Through Faith

William Bradford (1590 – 1657)

Hebrews 11

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it our elders obtained a good report.

Bible – King James Version.

Through Faith

by T. A. Fry

Through faith, we understand the worlds were framed
By God’s words; that things are not made solely
Of which they appear.  Without faith, it is
Impossible to please or be wholly pleased.
Faith is a reward unto itself.  And those
That state plainly; “we’re earthly strangers, pilgrims, 
Seeking a country from whence we came,”
May have the opportunity to return.

But what if we desire something better?
A heavenly country; where God is not
Ashamed to be called our God.  Is there more?
Our elders, having obtained a good report,
Through faith, received not the promise; 
God provided something better; 

They, without us,  should not be made perfect. 


The end of the American experiment, may well come in part, out of the fictional character from which it was partially fashioned; the idea of American independence and rugged individualism.  We have fashioned a cloak for ourselves and our politicians out of this idea of American exceptionalism.  The idea that as American’s we are innately superior by our very founders declaring independence and then fighting for our freedom.   These noble words and ideas may yet fashion the heroic myth that will be our undoing;  the idea that you can make it in this country by yourself, if you just apply yourself and work hard and don’t let the government or anyone else get in your way.  What that myth ignores, is that the reason that all of us have things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving is because of others’ contributions, small and large, to our successes and our failures.  The Plymouth plantation survived, the reason the revolution succeeded, when so many others prior to it did not, was because groups worked together, communally, with the belief that they could build something better together, build it through self sacrifice for the betterment of others, where alone, they would fail. 

It is ironic then,  the heroic myth of American exceptionalism and independence is partially responsible for bringing us to the brink of fracturing, has created a divide that is growing through a proclamation of self service, when the need to work cooperatively could not be more beneficial for all.   This failing should not be a surprise.  It is because we suffer as human’s from the same challenges of being human that William Bradford and his fellow colonists on the Mayflower did nearly 400 years ago, our egos get in the way of our better selves. 

Bradford penned a journal of his voyage and establishment of the Plymouth colony, that was published by his sons after his death.   A devout Christian, a man of faith and also realism, he believed that his faith in God, could help guide the providence of his community and his family if they worked together with the idea of a common good.   He observed: 

“The settlers, too, began to grow in prosperity, through the influx of many people to the country, especially to the Bay of Massachusetts. Thereby corn and cattle rose to a high price, and many were enriched, and commodities grew plentiful. But in other regards this benefit turned to their harm, and this accession of strength to weakness. For as their stocks increased and became more saleable, there was no longer any holding them together; they must of necessity obtain bigger holdings, otherwise they could not keep their cattle; and having oxen they must have land for ploughing. So in time no one thought he could live unless he had cattle and a great deal of land to keep them, all striving to increase their stocks.”

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation

Bradford was a poet as well.  Most of his poetry is religious in nature or what we would now call patriotic.  Bradford wanted for his sons and their families to have something better than what his opportunities had been in England.  I found humorous that Bradford wrote poetry complaining about various things he considered sinful, including – Ranters, proving not much has changed in 400 years, only the technology with which the Ranters rant. 


On The Various Heresies In Old And New England, With An Appeal To The Presbyterians (Excerpt)

By William Bradford


Nor need you fear sin to commit,
For Christ hath satisfied for it.
But these doctrines make men profane,
And bring dishonor to Christ’s name.
Now faith is made, hereby, to be
A dead body, as you may see;
And these are but a wretched race,
That they abuse God’s holy grace.

Ranters
Next unto these we may bring in
The filthy Ranters, near of kin.
Where had they first their rise or name?
I know not from the devil they came.
The Adamites they are most like,
But more against public shame do strike.
Cynic-like, as vile as dogs,
Carry themselves as filthy hogs,
Yea worse than brutes, they know no end;
But all their strength in lusts they spend.
They shame the nature of mankind,
And blot out reason in their mind.
Professed atheists some of them are,
Who openly revile God dare,
And horridly blaspheme His name,
And publicly avow the same,
Which makes my heart quake and tremble.
Nor may I herein dissemble;
Methinks such wretches should not live
In any land offense to give,
Of this high nature, against the most high,
And men it hear, and pass it by.
I might say more of their vileness,
How in contempt they will profess
Their fellow creatures to adore,
That God’s dishonor may be more.
But let them pass; they are too vile
My fingers for to defile.
I hope the Lord’s help will come in
To cleanse the land of such vermin.


I feel compelled to leave a footnote about the poem Through Faith. I thought carefully whether to attach my name to this poem, as it feels a bit like hubris to do so. I recognize that many people take scripture as literal, the literal word of God. I do not. I see it as a creation of many minds over time, written in languages other than my own and passed down. I see the connection between poetry and scripture and the poetry in scripture.

I found this text the first time I read it incredibly confusing. I could not wrap my head around it. If you read Hebrews 11 in it’s entirety it is a lengthy list of prophets in the Old Testament and their trials of faith. It feels impersonal and antiquated. But there was an element in it, that the more time that I spent with it felt relevant. And its relevance is in being a father and a son. The process of deconstructing and the constructing the text made it viable as something meaningful to me.

And The Chef is God

Max Ritvo (1990 – 2016)

If the only prayer you ever say in your life is Thank You, it will be enough.

Master Eckhart

We Eat Out Together

by Bernadette Mayer

My heart is a fancy place
Where giant reddish-purple cauliflowers
& white ones in French & English are outside
Waiting to welcome you to a boat
Over the low black river for a big dinner
There’s alot of choice among the foods
Even a tortured lamb served in pieces
En croute on a plate so hot as a rack
Of clouds blown over the cold filthy river
We are entitled to see anytime while we
Use the tablecovers to love each other
Publicly dishing out imitative luxuries
To show off poetry’s extreme generosity
Then home in the heart of a big limousine



Where ever you are in this world, whatever your traditions, or beliefs, we share our humanness through gratitude. So much of poetry is tied to this quality, the ability to express thankfulness, that I don’t think poetry would exist without this innate ability.

I don’t think however it is only a human trait. If you live around animals they often express their gratitude for your touch, for your presence, for feeding them or grooming them, or petting them. Gratitude is a trait that goes beyond our species.

As I celebrate Thanksgiving today, separated because of COVID from the loved ones I would normally get together, I will say the same prayer of Gratefulness that I have said many times over the years. I am maybe more grateful than previous years as strange as it sounds. I am grateful they are healthy and capable of marshalling through these challenging times. I am grateful for their self reliance, their perseverance, their ability to make their own fun, and keep a positive attitude. I am thankful for all my blessings, – the greatest of which is their love.

I feel compelled to be original writing this blog, to have every poem on every post be new, for the first time on Fourteen Lines. But that’s not the way I read poetry. I go back to the same poems over and over. If you are needing a Thanksgiving Prayer, either to read aloud at your table or to say silently, here’s my go to favorite for Thanksgiving. I shared it on the first Thanksgiving of Fourteen Lines in 2017, and it warrants sharing again, as I plan on reading it again, and again.

Gratefulness

Thou that has given so much to me
Give me one thing more, – a grateful heart,
See how Thy beggar works on Thee by art.

Not Thankful when it pleaseth me, –
As if they blessings had spare days.
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

George Herbert


Amuse-Bouche

by Max Ritvo

It is rare that I
have to stop eating anything
because I have run out of it.

We, in the West, eat until we want
to eat something else,
or want to stop eating altogether.

The chef of a great kitchen
uses only small plates.

He puts a small plate in front of me,
knowing I will hunger on for it
even as the next plate is being
placed in front of me.

But each plate obliterates the last
until I no longer mourn the destroyed plate,

but only mewl for the next,
my voice flat with comfort and faith.

And the chef is God,
whose faithful want only the destruction
of His prior miracles to make way
for new ones.

Wildpeace

Yehuda Amichai (1924 – 2000)

Yes, all of this is sorrow. But leave a little love burning always like the small bulb in the room of a sleeping baby that gives him a bit of security and quiet love though he doesn’t know what the light is or where it comes from.

Yehuda Amichai

Sonnet

by Yehuda Amichai

My father fought their war four years or so,
And did not hate or love his enemies.
Already he was forming me, I know,
Daily, out of his tranquilities;

Tranquilities, so few, which he had gleaned
Between the bombs and smoke, for his son’s sake,
And put into his ragged knapsack with
The leftovers of my mother’s hardening cake.

He gathered with his eyes the nameless dead,
The many dead for my sake unforsaken,
So that I should not die like them in dread,
But love them, seeing them as once he saw.
He filled his eyes with them; he was mistaken,
Like them, I must go out to meet my war. 


Wildpeace

by Yehuda Amichai

Not the peace of a cease-fire,
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill,
that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds—
who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace

We Saw It In His Eyes

A Life of Austerity

By Peter Hartley

My grandfather was always old. The more
I think of him the more I call to mind
He seldom left his kitchen. We would find
Him sitting in an upright chair, the door
Pine-panelled, high ceiled, lino on the floor,
And he would sit there all day long behind
A newspaper. The place for me defined
Him like the horrors of the First World War.

