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Poem of the Week

To Jane: The Keen Stars Were Twinkling

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The keen stars were twinkling,
And the fair moon was rising along them
Dear Jane!
The guitar was tinkling,
But the notes were not sweet till you sung them
Again.
As the moon’s soft splendour
O’ er the faint cold starlight of Heaven
Is thrown,
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
Its own.
The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later,
Tonight;
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter
Delight.
Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
A tone
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.

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Poem of the Week

Now Winter Nights

By Thomas Campion

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o’erflow with wine,
Let well-turned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

Poem of the Week

Nothing Is Lost

by Noel Coward

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

Poem of the Week

The Leafless Garden

by Mehdi Akhavan Sales

The cloud with its cold and damp skin
Has embraced the heaven tightly;

The leafless orchard
Is alone day and night
With his pure and sad silence.

His lyre is rain and his song is wind,
His garment is of nudity cloak,
And if another garment it must wear,
Let his Warf and woof be woven by golden ray.

It can grow or not grow, wherever he wants or doesn’t want;
There is neither a gardener nor a passerby.
The depressed orchard
Expects no spring.

If his eye sheds no warm luster
And on his face no leaf of smile grows,
Who says the leafless orchard is not beautiful?
It relates the tale of fruits raising their heads to the heaven, and now lying in the base coffin in earth.

The leafless orchard,
His laughter is tearful blood,
Mounted for ever on his wild yellow stallion,
It roams in autumn, the king of seasons.

Poem of the Week

Boy and Father

by Carl Sandburg

The boy Alexander understands his father to be a famous lawyer.
The leather law books of Alexander’s father fill a room like hay in a barn.
Alexander has asked his father to let him build a house like bricklayers build, a house with walls and roofs made of big leather law books.

The rain beats on the windows
And the raindrops run down the window glass
And the raindrops slide off the green blinds down the siding.

The boy Alexander dreams of Napoleon in John C. Abbott’s history, Napoleon the grand and lonely man wronged, Napoleon in his life wronged and in his memory wronged.
The boy Alexander dreams of the cat Alice saw, the cat fading off into the dark and leaving the teeth of its Cheshire smile lighting the gloom.

Buffaloes, blizzards, way down in Texas, in the panhandle of Texas snuggling close to New Mexico,
These creep into Alexander’s dreaming by the window when his father talks with strange men about land down in Deaf Smith County.
Alexander’s father tells the strange men: Five years ago we ran a Ford out on the prairie and chased antelopes.

Only once or twice in a long while has Alexander heard his father say ‘my first wife’ so-and-so and such-and-such.
A few times softly the father has told Alexander, ‘Your mother . . . was a beautiful woman . . . but we won’t talk about her.’
Always Alexander listens with a keen listen when he hears his father mention ‘my first wife’ or ‘Alexander’s mother.’

Alexander’s father smokes a cigar and the Episcopal rector smokes a cigar, and the words come often: mystery of life, mystery of life.
These two come into Alexander’s head blurry and grey while the rain beats on the windows and the raindrops run down the window glass and the raindrops slide off the green blinds and down the siding.
These and: There is a God, there must be a God, how can there be rain or sun unless there is a God?

So from the wrongs of Napoleon and the Cheshire cat smile on to the buffaloes and blizzards of Texas and on to his mother and to God, so the blurry grey rain dreams of Alexander have gone on five minutes, maybe ten, keeping slow easy time to the raindrops on the window glass and the raindrops sliding off the green blinds and down the siding.

Poem of the Week

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerald Manley Hopkins

Poem of the Week

The Break of Day

BY JOHN DONNE
‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ‘tis light?
Did we lie down because ‘twas night?
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.
Light hath no tongue, but is all eye;
If it could speak as well as spy,
This were the worst that it could say,
That being well I fain would stay,
And that I loved my heart and honour so,
That I would not from him, that had them, go.

Must business thee from hence remove?
Oh, that’s the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.

Poem of the Week

It’s Shelley’s birthday today so I offer this –

 

Good Night

Good-night? ah! no; the hour is ill
Which severs those it should unite;
Let us remain together still,
Then it will be good night.

How can I call the lone night good,
Though thy sweet wishes wing its flight?
Be it not said, thought, understood —
Then it will be — good night.

To hearts which near each other move
From evening close to morning light,
The night is good; because, my love,
They never say good-night.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poem of the Week

Travel

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I should like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow;–
Where below another sky
Parrot islands anchored lie,
And, watched by cockatoos and goats,
Lonely Crusoes building boats;–
Where in sunshine reaching out
Eastern cities, miles about,
Are with mosque and minaret
Among sandy gardens set,
And the rich goods from near and far
Hang for sale in the bazaar;–
Where the Great Wall round China goes,
And on one side the desert blows,
And with the voice and bell and drum,
Cities on the other hum;–
Where are forests hot as fire,
Wide as England, tall as a spire,
Full of apes and cocoa-nuts
And the negro hunters’ huts;–
Where the knotty crocodile
Lies and blinks in the Nile,
And the red flamingo flies
Hunting fish before his eyes;–
Where in jungles near and far,
Man-devouring tigers are,
Lying close and giving ear
Lest the hunt be drawing near,
Or a comer-by be seen
Swinging in the palanquin;–
Where among the desert sands
Some deserted city stands,
All its children, sweep and prince,
Grown to manhood ages since,
Not a foot in street or house,
Not a stir of child or mouse,
And when kindly falls the night,
In all the town no spark of light.

There I’ll come when I’m a man
With a camel caravan;
Light a fire in the gloom
Of some dusty dining-room;
See the pictures on the walls,
Heroes fights and festivals;
And in a corner find the toys
Of the old Egyptian boys.

Poem of the Week

I grabbed this portion of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” from The Writer’s Almanac:

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

It seemed fitting for July 4th.

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