Tuesday, November 13, 2012


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon, release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Prayer to Go to Paradise with the Donkeys

When I must come to you, O my God, I pray
It be some dusty-roaded holiday,
And even as in my travels here below
I beg to choose by what road I shall go
To Paradise, where the clear stars shine by day.
I’ll take my walking stick and go my way
And to my friends the donkeys I shall say,
“I am Frances Jammes, and I’m going to Paradise,
For there is no hell in the land of the loving God.”
And I’ll say to them: “Come sweet friends of the blue skies,
Poor creatures who with a flap of the ears or a nod
Of the head shake off the buffets, the bees, the flies . . . ”

Let me come with these donkeys, Lord, into your land,
These beasts who bow their heads so gently, and stand
With their small feet joined together in a fashion
Utterly gentle, asking your compassion.
I shall arrive, followed by their thousands of ears,
Followed by those with baskets at their flanks,
By those who lug the carts of mountebacks
Or loads of feather dusters and kitchen wares,
By those with humps of battered water cans,
By bottle-shaped she-asses who halt and stumble,
By those tricked out in little pantaloons
To cover their wet, blue galls where flies assemble
In whirling swarms, making a drunken hum.
Dear God, let me be with these donkeys that I come
And let it be that angels lead us in peace
To leafy streams where cherries tremble in air
Sleek as the laughing flesh of girls; and there
In that haven of souls let it be that, leaning above
Your divine waters, I shall resemble these donkeys,
Whose humble and sweet poverty will appear
Clear in the clearness of your eternal love.

-- Frances Jammes, trans. Richard Wilbur

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lingering in Happiness


After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear--but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes.  The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole's tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

-- Mary Oliver


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Parmenides / Fragments 3 and 15A


To think = to be

statement needing to become

you will come to know what you think although not when you see
what you say
when you see what it is that you are doing

most gradual of images.


Word in the Greek in itself unbroken needing nothing



Conodoguinet small
river locally a creek many turnings

boundary of what the map says is mine
boundary to the west to the middle of its turning bed which remains


containing stones ripple
slide of water low because of the heat/drought ripple and slide
around stones

no one kind various colors several shapes

pulled out
hauled away to make not quite regular irregular steps


On each side roses
carrying buckets of water two at a time scent of roses

there can be no argument against penetration.


Effort to balance some effort to climb more or less level steps
pause before climbing

whole stretch of the mountain mass
and line ridge line of north mountain massive and elongated blue wave

I do what I think
climbing up and climbing down.

-- John Taggart

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair

Upon whose blossom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems were made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.

-- Joyce Kilmer

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Botticellian Trees

The alphabet of
the trees

is fading in the
song of the leaves

the crossing
bars of the thin

letters that spelled

and the cold
have been illumined

pointed green

by the rain and sun--
the strict simple

principles of
straight branches

are being modified
by pinched-out

ifs of color, devout

the smiles of love--
. . . . . .

until the stript

move as a woman's
limbs under cloth

and praise from secrecy
quick with desire

love's ascendancy
in summer--

In summer the song
sings itself

above the muffled words--

-- William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


No matter what we are and who,
Some duties everyone must do:

A Poet puts aside his wreath
To wash his face and brush his teeth,

And even Earls
Must comb their curls,

And even Kings
Have underthings.

-- Arthur Guiterman

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the crickets take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned 
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop 
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't 
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

-- Jane Kenyon

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past. Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barn-yard within our horizon, it is belated. That sound commonly reminds us that we are growing rusty and antique in our employments and habits of thought. His philosophy comes down to a more recent time than ours. There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament, -- the gospel according to this moment. He has not fallen astern; he has got up early and kept up early, and to be where he is is to be in season, in the foremost rank of time. It is an expression of the health and soundness of Nature, a brag for all the world, -- healthiness as of a spring burst forth, a new fountain of the Muses, to celebrate this last instant of time. Where he lives no fugitive slave laws are passed. Who has not betrayed his master many times since last he heard that note?

The merit of this bird's strain is in its freedom from all plaintiveness. The singer can easily move us to tears or to laughter, but where is he that can excite in us a pure morning joy? When, in doleful dumps, breaking the awful stillness of our wooden sidewalk on a Sunday, or, perchance, a watcher in the house of mourning, I hear a cockerel crow far or near, I think to myself, "There is one of us well, at any rate," -- and with a sudden gush return to my senses.

