In All The Glory Of Thy Opal Sheen

Iceburg
Thomas B. Hayward, June 1905, Narrows of St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada

Our Lady of the Fjords

by Archbishop Michael Francis Howley

Hail Crystal Virgin, from the frozen fjords
Where far-off Greenland’s gelid glaciers gleen
O’er Oceans bosom soaring, cool, serene
Not famed Carrara’s purest vein affords
Such sparkling brilliance, as mid countless hordes
Of spotless glistning bergs thou reignest Queen
In all the glory of thy opal sheen
A Shimmering Shrine; Our bright Atlantic Lourdes.
We hail thee, dual patront, with acclaim,
Thou standest guardian o er our Island home.
To-day, four cycles since, our rock-bound strand.
First Cabot saw: and gave the Baptist’s name:
To-day we clothe with Pallium from Rome.
The first Archbishop of our Newfoundland!


High definition cameras on cell phones are incredible inventions. We are accustomed to dazzling imagery that it has had the unintended consequence of taking the mystery out of photography.  In the past strange phenomena, supernatural sightings, fantastic beasts, divine apparitions, ghosts and goblins were best when slightly obscured through a grainy or blurry image, letting our imaginations take part in what may or may not exist.  I found this reference to a mystical photograph when searching for a sonnet to pair with the poem by Olaf Bull.  A year ago I was in Norway being bewitched by its beauty.  Although there were no ice-burg sightings, I was enchanted by the lush green of the landscape and the many kinds of ferns and moss that covered every inch of available soil and rock.

Do you have a favorite picture you have taken where there is something unexplained in the image?  Is it just a trick of light and shadows, an optical illusion or something more mysterious?

 


Fantasi

by Olaf Bull

Som kjærlighed er trangen til at mødes
og gjøre jordens ørken til et Eden,
trængs der en drift, som ligner kjærligheden,
skal skilte tanker festligt sammenglødes.

Det er i fantasiens brudekammer
at blomst og kvinde saligt sammenfalder,
og smilehuller vorder til konvaller,
og munde roser, i vidunderflammer.

Men alle ting i deres spredte vrimmel
som staar og suser mørke mod hverandre
maalik som dø — og kun som sjæle vandre
og samles bag en ensom pandes himmel!

Dens bærer blir en gud, naar livet gløder
bag haanden, som er presset over øiet.
Det er, som om hans hode tungt er bøiet
af heftigheden ved de tusind møder!

As love is the urge to meet
and make the earth’s desert an Eden,
if there is an operation that is similar to love,
divorced thoughts must be celebrated together.

It is in the bridal chamber of the imagination
that flower and woman blissfully coincide,
and smile holes become convalescent,
and mouths of roses, in flames of wonder.

But all things in their scattered garbage
staring at each other in darkness
Angels dying – and only as souls wandering
and gather behind the lonely brow of heaven!

Its bearer becomes a god when life glows
behind the hand, which is pressed over the eye.
It is as if his head is heavily bowed
of the vehemence of the thousand meetings!

 

The Dark Accidents Of Strange Identity

delmore-schwartzs-quotes-1

The Rumor and The Whir of Unborn Wings

by Delmore Schwartz

Some girl serene, some girl whose being is
Affection, and in love with natural things,
In whom like summer like a choir sings,
Yet with a statue’s white celebrities
Although the city falls.  Golden and sleek,
Spontaneous and strong, quickend and one
To wake for joy, the mother of a son
Who climbs with conscious laughter every peak!

But I know well the party rush, the black
Rapids of feeling falling tot a bride,
Trapped in the present and the body’s lack,
Long reasons’s new hat quickly thrown aside,
And soon a child rising and toiling like me
With the dark accidents of strange identity.

 

At a Solemn Musick. (Recorded at the National Poetry Festival, 1962)


O City, City

by Delmore Schwartz

To live between terms, to live where death
has his loud picture in the subway ride,
Being amid six million souls, their breath
An empty song suppressed on every side,
Where the sliding auto’s catastrophe
Is a gust past the curb, where numb and high
The office building rises to its tyranny,
Is our anguished diminution until we die.

