Sunday, 30 November 2014

Day 864: RIP Mark Strand

Mark Strand 1934-2014
 'When I read poetry, I want to feel myself suddenly larger . . . in touch with—or at least close to—what I deem magical, astonishing. I want to experience a kind of wonderment. And when you report back to your own daily world after experiencing the strangeness of a world sort of recombined and reordered in the depths of a poet’s soul, the world looks fresher somehow. Your daily world has been taken out of context. It has the voice of the poet written all over it, for one thing, but it also seems suddenly more alive—not as routinely there.'  ~ Mark Strand

I was very saddened to hear of the death of Mark Strand yesterday. Every time a poet dies, I think every other living poet and poetry lover feels their loss as that of a comrade, a mentor, an inspiration.

A former Poet Laureate of America, Strand was also a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. His 2007 collection of 'New Selected Poems' is a book I read every winter. He writes a lot about winter and a lot about death, his poems subtle and eloquent meditations on the human condition. You might be familiar most with his riotous ode to poetry: 'Eating Poetry', or the beautiful winter anthem: 'Lines for Winter' or 'The Coming of Light'. Rereading him now again, I will be posting more of his poems here over the next few weeks.

*(You can read the above mentioned poems and more here: Mark Strand.)




The End - Mark Strand

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Day 863: Grace

 

Grace - Alice Walker

Gives me a day
too beautiful
I had thought
to stay indoors
& yet
washing my dishes
straightening
my shelves
finally
throwing out
the wilted
onions
shrunken garlic
cloves
I discover
I am happy
to be inside
looking out.
This, I think,
is wealth.
Just this choosing
of how
a beautiful day
is spent.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Day 862: Winter Trees




Winter Trees - William Carlos Williams

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Day 861: Thanks for Thanksgiving

'There's not a day in all the year but holds some hidden treasure...'

I really  admire the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It's such a wonderful idea. To dedicate a day to gathering together and being thankful and grateful for our blessings is a beautiful idea, especially in these modern times when we so often miss or overlook the 'blessings common in our sight.' Unfortunately we do tend to take for granted 'our daily store of pleasures sweet and tender', but the act of being grateful recalls our attention to them, and engenders a greater awareness of them, not to mention appreciation.

There is, as GK Chesterson has put it, happiness and wonder involved in gratitude. Today I am grateful for finding this poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox which narrates the sentiments of Thanksgiving and is full of so many lovely phrases, too many to quote.  As everyday, I am so very grateful for poetry and its ability to pique our attention to the wonder of the world in mere words. 

Happy Thanksgiving!



Thanksgiving - Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
 
 We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hang about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives
   And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble.
Farseeing is the soul and wise
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Day 860: Deeplier November

 
 'Deeplier, deeplier, loudlier, loudlier...'

November is almost at its end now and winter is certainly getting 'deeplier' and 'loudlier.'  


The Region November - Wallace Stevens

It is hard to hear the north wind again,
And to watch the treetops, as they sway.

They sway, deeply and loudly, in an effort,
So much less than feeling, so much less than speech,

Saying and saying, the way things say
On the level of that which is not yet knowledge:

A revelation not yet intended.
It is like a critic of God, the world

And human nature, pensively seated
On the waste throne of his own wilderness.

Deeplier, deeplier, loudlier, loudlier,
The trees are swaying, swaying, swaying.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Day 859: Poetry Vs Prose

 

Aha, yes.





Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry - Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Day 858: Last Days

 
 
 
 
 
 
Last days - Mary Oliver
 
Things are
    changing; things are starting to
        spin, snap, fly off into
            the blue sleeve of the long
               afternoon. Oh and ooh
come whistling out of the perished mouth
     of the grass, as things
turn soft, boil back
      into substance and hue. As everything,
          forgetting its own enchantment, whispers:
              I too love oblivion why not it is full
                   of second chances. Now,
hiss the bright curls of the leaves, Now!
    booms the muscle of the wind.
 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Day 857: Frost at Midnight

 
A classic winter poem this.

 
Frost at Midnight - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                      But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon. 
 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Day 856: November Skies



November skies are surprisingly beautiful, full of colour and as John Freeman remarks here, the presence of the 'unvanquished sun.'  It may be winter, but the sun still puts on spectacular shows.


November Skies - John Freeman

Than these November skies
Is no sky lovelier. The clouds are deep;
Into their grey the subtle spies
Of colour creep,
Changing that high austerity to delight,
Till ev'n the leaden interfolds are bright.
And, where the cloud breaks, faint far azure peers
Ere a thin flushing cloud again
Shuts up that loveliness, or shares.
The huge great clouds move slowly, gently, as
Reluctant the quick sun should shine in vain,
Holding in bright caprice their rain.
And when of colours none,
Not rose, nor amber, nor the scarce late green,
Is truly seen, -
In all the myriad grey,
In silver height and dusky deep, remain
The loveliest,
Faint purple flushes of the unvanquished sun.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Day 855: Poems That Are Never Written


True, true, true.



