Thursday, December 22, 2005

Daffodils and Heather

In 1994, when I was a senior in high school, I sang in a trio with two other girls. We sounded like angels, our voices blending perfectly together, the sound physical as well as aural. Today, I still am aquainted with both of the girls. One, the mother now of a son, I don't really know anymore (or maybe I do, as it seemed she hadn't really changed the last time I saw her). The other, Heather, is my best friend. We grew into each other the way you might find comfort in boots that were once too constrictive. She's like daffodils to me now.

The song our trio sang was the following poem set to music.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: -
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -and gazed -but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

The Clasp by Sharon Olds

She was four, he was one, it was raining, we had colds,
we had been in the apartment two weeks straight,
I grabbed her to keep her from shoving him over on his
face, again, and when I had her wrist
in my grasp I compressed it, fiercely, for a couple
of seconds, to make an impression on her,
to hurt her, our beloved firstborn, I even almost
savored the stinging sensation of the squeezing,
the expression, into her, of my anger,
"Never, never, again," the righteous
chant accompanying the clasp. It happened very
fast-grab, crush, crush,
crush, release-and at the first extra
force, she swung her head, as if checking
who this was, and looked at me,
and saw me-yes, this was her mom,
her mom was doing this. Her dark,
deeply open eyes took me
in, she knew me, in the shock of the moment
she learned me. This was her mother, one of the
two whom she most loved, the two
who loved her most, near the source of love
was this.

Yesterday by W. S. Merwin

My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand

he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes

he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father

he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me

oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father's hand the last time

he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me

oh yes I say

but if you are busy he said
I don't want you to feel that you
have to
just because I'm here

I say nothing

he says my father
said maybe
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don't want to keep you

I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
you know

though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do

Summons by Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

Who Knows?

"Learning to shrug is the beginning of wisdom."

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Being Alive

"You wil find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love."

Henry Drummond

Taken from “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

I hate that guy.

"A fool must now and then be right by chance."

William Cowper

Reprise by Ogden Nash

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

Partnership

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Realization

"A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows he will never sit."

D. Elton Trueblood

Without Warning by Sappho

Without warning
as a whirlwind
swoops on an oak
Love shakes my heart

For My Valentine

On Valentine's Day, 2002, I entered the following into my book:

Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Know Thyself

"People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering."

Saint Augustine

When You Are Old by W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Spirals

I have a little, spiral-bound notebook in which I write short poems and quotations that I find inspiring, poignant, especially beautiful or powerful. Oftentimes I forget if I have already copied something into the book, and I must flip through its waring pages to see if my intended gem already holds a place. When I do this, I am reminded of all the bits already in residence and tend to lose myself for a few munites with Yeats or Billy Collins or Philip Larkin or Auden. I get lightheaded when I read some of their works, and have to shake it off, so to speak.

Anyway, I have this little, spiral-bound book, and it is running out of pages. I can't very well carry two books with me, and I spend more time on a computer than I do most anywhere else, so I think I will try to transpose what is in my book to here, so that I may have easier access to these pearls of greatness. I'll still carry a book to catch items when I am away from a computer, but I will still try to put them here eventually. As I said, the book is almost full, so I have a great deal of typing ahead of me.

On a totally unrelated note, today is my last work day of the holiday season. I start a 12-day vacation in 2 hours and I can hardly wait. I see lots of Warcraft in my future. Prufrock, my human warlock, is a 50 now. Isn't that a great name? He's bald, and his pants look rolled a bit at the cuffs. I am almost done Christmas shopping, which is good because I took something back to the Apple store today and that place was a madhouse. I can only imagine what stores will look like on Saturday.

Happy Holidays to everyone (anyone?) who reads this. Your Christmas present will be fantastic poetry in the year to come.