Monday, December 24, 2012

The Oxen

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
    "Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
    By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
    They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
    To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
    In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
    "Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
    Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
    Hoping it might be so.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Second Coming

THE SECOND COMING - William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Truly Great

The Truly Great BY STEPHEN SPENDER

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fĂȘted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

 Stephen Spender, “The Truly Great” from Collected Poems 1928-1953.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This World Is Not Conclusion by Emily Dickinson

this world is not conclusion
a species stands beyond -
invisible, as music -
but positive as sound -

it beckons, and it baffles
philosophy - don't know -
and through a riddle, at the last -
sagacity must go -

to guess it, puzzles scholars -
to gain it, men have borne
contempt of generations
and crucifixion, shown -

faith slips - and laughs, and rallies -
blushes, if any see -
plucks at a twig of evidence -
and asks a vane, the way -

much gesture, from the pulpit -
strong hallelujahs roll -
narcotics cannot still the tooth
that nibbles at the soul -

"This World Is Not Conclusion" by Emily Dickinson. Public domain.

Today is the birthday of "the Belle of Amherst":Emily Dickinson, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on this date (1830). She spent most of her adult life in her corner bedroom in her father's house. The room contained a writing table, a dresser, a Franklin stove, a clock, a ruby decanter, and pictures on the wall of three writers: George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Thomas Carlyle. Her favorite author was Shakespeare. She eventually wrote more than 1,700 poems. In the year 1862 alone, she wrote 366 poems — about one per day.
Most people think of Emily Dickinson as a slightly odd recluse, but she was in fact very outgoing in her younger years. As she became more passionate about writing poetry, she went out less and devoted her life to her verses. Over the years, scholars have come up with a lot of theories for her growing reclusiveness. Some believe it was because she was nursing a mysteriously broken heart, others think she was a closeted lesbian, and still others think she suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder. One biographer speculates that she may have suffered from epilepsy.
Emily Dickinson said: "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."

Thanks to The Writers Almanac 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Will you be my friend?


Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should:
I'm sometimes sullen, often shy, acutely sensitive,
My fear erupts as anger, I find it hard to give,
I talk about myself when I'm afraid
And often spend a day without anything to say.
    But I will make you laugh
    And love you quite a bit
    And hold you when you're sad.
I cry a little almost every day
Because I'm more caring than the strangers ever know,
And, if at times, I show my tender side
(The soft and warmer part I hide)
I wonder,
    Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who far beyond the feebleness of any vow or tie
Will touch the secret place where I am really I,
To know the pain of lips that plead and eyes that weep,
Who will not run away when you find me in the street
Alone and lying mangled by my quota of defeats
But will stop and stay - to tell me of another day
    When I was beautiful.
Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should:
Often I'm too serious, seldom predictably the same,
Sometimes cold and distant, probably I'll always change.
I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child.
I brood and pout, my anger can be wild,
    But I will make you laugh
    And love you quite a bit
    And be near when you're afraid.
I shake a little almost every day
Because I'm more frightened than the strangers ever know
And if at times I show my trembling side
(The anxious, fearful part I hide)
I wonder,
    Will you be my friend?
A friend
Who, when I fear your closeness, feels me push away
And stubbornly will stay to share what's left on such a day,
Who, when no one knows my name or calls me on the phone,
When there's no concern for me - what I have or haven't done -
And those I've helped and counted on have, oh so deftly, run,
Who, when there's nothing left but me, stripped of charm and subtlety,
Will nonetheless remain.
Will you be my friend?
For no reason that I know
Except I want you so.

---James Kavanaugh

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Poem of the One World

Poem of the One World by Mary Oliver 

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water
and then into the sky of this
the one world we all belong to
where everything sooner or later
is a part of everything else
which thought made me feel
for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

"Poem of the One world" by Mary Oliver, from A Thousand Mornings. © The Penguin Press, 2012.

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket,
Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.
Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first
just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray'd hair,
and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?
Then to the second I step--and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third--a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of
beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you--I think this face is the face of
the Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.