World Poetry Day Redux

by Maria on March 21, 2017

Five years ago, Ingrid wrote a post here for World Poetry Day. Many of CT’s commenters took her up on the invitation to “post poems, with or without translations, of our own making or borrowed from someone else.” The thread was one of the most remarkable we’ve ever had, including people’s favourite poems, own poems and own translations, and in several different languages. Here it is: Poems to Celebrate World Poetry Day.

Poetry can be so nationally-bounded, it’s always good, and quite revealing, to find other people’s geniuses. It often seems to travel abroad with a delay of a few decades, even between quite closely aligned cultures. For example, I’ve only seen Mary Oliver sold prominently in the UK in the past few years. Well known to many Americans, this one of hers is a jewel box of image and emotion, and continues to be both revelation and consolation to me.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?



dilbert dogbert 03.21.17 at 1:48 pm

MMMM??? “What to do with your one wild and precious life.” Just what humans have been doing always. To live life. The Grow. To Learn. To Love. To Friend. To Raise Children. To Care.


JanieM 03.21.17 at 2:06 pm

Lake and Maple, by Jane Hirshfield

I want to give myself
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,
no matter what comes
to its blue-green depths,
both takes and returns it.
In the still heart,
that refuses nothing,
the world is twice-born —
two earths wheeling,
two heavens,
two egret reaching
down into subtraction;
even the fish
for an instant doubled,
before it is gone.
I want the fish.
I want the losing it all
when it rains and I want
the returning transparence.
I want the place
by the edge-flowers where
the shallow sand is deceptive,
where whatever
steps in must plunge,
and I want that plunging.
I want the ones
who come in secret to drink
only in early darkness,
and I want the ones
who are swallowed.
I want the way
this water sees without eyes,
hears without ears,
shivers without will or fear
at the gentlest touch.
I want the way it
accepts the cold moonlight
and lets it pass,
the way it lets all of it pass
without judgment or comment.
There is a lake, Lalla Ded sang,
no larger than one seed of mustard,
that all things return to.
O heart, if you
will not, cannot, give me the lake,
then give me the song.


Tim Walters 03.21.17 at 2:33 pm

Man built the Sphinx. The witch he burned.
Now shall the riddle have no name.
In stone he asked. To fire he turned
And flung the answer in the flame.

–Sara Bard Field, “Man Fears Wise Women” (1925)


Patrick S. O'Donnell 03.21.17 at 3:16 pm

As today is the date of the Sharpeville Massacre (about which I have a post at Religious Left Law), I thought this poem would be appropriate:

Our Sharpeville

I was playing hopscotch on the slate
when the miners roared past in lorries,
their arms raised, signals at a crossing
their chanting foreign and familiar,
like the call and answer of road gangs
across the veld, building hot arteries
from the heart of the Transvaal mine.

I ran to the gate to watch them pass.

And it seemed like a great caravan
moving across the desert to an oasis
I remembered from my Sunday school book:
olive trees, a deep jade pool,
men resting in clusters after a long journey,
the danger of the mission still around them,
and night falling, its silver stars just like the ones
you got for remembering your Bible texts.

Then my grandmother called from behind the front door,
her voice a stiff broom over the steps:
“Come inside; they do things to little girls.”

For it was noon, and there was no jade pool.
Instead, a pool of blood that already had a living name
and grew like a shadow as the day lengthened.

The dead, buried in voices that reached my gate,
the chanting man on ambushed trucks,
these were not heroes in my town,
but maulers of children,
doing things that had to remain nameless.

And our Sharpeville was this fearful thing
that might tempt us across the well swept streets.

If I had turned I would have seen
brocade curtains drawn tightly across sheer net ones,
known there were eyes behind both,
heard the dogs pacing in the locked yard next door.

But, walking backwards, all I felt was shame,
at being a girl, at having been found at the gate,
at having heard my grandmother lie
and at my fear her lie might be true.

Walking backwards, called back,
I returned to the closed rooms, home.