You see it spoke of his austerity.
He dwelled, like all the old in reverie,
A lifetime in his prime. Sometimes he went
To sleep, his nightmares we could only guess.
Sometimes again we saw an immanent
Serenity, a twilight peacefulness.


One hundred years ago the returning soldiers from World War I helped spread the Spanish Flu epidemic, the last great pandemic, to all corners of the earth.  Peter Hartley’s memories of his grandfather in sonnet form are touching testimonials to the his grandfather’s humanity.  The difference between that virus pandemic and COVID-19, is the Spanish flu killed young adults equally as well as old. 

When reading about the Spanish flu pandemic in the past, I had a sense of isolation from it, an arms length detachment.  No matter how many health experts sounded the alarm that it could and likely would happen again, it felt like something that was in the past, despite SARS, Ebola, etc.  Our experience of relative safety because of public health strategy and modern vaccination technology for generations was ignorant bliss.  Despite the paranoid rantings of anti-vaxers we have lived the past 50 years in undreamed of respite from childhood diseases in human history, and unfortunately taken it for granted.  There is certainly reason for optimism heading into next year that things will get better,  but I also have a sense of realism in what 2021 will bring before this is brought under control with effective vaccines. 

How will this pandemic experience shape poet’s writing in the future?  I could retreat into my kitchen for a couple of years to write and read if I didn’t have a job I had to attend.  I would need a wood stove in my kitchen for winters and a kennel for the dog in another room on those occasions I want peace and quiet, all things for me to consider putting on my checklist of what to do if this continues beyond 2021.  What will our grandchildren write about us one day, sitting in our chairs reading, looking off into the distance?


A Biscuit Tin

by Peter Hartley

Put in a biscuit tin behind a door
Beside the hearth among old dog-eared snaps,
Of long-forgotten kith and kin perhaps,
His father on a bicycle we saw
Who died in nineteen ten, four years before
All hell broke loose. Amid the other scraps
We found inside their careless little wraps
Were all his letters home from the Great War

One hundred years ago, and all forlorn
His honourable discharge creased and torn.
Could he still hear the pounding of the guns
Resounding to a barrage from the Huns?
For if by chance upon the Somme one day
We saw it in his eyes he didn’t say.

It Is Not As You Knew It

Ivor Gurney (1890 – 1937)

A sense of beauty is every hindrance to a soldier; yet there would be no soldiers – or none such soldier had not men dead and living cherished and handed on the sacred fire. 

Ivor Gurney

The Soldier

by Rupert Brooke (1887 – 1915)

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust who England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives Somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

River-Severn-Wales

Severn River, Wales 

To His Love

by Ivor Gurney

He’s gone, and all our plans
are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now…
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers –
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

What Being In The Army Did

Iraq US Troops
A U.S. Army soldier from A Co. 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, passes a bullet-riddled wall during a patrol Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010 in Hawija, north of Baghdad, Iraq, on the last day of U.S. combat operations in the country.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

What Being In The Army Did

by Graham Barnhart

Things you’d expect.
Taught me a trigger’s weight—
its pull—depends on the gun
and doesn’t matter much
if you practice
proper follow through.
Follow through here means holding
the squeeze through the kick
like you won’t have to do it again,
like you’ll never have to do it again.
The army taught me torsos
and tailgates
are useful for gauging distance.
That swaying grass
or flags or scarves
can estimate windspeed,
and traveling from an artifact
to a fundamental constant
requires loss.
It takes me sixty steps
to walk one hundred meters.
Assuming my body weight
and leg lengths remain
roughly constant
and I’m using a compass,
which means I’m moving
in very straight lines, then sixty
ten times is a kilometer,
and sixty
one hundred times is ten.


       Incandescent War Poem Sonnet

By Bernadette Mayer

Even before I saw the chambered nautilus
I wanted to sail not in the us navy
Tonight I’m waiting for you, your letter
At the same time his letter, the view of you
By him and then by me in the park, no rhymes
I saw you, this is in prose, no it’s not
Sitting with the molluscs & anemones in an
Empty autumn enterprise baby you look pretty
With your long eventual hair, is love king?
What’s this? A sonnet? Love’s a babe we know that
I’m coming up, I’m coming, Shakespeare only stuck
To one subject but I’ll mention nobody said
You have to get young Americans some ice cream
In the artificial light in which she woke.

