po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

August 8 - Sarah Teasdale

[first posted on August 8, 2007]

Sara Teasdale August 8, 1884- January 29, 1933

American lyric poet, born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her delicate, personal poetry often deals with love, death, disillusionment, and also the beauties of the natural world. She ended her life by suicide at the age of 48.

Some of Sara Teasdale's poems:


I am not sorry for my soul
That it must go unsatisfied,
For it can live a thousand times,
Eternity is deep and wide.

I am not sorry for my soul,
But oh, my body that must go
Back to a little drift of dust
Without the joy it longed to know.


So soon my body will have gone
Beyond the sound and sight of men,
And tho' it wakes and suffers now,
Its sleep will be unbroken then;
But oh, my frail immortal soul
That will not sleep forevermore,
A leaf borne onward by the blast,
A wave that never finds the shore.

If Death Is Kind

Perhaps if Death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.


Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things;
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell;
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And, for the Spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Give all you have for loveliness;
Buy it, and never count the cost!
For one white, singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost;
And for a breath of ecstasy,
Give all you have been, or could be.

At Midnight

Now at last I have come to see what life is,
Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
And the brave victories that seem so splendid
Are never really won.

Even love that I built my spirit's house for,
Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
And music and men's praise and even laughter
Are not so good as rest.

-- Cat

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22 – Emma Lazarus

                 Emma Lazarus  July 22, 1849 – November 19, 1887

New York born  American Jewish poet best known for "The New Colossus" written in 1883. In 1912 the lines from her poem were used on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. 

    1492 by Emma Lazarus

    Thou two-faced year, Mother of Change and Fate,
    Didst weep when Spain cast forth with flaming sword,
    The children of the prophets of the Lord,
    Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.
    Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,
    The West refused them, and the East abhorred.
    No anchorage the known world could afford,
    Close-locked was every port, barred every gate.
    Then smiling, thou unveil'dst, O two-faced year,
    A virgin world where doors of sunset part,
    Saying, "Ho, all who weary, enter here!
    There falls each ancient barrier that the art
    Of race or creed or rank devised, to rear
    Grim bulwarked hatred between heart and heart!"

    Autumn Sadness by Emma Lazarus

    Air and sky are swathed in gold
    Fold on fold,
    Light glows through the trees like wine.
    Earth, sun-quickened, swoons for bliss
    'Neath his kiss,
    Breathless in a trance divine.

    Nature pauses from her task,
    Just to bask
    In these lull'd transfigured hours.
    The green leaf nor stays nor goes,
    But it grows
    Royaler than mid-June's flowers.

    Such impassioned silence fills
    All the hills
    Burning with unflickering fire-
    Such a blood-red splendor stains
    The leaves' veins,
    Life seems one fulfilled desire.

    While earth, sea, and heavens shine,
    Heart of mine,
    Say, what art thou waiting for?
    Shall the cup ne'er reach the lip,
    But still slip
    Till the life-long thirst give o'er?

    Shall my soul, no frosts may tame,
    Catch new flame
    From the incandescent air?
    In this nuptial joy apart,
    Oh my heart,
    Whither shall we lonely fare?
    Seek some dusky, twilight spot,
    Quite forgot
    Of the Autumn's Bacchic fire.
    Where soft mists and shadows sleep,
    There outweep
    Barren longing's vain desire.

    Idyl by Emma Lazarus
    The swallows made twitter incessant,
    The thrushes were wild with their mirth.
    The ways and the woods were made pleasant,
    And the flowering nooks of the earth.
    And the sunshine sufficed to rejoice me,
    And the air was as bracing as wine,
    And the sky and the shadows and grasses
    Were enough to make living divine.

    Then I saw on the ground two gray robins,
    One with glorious flame-colored vest,
    'Neath the shade of some delicate bluebells,
    By the breeze of the morning caressed.
    They were singing of love in the shadow;
    She was bashful, and modest, and coy,
    And he sang to her tenderest love-songs,
    And madrigals full of his joy.