By Ingrid de Kok


William Timberman 03.21.17 at 3:28 pm

The Arrangements

dust in the air
a dog
and circling its tail
behind the fence

A small house
behind a chain-link fence
a dog snapping at itself
and then the dust
along the ground

Past a torn screen door
a woman in a sun hat
and braces on both legs
over worn coveralls
and working herself
down the steps
to the yard

A woman in braces
with a hoe
and levering up weeds
Or is it the grass
she’s ripping at
blade by blade
in clumps

In a sun hat
in the dust
I am
there to see it
laid out on the steps opposite
full of things
I did last night and liked
only half watching
her hoe across the street
her braces
locking and unlocking
and the dust

Why tear up all that grass
for Christ’s sake?
Why with a hoe?
It’ll take months
Someone ought to
let her know
about the dog

“It looks
good like that”
I say
“the grass
it’s beautiful”

“Too much trouble”
she says
“beautiful or not
I’m sixty-two years old
and crippled
I don’t have the time”
And never did
I guess
which is why
forty years ago
she gave it up
because there’s no strength
or thrift in it
nothing we can
decently use

It lights up the eye
and leaves the hands idle
which is sin
It attracts men
and sent one away again
with his hands in his pockets
the right or wrong of it
small enough comfort then

She tried it again
in the mirror
when her eyes cleared
she looked at her hands
and let it go
I see it now
watching the hoe
waving away the dust
“Hard case”
I think
“hard case”
with last night gone
this morning too
I have things to do
and my ears ringing
What to make of Della?

at least
that’s what I can
tell people
about the dust

And when the dust settles
thirty by forty feet of
scalped grass
a snaked length of
dog chain
crossing it
between fence and house
and the trees
I like the trees

One in particular
green at dawn
and still
if only for
a moment
And after that moment
one morning
in the parted branches
of the same tree
goddess of
protestant horticulture
waving her discount pruning saw
looking for the serpent

“Sweet Jesus
get down
You want to
kill yourself
or what?”

“Will you look at these loquats
I can’t even
give them away
I’ve got a kitchen
and the ground
still covered with them
I can’t be
picking up loquats
all summer

Not now
not with Jim
the way he is
I want it down”
She runs a hand
over the saw teeth
I pull a leaf
tear it
into two halves
along the vein

She tells me
he’s dying
about the house
they just bought
bad plumbing
bad wiring
and him inside it
choking on
sawdust and
cancer trying
to fix things

“For me”
she says
“No matter what happens
he wants me to
go on living here
And I want the yard cleared
I want
something I can
keep up
No telling how I’d
pay anyone enough to
do all this gardening”

I know
I know
I tell her I know
and go on
sweating and
working the saw all morning
pulling at
amputated branches

It seems
we’ve made a pact
about this tree
the delicate fruit
most of it
but sweet
the bark like grey silk
wood white
unexpectedly white
where the blade
opens it to view

I’ll help her
send it on
ahead of him
that love
is her excuse

She’ll offer me
a bowl of loquats
when I leave
go in to him
I’ve accepted


Mark Palm 03.21.17 at 3:29 pm

How the Pope is Chosen

Any poodle under ten inches high is a toy.
Almost always a toy is an imitation
of something grown-ups use.
Popes with unclipped hair are called “corded popes.”
If a Pope’s hair is allowed to grow unchecked,
it becomes extremely long and twists
into long strands that look like ropes.
When it is shorter it is tightly curled.
Popes are very intelligent.
There are three different sizes.
The largest are called standard Popes.
The medium-sized ones are called miniature Popes.
I could go on like this, I could say:
“He is a squarely built Pope, neat,
well-proportioned, with an alert stance
and an expression of bright curiosity,”
but I won’t. After a poodle dies
all the cardinals flock to the nearest 7-Eleven.
They drink Slurpies until one of them throws up
and then he’s the new Pope.
He is then fully armed and rides through the wilderness alone,
day and night in all kinds of weather.
The new Pope chooses the name he will use as Pope,
like “Wild Bill” or “Buffalo Bill.”
He wears red shoes with a cross embroidered on the front.
Most Popes are called “Babe” because
growing up to become a Pope is a lot of fun.
All the time their bodies are becoming bigger and stranger,
but sometimes things happen to make them unhappy.
They have to go to the bathroom by themselves,
and they spend almost all of their time sleeping.
Parents seem incapable of helping their little popes grow up.
Fathers tell them over and over again not to lean out of windows,
but the sky is full of them.
It looks as if they are just taking it easy,
but they are learning something else.
What, we don’t know, because we are not like them.
We can’t even dress like them.
We are like red bugs or mites compared to them.
We think we are having a good time cutting cartoons out of the paper,
but really we are eating crumbs out of their hands.
We are tiny germs that cannot be seen under microscopes.
When a Pope is ready to come into the world,
we try to sing a song, but the words do not fit the music too well.
Some of the full-bodied popes are a million times bigger than us.
They open their mouths at regular intervals.
They are continually grinding up pieces of the cross
and spitting them out. Black flies cling to their lips.
Once they are elected they are given a bowl of cream
and a puppy clip. Eyebrows are a protection
when the Pope must plunge through dense underbrush

in search of a sheep

— James Tate (1943-2015)


oldster 03.21.17 at 3:46 pm

Your link to the earlier thread seems not to work. Try this one:

And thanks for doing this.


