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Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Harp, Oct 17, 2010.
That's nice.. Cheers.. Ron
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world
Afternoon in February
The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.
Through clouds like ashes
The red sun flashes
On village windows
That glimmer red.
The snow recommences;
The buried fences
Mark no longer
The road o'er the plain;
While through the meadows,
Like fearful shadows,
A funeral train.
The bell is pealing,
And every feeling
Within me responds
To the dismal knell;
Shadows are trailing,
My heart is bewailing
And tolling within
Like a funeral bell.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Robert Burns would have to be my favourite poet, here is a video of me reciting his masterpiece Tam O'Shanter, I hope you enjoy it. The video is from Burns Night 2011, I have done this for 5 years now, but I think that this was the best rendition that I have on video.
A Noiseless Patient Spider
A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.
When You are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
--W. B. Yeats
Loving him, the mother takes thread in hand;
Leaving her, he'll have this coat on his shoulders.
Now that he's about to go, she mends with fine, fine stitches;
She knows the fear that he'll be gone a long, long time.
Who would say the heart of a tiny blade of grass
Could repay the sun for all the warmth of spring?
I don't drink because I'm a Poet.
I drink because I"m not a Poet.
I love Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding. I never found any good translations of him so I made a quick attempt myself. It botches his perfect sense of rhythm and rhyme (didn't even attempt rhyming) but at least it keeps the meaning intact:
I purchased my love for money
For me, it was all I could get.
Sing prettily, o jangling strings,
Sing prettily of love just the same.
The dream that never came true,
As a dream it was lovely to have.
To him who was banished from Eden
Eden is Eden still.
- Gustav Fröding, 1898
After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.
The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.
The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no taxes to Caesar.
I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.
I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:
“We do not surrender. But want peace.”
The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.
The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole.
Dim as the borrowed beams of moon and stars
To lonely, weary, wandering travelers,
Is Reason to the soul; and, as on high
Those rolling fires discover but the sky,
Not light us here, so Reason’s glimmering ray
Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way;
But guide us upward to a better day.
A Nation’s Strength
What makes a nation's pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that ‘round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at His feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
^^Wonderful poem by Emerson, the Transcendentalist.
One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should,
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer, the calf is dead;
But still behind he left this trail,
And thereon hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way,
And then a wise bell-weather sheep
Pursued that trail o’er dale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-weathers always do,
And from that day o’er hill and glade
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path;
But still they follow—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf.
The forest became a lane
That bent and turned and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath that burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The village road became a street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.
And soon a central street was this
In a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Followed the wanderings of this calf.
Each day a hundred thousand strong
Followed this zigzag calf along;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one poor calf, three centuries dead.
For just such reverence is lent
To well established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach.
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And in and out, and forth and back,
And still their devious paths pursue,
To keep the paths that others do,
They keep the path a sacred grove
Along which all their lives they move
And how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.
~The Cow Path, Samuel Foss
...this poem might as well be titled, "stare decisis".
To be glad of life,
because it gives you the chance to love
and to work and to play and to look up to the stars;
to be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself
until you have made the best of them;
to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness,
and to fear nothing except cowardice;
to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts;
to covet nothing that is your neighbors'
except their kindness of heart and gentleness of manners;
to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends
and every day of Christ; and to spend as much time as you can
with body and spirit, in God's out-of-doors--
these are the little guideposts on the footpath of peace.
~Henry van Dyke
^^You come up with some beautiful examples, JazzyDame.
Thank you, Widebrim--very kind of you to say. I've always enjoyed meaningful poetry, prose and literature, in general.
I see you're also located in California--a pleasure making your acquaintance, neighbor. Cheers!
If on the closed curtain of my sight
My fancy paints thy portrait far away,
I see thee still the same, by night or day;
Crossing the crowded street, or moving bright
'Mid festal throngs, or reading by the light
Of shaded lamp some friendly poet's lay,
Or shepherding the children at their play,--
The same sweet self, and my unchanged delight.
But when I see thee near, I recognize
In every dear familiar way some strange
Perfection, and behold in April guise
The magic of thy beauty that doth range
Through many moods with infinite surprise,--
Never the same, and sweeter with each change.
~Portrait and Reality, Henry van Dyke
(...a little respite from my job results in much reading and perhaps a few too many poetry posts. )
Likewise, and greetings from L.A. (And Proverbs 3:5,6 is foundational.)
Thank you, and yes, it is, indeed. (And John 3:16,17, well...there is no greater Love.) God bless you, new friend.