Nix the Comfort Zone.
Thursday, August 04, 2022
Nix the Comfort Zone.
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Thursday, June 02, 2022
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
by Lawrence Raab
Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
On the eve of the last day of National Poetry Month, I give you this gem from the marvelous poet 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.
Friday, April 08, 2022
Janice has the roundup this week at Salt City Verse.
Friday, March 25, 2022
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.
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
(Read the whole thing here, at the website of the International Hopkins Association.)
Thursday, March 17, 2022
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."
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.
by Laura Landis Laedlein
Across the day:
Hand-linked they run, and light-footed;
I see the procession of the years
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
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
When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
Thursday, March 03, 2022
Tuesday, March 01, 2022
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.)
Friday, February 25, 2022
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 Gratitudeby 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.)
Friday, February 11, 2022
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:
Forgetfulnessby 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.
Don't forget to visit Linda Baie, who has the roundup at TeacherDance.
Friday, February 04, 2022
by Billy Collins
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.
Elisabeth has the round-up at Unexpected Intersections.