Wild To Hold

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 – 1542)

Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.

Anatole Broyard

 

The Heart and Service

By Sir Thomas Wyatt
 
The heart and service to you proffer’d
With right good will full honestly,
Refuse it not, since it is offer’d,
But take it to you gentlely.
 
And though it be a small present,
Yet good, consider graciously
The thought, the mind, and the intent
Of him that loves you faithfully.
 
It were a thing of small effect
To work my woe thus cruelly,
For my good will to be abject:
Therefore accept it lovingly.
 
Pain or travel, to run or ride,
I undertake it pleasantly;
Bid ye me go, and straight I glide
At your commandement humbly.
 
Pain or pleasure, now may you plant
Even which it please you steadfastly;
Do which you list, I shall not want
To be your servant secretly.
 
And since so much I do desire
To be your own assuredly,
For all my service and my hire
Reward your servant liberally.
 

Whoso List to Hunt

by Sir Thomas Wyatt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, helas! I may no more.
The vain travail hath worried me so sore,
I am of them that furthest come behind.
Yet may I by no means, my worried mind
Draw from the deer; but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I, may spend his time in vain;
And graven in diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about,
“Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am,
And wild to hold, though I seem tame.”

 

Being Not Unloveable

G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”

G. K. Chesterton

For A War Memorial

by G. K. Chesterton

The hucksters haggle in the mart
The cars and carts go by;
Senates and schools go droning on;
For dead things cannot die.

A storm stooped on the place of tombs
With bolts to blast and rive;
But these be names of many men
The lightning found alive.

If usurers rule and rights decay
And visions view once more
Great Carthage like a golden shell
Gape hollow on the shore,

Still to the last of crumbling time
Upon this stone be read
How many men of England died
To prove they were not dead.


The Convert

By G. K. Chesterton

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live

I Shall Walk Straightly

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000)

One reasons cats are happier than people is they have no newspapers.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Hunchback Girl: She Thinks of Heaven

by Gwendolyn Brooks

My Father, it is surely a blue place,
And Straight. Right. Regular. Where I shall find
No need for scholarly nonchalance or looks
A little to the left or guards upon the
Heart to halt love that runs without crookedness
Along its crooked corridors. My Father,
It is a planned place surely. Out of coils,
Unscrewed, released, no more to be marvelous,
I shall walk straightly through most proper halls
Proper myself, princess of properness.




Court Musicians

by Joyce Kilmer

As when in summer-scented days gone by
The court-musicians, dressed in velvets gay
And golden silks, would on their gitterns play
And blend their voices with the strings’ love-cry,
So that the princess from her tower on high
Might through the rose-framed window hear their lay,
And make more splendid the resplendent day
By leaning out, her choristers to spy;

So now, with weary voice and violin,
Two court-musicians rend the dusty air.
Their shrill notes pierce the elevated’s din,
And thrill a girl’s heart with a pleasure rare.
For her has sweeter music never been;
They never saw a princess half so fair.

You Think I Don’t Know

Denise Levertov (1923 -1997)

There comes a time when only anger is love.

Denise Levertov

Talking To Grief

by Denise Levertov

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.
You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.


The Gift

by Denise Levertov

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer

Naming These Things Is The Love-Act

Patrick Kavanaugh (1904 – 1967)

“I saw the danger, yet I passed along the enchanted way,

And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.”

Patrick Kavanaugh

 

The Hospital

by Patrick Kavanaugh

A year ago I fell in love with the functional ward
Of a chest hospital: square cubicles in a row
Plain concrete, wash basins – an art lover’s woe,
Not counting how the fellow in the next bed snored.
But nothing whatever is by love debarred,
The common and banal her heat can know.
The corridor led to a stairway and below
Was the inexhaustible adventure of a gravelled yard.

This is what love does to things: the Rialto Bridge,
The main gate that was bent by a heavy lorry,
The seat at the back of a shed that was a suntrap.
Naming these things is the love-act and its pledge;
For we must record love’s mystery without claptrap,
Snatch out of time the passionate transitory.

