Not Waving but Drowning

This poem reminds me to pay attention to what is said and unsaid. For those who are thrashing in the deep…

by Stevie Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

The Peace of Wild Things

I’ve loved this poem for a long, long time, and I offer it here for all those who struggle to entrust their loved ones to Grace.

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Posted in Grace, Poetry | Leave a comment

Keeping Things Whole

One of my lovely bibliophile friends introduced me to this poem just a few days ago. I think I’ll add it to my favorites.

by Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

 

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

 

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.
Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

sonnet-ballad

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover’s tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won’t be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
Can make a hard man hesitate—and change.
And he will be the one to stammer, “Yes.”
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

Sympathy

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
    When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
    When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

 

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
    Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
    And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

 

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Papa’s Waltz

By Theodore Roethke
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

 

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

 

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

 

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reviving Poetry

T. S. Eliot says that “April is the cruelest month….” Perhaps that’s why the powers that be designated April as National Poetry Month. Poetry can, indeed, be cruel when you’re in high school trying to make sense of it. Or in college. Or in life. But sometimes it is enough to just savor the words, the sounds, the feelings of a poem. Even if you don’t have a clue what it means. So, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting some of my favorites–the ones I can make sense of and the ones that are quite beyond me. Enjoy!

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment