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Archive for the ‘Bookshelf’ Category

Poppies in October

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.

Nor the woman in the ambulance

Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly –

 

A gift, a love gift

Utterly unasked for

By a sky

 

Palely and flamily

Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes

Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

 

O my god, what am I

That these late mouths should cry open

In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

 

~ Sylvia Plath, from Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 1992)

 

"Oriental Poppies" by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)

“Oriental Poppies” by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)

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The Ghost

SOFTLY as brown-eyed Angels rove

I will return to thy alcove,

And glide upon the night to thee,

Treading the shadows silently.

 

And I will give to thee, my own,

Kisses as icy as the moon,

And the caresses of a snake

Cold gliding in the thorny brake.

 

And when returns the livid morn

Thou shalt find all my place forlorn

And chilly, till the falling night.

 

Others would rule by tenderness

Over thy life and youthfulness,

But I would conquer thee by fright!

 

~ Charles Baudelaire

 

"William and Margaret from Percy's 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry'" by Joseph Wright of Derby, circa 1785

“William and Margaret from Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry” by Joseph Wright of Derby, circa 1785

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Falltime

Gold of a ripe oat straw, gold of a southwest moon,

Canada-thistle blue and flimmering larkspur blue,

Tomatoes shining in the October sun with red hearts,

Shining five and six in a row on a wooden fence,

Why do you keep wishes on your faces all day long,

Wishes like women with half-forgotten lovers going to new cities?

What is there for you in the birds, the birds, the birds crying down

     on the north wind in September – acres of birds spotting the

     air going south?

 

Is there something finished?  And some new beginning on the way?

 

                                                                           ~ Carl Sandburg

 

"Oat Field" by Karl Nordstrom, 1887

“Oat Field” by Karl Nordstrom, 1887

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Autumn Song

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf

How the heart feels a languid grief

     Laid on it for a covering,

     And how sleep seems a goodly thing

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

 

And how the swift beat of the brain

Falters because it is in vain,

     In Autumn at the fall of the leaf

     Knowest thou not? and how the chief

Of joys seems – not to suffer pain?

 

Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf

How the soul feels like a dried sheaf

     Bound up at length for harvesting,

     And how death seems a comely thing

In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

 

         ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 

"Falling Leaves" by Philip de Laszlo, 1895

“Falling Leaves” by Philip de Laszlo, 1895

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The Love of October

A child looking at ruins grows younger

but cold

and wants to wake to a new name

I have been younger in October

than in all the months of spring

walnut and may leaves the color

of shoulders at the end of summer

a month that has been to the mountain

and become light there

the long grass lies pointing uphill

even in death for a reason

that none of us knows

and the wren laughs in the early shade now

come again shining glance in your good time

naked air late morning

my love is for lightness

of touch foot feather

the day is yet one more yellow leaf

and without turning I kiss the light

by an old well on the last of the month

gathering wild rose hips

in the sun.

 

                   ~ W. S. Merwin

 

"A Wooded Path in Autumn" by Hans Andersen Brendekilde, 1902

“A Wooded Path in Autumn” by Hans Andersen Brendekilde, 1902

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St. Martin’s Summer

As swallows turning backward

When half-way o’er the sea,

At one word’s trumpet summons

They came again to me –

The hopes I had forgotten

Came back again to me.

 

I know not which to credit,

O lady of my heart!

Your eyes that bade me linger,

Your words that bade us part –

I know not which to credit,

My reason or my heart.

 

But be my hopes rewarded,

Or be they but in vain,

I have dreamed a golden vision,

I have gathered in the grain –

I have dreamed a golden vision,

I have not lived in vain.

 

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 

In British England, “St. Martin’s Summer” was the term used to refer to the period of sunny, warm weather in autumn, which became known in America as “Indian Summer” in the 20th century. The celebration of St. Martin’s Day is a rural tradition with ancient origins and is observed on either September 29 or November 11.

 

"Summer of Saint Martin" by John Everett Millais, 1877

“Summer of Saint Martin” by John Everett Millais, 1877

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Fall Equinox

I know it’s midnight when the little owls

Commence their muted woodwinds in the pines;

It is September. Pegasus inclines

His great square high where late the heavenly fowls,

The Swan and Eagle, flew the galactine.

I know it’s midnight of the equinox

And dark and light are even – and the flocks

Will feel the sun stand southward on the Line.

The owls’ soft conversation soon is done,

And I am listening to the heavy dark;

In me the slow withdrawal of the sun

Crossing athwart the night has left its mark

That no September’s end shall need henceforth –

I turn with the equator to the north.

 

                               ~ Orrick Johns

 

"Two Owls" by Thomas Moran, 1917

“Two Owls” by Thomas Moran, 1917

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