Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

The old crow and the young crow

May 29, 2021

ABOUT CROWS

by John Ciardi

The old crow is getting slow;

the young crow is not.

Of what the young crow does not know,

the old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things, the old crow

is still the young crow’s master.

What does the old crow not know?

How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,

and rings around the slow old crow.

What does the fast young crow not know?

WHERE TO GO.

Sources: Spiritually Speaking & Cory Doctorow

Two poems by Billy Collins

May 12, 2021

Forgetfulness

by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read,

never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,

not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

(more…)

A few words on the soul

December 27, 2020

by Wislawa Szymborska

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filed.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky;
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

Source: A Few Words on the Soul

D.H. Lawrence on showing your feelings

November 15, 2020

The feelings I don’t have, I don’t have.
The feelings I don’t have, I won’t say I have.
The feelings you say you have, you don’t have.
The feelings you would like both of us to have, we neither of us have.
The feelings people ought to have, they never have.
If people say they’ve got feelings, you may be pretty sure they haven’t got them.
So if you want either of us to feel anything at all, you’d better abandon all ideas of feelings altogether.
==D.H. Lawrence

Love in the time of the sniffles

April 25, 2020

THE SNIFFLE

by Ogden Nash

In spite of her sniffle

Isabel’s chiffle.

Some girls with a sniffle

would be weepy and riffle.

They would look awful,

like a rained-on waffle,

But Isabel’s chiffle

in spite of her sniffle.

Her nose is more red

with a cold in her head.

But then, to be sure,

her eyes are bluer.

Some girls with a snuffle,

their tempers are uffle.

But when Isabel’s snivelly

she’s snivelly civilly,

and when she’s snuffly

she’s perfectly luffly.

Source: All Poetry

‘You shall love your crooked neighbor…’

January 11, 2020

W.H. Auden

O look, look in the mirror

O look in your distress

Life remains a blessing

Although you cannot bless

O stand, stand by the window

As the tears scald and start

You shall love your crooked neighbor

With your crooked heart.

==W.H. Auden (1940)

(more…)

‘When a deed is done for freedom…’

November 30, 2019

J.R. Lowell in 1844

THE PRESENT CRISIS

by James Russell Lowell

  When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth’s aching breast

Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west, 

And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb 

To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime 

Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time. 

  Through the walls of hut and palace shoots the instantaneous throe,

When the travail of the Ages wrings earth’s systems to and fro; 

At the birth of each new Era, with a recognizing start, 

Nation wildly looks at nation, standing with mute lips apart, 

And glad Truth’s yet mightier man-child leaps beneath the Future’s heart. 

   So the Evil’s triumph sendeth, with a terror and a chill, 

Under continent to continent, the sense of coming ill, 

And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels his sympathies with God 

In hot tear-drops ebbing earthward, to be drunk up by the sod, 

Till a corpse crawls round unburied, delving in the nobler clod. 

   For mankind are one in spirit, and an instinct bears along, 

Round the earth’s electric circle, the swift flash of right or wrong; 

Whether conscious or unconscious, yet Humanity’s vast frame 

Through its ocean-sundered fibers feels the gush of joy or shame; 

In the gain or loss of one race all the rest have equal claim. 

  Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, 

In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side; 

Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,

Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, 

And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light. 

  Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand, 

Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?

Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ‘t is Truth alone is strong, 

And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng 

Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.

(more…)

CONTINUE: a poem

March 13, 2016

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

By Maya Angelou

My wish for you
Is that you continue

         Continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

         Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart

         Continue

In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter

          Continue

To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined

(more…)

THE ANGRY MAN: a poem

February 27, 2016

Phyllis McGinley

Phyllis McGinley

By Phyllis McGinley

The other day I chanced to meet
an angry man upon the street —
a man of wrath, a man of war,
a man who truculently bore
over his shoulder, like a lance.
a banner labeled “Tolerance.”

And when I asked him why he strode
thus scowling down the human road,
scowling, he answered, “I am he
who champions total liberty—
intolerance being, ma’am, a state
no tolerant man can tolerate.

“When I meet rogues,” he cried, “who choose
to cherish oppositional views,
lady, like this, and in this manner,
I lay about me with this banner
till they cry mercy, ma’am.”  His blows
rained proudly on prospective foes.

Fearful, I turned and left him there
still muttering, as he thrashed the air,
“Let the intolerant beware!”

The Cowboy Hávamál

June 21, 2015

Illustration: Shutterstock

Jackson Crawford, a professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, translated the first 79 verses of the Havamal, a Viking poem, from Old Norse into American cowboy dialect.

The Cowboy Havamal is full of practical wisdom that is just as relevant to the present day as the age in which it was written.

If it weren’t copyrighted, I would copy the whole thing onto my web log.  As it is, I just reblog his translation.  Go below the fold to get to the translated verses.

I found the link on The Tinfoil Hat Society web log.

Update 10/5/2018

Dr. Jackson Crawford evidently has taken the text of his Cowboy Havamal down from the web, but he recites it in the YouTube video above.

Also, he does make available a satirical spoof,  the Tattúínárdøi Saga | Star Wars as an Icelandic saga.

Update 10/13/2018

In these two videos, Dr. Crawford discusses Viking ideals of manliness.