Friday, November 7, 2014

Poems about Dawn, Morning, Afternoon, Dusk & Evening: Playlist for November 7, 2014



By Ella Higginson  

The soft-toned clock upon the stair chimed three—

   Too sweet for sleep, too early yet to rise.

   In restful peace I lay with half-closed eyes,

Watching the tender hours go dreamily;

The tide was flowing in; I heard the sea

   Shivering along the sands; while yet the skies

   Were dim, uncertain, as the light that lies

Beneath the fretwork of some wild-rose tree

Within the thicket gray. The chanticleer

   Sent drowsy calls across the slumbrous air;

   In solemn silence sweet it was to hear

My own heart beat . . . Then broad and deep and fair—

   Trembling in its new birth from heaven’s womb—

   One crimson shaft of dawn sank thro’ my room.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Dawn on the Moskva River by Modest Mussorgsky



By Billy Collins    

Why do we bother with the rest of the day,

the swale of the afternoon,

the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,

his many-pointed stars?

This is the best—

throwing off the light covers,

feet on the cold floor,

and buzzing around the house on espresso—

maybe a splash of water on the face,

a palmful of vitamins—

but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,

dictionary and atlas open on the rug,

the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,

a cello on the radio,

and, if necessary, the windows—

trees fifty, a hundred years old

out there,

heavy clouds on the way

and the lawn steaming like a horse

in the early morning. 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Morning Song by Arnold Bax

A Musical Instrument

By  Elizabeth Barrett Browning  


WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,

    Down in the reeds by the river ?

Spreading ruin and scattering ban,

Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,

And breaking the golden lilies afloat

    With the dragon-fly on the river.


He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,

    From the deep cool bed of the river :

The limpid water turbidly ran,

And the broken lilies a-dying lay,

And the dragon-fly had fled away,

    Ere he brought it out of the river.


High on the shore sate the great god Pan,

    While turbidly flowed the river ;

And hacked and hewed as a great god can,

With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,

Till there was not a sign of a leaf indeed

    To prove it fresh from the river.


He cut it short, did the great god Pan,

    (How tall it stood in the river !)

Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,

Steadily from the outside ring,

And notched the poor dry empty thing

    In holes, as he sate by the river.


This is the way,' laughed the great god Pan,

    Laughed while he sate by the river,)

The only way, since gods began

To make sweet music, they could succeed.'

Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,

    He blew in power by the river.


Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan !

    Piercing sweet by the river !

Blinding sweet, O great god Pan !

The sun on the hill forgot to die,

And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly

    Came back to dream on the river.


Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,

    To laugh as he sits by the river,

Making a poet out of a man :

The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —

For the reed which grows nevermore again

    As a reed with the reeds in the river.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Prelude to Afternoon of a Fawn by Claude Debussy

Bryant Park at Dusk

By  Geoffrey Brock  

Floodlights have flared on behind and above

              Where I sit in my public chair.

The lawn that had gradually darkened has brightened.

              The library windows stare.

I’m alone in a crowd—e pluribus plures.

              Far from a family I miss.

I’d almost say I’m lonely, but lonely

              Is worse, I recall, than this.

Loneliness is a genuine poverty.

              I’m like a man who is flush

But forgot his wallet on the nightstand

              When he left for work in a rush,

And now must go without food and coffee

              For a few hours more than he’d wish.

That’s all. He still has a wallet. It’s bulging.

              It floats through his brain like a fish...

Money for love: a terrible simile,

              But maybe it’s fitting here,

A couple of blocks from Madison Avenue

              Where commodities are dear,

Where all around me, rich skyscrapers

              Woo the impoverished sky,

Having sent on their way the spent commuters

              Who stream, uncertain, by—

And as for this whole splurge of a city,

              Isn’t money at its heart?

But I’m blathering now. Forgetting my subject.

              What I meant to say at the start

Is that I noticed a woman reading

              In a chair not far from mine.

Silver-haired, calm, she stirred a hunger

              Hard for me to define,

Perhaps because she doesn’t seem lonely.

              And what I loved was this:

The way, when dusk had darkened her pages,

              As if expecting a kiss,

She closed her eyes and threw her head back,

              Book open on her lap.

Perhaps she was thinking about her story,

              Or the fall air, or a nap.

I thought she’d leave me then for pastimes

              More suited to the dark.

But she is on intimate terms, it seems,

              With the rhythms of Bryant Park,

For that’s when the floodlights came on, slowly,

              Somewhere far above my need,

And the grass grew green again, and the woman

              Reopened her eyes to read.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: At Dusk by Arthur Foote


By  Lisel Mueller  

Johannes Brahms and                                 
        Clara Schumann 

The modern biographers worry

“how far it went,” their tender friendship.

They wonder just what it means

when he writes he thinks of her constantly,

his guardian angel, beloved friend.

The modern biographers ask

the rude, irrelevant question

of our age, as if the event

of two bodies meshing together

establishes the degree of love,

forgetting how softly Eros walked

in the nineteenth-century, how a hand

held overlong or a gaze anchored

in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart,

and nuances of address not known

in our egalitarian language

could make the redolent air

tremble and shimmer with the heat

of possibility. Each time I hear

the Intermezzi, sad

and lavish in their tenderness,

I imagine the two of them

sitting in a garden

among late-blooming roses

and dark cascades of leaves,

letting the landscape speak for them,

leaving us nothing to overhear.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Concerto No. 1 (2nd movement) by Johannes Brahms

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