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.




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