To Make Anything of Anything

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Randall Jarrell (1914 – 1965)

Randall Jarrell

by Robert Lowell (1917 – 1977)

The dream went like a rake of sliced bamboo,
slats of dust distracted by a downdraw;
I woke and knew I held a cigarette;
I looked, there was none, could have been none;
I slept off years before I woke again,
palming the floor, shaking the sheets. I saw
nothing was burning. I awoke, I saw
I was holding two lighted cigarettes. . . .
They come this path, old friends, old buffs of death.
Tonight it’s Randall, his spark still fire though humble,
his gnawed wrist cradled like Kitten. “What kept you so long,
racing the cooling grindstone of your ambition?
You didn’t write, you rewrote…. But tell me,
Cal, why did we live? Why do we die?”

 


 

Aging

by Randall Jarrell

I wake, but before I know it it is done,
The day, I sleep. . . . And of days like these the years,
A life are made.  I nod, consenting to my life,
-But who can live in these quick-passing hours?
I need to find again, to make a life,
A child’s Sunday afternoon, the Pleasure Drive,
Where everything went by but time – the Study Hour
Spent at a desk with folded hands, in waiting.
In those I could make.  Did I not make in them
Myself? the Grown One whose time shortens,
Breath quickens, heart beats faster, till at last
It catches, skips?  Yet those hours that seemed, were endless
Were still not long enough to have remade
My childish heart: the heart that must have, always,
To make anything of anything, not time,
Not time but –
    .  but alas! eternity.

 

 

The Birds Have Sung Their Summer Out

walden
Walden

 

“And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.”

Chief Seattle

A Vision of Rest

by Alexander Posey

Some day this quest
Shall cease;
Some day,
For aye,
This heart shall rest
In peace.
Sometimes—ofttimes—I almost feel
The calm upon my senses steal,
So soft, and all but hear
The dead leaves rustle near
And sign to be
At rest with me.
Though I behold
The ashen branches tossing to and fro,
Somehow I only vaguely know
The wind is rude and cold.


 

The Poet’s Delay

by Henry David Thoreau

In vain I see the morning rise,
In vain observe the western blaze,
Who idly look to other skies,
Expecting life by other ways.

Amidst such boundless wealth without,
I only still am poor within,
The birds have sung their summer out,
But still my spring does not begin.

Shall I then wait the autumn wind,
Compelled to seek a milder day,
And leave no curious nest behind,
No woods still echoing to my lay?

Alone With The Gold Last Light

bee in rose.

Stung

by Heid E. Erdrich

She couldn’t help but sting my finger.
clinging a moment before I flung her
to the ground.  Her gold is true, not the trick
evening light plays on my roses.
She curls into herself, stinger twitching,
gilt wings folded.  Her whole life just a few weeks,
and my pain subsided in a moment.
In the cold, she hardly had her wits to buzz.
No warning from either of us:
she sleeping in the richness of those petals,
then the hand, my hand, cupping the bloom
in devastating force, crushing the petals for scent.
And she mortally threatened, wholly unaware
that I do this daily, alone with the gold last light,
in what seems to me an act of love.

Poem copyright ©2016 by Heid Erdrich, “Stung,” from If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems (Univ. of Minnesota Pr., James P. Lenfesty, Ed., 2016).

Sonnet

by Frances Anne Kemble

Cover me with your everlasting arms,
Ye guardian giants of this solitude!
From the ill-sight of men, and from the rude,
Tumultuous din of yon wild world’s alarms!
Oh, knit your mighty limbs around, above,
And close me in for ever! let me dwell
With the wood spirits, in the darkest cell
That ever with your verdant locks ye wove.
The air is full of countless voices, joined
In one eternal hymn; the whispering wind,
The shuddering leaves, the hidden water springs,
The work-song of the bees, whose honeyed wings
Hang in the golden tresses of the lime,
Or buried lie in purple beds of thyme.

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

Love Is Master Of The Game

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Louise Labe (1524 – 1566)

Sonnet Xxiii

By Louise Labé

Kiss me, kiss me again and kiss me more;
Give me one of your most tastiest,
Give me one of your most sexiest
And I’ll give hot kisses, more than four.

Ah, are you sad? Let me ease the pain,
With more sweet kisses, five or six;
So that our desiring lips can mix
And we’ll enjoy each other again.

Then double life will us both ensue:
You will live in me, as I live in you.
Love, let me dream about foolish things:

I’m always unsatisfied with my life
And I’m sad that I can’t be your wife,
Because I can’t fly away on wings.


