Friday, September 28, 2012

Sean Connery Reads C.P. Cavafy’s Epic Poem “Ithaca"

Sean Connery Reads C.P. Cavafy’s Epic Poem “Ithaca,” Set to the Music of Vangelis


...Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Genes by Sharon Dunn

Genes by Sharon Dunn

My eleven year son wants to fish,
he owns two rods, one saltwater,
one freshwater. He loves knives,
Bowie knives, Swiss Army
knives, "Knives like this one?"
my brother says, opening his desk
drawer and taking out a small
jackknife with antler handle.
My boy camps outdoors, begs to sleep
outside, is always shooting
arrows, rubber band guns,
he is lashing together a fort
in the backyard. He sails,
swims, kayaks and wants
to know the stars.
The outdoor hunting genes
are in the dark men in my family.
Yet I believe he is a son of light.
His joy in reading, cooking
and piano are fanned
from the tinderbox
of his father's heart.
He will save rainforest,
he will grow vegetables,
keep horses, fly his own plane.
He will make his own brave life,
he will not remake our lives
nor redeem us, nor pity us.

"Genes" by Sharon Dunn, from Refugees in the Garden: A Memoir in Poems. © The Rose Press, 2009.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When I Buy Pictures

When I Buy Pictures by Marianne Moore

or what is closer to the truth,
when I look at that of which I may regard myself as the  
   imaginary possessor,
I fix upon what would give me pleasure in my average  
   moments:
the satire upon curiousity in which no more is discernible

   than the intensity of the mood;
or quite the opposite--the old thing, the medieval
   decorated hat-box,
in which there are hounds with waists diminishing like the
   waist of the hour-glass,
and deer and birds and seated people;
it may be no more than a square of parquetry; the literal
   biography perhaps,
in letters standing well apart upon a parchment-like
   expanse;
an artichoke in six varieties of blue; the snipe-legged
   hieroglyphic in three parts;
the silver fence protecting Adam's grave, or Michael taking
   Adam by the wrist.
Too stern an intellectual emphasis upon this quality or
   that detracts from one's enjoyment.
It must not wish to disarm anything; nor may the
   approved triumph easily be honored--
that which is great because something else is small.
It comes to this: of whatever sort it is,
it must be "lit with piercing glances into the life of things";
it must acknowledge the spiritual forces which have
   made it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thomas Lynch

Refusing at Fifty-two to Write Sonnets

It came to him that he could nearly count
How many late Aprils he had left to him
In increments of ten or, say, eleven
Thus:sixty-three, seventy-four, eighty-five.
He couldn’t see himself at ninety-six –
Humanity’s advances notwithstanding
In health-care, self-help, or new-age regimens –
What with his habits and family history,
The end he thought is nearer than you think.
The future, thereby bound to its contingencies,
The present moment opens like a gift:
The greening month, the golden week, the blue morning,
The hour’s routine, the minute’s passing glance –
All seem like godsends now. And what to make of this?
At the end the word that comes to him is Thanks.

A Pot of Red Lentils

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way—
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.

"A Pot of Red Lentils" by Peter Pereira, from Saying the World. © Copper Canyon Press, 2003.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson Nature XXVII, Autumn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hoses by George Bilgere

Hoses

I love the hoses of summer
hanging in their green coils
from the sides of houses,
or slithering through lawns
on their way to the cool
meditations of sprinklers.

I think of my father, scotch
in one hand, the dripping hose
in the other, probing the dusk
with water, the world
around him falling apart,
marriage crumbling, booze
running the show.

Still, he liked to walk out
after dinner and water the lawn,
fiddling with the nozzle,
misting this, showering that.

Sometimes, in the hot twilight,
my sisters and I would run
in our swimsuits through the yard
while he followed us
with a cold beam of water.

And once, when my mother
came out to watch, he turned
the hose on her, the two of them
laughing in a way we'd never heard,
a laughter that must have brought them
back to the beginning.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Destruction Of Sennacherib by George Gordon Byron

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen;
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal


Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaƫ to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Swan - Mary Oliver

The Swan by Mary Oliver

Across the wide waters
something comes
floating—a slim
and delicate

ship, filled
with white flowers—
and it moves
on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn't exist,
as though bringing such gifts
to the dry shore
was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.
And now it turns its dark eyes,
it rearranges
the clouds of its wings,

it trails
an elaborate webbed foot,
the color of charcoal.
Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do
when that poppy-colored beak
rests in my hand?
Said Mrs. Blake of the poet:

I miss my husband's company—
he is so often
in paradise.
Of course! the path to heaven

doesn't lie down in flat miles.
It's in the imagination
with which you perceive
this world,

and the gestures
with which you honor it.
Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when those
white wings
touch the shore?

"The Swan" by Mary Oliver, from Winter Hours. © Houghton Mifflin, 1999.

Death Be Not Proud

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne

The poem (and that first line) has been the inspiration for several inspirational works in more recent literary history. John Gunther wrote a memoir entitled Death Be Not Proud, which centers around the life and death of his son. Margaret Edson also used the poem to great dramatic effect in her play Wit.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1, 1939

From The Writers Almanac: On this date in 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and WWII began. W.H. Auden wrote a famous poem about this day, called "September 1, 1939."

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade;
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
Find what huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I
  will 
  be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.