Wednesday, April 30, 2008

30 days, 30 poems: Year 2

Last year I posted 30 poems during the month of April, in honor of National Poetry Month. I'm doing the same this year.

I cannot promise a poem every day--I wouldn't be able to suceed. So some days will have two or more poems, others none. There will still be 30 poems for the month. (Even if it means that I have to post ten on April 30, which it might. ;))

Index of Poems

Poem 1: The Poplar Field by William Cowper
Poem 2: Song by Christina Rossetti
Poem 3: All in green went my love riding by e.e. cummings
Poem 4: (We grow accustomed to the Dark) by Emily Dickinson
Poem 5: Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poem 6: Dream Variations by Langston Hughes
Poem 7: La Belle Dame sans Merci by John Keats
Poem 8: In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke
Poem 9: A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London by Dylan Thomas
Poem 10: The Song of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats
Poem 11: Holy Sonnets 1 by John Donne
Poem 12: Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent's Narrow Room by William Wordsworth
Poem 13: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Poem 14: [Because I could not stop for Death] by Emily Dickinson
Poem 15: Sailing to Byzantium by W.B. Yeats
Poem 16: Mending Wall by Robert Frost
Poem 17: The Poems of our Climate by Wallace Stevens
Poem 18: Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish
Poem 19: In My Craft or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas
Poem 20: The Day Lady Died by Frank O'Hara
Poem 21: Green Rain by Mary Webb
Poem 22: The Monk and his Pet Cat
Poem 23: A Sparrow-hawk
Poem 24: A Piper by Seumas O'Sullivan
Poem 25: Cities Drowned by Henry Newbolt
Poem 26: Velvet Shoes by Eleanor Wylie
Poem 27: Spring Quiet by Christina Rossetti
Poem 28: I Saw a Peacock
Poem 29: From "Regeneration" by Henry Vaughan
Poem 30: A Dream of Trees by Mary Oliver

This post will remain at the top of the blog for April.

Poem 28

I Saw a Peacock

I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud wrapped with ivy round
I saw an oak creep on along the ground
i saw a pismire swallow up a whale
I saw the sea brim full of ale
I saw a Venice glass five fathoms deep
I saw a well full of men's eyes that weep
I saw red eyes all of a flaming fire
I saw a house bigger than the sun and higher
I saw the moon at twelve o'clock at night
I saw the Man that saw this wondrous sight.

There's a trick to this poem. See if you can figure it out.

Poem 30

A Dream of Trees

There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
I would have time, I thought, and time to spare,
With only streams and birds for company,
To build out of my life a few wild stanzas.
And then it came to me, that so was death,
A little way away from everywhere.

There is a thing in me still dreams of trees.
But let it go. Homesick for moderation,
Half the world's artists shrink or fall away.
If any find solution, let him tell it.
Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation
Where, as the times implore our true involvement,
The blades of every crisis point the way.

I would it were not so, but so it is.
Who ever made music of a mild day?

~Mary Oliver

Poem 29

From "Regeneration"

The unthrifty sun shot vital gold,
A thousand pieces;
And heaven its azure did unfold
Chequered with snowy fleeces;
The air was all in spice,
And every bush
A garland wore; thus fed my eyes,
But all the earth lay hush.

Only a little fountain lent
Some use for ears,
And on the dumb shades language spent--
The music of her tears.

~Henry Vaughan

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Poem 27

Spring Quiet

Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing.

Where in the whitethorn
Singeth a thrush,
And robin sings
In the holly-bush.

Full of fresh scents,
Are the budding boughs
Arching high over
A cool green house.

Full of sweet scents
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
"We spread no snare;

"Here dwell in safety,
Here dwell alone,
With a clear stream
And a mossy stone.

"Here the sun shineth
Most shadily;
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be."

~Christina Rossetti

Christ is risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Poem 26

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as a white cow's milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

~Eleanor Wylie

Poem 25

Cities Drowned

Cities drowned in olden time
Keep, they say, a magic chime
Rolling up from far below
When the moon-led waters flow.

So within me, ocean deep,
Lies a sunken world asleep.
Lest its bells forget to ring,
Memory! set the tide a-swing!