There are Poems - Linda Pastan

There are poems
that are never written,
that simply move across
the mind
like skywriting
on a still day:
slowly the first word
drifts west,
the last letters dissolve
on the tongue,
and what is left
is the pure blue
of insight, without cloud
or comfort.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Day 854: Design for November




Design for November - William Carlos Williams

Let confusion be the design
and all my thoughts go,
swallowed by desire: recess
from promises in
the November of your arms.
Release from the rose: broken
reeds, strawpale,
through which, from easy
branches that mock the blood
a few leaves fall. There
the mind is cradled,
stripped also and returned
to the ground, a trivial
and momentary clatter. Sleep
and be brought down, and so
condone the world, eased of
the jagged sky and all
its petty imageries, flying
birds, its fogs and windy
phalanxes . . .

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Day 853: Thanks to Flowers

 'The word flower thrives in every language...'

I wondered should I post this poem about flowers today - or would it be too much out of season? And then thought, no, why can we not have flowers in winter? Is that not when we need them most? 

Although flowers in winter may be scarce, they are present nonetheless, if not in gardens they are 'blooming in paintings, on carpets, pottery, fabrics of dresses and draperies'. They do indeed 'lift the mood of a scene.' Even in their winter withering (as in my picture above) they have beauty to offer us. And why do we love flowers so much? Well I think part of that answer lies in the last lines here.



Thanks to Flowers - Kate Farrell 

Not only the cultivated ones in parks
and gardens, unfolding immaculate petals
on a terrace or trellis, and not just
the wild ones, kissed by elegant birds
in jungle foliage, or brightening roadsides
and meadows, blossoming anyplace that anything
can blossom, but thanks also to flowers
blooming in paintings, on carpets, pottery,
fabrics of dresses and draperies or wherever
the real or invented colors and shapes
of flowers lift the mood of a scene,
as they are snipped from bushes, gathered
in cordless bunches, tied in ribbons
or arranged in rare bouquets for precious vases.
Perfect by nature for gift and centerpiece,
they perfume ballrooms, backyards and prairies,
and, indoors or out the window, they gladden
celebrations and refresh every country
and season, for, even in iciest winter.
The word flower thrives in every language,
adorning what everyone says and imagines
with the beautiful thought of flowers
which teach by timeless example
that life goes by anyway; you might as well
flower.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Day 852: Love, Logic & Space


'The Life we have is very great...'

After seeing Interstellar last night, I just had to find a poem today that would relate to it somehow, if only to make a bit more sense of it! (Interestingly, the movie makes use of poetry - Dylan Thomas' ''Do Not Go Gentle' - to quite an epic effect.)

Surprisingly, regardless of its reliance on logic and science, Interstellar's premise (or heart, if you like) revolves, as all human life does, on love. This poem by Emily Dickinson captures the feeling encapsulated in the film exactly. Note especially the capitalization of 'Life' and 'Human Heart'. Deservedly so.


The Life We Have Is Very Great (1162)- Emily Dickinson

The Life we have is very great.

The Life that we shall see
Surpasses it, we know, because
It is Infinity.

But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Day 851: A Clown in Winter

 

There are lots of things I love about this EE poem. The enchantment it begins with: 'at the magical hour when is becomes if' - isn't that just - well, magical? The grouping of the phrase 'most people' into one word 'mostpeople', effectively lumping them together literally. The clown as representative to the poet as someone truly 'alive': 'completely alert and miraculously whole; with not merely a mind and a heart but unquestionably a soul' and as such, what 'mostpeople fear most'. So many of Cummings' poems explore this conflict between really being alive and just existing, the majority mundane-obeying 'mostpeople' and then the some vibrant characters that people his poems, (his own personality a lot of the time and his aspiring towards this) who live simply and spectacularly as a gift. 

And don't you just love that line about the clown not saying a word - but 'the silence of him self sang like a bird'? And look how the word 'self' is on a separate line, highlighting the clown's sense of separate self, his being, his independent existence on a different space. I just love the very last line, the 'crazy' offering of a daisy and everything it means and find myself in total agreement with him. How about you?


one winter afternoon - ee cummings

one winter afternoon

(at the magical hour
when is becomes if)

a bespangled clown
standing on eighth street
handed me a flower.


