Sunday, June 5, 2016

Songs of the Open Road

By Walt Whitman 1819–1892

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road. 
The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!  
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sextet in G Major by Johannes Brahms (first movement) 

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost 1874–1963

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;  

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,  

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.  

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Road Not Taken, by Randall Thompson

The Simplon Pass

By William Wordsworth 1770–1850

                   —Brook and road

Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass,

And with them did we journey several hours

At a slow step. The immeasurable height

Of woods decaying, never to be decayed,

The stationary blasts of waterfalls,

And in the narrow rent, at every turn,

Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn,

The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky,

The rocks that muttered close upon our ears,

Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside

As if a voice were in them, the sick sight

And giddy prospect of the raving stream,

The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens,

Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light—

Were all like workings of one mind, the features

Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree,

Characters of the great Apocalypse,

The types and symbols of Eternity,

Of first and last, and midst, and without end.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Eclogue, Op. 10 by Gerald Finzi

Private Beach

By Jane Kenyon 1947–1995

It is always the dispossessed—

someone driving a huge rusted Dodge  

that’s burning oil, and must cost  

twenty-five dollars to fill.  

Today before seven I saw, through

the morning fog, his car leave the road,  

turning into the field. It must be

his day off, I thought, or he’s out

of work and drinking, or getting stoned.  

Or maybe as much as anything

he wanted to see

where the lane through the hay goes.  

It goes to the bluff overlooking  

the lake, where we’ve cleared  

brush, swept the slippery oak

leaves from the path, and tried to destroy  

the poison ivy that runs

over the scrubby, sandy knolls.  

Sometimes in the evening I’ll hear  

gunshots or firecrackers. Later a car  

needing a new muffler backs out

to the road, headlights withdrawing  

from the lowest branches of the pines.  

Next day I find beer cans, crushed;  

sometimes a few fish too small  

to bother cleaning and left

on the moss to die; or the leaking  

latex trace of outdoor love....

Once I found the canvas sling chairs  

broken up and burned.

Whoever laid the fire gathered stones  

to contain it, like a boy pursuing

a merit badge, who has a dream of work,  

and proper reward for work.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Reflections in D by Edward "Duke" Ellington

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