 


The Visiting Hour

 
By Toi Derricotte
 
he came in his seedy brown jacket smelling of paint.   all
thumbs, a man stumbling over his own muscles, unable to
hold some part of himself and rock it, gently.   she gave
up, seeing him come in the door, wanting to show him her
flat belly just an hour before, looking at her own corpse
in the mirror.   she lay there reduced, neither virgin nor mother.
 
it had been decided.   the winter was too cold in the garage.
they would live with her mother.   the old bedroom was
already prepared, cleaned, the door opened.   the solitary
twin bed remained; he would sleep on the porch.
 
she looked at him and tried to feel her way into the body
of a woman, a thing which has to be taken care of, held
safely in his arms.
 
she lay there, trying to hold on to what she had, knowing
she had to let it go.

My Tongue Is Divided Into Two

Hannah Lowe

“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.”

Tony Blair

 Sonnet for the British-Born

by Hannah Lowe

And suddenly, new language: ‘British-Born’,
for kids who grew up on terraces in Leeds
or tower blocks in Bow, and at weekends tied
their bootlaces for footie on the lawn
and went to college to study Sports or Business
or Car Mechanics and spoke with accents thick
as Yorkshire mud or London bullet-quick –
bare good and innit – and were as British as

a pack of salt-and-vinegar, and no,
his teacher hadn’t noticed him withdrawing
and no, his mother hadn’t wondered who
he called at 2am in the blue lit bedroom
of their bungalow, though despite her scrubbing,
the words still clear on their garden wall: ‘Go Home’


My Tongue is Divided Into Two

By Quique Aviles
 
My tongue is divided into two
by virtue, coincidence or heaven
words jumping out of my mouth
stepping on each other
enjoying being a voice for the message
expecting conclusions
 
My tongue is divided into two
into heavy accent bits of confusion
into miracles and accidents
saying things that hurt the heart
drowning in a language that lives, jumps, translates
 
My tongue is divided by nature
by our crazy desire to triumph and conquer
 
This tongue is cut up into equal pieces
one wants to curse and sing out loud
the other one simply wants to ask for water
 
My tongue is divided into two
one side likes to party
the other one takes refuge in praying
 
tongue
english of the funny sounds
tongue
funny sounds in english
tongue
sounds funny in english
tongue
in funny english sounds
 
My tongue sometimes acts like two
and it goes crazy
not knowing which side should be speaking
which side translating
 
My tongue is divided into two
a border patrol runs through the middle
frisking words
asking for proper identification
checking for pronunciation
 
My tongue is divided into two
My tongue is divided into two
 
I like my tongue
it says what feels right
I like my tongue
it says what feels right

In My Heart

Edmund Spenser

“Sleep after Toil, Port after stormy Seas,

Ease after War, Death after Life, does greatly please.”

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book One

Amoretti III: The Sovereign Beauty

By Edmund Spenser
 
The sovereign beauty which I do admire,
Witness the world how worthy to be praised:
The light whereof hath kindled heavenly fire
In my frail spirit, by her from baseness raised;
That being now with her huge brightness dazed,
Base thing I can no more endure to view;
But looking still on her, I stand amazed
At wondrous sight of so celestial hue.
So when my tongue would speak her praises due,
It stopped is with thought’s astonishment:
And when my pen would write her titles true,
It ravish’d is with fancy’s wonderment:
Yet in my heart I then both speak and write
The wonder that my wit cannot indite.
 
 

Sonnet

On being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It was Frequented by a Lunatic (1797)

by Charlotte Smith (1749 – 1806)

Is there a solitary wretch who hies
To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half-utter’d lamentation, lies
Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
The depth or the duration of his woe.

 

Seize The Land In Triumph

Adam Mickiewicz (1798 – 1856)

Now my soul is incarnate in my country. My body has swallowed her soul, And I and my country are one. My name is million, for I love and suffer for millions.

Adam Mickiewicz 

The Testament

by Taras Shevchenko
Translated by E. L. Voynich, London, 1911

Dig my grave and raise my barrow
By the Dnieper-side
In Ukraina, my own land,
A fair land and wide.
I will lie and watch the cornfields,
Listen through the years
To the river voices roaring,
Roaring in my ears.

When I hear the call
Of the racing flood,
Loud with hated blood,
I will leave them all,
Fields and hills; and force my way
Right up to the Throne
Where God sits alone;
Clasp His feet and pray…
But till that day
What is God to me?

Bury me, be done with me,
Rise and break your chain,
Water your new liberty
With blood for rain.
Then, in the mighty family
Of all men that are free,
May be sometimes, very softly
You will speak of me?


