September32012

The Ivy Crown by William Carlos Williams

The whole process is a lie,

unless,

crowned by excess,

it break forcefully,

one way or another,

from its confinement —

or find a deeper well.

Antony and Cleopatra

were right;

they have shown

the way.  I love you

or I do not live

at all.

Daffodil time

is past.  This is

summer, summer!

the heart says,

and not even the full of it.

No doubts

are permitted —

Though they will come

and may

before our time

overwhelm us.

We are only mortal

but being mortal

can defy our fate.

We may

by an outside chance

even win!  We do not

look to see

jonquils and violets

come again

but there are,

still,

the roses!

Romance has no part in it.

The business of love is

cruelty which

by our wills,

we transform

to live together.

It has its seasons,

for and against,

whatever the heart

fumbles in the dark

to assert

toward the end of May.

Just as the nature of briars

is to tear flesh,

I have proceeded

through them.

Keep the briars out,

they say.

You cannot live

and keep free of

briars.

Children pick flowers

Let them.

Though having them

in hand

they have no further use of them

but leave them crumpled

at the curb’s edge.

At our age the imagination

across the sorry facts

lifts us

to make roses

stand before thorns.

Sure

love is cruel

and selfish

and totally obtuse —

At least, blinded by the light,

young love is.

But we are older,

I to love

and you to be loved,

we have,

no matter how,

by our wills survived

to keep

the jeweled prize

always

at our fingertips.

We will it so

and so it is

past all accident.

April52012

The Tuft of Flowers by Robert Frost

I went to turn the grass once after one 
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun. 

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen 
Before I came to view the levelled scene. 

I looked for him behind an isle of trees; 
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze. 

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown, 
And I must be, as he had been,—alone, 

`As all must be,’ I said within my heart, 
`Whether they work together or apart.’ 

But as I said it, swift there passed me by 
On noiseless wing a ‘wildered butterfly, 

Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night 
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight. 

And once I marked his flight go round and round, 
As where some flower lay withering on the ground. 

And then he flew as far as eye could see, 
And then on tremulous wing came back to me. 

I thought of questions that have no reply, 
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry; 

But he turned first, and led my eye to look 
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook, 

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared 
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared. 

I left my place to know them by their name, 
Finding them butterfly weed when I came. 

The mower in the dew had loved them thus, 
By leaving them to flourish, not for us, 

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him. 
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim. 

The butterfly and I had lit upon, 
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn, 

That made me hear the wakening birds around, 
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground, 

And feel a spirit kindred to my own; 
So that henceforth I worked no more alone; 

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid, 
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade; 

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech 
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach. 

`Men work together,’ I told him from the heart, 
`Whether they work together or apart.’

December72011

I Carry Your Heart With Me by E. E. Cummings

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
    I fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
November112010

In Flanders Fields By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

"McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915. Here is the story of the making of that poem:

Although he had been a doctor for years and had served in the South African War, it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood here, and Major John McCrae had seen and heard enough in his dressing station to last him a lifetime.

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans — in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

'I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.'

One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieut. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on 2 May 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the little cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station beside the Canal de l’Yser, just a few hundred yards north of Ypres, McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. The major was no stranger to writing, having authored several medical texts besides dabbling in poetry.

In the nearby cemetery, McCrae could see the wild poppies that sprang up in the ditches in that part of Europe, and he spent twenty minutes of precious rest time scribbling fifteen lines of verse in a notebook.

A young soldier watched him write it. Cyril Allinson, a twenty-two year old sergeant-major, was delivering mail that day when he spotted McCrae. The major looked up as Allinson approached, then went on writing while the sergeant-major stood there quietly. ‘His face was very tired but calm as we wrote,’ Allinson recalled. ‘He looked around from time to time, his eyes straying to Helmer’s grave.’

When McCrae finished five minutes later, he took his mail from Allinson and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the young NCO. Allinson was moved by what he read:

'The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.'

In fact, it was very nearly not published. Dissatisfied with it, McCrae tossed the poem away, but a fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915.”

July172010

Song by Emily Bronte

The linnet in the rocky dells,
The moor-lark in the air,
The bee among the heather bells
That hide my lady fair:

The wild deer browse above her breast;
The wild birds raise their brood;
And they, her smiles of love caressed,
Have left her solitude!

I ween, that when the grave’s dark wall
Did first her form retain,
They thought their hearts could ne’er recall
The light of joy again.

They thought the tide of grief would flow
Unchecked through future years;
But where is all their anguish now,
And where are all their tears?

Well, let them fight for honour’s breath,
Or pleasure’s shade pursue—
The dweller in the land of death
Is changed and careless too.

And, if their eyes should watch and weep
Till sorrow’s source were dry,
She would not, in her tranquil sleep,
Return a single sigh!

Blow, west-wind, by the lonely mound,
And murmur, summer-streams—
There is no need of other sound
To soothe my lady’s dreams.

4PM

She Walks in Beauty by Lord George Gordon Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

April182010

O Do Not Love Too Long by William Butler Yeats

Sweetheart, do not love too long:
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other’s,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed -
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

2PM

An Old Story by George MacDonald

They were parted at last, although
Each was tenderly dear;
As asunder their eyes did go,
When first alone and near.

‘Tis an old story this—
A trembling and a sigh,
A gaze in the eyes, a kiss—
Why will it not go by?

April82010

You Fit Into Me by Margaret Atwood

You fit into me
Like a hook into an eye
A fish hook
An open eye

10AM

A Little While, A Little While by Emily Bronte

A LITTLE while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.

Where wilt thou go, my harassed heart—
What thought, what scene invites thee now
What spot, or near or far apart,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?

There is a spot, ‘mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But, if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.

The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight’s dome;
But what on earth is half so dear—
So longed for—as the hearth of home?

The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o’ergrown,
I love them—how I love them all!

Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away;
And from the midst of cheerless gloom,
I passed to bright, unclouded day.

A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side.

A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.

THAT was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway’s sweep,
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.

Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy’s power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.

Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.

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