Hickory Bow 03.21.17 at 4:27 pm

At the San Francisco Airport
To my daughter, 1954

This is the terminal: the light
Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
The metal glitters, deep and bright.
Great planes are waiting in the yard—
They are already in the night.

And you are here beside me, small,
Contained and fragile, and intent
On things that I but half recall—
Yet going whither you are bent.
I am the past, and that is all.

But you and I in part are one:
The frightened brain, the nervous will,
The knowledge of what must be done,
The passion to acquire the skill
To face that which you dare not shun.

The rain of matter upon sense
Destroys me momently. The score:
There comes what will come. The expense
Is what one thought, and something more—
One’s being and intelligence.

This is the terminal, the break.
Beyond this point, on lines of air,
You take the way that you must take;
And I remain in light and stare—
In light, and nothing else, awake.


Chris Bertram 03.21.17 at 4:34 pm

“He Tells Her”

He tells her that the Earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

—Wendy Cope


Yankee 03.21.17 at 4:52 pm

What the CLOUD does
the MAN sees
the CLOUD knows not.

What the MAN does
GOD sees
knows the MAN aught?



Donald A. Coffin 03.21.17 at 5:37 pm

This one, I wrote:

The Leap Into the Void

I leapt into the Void,
Figuratively, Like Yves Klein.
But, figuratively, literally
What does it matter?
The Void
Is still
The Void


Hickory Bow 03.21.17 at 5:37 pm

Helen Grown Old

We have forgotten Paris, and his fate.
We have not much inquired
If Menelaus from the Trojan gate
Returning found the long desired
Immortal beauty by his hearth. Then late

Late, long past the morning hour,
Could even she recapture from the dawn
The young delighted love? When the dread power
That forced her will was gone,
When fell the last charred tower,

When the last flame had faded from the cloud,
And by the darkening sea
The plain lay empty of the armed crowd,
Then was she free
Who had been ruled by passion blind and proud?

Then did she find with him whom first she chose
Before the desperate flight
At last repose
In love still radiant at the edge of night,
As fair as in the morning? No one knows.

No one has cared to say. The story clings
To the tempestuous years, by passion bound,
Like Helen. No one brings
A tale of quiet love. The fading sound
Is blent of falling embers, weeping kings.

Janet Lewis (1899–1998)


nnyhav 03.21.17 at 5:45 pm

It’s a fine day for giving some love to poetry in translation, a conduit for culture in danger of being narrowed (particularly but not only on my side of the pond), either by purchasing some of the more remarkable recent efforts (eg per PEN America) or by contributing to one of the many non-profit publishers that provide it and/or organizations that support it.


Hickory Bow 03.21.17 at 5:46 pm

O yonge fresshe folkes, he or she,
In which that love up groweth with your age,
Repeyreth hoom from worldly vanitee,
And of your herte up-casteth the visage
To thilke god that after his image
Yow made, and thinketh al nis but a fayre
This world, that passeth sone as floures fayre.

Chaucer, from the palinode of the Troilus…


Hickory Bow 03.21.17 at 6:07 pm

You Never Can Tell
Chuck Berry

It was a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell,
“C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They furnished off an apartment with a two room Roebuck sale
The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale,
But when Pierre found work, the little money comin’ worked out well
“C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast
Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz
But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell
“C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They bought a souped-up jitney, ’twas a cherry red ’53,
They drove it down to Orleans to celebrate the anniversary
It was there that Pierre was married to the lovely mademoiselle
“C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell


Maria 03.21.17 at 6:15 pm

Thanks, oldster. Link is working now so I think one of my fellow timberites must have fixed it.


Doug K 03.21.17 at 6:30 pm

thanks Maria..

I try to write a twitter poem each year for this day, currently uninspired for some reason..

