More Auden. Recently reminded of this poem and am finding it fits life a little more than one wants it to…
The More Loving One
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total darkness sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
— W.H. Auden
Auden. If only everything in life could be as exquisitely balanced as his poetry.
Musée Des Beaux Arts
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on
And I was dreaming of the simple life and the hills… 🙂
A Quiet Life
I liked it. Does there need to be reason more than that?
Now that no one looking
Now that no one looking at the night-
Sky blanked by leakage from electric lamps
And headlights prowling through the parking lot
Could recognize the Babylonian dance
That once held every gazer; now that spoons
And scales, and swordsmen battling with beasts
Have decomposed into a few stars strewn
Illegibly across an empty space,
Maybe the old unfalsifiable
Predictions and extrapolated spheres
No longer need to be an obstacle
To hearing what it is the stars declare:
That there are things created of a size
We can’t and weren’t meant to understand,
As fish know nothing of the sun that writes
Its bright glyphs on the black waves overhead.
— Adam Kirsch
The exactly correct poem for Mayday.
I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,
Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,
Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever
Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.
I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,
Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.
— Phillis Levin
Because days like this need a poem like this one.
Sometimes things don’t go,
after all, from bad to worse.
Some years, muscadel faces down frost;
green thrives; the crops don’t fail.
Sometimes a man aims high,
and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care enough,
that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best intentions do not go amiss;
sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt
a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen;
may it happen for you
— Sheenah Pugh
Substitute the names. Substitute hills and fog for the swans and snow. That would describe the weekend.
Halfway to work and Merriman already has told me
What he thinks about the balanced budget, the Mets’
Lack of starting pitching, the dangers of displaced
Soviet nuclear engineers, soy products, and diesel cars.I look out the window and hope I’ll see a swan.
I hear they’re bad-tempered but I love their necks
And how they glide along so sovereignly.
I never take the time to drive to a pondAnd spend an hour watching swans. What
Would happen if I heeded the admonitions of beauty?
When I look over at Merriman, he’s telling Driscoll
That the President doesn’t know what he’s doing
With China. “China,” I say out loud but softly.
I go back to the window. It’s started snowing.
— Baron Wormser
A good one to read with Plath’s Mirror…
A Trick with Mirrors
iIt’s no coincidence
this is a used
I enter with you
and become a mirror.
are the perfect lovers,that’s it, carry me up the stairs
by the edges, don’t drop me,that would be back luck,
throw me on the bedreflecting side up,
fall into me,it will be your own
mouth you hit, firm and glassy,
your own eyes you find you
are up against closed closed
There is more to a mirror
than you looking at
your full-length body
flawless but reversed,
there is more than this dead blue
oblong eye turned outwards to you.
Think about the frame.
The frame is carved, it is important,
it exists, it does not reflect you,
it does not recede and recede, it has limits
and reflections of its own.
There’s a nail in the back
to hang it with; there are several nails,
think about the nails,
pay attention to the nail
marks in the wood,
they are important too.
Don’t assume it is passive
or easy, this clarity
with which I give you yourself.
Consider what restraint it
takes: breath withheld, no anger
or joy disturbing the surface
of the ice.
You are suspended in me
beautiful and frozen, I
preserve you, in me you are safe.
It is not a trick either,
it is a craft:
mirrors are crafty.
I wanted to stop this,
this life flattened against the wall,
mute and devoid of colour,
built of pure light,
this life of vision only, split
and remote, a lucid impasse.
I confess: this is not a mirror,
it is a door
I am trapped behind.
I wanted you to see me here,
say the releasing word, whatever
that may be, open the wall.
Instead you stand in front of me
combing your hair.
You don’t like these metaphors.
Perhaps I am not a mirror.
Perhaps I am a pool.
Think about pools.
— Margaret Atwood
A Perfect Poem to receive for the day…
The Art of Disappearing
When they say Don’t I know you? say no.
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say we should get together.
say why? It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished. When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second. Then decide what to do with your time.
Naomi Shihab Nye
A Happy Note for a sad day or a sad note for a happy one?
Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand,
rise on wings;to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;to tell pain
from everything it’s not;
to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.
An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switched off;and if only once
to stumble upon a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;
and to keep on not knowing
Not Poetry, but I liked the sentence very much.
The Internet: a never-ending nightmare where the same tortured poem of talking points is read endlessly by a mob of brain-dead zombies, each reciting their favorite line before going in search of fresh flesh to rend, and ultimately signifying nothing, without even any sound or fury.
– Andrew Leonard
Because it’s the sort of day that really needs a dose of Cope before one can cope.
An Attempt at Unrhymed Verse
People tell you all the time,
Poems do not have to rhyme.
It’s often better if they don’t
And I’m determined this one won’t.
Never mind, I’ll start again.
Busy, busy with my pen…cil.
I can do it if I try–
Easy, peasy, pudding and gherkins.
Writing verse is so much fun,
Cheering as the summer weather,
Makes you feel alert and bright,
‘Specially when you get it more or
less the way you want it.
— Wendy Cope
Its true. Nothing is ever as one wants it to be
Because the last line has been ringing in my head…
So I can misquote from it… Sniffle.
The Cold Within
Six humans trapped by happenstance
In dark and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood–
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
But the first one held hers back,
For, of the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next one looked cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And could not bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of wealth he had in store,
And keeping all that he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For he saw in his stick of wood
A chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain,
Giving just to those who gave
Was how he played the game,
Their sticks held tight in death’s stilled hands
Was proof enough of sin;
They did not die from cold without–
They died from cold within.
— James Patrick Kinny
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
— Sylvia Plath
Now that I live in the house of the Sun…
die for it-
or the world. People
have done so,
their small bodies be bound
to the stake,
fury of light. But
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun
for everyone just
as it rises
under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?
What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it
whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
— Mary Oliver
First found on a day that was as boring as this one is turning out to be..
Dream Song 14
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.
Since I have no cockroaches like archy to write about the moths that use my home for their suicide attempts every evening…
The Lesson of the Moth
i was talking to a moththe other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wireswhy do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no senseplenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself
— Don Marquis
On a boring day …
if i can’t do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don’t want
it’s not the same thing
but it’s the best i can
if i can’t have
what i want . . . then
my job is to want
what i’ve got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want
since i can’t go
where i need
to go . . . then i must . . . go
where the signs point
through always understanding
when i can’t express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
but that’s why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry
— Nikki Giovanni