Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Day 376: Rainbow Leap


A rainbow never fails to make us smile :)

My Heart Leaps Up - William Wordsworth 

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Day 375: Broken Heart


I studied the metaphysical poets  as a college course and what at first seemed bland and flat to me, suddenly came alive and vibrant upon closer inspection. No one can do clever or detail like the metaphysicals. They twist and twine words to fit their general theme, making conceits of obvious things,  elaborating simple ideas into wholesome meditations, putting words into a decadent array that not only please but puzzle. I do like their style!

The metaphysicals also know how to speak of love and heartbreak in a manner which mixes logic and longing. Today I am following Ruth Padel's lead in her travel-memoir 'Tigers in Red Weather', where she goes to a John Donne (one of the main poets of the group) poem after a break-up, which becomes her life-line in more ways than one. 

Here today, Donne talks of a broken heart, specifically shattering like 'glass' after the tyrant love has had its way with it. He describes love as a grief like no other, since it uses up all of the heart and while other griefs come to us, we are drawn to love, who 'swallows us'. Harsh indeed. But it's the poem's language and form that are a restorative tonic, 'Yet nothing can to nothing fall,/Nor any place be empty quite;' and a soothing balm.

(Read a more detailed explanation of the poem here)

The Broken Heart - John Donne

He is stark mad, whoever says,
    That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
    But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
    Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
    I saw a flash of powder burn a day?

Ah, what a trifle is a heart,
    If once into love's hands it come!
All other griefs allow a part
    To other griefs, and ask themselves but some;
They come to us, but us love draws;
He swallows us and never chaws;
    By him, as by chain'd shot, whole ranks do die;
    He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry.

If 'twere not so, what did become
    Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
    But from the room I carried none with me.
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
    More pity unto me; but Love, alas!
    At one first blow did shiver it as glass.

Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
    Nor any place be empty quite;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
    Those pieces still, though they be not unite;
And now, as broken glasses show
A hundred lesser faces, so
    My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
    But after one such love, can love no more.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Day 374: Van Gogh Yellow

I saw this poem in The New Yorker a few weeks ago and loved it. A meditation on Van Gogh's predominance of yellow in his paintings, in astonishing emotional and psychological detail:

*(Xanthopsia refers to the predominance of yellow in vision due to a yellowing of the optic media of the eye)

Xanthopsia - Maxine Kumin

It wasn’t absinthe or digitalis
in the Yellow House the two of them shared
that led him to layer the chrome coronas
or yellow the sheets in the bedroom in Arles
or tinge the towel negligently hung
on the hook by the door, or yellow the window,
be it distant view or curtain, yolk-lick
the paintings on the wall by the monkish bed.
No, it wasn’t sunstroke or the bright light
of southern France that yellowed the café terrace
at the Place du Forum, a pigment
intensified by the little white tables, the white stars
in a blue sky, the deep-saffron floor, it wasn’t
some chemical or physical insult that stained
the vase with twelve sunflowers a urinous
yellow, the water in the vase yellow,
also the table under the vase—such
a troubled life of yellow leading up
to Vincent’s hurled wineglass arousing
Gauguin’s rapier to sever his best friend’s left ear,
the story they made up that Vincent lopped it
off himself, wrapped it, ran down the road
to the nearby bordello, where his favorite whore
opened her present and fainted. He would
have bled to death if Gauguin hadn’t hauled him
to hospital next morning. Even in “Self-Portrait
with Bandaged Ear,” his necessary color washes in
despite greatcoat and pipe. Science has a word—
xanthopsia—for when objects appear
more yellow than they really are, but who’s
to say? As yellow as they are, they are.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Day 373: Golden Close of Love

This is the time of year for weddings. Somehow the height of summer fits well the heights of love.

Here is a most gorgeous wedding poem I think, from Tennyson. In it he describes marriage as 'the golden close of love', a treasure, a gift. And love, as a light. Much like the sun. Great enough to 'flash for a million miles', great enough to last and light forever, like love. 

Marriage Morning - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Light, so low upon earth,
You send a flash to the sun.
Here is the golden close of love,
All my wooing is done.
Oh, the woods and the meadows,
Woods where we hid from the wet,
Stiles where we stay'd to be kind,
Meadows in which we met!

Light, so low in the vale
You flash and lighten afar,
For this is the golden morning of love,
And you are his morning start.
Flash, I am coming, I come,
By meadow and stile and wood,
Oh, lighten into my eyes and heart,
Into my heart and my blood!