Nobody, it’s safe
to say, observed him but

myself;and why? because

without any doubt he was
whatever(first and last)

mostpeople fear most:
a mystery for which i’ve
no word except alive


–that is,completely alert
and miraculously whole;

with not merely a mind and a heart

but unquestionably a soul–
by no means funereally hilarious


(or otherwise democratic)
but essentially poetic
or ethereally serious:

a fine not a coarse clown
(no mob, but a person)


and while never saying a word

who was anything but dumb;
since the silence of him

self sang like a bird.

Mostpeople have been heard
screaming for international

measures that render hell rational
– i thank heaven somebody’s crazy

enough to give me a daisy

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Day 850: Snow Geese




Snow Geese - Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
       What a task
           to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
    and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
    above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
    faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on,
I have never
seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Day 849: Autumn Movement


Autumn is passing and winter is coming with its own wonders.



Autumn Movement - Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Day 848: A Letter in November


Poetry is a medium in which pain can be transformed into something else: beauty, grace, acceptance.

This poem may seem full of resignation at first - but no - that is not the feeling we are left with after reading it. The pain, the grief, the loss clearly expressed here is not just a testament to the suffering, but more importantly, to the depth and intensity of feeling felt, a proof of lasting love. The last line, in spite of everything, is affirmative. The poem in its very being huddles 'so close to life,' to hope, to renewal.


A Letter - Ted Kooser

I have tried a dozen ways
to say those things
and have failed: how the moon
with its bruises
climbs branch over branch
through the empty tree;
how the cool November dusk,
like a wind, has blown
these old gray houses up
against the darkness;
and what these things
have come to mean to me
without you. I raked the yard
this morning, and it rained
this afternoon. Tonight,
along the shiny street,
the bags of leaves -
wet-shouldered
but warm in their skins -
are huddled together, close
so close to life.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Day 847: Rainy Day Rescue


Oh yes, I have to say, I've had many of these days! (Today is one of them.) I love this poem, not just the subject matter of reading, but the simplicity of the language used, the factual surety, the calm sweeping certainty and delivery of it (just look at that last line).

But this poem is not just about reading. It is saying in Carver's signature direct voice -  do what you want to do, what you feel like doing and to hell with it. Be okay with it, don't question it, own it.

Okay, then.


Rain - Raymond Carver

Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read. Fought against it for a minute.

Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over. Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.

Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgiveable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance. Yes.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Day 846: My November Guest


November is often accompanied by sadness and sorrow. It is a logical effect of its bleak demeanor. But, as Robert Frost seems to state here, it need not be something to be dreaded

He embraces his sorrow, personified here as a feminine presence, who finds the month beautiful - 'she loves the bare, the withered tree...worsted gray is silver now'. Sorrow can be beautiful, for it teaches us how to look more deeply at the world and revel in any mere hints of beauty we see. The poet here looks on his sorrow as a companion, not a foe, a guest, not a burden, a way of learning to be in the season, not berate it. So much so that he is able to find beauty and even balm in November too. 
 




My November Guest - Robert Frost

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walked the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Day 845: Temps Perdu

 

The sense of a deja-vu dispassion is rendered well here by Dorothy Parker. (Temps Perdu of course, meaning 'lost time'.)
 


Temps Perdu - Dorothy Parker

I never may turn the loop of a road
Where sudden, ahead, the sea is lying,
But my heart drags down with an ancient load-
My heart, that a second before was flying.

I never behold the quivering rain-
And sweeter the rain than a lover to me-
But my heart is wild in my breast with pain;
My heart, that was tapping contentedly.

There’s never a rose spreads new at my door
Nor a strange bird crosses the moon at night
But I know I have known its beauty before,
And a terrible sorrow along with the sight.

The look of a laurel tree birthed for May
Or a sycamore bared for a new November
Is as old and as sad as my furtherest day-
What is it, what is it, I almost remember?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Day 844: Mean Time



Mean Time - Carol Ann Duffy

The clocks slid back an hour
and stole light from my life
as I walked through the wrong part of town,
mourning our love.
And, of course, unmendable rain
fell to the bleak streets
where I felt my heart gnaw
at all our mistakes.

If the darkening sky could lift
more than one hour from this day
there are words I would never have said
nor heard you say.

But we will be dead, as we know,
beyond all light.
These are the shortened days
and the endless nights.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Day 843: Poem for People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read a Poem



I love how this poem says to non-poetry readers: 'hey, look what you're missing!' How poetry can transform all of the ordinary mundane stuff we take for granted into colourful wonder. It's worth getting to the end for the revelation. Heady, but true. 
 

Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read A Poem - Stephen Dunn

Relax. This won't last long.
Or if it does, or if the lines
make you sleepy or bored,
give in to sleep, turn on
the T.V., deal the cards.
This poem is built to withstand
such things. Its feelings
cannot be hurt. They exist
somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.
Pick it up anytime. Start it
in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like. Look,
there's a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he'll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you're busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it's sex you've always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party's unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don't think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this
is a poem for the entire family.
Right now, Budweiser
is dripping from a waterfall,
deodorants are hissing into armpits
of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
saying farewell.
I don't know what music this poem
can come up with, but clearly
it's needed. For it's apparent
they will never see each other again
and we need music for this
because there was never music when he or she
left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I'll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don't give anything for this poem.
It doesn't expect much. It will never say more
than listening can explain.
Just keep it in your attache case
or in your house. And if you're not asleep
by now, or bored beyond sense,
the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at
yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry.
Come on:

Good. Now here's what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There's an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You're beautiful for as long as you live.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Day 842: The Moon Addresses Her Reflection


I'm feeling in a moon mood recently. Hard not to when there's a beautiful moon hanging in the sky right now! Here's another lovely musing on it from magical wordsmith Ali Smith.



The Moon Addresses Her Reflection - Alice Oswald

In this floating world, in this floating world,
you are a kind of nothingness and far less fine than a tiger
and I inhabit one of the jagged disassembled islands.

If you so wish, you can find me
up a high rock in the wind,
discreet of foot, claws in a glove, just
rubbing my yew-burr knees.

I have a moon's task - staring at seas.

Women and men, like dolphins,
fluke and sound, pushing their lives above the waves.

But you and I, who know each other's nothingness,
are lonely, like the blues beyond 
(the sea-ghost turning its mirrors under the sky-ghost).

And with huge care, closer and closer,
if we so wish we could
deliberately condense our lightness
into the weights and disciplines of love.

Or you can leave me,
powerful on my rock
and as you go, reduce me to a moon.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Day 841: Man in the Moon


Can you see the man in the moon? The face that is - the two dark smudges of eyes, a nose, and an O-shaped mouth? 

Sylvia Plath saw the face memorably as 'quiet with the O-gape of complete despair' in her poem The Moon and the Yew Tree. Billy Collins shares his changing views on it here, from lonely to melancholy. I just love the last line so lovely in its pleasantly surprising idea, its indication of brimming emotion - 'the round mouth open/as if he had just broken into song.' Ahh.



The Man in the Moon - Billy Collins

He used to frighten me in the nights
of childhood, the wide adult face, enormous, stern, aloft
I could not imagine such loneliness, such coldness.

But tonight as I drive home over these hilly roads
I see him sinking behind stands of winter trees
And rising again to show his familiar face.

And when he comes into full view over open fields
he looks like a young man who has fallen in love
with the dark earth,

a pale bachelor, well-groomed and full of melancholy
his round mouth open
as if he had just broken into song.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Day 840: Silver


Tonight is November's full moon, known as the frosty moon, the brightest and whitest moon of the year. I think this poem by Walter de la Mare captures its magic well, magically.



Silver - Walter de la Mare

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Day 839: Waiting for My Life



If there's one thing I love about the constant seeking out of poems for this blog it's the occasional great new poet finds. And one such poet is: Linda Pastan. Is this poem not perfect in its exposition, its imprinting of a vague notion into a tangible truth? 'Sometimes my life coughed and coughed: a stalled car about to catch' - is there a line more perfect? The whole poem startles, stuns, soothes.

 
Waiting For My Life - Linda Pastan

I waited for my life to start
for years, standing at bus stops
looking into the curved distance
thinking each bus was the wrong bus;
or lost in books where I would travel
without luggage from one page
to another; where the only breeze
was the rustle of pages turning,
and lives rose and set
in the violent colors of suns.

Sometimes my life coughed and coughed:
a stalled car about to catch,
and I would hold someone in my arms,
though it was always someone else I wanted.
Or I would board any bus, jostled
by thighs and elbows that knew
where they were going; collecting scraps
of talk, setting them down like bird song
in my notebook, where someday I would go
prospecting for my life.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Day 838: Hello November

 

November is such a maligned month isn't it? The bringer of dark and cold.  As Longfellow says of it here, 'I shroud myself in gloom; and to the race of mortals bring nor comfort nor delight.'  This is a feeling that is reflected in a lot of poems about November which I will be sharing here this month. But, some of them shimmer with a little of the month's magic too: starry nights, bright moons, first snows.  Stay tuned for a seasonal synopsis.


November (from The Poet's Calendar) - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 
The Centaur, Sagittarius, am I,
  Born of Ixion's and the cloud's embrace;
With sounding hoofs across the earth I fly,
  A steed Thessalian with a human face.
Sharp winds the arrows are with which I chase
  The leaves, half dead already with affright;
I shroud myself in gloom; and to the race
  Of mortals bring nor comfort nor delight.