~Henry Newbolt

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poem 24

A Piper

A piper in the streets to-day
Set up, and tuned, and started to play,
And away, away, away on the tide
Of his music we started; on every side
Doors and windows were opened wide,
And men left down their work and came,
And women with petticoats colored like flame.
And little bare feet that were blue with cold,
Went dancing back to the age of gold,
And all the world went gay, went gay,
For half an hour in the street to-day.

~Seumas O'Sullivan

Poem 23

A Sparrow-Hawk

A sparhawk proud did hold in wicked jail
Music's sweet chorister, the Nightingale;
To whom with sighs she said: "O set me free,
And in my song I'll praise no bird but thee."
The Hawk replied: "I will not lose my diet
To let a thousand such enjoy their quiet."

Poem 22

The Monk and His Pet Cat

I and my white Pangur
Have each his special art:
His m ind is set on hunting mice,
Mine is upon my special craft.

I love to rest--better than any fame!--
With close study at my little book;
White Pangur does not envy me:
He loves his childish play.

When in our house we two are all alone--
A tale without tedium!
We have--sport never-ending!
Something to exercise our wit.

At times by feats of derring-do
A mouse sticks in his net,
While into my net there drops
A difficult problem of hard meaning.

He points his shining eye
Against the fence of the wall:
I point my clear though feeble eye
Against the keenness of science.

He rejoices with quick leaps
When in his sharp claws sticks a mouse:
I too rejoice when I have grasped
A problem difficult and dearly loved.

Though we are thus at all times,
Neither hinders the other,
Each of us pleased with his own art
Amuses himself alone.

He is a master of the work
Which every day he does:
While I am at my own work
To bring difficulty to clearness.

Poem 21

Green Rain

Into the scented woods we'll go,
And see the blackthorn swim in snow.
High above, in the budding leaves,
A brooding dove awakes and grieves;
The glades with mingled music stir,
And wildly laughs the woodpecker.
When blackthorn petals pearl the breeze,
There are the twisted hawthorne trees
Thick-set with buds, as clear and pale
As golden water or green hail--
As if a storm of rain had stood
Enchanted in the thorny wood,
And, hearing fairy voices call,
Hung poised forgetting how to fall.

~Mary Webb

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Poem 20

The Day Lady Died

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Negres
of Genet, but I don't. I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandriness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the John door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

~Frank O'Hara

Poem 19

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On this spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

~Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poem 18

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown--

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.


A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind--

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea--

A poem should not mean
But be.

~Archibald MacLeish

Poem 17

The Poems of Our Climate

Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
Pink and white carnations. The light
In the room more like a snowy air,
Reflecting snow. I newly-fallen snow
At the end of winter when afternoons return.
Pink and white carnations--one desires
So much more than that. The day itself
Is simplified: a bowl of white,
Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
With nothing more than the carnations there.

Say even that this complete simplicity
Stripped one of all one's torments, concealed
The evilly compounded, vital I
And made it fresh in a world of white,
A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
Still one would want more, one would need more,
More than a world of white and snowy scents.

There would still remain the never-resting mind,
So that one would want to escape, com back
To what had been so long composed.
The imperfect is our paradise.
Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

~Wallace Stevens

Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Monday

Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake and watching, but unworthy is he whom he shall find idle and careless. Beware, then my soul lest thou be weighed down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death and shut out of the Kingdom. But awake and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou O God: through the intercessions of the Bodiless Ones, save us.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Poem 16

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper bounders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the bounders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

~Robert Frost

Poem 15

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
--Those dying generations--at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.


An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore have I sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is pst, or passing, or to come.

~W.B. Yeats

My Norton Shorter Anthology of Poetry (1376 pages long) has these notes for this poem:

Byzantium: Of the ancient city of Byzantium....Yeats made a many-faceted symbol, which, since it is a symbol, should not be brought within the limits of too narrowly specific interpretation. Byzantine painting and the mosaics that decorated its churches....were stylized and formal, making no attempt at the full naturalistic rendering of human forms....In A Vision [Yeats] makes of it an exemplar of an civilization that had achieved "Unity of Being."

perne: Out of the noun pern (usually pirn), a weaver's bobbin, spool, or reel, Yeats makes a verb meaning to move in the spiral pattern taken by thread being unwound from a bobbin or wound upon it.

gyre: The gyre (Yeats' term) is a conical shape based on the geometrical figure of interpenetrating cones; here it is traced in teh falcon's sweep upward and out in widening circles from the falconer.

