Category Archives: Poetry

A Faery’s Song

John Waterhouse

John Waterhouse

I know they’re different stories-so far as I know La Belle Dame sans Merci has an Arthurian feel but isn’t based on a particular tale, while Aengus is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Irish mythology-but these two pieces strike me as a matched set.

(I’m not fond of Keats’ stock character, but I’m a bit enamored of the Pre-Raphaelite art it inspired. Though the combination of military haircuts, multi-era armor and gauzy gowns sometimes crack me up a little bit too.)

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A phrase remains

silver beech

Two poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay today.

The first is playful, it sounds like a chant you might make running through the woods, or when making magic wands.

The second is a stark contrast despite the similar sense of enumeration. It holds the sadness and determination I normally think of when her name pops up. (The first poem of hers I ever read was Conscientious Objector, so that set the tone.)

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Child of the wandering sea

The Chambered Nautilus

 

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

 

 

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sails the unshadowed main,—

The venturous bark that flings

On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings

In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,

And coral reefs lie bare, Continue reading

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Some Untidy Spot

Landscape with fall of Icarus

Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

 

About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

 

 

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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I shall do nothing but look at the sky

Roman Wall Blues

W.H. Auden

 

Over the heather the wet wind blows,

I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

 

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,

I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.

 

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,

My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.

 

Aulus goes hanging around her place,

I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.

 

Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;

There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.

 

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;

I want my girl and I want my pay.

 

When I’m a veteran with only one eye

I shall do nothing but look at the sky.

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As Short a Spring

The first of two paintings by William Waterhouse inspired by Herrick’s poem.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) was an English poet and vicar. His major work, Hesperides, was published in 1648.

 

His most famous line is from To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,/ Old Time is still a-flying;/ And this same flower that smiles today/ Tomorrow will be dying.” I’m guessing that sounds familiar.

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Wind and Rain

April is notorious for its temperamental weather. The pounding of the rain woke me up this morning. (Even before I had to be up, grrr!)

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Poe Night

It’s one of those nights where the quiet feels loud. That said Poe to me.

 

The Bells

Edgar Allan Poe. 1809–1849

 

 

I

 

Hear the sledges with the bells –

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night!

While the stars that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

 

 

II

 

Hear the mellow wedding bells –

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight! –

From the molten – golden notes,

And all in tune,

What a liquid ditty floats

To the turtle – dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon!

Oh, from out the sounding cells,

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

How it swells!

How it dwells

On the Future! – how it tells

Of the rapture that impels

To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

 

 

III

 

Hear the loud alarum bells –

Brazen bells!

What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

Leaping higher, higher, higher,

With a desperate desire,

And a resolute endeavor

Now – now to sit, or never,

By the side of the pale – faced moon.

Oh, the bells, bells, bells!

What a tale their terror tells

Of Despair!

How they clang, and clash and roar!

What a horror they outpour

On the bosom of the palpitating air!

Yet the ear, it fully knows,

By the twanging,

And the clanging,

How the danger ebbs and flows;

Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling,

And the wrangling,

How the danger sinks and swells,

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells –

Of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells –

In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!

 

 

IV

 

Hear the tolling of the bells –

Iron bells!

What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!

In the silence of the night,

How we shiver with affright

At the melancholy menace of their tone!

For every sound that floats

From the rust within their throats

Is a groan.

And the people – ah, the people –

They that dwell up in the steeple,

All alone,

And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,

Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone –

They are neither man nor woman –

They are neither brute nor human –

They are Ghouls: –

And their king it is who tolls: –

And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

Rolls

A paean from the bells!

And his merry bosom swells

With the paean of the bells!

And he dances, and he yells;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the paean of the bells: –

Of the bells:

Keeping time, time, time

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells: –

To the sobbing of the bells: –

Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,

In a happy Runic rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells –

To the tolling of the bells –

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells, –

To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

 

 

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I mentioned this some time ago when I posted my Fibonacci sequence poem. So, silly but here you go. My second response to an old math/science themed poem challenge, based on an even older promise my calculus teacher made that every calculus student was allowed to go and stomp on Isaac Newton’s grave.

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To look at things in bloom

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now…”

A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

rhodochrosite-tree

I’m cheating a bit, since his cherry blossoms are white. Right now white on trees is a little too much like snow. The cherry I watch every year (a little nervously the past two-the recent winters have left it very bent and twisted) has pink blooms. Light with darker centers, as if they’d been white but stained with cherry juice!

 

I’ve made pink pearl trees to try to get the feel of cherry blossoms, but I haven’t found any small enough to please me. I’m perpetually on the prowl for deep enough rose quartz, but this fall I stumbled on another option for cherry blossom pink stone chips. It’s called rhodochrosite.

 

In its pure form rhodochrosite is nearly rose red. The name comes from the Greek for rose and coloring. Its more common forms are pink and light brown, sometimes grey. Rhodochrosite gets its color from manganese, and the more calcium replacing the manganese the paler it is.

 

Rhodochrosite is fairly soft; it has a Mohs hardness of 3.5-4. That’s one reason it’s rarely faceted, and when it is it’s normally the purer red form for collectors. This does mean that it can be carved into wonderful figures and turned into decorative boxes. I think I first saw the stone with its banding on boxes rather than jewelry. The downside is that it isn’t a good gemstone for rings, and possibly not for bracelets, depending how tough you are on them.

 

It seems to form near silver mines. First it was found in Romania, then later banded stalactites were found in an old Incan silver mine in Argentina. They’d been forming since the mines were abandoned in the 1300s. Argentina is still the principal source of banded rhodochrosite, which is why rhodochrosite is sometimes called rosinca or Inca Rose.

 

The manganese content makes it difficult to refine silver ore so miners used to just dump the rhodochrosite. (*cringe*) Then collectors realized what was being lost!

 

Now it’s Argentina’s national gemstone, and also the state mineral of Colorado.

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