Tag Archives: poetry.

Mary Oliver

She passed away – loved so many of her poems, especially this one:

I Worried
by Mary Oliver
I worried a lot.  Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Beryl O’Links

Or, barrel o’ links. (Beryl O’Links is an Irish lass, she is!)

As we wind down 2018, a few links of interest: the death of Georges Loinger, may his memory be a blessing; trove of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems found; kitties domesticated themselves; and, Hijab in the House, by the brilliant Bruce Bawer. In regards this last story, I mentioned to one of my sisters this summer that I was concerned about the anti-Semitism of some of the rising young “stars” of the Democratic Party, and she insisted that anyone openly espousing contempt for Jews would never be elected. I was like, yeah, we’ll see. Cough.

“Villanelle” for Vera Brittain

Beautiful poem written by Roland Leighton for Vera Brittain. It was April 1915 and he was serving in France. He was killed by a sniper eight months later. (I dearly wish I had some of my uncle’s poems to his fiancee, Christine, but any letters she received, of course, stayed with her. If she kept them, perhaps her children have them – I have a hope one of her kids will see my other site and contact me, but it is possible she may never have told them about Norman.)

Violets from Plug Street Wood,
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue, when his soaked blood was red,
For they grew around his head:
It is strange they should be blue.)

Think what they have meant to me –
Life and hope and Love and You
(and you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay
Hiding horrors from the day;
Sweetest, it was better so.)

Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land
These I send in memory
Knowing you will understand.

D.H. Lawrence’s “Mountain Lion”

This poem is magnificent. Why did we have to read Lawrence’s novels at university, but not his poems? I could have lived without the former, but surely would have appreciated — even loved — the latter.

Mountain Lion

Climbing through the January snow, into the Lobo Canyon
Dark grow the spruce-trees, blue is the balsam, water sounds still unfrozen, and the trail is still evident

Men!
Two men!
Men! The only animal in the world to fear!

They hesitate.
We hesitate.
They have a gun.
We have no gun.

Then we all advance, to meet.

Two Mexicans, strangers, emerging our of the dark and
snow and inwardness of the Lobo valley.
What are they doing here on this vanishing trail?

What is he carrying?
Something yellow.
A deer?

Que’ tiene amigo?
Leon-

He smiles foolishly as if he were caught doing wrong.
And we smile, foolishly, as if we didn’t know.
He is quite gentle and dark-faced.

It is a mountain lion,
A long, long, slim cat, yellow like a lioness.
Dead.

He trapped her this morning, he says, smiling foolishly.

Life up her face,
Her round, bright face, bright as frost.
Her round, fine-fashioned head, with two dead ears;
And stripes in the brilliant frost of her face, sharp, fine dark rays,
Dark, keen, fine rays in the brilliant frost of her face.
Beautiful dead eyes.

Hermoso es!

They go out towards the open;
We go out into the gloom of Lobo.
And above the trees I found her lair,
A hole in the blood-orange brilliant rocks that stick up, a little cave.
And bones, and twigs, and a perilous ascent.

So, she will never leap up that way again, with the yellow flash of a mountain lion’s long shoot!
And her bright striped frost-face will never watch any more, out of the shadow of the cave in the blood- orange rock,
Above the trees of the Lobo dark valley-mouth!

Instead, I look out.
And out to the dim of the desert, like a dream, never real;
To the snow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the ice of the mountains of Picoris,
And near across at the opposite steep of snow, green trees motionless standing in snow, like a Christmas toy.

And I think in this empty world there was room for me and a mountain lion.
And I think in the world beyond, how easily we might spare a million or two humans
And never miss them.
Yet what a gap in the world, the missing white frost-face of that slim yellow mountain lion!

National Poetry Month

It is National Poetry Month – for the occasion, I wrote this poem. It isn’t very good – it doesn’t even rhyme. But it’s mine.

