Sunday, July 31, 2016
From Collected Poems, by Mark Strand
MY MOTHER ON AN EVENING IN LATE SUMMER
When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands near the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges,
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon's ash-colored coat
on the black bay.
Soon the house, with its shades drawn closed, will send
small carpets of lampglow
into the haze and the bay
will begin its loud heaving
and the pines, frayed finials
climbing the hill, will seem to graze
the dim cinders of heaven.
And my mother will stare into the starlanes,
the endless tunnels of nothing,
and as she gazes,
under the hour's spell,
she will think how we yield each night
to the soundless storms of decay
that tear at the folding flesh,
and she will not know
why she is here
or what she is prisoner of
if not the conditions of love that brought her to this.
My mother will go indoors
and the fields, the bare stones
will drift in peace, small creatures -
the mouse and the swift - will sleep
at opposite ends of the house.
Only the cricket will be up,
repeating its one shrill note
to the rotten boards of the porch,
to the rusted screens, to the air, to the rimless dark,
to the sea that keeps to itself.
Why should my mother awake?
The earth is not yet a garden
about to be turned. The stars
are not yet bells that ring
at night for the lost.
It is much too late.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
From The Tree Where Man Was Born, by Peter Matthiessen
"There is a mystery behind that masked gray visage, an ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea."
From Chapter VII, Elephant Kingdoms
Friday, July 29, 2016
From Complete Poems, by Claude McKay
SUMMER MORN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
All yesterday it poured, and all night long
I could not sleep; the rain unceasing beat
Upon the shingled roof like a weird song,
Upon the grass like running children's feet.
And down the mountains by the dark cloud kissed,
Like a strange shape in filmy veiling dressed,
Slid slowly, silently, the wraith-like mist,
And nestled soft against the earth's wet breast.
But lo, there was a miracle at dawn!
The still air stirred at touch of the faint breeze,
The sun a sheet of gold bequeathed the lawn,
The songsters twittered in the rustling trees.
And all things were transfigured in the day,
But me whom radiant beauty could not move;
For you, more wonderful, were far away,
And I was blind with hunger for your love.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
From Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
"We ate the whole of the toast, and drank tea in proportion, and it was delightful to see how warm and greasy we all got after it."
From Chapter 37
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
From Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
"And really, after a day or two of confusion worse confounded, it was delightful, by degrees, to invoke order from the chaos ourselves had made."
From Chapter 34
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
From Decline and Fall, by Evelyn Waugh
A SPLENDID STORY
"'Brolly told a splendid story about how you used to go out swimming in the evenings and swim for hours and hours in the dark composing elegiac verses, and then he spoiled it by saying you had webbed feet and a prehensile tail, which made the chap think he was having his leg pulled. I say, am I terribly in the way?'"
From Chapter Six, A Hitch in the Wedding Preparations
Monday, July 25, 2016
From Selected Poems, by John Clare
The frog half fearful jumps across the path,
And little mouse that leaves its hole at eve
Nimbles with timid dread beneath the swath;
My rustling steps awhile their joys deceive,
Till past, and then the cricket sings more strong,
And grasshoppers in merry moods still wear
The short night weary with their fretting song.
Up from behind the molehill jumps the hare,
Cheat of his chosen bed, and from the bank
The yellowhammer flutters in short fears
From off its nest hid in the grasses rank,
And drops again when no more noise it hears.
Thus nature's human link and endless thrall,
Proud man, still seems the enemy of all.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
From Silver Poets of the 16th Century, edited by Gerald Bullett
What is our life? A play of passion,
Our mirth the music of division,
Our mother's wombs the tiring-houses be,
Where we are dressed for this short comedy.
Heaven the judicious sharp spectator is,
That sits and marks still who doth act amiss.
Our graves that hide us from the setting sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest, that's no jest.
-- Sir Walter Raleigh
Saturday, July 23, 2016
From The Poems of Sir Philip Sidney, edited by William A. Ringler
COME SLEEP, O SLEEP! THE CERTAIN KNOT OF PEACE
Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw!
O make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.