Heart, are you great enough
For a love that never tires?
O heart, are you great enough for love?
I have heard of thorns and briers,
Over the meadow and stiles,
Over the world to the end of it
Flash for a million miles. 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Day 372: Shine On Moon of Summer

I can't think of a better poem than this one for today. (I've posted it before, but oh, what the
heck, it's too good to post only once!) It brillliantly describes that happy, sing-song feeling that only summer nights can bestow: sitting outside in the garden, with the moon shining down its 'white thoughts', illuminating dreams, possibilities, romance. 

Back Yard - Carl Sandburg

Shine on, O moon of summer.
Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
All silver under your rain to-night.

An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;

to-night they are throwing you kisses.

An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a

cherry tree in his back yard.

The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking

white thoughts you rain down.

Shine on, O moon,
Shake out more and more silver changes.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Day 371: You Are Tired

What's the cure for disaffection and disillusion, the tiredness of the soul? Love, real love, that brings the moon back 'out of the sea.'

You Are Tired - ee cummiings

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we'll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Day 370: Daisy Dear


How many ways to describe a daisy? Let's see...
Daisy - William Carlos Williams

The dayseye hugging the earth
in August, ha! Spring is
gone down in purple,
weeds stand high in the corn,
the rainbeaten furrow
is clotted with sorrel
and crabgrass, the
branch is black under
the heavy mass of the leaves--
The sun is upon a
slender green stem
ribbed lengthwise.
He lies on his back--
it is a woman also--
he regards his former
majesty and
round the yellow center,
split and creviced and done into
minute flowerheads, he sends out
his twenty rays-- a little
and the wind is among them
to grow cool there!

One turns the thing over
in his hand and looks
at it from the rear: brownedged,
green and pointed scales
armor his yellow.

But turn and turn,
the crisp petals remain
brief, translucent, greenfastened,
barely touching at the edges:
blades of limpid seashell.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Day 369: Tongue-in-Cheek Sonnet

A sonnet, the traditional medium for writing love poetry, is notoriously difficult to write. A strict rhyming scheme, tight structure (Shakespearian or Petrachan) and thematic turn, constricts many the burgeoning lovestruck poet. 

Billy Collins does a great job here of criticising its restraints in a tongue-in-cheek line-by-line breakdown of the form (that dreaded of all poetic metres - iambic pentamenter - is referred to as 'iambic bongos' and end-of-line rhymes as punitive and recurring as 'the stations of the cross'). 

It's funny, it's clever, it's also admirable - everything we've come to expect from Collins. Especially the rhyming couplet at the end, where the sentiment is indeed, clarified in no uncertain terms!

Sonnet - Billy Collins

All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
    take off those crazy medieval tights,
    blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Day 368: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?

A perfect summer's day calls for a perfect summer poem. No better than Shakespeare's famous sonnet 18 comparing his lover to a summer's day.

Maybe the two most infamous lines of poetry ever are to be found in this sonnet:  Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?/Thou art more lovely and more temperate' . They are  also two of the most romantic I think. Who wouldn't beam at being compared to a summer's day, all bright and light and happy and uplifting? 

But not only a comparison, the poet goes beyond and deems this person even better and more lovely than a summer's day. Summer fades and loses its beauty, but his lover is endowed of an 'eternal summer', his 'fairness' never wilts in the eys of the beloved. Now there's endearment for you!

*(Don't let the language trip you up! - you can read an explanatory line-by-line version of the poem here:  )

Sonnet 18 - 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 ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Day 367: Sea Fever

'I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;...'

What is it about the sea that so enthralls us? 

Sea Fever - John Masefield
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Day 366: A Few Words on the Soul

A Few Words on the Soul - Wislawa Szymborska
We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Day 365: Eating Poetry

Well whaddya know? Day 365: Today, it is a year exactly since I've started this blog!

Since then I haven't missed a day posting a poem. I said I was going to do it for a year when I started out, but I think I'll keep it going longer. Why not? There are so many more poems to post! And I enjoy doing it. Immensely. And people enjoy reading it. 

It's never been a duty, I've never felt like 'I have to post'. It's been a pure pleasure. For poetry is always a pleasure - it centres me, brings me back to what matters, quietens the blabber of thoughts in my mind and brings the bigger picture of life into big and bright perspective once again. This blog has often been a consolation and a comfort for me, as well as motivation, inspiration, an oasis of calm and a mode of understanding, and I can only hope that it has been this and more for others as well.

So thank you dedicated readers and followers. Thank you new visitors. Thank you to all those who have so kindly and thoughtfully left comments and suggestions. Thank you, poetry in general, for being a constant light and beacon.

Here's to 'eating' more  ~

Eating Poetry - Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Day 364: Wistful


Sometimes the short poems are the most apt and visually stunning. Here's one that defines a word we would find ourselves at a loss to describe so succintly.