Embrace What Time Remains

Donald Hall

Donald Hall (1928 – 2018)

November

by Lorna Davis

The golden days of late October fade
As bleak November’s iron skies descend.
When tresses, like the leaden clouds, have greyed,
We see our fruitful time’s approaching end.
The sunshine that besieged us with its heat
Now leans against the south walls, cold and tired.
There is no empire time will not defeat;
Each Golden Age that flared has soon expired.
Byzantium lies silent under steel,
Persepolis has crumbled back to dust.
Despite the wistful longing we might feel,
All times of summer fade, as fade they must.
Embrace what time remains; it will not last.
Your autumn, too, will soon be ancient past.

One of the challenges of starting a new relationship in my 50’s is what to do with all the stuff each person has accumulated over the years?  This is a joint problem of considerable size and proportions.  The first problem is duplication, we both have many of the same things it takes to run a household, everything from towels to vacuum cleaners to kitchen utensils.  Sometimes its an upgrade. My girl friend’s set of tools is far superior to my own and so it didn’t take much for me to got rid of a bunch of mine that were old, subpar or worn out.  But sometimes what to keep and what to purge can turn into a bit of a tug of war, each partner not ready to let go of certain things and both a bit unsteady in what to support and when to throw the red objection flag on the other. 

The second problem is sheer amount of stuff and where does it all possibly go? I have decided that renting a storage unit to kick that can down the road is a sketchy idea at best, and neither is buying a shipping container or building a pole barn to increase capacity for storage a great solution.  There are too many things that go into storage never to reappear and if I am not diligent about getting rid of stuff, I will only create time bombs filled with dusty, rusty junk for my children to sort through after I am dead.  None the less I have delayed several tough decisions for one year by taking the cowards way out and getting a storage unit for a reduced but still sizable chunk of my possessions that I did not get rid of in my most recent move. I am consciously aware it is a $110/dollar a month guilt tax to insure I have a holding pen for stuff I didn’t need this year and probably won’t next, until I screw up the resolve to get finally rid of it. 

The third problem is each person has different attachments for different reasons to different things that are irreplaceable, sentimental or just stuff that you have grown attached to over the years simply because it is tied to pleasant moments in our lives.  What one sees as valuable treasure the other may mistakenly see as junk and before you know it feelings are hurt when someone questions why we have combined between  the two of us 10 aluminum water bottles in a drawer, when probably something like 4 or 5 would suffice.  

Most people have things of sentimental value, its  part of who what makes us human.  These objects are signposts of our journey.   It makes total sense to the person who has kept these nostalgic things, but at some point you have to fit two households into one and practicality has to influence sentiment and common sense has to kick in. 

I have found this process of decluttering is made even more complicated by being the gate keepers of our dying parents estates.  We are at that age and because over the years divorces have added to the incremental number of households that executors must settle it can add up.  In our situation, two empty nesters that are nearly 60 somethings are grappling with the contents of not just two households worth of stuff but  four or five. And, because we are related to interesting people and artists, there is lots and lots of cool stuff which is hard to part with or do it justice for the value it once represented in our loved one’s minds.  Four years after my mother’s death I was still sorting boxes a month ago that I had put off prior, unsure of what to do with their contents.  In the end, I threw almost all of it out, and what I didn’t throw out, I knew in the back of my mind, I was just repeating the cycle again, synthesizing eight boxes down to one, that I would eventually discard, I just wasn’t ready to do it on that day of sorting. 

All of this is a bit overwhelming, the actually physically dealing with it and the emotional side of it all. Particularly when the decision process between two partners is slightly different in how to approach the challenge of simplification.  Slash and burn, figuratively and in some cases literally, doesn’t work well because there are always a few bones smoldering in the embers that one of you will likely come to regret.  Taking an archivist approach and lovingly storing and restoring things I have found can be equally disappointing, except for the most quirky or exceptional of memorabilia and possessions.  I learned this lesson the hard way.   I took the time to re-record into digital mp3 files all of the children’s books that my mother had narrated onto cassette tapes over the years as gifts for my children, tapes that we had listened to over and over and over when my kids were growing up and even into adulthood. The Christmas after her death I thought everyone would enjoy having a copy and it would be a way to prevent them from deteriorating further. Yet when the long project was finally finished and everyone was given a memory stick with all the files included,  it felt oddly creepy and unsatisfying.  The stories weren’t the same now that my Mother was no longer alive, and to hear her voice widened the gap in death, it didn’t shorten it.  I know that I haven’t yet gotten enjoyment out of listening to them.  I hope someone else has.  Maybe someday I will feel differently and stumble across them again on my google cloud and listen to my mother’s read those wonderful stories and take pleasure in the sound of her voice, but for now, it is a cautionary tale on what I thought I would want in the future, may have turned out to be just fools gold weighing me down. 

