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In Memoriam

I am waiting for the day

that maketh all things clear

and I am awaiting retribution

for what America did

to Tom Sawyer

and I am waiting

for Alice in Wonderland

to retransmit to me

her total dream of innocence

and I am waiting

for Childe Roland to come

to the final darkest tower

and I am waiting

for Aphrodite

to grow live arms

at a final disarmament conference

in a new rebirth of wonder

 

I am waiting

to get some intimations

of immortality

by recollecting my early childhood

and I am waiting

for the green mornings to come again

youth’s dumb green fields come back again

and I am waiting

for some strains of unpremeditated art

to shake my typewriter

and I am waiting to write

the great indelible poem

and I am waiting

for the last long careless rapture

and I am perpetually waiting

for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn

to catch each other up at last

and embrace

and I am awaiting

perpetually and forever

a renaissance of wonder

 

~ From “I Am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

“Expectation” by Richard Eisermann, 1927

At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen.  Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon.  She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it to her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes.  But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.

~ From Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

“Madame Bovary” by Charles Leandre, 1931

I stood beside a hill

Smooth with new-laid snow,

A single star looked out

From the cold evening glow.

 

There was no other creature

That saw what I could see –

I stood and watched the evening star

As long as it watched me.

 

~ Sara Teasdale

 

“The Evening Star” by Edward Burne-Jones, 1870

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

 

And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter

 

Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,

 

Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place

 

For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

 

                                                    ~ Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

 

Waking in Winter

Winter dawn is the color of metal,

The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.

 

                     ~ Sylvia Plath

 

The Frosty Morning by Nikolay Dubovskoy, 1894

As my Scotch, spared the water, blondly sloshes

About its tumbler, and gay manic flame

Is snapping in the fireplace, I grow youthful:

I realize that calendars aren’t truthful

And that for all of my grand unsuccesses

External causes are to blame.

 

And if at present somewhat destitute,

I plan to alter, prove myself more able,

And suavely stroll into the coming years

As into rooms with thick rugs, chandeliers,

And colorfully pyramided fruit

On linened lengths of table.

 

At times I fear the future won’t reward

My failures with sufficient compensation,

But dump me, aging, in a garret room

Appointed with twilit, slant-ceilinged gloom

And a lone bulb depending from a cord

Suggestive of self-strangulation.

 

Then, too, I have bad dreams, in one of which

A cowled, scythe-bearing figure beckons me.

Dark plains glow at his back: it seems I’ve died,

And my soul, weighed and judged, has qualified

For an extended, hyper-sultry hitch

Down in eternity.

 

Such fears and dreams, however, always pass.

And gazing from my window at the dark,

My drink in hand, I’m jauntily unbowed.

The sky’s tiered, windy galleries stream with cloud,

And higher still, the dazed stars thickly mass

In their long Ptolemaic arc.

 

What constellated powers, unkind or kind,

Sway me, what far preposterous ghosts of air?

Whoever they are, whatever our connection,

I toast them (toasting also my reflection),

Not minding that the words which come to mind

Make the toast less toast than prayer:

 

Here’s to the next year, to the best year yet;

To mixed joys, to my harum-scarum prime;

To auguries reliable and spacious;

To times to come, such times being precious,

If only for the reason that they get

Shorter all the time.

 

                                  ~ Timothy Steele

 

“Au Moulin de la Galette” by Ramon Casas i Carbó, 1892

Just as a dancer, turning and turning,

may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl

of her flying skirts, our weeping willow—

now old and broken, creaking in the breeze—

turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun,

sweeping the rusty roof of the barn

with the pale blue lacework of her shadow.

 

                           ~ Ted Kooser

 

Ballerina Carlotta Grisi (1819 – 1899) in the Dance of the Shadow

Mistletoe

Sitting under the mistletoe

(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),

One last candle burning low,

All the sleepy dancers gone,

Just one candle burning on,

Shadows lurking everywhere:

Some one came, and kissed me there.

 

Tired I was; my head would go

Nodding under the mistletoe

(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),

No footsteps came, no voice, but only,

Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,

Stooped in the still and shadowy air

Lips unseen – and kissed me there.

 

       ~ Walter de la Mare

 

“The End of a Dream” by Giuseppe Pennasilico, circa 1908

A December Day

That’s no December sky!

Surely ‘tis June

Holds now her state on high,

Queen of the noon.

 

Only the tree-tops bare

Crowning the hill,

Clear-cut in perfect air,

Warn us that still

 

Winter, the aged chief,

Mighty in power,

Exiles the tender leaf,

Exiles the flower.

 

                                       ~ Robert Fuller Murray

 

“A Bare Tree” by Emily Murray Paterson, 1855-1934

November Night

Listen.

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.

                                  ~ Adelaide Crapsey

 

“Winter Leaves” by Keith Proven, 2006
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