Monday, January 14, 2013

Poems about The Sun and The Moon: Playlist for January 11, 2013

Moon From the Porch

By Annie Finch b. 1956

Moon has dusks for walls,

October’s days for a floor,

crickets for rooms, windy halls.

Only one night is her door.

When I was thirteen she found me,

spiralled into my blood like a hive.

I stood on a porch where she wound me

for the first time, tight and alive,

till my body flooded to find her:

to know I would not be alone

as I moved through the tides that don't bind her

into womanhood, like a flung stone.


With each curve that waxed into fullness

I grew to her, ready and wild.

I filled myself up like her priestess.

I emptied myself like her child. 


Flooding, ready, and certain,

I hid her—full, fallow, or frail—

beneath each long summer's rich curtain.

It covered her face—the thin grail 


that delivers me now. Now I’m with her.

All cast shadows come home.

I stand in these shadows to kiss her;

I spin in her cool, calming storm. 


Now as I move through my own beauty

and my shadow grows deeper than blood,

oh triple, oh goddess, sustain me

with your light’s simple opening hood.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Mondnacht, by Robert Schumann

Sonnet CXXX: My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing like the Sun

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

   As any she belied with false compare.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Fantasia No. 2, by William Byrd




By Kathleen Jamie b. 1962


Last night, when the moon

slipped into my attic room

as an oblong of light,

I sensed she’d come to commiserate.


It was August. She traveled

with a small valise

of darkness, and the first few stars

returning to the northern sky,


and my room, it seemed,

had missed her. She pretended

an interest in the bookcase

while other objects 


stirred, as in a rock pool,

with unexpected life:

strings of beads in their green bowl gleamed,

the paper-crowded desk; 


the books, too, appeared inclined

to open and confess.

Being sure the moon

harbored some intention,


I waited; watched for an age

her cool gaze shift

first toward a flower sketch

pinned on the far wall


then glide down to recline

along the pinewood floor,

before I’d had enough. Moon,

I said, We’re both scarred now. 


Are they quite beyond you,

the simple words of love? Say them.

You are not my mother;

with my mother, I waited unto death.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel


by John Donne

USY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Suite No. 1& 2 by Matthew Locke

Memorizing “The Sun Rising” by John Donne

By Billy Collins b. 1941

Every reader loves the way he tells off

the sun, shouting busy old fool

into the English skies even though they

were likely cloudy on that seventeenth-century morning.

And it’s a pleasure to spend this sunny day

pacing the carpet and repeating the words,

feeling the syllables lock into rows

until I can stand and declare,

the book held closed by my side,

that hours, days, and months are but the rags of time.


But after a few steps into stanza number two,

wherein the sun is blinded by his mistress’s eyes,

I can feel the first one begin to fade

like sky-written letters on a windy day.


And by the time I have taken in the third,

the second is likewise gone, a blown-out candle now,

a wavering line of acrid smoke.


So it’s not until I leave the house

and walk three times around this hidden lake

that the poem begins to show

any interest in walking by my side.


Then, after my circling,

better than the courteous dominion

of her being all states and him all princes, 


better than love’s power to shrink

the wide world to the size of a bedchamber, 


and better even than the compression

of all that into the rooms of these three stanzas

is how, after hours stepping up and down the poem,

testing the plank of every line,

it goes with me now, contracted into a little spot within.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Here Comes the Sun, by George Harrison


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Poems about Children: Playlist for January 4, 2013


The Children of the Poor

By Gwendolyn Brooks 1917–2000 


People who have no children can be hard:

Attain a mail of ice and insolence:

Need not pause in the fire, and in no sense

Hesitate in the hurricane to guard.

And when wide world is bitten and bewarred

They perish purely, waving their spirits hence

Without a trace of grace or of offense

To laugh or fail, diffident, wonder-starred.

While through a throttling dark we others hear

The little lifting helplessness, the queer

Whimper-whine; whose unridiculous

Lost softness softly makes a trap for us.

And makes a curse. And makes a sugar of

The malocclusions, the inconditions of love. 


What shall I give my children? who are poor,

Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land,

Who are my sweetest lepers, who demand

No velvet and no velvety velour;

But who have begged me for a brisk contour,

Crying that they are quasi, contraband

Because unfinished, graven by a hand

Less than angelic, admirable or sure.

My hand is stuffed with mode, design, device.

But I lack access to my proper stone.

And plenitude of plan shall not suffice

Nor grief nor love shall be enough alone

To ratify my little halves who bear

Across an autumn freezing everywhere. 


And shall I prime my children, pray, to pray?

Mites, come invade most frugal vestibules

Spectered with crusts of penitents’ renewals

And all hysterics arrogant for a day.

Instruct yourselves here is no devil to pay.

Children, confine your lights in jellied rules;

Resemble graves; be metaphysical mules.

Learn Lord will not distort nor leave the fray.

Behind the scurryings of your neat motif

I shall wait, if you wish: revise the psalm

If that should frighten you: sew up belief

If that should tear: turn, singularly calm

At forehead and at fingers rather wise,

Holding the bandage ready for your eyes.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quartet No. 4 ("The Ancient Tree") by Alan Hovhaness

The Children

By Mark Jarman b. 1952 

The children are hiding among the raspberry canes.  

They look big to one another, the garden small.  

Already in their mouths this soft fruit  

That lasts so briefly in the supermarket  

Tastes like the past. The gritty wall,  

Behind the veil of leaves, is hollow.

There are yellow wasps inside it. The children know.  

They know the wall is hard, although it hums.

They know a lot and will not forget it soon. 


When did we forget? But we were never  

Children, never found where they were hiding

And hid with them, never followed  

The wasp down into its nest

With a fingertip that still tingles.

We lie in bed at night, thinking about

The future, always the future, always forgetting

That it will be the past, hard and hollow,  

Veiled and humming, soon enough.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Histoires by Jacques Ibert


Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children

By John Updike 1932–2009 

They will not be the same next time. The sayings  

so cute, just slightly off, will be corrected.  

Their eyes will be more skeptical, plugged in  

the more securely to the worldly buzz  

of television, alphabet, and street talk,  

culture polluting their gazes' pure blue.  

It makes you see at last the value of  

those boring aunts and neighbors (their smells  

of summer sweat and cigarettes, their faces                       

like shapes of sky between shade-giving leaves)  

who knew you from the start, when you were zero,  

cooing their nothings before you could be bored  

or knew a name, not even your own, or how  

this world brave with hellos turns all goodbye
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Scenes from Childhood by Robert Schumann

On the Seashore

By Rabindranath Tagore 1861–1941

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.

The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: En Bateau by Claude Debussy
An Equation for My Children

By Wilmer Mills 1969–2011 

It may be esoteric and perverse

That I consult Pythagoras to hear

A music tuning in the universe.

My interest in his math of star and sphere

Has triggered theorems too far-fetched to solve.

They don't add up. But if I rack and toil

More in ether than a mortal coil,

It is to comprehend how you revolve,

By formulas of orbit, ellipse, and ring.  


Dear son and daughter, if I seem to range

It is to chart the numbers spiraling

Between my life and yours until the strange

And seamless beauty of equations click

Solutions for the heart's arithmetic.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Children's Corner Suite by Claude Debussy