Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
New Year’s Morning (Excerpt)
by Helen Hunt Jackson
Always a night from old to new! Night and the healing balm of sleep! Each morn is New Year’s morn come true, Morn of a festival to keep. All nights are sacred nights to make Confession and resolve and prayer; All days are sacred days to wake New gladness in the sunny air. Only a night from old to new; Only a sleep from night to morn. The new is but the old come true; Each sunrise sees a new year born.
The Old Year
John Clare (1793 – 1864)
The Old Year’s gone away ..To nothingness and night: We cannot find him all the day .Nor hear him in the night: He left no footstep, mark or place . .In either shade or sun: The last year he’d a neighbour’s face, . .In this he’s known by none.
All nothing everywhere: . .Mists we on mornings see Have more of substance when they’re here . .And more of form than he. He was a friend by every fire, . .In every cot and hall– A guest to every heart’s desire, . .And now he’s nought at all.
Old papers thrown away, . .Old garments cast aside, The talk of yesterday, . .Are things identified; But time once torn away . .No voices can recall: The eve of New Year’s Day . .Left the Old Year lost to all.
“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Instructions on Not Giving Up
by Ada Limon
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees that really gets to me. When all the shock of white and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then, I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
by John Clare
The spring is coming by a many signs; The trays are up, the hedges broken down, That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines Like some old antique fragment weathered brown. And where suns peep, in every sheltered place, The little early buttercups unfold A glittering star or two–till many trace The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold. And then a little lamb bolts up behind The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe, And then another, sheltered from the wind, Lies all his length as dead–and lets me go Close bye and never stirs but baking lies, With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.
“We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; Yet the strongest, most authentic motive for deep reading….is the search for a difficult pleasure.”
by John Clare
I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky
Harold Bloom, a fellow lover of sonnets, passed away this week. Bloom was a literary critic of legendary status, who loved words. Bloom was first and foremost a devotee of reading, though he did suffer from a bit of snobbery on the subject. Someone who enjoyed reading as much as he did, should have promoted reading for reading’s sake regardless of whether he agreed with another’s readers tastes, but Bloom felt all of us needed to be exposed to the genius lying in wait for us between the covers of the great books of literature. Bloom espoused the idea many times that reading was a way to explore what makes us human in ways that go beyond our solitary thoughts, by learning about some of the greatest minds of all time through their art, their ideas.
“It is hard to go on living without some hope of encountering the extraordinary.”
Bloom compiled many lists over the years of the essential canon of English literature. You can find several variations on that theme on the internet with a casual search. However, the best list of his on poetry that I have found is shared on the Floating Library. I have included a link below. Check it out. Of course the two poems today come from his list. Rest in peace Harold. I promise to do my part and keep up the good work of reading and making our way slowly through your list of gems, and even add to your list along the way a ripping good limerick or two you might have missed.