“Sonnet XXIV”

By Louise Labé

Do not reproach me, ladies, if I’ve loved
And felt a thousand torches burn my veins,
A thousand griefs, a thousand biting pains.
If all my days to bitter tears dissolved,

Then, ladies, do not denigrate my name.
If I did wrong, the pain and punishment¸Are now.
Don’t file their needles to a point.
Consider: Love is master of the game:

No need of Vulcan to explain your fire,
Nor of Adonis to excuse desire,
But with less cause than mine, far less occasion,

As the whim takes him, idly he can curse
You with a stranger and a stronger passion.
But 0 take care your suffering’s not worse.

 

Ne reprenez, Dames, si j’ai aimé,
Si j’ai senti mille torches ardentes,
Mille travaux, mille douleurs mordantes.
Si, en pleurant, j’ai mon temps consumé,

Las ! que mon nom n’en soit par vous blamé.
Si j’ai failli, les peines sont présentes,
N’aigrissez point leurs pointes violentes :
Mais estimez qu’Amour, à point nommé,

Sans votre ardeur d’un Vulcain excuser,
Sans la beauté d’Adonis accuser,
Pourra, s’il veut, plus vous rendre amoureuses,

En ayant moins que moi d’occasion,
Et plus d’étrange et forte passion.
Et gardez-vous d’être plus malheureuses!

What Range Will Gold Eyes See

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Don Fritch (1933 – 2018)

Mortal Limit

by Robert Penn Warren

I saw the hawk ride updraft in the sunset over Wyoming.
It rose from coniferous darkness, past gray jags
Of mercilessness, past whiteness, into the gloaming
Of dream-spectral light above the lazy purity of snow-snags.

There—west—were the Tetons. Snow-peaks would soon be
In dark profile to break constellations. Beyond what height
Hangs now the black speck? Beyond what range will gold eyes see
New ranges rise to mark a last scrawl of light?

Or, having tasted that atmosphere’s thinness, does it
Hang motionless in dying vision before
It knows it will accept the mortal limit,
And swing into the great circular downwardness that will restore

The breath of earth? Of rock? Of rot? Of other such
Items, and the darkness of whatever dream we clutch?

 

 

 

Words Were Made To Prevent Us Near

Veronica Forrest-Thomson
Veronica Forrest-Thomson (1947 – 1975)

“No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. “

W. H. Auden

Sonnet

by Veronica Forrest-Thomson

My love, if I write a song for you
To that extent you are gone
For, as everyone says, and I know it’s true:
We are all always alone.

Never so separate trying to be two
And the busy old fool is right.
To try and finger myself from you
Distinguishes day from night.

If I say “I love you” we can’t but laugh
Since irony knows what we’ll say.
If I try to free myself by my craft
You vary as night from day.

So, accept the wish for the deed my dear.
Words were made to prevent us near.

 

Through The Looking Glass

By Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Mirror, mirror on the wall
show me in succession all
my faces, that I may view
and choose which I would like as true.

Teach me skill to disguise
what’s not pleasing to the eyes,
with faith, that life obeys the rules,
in man or God or football pools.

Always keep me well content
to decorate attitude and event
so that somehow behind the scene
I may believe my actions mean;

that one can exercise control
in playing out a chosen role;
rub clouded glass and then,
at will, write self on it again.

But if, in some unlucky glance,
I should glimpse naked circumstance
in all its nowhere-going-to,
may you crack before I do.

A Country Welcomer Than This

St. Paul Capitol Building
St. Paul Capitol Building 4th of July Fireworks

Refugees

by Randall Jarrell

In the shabby train no seat is vacant.
The child in the ripped mask
Sprawls undisturbed in the waste
Of the smashed compartment. Is their calm extravagant?
They had faces and lives like you. What was it they possessed
That they were willing to trade for this?
The dried blood sparkles along the mask
Of the child who yesterday possessed
A country welcomer than this.
Did he? All night into the waste
The train moves silently. The faces are vacant.
Have none of them found the cost extravagant?
How could they? They gave what they possessed.
Here all the purses are vacant.
And what else could satisfy the extravagant
Tears and wish of the child but this?
Impose its canceling terrible mask
On the days and faces and lives they waste?
What else are their lives but a journey to the vacant
Satisfaction of death? And the mask
They wear tonight through their waste
Is death’s rehearsal. Is it really extravagant
To read in their faces: What is there we possessed
That we were unwilling to trade for this?