-- HDT, from Walking

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The unformed volcanic earth, a female thing,
Furiously following with the other planets
Their lord the sun: her body is molten metal pressed rigid
By its own mass; her beautiful skin,
basalt and granite and the lighter elements,
Swam to the top. She was like a mare in heat eyeing the stallion,
Screaming for life in the womb; her atmosphere
Was the breath of her passion: not the blithe air
Men breathe and live, but marsh gas, ammonia, sulphured hydrogen,
Such poison as our remembering bodies return to
When they die and decay and the end of life
Meets its beginning. The sun heard her and stirred
Her thick air with fierce lightnings and flagellations
Of germinal power, building impossible molecules, amino-acids
And flashy unstable protiens: thence life was born,
Its nitrogen from ammonia, carbon from methane,
Water from the cloud and salts from the young seas,
It dribbled down into the primal ocean like a babe's urine
Soaking the cloth: heavily built protein molecules
Chemically growing, bursting apart as the tensions
In the inordinate molecule become unbearable--
That is to say, growing and reproducing themselves, a virus
On the warm ocean.

Time and the world changed,
The proteins were no longer created, the ammoniac atmosphere
And the great storms no more. The virus now
Must labor to maintain itself. It clung together
Into bundles of life, which we call cells,
With microscopic walls enclosing themselves
Against the world. But why would life maintain itself,
Being nothing but a dirty scum on the sea
Dropped from foul air? Could it perhaps perceive
Glories to come? Could it foresee that cellular life
Would make the mountain forest and the eagle dawning,
Monstrously beautiful, wings, eyes and claws, dawning,
Over the rock ridge? And the passionate human intelligence
Straining its limits, striving to understand itself and the universe to the last galaxy --
Fammantia moenia mundi, Lucretius wrote,
Alliterating like a Saxon -- all those Ms mean majesty --
The flaming world walls, far flung fortifications of being
Against non-being.

For another time the cells of life
Bound themselves into clans, a multitude of cells
To make one being -- as the molecules before
Hand made of many one cell. Meanwhile they had invented
Chlorophyll and ate sunlight, cradled in peace
On the warm waves; but certain assassins among them
Discovered that it was easier to eat flesh
Than feed on lean air and sunlight: thence the animals,
Greedy mouths and guts, life robbing life,
Grew from the plants; and as the ocean ebbed and flowed
many plants and animals
Were stranded in the great marshes along the shore,
Where many died and some lived. From these grew all land-life,
Plants, beasts and men; the mountain forest
and the mind of Aeschylus
And the mouse in the wall.

What is this thing called life? -- But I believe
That the earth and stars too, and the whole glittering universe,
and rocks on the mountain have life,
Only we do not call it so -- I speak of the life
That oxydizes fats and proteins and carbo-
Hydrates to live on, and from that chemical energy
Makes pleasure and pain, wonder, love, adoration, hatred and terror:
how do these things grow
From a chemical reaction?

I think they were here already. I think the rocks
And the earth and the other planets, and the stars and galaxies
Have their various consciousnesses, all things are conscious;
But the nerves of an animal,
the nerves and brain are like a burning-glass
To concentrate the heat and make it catch fire:
It seems to us martyrs hotter than the blazing hearth
From which it came. So we scream and laugh, clamorous animals
Born howling to die groaning: the old stones in the dooryard
Prefer silence: but those and all things have their own awareness,
As the cells of a man have; they feel and feed
and influence each other, each unto all
Like the cells of a man's body making one being,
They make one being, one consciousness, one life, one God.

