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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Late February

The first warm day,

and by mid-afternoon

the snow is no more

than a washing

strewn over the yards,

the bedding rolled in knots

and leaking water,

the white shirts lying

under the evergreens.

Through the heaviest drifts

rise autumn’s fallen

bicycles, small carnivals

of paint and chrome,

the Octopus

and Tilt-A-Whirl

beginning to turn

in the sun.  Now children,

stiffened by winter

and dressed, somehow,

like old men, mutter

and bend to the work

of building dams.

But such a spring is brief;

by five o’clock

the chill of sundown,

darkness, the blue TVs

flashing like storms

in the picture windows,

the yards gone gray,

the wet dogs barking

at nothing.  Far off

across the cornfields

staked for streets and sewers,

the body of a farmer

missing since fall

will show up

in his garden tomorrow,

as unexpected

as a tulip.

 

~ Ted Kooser

 

"Tulip" by Nicolas Verdeille, 2005

“Tulip” by Nicolas Verdeille, 2005

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Valentine

Too high, too high to pluck

My heart shall swing.

A fruit no bee shall suck,

No wasp shall sting.

 

If on some night of cold

It falls to ground

In apple-leaves of gold

I’ll wrap it round.

 

And I shall seal it up

With spice and salt,

In a carven silver cup,

In a deep vault.

 

Before my eyes are blind

And my lips mute,

I must eat core and rind

Of that same fruit.

 

Before my heart is dust

At the end of all,

Eat it I must, I must

Were it bitter gall.

 

But I shall keep it sweet

By some strange art;

Wild honey I shall eat

When I eat my heart.

 

O honey cool and chaste

As clover’s breath!

Sweet Heaven I shall taste

Before my death.

 

~ Elinor Wylie

 

"The Morning of St Valentine" by John Callcott Horsley, 1865

“The Morning of St Valentine” by John Callcott Horsley, 1865

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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 in the Northeast.

 

"Snow Storm" by John La Farge, 1865

“Snow Storm” by John La Farge, 1865

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February Twilight

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 Evening Star” by Edward Burne-Jones, 1870

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What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.

 

                         ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

"The Frosty Morning" by Nikolay Dubovskoy, 1894

“The Frosty Morning” by Nikolay Dubovskoy, 1894

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From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were – I have not seen

As others saw – I could not bring

My passions from a common spring –

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow – I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone –

And all I lov’d – I lov’d alone –

Then – in my childhood – in the dawn

Of a most stormy life – was drawn

From ev’ry depth of good and ill

The mystery which binds me still –

From the torrent, or the fountain –

From the red cliff of the mountain –

From the sun that ’round me roll’d

In its autumn tint of gold –

From the lightning in the sky

As it pass’d me flying by –

From the thunder, and the storm –

And the cloud that took the form

(When the rest of Heaven was blue)

Of a demon in my view –

 

~ Edgar Allan Poe, born on this day in 1809

 

Eyolf Soot, 1895

Eyolf Soot, 1895

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To the Dreamer

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

 

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

 

                                   ~ Langston Hughes, “Dreams”

 

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