Friday, May 28, 2010

Design Change

I have changed our design. I hope you like it. Change is sometimes good!!!

The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock - T.S. Eliot

S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo

The above is a passage from Dante Alighieri's Inferno (Canto 27, lines 61-66) spoken by Guido da Montefeltro in response to the questions of Dante, who Guido supposes is dead, since he is in Hell:. The flame in which Guido is encased vibrates as he speaks: "If I thought that that I was replying to someone who would ever return to the world, this flame would cease to flicker. But since no one ever returns from these depths alive, if what I've heard is true, I will answer you without fear of infamy."

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 (8) 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 that 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.

Slapstick

by Wislawa Szymborska

(ed note: I cannot get enough of this poet)

If there are angels,
I doubt they read
our novels
concerning thwarted hopes.

I'm afraid, alas,
they never touch the poems
that bear our grudges against the world.

The rantings and railings
of our plays
must drive them, I suspect,
to distraction.

Off-duty, between angelic---
i.e., inhuman---occupations,
they watch instead
our slapstick
from the age of silent film.

To our dirge wailers,
garment renders
and teeth gnashers,
they prefer, I suppose,
that poor devil
who grabs the drowning man by his toupee
or, starving, devours his own shoelaces
with gusto.

From the waist up, starch and aspirations;
below, a startled mouse
runs down his trousers.
I'm sure
that's what they call real entertainment.

A crazy chase in circles
ends up pursuing the pursuer.
The light at the end of the tunnel
turns out to be a tiger's eye.
A hundred disasters
mean a hundred comic somersaults
turned over a hundred abysses.

If there are angels,
they must, I hope,
find this convincing,
this merriment dangling from terror,
not even crying Save me Save me
since all of this takes place in silence.

I can even imagine
that they clap their wings
and tears run from their eyes
from laughter, if nothing else.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

True Love

by Wislawa Szymborska
from view with a grain of sand

True love. Is it normal?
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
drawn randomly from millions, but
convinced it had to happen this way---in reward for what?
For nothing.
The light descends from nowhere.
Why on these two and not on others?
Doesn't this outrage justice?
Yes it does.
Doesn't it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles
and cast the moral from the peak?
Yes on both accounts.

Look at the happy couple.
Couldn't they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends' sake?
Listen to them laughing---it's an insult.
The language they use---deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the eleborate mutual routines---
it's obviously a plot behind the human race's back!

It's hard to even guess how far things might go
if people start to follow their example.
What could religion and poetry count on?
What would be remembered?
What renounced?
Who'd want to stay within bounds?

True love.
Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there's no such thing.

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

(note: I've just discovered this poet - what a gold mine)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Deal with the Press

by Wendy Cope

(Ha - this one made me laugh given the RC news lately)

She'll urge you to confide. Resist.
Be careful, courteous, and cool.
Never trust a journalist.

"We're off the record," she'll insist.
If you believe her, you're a fool.
She'll urge you to confide. Resist.

Should you tell her who you've kissed,
You'll see it all in print, and you'll
Never turst a journalist.

Again. The words are hers to twist,
And yours the risk of ridicule.
She'll urge you to confide. Resist.

"But X is nice," the publicist
Will tell you. "We were friends at school."
Never trust a journalist.

Hostile, friendly, sober, pissed,
Male or female--that's the rule.
When tempted to confide, resist.
Never trust a journalist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunday Evening June 1985

One of mine- Way below the quality of the other ones posted here -

Stillness in the leaves,
And fireflies flicker
On the shadowed lawn.

Children call,
The last bird answers
Softly from the oak.

We lie on porch swings
To catch the feeble breeze,
Our bodies resting now, and heavy.

Here, for a time,
Suspended in the golden dusk of summer,
We float in languid peace.

True Love

by Wislawa Szymborska
from view with a grain of sand

True love. Is it normal.
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
drawn randomly from millions, but convinced
it had to happen this way---in reward for what?
For nothing.
The light descends from nowhere.
Why on these two and not on others?
Doesn't this outrage justice? Yes it does.
Doesn't it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles
and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts.

Look at the happy couple.
Couldn't they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends' sake?
Listen to them laughing---it's an insult.
The language they use---deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the eleborate mutual routines---
it's obviously a plot behind the human race's back!

It's hard to even guess how far things might go
if people start to follow their example.
What could religion and poetry count on?
What would be remembered? What renounced?
Who'd want to stay within bounds?

True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there's no such thing.

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

First Year Teacher to His Students

First Year Teacher to His Students - by Gary J. Whitehead

Go now into summer, into the backs of cars,
into the black maws of your own changing,
onto the boardwalks of a thousand splinters,
onto the beaches of a hundred fond memories
in wait, where the sea in all its indefatigability
stammers at the invitation. Go to your vacation,

to the late morning cool of your basement rooms,
the honeysuckle evening of the first kiss, the first
dip and pivot, swivel and twist. Go to where
the clipper ships sail far upriver, where the salmon
swim in the clean, cool pools just to spawn.
Wake to what the spider unspools into a silver

dawn dripping with light. Sleep in sleeping bags,
sleep in sand, sleep at someone else's house
in a land you've never been, where the dreamers
dream in a language you only half understand.
Slip beneath the sheets, slide toward the plate,
swing beneath the bandstand where the secret

things await. Be glad, or be sad if you want,
but be, and be a part of all that marches past
like a parade, and wade through it or swim in it
or dive in it with your eyes open and your mind
open to wind, rain, long days of sun and longer
nights of city lights mixing on wet streets like paint.

Stay up so late that you forget day-of-the-week,
week-of-the-month, month-of-the-year of what
might be the best summer, the summer
best remembered by the scar, or by the taste
you'll never now forget of someone's lips,
and the trips you took---there, there, there,

where snow still slept atop some alpine peak,
or where the moon rose so low you could see
its tranquil seas...and all your life it'll be like
some familiar body that stayed with you one night,
one summer, one year, when you were young,
and how everywhere you walked, it followed.

"First Year Teacher to His Students" by Gary J. Whitehead, from Measuring Cubits While the Thunder Claps. © David Robert Brooks, 2008

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ode

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881)

Window Poems - 10

by Wendell Berry

Rising, the river
is wild. There is no end
to what one may imagine
whose lands and buildings
lie in its reach. To one
who has felt his little boat
taken this way and that
in the braided currents
it is beyond speech.
"What's the river doing?"
'Coming up.'
In Port Royal, that brings
a submergence of minds.
Heads are darkened.
To the man at work
though the mornings
in the long-legged cabin
above the water, there is
an influence of the rise
that he feels in his footsoles
and in his belly
even while he thinks
of something else. The window
looks out, like a word,
up on the wordless, fact
dissolving into mystery, darkness
overtaking light.
And the water reaches a height
it can only fall from, leaving
the tree trunks wet.
It has made a roof
to its rising, and become
a domestic thing.
It lies down in its place
like a horse in his stall.
Facts emerge from it:
drift it has hung in the trees,
stranded cans and bottles,
new carving in the banks
---a place of change, changed.
It leaves a mystic plane
in the air, a membrane
of history stretched between
the silt-lines on the banks,
a depth that for months
the man will go from his window
down into, knowing
he goes within the reach
of a dark power: where
the birds are, fish
were.