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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

In Perpetual Spring

Gardens are also good places

to sulk. You pass beds of

spiky voodoo lilies

and trip over the roots

of a sweet gum tree,

in search of medieval

plants whose leaves,

when they drop off

turn into birds

if they fall on land,

and colored carp if they

plop into water.

 

Suddenly the archetypal

human desire for peace

with every other species

wells up in you. The lion

and the lamb cuddling up.

The snake and the snail, kissing.

Even the prick of the thistle,

queen of the weeds, revives

your secret belief

in perpetual spring,

your faith that for every hurt

there is a leaf to cure it.

 

~ Amy Gerstler from Bitter Angel (New York: North Point Press, 1990)

 

Marcus Stone, 1900

Marcus Stone, 1900

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Late March

Saturday morning in late March.

I was alone and took a long walk,

though I also carried a book

of the Alone, which companioned me.

 

The day was clear, unnaturally clear,

like a freshly wiped pane of glass,

a window over the water,

and blue, preternaturally blue,

like the sky in a Magritte painting,

and cold, vividly cold, so that

you could clap your hands and remember

winter, which had left a few moments ago –

if you strained you could almost see it

disappearing over the hills in a black parka.

Spring was coming but hadn’t arrived yet. 

………………………………………………………………………… 

I walked down to the pier to watch

the launching of a passenger ship.

Ice had broken up on the river

and the water rippled smoothly in blue light.

The moon was a faint smudge

in the clouds, a brushstroke, an afterthought

in the vacant mind of the sky. 

…………………………………………………………………………

Down at the water, the queenly ship

started moving away from the pier.

Banners fluttered.

The passengers clustered at the rails on deck.

I stood with the people on shore and waved

goodbye to the travelers.

Some were jubilant;

others were broken-hearted.

I have always been both.

 

Suddenly, a great cry went up.

The ship set sail for the horizon

and rumbled into the future

but the cry persisted

and cut the air

like an iron bell ringing

in an empty church.

I looked around the pier

but everyone else was gone

and I was left alone

to peer into the ghostly distance.

I had no idea where that ship was going

but I felt lucky to see it off

and bereft when it disappeared.

 

~ From “Late March” by Edward Hirsch

 

"Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee" by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

“Bootssteg auf der Herreninsel im Chiemsee” by Wilhelm Trübner, 1874

 

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Dawn Chorus

Every morning since the time changed

I have woken to the dawn chorus

And even before it sounded, I dreamed of it

Loud, unbelievably loud, shameless, raucous

 

And once I rose and twitched the curtains apart

Expecting the birds to be pressing in fright

Against the pane like passengers

But the garden was empty and it was night

 

Not a slither of light at the horizon

Still the birds were bawling through the mists

Terrible, invisible

A million small evangelists

 

How they sing: as if each had pecked up a smoldering coal

Their throats singed and swollen with song

In dissonance as befits the dark world

Where only travelers and the sleepless belong

 

                                                           ~ Sasha Dugdale

 

Marcel Rieder (1862-1942)

Marcel Rieder (1862-1942)

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Mid-March

It is too early for white boughs, too late

For snows.  From out the hedge the wind lets fall

A few last flakes, ragged and delicate.

Down the stripped roads the maples start their small,

Soft, ’wildering fires.  Stained are the meadow stalks

A rich and deepening red.  The willow tree

Is woolly.  In deserted garden-walks

The lean bush crouching hints old royalty,

Feels some June stir in the sharp air and knows

Soon ’twill leap up and show the world a rose. 

 

                ~ From “Mid-March” by Lizette Woodworth Reese

 

"Blumenstauden im Wannseegarten" by Max Liebermann, 1919

“Blumenstauden im Wannseegarten” by Max Liebermann, 1919

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Bath

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.

     The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white.  It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.

     Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling.  I move a foot, and the planes of light in the water jar.  I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me.  The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day.  I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.  The sky is blue and high.  A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

 

~ Amy Lowell, from The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, 1955

 

"Le Bain" by Alfred Stevens (1823-1906)

“Le Bain” by Alfred Stevens (1823-1906)

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The Cats Will Know

Rain will fall again

on your smooth pavement,

a light rain like

a breath or a step.

The breeze and the dawn

will flourish again

when you return,

as if beneath your step.

Between flowers and sills

the cats will know. 

………………………………………………………. 

The cats will know,

face of springtime;

and the light rain

and the hyacinth dawn

that wrench the heart of him

who hopes no more for you –

they are the sad smile

you smile by yourself.

 

There will be other days,

other voices and renewals.

Face of springtime,

we will suffer at daybreak.

 

~ From “The Cats Will Know” by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock

 

Arthur Heyer (1872 - 1931)

Arthur Heyer (1872 – 1931)

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Time does not bring relief; you all have lied

Who told me time would ease me of my pain!

I miss him in the weeping of the rain;

I want him at the shrinking of the tide;

The old snows melt from every mountain-side,

And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;

But last year’s bitter loving must remain

Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.

There are a hundred places where I fear

To go,–so with his memory they brim.

And entering with relief some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

I say, “There is no memory of him here!”

And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

 

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, born on this day in 1892

 

"In the Garden Restaurant" by Josef Navrátil (1798-1865)

“In the Garden Restaurant” by Josef Navrátil (1798-1865)

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Work Without Hope

All Nature seems at work.  Slugs leave their lair –

The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing –

And Winter slumbering in the open air,

Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,

Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

 

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,

Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.

Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,

For me ye bloom not!  Glide, rich streams, away!

With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:

And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?

Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,

And Hope without an object cannot live.

 

                                              ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Caroline Léna Becker

Caroline Léna Becker

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Somewhere or Other

Somewhere or other there must surely be

The face not seen, the voice not heard,

The heart that not yet – never yet – ah me!

Made answer to my word.

 

Somewhere or other, may be near or far;

Past land and sea, clean out of sight;

Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star

That tracks her night by night.

 

Somewhere or other, may be far or near;

With just a wall, a hedge, between;

With just the last leaves of the dying year

Fallen on a turf grown green.

 

                         ~ Christina Rossetti

 

"Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid's Garden" by John William Waterhouse, 1904

“Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid’s Garden” by John William Waterhouse, 1904

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Of Modern Books

Of making many books there is no end,

   Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone;

Each day new manuscripts are being penned,

   And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on.

 

Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone,

   New volumes daily issue from the press;

And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on –

   The prospect is disheartening, I confess.

 

New volumes daily issue from the press;

   My pile of unread books I view aghast.

The prospect is disheartening, I confess;

   Why will these modern authors write so fast?

 

                   ~ From “Of Modern Books” by Carolyn Wells

 

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

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