Title: Poems of Gratitude.
Author: Edward Hirsch, Jalal Al-Din Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne), James Wright, William Butler Yeats, W.S. Merwin, Robert Burns, Natasha Trethewey, Yusef Komunyakaa, Abrahal Lincoln, Henry David Thoreau, e.e. cummings, George Herbert, Robert Browning, Mark Strand, Lisel Mueller, Raymond Carver, Anne Sexton, Charles Reznikoff, Mary Szybist, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Herman Melville, Zbigniew Herbert (translated by Alissa Valles), Walt Whitman, Anonymous Inuit (translated by Franz Boaz), Mary Oliver, Anna Swir (translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan), Czeslaw Milosz, William Carlos Williams, Anonymous Eskimo (translated by W.S. Merwin), Elizabeth Alexander, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Blake, Marilyn Nelson, Constantine P. Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard), Wallace Stevens, Thomas Taherne, Derej Walcott, Anna Kamienska (translated by Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon), Theodore Roethke, Walt Whitman, Issa (translated by Sam Hamill), Yehuda Amichai (translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld), Adrienne Rich, Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh), Dorianne Laux, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dan Pagis (translated by Stephen Mitchell), Anne Bradstreet, William Cavendish, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Herrick, Robert Hayden, Thomas Lux, Charles Wright, Lucille Clifton, Ted Kooser, Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh), Margaret Walker, Nikki Giovanni, John Milton, Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Shakespeare, Sappho (translated by F.T. Palgrave), John Clare, Thomas Campion, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Christina Rossetti, Thomas Heywood, and James Tate (compiled and edited by Emily Fragos).
Country: U.S., Persia, Ireland, Scotland, England, Poland, Egypt, Greece, Saint Lucia, Israel, and Ancient Greece.
Language: English, Persian, Polish, Greek, Hebrew, and Ancient Greek.
Publication Date: 6th BC, 1200s, 1609, 1611, 1633, 1641-43, 1648, 1667, 1793, 1794, 1806, 1807, 1820, 1841, 1845-46, 1849, 1857, 1860, 1864, 1866, 1891-92, 1894, 1911, 1915, 1917, 1919, 1921, 1922, 1932, 1950, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, (this collection 2017).
Summary: A collection of 168 poems (some being extracts from larger bodies of work), on the topic of gratitude, and divided into 9 sub-categories. (Poems 1-84 in this post, refer to PART 2 for 85-168). GIVING THANKS: In Wild Gratitude (1986) by Edward Hirsch, the author reflects on the concept of gratitude while petting his cat, and remembering the 18th century madman, Christopher Smart, who praised his own cat above all others. In "Today, Like Every Other Day, We Wake Up Empty" (13th century) by Jalal Al-Din Rumi encourages the reader to fill every day with devotion and beauty. A Blessing (1963) by James Wright is based on an experience the narrator and poet Robert Bly had whilst driving home one late afternoon and stopping to admire two Indian ponies. Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors (1932) by William Butler Yeats is an ode to all the teachers we have throughout our lives. Thanks (1988) by W.S. Merwin captures the power of gratitude and how crucial it is to be thankful for everything, "dark though it is". The Selkirk Grace (1793) by Robert Burns was offered when he was asked to say grace during a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk. Invocation, 1926 (2014) by Natasha Trethewey talks of her grandmother who cooked food both for her household, and the rich white people in the 20s in Mississippi, and calls for gratitude to all hands who provide. Thanks (1988) by Yusef Komunyakaa is a hopeless story about a young man in the Vietnam War who recounts and gives gratitude to the events which could have been his last. Letter to Mrs. Bixby (1864) by Abraham Lincoln is a consoling letter sent by the President to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow living in Boston who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War. I'm Thankful That My Life Doth Not Deceive (?