OLD-FASHIONED

I once lived in Paris

In an apartment with four other girls and four thousand cockroaches

My mother sent me letters about getting married

And books about getting married

And – in her tiny, precise script – advice about getting married

Advice hard come by; decades of marriage and few flowers behind her

 

She sent me articles about things that would kill me:

Date rape drugs

And certain vegetables

And taking strangers’ suitcases across borders

And unpasteurized cheese, of which I ate beaucoup with butter and baguette

Fears saved up from a lifetime of hurt, only occasionally dulled by her beloved Old Fashioneds

 

I was dating, if you could call it that

And studying French poetry and such

At the Sorbonne

I read about roses and profiting from my youth

Allons voir si la rose and cueilliez vostre Jeunesse

A sort of French, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

 

Until a man who looked like the lead singer from A-ha

Fell in love with me and bought me roses

We saw ‘Goodfellas’ together

I laughed at the lowlifes

He was horrified by my laughter

He loved me so much I was sure I would shrivel up and fall

 

I sometimes look at his Facebook page

Half dreading I will see

“I’m so glad that girl wouldn’t marry me”

But I never do

I just see his big, splashy paintings, violet and red streaks like petals

And still the lead singer from A-ha, crinkle-eyed and bearded now

 

I became a journalist and wrote articles

about a German Shepherd who raised tiny baby kittens as her own

and about women over 40 getting pregnant at the sperm bank

gathering their rosebuds in a panic

which is something a friend of mine did and something I never contemplated

As I am old-fashioned

They Are Not Long

I do love this poem.

They Are Not Long

by Ernest Dowson

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

Robbie Burns

It’s his day and as such, I will link back to what I put up on this site two years ago – my favourite Burns poem, To a Mouse. (Yes, I realize the actual name of the poem was not simply To a Mouse.) Burns must have been something of an early animal rights guy, because he also wrote The Wounded Hare:

Inhuman man! curse on thy barb’rous art,
And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye;
May never pity soothe thee with a sigh,
Nor ever pleasure glad thy cruel heart!

Go live, poor wand’rer of the wood and field!
The bitter little that of life remains:
No more the thickening brakes and verdant plains
To thee a home, or food, or pastime yield.

Seek, mangled wretch, some place of wonted rest,
No more of rest, but now thy dying bed!
The sheltering rushes whistling o’er thy head,
The cold earth with thy bloody bosom prest.

Perhaps a mother’s anguish adds its woe;
The playful pair crowd fondly by thy side;
Ah! helpless nurslings, who will now provide
That life a mother only can bestow!

Oft as by winding Nith I, musing, wait
The sober eve, or hail the cheerful dawn,
I’ll miss thee sporting o’er the dewy lawn,
And curse the ruffian’s aim, and mourn thy hapless fate.

Charles Bukowski, Cat Guy

Bukowski wrote this lovely poem about (his) cats:

My Cats

I know. I know.
they are limited, have different
needs and
concerns.

but I watch and learn from them.
I like the little they know,
which is so
much.

they complain but never
worry,
they walk with a surprising dignity.
they sleep with a direct simplicity that
humans just can’t
understand.

their eyes are more
beautiful than our eyes.
and they can sleep 20 hours
a day
without
hesitation or
remorse.

when I am feeling
low
all I have to do is
watch my cats
and my
courage
returns.

I study these
creatures.

they are my
teachers.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Yevgeny Yevtushenko died this weekend. This obituary is fair, I think, describing well both his courage and his limitations. Since most of us only have limitations though, I am less inclined to be critical of his decision to work within the Soviet system. He wrote ‘Babi Yar,’ and for that, we all owe him. I cannot read this poem without tears.

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok.
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

More information about the massacre here.

MTM

Peeps, I am completely without words to express my sadness at the death of Mary Tyler Moore. I will process and write about it later. I wanted to write about Robbie Burns and many other things this week, but something more close to home has been taking my attention – my Significant Other had hip replacement surgery this morning. He is doing well, thankfully. But the day has been busy, so for now I will link back to my Burns post of exactly one year ago tonight. Mary would approve. She was a friend to the animals.