Palm Sunday

It's Orthodox Palm Sunday, in case you didn't know, and I'm not at church because of schoolwork. (There's no church in the town where I go to school--I have to go home to go.) And I just feel very discouraged about the fact that I didn't share Palm Sunday with anyone. It's not that I feel guilty because part of the reason I didn't go home this weekend was so I could go home next weekend for Pascha (Easter). But still. I've spent too much time without a community already. At the same time, I feel very strongly that God put me at my school and I love it, so I can't see myself leaving. And I know I would be miserable at home with my family. That's just the way things are. It's still hard to realize that we moved 3,000 miles away from everyone we knew so we could have a community and then here I am without one. I feel alone. I know that God is always with me, and the Mother of God and the saints and angels as well. But I've also messed up a lot this Lent. I haven't followed the fast strictly--again, not entirely my fault because my body needs protein and the dining hall here does not know how to serve vegetarian meals with protein in them--and I've slacked off on all of the spiritual things I was going to do. It leaves me with this feeling that I don't have any fruits to bring for the past 40 days. And that's both sad and scary to me.

I know that things will probably get better and I'm partly stressed about school because I always feel like I'm slipping behind. And the weather has stayed cold and grey far later than it was supposed to--we had snow, rain, and hail yesterday. And my situation is what it is. But all the same I can't help feeling like there's something wrong.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poem 14

Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just Ourselves -
And Immortality.

We slowly drove - He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility -

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess - in the Ring -
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain -
We passed the Setting Sun -

Or rather - He passed Us -
The Dews drew quivering and Chill -
For only Gossamer my Gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle -

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground -
The Roof was scarcely visible -
The Cornice - in the Ground -

Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity -

~Emily Dickinson

Poem 13


I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert...Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, April 18, 2008

Poem 12

Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent's Narrow Room

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison into which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

~William Wordsworth

Poem 11

Holy Sonnets


Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me
That not one hour I myself can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

~John Donne

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Poem 10

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And something called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

~W.B. Yeats

When I went through and picked poems to post for this month it was so hard to pick a Yeats because there are so many! I won't say they're all good, but he certainly has a large number of amazing poems.* Actually, you'll be getting at least one more.

*This is partly because I am of the opinion that both his early and late poetry is great while some favor one or the other.

Poem 9

So now I'm obviously behind after my computer issues. I'll be posting at least two poems a day for the next few days to try to catch up.

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

~Dylan Thomas

I put this one down mostly because I love Dylan Thomas and then typing it up I realized again just how beautiful it is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


We just had a meeting for the London program with the professor that's going with us. It was the first time I'd met her or known who else was going in the Spring. And you know what? All of a sudden it seems a little more real. Like, wow. I'm going to London. I really am. It's not a dream, I'm really going.

I'm excited. *

*and really scared that Something will Happen and I won't get a job and won't have the money to go, but I'm trying to tell myself to stop being utterly ridiculous, God opened this door for me and He'll make sure I get to go.

**NOTE**I haven't been posting for the last days because my computer's battery died. But a new one will be arriving in the next few days, so I'll be back to regular posting (hopefully) by early next week.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Poem 8

In a Dark Time

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what i have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My ysoul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the minnd,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

~Theodore Roethke

Poem 7

La Belle Dame sans Merci

O what can ail thee, Knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the Lake
And no birds sing!

O what can ail thee, Knight at arms,
So haggard and so woebegone?
The squirrel's granary is full
And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

"I met a Lady in the Meads,
Full beautiful, a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light
And her eyes were wild.

"I made a Garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant Zone;
She looked at me as she did love
And made sweet moan.

"I set her on my pacing steed
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend and sing
A faery's song.

"She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said
'I love thee true.'

"She took me to her elfin grot
And there she wept and sight full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

"And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dreamed, Ah Woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

"I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried, 'La belle dame sans merci
Hat thee in thrall!'

"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
On the cold hill's side.

"And this is why I sojourn hehre,
Alone and palely loitering;
Though the sedge is withered from the Lake
And no birds sing."

~John Keats

The second and fourth lines of each stanza should be indented, but I can't make indentation happen on Blogger. Also, "lulled" and "gaped" should have an accent above them and therefore should be read "lull-ed" and "gap-ed".

Top picture by Sir Frank Dicksee, bottom picture by John William Waterhouse. The Pre-Raphaelites had a lot of fun with this poem! (I personally think the way the knight's arms are stretched out in the first picture looks really funny, but maybe that's just me.)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Poem 6

Dream Variations

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me--
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the shun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Res at pale evening...
A tall, slim tree...
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

~Langston Hughes

This has long been one my favorite poems by Hughes. I always hear it to the tune of "Simple Gifts."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Poem 5

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things--
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

~Gerard Manley Hopkins

Friday, April 04, 2008

Poem 4

We grow accustomed to the Dark -
When Light is put away -
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye -

A Moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our Vision to the Dark -
And meet the Road - erect -

And so of larger - Darknesses -
Those evenings of the Brain -
When not a Moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within -

The Bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.

~Emily Dickinson

She was the first poet I ever learned to really love. My father visited Mystic Seaport, where they have a bookstore, and brought back a little book of her poems for me. I don't know how old I was...thirteen or so, I think. At any rate, I fell in love with them. Fortunately, this book had the real versions, not the "We're going to change everything to be more conventional after you're dead and can't do anything about it" versions.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Just an FYI

I just went back and replied to comments for the past few weeks, so if you left me one, you should have a reply. If you don't, let me know!

There's a large magnolia tree near my dorm which just started blooming. My roommate picked two blossoms and one is sitting in a little vase on my desk. It's already starting to droop, but it smells spectacular. I hope spring has finally actually come.

Poem 3

All in green went my love riding

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into a silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the merry deer ran before.

Fleeter be they than dapplred dreams
the swift sweet deer
the red rare deer.

Four red roebuck at a white water
the cruel bugle sang before.

Horn at hip went my love riding
riding the echo down
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the level meadows ran before.

Softer be they than slippered sleep
the lean lithe deer
the fleet flown deer.

Four fleet does at a gold valley
the famished arrow sang before.

Bow at belt went my love riding
riding the mountain down
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the sheer peaks ran before.

Paler be they than daunting death
the sleek slim deer
the tall tense deer.

Four tall stags at a green mountain
the lucky hunter sang before.

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
my heart fell dead before.

~e.e. cummings

Yup, the "anyhow lived in a prettyhow town" e.e. cummings. I love his other poetry as well, but there's something about this one that is just incredibly beautiful.

Poem 2


When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

~Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

This and that

Markus Zusak, the author of the fabulous Book Thief, has been interviewed by the Guardian. Check it out!

I've joined Goodreads. My name there is Maureen E, if anyone else is there and wants to add me.

The swallows have come. They were here when we got back from break. They're so lovely, flying normally and then closing their wings and swooping down. I believe they're the ones that catch bugs in their beaks while flying. That's skill. I love to see them flying around the stream that runs through campus.

March reading list

The books which I did read in March--lo, there are many.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down--Anne Fadiman: Read for Anthropology. Fascinating story of the conflict between a Hmong family and the doctors treating their daughter for severe epilepsy.

Imaginary Lands--ed. Robin McKinley: A collection of stories by different authors, meant to convey a strong sense of landscape. Some I enjoyed, others I didn't. Cautiously recommended. (There might be some content involved--I can't quite remember at this point.)

Rowan Farm--Margot Benary-Isbert: Excellent book, reviewed it here.

I, Claudius--Robert Graves: I enjoyed it quite a lot. A mixture of funny, serious, and quite tragic, it provides a personal glimpse into Roman history.

A Schilling for Candles--Josephine Tey: One of my favorite Tey books, of which there are many.

Them Children--Martha Ward: Another book for anthropology. A case study of children near New Orleans.

Up to Speed--Rae Armentrout: For poetry class. I'm not a huge Armentrout fan.

Sorcery and Cecelia--Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: I cannot say enough about this book! It's just lovely. In fact, I think I may have to re-read it.

Crown Duel and Court Duel--Sherwood Smith: I found myself remembering these books with fondness, despite the rather predictable storyline. Meliara is just such an interesting character. So I picked them up again.

East--Edith Pattou: A re-telling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." Definitely recommended.