Here’s some recent doggerel from my weblog,

What water and sun are to the body, prayer is to the soul.
– St John Chrysostom

outside in the light
the river prays without ceasing
trout rise and offer metanoias
to change without ceasing


Hidari 03.21.17 at 7:12 pm

Ditch of Dead Water

Here is a ditch of hopelessly dead water.
No breeze can raise a single ripple on it.
Might as well throw in rusty metal scraps
or even pour in left-over food and soup in it.

Perhaps the green on copper will become emeralds.
Perhaps on tin cans peach blossom will bloom.
Then, let grease weave a layer of silky gauze,
and germs brew patches of colorful spume.

Let the dead water ferment into jade wine
covered with floating pearls of white scum.
Small pearls chuckle and become big pearls,
only to burst as gnats come to steal this rum.

And so this ditch of hopelessly dead water
may still claim a touch of something bright.
And if the frogs cannot bear the silence—
the dead water will croak its song of delight.

Here is a ditch of hopelessly dead water—
a region where beauty can never reside.
Might as well let the devil cultivate it—
and see what sort of world it can provide.

-Wen Yiduo (1928)

The ‘ditch of dead water’ is of course China (a point, rather unbelievably, that some of the internet commentators seem to miss) but it’s also, equally obviously, the modern world in its totality.

In 2017 it seem prescient.


bob mcmanus 03.21.17 at 7:31 pm

I’ll surrender to serendipity instead of choice or quality. Just finished an biography of Hayashi Fumiko this morning. These are from an included essay, and the accompanying text is common to the form, as in Ise Monogatari. From here on Fumiko, translated by Susanna Fessler.

I have come to enjoy composing poems and songs upon my journey from far away. A while back, when I was off hiking by myself near the great waterfall in the mountain pass between the regions of Musashi and Sagami, I had the uncontrollable urge to sing. The new Koshu road to Yose winds along the valleys, and I could hear the babbling of the nearby river. Looking down, I saw the luxuriant and bushy tops of cedar trees all in a row, and I could see the Todami and Ashigara mountain ranges.

The waterfall
Clouds in the shade of trees in a mountain pass
Crawl along the base of the pine-covered cliff.

I think this is an odd poem, but it is the genuine article that sprung forth from my soul while I was up in the mountains, so even though it is rather warped it is still adorable. Reciting this poem about a waterfall reminds me of a poem by Yosano Akiko:

A waterfall scatters into mist in the mountains of Kaigane
The crimson leaves of the cherry trees at Obane no tai

What a splendid verse, endowed with such character! It is clearly Akiko’s work, and I have committed it to memory, along with the following poem:

The tatami of a mountain villa and the
mountains in Kai province all in a row,
Create the autumn peaks of Ashigara

This poem is one I enjoy most of all.


PatinIowa 03.21.17 at 7:41 pm

I’ve just stumbled across this Australian poet, with whom I’m quite taken:

Woman and Child

They listen to the myna birds dicker in the grass.
The child’s blue shoes are caked with
garden dirt. When he runs, she sees the antics
of a pair of wrens. She works the garden,

a pot of rusting gardenias has given off its ales
and infused the danker germinations of her
grief. She watches her son chase pigeons,
kick at the leaves piled high. Now, a magpie

adds to his cascades of laughter as he runs with
the hose, pours a fine spray, happy to be giving
to the grass this silver courtship. She sighs,
watches the drops settle in. Today, who

can explain the sadness she feels. Surely this
day is to be treasured: the sun out, the breeze
like a cat’s tongue licking a moon of milk;
her son expending himself in small, public

bursts, happy among clover where bees hover,
and unfold centrefolds of nectar. Today,
who can explain the heaviness in her head, as if
all her worries were tomes toward a larger work,

one she knows she will never finish, but to which
she must keep adding, thought by thought.
She sweeps the petals, smells their russet imprint.
Soon dusk will come with an envoy of smoke

and her son outlast her patience by a rose.
Already he is tiring, puling at the flowers.
It won’t be long before they’ll go in, listen
to the jug purr comfort. He’ll sleep and she’ll

lie back, or get up to unhook the cry of her cat
from the wire door. Now, a few cicadas are idling,
giving each other the gun and a cockatoo calls,
a haughty felon. She sighs, knowing she won’t

escape her mood today, the turned earth
or its rank persuasions; her child’s petulance
flaring like an orchid, or a cockatoo’s unruly crest.
Today, she knows she will need to consider

her unhappiness, of what she is a prisoner – if not
the loss of hope’s particulars. Her son soaks
the path, rinses the sky of its featureless blue.
He is giving that water, now, to everything.

