Thursday, August 04, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Things of August" by Wallace Stevens




Some lines from Wallace Stevens for this August Friday. 

Locusts and crickets as ambits of the soul? It rings satisfyingly true. 

This poem appeared in the 

 



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Past musings on Wallace Stevens are here

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Molly is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up at 
Nix the Comfort Zone



Thursday, July 14, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Time to Hear Ourselves Think"



I've missed you! 

I haven't really had time to think lately as I've been traveling back and forth between my own town and my parents', helping them out with a number of health issues, and just trying to stay afloat. So Dick Allen's "Time to Hear Ourselves Think" feels like an appropriate choice for today. 

I hope you can enjoy some time this week to hear yourself think. 


Time to Hear Ourselves Think 
by Dick Allen 

We've missed that for years, not so much 
The thinking itself — that goes on regardless —
But the hearing of it, small waterwheels ....

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.) 

~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Poetry Friday: I love the father my husband is

 


Every Father's Day, I marvel at the amazing father that my husband became, and is. 

And here's a perfectly beautiful poem by Li-Young Lee about his father. 

The happiest of Father's Days to Atticus, to my dad, and to all fathers. 

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
....

~~~~~~~~~~

Michelle Kogan is hosting the round-up this week. 

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Poetry Friday: I'm hosting!


I took an unintentional blog break as I moved from the busyness of the school year into helping my parents with a couple of things and now I've suddenly realized: 

It is June

In honor of June, summer, seasonal beauty, and in honor of my deep love for Yeats, I give you "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." Is there anything more perfect? 

I'm hosting Poetry Friday this week, so please add your links — June-ish, summery, and otherwise — to Mr. Linky, below. 

Happy Arrival of June and Happy Poetry Friday! 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.






Friday, May 06, 2022

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins reads Lawrence Raab


On Wednesday's Poetry Broadcast, Billy Collins read a short poem called "One of the Ways We Talk to Each Other" by Lawrence Raab. (I can't find that one in print online, but you can hear Collins read it here, starting at the 29:00 minute mark.) As someone who's been married for 38 years, I appreciated the genuine peek into a moment of communication gone wrong, then set right. 

I also appreciated the introduction to Raab — I wasn't familiar with him at all — and it made me want to buy his latest collection, April at the Ruins. Poetry Foundation says, "Conversational yet precise, Raab’s lyrical meditations trace human fallibility and doubt." 

Ah, a few of my favorite things. 

Here's another one: 

Marriage

by Lawrence Raab

Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
....
(Read the rest of this short one here, at Poetry Foundation.)


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Poetry Friday: "The Poet" by Jane Hirshfield



On the eve of the last day of National Poetry Month, I give you this gem from the marvelous poet Jane Hirshfield


The Poet 
by Jane Hirshfield

She is working now, in a room
not unlike this one,
the one where I write, or you read.
Her table is covered with paper.
The light of the lamp would be
tempered by a shade, where the bulb's
single harshness might dissolve,
but it is not; she has taken it off.

(Read the rest here, at The Atlantic.) 




Friday, April 08, 2022

Poetry Friday: It's National Poetry Month and I've got the Poetry Month Blues


It happens every year. April is a busy time for me. The reasons vary, but the fact remains the same. I never ever tackle National Poetry Month with the verve I intend and desire. (Past lamentation posts here.) 

Case in point: four years ago, I wrote this poem near the end of NPM. In keeping with today's theme of "I'm too busy, I'm too busy!" I haven't even written a new poem about National Poetry Month. I'm simply re-running this old one.  🙂

But, as the poem declares, that's okay. Every week is Poetry Week (well, except last week, when I was too busy to post. Arrgh!) 

Enough. The past is the past. Onward! 

Happy National Poetry Month! And for more about what's happening with KidLit bloggers everywhere, check out Jama Rattigan's comprehensive post. Thanks, Jama! 


Poetry Month Blues 
Karen Edmisten 

Another April — Poetry Month! —
slipping through my fingers.
Failed plans, lack of sharing ...
Oh, the guilt in me lingers.

"Next year will be different!"
I shout out with conviction.
Really? Inner Me sneers,
that's a doubtful prediction. 

Who knows? Should I worry?
I think not, you see. 
Every Friday's poetry day.
That's just Weekly Me.

