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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

May

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

 

1908

1908

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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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The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

But at every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary.

 

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,

And the days are dark and dreary.

 

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

 

                          ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Charles Edward Perugini, circa 1888

Charles Edward Perugini, circa 1888

 

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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

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

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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

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

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