Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Forsyte Saga

From The Forsyte Saga - PBS: Old Jolyon's eulogy -- At his father's funeral, young Jolyon recites the following lines from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, Sc. 2, Act 4:

Fear no more the heat of the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and taken thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown of the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke.
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After Our Daughter's Wedding

After Our Daughter's Wedding - by Ellen Bass

While the remnants of cake
and half-empty champagne glasses
lay on the lawn like sunbathers lingering
in the slanting light, we left the house guests
and drove to Antonelli's pond.
On a log by the bank I sat in my flowered dress and cried.
A lone fisherman drifted by, casting his ribbon of light.
"Do you feel like you've given her away?" you asked.
But no, it was that she made it
to here, that she didn't
drown in a well or die
of pneumonia or take the pills.
She wasn't crushed
under the mammoth wheels of a semi
on highway 17, wasn't found
lying in the alley
that night after rehearsal
when I got the time wrong.
It's animal. The egg
not eaten by a weasel. Turtles
crossing the beach, exposed
in the moonlight. And we
have so few to start with.
And that long gestation—
like carrying your soul out in front of you.
All those years of feeding
and watching. The vulnerable hollow
at the back of the neck. Never knowing
what could pick them off—a seagull
swooping down for a clam.
Our most basic imperative:
for them to survive.
And there's never been a moment
we could count on it.

"After Our Daughter's Wedding" by Ellen Bass from Mules of Love. © BOA Editions, 2002. Reprinted with permission

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Fields - W. S. Merwin

The Fields -- by W. S. Merwin

Saturday on Seventh Street
full-waisted gray-haired women in Sunday sweaters
moving through the tan shades of their booths
bend over cakes they baked at home
they gaze down onto the sleep of stuffed cabbages
they stir with huge spoons sauerkraut and potato dumplings
cooked as those dishes were cooked on deep
misty plains among the sounds of horses
beside fields of black earth on the other side of the globe
that only the oldest think they remember
looking down from their windows into the world
where everybody is now

none of the young has yet wept at the smell
of cabbages
those leaves all face
none of the young after long journeys
weeks in vessels
and staring at strange coasts through fog in first light
has been recognized by the steam of sauerkraut
that is older than anyone living
so on the street they play the music
of what they do not remember
they sing of places they have not known
they dance in new costumes under the windows
in the smell of cabbages from fields
nobody has seen

"The Fields" by W.S. Merwin from Migration: New & Selected Poems.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lessons by Pat Schneider

Lessons by Pat Schneider

I have learned
that life goes on,
or doesn't.
That days are measured out
in tiny increments
as a woman in a kitchen
measures teaspoons
of cinnamon, vanilla,
or half a cup of sugar
into a bowl.

I have learned
that moments are as precious as nutmeg,
and it has occurred to me
that busy interruptions
are like tiny grain moths,
or mice.
They nibble, pee, and poop,
or make their little worms and webs
until you have to throw out the good stuff
with the bad.

It took two deaths
and coming close myself
for me to learn
that there is not an infinite supply
of good things in the pantry.

Thanks to The Writers Almanac