Wistful - Carl Sandburg

Wishes left on your lips
The mark of their wings.
Regrets fly kites in your eyes.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Day 363: Time Flies (When You're in Love)

Time flies when you're having fun. But when you're in love, it's a different thing. Just one hour spent with your beloved can be a forever, 'time slows'. And everything is gold, 'gold, gold, gold.'
Hour - Carol Ann Duffy

Love’s time’s beggar, but even a single hour,
bright as a dropped coin, makes love rich.
We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers
or wine, but the whole of the summer sky and a grass ditch.

For thousands of seconds we kiss; your hair
like treasure on the ground; the Midas light
turning your limbs to gold. Time slows, for here
we are millonaires, backhanding the night

so nothing dark will end our shining hour,
no jewel hold a candle to the cuckoo spit
hung from the blade of grass at your ear,
no chandelier or spotlight see you better lit

than here. Now. Time hates love, wants love poor,
but love spins gold, gold, gold from straw.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Day 362: Sea Poem

The ocean. What grand contemplation it excites in us.

Sea Poem - Alice Oswald

what is water in the eyes of water
loose inquisitive fragile anxious
a wave, a winged form
splitting up into sharp glances

what is the sound of water
after the rain stops you can hear the sea
washing rid of the world's increasing complexity,
making it perfect again out of perfect sand

oscillation endlessly shaken
into an entirely new structure
what is the depth of water
from which time has been rooted out

the depth is the strength of water
it can break glass or sink steel
treading drowners inwards down
what does it taste of

water deep in it sown world
steep shafts warm streams
coal salt cod weed
dispersed outflows and flytipping

and the sun and its reflexion
throwing two shadows
what is the beauty of water
sky is its beauty

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Day 361: The Simple Truth

The best poems always say something profound simply. Like this one:

The Simple Truth - Philip Levine

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In middle June the light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me
the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said,
"Even if you don't I'll say you did."
Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965
before I went away, before he began to kill himself,
and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste
what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always wrong,
it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.       

Monday, 15 July 2013

Day 360: Monday

Monday, Monday. Back to basics and routine and if you're a poet or a writer - back to the glorious and frustrating task of writing!

Monday - Billy Collins

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.

The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.

Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlight of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.

The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.

By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.

Just think-
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.

I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman's heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Day 359: Wasps

Never fear the fearful things. Never fear the stings. For they too have their gifts to bring.

The Wasps - David Constantine

The apples on the tree are full of wasps.
Red apples, racing like hearts. The summer pushes
Her tongue into the winter's throat.

But at six today, like rain, the first drops,
The wasps came battering softly at the black glass.
They want the light, the cold is at their backs.

That morning last year when the lamp had been left
The strange room terrified the heart in me,
I could not place myself, didn't know my own

Insect scribble: then saw the whole soft
Pelt of wasps, its underbelly, the long black pane
Yellow with visitants, it seethed, the glass sounded.

I bless my life: that so much wants in.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Day 358: What Do You Think Will Happen?

From Rumi Quotes

A beautiful and uplifting poem from Rumi for today. Every line is a precious truth:

What Do You Think Will Happen - Rumi

If you pass your night
and merge it with dawn
for the sake of heart
what do you think will happen

if the entire world
is covered with the blossoms
you have labored to plant
what do you think will happen

if the elixir of life
that has been hidden in the dark
fills the desert and towns
what do you think will happen

if because of
your generosity and love
a few humans find their lives
what do you think will happen

if you pour an entire jar
filled with joyous wine
on the head of those already drunk
what do you think will happen

go my friend bestow your love
even on your enemies
if you touch their hearts
what do you think will happen

Friday, 12 July 2013

Day 357: A Midsummer Night's Dream


Seeing since every line of Shakespeare is poetry, and this is the quintessential summer (summer's night) play, here's a quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the play about fairies and love, magic and mischief, from Puck, the mischievous sprite who serves the fairy queen, Titania:

from A Midsummer Night's Dream - William Shakespeare

How now, spirit! whither wander you?
fairy Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear. (2.1.1)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Day 356: In Dreams As In Love

Painting by Josephine Wall
I love Shakespeare's sonnets. Not only are they romantic, but each of them is also riddle-like in its language, articulating a complex feeling in a series of clues, conundrums and contrived contradictions ('When most I wink (sleep*), then do mine eyes best see') that serve to heighten the main emotion of the sonnet.

Sonnet 43 explores the duality of dreaming and waking, illusion and reality in a clever juxtaposition of bright and dark, day and night ('all days are nights to see till I see thee/and nights bright days...') The main theme being - in relation to the speaker's lover - which is real? And how is he (and we) to know the difference?

(It's explained here very clearly:

Sonnet 43 - William Shakespeare

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow's form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
   All days are nights to see till I see thee,
   And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Day 355: Heliographer

Heliograph n. 'a device for transmitting messages by reflecting sunlight'.
Heliographer -'a person who transmits messages by reflecting sunlight.' 

