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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

February

The cold grows colder, even as the days

grow longer, February’s mercury vapor light

buffing but not defrosting the bone-white

ground, crusty and treacherous underfoot.

This is the time of year that’s apt to put

a hammerlock on a healthy appetite,

old anxieties back into the night,

insomnia and nightmares into play;

when things in need of doing go undone

and things that can’t be undone come to call,

muttering recriminations at the door,

and buried ambitions rise up through the floor

and pin your wriggling shoulders to the wall;

and hope’s a reptile waiting for the sun.

 

                      ~ Bill Christophersen

 

"A Woman in Bed" by Rembrandt, 1645

“A Woman in Bed” by Rembrandt, 1645

 

 

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Winter: A Dirge

The wintry west extends his blast,

And hail and rain does blaw;

Or, the stormy north sends driving forth

The blinding sleet and snaw:

While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,

And roars frae bank to brae;

And bird and beast in covert rest,

And pass the heartless day.

 

The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,

The joyless winter-day,

Let others fear, to me more dear

Than all the pride of May:

The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,

My griefs it seems to join;

The leafless trees my fancy please,

Their fate resembles mine!

 

Thou Pow’r Supreme, whose mighty scheme

These woes of mine fulfil,

Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,

Because they are Thy will!

Then all I want (O, do thou grant

This one request of mine!)

Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,

Assist me to resign.

 

                    ~ Robert Burns

 

"A Rainy Day in New York City" by Paul Cornoyer, circa 1905

“A Rainy Day in New York City” by Paul Cornoyer, circa 1905

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The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,

Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air

Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,

And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet

Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit

Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed

In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

 

Come see the north wind’s masonry.

Out of an unseen quarry evermore

Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer

Curves his white bastions with projected roof

Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.

Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work

So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he

For number or proportion. Mockingly,

On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;

A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;

Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,

Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,

A tapering turret overtops the work.

And when his hours are numbered, and the world

Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,

Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art

To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,

Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,

The frolic architecture of the snow.

 

                             ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Posted with warm thoughts to all my friends and colleagues on the East Coast.

 

"Snow Storm" by John La Farge, 1865

“Snow Storm” by John La Farge, 1865

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Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow –

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand –

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep – while I weep!

O God! Can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp?

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

 

                ~ Edgar Allan Poe, born on this day in 1809

 

Thomas Pollock Anshutz, circa 1900

Thomas Pollock Anshutz, circa 1900

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Winter Love

I would like to decorate this silence,

but my house grows only cleaner

and more plain.  The glass chimes I hung

over the register ring a little

when the heat goes on.

I waited too long to drink my tea.

It was not hot.  It was only warm.

 

~ Linda Gregg

 

"Reading Woman" by Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

“Reading Woman” by Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

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On the Eve of a Birthday

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

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

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Year’s End

Now the seasons are closing their files

on each of us, the heavy drawers

full of certificates rolling back

into the tree trunks, a few old papers

flocking away. Someone we loved

has fallen from our thoughts,

making a little, glittering splash

like a bicycle pushed by a breeze.

Otherwise, not much has happened;

we fell in love again, finding

that one red feather on the wind.

 

~ Ted Kooser

 

Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

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