But whence came the race of man? I will make a guess.
A change of climate killed the great northern forests,
Forcing manlike apes down from their trees,
They starved up there. They had been secure up there,
But famine is no security: among the withered branches blue famine:
They had to go down to the earth, where green still grew
And small meats might be gleaned. But there the great flesh-eaters,
Tiger and panther and the horrible fumbling bear
and endless wolf-packs made life
A dream of death. Therefore man had those dreams,
And kills out of pure terror. Therefore man walks erect,
Forever alerted: as the bear rises to fight
So man does always. Therefore he invented fire and flint weapons
In his desperate need. Therefore he is cruel and bloody-handed and
quick-witted, having survived
Against all odds. Never blame the man: his hard-pressed
Ancestors formed him: the other anthropoid apes were safe
In the great southern rain-forest and hardly changed
In a million years: but the race of man was made
By shock and agony. Therefore they invented
the song called language
To celebrate their survival and record their deeds.
And therefore the deeds they celebrate --
Achilles raging in the flame of the south,
Baltic Beowulf like a fog-blinded sea-bear
Prowling the blasted fenland
in the bleak twilight to the black water --
Are cruel and bloody. Epic, drama, and history,
Jesus and Judas, Jenghiz, Julius Ceasar, no great poem
Without the blood-splash. They are a little lower than the angels,
as someone said. -- Blood-snuffing rats:
But never blame them: a wound was made in the brain
When life became too hard, and has never healed.
It is there that they learned
trembling religion and blood-sacrifice,
It is there that they learned
to butcher beasts and slaughter men,
And hate the world: the great religions of love and kindness
May conceal that, not change it. They are not primary but reactions
Against the hate: as the eye after feeding on a red sunfall
Will see green suns.

The human race is one of God's sense organs,
Immoderately alerted to feel good and evil
And pain and pleasure. It is a nerve-ending,
Like eye, ear, taste-buds (hardly able to endure
The nauseous draught) it is a sensory organ of God's.
As Titan-mooded Lear or Prometheus reveal to their audience
Extremes of pain and passion they will never find
In their own lives but through the poems as sense-organs
They feel and know them:
so the exultations and agonies of beasts and men
Are sense organs of God: and on other globes
Throughout the universe much greater nerve-endings
Enrich the consciousness of the one being
Who is all that exists. This is man's mission:
To find and feel; all animal experience
Is a part of God's life. He would be balanced and neutral
As a rock on the shore, but the red sunset-waves
Of life's passions fling over him.
Slowly, perhaps, man may grow into it --
Do you think so? This villainous king of beasts,
this deformed ape? -- He has mind
And imagination, he might go far
And end in honor. The hawks are more heroic
but man has a steeper mind,
Huge pits of darkness, high peaks of light,
You may calculate a comet's orbit or the dive of a hawk,
not a man's mind.

-- Robinson Jeffers

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man hath made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:--
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
that there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

-- William Wordsworth

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Song of the Hen's Head

After the abrupt collision
with the blade, the Word,
I rest on the wood
block, my eyes
drawn back into their blue transparent
shells like mollusks;
I contemplate the Word.

while the rest of me
which was never much under
my control, which was always
inarticulate, still runs
at random through the grass, a plea
for mercy, a single
flopping breast,

muttering about life
in its thickening red voice.

Feet and hands chase it, scavengers
intent on rape:
they want its treasures,
its warm rhizomes, enticing sausages,
its yellow grapes, its flesh
caves, five pounds of sweet money,
its juice and jellied tendons.
It tries to escape,
gasping through the neck, frantic.

They are welcome to it,

I contemplate the Word,
I am dispensable and peaceful.

The word is an O,
outcry of the useless head,
pure space, empty and drastic,
the last word I said.
The word is No.

-- Margaret Atwood

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mason-Dixon Lines

-- Justin Booth

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Early Morning, New Hampshire

Near Wolfeboro,
near the vast, sparkling lake,
deep in the woods,
I swing

my legs over
the old wall and sit
on the iron-cold
stones. The wall

is longer
than any living thing, and quieter
than anything
that breathes, as we

understand breathing. It turns,
it cuts back, it approaches again.
It knows
all the angles.

raised it
stone by stone, each lagging weight
pulling the shoulders.

meant to sheet these green hills
with domesticity,
and did, for a while.

But not anymore.
And now the unmaking
has, naturally, begun.
Stones fall--

tilt and fall--
but slowly--
only a few a year--
into the leaves, or roll

down into the creeks, or into
the sappy knees
of the pines.
The birds

sing their endless
small alphabets.
a porcupine

hauls itself up and over--
or a deer
makes light of all of it,
leaping and leaping.

But mostly
nothing seems to be happening--
borders and divisions,
old sheep-holders,

the stones just sit there,
mute and tight, and wait
for the instant, gray and wild.
This morning

something slips,
and I see it all--the yearning,
then the blunt and paunchy flight,
then the sweet, dark falling.

-- Mary Oliver