And there are many ways of being a heliographer, and many ways to 'detonate' a day with light. 

Heliographer - Don Paterson

I thought we were sitting in the sky.
My father decoded the world beneath:
our tenement, the rival football grounds,
the long bridges, slung out across the river.
Then I gace myself a fright
with the lemonade bottle. Clunk -
the glass thread butting my teeth
as I bolted my mouth to the lip.

Naw... copy me. It's how the grown-ups drink.
Propped in my shaky,
single-handed grip,
I titled the bottle towads the sun
until it detonated with light,
my lips pursed like a trumpeter's.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Day 354: Something in a Summer's Day

Another beautiful summer's day! There's something in a summer's day alright that resembles 'ecstasy,' -'a something so transporting bright,' a 'shimmering grace.' Exactly as Emily puts it:

104 - Emily Dickinson

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon -
A depth - an Azure - a perfume -
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see -

Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle - shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me -

The wizard fingers never rest -
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes its narrow bed -

Still rears the East her amber Flag -
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red -

So looking on - the night - the morn
Conclude the wonder gay -
And I meet, coming thro’ the dews
Another summer’s Day!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Day 353: Sun-Kissed Day

A lovely little summer poem for a sun-kissed day - 

The Hummingbird - Harry Kemp

The sunlight speaks.  And it's voice is a bird:
It glitters half-guessed half seen half-heard
Above the flower bed. Over the lawn ...
A flashing dip and it is gone.
And all it lends to the eye is this -
A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Day 352: Glorious Sun!

There's a heatwave on the way here, yippee! The sun is a beacon of happiness and fill us with joy like nothing else. As Mary Oliver explains here -

The Sun - Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

then the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone - 
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance - 
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love - 
do you think there is anywhere, in any language
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there, 
empty-handed - 
or have you too
turned from this world - 

or have you too
gone crazy
for power, 
for things? 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Day 351: A Place to Go To

Hard-won wisdom from Bukowski...

A Plausible Finish - Charles Bukowski

There ought to be a place to go
when you can't sleep
or you're tired getting drunk
and the grass doesn't work anymore
and I don't mean to go
to hash or cocaine
I mean a place to go besides 
the death that's waiting
or to a love that doesn't work

there ought to be a place to go
when you can't sleep
besides to a tv set or to a movie
or to buy a newspaper
or to read a novel.

it's not having that place to go to
that creates the people now in madhouses
and the suicides.

I suppose what most people do
when there isn't any place to go
is to go to someplace or to something
that hardly satisfies them,
and this ritual tends to sandpaper them
down to where they can somehow continue even
without hope.

those faces you see every day on the streets
were not created 
entirely without
hope: be kind to them:
like you
they have not

Friday, 5 July 2013

Day 350: The Look of Love

You can guess where this is going, but it goes there in such a way so that the final comparison can only be truth and sense, not solely sentiment. 

The Look - Carol Ann Duffy
The heron's the look of the river. 
The moon's the look of the night. 
The sky's the look of forever. 
Snow is the look of white. 

The bees are the look of the honey. 
The wasp is the look of pain. 
The clown is the look of funny. 
Puddles are the look of rain. 

The whale is the look of the ocean. 
The grave is the look of the dead. 
The wheel is the look of motion. 
Blood is the look of red. 

The rose is the look of the garden. 
The girl is the look of the school. 
The snake is the look of the Gorgon. 
Ice is the look of cool. 

The clouds are the look of the weather. 
The hand is the look of the glove. 
The bird is the look of the feather. 
You are the look of love.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Day 349: Lady Liberty

I've always loved Independence Day, even though it's not a national holiday for me (in Ireland). 
Its spirit is universal. And needless to say, I've always loved America, with its 'worldwide' welcome of freedom, its 'sunset gates'and 'golden door' and the iconic Lady Liberty with her 'beacon-hand' and salute of a new world.

To Independence Day -
The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Day 348: Oysters


I recommend you read this poem out loud to hear the real beauty of it and the lyrical mastery that went into it (and sigh in response at its genius!)

(What better word to describe oysters than 'shucked'? Well maybe 'glut', or 'clacked'? Not to mention 'palate hung with starlight', 'philandering sigh of ocean'....)

Oysters - Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.

Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege

And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Day 347: These Books

'Derived from people, but also radiance, heights...'

Books are a marvellous thing, maybe the greatest of our inventions. What else could claim to be immortal and life-giving?

And Yet These Books - Czeslaw Milosz

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
"We are, " they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Day 346: Your Earth

'Tree of Life' - by Josephine Wall

You can never be dispossessed of beauty, of what this earth means to you.

Earth - Derek Walcott

Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.