Friday, November 29, 2013

Poems about Thanksgiving: Playlist for November 29, 2013

Family Reunion
By Maxine W. Kumin b. 1925

The week in August you come home,
adult, professional, aloof,
we roast and carve the fatted calf
—in our case home-grown pig, the chine
garlicked and crisped, the applesauce
hand-pressed. Hand-pressed the greengage wine.


Nothing is cost-effective here.
The peas, the beets, the lettuces
hand sown, are raised to stand apart.
The electric fence ticks like the slow heart
of something we fed and bedded for a year,
then killed with kindness’s one bullet
and paid Jake Mott to do the butchering.


In winter we lure the birds with suet,
thaw lungs and kidneys for the cat.
Darlings, it’s all a circle from the ring
of wire that keeps the raccoons from the corn
to the gouged pine table that we lounge around,
distressed before any of you was born.


Benign and dozy from our gluttonies,
the candles down to stubs, defenses down,
love leaking out unguarded the way
juice dribbles from the fence when grounded
by grass stalks or a forgotten hoe,
how eloquent, how beautiful you seem!


Wearing our gestures, how wise you grow,
ballooning to overfill our space,
the almost-parents of your parents now.
So briefly having you back to measure us
is harder than having let you go.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: To A Wild Rose by Edward MacDowell


Perhaps the World Ends Here
By Joy Harjo b. 1951

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.


The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.


We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.


It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.


At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.


Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.


This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.


Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.


We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.


At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.


Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Appalachia Waltz by Mark O'Connor



My Triumph
By John Greenleaf Whittier 1807–1892

The autumn-time has come;
On woods that dream of bloom,
And over purpling vines,
The low sun fainter shines.


The aster-flower is failing,
The hazel’s gold is paling;
Yet overhead more near
The eternal stars appear!


And present gratitude
Insures the future’s good,
And for the things I see
I trust the things to be;


That in the paths untrod,
And the long days of God,
My feet shall still be led,
My heart be comforted.


O living friends who love me!
O dear ones gone above me!
Careless of other fame,
I leave to you my name.


Hide it from idle praises,
Save it from evil phrases:
Why, when dear lips that spake it
Are dumb, should strangers wake it?


Let the thick curtain fall;
I better know than all
How little I have gained,
How vast the unattained.


Not by the page word-painted
Let life be banned or sainted:
Deeper than written scroll
The colors of the soul.


Sweeter than any sung
My songs that found no tongue;
Nobler than any fact
My wish that failed of act.


Others shall sing the song,
Others shall right the wrong,—
Finish what I begin,
And all I fail of win.


What matter, I or they?
Mine or another’s day,
So the right word be said
And life the sweeter made?


Hail to the coming singers!
Hail to the brave light-bringers!
Forward I reach and share
All that they sing and dare.


The airs of heaven blow o’er me;
A glory shines before me
Of what mankind shall be,—
Pure, generous, brave, and free.


A dream of man and woman
Diviner but still human,
Solving the riddle old,
Shaping the Age of Gold!


The love of God and neighbor;
An equal-handed labor;
The richer life, where beauty
Walks hand in hand with duty.


Ring, bells in unreared steeples,
The joy of unborn peoples!
Sound, trumpets far off blown,
Your triumph is my own!


Parcel and part of all,
I keep the festival,
Fore-reach the good to be,
And share the victory.


I feel the earth move sunward,
I join the great march onward,
And take, by faith, while living,
My freehold of thanksgiving.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: A Song of Thanksgiving by Ralph Vaughan Williams



The Gift Outright
By Robert Frost 1874–1963 

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Hymn of Thanksgiving by William Billings



47. To Autumn by John Keats



1.

S
EASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        5
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

  And still more, later flowers for the bees,

  Until they think warm days will never cease,
        10
    For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.



2.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
        15
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

  Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        20
  Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.