    And his song came forth clearer and clearer,
    With each passionate, musical note;
    Like the ripple of silvery waters,
    It gushed from his beautiful throat.
    His whole little bird-soul he offers,—
    Ah! she listens to him as he sings:
    Then he ceases, awaiting her answer,
    With bright eyes and with quivering wings.

    And I, too, stood awaiting it, breathless,
    For his song was too sweet to disdain,
    Till it came, little notes full of gladness,
    With a plaintive and tender refrain.
    And the songs died away in the distance,
    And the forest alone heard the rest,
    As the two little lovers flew upward,
    To build them together a nest.

    Morning by Emma Lazarus

    GRAY-VESTED Dawn, with flameless, tranquil eye,
    Cool hands, and dewy lips, is in the sky,
    A sober nun, with starry rosary.

    With eyes downcast and with uplifted palm,
    She seems to whisper now her silent psalm;
    Beneath her gaze the sleeping earth is calm.

    Her prayer is ended, and she riseth slow,
    And o'er the hills she quietly doth go,
    Noiseless and gentle as the midnight snow.

    Then suddenly the pale-east blushes red,
    The flowers to see upraise a sleepy head,
    The rosy colors deepen, grow, and spread.

    A cool breeze whispers: 'She is coming now!'
    And then the radiant colors burn and glow,
    The white cast blushes over cheek and brow,

    And glorious on the hills the Morning stands,
    Her saffron hair back-blown from rosy bands,
    And light and joy and fragrance in her hands.

    Her foot has touched the hill-tops, and they shine;
    She comes,— the willow rustles and the pine;
    She smiles upon the fields a smile divine,

    And all the earth smiles back; from mount to vale,
    From oak to shuddering grass, from glen to dale,
    Wet fields and flowers and glistening brooks cry


    Song by Emma Lazarus


    Frosty lies the winter-landscape,
    In the twilight golden-green.
    Down the Park's deserted alleys,
    Naked elms stand stark and lean.

    Dumb the murmur of the fountain,
    Birds have flown from lawn and hill.
    But while yonder star's ascendant,
    Love triumphal reigneth still.

    See the keen flame throb and tremble,
    Brightening in the darkening night,
    Breathing like a thing of passion,
    In the sky's smooth chrysolite.

    Not beneath the moon, oh lover,
    Thou shalt gain thy heart's desire.
    Speak to-night! The gods are with thee
    Burning with a kindred fire.


–– Cat


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

June 7 – Gwendolyn Brooks

                     Gwendolyn Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) 

Shortly after her birth in Topeka, Kansas, Gwendolyn Brooks's family moved to Chicago. She grew up during turbulent racial times, the dynamics of which influenced her writing. Her parents encouraged her reading and writing, and her first poem was published when she was 13. At the age of 17 she wrote a poetry column for the Chicago Defender, where she published almost 100 of her poems.   

She married Henry Blakely in 1938 and had her first child in 1940. The family lived in Chicago's South side and she became active in poetry groups. In 1943 she won the Midwestern Writers Conference Poetry Award.

Her first book of poetry, published in 1945, brought her much critical acclaim. Prizes and awards followed, including in 1950 a Pulitzer Prize [the first African-American to do so]. Fellowships, grants and honorary degrees came her way.

In 1962, at the request of President John Kennedy, she read at a Library of Congress poetry Festival. The following year, she began teaching poetry and creative writing at a number of institutions. In 1967, after attending A Black Writers' Conference, she became more involved in the Black Arts movement in Chicago, and in 1968 she was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois. In 1985 she became poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.

A prolific writer, she wrote, besides poetry, essays, articles, stories, and novels. In 1994, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her to receive the Jefferson Lecturer, which is the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.

   My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell by Gwendolyn Brooks

      I hold my honey and I store my bread
      In little jars and cabinets of my will.
      I label clearly, and each latch and lid
      I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
      I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
      And none can give me any word but Wait,
      The puny light. I keep my eyes pointed in;
      Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
      Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
      On such legs as are left me, in such heart
      As I can manage, remember to go home,
      My taste will not have turned insensitive
      To honey and bread old purity could love

              A Sunset of the City by Gwendolyn Brooks

      Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
      My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
      Are gone from the house.
      My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
      And night is night.