~~~~~~~~~~

Janice has the roundup this week at Salt City Verse

Friday, March 25, 2022

Poetry Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins

 


The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Feast! Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. I've been running behind on everything this week, including getting a Poetry Friday post together, but this morning Atticus suggested "The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

Ah. Yes. Perfect. 

Hopkins has always fascinated me. From Poetry Foundation

Gerard Manley Hopkins is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I. Hopkins’s family encouraged his artistic talents when he was a youth in Essex, England. However, Hopkins became estranged from his Protestant family when he converted to Roman Catholicism. Upon deciding to become a priest, he burned all of his poems and did not write again for many years. His work was not published until 30 years after his death when his friend Robert Bridges edited the volume Poems.

That entry includes an extensive bio of Hopkins — it's long but well worth your time. As a melancholic/INFJ/Enneagram 4/Questioner/all-around-party-killer myself, I've always been intrigued by Hopkins, who wrote one of my most beloved poems about grief, "No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief."  I love that piece for its brutal honesty, the way it confronts the devastation of loss and acknowledges that no matter how deeply one believes in God, we are gutted when we lose someone we love. There is no denying our humanity: "Comforter, where, where is your comforting?/Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?" 

The Poetry Foundation says: 

According to his own testimony Hopkins was subject to melancholy all his life, but his “terrible pathos,” as Dixon called it, is most obvious in these late sonnets. Following Saint Ignatius, Hopkins defined “spiritual sloth” or “desolation” as “darkness and confusion of soul ... diffidence without hope and without love, so that [the soul] finds itself altogether slothful, tepid, sad, and as it were separated from its Creator and Lord.” Called acedia in Latin, this sin is differentiated from physical sloth by the fact that the victim realizes his predicament, worries about it, and tries to overcome it.

The sense of coldness, impotence, and wastefulness evident in Hopkins’s religious poetry of the 1860s is an important feature of acedia, but by far the most important is “world sorrow,” the predicament lamented in Hopkins’s “No worst, there is none” (1885). 


See? I told you I was a party killer. 

Because today is not about death and grief, but about life and a particular kind of celebration, so it's time to switch gears a bit. At the Annunciation, Mary was asked if she would say yes to the incomprehensible. (I do feel compelled to point out that this was, in its way, a kind of death, the death of the life Mary had known but hey, we melancholics can relate everything to death. It's a talent.) The Annunciation was also a turning point and a model for us: Mary said yes to a staggering request. What am I asked to say yes to? When God asks the incomprehensible of me, do I remember Gabriel's words to Mary: "Do not be afraid"? On a good day, I both say yes and am not afraid. Not every day is a good day but today I'm shaking off my melancholic tendencies and party-killing ways and I will celebrate accordingly. I will not be afraid, I will say yes, I will take comfort in the Comforter and find relief in Mary's ways. 


Here are some excerpts from Hopkins's beautiful poem, "The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe": 

This air, which, by life’s law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race—

....

Again, look overhead
How air is azurèd;
O how! nay do but stand
Where you can lift your hand
Skywards: rich, rich it laps
Round the four fingergaps.
Yet such a sapphire-shot,
Charged, steepèd sky will not
Stain light.   Yea, mark you this:
It does no prejudice.
The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.

(Read the whole thing here, at the website of the International Hopkins Association.) 

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Amy Ludwig Vanderwater has the round-up at The Poem Farm

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Time" by Laura Landis Laedlein

I went looking for a poem about time because, as we are all painfully aware, this week is our first week on Daylight Saving Time. 

(Not "Daylight Savings Time," because it is, as Kent of VEEP so helpfully points out, "neither plural nor possessive.") 

Daylight Saving Time provokes all manner of thought and emotion in me. I get tired, I rail and rage against this attempt to harness and control the uncontrollable. After a day or two of (exhausting) railing and raging, I collapse. I nap. Then I ponder time and the endless ways we reflect on it. My hunt for "poems about time" led me to this one in the 1923 issue of Poetry Magazine and also left me wondering who Laura Landis Laedlein was. All I could find out about her was this brief bio in the magazine: "Miss Laura Landis Laedlein is a business woman in Williamsport, Pa." 

Hmm. 

I hope that Laura Landis Laedlein made the most of her time in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I hope she had the time of her life writing poetry and that she spent time rejoicing when this one was published in Poetry magazine. I hope her time as a business woman was successful and that perhaps she saw a kindred spirit in Wallace Stevens, he of insurance/poetry fame. I hope she knows she did what poets do: she touched eternity in a small, human way — she reached out, hand stretched across so many decades, and handed me this poem, a hundred years after its publication, on a day when I was thinking about time and its odd and poignant hold on us. 

