Tuesday, November 29, 2011

give praise, see the angel

One moment of complaining: I hate being sick. I caught some sort of head cold-fever from my brother over Thanksgiving, and I was pretty feverish on the bus ride back to Philly. Eight hours on a bus when you're healthy is no fun; when you're sick, it's just awful. In any case, I'm apparently a bad blogger, because this thing hasn't been updated in a while. I will write a real post soon, but here, have some Thanksgiving and Advent poetry to hold you over.   

A List of Praises
Anne Porter

Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing,
Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches,
Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, 
Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun,
Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, 
A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry 
living wild on the Streets through generations of children.

Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away 
With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle
As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning,
Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh
Of the wind in the pinewoods, 
At night give praise with starry silences. 

Give praise with the skirling of seagulls 
And the rattle and flap of sails 
And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell
Out in the shipping-lanes beyond the harbor. 
Give praise with the humpback whales, 
Huge in the ocean they sing to one another.
Give praise with the rasp and sizzle of crickets, katydids and cicadas, 
Give praise with hum of bees, 
Give praise with the little peepers who live near water.
When they fill the marsh with a shimmer of bell-like cries
We know that the winter is over. 

Give praise with mockingbirds, day's nightingales.
Hour by hour they sing in the crepe myrtle 
And glossy tulip trees
On quiet side streets in southern towns.
Give praise with the rippling speech
Of the eider-duck and her ducklings
As they paddle their way downstream
In the red-gold morning 
On Restiguche, their cold river,
Salmon river, 
Wilderness river. 

Give praise with the whitethroat sparrow.
Far, far from the cities, 
Far even from the towns, 
With piercing innocence 
He sings in the spruce-tree tops,
Always four notes 
And four notes only. 

Give praise with water, 
With storms of rain and thunder 
And the small rains that sparkle as they dry,
And the faint floating ocean roar 
That fills the seaside villages, 
And the clear brooks that travel down the mountains 

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country. 
Advent is my favorite liturgical season, but it's hard to find Advent poems instead of Christmas ones. Here's one I found on Maggi Dawn's blog. She's an Anglican (really Anglican, because she's English) priest.
Edwin Muir (1887-1959)

The angel and the girl are met, 
Earth was the only meeting place,
For the embodied never yet
Travelled beyond the shore of space.
The eternal spirits in freedom go. 

See, they have come together, see,
While the destroying minutes flow,
Each reflects the other's face
Till heaven in hers and earth in his
Shine steady there. He's come to her
From far beyond the farthest star,
Feathered through time. Immediacy
of strangest strangeness is the bliss
That from their limbs all movement takes.
Yet the increasing rapture brings
So great a wonder that it makes
Each feather tremble on his wings. 

Outside the window footsteps fall
Into the ordinary day
And with the sun along the wall
Pursue their unreturning way
That was ordained in eternity.
Sound's perpetual roundabout
Rolls its numbered octaves out
And hoarsely grinds its battered tune. 

But through the endless afternoon
These neither speak nor movement make,
But stare into their deepening trance
As if their gaze would never break. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

I want my free will

October is gone, and November is here. Has been here for a week and a half. I turned 28, yay for me. Creeping closer to 30 every day, I guess, although most people look at me and think I'm about 19.

I've had some things happen in the past week, things that are out of my control, so, um, prayers (if you pray) or good thoughts (if you don't pray, and even if you do) would be appreciated.

Today is Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and St. Martin of Tours' feast day.  Go spread some peace, 'cause I think that's how we should actually remember.  

I've completely neglected to post poems for the past two weeks, so have some Rilke.

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

-Rainer Marie Rilke 
trans. Annemarie S. Kidder
(I found the German original here, if anyone is interested)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

but we fight for roses, too

This song seems appropriate.

"Bread and Roses" is of my favorite protest songs. It's a tribute to the Lawrence Mills strike of 1911 (100 years this year!) Judy Collins has a wonderful version, but this one is Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.

James Oppenheim wrote the poem in 1912, and Mimi Farina put it to music in the mid-70s:

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.
As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.
As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.
As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; bread and roses, bread and roses.