yellow sand. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Day 245: Love, Loss, Light

Here's a sad poem. In homage to the book I've just read 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green - (what a moving, beautiful, tragic, sad, life-affirming book) - I'm posting this poem by Robert Frost as it was quoted in the book (showing once again, how relevant and necessary poetry is).

So I sought it out and now marvel upon it: 'nothing gold can stay'. Nope. It cannot. A harsh truth, but true nonetheless. When you think of gold as myth, as treasure, as a wealth, as preciousness - the 'hardest hue to hold.'  But the memory of it, the shine, the light, the warmth; that must remain, surely?

Nothing Gold Can Stay - Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Day 244: Road

So I have finally gotten round to getting a copy of Don Paterson's Selected Poetry and am in the process of reading it and being wowed by his lyric and luminous style.

Here's just one offering:

Road - Don Paterson

Traveller, your footprints are
the only path, the only track:
wayfarer, there is no way,
there is no map or Northern star,
just a blank page and a starless dark;
and should you turn round to admire
the distance that you've made today
the road will billow into dust.
No way on and no way back,
there is no way, my comrade: trust
your own quick step, the end's delay,
the vanished trail of your own wake,
wayfarer, sea-walker, Christ.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Day 243: Gold Light

Is there anything more beautiful than gold sunlight streaming in a window? I think not - especially after months of none! Billy Collins, believe me, you do not exaggerate.

Gold - Billy Collins

I don’t want to make too much of this,
but because the bedroom faces east
across a lake here in Florida,

when the sun first rises
and reflects off the water,
the whole room is suffused with the kind
of golden light that might travel
the length of a passageway in a megalithic tomb
precisely at dawn on the summer solstice.

Again, I don’t want to exaggerate,
but it reminds me of a brand of light
that could illuminate the walls
of a hidden chamber full of treasure,
pearls and gold coins overflowing the silver platters.

I feel like comparing it to the fire
that Aphrodite lit in the human eye
so as to make it possible for us to perceive
the other three elements,

but the last thing I want to do
is risk losing your confidence
by appearing to lay it on too thick.

Let’s just say that the morning light here
would bring to anyone’s mind
the rings of light that Dante
deploys in the final cantos of the Paradiso
to convey the presence of God
while bringing The Divine Comedy
to a stunning climax and leave it at that.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Day 242: Gone Fishing

Epiphanies can happen anywhere, any time, in any circumstances. How will you know them? Well everything will be 'rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!' of course, or very much to that effect. 

The Fish - Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly--
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels - until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

Day 241: Seed

Almost Spring...!

Seed - Paula Meehan

The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I'd sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop each
like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useless persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter's ended. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Day 240: Poet or Engineer?

Ha, a typical sarcastic offering here from Wendy Cope. In only an alternative world would there be more poets than engineers! And looked on so highly too!

Engineer's Corner - Wendy Cope

Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey?  In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint ... How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?
                Advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints –
That’s why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It’s always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering –
You’re sure to need another job as well;
You’ll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You’ll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There’s far too much encouragement for poets –
That’s why this country’s going down the drain.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Day 239: How is Your Heart?

Happiness can be any kind of contentment. Acceptance. Easy to miss at the time, but long remembered and wished for after. 

What matters is how well we look for this happiness, how we treasure it, how we know it, make it, keep it no matter what. How we keep on keeping on.Yep, what matters most is 'how well you walk through the fire.' 

how is your heart? - Charles Bukowski

during my worst times
on the park benches
in the jails
or living with
I always had this certain
I wouldn't call it
it was more of an inner
that settled for
whatever was occuring
and it helped in the
and when relationships
went wrong
with the
it helped
through the
wars and the
the backalley fights
to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade-
this was the craziest kind of

and to walk across the floor
to an old dresser with a
cracked mirror-
see myself, ugly,
grinning at it all.
what matters most is
how well you
walk through the

Friday, 15 February 2013

Day 238: Thousand Kisses Deep

   And continuing the Valentine's mood....

   A Thousand Kisses Deep - Leonard Cohen

The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it’s done –
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it’s real,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed,
I’m back on Boogie Street.
You lose your grip, and then you slip
Into the Masterpiece.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep:
You ditch it all to stay alive,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

Confined to sex, we pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
I made it to the forward deck.
I blessed our remnant fleet –
And then consented to be wrecked,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed,
I’m back on Boogie Street.
I guess they won’t exchange the gifts
That you were meant to keep.
And quiet is the thought of you,
The file on you complete,
Except what we forgot to do,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go,
A Thousand Kisses Deep.

The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat . . .

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Day 237: Valentine

Happy Valentine's!

Here's a different idea for a gift... And a love poem that could be taken as positive or negative.

Valentine - Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Day 236: The One


'What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
a well of water in a country dry,
or anything that's honest and good, an eye
that makes the whole world bright...'

How will you know when you've found the one? When you know, you just know. And if not, here's a good blueprint below.

The Confirmation - Edwin Muir

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that's honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world seem bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Day 235: Love is...

What is love? How to describe it? 

EE Cummings describes it best here, revelling in its riddlesome mystery and beauty, 'more thicker than forget,' 'more thinner than recall', 'it is most mad and moonly,' 'most sane and sunly,'

(I know I've posted this poem before, but here it is once more, with feeling!)

love is more thicker than forget - ee cummings

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

Monday, 11 February 2013

Day 234: Killing the Love

As it's Valentine's Day later in the week I thought I'd join in on all the hype by posting love poems (and anti-love poems!) all week. And what better way to start than with a break-up poem ha.

What a great take on the end of love here by Anne Sexton, encompassing all the feelings that go with it in stunning imagery. But as well, the shocking quiet truth underneath it all:

When a life is over,
the one you were living for,
where do you go?

Killing the Love - Anne Sexton

I am the love killer,
I am murdering the music we thought so special,
that blazed between us, over and over.
I am murdering me, where I kneeled at your kiss.
I am pushing knives through the hands
that created two into one.
Our hands do not bleed at this,
they lie still in their dishonor.
I am taking the boats of our beds
and swamping them, letting them cough on the sea
and choke on it and go down into nothing.
I am stuffing your mouth with your
promises and watching
you vomit them out upon my face.
The Camp we directed?
I have gassed the campers.

Now I am alone with the dead,
flying off bridges,
hurling myself like a beer can into the wastebasket.
I am flying like a single red rose,
leaving a jet stream
of solitude
and yet I feel nothing,
though I fly and hurl,
my insides are empty
and my face is as blank as a wall.

Shall I call the funeral director?
He could put our two bodies into one pink casket,
those bodies from before,
and someone might send flowers,
and someone might come to mourn
and it would be in the obits,
and people would know that something died,
is no more, speaks no more, won't even
drive a car again and all of that.

When a life is over,
the one you were living for,
where do you go?

I'll work nights.
I'll dance in the city.
I'll wear red for a burning.
I'll look at the Charles very carefully,
wearing its long legs of neon.
And the cars will go by.
The cars will go by.
And there'll be no scream
from the lady in the red dress
dancing on her own Ellis Island,
who turns in circles,
dancing alone
as the cars go by. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Day 233: Drink Me

It's hard to come between a man and his drink. But here, one woman finds an effective way...

My Beloved Compares Herself to a Pint of Stout - Paul Durcan

When in the heat of the first night of summer
I observe with a whistle of envy
That Jackson has driven out the road for a pint of stout,
She puts her arm around my waist and scolds me:
Am I not your pint of stout? Drink me.
There is nothing except, of course, self-pity
To stop you also having your pint of stout.

Putting self-pity on a leash in the back of the car,
I drive out the road, do a U-turn,
Drive in the hall door, up the spiral staircase,
Into her bedroom. I park at the foot of her bed,
Nonchalantly step out leaving the car unlocked,
Stroll over to the chest of drawers, lean on it,
Circumspectly inspect the backs of my hands,
Modestly request from her a pint of stout.
She turns her back, undresses, pours herself into bed,
Adjusts the pillows, slaps her hand on the coverlet:
Here I am - at the very least
Look at my new cotton nightdress before you shred it
And do not complain that I have not got a head on me.

I look around to see her foaming out of the bedclothes
Not laughing but gazing at me out of four-legged eyes.
She says: Close your eyes, put your hands around me.
I am the blackest, coldest pint you will ever drink,
So sip me slowly, let me linger on your lips,
Ooze through your teeth, dawdle down your throat,
Before swooping down into your guts.

While you drink me I will deposit my scum
On your rim and when you get to the bottom of me,
No matter how hard you try to drink my dregs -
And being a man, you will, no harm in that -
I will keep bubbling up back at you.
For there is no escaping my aftermath.