~1830-1862) by Henry David Thoreau is a poem celebrating the simplicity of a solitary life in rural nature. From Xaipe (1950) by e.e. cummings is an excerpt about celebrating and being grateful for life. Gratefulnesse (1633) by George Herbert is a prayer to God for a constantly grateful heart. Pippa Passes (1841) by Robert Browning, an excerpt from a play, praises a perfect day. From Night Pieces (1977) by Mark Strand is a an excerpt in gratitude to the coming of morning, and the dissolution of the darkness of the night. Late Hours (1989) by Lisel Mueller underlines how happy we must be to be able to grieve over fiction and its imaginary lives. At Least (1985) by Raymond Carver is the author's wish to get up early one morning to appreciate all the wonders of the world. Welcome Morning (1975) by Anne Sexton is a poem about the joy in all things, and how it must be shared to be sustained. Te Deum (1976) by Charles Reznikoff celebrates simple beauty and humble victories and glories. Here, There Are Blueberries (2013) describes a country picnic filled with blueberries, and finding purpose in the simple things. From Sonnets from the Portuguese (Sonnet 41) (1845-46) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a poem of gratitude to loyal friends, but above all her beloved. The poem Hearts-of-Gold (1860) by Herman Melville challenges the claim that there are no men with hearts of gold by presenting some famous examples. In Prayer of the Traveler Mr. Cogito (1983) by Zbigniew Herbert (translated by Alissa Valles), the poet's recurring character, Mr. Cogito recites his adoration to the world's beauty and diversity. Thanks in Old Age (1891–1892) by Walt Whitman gives thanks at the end of a diverse life filled with both happiness and sorrow. Utitia'Q's Song (?) by Anonymous (translated by Franz Boaz) is a traditional Inuit poem-song about a woman's rejoicing at the ice and constant walking she is forced to do, even though it's difficult. FOR LIFE: The Summer Day (1990) by Mary Oliver is a meditation on a walk on a summer's day, and deriving meaning from a simple bond with nature. In Thank You, My Fate (1978) by Anna Swir (translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan) talks of the gratitude and passion the narrator feels while making love. For the Anniversary of my Death (1963) by W.S. Merwin the author invites the reader to contemplate such a time when they will no longer be around. Gift (1971) by Czeslaw Milosz (translated by Czeslaw Milosz) is a poem of contemplation of ultimate contentment while working in a garden. In Pastoral (1915) by William Carlos Williams the poet marvels at the world of nature, and the poor, and the grace they hold within them. Into My Head Rose (?) by Anonymous (translated by W.S. Merwin) is a traditional Eskimo poem about overcoming despair and adversity. Praise Song for the Day (2009) by Elizabeth Alexander was delivered on President Barack Obama's inauguration. God's World (1917) by Edna St. Millay is an ode to a beautiful world. Eternity (1793) by William Blake is a poem about holding happiness lightly in order to hold on to it. In Abba Jacob and Miracles (1994) a "holy fool", Abba Jacob, is asked about the nature of miracles. Ithaca (1911) by Constantine P. Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard) is inspired by the Homeric return journey of Odysseus, and talks of the destination which produces the journey of life. Tea at the Palaz of Hoon (1921) by Wallace Stevens is a poem that posits that to live in a world of one’s own making results in a rediscovery, or reinvention, of self. The Salutation (?~1646-1674) by Thomas Traherne celebrates the wonder of life through the eyes of a first-person speaker who has only recently become aware of life’s gifts. Love After Love (1976) by Derek Walcott is a love poem which concentrates on loving the self following the breakdown of a relationship. The Late Fragment (1988) by Raymond Carver is a reflection of fulfillment at the end of life, written while the poet was dying of cancer. At the Border of Paradise (?~1930-86) by Anna Kamienska (translated by Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon) marvels at the beauty of the world even amid horrors and wars. In The Waking (1953) by Theodore Roethke, the author puts forward various ideas about life and how to live it. In O Me! O Life! (1891) by Walt Whitman the poet questions his existence in a meaningless world of modernization and industrialization in the years following the Civil War. In Three Haiku (?