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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

One face looks out from all his canvases,

One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:

We found her hidden just behind those screens,

That mirror gave back all her loveliness.

A queen in opal or in ruby dress,

A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,

A saint, an angel—every canvas means

The same one meaning, neither more nor less.

He feeds upon her face by day and night,

And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,

Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:

Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;

Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;

Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

 

                                       ~ Christina Rossetti

 

"The Artist and His Model" by Carl Schweninger (1854-1912)

“The Artist and His Model” by Carl Schweninger (1854-1912)

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August

When the blackberries hang

swollen in the woods, in the brambles

nobody owns, I spend

 

all day among the high

branches, reaching

my ripped arms, thinking

 

of nothing, cramming

the black honey of summer

into my mouth; all day my body

 

accepts what it is. In the dark

creeks that run by there is

this thick paw of my life darting among

 

the black bells, the leaves; there is

this happy tongue.

 

             ~ Mary Oliver

 

"Blackberry Picking" by John George Brown, 1875

“Blackberry Picking” by John George Brown, 1875

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Midsummer

The adolescent night, breath of the town,

Porchswings and whispers, maple leaves unseen

Deploying moonlight quieter than a man dead

After the locust’s song. These homes were mine

And are not now forever, these on the steps

Children I think removed to many places,

Lost among hushed years, and so strangely known.

 

This business is well ended. If in the dark

The firefly made his gleam and sank therefrom,

Yet someone’s hand would have him, the wet grass

Bed him no more. From corners of the lawn

The dusk-white dresses flutter and are past.

Before our bed time there were things to say,

Remembering tree-bark, crickets, and the first star…

 

After, and as the sullenness of time

Went on from summer, here in a land alien

Made I my perfect fears and flower of thought:

Sleep being no longer swift in the arms of pain,

Revisitations are convenient with a cough,

And there is something I would say again

If I had not forever, if there were time.

 

                                             ~ Robert Fitzgerald

 

"Summer Afternoon" by Winslow Homer, 1872

“Summer Afternoon” by Winslow Homer, 1872

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Night

It’s all right

Unless you’re either lonely or under attack.

That strange effortful

Repositioning of yourself. Laundry, shopping,

Hours, the telephone – unless misinformed –

Only ever ringing for you, if it ever does.

The night – yours to decide,

Among drink, or books, or lying there.

On your back, or curled up.

 

An embarrassment of poverty.

 

                    ~ Michael Hofmann

 

"Reading Woman" by Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

“Reading Woman” by Poul Friis Nybo, 1929

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Who has not waked to list the busy sounds

Of summer’s morning, in the sultry smoke

Of noisy London? On the pavement hot

The sooty chimney-boy, with dingy face

And tattered covering, shrilly bawls his trade,

Rousing the sleepy housemaid. At the door

The milk-pail rattles, and the tinkling bell

Proclaims the dustman’s office; while the street

Is lost in clouds impervious. Now begins

The din of hackney-coaches, wagons, carts;

While tinmen’s shops, and noisy trunk-makers,

Knife-grinders, coopers, squeaking cork-cutters,

Fruit-barrows, and the hunger-giving cries

Of vegetable-vendors, fill the air.

Now every shop displays its varied trade,

And the fresh-sprinkled pavement cools the feet

Of early walkers. At the private door

The ruddy housemaid twirls the busy mop,

Annoying the smart ’prentice, or neat girl,

Tripping with band-box lightly. Now the sun

Darts burning splendor on the glittering pane,

Save where the canvas awning throws a shade

On the gay merchandise. Now, spruce and trim,

In shops (where beauty smiles with industry)

Sits the smart damsel; while the passenger

Peeps through the window, watching every charm.

Now pastry dainties catch the eye minute

Of humming insects, while the limy snare

Waits to enthrall them. Now the lamp-lighter

Mounts the tall ladder, nimbly venturous,

To trim the half-filled lamps, while at his feet

The pot-boy yells discordant! All along

The sultry pavement, the old-clothes-man cries

In tone monotonous, while sidelong views

The area for his traffic: now the bag

Is slyly opened, and the half-worn suit

(Sometimes the pilfered treasure of the base

Domestic spoiler), for one half its worth,

Sinks in the green abyss. The porter now

Bears his huge load along the burning way;

And the poor poet wakes from busy dreams,

To paint the summer morning.

 

                               ~ Mary Robinson

 

"A Street Flower Seller" by Augustus Edwin Mulready, 1882

“A Street Flower Seller” by Augustus Edwin Mulready, 1882

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This has been a summer of quiet anticipation. Nearly giddy with the possibility of commencing my doctoral studies in the spring, I am waiting for former and potential professors to return from summer hiatuses, classes to resume, and admissions offices to reopen. In six weeks, the application process will become a whirlwind of activity, consuming my free time through November 1. But for now, while the days are warm and far too bright for my liking and any discernible progress is stalled, I can only read, study, write…and wait. It is summer, after all.

 

What is the change in summer

of which one expects nothing?

Nature is not reborn,

nor does she perish except

in the streaks of a rare elm

that has outlived itself.

The weather conceals nothing:

the months are temperate,

even in the hardest rains

one may walk without a coat.

The gardens flourish, and bear

without a gardener’s help.

 

Sitting in windows at night

black cats and their masters

look out on summer; the moon

feeds their yellow visions,

the opened windows cool them.

One learns to smoke a pipe

and is pleased for solitude.

One wants nothing to happen

forever, and thinks of those

who perhaps are ready to die,

except that it is summer

and they are putting it off.

 

~ Robley Wilson, excerpt from “In summer, nothing happens,” included in Robert Atwan’s anthology A Dream of Summer: Poems for the Sensuous Season (Beacon Press, 2004)

 

"Young Woman Holding a Black Cat" by Gwen John, circa 1920

“Young Woman Holding a Black Cat” by Gwen John, circa 1920

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I was chasing this blue butterfly down

the road when a car came by and clipped me.

It was nothing serious, but it angered me and

I turned around and cursed the driver who didn’t

even slow down to see if I was hurt. Then I

returned my attention to the butterfly which

was nowhere to be seen. One of the Doubleday

girls came running up the street with her toy

poodle toward me. I stopped her and asked,

“Have you seen a blue butterfly around here?”

“It’s down near that birch tree near Grandpa’s,”

she said. “Thanks,” I said, and walked briskly

toward the tree. It was fluttering from flower

to flower in Mr. Doubleday’s extensive garden,

a celestial blueness to soothe the weary heart.

I didn’t know what I was doing there. I certainly

didn’t want to capture it. It was like

something I had known in another life, even if

it was only in a dream, I wanted to confirm it.

I was a blind beggar on the streets of Cordoba

when I first saw it, and now, again it was here.

 

~ James Vincent Tate, died on this day in 2015

 

Blue Morpho Butterfly by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)

Blue Morpho Butterfly by Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904)

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