Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –


And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –


I’ve heard it in the chilliest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.


~ Emily Dickinson


Isaac Israels, 1895-1900

Isaac Israels, 1895-1900

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There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.


I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled

this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.


I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light –

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.


And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it’s necessary

to talk about trees.


~ Adrienne Rich, born on this day in 1929


"Edge of the Forest" by Ralph Albert Blakelock, between 1880 and 1890

“Edge of the Forest” by Ralph Albert Blakelock, between 1880 and 1890

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May and the Poets

There is May in books forever;

May will part from Spenser never;

May’s in Milton, May’s in Prior,

May’s in Chaucer, Thomson, Dyer;

May’s in all the Italian books: –

She has old and modern nooks,

Where she sleeps with nymphs and elves,

In happy places they call shelves,

And will rise and dress your rooms

With a drapery thick with blooms.

Come, ye rains, then if ye will,

May’s at home, and with me still;

But come rather, thou, good weather,

And find us in the fields together.


                                  ~ James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)


"Springtime" by Claude Monet, 1872

“Springtime” by Claude Monet, 1872

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The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,

takes on a used-up, feather-duster look

within a week.


The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign

sends red feelers out and up and down

to find the sun.


Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,

brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch

soft to the touch


and rank with interface of rut and rot.

The month after the month they say is cruel

is and is not.


                              ~ Jonathan Galassi


"Apple Tree in Blossom" by Carl Fredrik Hill, 1877

“Apple Tree in Blossom” by Carl Fredrik Hill, 1877

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The Heart

It’s the lobby of the Plaza,

the systole and diastole

of hard women in soft coats, soft

men in hard coats, palming

quarters, fingers, keys.

Drop in any mailbox.

I’ll answer. Please.


It’s the murmur, the scarring fever,

of a page, always the same,

urgent, muted: calling

Mr. Name. Calling Mr. Name.


You exsanguinate.

For the carpets of indolence,

for the cut-throat chandelier,

for the forced forsythia

on the table—you pay, dear.


But some of it’s free. A knock

and rise in the ribs, gardenia

pectoris, and at four a muffled din:

the revolving door is bearing balloons;

look out—someone’s checking in.


                       ~ Annie Dillard, born on this day in 1945




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It is night, in my study.

The deepest solitude; I hear the steady

shudder in my breast

– for it feels all alone,

and blanched by my mind –

and I hear my blood

with even murmur

fill up the silence.

You might say the thin stream

falls in the waterclock and fills the bottom.

Here, in the night, all alone, this is my study;

the books don’t speak;

my oil lamp

bathes these pages in a light of peace,

light of a chapel.

The books don’t speak;

of the poets, the meditators, the learned,

the spirits drowse;

and it is as if around me circled

cautious death.


~ From “It is Night, in My Study” by Miguel de Unamuno


"Reading Woman" by Albert Edelfelt, 1885

“Reading Woman” by Albert Edelfelt, 1885

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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,

For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,

And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,

And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.


~ William Shakespeare, died on this day in 1616


"Meditation" by Wilhelm Amberg, circa 1880

“Meditation” by Wilhelm Amberg, circa 1880

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