Poem of the Week

Pastoral

By William Carlos Williams

When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.
No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.

I have to say I’m not so sure about this one. I used to look at things as the poet does, but now I realize that I should be careful about romanticizing poverty. How do the residents like this neighborhood? Did he talk with them?

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 5

Sonnet 5


By William Shakespeare

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness every where:

Then were not summer’s distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty’s effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 8

Sonnet 8
William Shakespeare

Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing;  
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,  
Sings this to thee:
“Thou single wilt prove none.”

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 80

By William Shakespeare

O! how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might,

To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame.

But since your worth (wide as the ocean is)

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,

My saucy bark (inferior far to his)

On your broad main doth wilfully appear.

Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,

Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;

Or (being wreck’d) I am a worthless boat,

He of tall building, and of goodly pride:

Then if he thrive and I be cast away,

The worst was this; my love was my decay.

Poem of the Week

Down By the Salley Gardens
by William Butler Yeats

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.
In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

Poem of the Week

I just learned from a friend that Sir Patrick Stewart has been taping himself reading one of Shakespeare’s sonnets all through the CCP Lockdown. You can find them on Facebook or YouTube

Sonnet VII

By William Shakespeare

Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climb’d the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage;
But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, ’fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract and look another way:
So thou, thyself out-going in thy noon,
Unlook’d on diest, unless thou get a son.

Poem of the Week

Love at First Sight

By Wislawa Szymborska 

They both thought
that a sudden feeling had united them
This certainty is beautiful,
Even more beautiful than uncertainty.

They thought they didn’t know each other,
nothing had ever happened between them,
These streets, these stairs, this corridors,
Where they could have met so long ago?

I would like to ask them,
if they can remember –
perhaps in a revolving door
face to face one day?
A “sorry” in the crowd?
“Wrong number” on the ‘phone?
– but I know the answer.
No, they don’t remember.

How surprised they would be
For such a long time already
Fate has been playing with them.

Not quite yet ready
to change into destiny,
which brings them nearer and yet further,
cutting their path
and stifling a laugh,
escaping ever further;
There were sings, indications,
undecipherable, what does in matter.
Three years ago, perhaps
or even last Tuesday,
this leaf flying
from one shoulder to another?
Something lost and gathered.
Who knows, perhaps a ball already
in the bushes, in childhood?

There were handles, door bells,
where, on the trace of a hand,
another hand was placed;
suitcases next to one another in the
left luggage.
And maybe one night the same dream
forgotten on walking;

But every beginning
is only a continuation
and the book of fate is
always open in the middle.

Poem of the Week

Sonnet 6

William Shakespeare

Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer ere thou be distilled.
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.
That use is not forbidden usury
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thyself to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one.
Ten times thyself were happier than thou art
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee;
Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.