Thank you, Miss Laura Landis Laedlein, for taking the time to write a poem. Thank you for setting aside time to submit your poem to Poetry magazine. Thank you for whatever else you did in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I hope that your time on this earth was, as Mary Oliver would want it to be for you, wild and precious. 



Time 

by Laura Landis Laedlein 

I see the procession of the hours...
Across the day:
Hand-linked they run, and light-footed;
Swift-footed alway.

I see the procession of the years
Across life's plain:
Masked, they lean forward, and press onward,
A marching train. 

I see the backward path centuries have come
To where I stand;
And, holding the present, touching eternities
With my hand.

~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Poetry Friday: The Traveling Onion by Naomi Shihab Nye



Head straight to Poetry for Children today as Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong talk food and poetry and share a sneak peek at their book, Things We Eat. This new anthology features an all-star cast of poets and eaters and you won't want to miss it. All the proceeds from this book will go to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund


In keeping with our hosts' food theme, I'm sharing this one from Naomi Shihab Nye. It's about onions but, of course, it's not really about onions. Or perhaps I should say it's not only about onions. Peel away its layers and see what you think. 


The Traveling Onion

by Naomi Shihab Nye 


“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook


When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,

(Read the rest here, at Poets.org.) 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Poetry Friday: Dear March—Come in by Emily Dickinson


I'm welcoming March with my beloved Emily because, well, isn't this simply what one does? 


Dear March—Come in
by Emily Dickinson 


Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare - how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame—

(This poem is in the public domain.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Kathryn Apel has the roundup (not to mention a new book — congratulations, Kat!) 
Visit her here for all the poetic goodness. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

A Meaningful Lent: The Monstrously Long Post

Ready to head into the desert? You'll find ideas in my newest book, The Companion Book of Catholic Days: A Guide to Feasts, Saints, Holy Days, and Seasons. (You can find it here, at The Word Among Us, and here, on Amazon.) 


And to revisit a past series of posts go here, to A Meaningful Lent: The Monstrously Long Post

Friday, February 25, 2022

Poetry Friday: Wild Gratitude


Today I'm sharing Edward Hirsch's "Wild Gratitude" because I keep learning and relearning what it means to offer praise and thanksgiving. Gratitude doesn't look the same from year to year, month to month, day to day, or even minute to minute. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the gifts that have made their way into my life and other days I'm holding on to gratitude as if it's a gossamer strand I could lose if I blink. Those are the days I most need to sit down with my journal and simpy write, Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and most of all? Thank you. 


 Wild Gratitude

by Edward Hirsch

Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey,
And put my fingers into her clean cat’s mouth,
And rubbed her swollen belly that will never know kittens,
And watched her wriggle onto her side, pawing the air,
And listened to her solemn little squeals of delight,
I was thinking about the poet, Christopher Smart,
Who wanted to kneel down and pray without ceasing
In every one of the splintered London streets,

(Read the whole poem at Edward Hirsch's website.)

~~~~~~~~~~

She and the Poetry Sisters have been up to their usual Amazing-ness. 
Thank you, Poetry Sisters. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins again (not because I forgot, but because he deserves it)

It's Billy Collins again. 

I could lie and say that I forgot I shared a Billy Collins poem last week, but that's not true. I just can't get enough of Billy Collins (that's always been true). 

So, not because I've forgotten, but rather because I love "Forgetfulness" (and can relate), here it is: 

Forgetfulness

by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

(Read the rest here, at Poets.org.) 


And as long as we're on the subject of fading memories, we might need this today too: 

            

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 Don't forget to visit Linda Baie, who has the roundup at TeacherDance

Friday, February 04, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Days" by Billy Collins


It's been far too long since I shared anything by Billy Collins. It's time, people, it's time! Days are precious and every day without Billy Collins is a day with a hole in it. 

I love the way this poem delicately walks the line between gratitude and sheer, existential terror. 

And, in case you didn't know, here's a thing you should know: 



Days
by Billy Collins


Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.
....

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place 
but so precariously 
this day might be resting somehow 

on the one before it, 
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes 
entertainers used to build on stage. 

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.


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 Elisabeth has the round-up at Unexpected Intersections