Saturday, March 28, 2015

Poetry about Losing One's Self In Nature: Playlist for March 27, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM
 

After-Glow 

By  Ivor Gurney    

      

                           (To F. W. Harvey)

 

Out of the smoke and dust of the little room

 

With tea-talk loud and laughter of happy boys,

 

I passed into the dusk. Suddenly the noise

 

Ceased with a shock, left me alone in the gloom,

 

To wonder at the miracle hanging high

 

Tangled in twigs, the silver crescent clear.

 

Time passed from mind. Time died; and then we were

 

Once more at home together, you and I.

 

 

 

The elms with arms of love wrapped us in shade

 

Who watched the ecstatic west with one desire,

 

One soul uprapt; and still another fire

 

Consumed us, and our joy yet greater made:

 

That Bach should sing for us, mix us in one

 

The joy of firelight and the sunken sun.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonata in C for Flute by J.S. Bach
 
 

 
 

An Old-Fashioned Song
 

By  John Hollander  

 

 

(Nous n'irons plus au bois)

 

No more walks in the wood:

 

The trees have all been cut

 

Down, and where once they stood

 

Not even a wagon rut

 

Appears along the path

 

Low brush is taking over.

 

 

No more walks in the wood;

 

This is the aftermath

 

Of afternoons in the clover

 

Fields where we once made love

 

Then wandered home together

 

Where the trees arched above,

 

Where we made our own weather

 

When branches were the sky.

 

Now they are gone for good,

 

And you, for ill, and I

 

Am only a passer-by.

 

 

We and the trees and the way

 

Back from the fields of play

 

Lasted as long as we could.

 

No more walks in the wood.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Silence of the Woods by Edvard Grieg
 
 
 

 

 

 

Mahayana in Vermont 

By  Sydney Lea  

 

 

My objectives this morning were vague.

 

As always I'd hike these hills—

 

a way to keep going

 

against the odds age deals,

 

a way to keep body and soul

 

together, and not so much thinking

 

as letting things steal into mind—

 

but I started counting

 

 

from the very first step I took.

 

I wore rank old boots, ill-laced,

 

and patchwork pants.

 

Around my neck hung the frayed

 

lanyard of a whistle I use

 

to summon our trio of dogs,

 

who capered and yelped their pleasure

 

at one of our walks,

 

 

and more miraculous still,

 

at having me for a master.

 

It's true in a sense

 

that I always count as I wander,

 

though it's usually the beats of a tune

 

(Thelonious's "Blue Monk"

 

a favorite) that mark my time.

 

These counts felt odder,

 

 

better. We scattered a brood

 

of grouse at step 91.

 

The deerflies strafed us.

 

At 500 a late trillium

 

glowed by a ledge like a lotus.

 

Right along the rain kept pounding.

 

I was mindful of all these things

 

but I never stopped counting.

 

 

Life was good, and more.

 

It was worthy of better response.

 

At 1000 I thought,

 

Enough—and counted on.

 

Nothing was coming to mind.

 

Nothing is coming again

 

from my hike half the day ago

 

with three dogs through rain

 

 

but a mystic sense of well-being

 

in quietly chanted numbers.

 

Whatever this trance,

 

I treasured it as a wonder

 

not to be wrenched into meaning,

 

as in Every second counts,

 

as in You should count your blessings,

 

though of those there seems no doubt.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Quintet in C by Franz Schubert
 

 

 

Don’t Tell Anyone 

By  Tony Hoagland  

 

 

We had been married for six or seven years

 

when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me

 

that she screams underwater when she swims—

 

 

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years

 

into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool

 

where she does laps every other day. 

 

 

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been

 

concealing anything,

 

not as if I should consider myself

 

 

personally the cause of her screaming,

 

nor as if we should perform an act of therapy 

 

right that minute on the kitchen table,

 

 

—casually, she told me,

 

and I could see her turn her square face up

 

to take a gulp of oxygen,

 

 

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.

