Child, We’ve Done Our Best

Delmore Schwartz

Heart’s Needle 2

by W. D. Snodgrass

 Late April and you are three; today
         We dug your garden in the yard.
    To curb the damage of your play,
Strange dogs at night and the moles tunneling,   
    Four slender sticks of lath stand guard   
         Uplifting their thin string.

    So you were the first to tramp it down.
         And after the earth was sifted close   
    You brought your watering can to drown
All earth and us. But these mixed seeds are pressed   
    With light loam in their steadfast rows.
         Child, we’ve done our best.

    Someone will have to weed and spread
         The young sprouts. Sprinkle them in the hour   
    When shadow falls across their bed.
You should try to look at them every day   
    Because when they come to full flower
         I will be away.


Do you ever feel like you just can’t get ahead of the sequence in which the order of things would make sense?   I wanted to plant a few fruit trees this spring, but the cold, wet, late spring has made that complicated.   I got 6 trees planted yesterday, blustery, rainy mid-40’s cloudy day, perfect for bare root trees, not so perfect for the gardener.   Now I have to figure out how to keep the deer off them until I can build a proper deer fence.   All my intentions for positioning the orchard were thrown out the window by unexpected complications in designing a new septic field.   We’ll see who wins, but it would have been so much easier if I could have built the fence first, then then plant the trees.     


 

Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day

By Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966)
 
 
Calmly we walk through this April’s day,   
Metropolitan poetry here and there,   
In the park sit pauper and rentier,   
The screaming children, the motor-car   
Fugitive about us, running away,   
Between the worker and the millionaire   
Number provides all distances,   
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,   
Many great dears are taken away,   
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)   
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)
 
(This is the school in which we learn …)   
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days   
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run   
(This is the school in which they learn …)   
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)
 
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,   
But what they were then?
                                     No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,   
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)   
But what they were then, both beautiful;
 
Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn

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A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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