Category Archives: Poetry

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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The spectra of the dead

Since I mentioned the other day about the toxicity of lead white and its importance in painting, a fitting poem by A.E. Stallings, from her book Archaic Smile.

Study in White

A friend, an artist, phoned me up and said,
What shall I do for flesh? And what for bone?
All has some white, and the best white is lead.

But lead gets in the flesh and in the bone,
And if you are a woman, in the child
You bear years hence, and I know, have read

That you may use titanium or zinc,
Not poisonous, but you may be reviled
Because you lack the seriousness bred

For art in men—or how else could you think
Of compromise in this. And I own
I’ve tried them both, but the best white is lead

For making up the colors bold and mild,
Conceiving still lifes, matching tone with tone
To reproduce the spectra of the dead.

And I have stood for hours at the sink
Scrubbing white from hands until they bled.
And still my hands are stained, and still I think—
O flesh and blood—but the best white is lead.

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Seasonal Complaints

A few haiku and tanka that I was working on while watching Monday’s snow and ice. I prefer cool weather, but even I’m tired of winter at this point!

Snowflakes plop, ice tings.
The disgruntled molting of
a sullen season.

snow falls like feathers
dances like cherry blossoms
and coldly mocks spring

Inky sky, bright moon,
the luminous fields of snow-
ice on black branches.
Light and dark hold winter fast,
spring brings shades and is welcome

rain taps in Morse code
trees shiver and robins fluff
green willow whispers
the crocus pokes through dead leaves,
saffron anthers sniff for spring

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Diamond and Verse

The idea of birthstones seems to go pretty far back but I’ve yet to find much trustworthy information on the whys and wherefores. In 1870 Tiffany & Co. published a poem with the traditional birthstones of English speaking countries, which sort of codified them. As new gemstones are discovered the calendar is sometimes modified to include them. (For instance adding pink tourmaline to October-why couldn’t they have left well enough alone? And tanzanite to December-now that’s an upgrade!)

 

April has remained steadfastly diamond.

 

“She who from April dates her years,

Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears

For vain repentance flow; this stone,

Emblem of innocence, is known.”

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It’s been a long winter; let’s start National Poetry Month with some seasonal haiku.


A Cold Spring

Banrai (pre-1800)

 

So chilly is the spring,

My little tea plants quite forget

They should be blossoming!

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