 

For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming

 

as they go through life, silently,

 

 

politely keeping the big secret

 

that it is not all fun

 

to be ripped by the crooked beak

 

 

of something called psychology,

 

to be dipped down

 

again and again into time;

 

 

that the truest, most intimate

 

pleasure you can sometimes find

 

is the wet kiss

 

 

of your own pain.

 

There goes Kath, at one pm, to swim her twenty-two laps

 

back and forth in the community pool;

 

 

—what discipline she has!

 

Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,

 

that will never be read by anyone.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Troubled Water by Margaret Bonds
 
 

 

 

 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Poems about Spring: Playlist for March 20, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM

Lilacs

By  Amy Lowell  



Lilacs,


False blue,


White,


Purple,


Color of lilac,


Your great puffs of flowers


Are everywhere in this my New England.  


Among your heart-shaped leaves


Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing  


Their little weak soft songs;


In the crooks of your branches


The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs  


Peer restlessly through the light and shadow  


Of all Springs.


Lilacs in dooryards


Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;  


Lilacs watching a deserted house


Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;


Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom


Above a cellar dug into a hill.


You are everywhere.


You were everywhere.


You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon,


And ran along the road beside the boy going to school.


You stood by the pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,  


You persuaded the housewife that her dishpan was of silver.  


And her husband an image of pure gold.  


You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms  


Through the wide doors of Custom Houses—


You, and sandal-wood, and tea,


Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks  


When a ship was in from China.


You called to them: “Goose-quill men, goose-quill men,  


May is a month for flitting.”


Until they writhed on their high stools


And wrote poetry on their letter-sheets behind the propped-up ledgers.


Paradoxical New England clerks,


Writing inventories in ledgers, reading the “Song of Solomon” at night,


So many verses before bed-time,


Because it was the Bible.


The dead fed you


Amid the slant stones of graveyards.


Pale ghosts who planted you


Came in the nighttime


And let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.  


You are of the green sea,


And of the stone hills which reach a long distance.


You are of elm-shaded streets with little shops where they sell kites and marbles,


You are of great parks where every one walks and nobody is at home.


You cover the blind sides of greenhouses


And lean over the top to say a hurry-word through the glass  


To your friends, the grapes, inside.



Lilacs,


False blue,


White,


Purple,


Color of lilac,


You have forgotten your Eastern origin,  


The veiled women with eyes like panthers,


The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled pashas.


Now you are a very decent flower,  


A reticent flower,


A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,  


Standing beside clean doorways,


Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,  


Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight  


And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.


Maine knows you,


Has for years and years;


New Hampshire knows you,


And Massachusetts


And Vermont.


Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;  


Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.  


You are brighter than apples,


Sweeter than tulips,


You are the great flood of our souls


Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,  


You are the smell of all Summers,


The love of wives and children,


The recollection of gardens of little children,  


You are State Houses and Charters


And the familiar treading of the foot to and fro on a road it knows.


May is lilac here in New England,


May is a thrush singing “Sun up!” on a tip-top ash tree,  


May is white clouds behind pine-trees  


Puffed out and marching upon a blue sky.  


May is a green as no other,


May is much sun through small leaves,  


May is soft earth,


And apple-blossoms,


And windows open to a South Wind.  


May is full light wind of lilac


From Canada to Narragansett Bay.



Lilacs,


False blue,


White,


Purple,


Color of lilac.


Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,  


Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,  


Lilac in me because I am New England,


Because my roots are in it,


Because my leaves are of it,


Because my flowers are for it,  


Because it is my country


And I speak to it of itself


And sing of it with my own voice  


Since certainly it is mine.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lilacs by Sergei Rachmaninov




Today



By  Billy Collins  



If ever there were a spring day so perfect,


so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze



that it made you want to throw


open all the windows in the house



and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,


indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,



a day when the cool brick paths


and the garden bursting with peonies



seemed so etched in sunlight


that you felt like taking



a hammer to the glass paperweight


on the living room end table,



releasing the inhabitants


from their snow-covered cottage



so they could walk out,


holding hands and squinting



into this larger dome of blue and white,


well, today is just that kind of day.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Octet (Presto) by Felix Mendelssohn





After the Winter


By  Claude McKay  



Some day, when trees have shed their leaves


     And against the morning’s white


The shivering birds beneath the eaves


     Have sheltered for the night,


We’ll turn our faces southward, love,


     Toward the summer isle


Where bamboos spire the shafted grove


     And wide-mouthed orchids smile.



And we will seek the quiet hill


     Where towers the cotton tree,


And leaps the laughing crystal rill,


     And works the droning bee.


And we will build a cottage there


     Beside an open glade,


With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,


     And ferns that never fade.

 REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nimrod Variation from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar



Easter in Pittsburgh


By  James Laughlin  



Even on Easter Sunday  


when the church was a



jungle of lilies and  


ferns fat Uncle Paul



who loved his liquor  


so would pound away



with both fists on the  


stone pulpit shouting



sin sin sin and the  


fiery fires of hell



and I cried all after-


noon the first time I



heard what they did to  


Jesus it was something



the children shouldn’t  


know about till they



were older but the new  


maid told me and both



of us cried a lot and so  


mother got another one



right away & she sent  


away Miss Richardson



who came all the way  


from England because



she kept telling how  


her fiancé Mr. Bowles-



Lyon died suddenly of  


a heart attack he just



said one day at lunch  


I’m afraid I’m not well



and the next thing they  


knew he was sliding un-



der the table. Easter  


was nice the eggs were



silly but the big lilies  


were wonderful & when



Uncle Paul got so fat  


from drinking that he



couldn’t squeeze into  


the pulpit anymore &



had to preach from the  


floor there was an el-



ders’ meeting and they  


said they would have



the pulpit rebuilt but  


Uncle Paul said no it



was the Lord’s manifest  


will and he would pass



his remaining years in  


sacred studies I liked



Thanksgiving better be-


cause that was the day



father took us down to  


the mills but Easter I



liked next best and the  


rabbits died because we



fed them beet tops and  


the lamb pulled up the



grass by the roots and  


was sold to Mr. Page the



butcher I asked Uncle  


Robert what were sacred



studies he said he was  


not really sure but he



guessed they came in a  


bottle and mother sent



me away from the table  


when I wouldn’t eat my



lamb chops that was  


ridiculous she said it



wasn’t the lamb of God  


it was just Caesar An-



dromache Nibbles but I  


couldn’t I just couldn’t



& the year of the strike  


we didn’t go to Church



at all on Easter because  


they said it wasn’t safe



down town so instead we  


had prayers in the library



and then right in the mid-


dle the telephone rang it



was Mr. Shupstead at the  


mill they had had to use



tear gas father made a  


special prayer right a-



way for God’s protection  


& mercy and then he sent



us out to the farm with  


mother we stayed a week



and missed school but it  


rained a lot and I broke



the bathroom mirror and  


had to learn a long psalm.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quartet No. 1 by Charles Ives



In Perpetual Spring


By  Amy Gerstler   


Gardens are also good places


to sulk. You pass beds of


spiky voodoo lilies  


and trip over the roots  


of a sweet gum tree,  


in search of medieval  


plants whose leaves,  


when they drop off  


turn into birds


if they fall on land,


and colored carp if they  


plop into water.



Suddenly the archetypal  


human desire for peace  


with every other species  


wells up in you. The lion  


and the lamb cuddling up.


The snake and the snail, kissing.


Even the prick of the thistle,  


queen of the weeds, revives  


your secret belief


in perpetual spring,


your faith that for every hurt  


there is a leaf to cure it.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Spring is Here by Richard Rodgers