Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Suicide of a Moderate Dictator" by Elizabeth Bishop





This is a day when truths will out, perhaps;
leak from the dangling telephone earphones

sapping the festooned switchboards’ strength;

fall from the windows, blow from off the sills,

—the vague, slight unremarkable contents

of emptying ash-trays; rub off on our fingers

like ink from the un-proof-read newspapers,

crocking the way the unfocused photographs

of crooked faces do that soil our coats,

our tropical-weight coats, like slapped-at moths.


Today’s a day when those who work

are idling. Those who played must work

and hurry, too, to get it done,

with little dignity or none.

The newspapers are sold; the kiosk shutters

crash down. But anyway, in the night

the headlines wrote themselves, see, on the streets

and sidewalks everywhere; a sediment’s splashed

even to the first floors of apartment houses.


This is a day that’s beautiful as well,

and warm and clear. At seven o’clock I saw

the dogs being walked along the famous beach

as usual, in a shiny gray-green dawn,

leaving their paw prints draining in the wet.

The line of breakers was steady and the pinkish,

segmented rainbow steadily hung above it.

At eight two little boys were flying kites.


by Elizabeth Bishop


For more information about the poet, Elizabeth Bishop, see:




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Our thoughts are with the innocent victims of the Belgium terrorist attacks

    
Belgium


La Belgique ne regrette rien

Not with her ruined silver spires,

Not with her cities shamed and rent,

Perish the imperishable fires

That shape the homestead from the tent.

 

Wherever men are staunch and free,

There shall she keep her fearless state,

And homeless, to great nations be

The home of all that makes them great.



by Edith Wharton


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/belgium/12200878/Brussels-explosions-Everything-we-know-so-far-at-11am-on-Tuesday-morning.html



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Proem" by Octavio Paz



At times poetry is the vertigo of bodies and the vertigo of speech and the vertigo of death;
the walk with eyes closed along the edge of the cliff, and the verbena in submarine gardens;

the laughter that sets on fire the rules and the holy commandments;

the descent of parachuting words onto the sands of the page;

the despair that boards a paper boat and crosses,
for forty nights and forty days, the night-sorrow sea and the day-sorrow desert;

the idolatry of the self and the desecration of the self and the dissipation of the self;

the beheading of epithets, the burial of mirrors;    
the recollection of pronouns freshly cut in the garden of Epicurus, and the garden of Netzahualcoyotl;
the flute solo on the terrace of memory and the dance of flames in the cave of thought;

the migrations of millions of verbs, wings and claws, seeds and hands;

the nouns, bony and full of roots, planted on the waves of language;

the love unseen and the love unheard and the love unsaid: the love in love.


Syllables seeds.

by Octavio Paz (translated from the Spanish by Eliot Weinberger)


For more information on the poet, Octavio Paz, see:



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Acquainted with the Night" by Robert Frost



I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.



by Robert Frost


What can I say? He does it so well and he makes it look so easy, but he would have laboured long and hard for it to appear so effortless.






For more on poet, Robert Frost, see:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-frost
 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "The Work of Happiness" By May Sarton


I thought of happiness, how it is woven

Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.
 

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.
 

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life's span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.
 

By May Sarton




For more on the poet, May Sarton, see:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/may-sarton

 
 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot


   
     S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
     A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
     Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
     Ma percioche giammai di questo fondo
     Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
     Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
               So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
               And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
               Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
               That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
 
by T. S. Eliot
 
 
 
For more about the great man, see: