Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September

September

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn

"September" by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

She Comes Not When Noon Is On The Roses

SHE COMES NOT WHEN NOON IS ON THE ROSES
By Herbert Trench

She comes not when Noon is on the roses--
Too bright is Day.
She comes not to the Soul till it reposes
From work and play.

But when Night is on the hills, and the great Voices
Roll in from Sea,
By starlight and by candlelight and dreamlight
She comes to me.  

See my site for A Month in The Country

Charm - Rupert Brooke

In darkness the loud sea makes moan;
And earth is shaken, and all evils creep
About her ways.
Oh, now to know you sleep!
Out of the whirling blinding moil, alone,
Out of the slow grim fight,
One thought to wing -- to you, asleep,
In some cool room that's open to the night
Lying half-forward, breathing quietly,
One white hand on the white
Unrumpled sheet, and the ever-moving hair
Quiet and still at length! . . .

Your magic and your beauty and your strength,
Like hills at noon or sunlight on a tree,
Sleeping prevail in earth and air.

In the sweet gloom above the brown and white
Night benedictions hover; and the winds of night
Move gently round the room, and watch you there.
And through the dreadful hours
The trees and waters and the hills have kept
The sacred vigil while you slept,
And lay a way of dew and flowers
Where your feet, your morning feet, shall tread.
And still the darkness ebbs about your bed.
Quiet, and strange, and loving-kind, you sleep.
And holy joy about the earth is shed;
And holiness upon the deep.

Ode to Solitude


Alexander Pope, 1688-1744.

ODE ON SOLITUDE

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Read by Ruth on the death of Roz on the BBC's Spooks

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Night Journey - Rupert Brooke

The Night Journey - Rupert Brooke

HANDS and lit faces eddy to a line;
The dazed last minutes click; the clamour dies.
Beyond the great-swung arc o’ the roof, divine,
Night, smoky-scarv’d, with thousand coloured eyes

Glares the imperious mystery of the way.
Thirsty for dark, you feel the long-limbed train
Throb, stretch, thrill motion, slide, pull out and sway,
Strain for the far, pause, draw to strength again.…

As a man, caught by some great hour, will rise,
Slow-limbed, to meet the light or find his love;
And, breathing long, with staring sightless eyes,
Hands out, head back, agape and silent, move

Sure as a flood, smooth as a vast wind blowing;
And, gathering power and purpose as he goes,
Unstumbling, unreluctant, strong, unknowing,
Borne by a will not his, that lifts, that grows,

Sweep out to darkness, triumphing in his goal,
Out of the fire, out of the little room.…
—There is an end appointed, O my soul!
Crimson and green the signals burn; the gloom

Is hung with steam’s far-blowing livid streamers.
Lost into God, as lights in light, we fly,
Grown one with will, end-drunken huddled dreamers.
The white lights roar. The sounds of the world die.

And lips and laughter are forgotten things.
Speed sharpens; grows. Into the night, and on,
The strength and splendour of our purpose swings.
The lamps fade; and the stars. We are alone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Ordinary Weather of Summer

The Ordinary Weather of Summer (The Writer's Almanac)
by Linda Pastan

In the ordinary weather of summer
with storms rumbling from west to east
like so many freight trains hauling
their cargo of heat and rain,
the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,
insects assemble at every window,
and we quarrel again, bombarding
each other with small grievances,
our tempers flashing on and off
in bursts of heat lightning.
In the cooler air of morning,
we drink our coffee amicably enough
and walk down to the sea
which seems to tremble with meaning
and into which we plunge again and again.
The days continue hot.
At dusk the shadows are as blue
as the lips of the children stained
with berries or with the chill
of too much swimming.
So we move another summer closer
to our last summer together—
a time as real and implacable as the sea
out of which we come walking
on wobbly legs as if for the first time,
drying ourselves with rough towels,
shaking the water out of our blinded eyes.

"The Ordinary Weather of Summer" by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998. © W.W. Norton & Company, 1998.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When Summer's Night Is Ending

XXXIX (from Last Poems) - A.E. Housman
(Ed Note: For My Brother)


When summer's end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here's an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer's parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Custer -by David Shumate 

He is a hard one to write a poem about. Like Napolean.
Hannibal. Genghis Khan. Already so large in history. To do it
right, I have to sit down with him. At a place of his own
choosing. Probably a steakhouse. We take a table in a corner.
But people still recognize him, come up and slap him on the
back, say how much they enjoyed studying about him in school
and ask for his autograph. After he eats, he leans back and
lights up a cigar and asks me what I want to know. Notebook in
hand, I suggest that we start with the Little Big Horn and work
our way back. But I realize I have offended him. That he
would rather take it the other way around. So he rants on
about the Civil War, the way west, the loyalty of good soldiers
and now and then twists his long yellow hair with his fingers.
But when he gets to the part about Sitting Bull, about Crazy
Horse, he develops a twitch above his right eye, raises his
finger for the waiter, excuses himself and goes to the restroom
while I sit there along the bluffs with the entire Sioux nation,
awaiting his return.

"Custer" by David Shumate, from High Water Mark. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004. Reprinted with permission.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Philip Larkin - Poet Laureate

"HE WOULD NEVER USE ONE WORD WHERE NONE WOULD DO"

If you said "Nice day," he would look up
at the three clouds riding overhead,
nod at each, and go back to doing what-
ever he was doing or not doing.
If you asked for a smoke or a light,
he'd hand you whatever he found
in his pockets: a jackknife, a hankie --
usually unsoiled -- a dollar bill,
a subway token. Once he gave me
half the sandwich he was eating
at the little outdoor restaurant
on La Guardia Place. I remember
a single sparrow was perched on the back
of his chair, and when he held out
a piece of bread on his open palm,
the bird snatched it up and went back to
its place without even a thank you,
one hard eye staring at my bad eye
as though I were next. That was in May
of '97, spring had come late,
but the sun warmed both of us for hours
while silence prevailed, if you can call
the blaring of taxi horns and the trucks
fighting for parking and the kids on skates
streaming past silence. My friend Frankie
was such a comfort to me that year,
the year of the crisis. He would turn
up his great dark head just going gray
until his eyes met mine, and that was all
I needed to go on talking nonsense
as he sat patiently waiting me out,
the bird staring over his shoulder.
"Silence is silver," my Zaydee had said,
getting it wrong and right, just as he said
"Water is thicker than blood," thinking
this made him a real American.
Frankie was already American,
being half German, half Indian.
Fact is, silence is the perfect water:
unlike rain it falls from no clouds
to wash our minds, to ease our tired eyes,
to give heart to the thin blades of grass
fighting through the concrete for even air
dirtied by our endless stream of words. [bolding mine]

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Round

The Round - by Stanley Kunitz - Thanks to NPR

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
and still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed..."

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

"The Round" by Stanley Kunitz, from The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz. © W.W. Norton, 2000. Reprinted with permission