 

The Things

by Donald Hall
 

When I walk in my house I see pictures,
bought long ago, framed and hanging
—de Kooning, Arp, Laurencin, Henry Moore—
that I’ve cherished and stared at for years,
yet my eyes keep returning to the masters
of the trivial—a white stone perfectly round,
tiny lead models of baseball players, a cowbell,
a broken great-grandmother’s rocker,
a dead dog’s toy—valueless, unforgettable
detritus that my children will throw away
as I did my mother’s souvenirs of trips
with my dead father, Kodaks of kittens,
and bundles of cards from her mother Kate.


I Am Aware There Is Winter To Heed

Gwendolyn Brooks

A Sunset By The City

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
Are gone from the house.
My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
And night is night.

It is a real chill out,
The genuine thing.
I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.

It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes.
I am aware there is winter to heed.
There is no warm house
That is fitted with my need.
I am cold in this cold house this house
Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls.
I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs.
I am a woman who hurries through her prayers.


Winter announced itself uninvited on October 20 this year, nearly a month before we were expecting it. Six inches of cold wet snow fell and unlike usual October snow falls, didn’t have the decency to melt the next day. Even hardy Minnesotans that rave about their enjoyment of winter activities look at this snow a bit eschew thinking “I really do enjoy your company but you could at least let me clean up the place before you arrived for Thanksgiving.” I was in denial that the winter snow warning was real, but finally had to admit it and went out and finished raking and bagging my back yard leaves just minutes before the flakes began to fall.

The start of winter this early, means the start of the heating season nearly a month sooner, so the furnace has come rumbling to life once again. Houses have their own heat signature irrespective of insulation and R values, quality of construction or size or type of furnace. It takes a while to understand how a new house reacts to your presence, your nosing about in its nooks and crannies, cooking and showering, leaving doors open or closed, frequent use off certain rooms, disdain for others.

What if my favorite room is the house’s least? What a let down I would be. I think houses sometimes don’t appreciate their new tenants for a while, sending cold drafts under the table to freeze my feet or baking me in the second floor in summer. Eventually things simmer down as each learns about the other’s habits. We are as much room mates with our rooms as we are with our mates.

I hope this new house is getting used to me. I am learning its creaks and sighs in the middle of the night, figuring out its preferences for which doors to leave open and which to close. The house is enthusiastically encouraging my frequent cooking, warming the entire downstairs when the stove is in use during fall and winter. It cringes at my criticisms of the repairs that are needed and blushes proudly when I admire its finer features. A house that is empty ages quickly into rack and ruin while houses that are lived in remain youthful and energetic. If you are cold, in your cold house, light a fire, in both of your hearts and invite someone to sit down and have a cup of tea and relax by your hearth.


The Night Migrations

by Louise Gluck

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.

It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.

What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.

How Can A Body Withstand This?

KV_photo

Karen Volkman

The Thing Is

by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

 

Sonnet [Laughing below, the unimagined room]

by Karen Volkman
 

Laughing below, the unimagined room
in unimagined mouths, a turning mood
speaking itself the way a fulling should
overspilling into something’s dome,

some moment’s edging over into bloom.
What is a happening but conscious cloud
seeking its edge in a wound or word
pellucidity describing term

as boundary, body, violated bourne
no sounding center, circumscription turn.
Mother of mirrors, angel of the acts,

do all the sighing breathing clicking wilds
summon the same blue breadth the sense subtracts,
the star suborning in its ruptured fields.


My Thoughts Recover

October 2020 – Minnesota’s Fall Colors

Chanson d’automne

by Paul Verlaine

Les saglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur
Monotone.

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure;

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte

Autumn Song

by Paul Verlaine
Translation by Arthur Symons, 1902. 

When a sighing begins
In the violins
Of the autumn-song,
My heart is drowned
In the slow sound
Languorous and long.

Pale as with pain,
Breath fails me when
The hours toll deep.
My thoughts recover,
The days that are over,
And I weep.

And I go 
Where the winds know,
Broken and brief,
To and fro
As the winds blow
A dead leaf.

 

Lassitude

by Paul Verlaine

With sweetness, with sweetness, with sweetness!
Calm this feverish rapture a little, my charmer.
Even at its height, you see, sometimes, a lover
Needs the quiet forgetfulness of a sister.

Be languid: make your caresses sleep-bringers,
Like your cradling gazes and your sighs.
Ah, the jealous embrace, the obsessive spasm,
Aren’t worth a deep kiss, even one that lies!

But you say to me, child: in your dear heart of gold
Wild desire goes sounding her cry.
Let her trumpet away, she’s far too bold!

Put your brow to my brow, your hand on my hand,
Make me those promises you’ll break by and by,
Let’s weep till the dawn, my little firebrand!