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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”

 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Plaque, Washington, DC (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Plaque, Washington, DC (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

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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

 

"Moulin de la Galette" by Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866-1932)

“Moulin de la Galette” by Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866-1932)

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December 31st

All my undone actions wander

naked across the calendar,

 

a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,

blown snow scattered here and there,

 

stumbling toward a future

folded in the New Year I secure

 

with a pushpin: January’s picture

a painting from the 17th century,

 

a still life: Skull and mirror,

spilled coin purse and a flower.

 

~ Richard Hoffman

 

"Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols" by David Bailly, 1651

“Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols” by David Bailly, 1651

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Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,

And the winter winds are wearily sighing:

Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,

And tread softly and speak low,

For the old year lies a-dying.

Old year you must not die;

You came to us so readily,

You lived with us so steadily,

Old year you shall not die.

 

……………………………………………

 

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;

A jollier year we shall not see.

But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,

And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,

He was a friend to me.

Old year, you shall not die;

We did so laugh and cry with you,

I’ve half a mind to die with you,

Old year, if you must die.

 

He was full of joke and jest,

But all his merry quips are o’er.

To see him die across the waste

His son and heir doth ride post-haste,

But he’ll be dead before.

Every one for his own.

The night is starry and cold, my friend,

And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,

Comes up to take his own.

 

~ From “The Death of the Old Year” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 

"Saint Giles, His Bells" by Charles Altamont Doyle (1832-1893)

“Saint Giles, His Bells” by Charles Altamont Doyle (1832-1893)

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Winter-Time

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,  

A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;  

Blinks but an hour or two; and then,  

A blood-red orange, sets again.  

  

Before the stars have left the skies,

At morning in the dark I rise;  

And shivering in my nakedness,  

By the cold candle, bathe and dress.  

  

Close by the jolly fire I sit  

To warm my frozen bones a bit;

Or with a reindeer-sled, explore  

The colder countries round the door.  

  

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap  

Me in my comforter and cap;  

The cold wind burns my face, and blows

Its frosty pepper up my nose.  

  

Black are my steps on silver sod;  

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;  

And tree and house, and hill and lake,  

Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

 

             ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

 

"Wet Snow, Auvergne" by Victor Charreton, circa 1899

“Wet Snow, Auvergne” by Victor Charreton, circa 1899

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Choices

I go to the mountain side

of the house to cut saplings,

and clear a view to snow

on the mountain. But when I look up,

saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in

the uppermost branches.

I don’t cut that one.

I don’t cut the others either.

Suddenly, in every tree,

an unseen nest

where a mountain

would be.

 

~ Tess Gallagher

 

Kofler Jürgen

Kofler Jürgen

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Winter Stars

I went out at night alone;

 The young blood flowing beyond the sea

Seemed to have drenched my spirit’s wings –

 I bore my sorrow heavily.

 

But when I lifted up my head

 From shadows shaken on the snow,

I saw Orion in the east

 Burn steadily as long ago.

 

From windows in my father’s house,

 Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,

I watched Orion as a girl

 Above another city’s lights.

 

Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,

 The world’s heart breaks beneath its wars,

All things are changed, save in the east

 The faithful beauty of the stars.

 

                       ~ Sara Teasdale

 

"Snow Maiden" by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1899

“Snow Maiden” by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1899

 

 

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