~1773-1828) by Kobayashi Issa are three haikus about the wonder of life. From Autumn, Love, Commercials (1998) by Yehuda Amichai (translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld) is an ode to all stable and immovable things in life. Tattered Kaddish (1990) by Adrienne Rich is a life-affirming poem written from the perspective of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, and urges compassion for suicide victims. Try to Praise the Mutilated World (2002) by Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh) speaks of how facing the world’s sorrow with clear eyes, yet turning again and again to sources of solace and beauty teaches how to recover broken hearts from life’s hard truths. Antilamentation (2011) by Dorianne Laux is a poem that urges against regret, and looks at the psychology thereof. FOR FAMILY: A Child's Evening Prayer (1806) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a child's prayer before sleep, mainly requesting gratitude. Rain Light (2008) by W.S. Merwin is a poem to calm the reader as they face the difficulty of the death of a loved one. Ein Leben (1989) by Dan Pagis (translated by Stephen Mitchell) is a remembrance of a mother from a small child's perspective, in the month of her death in 1934. To My Dear and Loving Husband (1641-43) by Anne Bradstreet is an ode to a beloved spouse. Fulfillment (?~1600-76) by William Cavendish speaks of ultimately fulfillment being a wife. To My Mother (1849) by Edgar Alla Poe is a loving poem to a mother. To His Dying Brother, Master William Herrick (1648) by Robert Herrick is a sad but loving poem to a dying brother. Those Winter Sundays (1962) by Robert Hayden is a poem about the father and son relationship - recalling the poet's memories of his own father. A Little Tooth (1992) by Thomas Lux is a poem about the experience of raising a baby to adulthood. Special Orders (2008) by Edward Hirsch recalls the poet's father. In Like the New Moon, My Mother Drifts Through the Night Sky (2014) by Charles Wright, the poet sees a vision of his mother from his back yard. To My Aunt Margie (2005) by W.S. Merwin is the poet's remembrance of his aunt, and the impression she left behind when she died. In Daughters (?~1960-2010) by Lucille Clifton, the poet re-imagines and thus re-claims one of her fore-mothers. In Father: May 19, 1999 (2004) by Ted Kooser, the poet remembers his father on what would have been his 97th birthday. In Praise of My Sister (?~1935-2012) by Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh) talks of a sister that doesn't write poetry. From Gabriel (2014) by Edward Hirsch is an excerpt from a longer poem that serves as an elegy for the poet's dead son. Lineage (1998) by Margaret Walker describes the strength of the poet’s enslaved female ancestors and how they suffered for that strength. Mother (2009) by Ted Kooser is an ode to a remembered mother. FOR LOVE: From Paradise Lost (1667) by John Milton is an excerpt from the epic poem in which Eve speaks to Adam of her love for him. Invitation to Love (?~1892-1906) by Paul Laurence Dunbar invites romantic love into one's life. Love Lightly Pleased (1648) by Robert Herrick is about the variety of love. The Afternoon Sun (1919) by Constantine P. Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keely and Philip Sherrard) describes a room in which the poet last saw his beloved. A Dream Within a Dream (1849) by Edgar Allan Poe posits that our life is nothing but a dream within a dream. From The Winter's Tale (1611) by William Shakespeare is excerpt from a play is Florizel's confession of adoration to Perdita. Fragment 105(a) (?~630–570BC) by Sappho is a love ode. First Love (1820) by John Clare is a love poem about first love. Rose-Cheeked Laura (1602) by Thomas Campion is the poet's idealized image of what love should be and how one woman personifies that love. From Sonnets from the Portuguese (Sonnet 43) (1850) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning describes a most devoted and eternal love. Oblation (1866) by Algernon Charles Swinburne is a poet's love dedication, and a promise to give everything he has. In A Birthday (1857) by Christina Rossetti, the poet describes the "birthday of her life" being the day she found love. Recuerdo (1922) by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a poem about a couple's happy night out. "Pack, Clouds, Away, and Welcome Day" (?~1585-1641) by Thomas Heywood is a poem that delights at the beginning of a day on behalf of his beloved. Red, Red Rose (1794) by Robert Burns is a love poem that compares the poet's love to a rose. Sonnet 130 (1609) by William Shakespeare describes the poet's love as simple and uninspiring, yet singular and adored. The Blue Booby (1976) by James Tate allegories a relationship with that between blue booby birds of the Galapagos. In Upon Julia's Clothes (1648) the poet extols the virtues of mysterious Julia's sartorial choices.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ And only then did I understand
It is Jeoffry – and every creature like him –
Who can teach us how to praise – purring
In their own language,
Wreathing themselves in the living fire.
~~from Wild Gratitude by Edward Hirsch.
♥ Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~~"Today, Like Every Other Day, We Wake Up Empty" by Jalal Al-Din Rumi.
♥ Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
~~from A Blessing by James Wright.
♥ What they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.
~~Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors by William Butler Yeats.
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
♥ ..back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beating on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
~~from Thanks by W.S. Merwin.
♥ When my grandmother prepared crabs for me
I could see the girl she was, her nimble hands,
food on the table in all those alien houses
along the beach. On our table: gumbo manna,
rice steaming in a bowl; the communion
between us and them – the white folks
across the tracks – sure as the crab lines she set,
the work of her hands, that which sustains us.
Lord, bless those hands, the harvesters. Bless
the travelers who gather our food, and those
who grow it, clean it, cook it, who bring it
to our tables. Bless the laborers whose faces
we do not see – like the girl my grandmother was,
walking the rails home; bless us that we remember.
~~from Invocation, 1926 by Natasha Trethewey.
for the vague white flower
that pointed to the gleaming metal
reflecting how it is to be broken
like mist over the grass,
as we played some deadly
game for blind gods.
♥ Again, thanks for the dud
hand grenade tossed at my feet
outside Chu Lai. I'm still
falling through its silence.
~~from Thanks by Yusef Komunyakaa.
♥ I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the
anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the
cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the
solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly
a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
~~from Letter to Mrs. Bixby by Abraham Lincoln.
♥ i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
♥ how should tasking touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
~~from Xaipe by e.e. cummings.
♥ Thou that hast giv'n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a gratefull heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
♥ Wherefore I crie, and crie again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankfull heart obtain
Not thankfull, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare dayes:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
~~from Gratefulnesse by George Herbert.
♥ I feel we are night,
that we sink into dark
and dissolve into night.
I feel it is night in the wind,
night in the sea, in the stone,
in the harp of the angel who sings to me.
And turning on lights wouldn't help,
and taking my hand wouldn't help. Not now.
♥ For all my friends it is night,
and in all my friends it is night.
It is night, not death, it is night
fulling up sleep without dreams,
without stars. It is night,
not pain or rest, it is night,
the perfection of night.
~~from From Night Pieces by Mark Strand.
♥ In winter we close the windows
and read Checkov,
nearly weeping for his world.
What luxury, to be so happy
that we can grieve
over imaginary lives.
~~from Late Hours by Lisel Mueller.
♥ All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
~~from Welcome Morning by Annex Sexton.
♥ Not because of victories
but for the common sunshine,
the largess of the spring.
Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for the seat upon the dais
but at the common table.
~~Te Deum by Charles Reznikoff.
♥ You must live for something, they say.
People don't live just to keep on living.
But here is the quince tree, a sky bright and empty.
Here there are blueberries, there is no need to note me.
~~from Here, There Are Blueberrries by Mary Szybist.
♥ I thank all who have loved me in their hearts,
With thanks and love from mine. Deep thanks to all
Who paused a little near the prison-wall
To hear my music in its louder parts
Ere they went onward, each one to the mart's
Or temple's occupation, beyond call.
But thou, who, in my voice sink and fall
When the sob took it, thy divinest Art's
Own instrument didst drop down at thy foot
To hearken what I said between my tears,...
Instruct me how to thank thee! Oh, to shoot
My soul's full meaning into future years,
That they should lend it utterance, ad salute
Love that endures, from Life that disappears!
~~From Sonnets from the Portuguese (Sonnet 41) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
♥ Pity, if true,
What the pewterer said –
Hearts-of-gold be few.
Howbeit, when snug in my bed,
And the fire-light flickers and yellows,
I dream of the hearts-of-gold sped –
The Falernian fellows –
Hafiz and Horace,
And Beranger – all
Dexterous tumblers eluding the Fall,
Fled? can be sped?
But the marygold's morris
Is danced o'er their head;
But their memory mellows,
Embalmed and becharmed,
Hearts-of-gold and good fellows!
~~Hearts-of-Gold by Herman Melville.
♥ – Lord let me not think of my moist-eyed gray deluded persecutors when the sun sets on the truly indecstibably Ionian Sea
let me understand other people other languages other sufferings
and above all let me be humble that is to say one who longs for the source
I thank You Lord for creating the world beautiful and carious and if this is Your seduction I am seduced for good and past all forgiveness
~~from Prayer of the Traveler Mr. Cogito by Zbigniew Herbert (translated by Alissa Valles).
♥ For all my days – not those of peace alone – the days of war the same,
For gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,
For shelter, wine and meat – for sweet appreciation,
(Yet distant, dim unknown – or young or old – countless, unspecified, readers belov'd,
We never met, and ne'er shall meet – and yet our souls embrace, long, close and long;)
For beings, groups, love, deeds, words, books – for colors, forms..
~~from Thanks in Old Age by Walt Whitman.
♥ I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~~from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.
♥ Great humility fills me,
great purity fills me,
I make love with my dear
as if I made love dying
as if I made love praying...
~~from Thank You, My Fate by Anna Swir (translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan).
♥ We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said,
I need to see what's on the other side.
I know there's something down the road.
♥ Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.
Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
~~from Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander.
♥ O world, I cannot thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Love have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, – Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, – let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
~~God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
♥ He who binds to himself a joy;cccc
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.
~~Eternity by William Blake.
♥ Was that a miracle?
They went on like this
for several hours.
Abba Jacob listened.
Then there was silence.
said Abba Jacob.
Miracles happen all the time.
~~from Abba Jacob and Miracles by Marilyn Nelson.
♥ Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined f;or.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
~~from Ithaka by Constantine P. Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard).
♥ Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.
~~from Tea at the Palaz of Hoon by Wallace Stevens.
♥ New burnished joys!
Which yellow gold and pearl excel!
Such sacred treasures are the limbs of boys,
In which a soul doth dwell;
Their organized joints and azure veins
More wealth include than all the world contains.
From dust I rise,
And out of nothing now awake;
These brighter regions which salute mine eyes
A gift from God I take.
The earth, the seas, the light, the day, the skies,
The sun and stars are mine; of those I prize.
♥ A stranger here
Strange things doth meet, strange glories see;
Strange treasures lodged in this fair world appear,
Strange all, and new to me.
But that they mind should be, who nothing was,
That strangest is of all, yet brought to pass.
~~from The Salutation by Thomas Traherne.
♥ The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome.
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
~~Love After Love by Derek Walcott.
♥ I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
♥ This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
~~from The Waking by Theodore Roethke.
♥ Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring – What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here – that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
~~from O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman.
♥ ..I want to sing to the trees
that do not shed their leaves and that suffer
the searing summer heat and the cold of winter,
and to human beings who do not shed their memories
and who suffer more than those who shed everything.
But above all, I want to sing a psalm of praise
to the lovers who stay together for joy, for sorrow and for joy.
To make a home, to make babies, now and in other seasons.
~~from Autumn, Love, Commercials by Yehuda Amichai (translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld).
♥ Taurean reaper of the wild apple field
messenger from the earthmire gleaning
transcripts of fog
in the nineteenth year and eleventh month
speak your tattered Kaddish for all suicides:
Praise to life though it crumbled in like a tunnel
on ones we knew and loved
Praise to life though its windows blew shut
on the breathing-room of ones we knew and loved
Praise to life though ones we knew and loved
loved it badly, too well, and not enough
Praise to life though it tightened like a knot
on the hearts of ones we thought we knew loved us
Praise to life giving room and reason
to ones we knew and loved who felt unpraisable
Praise to them, how they loved it, when they could.
~~Tattered Kaddish by Adrienne Rich.
♥ Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns.
~~Try to Praise the Mutilated World by Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh).
♥ Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights yo called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stick onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Rekax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
~~Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux.
♥ In the month of her death, she is stranding by the windowframe,
a young woman with a stylish, permanent wave.
She seems to be in a contemplative mood
as she stands there looking out the window.
Through the glass an afternoon cloud of 1934
looks in at her, blurred, slightly out of focus,
but her faithful servant. On the inside
I'm the one looking at her, four years old almost,
holding back my ball, quietly
going out of the photo and growing old,
growing old carefully, quietly,
so as not to frighten her.
~~Ein Leben by Dan Pagis (translated by Stephen Mitchell).
♥ Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, naming their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you –
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother – my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-like.
~~To My Mother by Edgar Allan Poe.
♥ There's paine in parting; and a kind of hell,
When once true-lovers take their last Fare-well.
What? shall we two our endlesse leaves take here
Without a sad looke, or a solemne teare?
He knowes not Love, that hath not this power proved,
Love is the most loth to leave the thing beloved.
Pay we our Vowes, and goe; yet when we part,
Then, even then, I will bequeath my heart
Into thy loving hands: For Ile keep none
To warme my Breast, when thou my Pulse art gone.
No, here Ile last, and walk (a harmless shade)
About this Urne, wherein thy Dust is laid,
To guard it so, as nothing here shall be
Heavy, to hurt those sacred seeds of thee.
~~from To His Dying Brother, Master William Herrick by Robert Herrick.
♥ Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
~~Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden.
♥ ..And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.
~~from A Little Tooth by Thomas Lux.
♥ woman who shines at the head
of my grandmother's bed,
brilliant woman, i like to think
you whispered into her ear
instructions. i like to think
you are the oddness in us,
you are the arrow
that pierced our plain skin
and made us fancy women;
my wild witch gran, my magic mama,
and even these gaudy girls.
i like to think you gave us
extraordinary power and to
protect us, you became the name
we were cautioned to forget.
it is enough,
you must have murmured,
to remember that i was
and that you are. woman, i am
lucille, which stands for light,
daughter of thelma, daughter
of georgia, daughter of
~~Daughters by Lucille Clifton.
♥ ..There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
but once it's starts up it's hard to quarantine.
Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder.
~~from In Praise of My Sister by Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh).
♥ In this country
There were scenes
Of spectacular carnage
Hurricanes welcomed him
He adored typhoons and tornadoes
Houses lifted up
And carried to the sea
Unbolt the doors
Fling open the gates
Here he comes
Chaotic wind of the gods
He was trouble
But he was our trouble.
~~from Gabriel by Edward Hirsch.
♥ ..My grandmothers are full of memories
Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay
With veins rolling roughly over quick hands
They have many clean words to say.
My grandmothers were strong.
Why am I not as they?
~~from Lineage by Margaret Walker.
♥ ..You asked me if I would be sad when it happened
and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.
~~from Mother by Ted Kooser.
♥ Here, Eve speaks to Adam.
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, then silent night
With this her solemn bird and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight without thee is sweet.
~~from Paradise Lost by John Milton.
♥ Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene'er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.
♥ Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf,
Or with the redd'ing cherry.
Come when the year's first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter's drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.
~~from Invitation to Love by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
♥ ...One afternoon at four o'clock we separated
for a week only... And then –
that week became forever.
~~from The Afternoon Sun by Constantine P. Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keely and Philip Sherrard).
♥ Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow –
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream:
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand –
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep – while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
~~A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe.
♥ Florizel. ..Each your doing,
Soi singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing, in the present deeds,
That all your acts are queens.
~~from The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare.
♥ I ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
♥.. I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start –
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burns round my heart.
Are flowers the winter's choice?
Is love's bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silence voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart had left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.
~~from First Love by John Clare.
♥ How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
~~Sonnet 41 from Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
♥ Ask nothing more of me, sweet;
All I can give you I give.
Heart of my heart, were it more,
More would be laid at your feet –
Love that should help you live,
Song that should spur you to soar.
All things were nothing to give,
Once to have sense of you more,
Touch you and breathe you and live,
Swept of your wings as they soar,
Trodden by chance of your feet.
I that have love and no more
Give you but love of you, sweet.
He than hath more, let him give;
He that hath wings, let him soar;
Mine is the heart at your feet
Here, that must love you to live.
~~The Oblation by Algernon Charles Swinburne.
♥ My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
~~Birthday by Christina Rossetti.
♥ We were very tired, we were very merry –
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you are an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.
We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and the pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
~~from Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
♥ Wings from the wind to please her mind
Notes from the lark I'll borrow;
Bird, prune thy wing, nightingale sing,
To give my Love good-morrow;
Notes from them both I'll borrow.
~~from "Pack, Clouds, Away, and Welcome Day" by Thomas Heywood.
♥ When as in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (me thinks) how sweetly flowes
That liquefaction of her clothes.
~~from Upon Julia's Clothes by Robert Herrick.
♥ Why should my anxious breast repine,
Because my youth is fled?
Days of delight may still be mine;
Affection is not dead.
In tracking back the years of youth,
One firm record, one lasting truth
Celestial consolation brings;
Bear it, ye breezes, to the seat,
Where first my heart responsive beat, –
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
Through few, but deeply chequer'd years,
What moments have been mine!
How half obscured by clouds of tears,
Now bright in rays divine;
Howe'er my future doom be cast,
My soul, enraptured with the past,
To one idea fondly clings;
Friendship! that thought is all thine own,
Worth worlds of bliss, that thought alone –
"Friendship is Love without his Wings!"
Where yonder yew-trees lightly wave
Their branches on the gale,
Unheeded heaves a simple grave,
Which tells the common tale;
Round this unconscious schoolboys stray,
Till the dull knell of childish play
From yonder studious mansion rings;
But here whene'er my footsteps move,
My silent tears too plainly prove
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
Oh, Love! before thy glowing shrine
My early vows were paid;
My hopes, my dreams, my heart was thine,
But these are now decay'd;
For thine are pinions like the wind,
No trace of thee remains behind,
Except, alas! thy jealous stings.
Away, away! delusive power,
Thou shalt not haunt my coming hour;
Unless, indeed, without thy wings.
Seat of my youth! thy distant spire
Recalls each scene of joy;
My bosom glows with former fire, –
In mind again a boy.
Thy grove of elms, thy verdant hill,
Thy every path delights me still,
Each flower a double fragrance flings;
Again, as once, in converse gay,
Each dear associate seems to say,
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
My Lycus! wherefore dost thou weep?
Thy falling tears restrain;
Affection for a time may sleep,
But, oh, 'twill wake again.
Think, think, my friend, when next we meet,
Our long-wish'd interview, how sweet!
From this my hope of rapture springs;
While youthful hearts thus fondly swell,
Absence, my friend, can only tell,
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
In one, and one along deceived,
Did I my error mourn?
No – from oppressive bonds relieved,
I left the wretch to scorn.
I turn'd to those my childhood knew,
With feelings warm, with bosoms true,
Twined with my heart's according strings;
And till those vital chords shall break,
For none but these my breast shall wake
Friendship, the power deprived of wings!
Ye few! my soul, my life is yours,
My memory and my hope;
Your worth a lasting love insures,
Unfetter'd in its scope;
From smooth deceit and terror sprung,
With aspect fair and honey'd tongue,
Let Adulation wait on kings;
With joy elate, by snares beset,
We, we, my friends, can ne'er forget,
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
Fictions and dreams inspired the bard
Who rolls the epic song;
Friendship and Truth be my reward –
To me no bays belong;
If laurell'd Fame but dwells with lies,
Me the enchantress ever flies,
Whose heart and not whose fancy sings;
Simple and young, I dare not feign;
Mine be the rude yet heartfelt strain,
"Friendship is Love without his wings!"
