Category Archives: poetry

DarwinGardenAmaryllis.jpg

“When heaven’s high vault condensing clouds deform,
Fair Amaryllis flies the incumbent storm,
Seeks with unsteady step the shelter’d vale,
And turns her blushing beauties from the gale.
Six rival youths, with soft concern impress’d,
Calm all her fears, and charm her cares to rest.” (I.151-156)

-Erasmus Darwin

WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

Walt Whitman

hb_19.164

Pieter Bruegel, The Harvesters, 1565 (oil on wood)

 

 

Richard Foerster

Though they stoop and sweat
outside a stingy circle
that the pear tree affords …though the mustardy sheaves
of their morning’s labor
lie stiff in their ranks as battle-tallied dead . . . and though
the tree itself, coiling
ungracefully heavenward, pasta blue steeple, splits
their world with its axis,
here is Eden after allwhich the artist makes
us contemplate
by planting in the foregroundthat husky, unkempt reaper
with his legs splayed wide,
forcing our gaze crotchward,to the solid drowse
of his codpiece so casually
unlaced, while another,nearby, holding summer-
ripe fruit firmly to his lips,
stares out at us, and eats.

~~~~~~

 

William Carlos Williams

Summer !
the painting is organized
about a young

reaper enjoying his
noonday rest
completely

relaxed
from his morning labors
sprawled

in fact sleeping
unbuttoned
on his back

the women
have brought him his lunch
perhaps

a spot of wine
they gather gossiping
under a tree

whose shade
carelessly
he does not share the

resting
center of
their workaday world

1200px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Hunters_in_the_Snow_(Winter)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Pieter Brueghel, Hunters in the Snow (1565)

Oil on canvas, 46 inches x 63.75 inches. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

 

Brueghel’s WinterWalter de la Mare

Jagg’d mountain peaks and skies ice-green
Wall in the wild, cold scene below.
Churches, farms, bare copse, the sea
In freezing quiet of winter show;
Where ink-black shapes on fields in flood
Curling, skating, and sliding go.
To left, a gabled tavern; a blaze;
Peasants; a watching child; and lo,
Muffled, mute–beneath naked trees
In sharp perspective set a-row–
Trudge huntsmen, sinister spears aslant,
Dogs snuffling behind them in the snow;
And arrowlike, lean, athwart the air
Swoops into space a crow.

But flame, nor ice, nor piercing rock,
Nor silence, as of a frozen sea,
Nor that slant inward infinite line
Of signboard, bird, and hill, and tree,
Give more than subtle hint of him
Who squandered here life’s mystery.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Hunter in the Snow

William Carlos Williams

The over-all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return

from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in

their pack the inn-sign
hanging from a
broken hinge is a stag a crucifix

between his antlers the cold
inn yard is
deserted but for a huge bonfire

that flares wind-driven tended by
women who cluster
about it to the right beyond

the hill is a pattern of skaters
Brueghel the painter
concerned with it all has chosen

a winter-struck bush for his
foreground to
complete the picture

icarus

Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus

Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

 

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

The Windhover

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

lightning crashes

lightning crashes, a new mother cries
her placenta falls to the floor
the angel opens her eyes
the confusion sets in
before the doctor can even close the door

lightning crashes, an old mother dies
her intentions fall to the floor
the angel closes her eyes
the confusion that was hers
belongs now to the baby down the hall

oh now feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.

lightning crashes, a new mother cries
this moment she’s been waiting for
the angel opens her eyes
pale blue colored iris,
presents the circle
and puts the glory out to hide, hide

oh now feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it. I can feel it.

Oh why [3x]

I can feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.

I can feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.

I can feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again

I can feel it [3x]

World Was

World was in the face of the beloved–,
but suddenly it poured out and was gone:
world is outside, world can not be grasped.

Why didn’t I, from the full, beloved face
as I raised it to my lips, why didn’t I drink
world, so near that I couldn’t almost taste it?

Ah, I drank. Insatiably I drank.
But I was filled up also, with too much
world, and, drinking, I myself ran over.

-Rilke

This World is not Conclusion (373)

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond –
Invisible, as Music –
But positive, as Sound –
It beckons, and it baffles –
Philosophy, dont know –
And through a Riddle, at the last –
Sagacity, must go –
To guess it, puzzles scholars –
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown –
Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
Blushes, if any see –
Plucks at a twig of Evidence –
And asks a Vane, the way –
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –
Strong Hallelujahs roll –
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul –

Emily Dickinson

Blue Light Lounge Sutra

the need gotta be
so deep words can’t
answer simple questions
all night long notes
stumble off the tongue
& color the air indigo
so deep fragments of gut
& flesh cling to the song
you gotta get into it
so deep salt crystalizes on eyelashes
the need gotta be
so deep you can vomit up ghosts
& not feel broken
till you are no more
than a half ounce of gold
in painful brightness
you gotta get into it
blow that saxophone
so deep all the sex & dope in this world
can’t erase your need
to howl against the sky
the need gotta be
so deep you can’t
just wiggle your hips
& rise up out of it
chaos in the cosmos
modern man in the pepperpot
you gotta get hooked
into every hungry groove
so deep the bomb locked
in rust opens like a fist
into it into it so deep
rhythm is pre-memory
the need gotta be basic
animal need to see
& know the terror
we are made of honey
cause if you wanna dance
this boogie be ready
to let the devil use your head
for a drum

 

-Yusef Komunyakaa