Whence, if ever, shall come the actuality
Of a voice speaking the mind’s knowing,
The sunlight bright on the green windowshade,
And the self articulate, affectionate, and flowing,
Ease, warmth, light, the utter showing,
When in the white bed all things are made.

 

 

There’s Copper In My Brain

Melissa Range
Melissa Range

Verdigris

by Melissa Range

Not green as new weeds or crushed juniper,
but a toxic and unearthly green, meet
for inking angel wings, made from copper sheets
treated with vapors of wine or vinegar,
left to oxidize for the calligrapher.
When it’s done, he’ll cover calfskin with a fleet
of knotted beasts in caustic green that eats
the page and grieves the paleographer.
There’s copper in my brain, my heart of hearts;
in my blood, an essential mineral.
Too much is poison. Too much air imparts
sickness to the script—once begun, eternal,
its words forever grass in drought. Nor departs
my grief, green and corrosive as a gospel.


Kermes Red

by Melissa Range

Called crimson, called vermilion—“little worm”
in both the Persian and the Latin, red
eggs for the carmine dye, the insect’s brood
crushed stillborn from her dried body, a-swarm
in a bath of oak ash lye and alum to form
the pigment the Germans called Saint John’s Blood—
the saint who picked brittle locusts for food,
whose blood became the germ of a crimson storm.
Christ of the pierced thorax and worm-red cloak,
I read your death was once for all, but it’s not true:
your kings and bishops command a book,
a beheading, blood for blood, the perfect hue;
thus I, the worm, the Baptist, and the scarlet oak
see all things on God’s earth must die for you.

O Let Me Burst

berrigan
Ted Berrigan (1934 – 1983)

The Sonnets:  III

by Ted Berrigan

Stronger than alcohol, more great than song,
deep in whose reeds great elephants decay,
I, an island, sail, and my shoes toss
on a fragrant evening, fraught with sadness
bristling hate.
It’s true, I weep too much. Dawns break
slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea,
what other men sometimes have thought they’ve seen.
And since then I’ve been bathing in the poem
lifting her shadowy flowers up for me,
and hurled by hurricanes to a birdless place
the waving flags, nor pass by prison ships

O let me burst, and I be lost at sea!
and fall on my knees then, womanly.


It feels like we are an entire country in mourning.   I don’t know if I am more attuned since the pandemic to the obituaries but it feels like the list of those passing weighs heavier, regardless of the cause of death.  Poetry has always been a way to express grief and loss, to remember those that are missed.  If you were to follow Berrigan’s example, what poem would you write in tribute to those friends and strangers whose deaths have marked you with sadness and gladness of perspective for the celebration of their life?


People Who Died

by Ted Berrigan

Pat Dugan……..my grandfather……..throat cancer……..1947.

Ed Berrigan……..my dad……..heart attack……..1958.
Dickie Budlong……..my best friend Brucie’s big brother, when we were
                                                        five to eight……..killed in Korea, 1953.
Red O’Sullivan……..hockey star & cross-country runner
                                                who sat at my lunch table
                                                            in High School……car crash……1954.
Jimmy “Wah” Tiernan……..my friend, in High School,
                                       Football & Hockey All-State……car crash….1959.
Cisco Houston……..died of cancer……..1961.
Freddy Herko, dancer….jumped out of a Greenwich Village window
     in 1963.
Anne Kepler….my girl….killed by smoke-poisoning while playing
                                    the flute at the Yonkers Children’s Hospital
                                    during a fire set by a 16 year old arsonist….1965.
Frank……Frank O’Hara……hit by a car on Fire Island, 1966.
Woody Guthrie……dead of Huntington’s Chorea in 1968.
Neal……Neal Cassady……died of exposure, sleeping all night
                                            in the rain by the RR tracks of Mexico….1969.
Franny Winston……just a girl….totalled her car on the Detroit-Ann Arbor
                                    Freeway, returning from the dentist….Sept. 1969.

Jack……Jack Kerouac……died of drink & angry sickness….in 1969.

My friends whose deaths have slowed my heart stay with me now.