Friday, January 27, 2012

It was a small part of the pantomime.

So I really, really missed the poetry boat this week, but life just caught up to me. Here, as an apology:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

to the waters and the wild

This has been one of my favorites for a long time, and I don't know why I haven't posted it yet.
 
The Stolen Child
W.B. Yeats
 
Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. 
 
Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
 
Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scare could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
 
Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

Monday, January 16, 2012

we have seen our cities burning

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr speaks for himself, and therefore I have little to say:





"Beyond Vietnam," 1967
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ain't it crazy what’s revealed when you’re not looking all that close

I'm going to break away from traditional poetry for a day and do "music as poetry"--because I do think some songs can count as poems

For example...

Bob Dylan, "Chimes of Freedom"

For some reason, it's ridiculously hard to find a version of Dylan singing this, so here's the Byrds:



Far between sundown's finish and midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, as thunder went crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
And for each and ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.


Of course, I think a lot of Dylan's stuff is pure poetry, but that's just one example.


Emmylou Harris, "The Pearl"


Oh, the dragons are gonna fly tonight
They're circling low and inside tonight
It's another round in the losing fight
Out along the great divide tonight

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war
Seeking out some half remembered shore
We drink our fill and still we thirst for more
Asking if there's no heaven, what is this hunger for?

Our path is worn, our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God, of God, of God


Over the Rhine, "Jesus in New Orleans" (Also, I could listen only to Karin Bergquist's voice for the rest of my life and die a happy woman)



The last time I saw Jesus
I was drinking Bloody Marys in the South
In a barroom in New Orleans
Rinsin’ out the bad taste in my mouth

She wore a dark and faded blazer
With a little of the lining hanging out
When the jukebox played Miss Dorothy Moore
I knew that it was him without a doubt

Friday, January 6, 2012

were we all led that way?

Epiphany: from the Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, meaning "appearance" or "manifestation." (I like the word manifestation myself. Also, Rebecca, if you read this, you could probably say more about the Greek than I can.)

When I think of epiphany, I think of two things:

1. In the Western churches, we celebrate the feast of the three kings today. The Eastern churches celebrate Christ's birth today. Either way, if you celebrate: Happy Epiphany! Have an icon: