We Are

Tuesday, 6 June 2017, 21:32 | Category : Poetry
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We are the ones who came after
We are the dreams of old people
In the days before they were old
The sun of other days
The stars of other nights
Belong to us now
Belong to us now
For a short time
Our dreams will visit like fireflies
On a summer night
They dance and swirl
And slip away to tomorrow

Ulysses

Saturday, 13 December 2014, 9:16 | Category : Poetry
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“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

— Tennyson

I still love Tennyson’s poetry. Always have.

Sunrise

Tuesday, 25 March 2014, 11:26 | Category : Poetry
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Warm tea at sunrise
Two people watch in silence
The world comes to life

Good Fences Make Good Fences

Tuesday, 17 November 2009, 15:31 | Category : Poetry
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Mending Wall
(Photo courtesy the Image Gallery of the American and New England Studies program of the University of Southern Maine.)

Once again today I heard a radio commentator repeat “Robert Frost’s good advice”, that “good fences make good neighbors”. And I wonder, has anyone who repeats that phrase ever actually read the poem? (The poem, by the way, is “Mending Wall“)

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again…”

Frost goes on to talk about his how his neighbor insists on repairing the wall, while Frost is questioning why the wall needs to exist at all:

“He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence..”

But his neighbor is trapped in the self-necessity of the wall:

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.””

This is why we still need to teach literature in high school!

The Noise Of Failure

Wednesday, 20 May 2009, 13:05 | Category : Poetry
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I had never heard of Bill Holm until I ran across this poem the other day. It’s entitled “August in Waterton, Alberta”::

Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful.

I really like this poem, and wanted to find more by Bill Holm, so I was saddened to discover that he died recently. I did find this, written after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone in 2003:

On a gray sleety October day
The plane goes down in the north woods
With the large-hearted senator
Whose decency and respect for old ideals
Made half the citizens almost happy
To be Americans in a dark time.
Down went his wife and daughter too,
Three campaign workers, two pilots,
Eight in all, the radio says
Neglecting the ninth seat where Death
Dressed in an ordinary suit
Sat watching for his chance
To do a morning’s harvesting.
Do you think he wasn’t there
Hitching a ride, invisible, just as
He sat in the box at Ford’s Theatre,
Held open the convertible door in Dallas?
He sits in the front seat of your car too,
Or waits feigning sleep with his head
Resting on the next pillow in your bed.
So we go on to write the same poem,
Sing the same sad song yet once more
Not for the dead who have gone
Over to the insensible kingdom
But for us who must now carry on
Without them. This time, as so often
Before, Death snatched a big one
Just when we could not stand to lose
His voice, that spoke, not just alone,
But for us millions who longed
For a world green, alive, about to bloom.