Archive for the “Poetry” Category

It is with great sadness that the world learned today of the passing of poet, memoirist, and American icon Maya Angelou.

Among Angelou’s works are seven autobiographies, including the seminal I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, collections of poetry (And Still I Rise, I Shall Not Be Moved, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women, and many more), and personal essays, such as Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.

Maya Angelou was a highly acclaimed artist, civil rights activist, and humanitarian.  Among the many awards she received were  the Mother Teresa Award, the NAACP Image Award, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a National Book Foundation Literarian Award, and the Norman Mailer Prize (Lifetime Achievement.)

Angelou moved countless people with the compelling power of her words, her images, and even her voice.  Many of us remember her powerful reading of her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993.  If you haven’t experienced this performance, or would like to relive it, you can find a video of it here (courtesy William J. Clinton Presidential Library.)

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Today is 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.  It is also a rainy day, and a day that falls within National Poetry Month.  So without further ado, I give you a rain-themed poem by Shakespeare:

 

 

 

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain, it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done.
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

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April 10th-13th is  the 14th annual  Boston National Poetry Month Festival, hosted primarily by the Boston Public Library in partnership with Tapestry of Voices and the Kaji Aso Studio.

The Festival begins on Thursday evening, April 10th, with a program of Poetry, Music & Dance at Old South Church, produced by Berklee College of Music professor, Lucy Holstedt.  Friday, April 11, National Book Award winner David Ferry is just one of 15 prominent “Keynote Poets” reading in the Commonwealth Salon room.  Saturday and Sunday, 60 established and emerging poets read in Rabb Lecture Hall: they range from Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and State Rep. Denise Provost to gifted students from Boston Latin High School and Boston Arts Academy as well as a Harvard University student.

The entire Festival is Free, and includes two Open Mics, plus a workshop with noted poet Tom Daley.  For specifics on times, locations, and more, click here.

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Incompatibilities

If you loved me I could trust you to your fancy’s furthest bound
While the sun shone and the wind blew, and the world went round,
To the utmost of the meshes of the devil’s strongest net . . .
If you loved me, if you loved me—but you do not love me yet!

I love you—and I cannot trust you further than the door!
But winds and worlds and seasons change, and you will love me more
And more—until I trust you, dear, as women do trust men—
I shall trust you, I shall trust you, but I shall not love you then!

– E. Nesbit

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New Year’s Day–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.
     Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
New Year’s Day–
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5889#sthash.6qXeBlLU.dpuf
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candles1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day

By John Donne

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
         The sun is spent, and now his flasks
         Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
                The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.

 

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
         For I am every dead thing,
         In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
                For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.

 

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
         I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
         Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood
                Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

 

But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
         Were I a man, that I were one
         I needs must know; I should prefer,
                If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest;
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light and body must be here.

 

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
         At this time to the Goat is run
         To fetch new lust, and give it you,
                Enjoy your summer all;
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival,
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is.

 

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sharkAnother Shark Week is drawing to a close, and a fine one it was, in spite of being marred by a spurious “documentary” and competition from a cat.

And while sharks get all the publicity, I have been reminded by a co-worker that it’s important to acknowledge the other members of the superorder of cartilaginous fishes.

And if  you’re sad that Shark Week is over, perhaps you can take a vacation to a town where every week is Shark Week.

 

 

 

I send you into the weekend with a poem:

The Shark

by Lord Alfred Douglas

A treacherous monster is the Shark
He never makes the least remark.

And when he sees you on the sand,
He doesn’t seem to want to land.

He watches you take off your clothes,
And not the least excitement shows.

His eyes do not grow bright or roll,
He has astonishing self-control.

He waits till you are quite undressed,
And seems to take no interest.

And when towards the sea you leap,
He looks as if he were asleep.

But when you once get in his range,
His whole demeanour seems to change.

He throws his body right about,
And his true character comes out.

It’s no use crying or appealing,
He seems to lose all decent feeling.

After this warning you will wish
To keep clear of this treacherous fish.

His back is black, his stomach white,
He has a very dangerous bite.

 

 

The Shark

by Lord Alfred Douglas

A treacherous monster is the Shark 
He never makes the least remark.

And when he sees you on the sand, 
He doesn't seem to want to land.

He watches you take off your clothes, 
And not the least excitement shows.

His eyes do not grow bright or roll, 
He has astonishing self-control.

He waits till you are quite undressed, 
And seems to take no interest.

And when towards the sea you leap, 
He looks as if he were asleep.

But when you once get in his range, 
His whole demeanour seems to change.

He throws his body right about, 
And his true character comes out.

It's no use crying or appealing, 
He seems to lose all decent feeling.

After this warning you will wish 
To keep clear of this treacherous fish.

His back is black, his stomach white, 
He has a very dangerous bite.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20888#sthash.2pPjp42s.dpuf

The Shark

by Lord Alfred Douglas

A treacherous monster is the Shark 
He never makes the least remark.

And when he sees you on the sand, 
He doesn't seem to want to land.

He watches you take off your clothes, 
And not the least excitement shows.

His eyes do not grow bright or roll, 
He has astonishing self-control.

He waits till you are quite undressed, 
And seems to take no interest.

And when towards the sea you leap, 
He looks as if he were asleep.

But when you once get in his range, 
His whole demeanour seems to change.

He throws his body right about, 
And his true character comes out.

It's no use crying or appealing, 
He seems to lose all decent feeling.

After this warning you will wish 
To keep clear of this treacherous fish.

His back is black, his stomach white, 
He has a very dangerous bite.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20888#sthash.2pPjp42s.dpuf

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Idyll

  by Siegfried Sassoon

summerIn the grey summer garden I shall find you   
With day-break and the morning hills behind you.   
There will be rain-wet roses; stir of wings;   
And down the wood a thrush that wakes and sings.   
Not from the past you'll come, but from that deep
Where beauty murmurs to the soul asleep:   
And I shall know the sense of life re-born   
From dreams into the mystery of morn   
Where gloom and brightness meet. And standing there   
Till that calm song is done, at last we'll share
The league-spread, quiring symphonies that are   

Joy in the world, and peace, and dawn’s one star.

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“Observation”
by Dorothy Parker

If I don’t drive around the park,
I’m pretty sure to make my mark.
If I’m in bed each night by ten,
I may get back my looks again,
If I abstain from fun and such,
I’ll probably amount to much,
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.

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The Gift Outright

BY ROBERT FROST

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

 

 

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