Tonight - being the first night of summer -
You may drink as many pints of me as you like.
There are barrels of me in the taproom.
In thin daylight at nightfall,
You will fall asleep drunk on love.
When you wake early in the early morning
You will have a hangover,
All chaste, astringent, aflame with affirmation,
Straining at the bit to get to First Mass
And Holy Communion and work - the good life.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Day 232: Lullaby

Bed-Time - Ruth Padel

Time to go to bed again. Time for the moon
To get in among the muddle of arms and legs,
    Get completely unstrung and set free
    And hold on to you. Because you've done
All this but are also the one thing
That'll hold me, lost in this narrow room

As if it's Pharaoh's mine of slippery agate,
   Flashing quartz chambers
Where I could wander for years

Now changed to an arch of green cedars
And a wild-honey garden of mist and secret walks
   With cyclamen in the shade, a tiltyard
   Of tiered lawns rising and rising - to sundials, mazes
And driftwood igloos seeing off dew from their walls
At dawn. Because of you. Because of you.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Day 231: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Wallace Stevens' main theme in his poetry was the mighty rein of the imagination. And this poem, 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird' has become not only a staple of modernist poetry, but also a classic in its own right, as well as proof positive of his thesis. 

Who ever said there's only one way to look at things? Poets, like many other people I'm sure, prefer multiple. Therein lies the fun. From the reality (last stanza -and last on his list of priorities...) through all the realms of the imagination (every other stanza). Let the adventure begin!:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird - Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Day 230: Pay Attention

Don't forget to look at the world today as you go by it, to 'pay attention.' For that, according to Mary Oliver, is 'our endless/and proper work.' 

Yes! No! - Mary Oliver

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals.

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
small dark lanterns.

The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out

Yes! No! The

swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Day 229: Any Time

'before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light...'


Any Time - WS Mervin

How long ago the day is
when at last I look at it
with the time it has taken
to be there still in it
now in the transparent light
with the flight in the voices
the beginning in the leaves
everything I remember
and before it before me
present at the speed of light
in the distance that I am
who keep reaching out to it
seeing all the time faster
where it has never stirred from
before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Day 228: Self-Healing

And today, the powerful words of Rumi, whose poems can truly transcend the ego and make their way straight to the soul.

Silkworms - Rumi
The hurt you embrace becomes joy.
Call it to your arms where it can

change. A silkworm eating leaves
makes a cocoon. Each of us weaves
a chamber of leaves and sticks.
Silkworms begin to truly exist

as they disappear inside that room.
Without legs, we fly.....When I stop

speaking, this poem will close,
and open its silent wings . . .

Monday, 4 February 2013

Day 227: Love Anew

When you're in love, all the clichés apply.  And not only that, but they seem true.

Reprise - Ogden Nash

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer noon,
Stood like lily, fled like fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Day 226: Thaw

Winter pass... almost.

Thaw - Edward Thomas

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flowers of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Day 225: Lilac Wind

I don't why but I always think of February as a purple coloured month! Purple like lavendar or lilac, crocuses and irises, purple like the lightening of dark, the ushering in of newness.

I don't know if 'the grip of the ice is gone now' but it does feel like the icy grip of winter has loosened its hold somewhat. And even though the wind still blows, 'the silvers chase purple' and 'the purples tag silver' and 'silver jig heels on the purple sky rim' and well, it's February, 'wish and be wistful.' Yes.

The Wind Sings Welcome in Early Spring - Carl Sandburg

The grip of the ice is gone now.
The silvers chase purple.
The purples tag silver.
They let out their runners

Here where summer says to the lilies:
“Wish and be wistful,
Circle this wind-hunted, wind-sung water.”

Come along always, come along now.
You for me, kiss me, pull me by the ear.
Push me along with the wind push.
Sing like the whinnying wind.
Sing like the hustling obstreperous wind.

Have you ever seen deeper purple …
this in my wild wind fingers?
Could you have more fun with a pony or a goat?
Have you seen such flicking heels before,
Silver jig heels on the purple sky rim?
Come along always, come along now.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Day 224: Demeter

Finally, it's the first of February and the prelude to Spring begins! Or, in other terms, Demeter stops her weeping and the earth begins to warm and bloom to her new happiness - her exiled-to-the-underground daughter, Persephone, returning. 

I love this myth as it shows what love can do; how it can transform. Even 'winter and hard earth' can give way to a 'blue sky smiling' and hearts that were hard, broken, frozen, words that were 'granite' and 'flint' can soften in response to love's warming touch. And from there, from here, Spring, February - a new beginning is most certainly possible, with the 'the shy mouth of a new moon.'

Demeter - Carol Ann Duffy

Where I lived – winter and hard earth.
I sat in my cold stone room
choosing tough words, granite, flint,

to break the ice. My broken heart –
I tried that, but it skimmed,
flat, over the frozen lake.

She came from a long, long way,
but I saw her at last, walking,
my daughter, my girl, across the fields,

in bare feet, bringing all spring’s flowers
to her mother’s house. I swear
the air softened and warmed as she moved,

the blue sky smiling, none too soon
with the small shy mouth of a new moon.