Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

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Fringe-Cups – Lithophragma parviflora – April 16, 2014 – at Hill Farm

AN EASTER CAROL

 

Spring bursts to-day,

For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.

Flash forth, thou Sun,

The rain is over and gone, its work is done.

Winter is past,

Sweet Spring is come at last, is come at last.

Bud, Fig and Vine,

Bud, Olive, fat with fruit and oil and wine.

Break forth this morn

In roses, thou but yesterday a Thorn.

Uplift thy head,

O pure white Lily through the Winter dead.

Beside your dams

Leap and rejoice, you merry-making Lambs.

All Herds and Flocks

Rejoice, all Beasts of thickets and of rocks.

Sing, Creatures, sing,

Angels and Men and Birds and everything.

All notes of Doves

Fill all our world: this is the time of loves.

 

~ Christina Rossetti

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Meadow Pasqueflower – Pulsatilla pratensis ssp. nigricans – April 8, 2014 – at UBC Botanical Garden

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"The Pet Lamb" - William Henry Lippincott (1849-1920)

“The Pet Lamb” – William Henry Lippincott (1849-1920)

A Child’s Pet

When I sailed out of Baltimore,

With twice a thousand head of sheep,

They would not eat, they would not drink,

But bleated o’er the deep.

Inside the pens we crawled each day

To sort the living from the dead;

And when we reached the Mersey’s mouth

Had lost five hundred head.

Yet every night and day one sheep,

That had no fear of man or sea

Stuck through the bars its pleading face,

And it was stroked by me.

And to the sheep-men standing near,

‘You see,’ I said, ‘this one tame sheep?

It seems a child has lost her pet,

And cried herself to sleep.’

So every time we passed it by

Sailing to England’s slaughterhouse,

Eight ragged sheep-men — tramps and thieves —

Would stroke that sheep’s black nose.

W.H. Davies ~ 1919

 

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valentine 1

To My Valentine

More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
That’s how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That’s how you’re loved by me.

Ogden Nash

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TO A YOUNG WRETCH

(Boethian)

As gay for you to take your father’s ax
As take his gun – rod – to go hunting – fishing.
You nick my spruce until its fiber cracks,
It gives up standing straight and goes down swishing.
You link arm in its arm and you lean
Across the light snow homeward smelling green.

I could have bought you just as good a tree
To frizzle resin in a candle flame,
And what a saving it would have meant to me.
But tree by charity is not the same
As tree by enterprise and expedition.
I must not spoil your Christmas with contrition.

It is your Christmases against my woods.
But even where, thus, opposing interests kill,
They are to be thought of as opposing goods
Oftener than as conflicting good and evil;
Which makes the war god seem no special dunce
For always fighting on both sides at once.

And though in tinsel chain and popcorn rope
My tree, a captive in your window bay,
Has lost its footing on my mountain slope
And lost the stars of heaven, may, oh, may
The symbol star it lifts against your ceiling
Help me accept its fate with Christmas feeling.

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And here, to bookend “Christmas Trees”, as it were, is Robert Frost’s commentary on a tree that was cut down. This poem was sent out as his Christmas greeting  to his friends in 1937, and was included in A Witness Tree, published in 1942.

The subtitle “Boethian” refers to the Roman philosopher Boethius and his belief that humans often fail to recognize evil as part of a divine whole; we see only the immediate occurrence, and not its part in the greater scheme of things.  In this instance, Frost relates the immediate evil – the cutting down of the tree – to the greater thing, that of the celebration of the Christmas festival.

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CHRISTMAS TREES

???????????????????????????????The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

A Christmas circular letter

Sent out by Robert Frost to his friends, 1929

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COOL TOMBS

When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs he forgot the copperheads and the assassin . . . in the dust, in the cool tombs.

And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall Street, cash and collateral turned ashes . . . in the dust, in the cool tombs.

Pocahontas’ body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw in November or a pawpaw in May, did she wonder? does she remember? . . . in the dust, in the cool tombs?

Take any streetful of people buying clothes and groceries, cheering a hero or throwing confetti and blowing tin horns . . . tell me if the lovers are losers . . . tell me if any get more than the lovers . . . in the dust . . . in the cool tombs.

by Carl Sandburg, Cornhuskers, 1918

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The Forecast

Perhaps our age has driven us indoors.

We sprawl in the semi-darkness, dreaming sometimes

Of a vague world spinning in the wind.

But we have snapped our locks, pulled down our shades,

Taken all precautions. We shall not be disturbed.

If the earth shakes, it will be on a screen;

And if the prairie wind spills down our streets

And covers us with leaves, the weatherman will tell us.

Dan Jaffe, 1964

From the anthology Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle… and other modern verse

(November, 2013. Apropos the happenings in the wider world of late.)

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Worthy of note this morning is the release of the Nominees for Canada’s annual GG Literary Awards, and an interesting line-up it is. Being a bit behind the curve regarding new releases in general, the only one of these I’ve had a glance at is this one:

Cover: Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page by Sandra DjwaJourney with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page

by Sandra Djwa, nominated in Non-Fiction

Here’s the link to the full list.

 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award Nominees

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Delphiniums in the nursery garden, Hill Farm, July 7, 2013

Delphiniums in the nursery garden, Hill Farm, July 7, 2013

FRAGMENTARY BLUE

Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

~ Robert Frost, 1920

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 Happy summer, my fellow reading friends!

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Colors passing through us

 

Purple as tulips in May, mauve

into lush velvet, purple

as the stain blackberries leave

on the lips, on the hands,

the purple of ripe grapes

unlit and warm as flesh.

 

Every day I will give you a color,

like a new flower in a bud vase

on your desk. Every day

I will paint you, as women

color each other with henna

on hands and on feet.

 

Red as henna, as cinnamon,

as coals after the fire is banked,

the cardinal in the feeder,

the roses tumbling on the arbor

their weight bending the wood

the red of the syrup I make from petals.

 

Orange as the perfumed fruit

hanging their globes on the glossy tree,

orange as pumpkins in the field,

orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs

who come to eat it, orange as my

cat running lithe through the high grass.

 

Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,

yellow as a hill of daffodils,

yellow as dandelions by the highway,

yellow as butter and egg yolks,

yellow as a school bus stopping you,

yellow as a slicker in a downpour.

 

Here is my bouquet, here is a sing

song of all the things you make

me think of, here is oblique

praise for the height and depth

of you and the width too.

Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.

 

Green as mint jelly, green

as a frog on a lily pad twanging,

the green of cos lettuce upright

about to bolt into opulent towers,

green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear

glass, green as wine bottles.

 

Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,

bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,

blue as Saga. Blue as still water.

Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.

Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring

azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.

 

Cobalt as the midnight sky

when day has gone without a trace

and we lie in each other’s arms

eyes shut and fingers open

and all the colors of the world

pass through our bodies like strings of fire.

 

Marge Piercy ~ Southern California Anthology ~ 1999

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