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 éclat

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

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




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