Sunday, June 29, 2014

Poems about Retreat: Playlist for June 27, 2014

The Vacation

By  Wendell Berry  

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.

He went flying down the river in his boat

with his video camera to his eye, making

a moving picture of the moving river

upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly

toward the end of his vacation. He showed

his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,

preserving it forever: the river, the trees,

the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat

behind which he stood with his camera

preserving his vacation even as he was having it

so that after he had had it he would still

have it. It would be there. With a flick

of a switch, there it would be. But he

would not be in it. He would never be in it.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone by Percy Grainger

About My Very Tortured Friend, Peter

By  Charles Bukowski  

he lives in a house with a swimming pool

and says the job is

killing him.

he is 27. I am 44. I can’t seem to

get rid of

him. his novels keep coming

back. “what do you expect me to do?” he screams

“go to New York and pump the hands of the


“no,” I tell him, “but quit your job, go into a

small room and do the


“but I need ASSURANCE, I need something to

go by, some word, some sign!”

“some men did not think that way:

Van Gogh, Wagner—”

“oh hell, Van Gogh had a brother who gave him

paints whenever he

needed them!”

“look,” he said, “I’m over at this broad’s house today and

this guy walks in. a salesman. you know

how they talk. drove up in this new

car. talked about his vacation. said he went to

Frisco—saw Fidelio up there but forgot who

wrote it. now this guy is 54 years

old. so I told him: ‘Fidelio is Beethoven’s only

opera.’ and then I told

him: ‘you’re a jerk!’ ‘whatcha mean?’ he

asked. ‘I mean, you’re a jerk, you’re 54 years old and

you don’t know anything!’”

“what happened


“I walked out.”

“you mean you left him there with



“I can’t quit my job,” he said. “I always have trouble getting a

job. I walk in, they look at me, listen to me talk and

they think right away, ah ha! he’s too intelligent for

this job, he won’t stay

so there’s really no sense in hiring


now, YOU walk into a place and you don’t have any trouble:

you look like an old wino, you look like a guy who needs a

job and they look at you and they think:

ah ha!: now here’s a guy who really needs work! if we hire

him he’ll stay a long time and work


“do any of those people,” he asks “know you are a

writer, that you write poetry?”


“you never talk about

it. not even to

me! if I hadn’t seen you in that magazine I’d

have never known.”

“that’s right.”

“still, I’d like to tell these people that you are a


“I’d still like to

tell them.”


“well, they talk about you. they think you are just a

horseplayer and a drunk.”

“I am both of those.”

“well, they talk about you. you have odd ways. you travel alone.

I’m the only friend you



“they talk you down. I’d like to defend you. I’d like to tell

them you write


“leave it alone. I work here like they

do. we’re all the same.”

“well, I’d like to do it for myself then. I want them to know why

I travel with

you. I speak 7 languages, I know my music—”

“forget it.”

“all right, I’ll respect your

wishes. but there’s something else—”


“I’ve been thinking about getting a

piano. but then I’ve been thinking about getting a

violin too but I can’t make up my


“buy a piano.”

“you think



he walks away

thinking about


I was thinking about it

too: I figure he can always come over with his

violin and more

sad music.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC:Piano Blues by Aaron Copland

Family Vacation

By  Judith Slater  

Four weeks in, quarreling and far

from home, we came to the loneliest place.

A western railroad town. Remember?

I left you at the campsite with greasy pans

and told our children not to follow me.

The dying light had made me desperate.

I broke into a hobbled run, across tracks,

past warehouses with sun-blanked windows

to where a playground shone in a wooded clearing.

Then I was swinging, out over treetops.

I saw myself never going back, yet

whatever breathed in the mute woods

was not another life. The sun sank.

I let the swing die, my toes scuffed earth,

and I was rocked into remembrance

of the girl who had dreamed the life I had.

Through night, dark at the root, I returned to it.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Trio in G minor (Andante) by Clara Schumann

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

By  Walt Whitman   

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Symphony No. 2 by Alan Hovhaness (1st movement)

The Singing Place

By  Lily A. Long 

Cold may lie the day,

         And bare of grace;

At night I slip away

         To the Singing Place.

A border of mist and doubt

         Before the gate,

And the Dancing Stars grow still

         As hushed I wait.

Then faint and far away

         I catch the beat

In broken rhythm and rhyme

         Of joyous feet,—

Lifting waves of sound

         That will rise and swell

(If the prying eyes of thought

         Break not the spell),

Rise and swell and retreat

         And fall and flee,

As over the edge of sleep

         They beckon me.

And I wait as the seaweed waits

         For the lifting tide;

To ask would be to awake,—

         To be denied.

I cloud my eyes in the mist

         That veils the hem,—

And then with a rush I am past,-—

         I am Theirs, and of Them!

And the pulsing chant swells up

         To touch the sky,

And the song is joy, is life,

         And the song am I!

The thunderous music peals

         Around, o'erhead-

The dead would awake to hear

         If there were dead;

But the life of the throbbing Sun

         Is in the song,

And we weave the world anew,

         And the Singing Throng

Fill every corner of space—-

Over the edge of sleep

         I bring but a trace

Of the chants that pulse and sweep

         In the Singing Place.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC:Alleluia by Randall Thompson

Source: Poetry (November 1912).

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