3.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        25
  And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

  Among the river sallows, borne aloft

    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        30
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

  The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Clarinet Quintet (1st movement) by Johannes Brahms







Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
ConspiringConspiring Working together; literally, to conspire is “to breathe together” (OED) with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-evesthatch-eves Thatch-eaves, the edge of thatched roofs run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowingwinnowing Separating the wheat from the chaff, the heavy from the light wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hookhook Scythe
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleanergleaner One who gathers the remaining food after the reaper has harvested the field thou dost keep
   Steady thy ladenladen Loaded down head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?Where are they? Rhetorical convention known as ubi sunt, often appearing in poems that meditate on the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death.
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloombloom “to colour with a soft warm tint or glow” (OED) the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plainsstubble-plains Fields made up of stubble, the remaining stumps of grain left after reaping with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallowssallows Willow trees, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croftgarden-croft A croft is a small enclosed field;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
ConspiringConspiring Working together; literally, to conspire is “to breathe together” (OED) with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-evesthatch-eves Thatch-eaves, the edge of thatched roofs run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowingwinnowing Separating the wheat from the chaff, the heavy from the light wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hookhook Scythe
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleanergleaner One who gathers the remaining food after the reaper has harvested the field thou dost keep
   Steady thy ladenladen Loaded down head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?Where are they? Rhetorical convention known as ubi sunt, often appearing in poems that meditate on the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death.
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloombloom “to colour with a soft warm tint or glow” (OED) the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plainsstubble-plains Fields made up of stubble, the remaining stumps of grain left after reaping with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallowssallows Willow trees, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croftgarden-croft A croft is a small enclosed field;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Poetry for November 8, 2013: Five Sonnets


Sonnet #10

By Hayden Carruth 1921–2008  

You rose from our embrace and the small light spread

like an aureole around you. The long parabola

of neck and shoulder, flank and thigh I saw

permute itself through unfolding and unlimited

minuteness in the movement of your tall tread,

the spine-root swaying, the Picasso-like ├ęclat

of scissoring slender legs. I knew some law

of Being was at work. At one time I had said

that love bestows such values, and so it does,

but the old man in his canto was right and wise:

ubi amor ibi ocullus est.

Always I wanted to give and in wanting was

the poet. A man now, aging, I know the best
of love is not to bestow, but to recognize.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Adagietto, from Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler
 
 
 
 

Sonnet XV: When I Consider everything that Grows

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616

When I consider everything that grows

Holds in perfection but a little moment,

That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows

Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;

When I perceive that men as plants increase,

Cheered and check'd even by the selfsame sky,

Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,

And wear their brave state out of memory;

Then the conceit of this inconstant stay

Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,

Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay

To change your day of youth to sullied night;

And all in war with Time for love of you,

As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Pipers Pavan by John Dowland
 
 

Sonnet 134 by Petrarch

I find no peace, and yet I make no war:
and fear, and hope: and burn, and I am ice:
and fly above the sky, and fall to earth,
and clutch at nothing, and embrace the world.

One imprisons me, who neither frees nor jails me,
nor keeps me to herself nor slips the noose:
and Love does not destroy me, and does not loose me,
wishes me not to live, but does not remove my bar.

I see without eyes, and have no tongue, but cry:
and long to perish, yet I beg for aid:
and hold myself in hate, and love another.

I feed on sadness, laughing weep:
death and life displease me equally:
and I am in this state, lady, because of you.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Pace non trovo by Franz Liszt




Unholy Sonnet 11

By Mark Jarman b. 1952

Half asleep in prayer I said the right thing  

And felt a sudden pleasure come into  

The room or my own body. In the dark,  

Charged with a change of atmosphere, at first  

I couldn’t tell my body from the room.  

And I was wide awake, full of this feeling,  

Alert as though I’d heard a doorknob twist,  

A drawer pulled, and instead of terror knew  

The intrusion of an overwhelming joy.  

I had said thanks and this was the response.  

But how I said it or what I said it for  

I still cannot recall and I have tried  

All sorts of ways all hours of the night.  

Once was enough to be dissatisfied.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G (1st movement) by Johannes Brahms
 
 

 
Sonnet
By James Weldon Johnson 1871–1938
 

My heart be brave, and do not falter so,  

Nor utter more that deep, despairing wail.  

Thy way is very dark and drear I know,  

But do not let thy strength and courage fail;  

For certain as the raven-winged night

Is followed by the bright and blushing morn,  

Thy coming morrow will be clear and bright;  

’Tis darkest when the night is furthest worn.  

Look up, and out, beyond, surrounding clouds,  

And do not in thine own gross darkness grope,  

Rise up, and casting off thy hind’ring shrouds,  

Cling thou to this, and ever inspiring hope:

   Tho’ thick the battle and tho’ fierce the fight,

   There is a power making for the right.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Fugue from Concerto Grosso No. 1 by Ernest Bloch