AJUDAH

by Adam Mickiewicz 

I like to watch leaning on Ajudah’s face
How foaming billows pressed in black ranks grow
Or at other times like silvery snow
Whirl in millions of rainbows with splendid grace.
They strike against the shoal, break into wave sprays,
Like an army of whales the shore overflow,
Seize the land in triumph, in retreat they go,
Toss shells, pearls, corals behind in their grace.
So it is, o young Poet, in your heart!
Passion often gives threatening storms a start,
But when you raise your lute, it leaves you unscarred,
In the oblivion of deep waters will drown
And the immortal songs will scatter down
From which on your brow ages will weave the crown.

 

AJUDAH

by Adam Mickiewicz 

Lubię poglądać wsparty na Judahu skale,
Jak spienione bałwany to w czarne szeregi
Ścisnąwszy się buchają, to jak srebrne śniegi
W milijonowych tęczach kołują wspaniale.
Trącą się o mieliznę, rozbiją na fale,
Jak wojsko wielorybów zalegając brzegi,
Zdobędą ląd w tryumfie i, na powrót zbiegi,
Miecą za sobą muszle, perły i korale.
Podobnie na twe serce, o poeto młody!
Namiętność często groźne wzburza niepogody;
Lecz gdy podniesiesz bardon, ona bez twej szkody
Ucieka w zapomnienia pogrążyć się toni
I nieśmiertelne pieśni za sobą uroni,
Z których wieki uplotą ozdobę twych skroni

And We Want More

May Swenson (1913 – 1989)

The best poetry has its roots in the subconscious to a great degree. Youth, naivety, reliance on instinct more than learning and method, a sense of freedom and play, even trust in randomness, is necessary to the making of a poem.

May Swenson

July 4th 

 
by May Swenson
 
Gradual bud and bloom and seedfall speeded up
are these mute explosions in slow motion.
From vertical shoots above the sea, the fire
flowers open, shedding their petals. Black waves,
turned more than moonwhite, pink ice, lightning blue, 
echo our gasps of admiration as they crash 
and hush. Another bush ablaze snicks straight up. 
A gap like heartstop between the last vanished
particle and the thuggish boom. And the thuggish 
boom repeats in stutters from sandhill hollows 
in the shore. We want more. A twirling sun, 
or dismembered chrysanthemum bulleted up, leisurely
bursts, in an instant timestreak is suckswooped
back to its core. And we want more: red giant,
white dwarf, black hole dense, invisible, all in one.
 
 

July

by Henry Allen

July 4th fireworks jar American nights,
shells chugging upwards to snap/crackle/pop
amid the wistful smoke. Bright sounds! Loud lights!
Next day, July starts. Will it ever stop?
So very big, so lonely, like high plains
beneath a canopy of glare, a herd
beneath a tree, first thoughts of hurricanes
and Pickett’s “Charge!”—the Lost Cause in one word.
July is lilies in a dry, hard shade,
a disembodied triumph under superskies,
a month of lidlessness and lemonade,
of radiant boulevards and empty eyes.
July: Augustan mixed with Junoesque,
a half-baked poet sleeping at his desk.

Forget-me-not

Forget Me Nots

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Servitude 

by Amanda Auchter

Is this a type of desire? A question
of faith that your lover

will not leave if you serve him enough
bread, tea, your body.  Devotion is false,

St Zita believed, that only in servitude
one could find God. Servitude

as penance. As love. So you become
servile, offer up poems, a bed

to spend the night, a glass of dark
wine. So you open the door, drive him

to the airport, let him kiss you
goodbye. But you are a cup

he expects to break. You serve him
from this cup. You carry the cup

to his mouth. You want him to taste
your willingness, your shame.

 


 

Scorpion Grass

by Amanda Auchter

Forget-me-nots used to be known as ‘scorpion grass’, with the current
name only appearing in the early 19th century.

Forget-me-not, delicate throat
in your palm. How easy it is to

crush me underfoot, under your
body’s weight in this field. You throw

down blankets here, twist grasses
into rings you give to your wife. I bend

and bend, my head too heavy with
a month of rain. I am small,

a mouse’s ear. You forget how
you pulled off each of my petals

before her, twirled my roots around
your long fingers. Me, so blue

and coiled, a wind shiver, a sting
you named, a broken stem.