      It is a real chill out,
      The genuine thing.
      I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
      Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.

      It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.
      The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,
      The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.

      It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes
      I am aware there is winter to heed.
      There is no warm house
      That is fitted with my need.

      I am cold in this cold house this house
      Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls.
      I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs.
      I am a woman who hurries through her prayers.

      Tin intimations of a quiet core to be my
      Desert and my dear relief
      Come: there shall be such islanding from grief,
      And small communion with the master shore.
      Twang they. And I incline this ear to tin,
      Consult a dual dilemma. Whether to dry
      In humming pallor or to leap and die.

      Somebody muffed it?? Somebody wanted to joke.


      The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

      I shall not sing a May song.
      A May song should be gay.
      I'll wait until November
      And sing a song of gray.

      I'll wait until November
      That is the time for me.
      I'll go out in the frosty dark
      And sing most terribly.

      And all the little people
      Will stare at me and say,
      "That is the Crazy Woman
      Who would not sing in May."

      Sadie and Maud by Gwendolyn Brooks

      Maud went to college.
      Sadie stayed home.
      Sadie scraped life
      With a fine toothed comb.

      She didn't leave a tangle in
      Her comb found every strand.
      Sadie was one of the livingest chicks
      In all the land.

      Sadie bore two babies
      Under her maiden name.
      Maud and Ma and Papa
      Nearly died of shame.

      When Sadie said her last so-long
      Her girls struck out from home.
      (Sadie left as heritage
      Her fine-toothed comb.)

      Maud, who went to college,
      Is a thin brown mouse.
      She is living all alone
      In this old house.

  – Cat

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Irish poets

   William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    Running To Paradise

    As I came over Windy Gap
    They threw a halfpenny into my cap.
    For I am running to paradise;
    And all that I need do is to wish
    And somebody puts his hand in the dish
    To throw me a bit of salted fish:
    And there the king is but as the beggar.

    My brother Mourteen is worn out
    With skelping his big brawling lout,
    And I am running to paradise;
    A poor life, do what he can,
    And though he keep a dog and a gun,
    A serving-maid and a serving-man:
    And there the king is but as the beggar.

    Poor men have grown to be rich men,
    And rich men grown to be poor again,
    And I am running to paradise;
    And many a darling wit's grown dull
    That tossed a bare heel when at school,
    Now it has filled a old sock full:
    And there the king is but as the beggar.

    The wind is old and still at play
    While I must hurty upon my way.
    For I am running to paradise;
    Yet never have I lit on a friend
    To take my fancy like the wind
    That nobody can buy or bind:
    And there the king is but as the beggar.

    Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013)


    Late August, given heavy rain and sun   
    For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
    At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
    Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
    You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
    Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
    Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
    Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
    Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
    Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
    We trekked and picked until the cans were full
    Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
    With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
    like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
    With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
    We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
    But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
    A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
    The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
    The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
    I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
    That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
    Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

   James Joyce (1882 - 1941)

    In the Dark Pine-Wood

    In the dark pine-wood    
    I would we lay,
    In deep cool shadow
    At noon of day.

    How sweet to lie there,
    Sweet to kiss,
    Where the great pine-forest
    Enaisled is!

    Thy kiss descending
    Sweeter were
    With a soft tumult
    Of thy hair.

    O unto the pine-wood
    At noon of day
    Come with me now,
    Sweet love, away.

    Winds of May by James Joyce
    Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
    Dancing a ring-around in glee
    From furrow to furrow, while overhead
    The foam flies up to be garlanded,
    In silvery arches spanning the air,
    Saw you my true love anywhere?
    Welladay! Welladay!
    For the winds of May!
    Love is unhappy when love is away!


     Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

    By The Arno

    THE oleander on the wall   
    Grows crimson in the dawning light,
    Though the grey shadows of the night
    Lie yet on Florence like a pall.

    The dew is bright upon the hill,
    And bright the blossoms overhead,
    But ah! the grasshoppers have fled,
    The little Attic song is still.

