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


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