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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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy 2007!

May 2007 be better than 2006.

Nothing says it as good as the traditional --

Auld Lang Syne

by Robert Burns


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Chorus --

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.

Chorus --

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

Chorus --

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

Chorus --

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Ghosts

When I was a child I loved the story of the Nativity. Observant, if not devout, Catholics, we always had a crèche under the Christmas tree. I remember most of the words to the carols we sang with the choir. My favorite carol O Holy Night, closely followed by O Come, O Come Emmanuel, represents a time that no longer exists.

These days I neither believe nor doubt. But I like to think, as I did when young, that there is one night filled with Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.

I wrote Joseph's Lament because I felt he was usually the forgotten one in the story. It was published in The Poet's Pen in 1993.

Joseph's Lament

What meager harvest do I reap?
This fragile infant, now asleep,
a sickly child, so small and wan,
I doubt he'll live to see the dawn.
Born in darkness, much too soon
after the solstice marks the ruin
of winter. Born in darkness vast
when harvest days are well long past.

The Son of God? I hear no mirth,
no angel choirs announce this birth.
There is no music at this show,
only bitter winds that blow.
The Son of God? So weak and pale.
Would He not sire one more hale?
A fitting child of robust mold,
a child of beauty to behold?

Would not God's Son be born in spring
in a palace grand as befits a king?
Not in this dank stable stall
where winds seep through cracks in the wall,
attended by one sad-eyed cow.
No miracle, this, for I see now
the child was born in a mortal vein,
brought his mother suffering and pain.

They say a humble man am I,
what piety, what faith I ply.
I'm not a beggar, not blind, nor lame.
I seek not riches, gold, nor fame,
and so I've never asked for such.
My simple life has pleased me much.
Humble I am, but not a fool.
Must my faith be stretched so cruel?

Without a moon or stars to mark
the way, I stumble in the dark
and wrestle with impious doubt,
praying my Lord will bear me out.
Am I now punished for my false pride?
Did I raise myself above the tide
with arrogant thoughts that I was the one
chosen by God to foster his Son?

What now? Who are these simple folks?
They have no shoes, no hats, no cloaks.
Have forces strange drawn shepherds poor
down from the hills to the stable door
where Mary and her son both lie?
More likely they are as cold as I.
They do not speak, and yet I sense
their awe-struck, wondering eloquence.

Now, mysteriously, stars appear
as if the hand of God were near.
But no. My mind is playing tricks.
'Tis foolishness, and yet, it sticks.
The stable bathes in silver light,
even within the dark takes flight.
The shadows have dispersed, and all
the shepherds to their knees do fall.

The infant wakes and this sweet haze
reveals his fairness to my gaze.
He cannot see me, this I know,
and yet his eyes hold mine, and glow.
He lifts his hand, a hand so small
which soon will hold the world in thrall.
Compelled, I lightly touch his face,
and feel his wondrous strength and grace.

Amazed, I look upon my wife.
She smiles. She knows that this small life
will someday save mankind from doom.
My soul does like a flower bloom
and I must brush my tears away,
knowing He must die one day.
The sun now heralds a bright new morn.
Behold! The Son of God is born.

--© Cat Dubie -- 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dec. 13 - Heinrich Heine

Painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (born Chaim Harry Heine)
December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856

Heinrich Heine, of Jewish origin, was one of the most significant of the German poets. His lyrics inspired such composers as Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Schumann, and his poem 'Die Lorelei', set to music in 1837, has become a lastingly popular German song.

One of his most famous quotes, though it originally referred to the Spanish Inquisition, proved prophetic regarding events more than 100 years after his death:

Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
(Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen)

Heinrich Heine, From his play Almansor (1821)

Some works by Heinrich Heine

Death and his Brother Sleep (‘Morphine’)

There’s a mirror likeness between those two
shining, youthfully-fledged figures, though
one seems paler than the other and more austere,
I might even say more perfect, more distinguished,
than he, who would take me confidingly in his arms –
how soft then and loving his smile, how blessed his glance!
Then, it might well have been that his wreath
of white poppies gently touched my forehead, at times,
and drove the pain from my mind with its strange scent.
But that is transient. I can only, now, be well,
when the other one, so serious and pale,
the older brother, lowers his dark torch. –
Sleep is so good, Death is better, yet
surely never to have been born is best.

A Palm-tree

A single fir-tree, lonely,
on a northern mountain height,
sleeps in a white blanket,
draped in snow and ice.

His dreams are of a palm-tree,
who, far in eastern lands,
weeps, all alone and silent,
among the burning sands.

The Old Dream Comes Again to Me

The old dream comes again to me:
With May-night stars above,
We two sat under the linden-tree
And swore eternal love.

Again and again we plighted troth,
We chattered, and laughed, and kissed;
To make me well remember my oath
You gave me a bite on the wrist.

O darling with the eyes serene,
And with the teeth so white!
The vows were proper to the scene,
Superfluous was the bite.


Good-Fortune is a giddy maid,
Fickle and restless as a fawn;
She smoothes your hair; and then the jade
Kisses you quickly, and is gone.

But Madam Sorrow scorns all this,
She shows no eagerness for flitting;
But, with a long and fervent kiss,
Sits by your bed—and brings her knitting.

The Voyage

As at times a moonbeam pierces
Through the thickest cloudy rack,
So to me, through days so dreary,
One bright image struggles back.

Seated all on deck, we floated
Down the Rhine's majestic stream;
On its borders, summer-laden,
Slept the peaceful evening-gleam.

Brooding, at the feet I laid me
Of a fair and gentle one,
On whose placid, pallid features
Played the ruddy-golden sun.

Lutes were ringing, youths were singing,
Swelled my heart with feeling strange;
Bluer grew the heaven above us,
Wider grew the spirit's range.

Fairy-like beside us flitted
Rock and ruin, wood and plain ;
And I gazed on all reflected
In my loved one's eyes again.


Where shall I, of wandering weary,
Find my resting-place at last?
Under drooping southern palm-trees?
Under limes the Rhine sweeps past?

Will it be in deserts lonely,
Dug by unfamiliar hands?
Shall I slumber where the ocean
Crawls along the yellow sands?

It matters not! Around me ever
There as here God's heaven lies,
And by night, as death-lamps o'er me,
Lo, His stars sweep through the skies!

The Lorelei (Die Lorelei - translated by A Z Foreman)

I know not if there is a reason
Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.

The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening's final ray.

The fairest of maidens is sitting
Unwittingly wondrous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She's combing her golden hair.

The comb she holds is golden,
She sings a song as well
Whose melody binds an enthralling
And overpowering spell.

In his little boat, the boatman
Is seized with a savage woe,
He'd rather look up at the mountain
Than down at the rocks below.

I think that the waves will devour
The boatman and boat as one;
And this by her song's sheer power
Fair Lorelei has done.


Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,

Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
In Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh'.

Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.