~~L'Amitié est L'amour sans Ailes by George Gordon, Lord Byron.
♥ Strangers. They play large parts
in our fate that every day completes.
O discreet stranger, take good aim,
as you lift your gaze towards my distracted heart.
~~from O My Friends by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by A. Poulin, Jr.).
♥ This is the spot: – how mildly does the sun
Shine in between the fading leaves! the air
In the habitual silence of this wood
Is more than silent: and this bed of heath,
Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place?
Come! – let me see thee sink into a dream
Of quiet thoughts, – protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone
And no one can tell whither. – my sweet friend!
We two have had such happy hours together
That my heart melts in me to think of it.
~~Travelling by William Wordsworth.
♥ Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree –
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly's sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He still may leave they garland green.
~~Love and Friendship by Emily Brontë.
♥ Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.
All your wondrous wealth of hair,
Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand's caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.
Dogs may fawn on all and some
As they come;
You, a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.
~~from To a Cat by Algernon Charles Swinburne.
♥ ..And don't forget roses, and parsley –
which lasts – and lilies, which don't.
Let everyone swoon over D–––,
but she won't leave her new lover.
She'll be all over him like ivy.
~~from Odes, I.36 by Horace (translated by Debora Greger).
♥ I thank you, kind and best beloved friend,
With the same thanks one murmurs to a sister,
When, for some gentle favor, he hath kissed her,
Less for the gifts than for the love you send,
Less for the flowers, than what the flowers convey;
If I, indeed, divine their meaning truly,
And not unto myself ascribe, unduly,
Things which you neither meant nor wished to say,
Oh! tell me, is the hope then all misplaced?
And am I flattered by my own affection?
But in your beauteous gift, methought I traced
Something above a short-lived predilection,
And which, for that I know no dearer name,
I designate as love, without love's flame.
~~Sonnet: I Thank You by Henry Timrod.
♥ ..Now shall our cups make any guiltie men:
But, at our parting, we will be, as when
We innocently met. No simple word,
That shall be utter'd at our mirthfull boord,
Shall make us sad next morning: or affright
The libertie, that wee'll enjoy to night.
~~from Inviting a Friend to Supper by Ben Jonson.
♥ Eaten I have; and though I had good cheer,
I did not sup, because no friends were there.
Where mirth and friends are absent when we dine
Or sup, there wants the incense and the wine.
~~Meat Without Mirth by Robert Herrick.
♥ Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
At rich men's tables eaten bread and pulse?
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
And loved so well a high behavior,
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?
O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!
~~Forbearance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
♥ But if the while I think of thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
~~from Sonnet 30 by William Shakespeare.
♥ Oh, the comfort –
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person –
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~~Friendship by Dinah Maria Craik.
♥ Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood,
Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces –
How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
~~from The Old Familiar Faces by Charles Lamb.
♥ ..Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.
I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.
~~from To My Friends by Primo Levi (translated by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann).
♥ The road home was slick with lights
and everything seemed to be crying, just
this, just this, nothing more, nothing else! –
as if the morning were somehow conscious of itself.
When you leaned over and touched me on the arm
it was as if my arm needed to be touched
in that way, at exactly that time.
~~from Recovery by Edward Hirsch.
♥ ..The astonishing windy and altering light
and clouds and water were, at certain moments,
There is only one heart in my body, have mercy on me.
♥ Thank You for letting me live for a little as one of the
sane; thank You for letting me know what this is
like. Thank You for letting me look at your
blue sky without fear, and your terrible world without
terror, and your loveless psychotic and hopelessly
with this love.
~~from One Heart by Franz Wright.
♥ But a paraplegic in my street
Whom they move together with his chair
From shade into sunlight, sunlight into shade,
Looks at a cat, a leaf, the chrome steel on an auto,
And mumbles to himself, "Beau temps, beau temps."
It is true. We have a beautiful time
As long as time is time at all.
~~from A Mistake by Czeslaw Milosz (translated by Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass).
♥ When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."
~~On His Blindness by John Milton.