Judith Beveridge, “Woman and Child” text from Wolf Notes, Giramondo Publishing, 2003; audio from Cut By Stars, Audio CD, 2007, by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 2003, 2007 by Judith Beveridge.
Source: Wolf Notes (Giramondo, 2003)


Doug K 03.21.17 at 8:03 pm

also, “wild and precious life”, made me think of this Zoe Lewis song,

close your hand around the knife
of this one wild and precious life


Alan White 03.21.17 at 10:13 pm

Here’s mine for the day.

One Memory

One memory I’ve returned to about us
So many times is that one day
With Randy at the little pub, was it
The Fishing Hole in Sherwood?
That little place in the woods with
Nice chicken sandwiches and squeaky
Deep-fried cheese sticks
And plenty of Leinie’s Red to wash it all down—
It was in the parlor next to the bar,
With the old-style pinball machine
That we played, and played pretty well,
That you stood next to the machine
And touched my hand
As the ball spun and banked and flew
From the flippers that I bent your way
And gave you a kiss as the ball
Slipped past my vigilance
And drained right to the bottom
And we laughed the love of loss
That doesn’t matter, long before
The losses that we loved through
Drained us by mattering so much.
That moment is ours as long
As we matter, and will not drain
Into the fishing hole of time.


Doug K 03.22.17 at 12:43 am

another song from a poem – by Buddhist monk Ryokan,

nusutto ni
mado no tsuki

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

This turned into Joni Mitchell, Moon at the Window.


Chris Burns 03.22.17 at 2:41 am

It’s almost 20 years since Australian poet John Forbes passed away.

Ode to Karl Marx

Old father of the horrible bride whose
wedding cake has finally collapsed, you

spoke the truth that doesn’t set us free –
it’s like a lever made of words no one’s

learnt to operate. So the machine it once
connected to just accelerates & each new

rap dance video’s a perfect image of this,
bodies going faster and faster, still dancing

on the spot. At the moment tho’ this set up
works for me, being paid to sit and write &

smoke, thumbing through Adorno like New Idea
on a cold working day in Ballarat, where

adult unemployment is 22% & all your grand
schemata of intricate cause and effect

work out like this: take a muscle car &
wire its accelerator to the floor, take out

the brakes, the gears the steering wheel
& let it rip. The dumbest tattooed hoon

— mortal diamond hanging round the Mall —
knows what happens next. It’s fun unless

you’re strapped inside the car. I’m not,
but the dummies they use for testing are.


Conor O'Brien 03.22.17 at 11:05 am

O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose
Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands.
A swan goes by head low with many apologies,
Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges –
And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
And other far-flung towns mythologies.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.
– Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin
‘Erected to the memory of Mrs. Dermot O’Brien’
Patrick Kavanagh


Val 03.22.17 at 12:01 pm

PatinIowa @ 20
In the category of Australian women poets named Judith (of which there are notable members) maybe you’d also like (or do like) Judith Rodriguez?

My sister gave me her poem ‘Eskimo Occasion’ when my children were young and I loved it, but I looked at it again today and was worried it was cultural appropriation. However it captures so well the time of transition in labour, when you are waiting, cold and fearful and alone (no matter how supported) – and the wild exhilaration of birth

“I will sing the song of my daughter-hunting,
The waves lay down the ice grew strong
I waited by the water to dream new spirits
The water spoke the ice shouted
The sea opened the sun made young shadows
they breathed my breathing. I took them from deep water
I brought them fur-warmed home.

The mother in your poem might have done well to read Judith Rodriguez perhaps, especially the assertion of self against all the primal nature of motherhood:

“It was I who waited cold in the wind break”

The whole poem is here


Andrew Miller 03.22.17 at 4:10 pm

That this path is ours,
every one of us, to take,
I heard long ago,
yet never imagined then,
yesterday, or today.
“Death poem”, Ariwara no Narihira (tenth century)

From Morrow and Tyler, _The Ise Stories: Ise Monogatari_ (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2010), p. 247


rea 03.22.17 at 4:57 pm

You Never Can Tell
Chuck Berry

Written while the author was in federal prison on conviction for transporting a teenager across state lines for “immoral purposes.” The evidence of “immoral purposes was a bit shaky, and the proceedings were marred by overt racism from the prosecution.


