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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

After the Winter

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves

   And against the morning’s white

The shivering birds beneath the eaves

   Have sheltered for the night,

We’ll turn our faces southward, love,

   Toward the summer isle

Where bamboos spire the shafted grove

   And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

 

And we will seek the quiet hill

   Where towers the cotton tree,

And leaps the laughing crystal rill,

   And works the droning bee.

And we will build a cottage there

   Beside an open glade,

With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,

   And ferns that never fade.

 

                              ~ Claude McKay

 

“The Flower Garden” by John Falconer Slater, 1899

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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.

 

                       ~ Edward Hirsch

 

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

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Retired ballerinas on winter afternoons

     walking their dogs

          in Central Park West

  (or their cats on leashes –

    the cats themselves old highwire artists)

The ballerinas

      leap and pirouette

           through Columbus Circle

   while winos on park benches

     (laid back like drunken Goudonovs)

    hear the taxis trumpet together

      like horsemen of the apocalypse

            in the dusk of the gods

It is the final witching hour

       when swains are full of swan songs

   And all return through the dark dusk

       to their bright cells

             in glass highrises

    or sit down to oval cigarettes and cakes

           in the Russian Tea Room

or climb four flights to back rooms

            in Westside brownstones

      where faded playbill photos

          fall peeling from their frames

              like last year’s autumn leaves

 

~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born on this day in 1919

 

“Dancer with a Hoop” by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

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Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,

so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

 

that it made you want to throw

open all the windows in the house

 

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,

indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

 

a day when the cool brick paths

and the garden bursting with peonies

 

seemed so etched in sunlight

that you felt like taking

 

a hammer to the glass paperweight

on the living room end table,

 

releasing the inhabitants

from their snow-covered cottage

 

so they could walk out,

holding hands and squinting

 

into this larger dome of blue and white,

well, today is just that kind of day.

 

                                        ~ Billy Collins, born on this day in 1941

 

“A Spring Day” by Friedrich Kallmorgen, 1887

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Vernal Sentiment

Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,

The frog scum appear on the pond with the same froth of green,

And boys moon at girls with last year’s fatuous faces,

I never am bored, however familiar the scene.

 

When from under the barn the cat brings a similar litter,

Two yellow and black, and one that looks in between,

Though it all happened before, I cannot grow bitter:

I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been.

 

                                                                          ~ Theodore Roethke

 

“Joys of Spring” by René Lelong, circa 1890 to 1900

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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.

 

The days go out with shouting; nights are loud;

Wild, warring shapes the wood lifts in the cold;

The moon’s a sword of keen, barbaric gold,

Plunged to the hilt into a pitch black cloud.

 

                                            ~ Lizette Woodworth Reese

 

“Blumenstauden im Wannseegarten” by Max Liebermann, 1919

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In Time

As far as clocks—and it is time to think of them—

I have one on my kitchen shelf and it is

flat, with a machine-made flair, a perfect

machine from 1948, at the latest,

and made of shining plastic with the numbers

sharp and clear and slightly magnified in

that heartbreaking post-war style, the cord

too short, though what does it matter, since the mechanism

is broken and it sits unplugged alongside a

cheap ceramic rooster, his head insanely

small and yet his tiny brain alert for

he is the one who will crow and not that broken

buzzing relic, though time is different now

and dawn is different too, you were up all night

and it is dark when he crows and you are waiting

to see what direction you should face and if

you were born in time or was it wasted and what

the day looks like and is the rooster loyal.

 

                                                          ~ Gerald Stern

 

Posted in celebration of Daylight Saving Time and long, sunlit evenings.

 

Spencer Gore

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