The Silver Branch--Rosemary Sutcliff: A very worthy book from one of my favorite authors. Highly recommended.

River Secrets--Shannon Hale: Once I made it through, I was glad. Not up to par with the earlier books, in my opinion, but if you're reading the series, you'll probably want to keep going.

The Year of Secret Assignments--Jaclyn Moriarty: A fun, quick read.

A Great and Terrible Beauty--Libba Bray: Not recommended at all. Really.

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman?--Eleanor Updale: Another quickish read.

The Grand Tour--Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: The sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, and just as delightful. Unfortunately, I can say almost nothing about it without giving away major spoilers for the first book.

Keturah and Lord Death--Martine Leavitt: This is a lovely little book. Very quiet and very haunting. I am resolved to post a longer review later, so that's all I'll say for now.

His Majesty's Dragon--Naomi Novik: I've heard this described as a Patrick O'Brian/Jane Austen cross-over with dragons, and it really is. Very well done. The library system here does not have the second book, and I am angry. Seriously, not pleased at all.

I, Coriander--Sally Gardner: An interesting story of magic in Cromwell's England. I liked that the characters did actually seem part of their time. They weren't just modern people in another setting. And yet, Coriander is very spunky and strong as a character.

The Door in the Hedge--Robin McKinley: Short stories by one of my favorite authors. Yay! I didn't read the last one because I'm working on a re-telling of the same fairy tale and I knew it would Influence me.

At the Sign of the Star--Katherine Sturtevant: Story of a girl in Restoration England whose widowed father is re-marrying. Again, I liked that while Meg is a spunky character, she and her family and the whole situation did feel very much of the time.

I Capture the Castle--Dodie Smith: I really, really loved this book and want to post a fuller review later.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane--Kate DiCamillo: So, let's count: Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and now Edward Tulane. All excellent books. What's Kate DiCamillo's secret?

The Falconer's Knot--Mary Hoffman: Two young people end up in adjoining monasteries, murders occur, as well as love stories. The thing I really liked about this book was the way the monasteries were portrayed. It was a very nuanced thing--while the main characters are not there by choice, it's made clear that they are grateful for the peace they find there, and additionally the other monks and nuns are shown as full characters.

Set in Stone--Linda Newbery: I did not like this book. I finished it because I have this almost constitutional inability to not finish books when I start them, but I felt like it was a watered-down version of The Thirteenth Tale, though actually I've no idea which came first.

Why Shoot a Butler?--Georgette Heyer: My first Heyer, which I loved! Funny and sweet. Reminded me in place of P.G. Wodehouse without being a rip-off. Excellent.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing--M.T. Anderson: I really felt remarkably little about this book. It was...I don't know, I didn't end up caring all that much about the characters.

The Lightning Thief--Rick Riordan: Greek gods, summer camp, and evil stepfathers. This book is a lot of fun.

Beware, Princess Elizabeth--Carolyn Meyer: I picked this book up in the throes of my mild obsession with Queen Elizabeth I. Eh. It was all right, but I didn't feel any real insights into Elizabeth's character. It would be good for a child interested in Elizabeth's life to start out with.

Love That Dog--Sharon Creech: I like this one. It's short and fun for the poetry reader, although also quite tragic.

Tiger Rising--Kate DiCamillo: And she does it again. Seriously, what is this woman eating? I have not read a book of hers that I did not like. Wow.

The Mislaid Magician--Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: I think this is the last one in the Kate/Cecelia series out, although I could see another one being written. Anyway, again, recommended. Their husbands write letters in this one too--slight language warning there, although given the characters it makes sense (and it's only there twice).

Blow Out The Moon--Libby Koponen: A true story of an American girl's time in English boarding school. It was interesting, but to be honest, I didn't feel there was all that much of a story, at least not when she was actually at the boarding school.

Poem 1

The Poplar Field

The poplars are felled; farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade;
The winds play no more and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favorite field, and the bank where they grew;
And now in the grass below they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat,
And the scene where his melody charmed me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they
With a turf on my breast, and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

'Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Though his life be a dream, his enjoyments, I see,
Have a being less durable even than he.

~William Cowper

This poem requires reading aloud to get the full effect of Cowper's exquisite rhythm. The first line is especially beautiful.