Gabriel 03.24.17 at 12:27 am

By Donald Revell

It is the right time for hallucinations.
Drowning in a sty, the sailor
feels the ocean’s buoyancy.
Dying in a web, the moth
discards its wings and falls free.

I wish something would put its hands on me,
give me stronger poison and then stronger.
The beautiful flotillas do not stop.
Undying love drifts and delays.
I am capsizing.

Great joy lingers still.
Nothing can be said for suffering.
It is legible only to strangers
and at great distances. It detests
survivors. It drapes gun-carriages

with flowers, lampposts with hanging boys.
It is the right time for hallucinations,
most nakedly of inmost west.
Her death would be less tender now,
dusted over with charity,

a web of useless wings, a shallow sty.
She gave me stronger poison and then stronger.
I miss her.
In the back seat of the taxi,
dark breathlessness says “Hurry, hurry.”


Gabriel 03.24.17 at 12:30 am

Love the Forbes and Kavanagh, by the way. Thanks for those.


Suzanne 03.24.17 at 4:27 am

Yvor Winters! Thank you, Hickory Bow.

The Tolerance of Crows
Charles Donnelly

Death comes in quantity from solved
Problems on maps, well-ordered dispositions,
Angles of elevation and direction;

Comes innocent from tools children might
Love, retaining under pillows,
Innocently impales on any flesh.

And with flesh falls apart the mind
That trails thought from the mind that cuts
Thought clearly for a waiting purpose.

Progress of poison in the nerves and
Discipline’s collapse is halted.
Body awaits the tolerance of crows.


ZM 03.24.17 at 1:38 pm

This is a poem by Chase Twichell I’ve always liked, although the feeling is somewhat rarer and harder to conjure up than it was when I first read the poem almost two decades ago probably

Tea Mind

Even as a child I could
induce it at will.
I’d go to where the big rocks

stayed cold in the woods all summer,
and tea mind would come to me

like water over stones, pool to pool,
and in that way I taught myself to think.
Green teas are my favorites, especially

the basket-fired Japanese ones
that smell of baled hay.

Thank you, makers of this tea.
Because of you my mind is still tonight,
transparent, a leaf in air.

Now it rides a subtle current.
Now it can finally disappear.


Hickory Bow 03.24.17 at 4:06 pm

Suzanne–Here is another “daughter poem” you might like…

The Writer
Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.


Val 03.24.17 at 10:21 pm

Some more Australian poetry, this time from songwriters, and about summer and home when you’re not there

“The harbour’s misty in the morning love, oh how I miss December
The frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air”

From Winter in America, by Doug Ashdown


“I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu
To be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I’m looking forward to Christmas
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus

I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

And if my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes

Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
When Christmas comes
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, whenever you come
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know”

From White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin


Robj 03.25.17 at 9:36 pm

Upon Julia’s Clothes

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

Robert Herrick


J-D 03.26.17 at 1:19 am

‘The Good And The Clever’, by Elizabeth Wordsworth

If all the good people were clever,
And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
We thought that it possibly could.

But somehow, ’tis seldom or never
The two hit it off as they should;
The good are so harsh to the clever,
The clever, so rude to the good!

So, friends, let it be our endeavour
To make each by each understood,
For few can be good like the clever,
Or clever so well as the good.


Suzanne 03.26.17 at 5:16 am

@34: That’s beautiful, Hickory Bow. (For a long time I knew of Wilbur mainly as the chief lyricist for Candide.)

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis.
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum,
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

I said to her, darling, I said
Let’s LIVE and
let’s LOVE and
what do we care what those old
purveyors of joylessness say?
(they can go to hell, all of them)
the Sun dies every night
in the morning he’s there again
you and I, now,
when our briefly tiny light flicks out,
it’s night for us, one single
give me a kiss, a hundred a thousand kisses,
a fifty eleven seven hundred thousand
kisses, and let’s
do it all over again
how many, how many, you say?
mix them up; it’s bad luck
to know how many; wouldn’t want people
to count, them, up
somebody might have the Evil Eye
and if he knew he might just


LFC 03.27.17 at 12:06 am

H. Bow @34
Thanks for the ref to Wilbur.
Picked up his New and Collected Poems (1988) at a used bookstore today.

Here’s the opening of “First Snow in Alsace” from his first book The Beautiful Changes(1947):

The snow came down last night like moths
Burned on the moon; it fell till dawn,
Covered the town with simple cloths.

(The rest of the poem can be found online, I think.)

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