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.

 

 

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.

And So I Keep My Fancy Still

 

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Alex Posey

My Fancy

by Alex Posey (1873 – 1908)

Why do trees along the river
….Lean so far out o’er the tide?
Very wise men tell me why but
….I am never satisfied:
And so I keep my  fancy still
….That trees lean out to save
The drowning from the clutches of
….the cold remorseless wave.


Alex Posey may have had a premonition of his own death when he wrote those lines ending in “the cold remorseless wave.”  Posey drowned while trying to cross the North Canadian River in Oklahoma, his body washed down stream and wasn’t found until a week later. The lines equally fitting as metaphor to the cold remorseless wave of white settlers sweeping over the Oklahoma territory and stealing the land promised to the Creek Nation.

Posey had a fruitful if relatively short career as a writer. He was a poet, a journalist and a humorist.   He founded the first daily Native American newspaper, the Eufaula Indian Journal in 1901. As editor, he published a satirical op/ed under the guise of a fictional elderly Muskogee Creek man, written in his native dialect that became known as the Fus Fixico Letters.  The letters were a bitingly funny, satirical commentary about the Muscogee Nation, Indian Territory and the United States during a period of great turmoil and political conflict as both the Federal and State governments reneged on prior treaties with new legislation that stripped native people of their land and their human rights. Posey used poetry and satire to inspire, educate and fight against the tyranny of the Dawes Act, a political hammer to break up tribal lands.  The Curtis Act of 1898 dismantled tribal governments and institutions at a time when politically savvy Native leaders were attempting to organize, to prevent the land grab that was occurring in preparation for Oklahoma statehood.

Chitto Harjo was a Muscogee leader who resisted the allotment process and privatizing of tribal lands.  He fought on the side of the Union during the civil war, hoping that it would align Creek interests with the Federal government.   The pressure of white settlers for state hood meant prior promises made in treaties were to be forgotten. From 1900 to 1909, Chitto Harjo led those Creek who opposed cultural assimilation and allotment. As the United States was trying to extinguish tribal government, Harjo and his followers set up a separate government. They were arrested and convicted in US court and imprisoned briefly. During the next five years, the majority of the tribe accepted the changes and were allotted individual plots of land. Chitto Harjo and other Snakes refused.  Harjo remained defiant until his death and added to the lore of his legacy by eluding capture, despite several armed encounters with white militias.  Harjo retreated deeper into the safety of what remained of native lands and remained free until his death in 1911.

Here is a short passage of Harjo’s speech to the Special Senate Investigative committee into why the Creek Nation objected to allotments.

“Now, coming down to 1832 and referring to the agreements between the Creek people and the Government of the United States; What has occurred since 1832 until today? It seems that some people forget what has occurred. After all, we are all one blood; we have the one God and we live in the same land. I had always lived back yonder in what is now the State of Alabama. We had our homes back there; my people had their homes back there. We had our troubles back there and we had no one to defend us. At that time when I had these troubles, it was to take my country away from me. I had no other troubles. The troubles were always about taking my country from me. I could live in peace with all else, but they wanted my country and I was in trouble defending it. It was no use. They were bound to take my country away from me. It may have been that my country had to, be taken away from me, but it was not justice. I have always been asking for justice. I have never asked for anything else but justice. I never had justice.”

Chitto Harjo 1906 Senate Testimony

 

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Chitto Harjo  (1846 – 1911) who was also known as Crazy Snake

On the Capture and Imprisonment of Crazy Snakes

by Alex Posey

Down with him! chain him! bind him fast!
…..Slam to the iron door and turn the key.
The one true Creek, perhaps the last
…..To dare declare, “You have wronged me.”
Defiant, stoical, silent,
…..Suffers imprisonment.

Such coarse black hair! such eagle eye!
….Such stately mien! —how arrow straight!
Such will! such courage to defy,
….The powerful makers of his fate!
A traitor outlaw, —what you will
….He is the noble red man still.

Condemn him and his kind to shame!
….I bow to him, exalt his name!

 

 

 

 

Beyond The Moon My Soaring Hope

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Don Quixote and his squire Sancho

Don Belianis of Greece to Don Quixote of the Mancha

by Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616)

I TORE, I hackt, abolish’d, said and did,
More than knight-errant else on earth hath done:
I, dexterous, valiant, and so stout beside,
Have thousand wrongs reveng’d, millons undone.

I have done acts that my fame eternise,
In love I courteous and so peerless was:
Giants, as if but dwarfs, I did despise;
And yet no time of love-plaints I let pass.

I have held fortune prostrate at my feet.
And by my wit seiz’d on Occasion’s top,
Whose wandering steps I led where I thought meet;

And though beyond the moon my soaring hope
Did crown my hap with all felicity,
Yet, great Quixote, do I still envy thee.


 

Don Belianís De Grecia A Don Quijote De La Mancha

by Miguel de Cervantes

Rompí, corté, abollé, y dije e hice
más que en el orbe caballero andante;
fui diestro, fui valiente y arrogante,
mil agravios vengué, cien mil deshice.

Hazañas di a la fama que eternice;
fui comedido y regalado amante;
fue enano para mí todo gigante,
y al duelo en cualquier punto satisfice.

Tuve a mis pies postrada la Fortuna
y trajo del copete mi cordura
a la calva ocasión al estricote.

Mas, aunque sobre el cuerno de la luna
siempre se vio encumbrada mi ventura,
tus proezas envidio, ¡oh, gran Quijote!