    Only the leaves are gently stirred
    By the soft breathing of the gale,
    And in the almond-scented vale
    The lonely nightingale is heard.

    The day will make thee silent soon,
    O nightingale sing on for love!
    While yet upon the shadowy grove
    Splinter the arrows of the moon.

    Before across the silent lawn
    In sea-green mist the morning steals,
    And to love's frightened eyes reveals
    The long white fingers of the dawn

    Fast climbing up the eastern sky
    To grasp and slay the shuddering night,
    All careless of my heart's delight,
    Or if the nightingale should die.


    Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

    O MEMORY, thou fond deceiver,
    Still importunate and vain,
    To former joys recurring ever,
    And turning all the past to pain:

    Thou, like the world, th' oppress'd oppressing,
    Thy smiles increase the wretch's woe:
    And he who wants each other blessing
    In thee must ever find a foe.


    The Logicians Refuted by Oliver Goldsmith

    LOGICIANS have but ill defin'd
    As rational, the human kind;
    Reason, they say, belongs to man,
    But let them prove it if they can.
    Wise Aristotle and Smiglecius,
    By ratiocinations specious,
    Have strove to prove with great precision,
    With definition and division,
    'Homo est ratione praeditum',--
    But for my soul I cannot credit 'em;
    And must in spite of them maintain,
    That man and all his ways are vain;
    And that this boasted lord of nature
    Is both a weak and erring creature;
    That instinct is a surer guide
    Than reason-boasting mortals' pride;
    And that brute beasts are far before 'em,
    'Deus est anima brutorum'.
    Who ever knew an honest brute
    At law his neighbour prosecute,
    Bring action for assault and battery,
    Or friend beguile with lies and flattery?
    O'er plains they ramble unconfin'd,
    No politics disturb their mind;
    They eat their meals, and take their sport,
    Nor know who's in or out at court;
    They never to the levee go
    To treat as dearest friend, a foe;
    They never importune his grace,
    Nor ever cringe to men in place;
    Nor undertake a dirty job,
    Nor draw the quill to write for B--b.
    Fraught with invective they ne'er go
    To folks at Pater-Noster-Row;
    No judges, fiddlers, dancing-masters,
    No pick-pockets, or poetasters,
    Are known to honest quadrupeds;
    No single brute his fellow leads.
    Brutes never meet in bloody fray,
    Nor cut each others' throats, for pay.
    Of beasts, it is confess'd, the ape
    Comes nearest us in human shape;
    Like man he imitates each fashion,
    And malice is his ruling passion;
    But both in malice and grimaces
    A courtier any ape surpasses.
    Behold him humbly cringing wait
    Upon a minister of state;
    View him soon after to inferiors,
    Aping the conduct of superiors;
    He promises with equal air,
    And to perform takes equal care.
    He in his turn finds imitators;
    At court, the porters, lacqueys, waiters,
    Their master's manners still contract,
    And footmen, lords and dukes can act.
    Thus at the court both great an small
    Behave alike--for all ape all.

– – Cat


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21 – W. H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden February 21, 1907 – September 29, 1973

Considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, W. H. Auden was born in England and became an American citizen.

September 1, 1939
W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyskrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Epitaph On A Tyrant
W.H. Auden

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

If I Could Tell You
W.H. Auden

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

As I Walked Out One Evening
W.H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
  Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
  Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
  I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
  "Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
  Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
  And the salmon sing in the street,

"I'll love you till the ocean
  Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
  Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits,
  For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
  And the first love of the world."

But all the clocks in the city
  Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
  You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
  Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
  And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
  Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
  To-morrow or to-day.

"Into many a green valley
  Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
  And the diver's brilliant bow.

"O plunge your hands in water,
  Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
  And wonder what you've missed.

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
  The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
  A lane to the land of the dead.

"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
  And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
  And Jill goes down on her back.

"O look, look in the mirror?
  O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
  Although you cannot bless.

"O stand, stand at the window
  As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
  With your crooked heart."

It was late, late in the evening,
  The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
  And the deep river ran on.

The Fall Of Rome
W.H. Auden

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes and abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agenst of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportatnt clerk
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity
Little birds with scalet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

– – Cat