I Am Resolved

Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)

New Year’s Resolutions

by Rudyard Kipling

I am resolved throughout the year
To lay my vices on the shelf;
A godly, sober course to steer
And love my neighbors as myself—
Excepting always two or three
Whom I detest as they hate me.

I am resolved—to flirt no more,
It leads to strife and tribulation;
Not that I used to flirt before,
But as a bar against temptation.
Here I except (cut out the names)
Perfectly Platonic flames.

I am resolved—that vows like these,
Though lightly made, are hard to keep;
Wherefore I’ll take them by degrees,
Lest my back-slidings make me weep.
One vow a year will see me through;
and I’ll begin with Number Two.


Good Riddance, But Now What?

By Ogden Nash  (1902 – 1971)

Come, children, gather round my knee;
Something is about to be.
Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark! It’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year.

It Is The Singular Gift

Lisel Mueller (1924 – 2020)

Poetry, for me, is the answer to, ‘How does one stay sane when private lives are being ransacked by public events?’ It’s something that hangs over your head all the time.

Lisel Mueller

Hope

by Lisel Mueller

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs
from the eyes to the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

Why We Tell Stories
(Excerpt)

2
 

by Lisel Mueller

We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

 
3
 

Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

One Must Have A Mind Of Winter

Minnesota Winter

The Snow Man

Wallace Stevens – 1879-1955

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Beyond the Red River

By Thomas McGrath (1916 – 1990)
 
The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.
 
A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
 
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.
 
 

It Is Like A Memory Lost

Sonnet 97: How like a winter hath my absence been

By William Shakespeare
 
 
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.
 
 

Winter Sunrise

by Robert Laurence Binyon

It is early morning within this room; without,
Dark and damp; without and within, stillness
Waiting for day: not a sound but a listening air.

Yellow jasmine, delicate on stiff branches
Stands in a Tuscan pot to delight the eye
In spare December’s patient nakedness.

Suddenly, softly, as if at a breath breathed
On the pale wall, a magical apparition,

The shadow of the jasmine, branch and blossom!

It was not there, it is there, in a perfect image;
And all is changed. It is like a memory lost
Returning without a reason into the mind.

Outside is Silence

First Snow at the farm in 2021

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Lewis Carroll

First Snow

by Ted Kooser (1939 – 

The old black dog comes in one evening
with the first few snowflakes on his back
and falls asleep, throwing his bad leg out
at our excitement. This is the night
when one of us gets to say, as if it were news,
that no two snowflakes are ever alike;
the night when each of us remembers something
snowier. The kitchen is a kindergarten
steamy with stories. The dog gets stiffly up
and limps away, seeking a quiet spot
at the heart of the house. Outside,
in silence, with diamonds in his fur,
the winter night curls round the legs of the trees,
sleepily blinking snowflakes from his lashe


Flying at Night

by Ted Kooser 

 

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
his.

As It Gets Cold And Gray

Mark Strand (1934 – 1914)

“We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.”

Mark Strand: Keeping Things Whole

Lines for Winter

by Mark Strand

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.”


The End

by Mark Strand

Not everyone knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not everyone knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not everyone knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002
Tribute to Pulitzer Prize Winners