About Me

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As the poet-in-residence at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in topics of ecology and public health. I am reappraising the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation at LMU Munich, where I tutor composition and poetics. I also teach English at MVHS and lead the literary circle at Amerikahaus.

20160818

I

Louing in trueth, and fayne in verse my loue to show,
That she, deare Shee, might take som pleasure of my paine,
Pleasure might cause her reade, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pittie winne, and pity grace obtaine,
I sought fit wordes to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inuentions fine, her wits to entertaine,
Oft turning others leaues, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitfull showers vpon my sun-burnd brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Inuentions stay;
Inuention, Natures childe, fledde step-dame Studies blowes;
And others feet still seemde but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with childe to speak, and helplesse in my throwes,
Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite,
Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write.


Philip Sidney,
Astrophel and Stella

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160817

XIV

If thou must love me, let it be for nought   
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say,   
“I love her for her smile—her look—her way   
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought   
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought 
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day”—   
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may   
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,   
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for   
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry: 
A creature might forget to weep, who bore   
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!   
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore   
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.
  Elizabeth Barrett-Browning,
  Sonnets from the Portuguese

20160815

To My Brothers

by John Keats


Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
  And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep
  Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.
And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,       
  Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,
  Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice
  That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.        
Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise
  May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world’s true joys,—ere the great voice,
  From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160814

Well Water

by Randall Jarrell
What a girl called “the dailiness of life”
(Adding an errand to your errand.  Saying,
“Since you’re up . . .” Making you a means to
A means to a means to) is well water
Pumped from an old well at the bottom of the world.
The pump you pump the water from is rusty
And hard to move and absurd, a squirrel-wheel
A sick squirrel turns slowly, through the sunny
Inexorable hours.  And yet sometimes
The wheel turns of its own weight, the rusty
Pump pumps over your sweating face the clear
Water, cold, so cold! you cup your hands
And gulp from them the dailiness of life.
Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160813

If by Dull Rhymes Our English Must Be Chain'd

by John Keats

If by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd, 
   And, like Andromeda, the sonnet sweet 
Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness; 
Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd, 
   Sandals more interwoven and complete 
To fit the naked foot of Poesy; 
Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress 
Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd 
   By ear industrious, and attention meet: 
Misers of sound and syllable, no less 
   Than Midas of his coinage, let us be 
   Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown; 
So, if we may not let the muse be free, 
   She will be bound with garlands of her own. 

20160811

Address to the Toothache

by Robert Burns

My curse upon your venom’d stang,
That shoots my tortur’d gums alang,
An’ thro’ my lug gies mony a twang,
                  Wi’ gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi’ bitter pang,       
                  Like racking engines!
 
When fevers burn, or argues freezes,
Rheumatics gnaw, or colics squeezes,
Our neibor’s sympathy can ease us,
                  Wi’ pitying moan;       
But thee—thou hell o’ a’ diseases—
                  They mock our groan.
 
Adown my beard the slavers trickle
I throw the wee stools o’er the mickle,
While round the fire the giglets keckle,        
                  To see me loup,
While, raving mad, I wish a heckle
                  Were in their doup!
 
In a’ the numerous human dools,
Ill hairsts, daft bargains, cutty stools,        
Or worthy frien’s rak’d i’ the mools,—
                  Sad sight to see!
The tricks o’ knaves, or fash o’fools,
                  Thou bear’st the gree!
 
Where’er that place be priests ca’ hell,       
Where a’ the tones o’ misery yell,
An’ ranked plagues their numbers tell,
                  In dreadfu’ raw,
Thou, TOOTHACHE, surely bear’st the bell,
                  Amang them a’!        
 
O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o’ discord squeel,
Till daft mankind aft dance a reel
                  In gore, a shoe-thick,
Gie a’ the faes o’ SCOTLAND’S weal        
                  A townmond’s toothache!

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160810

To My Brother George

by John Keats

Many the wonders I this day have seen:
  The sun, when first he kist away the tears
  That fill’d the eyes of morn;—the laurel’d peers
Who from the feathery gold of evening lean;—
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,       
  Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,—
  Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.
E’en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
  Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping        
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
  And she her half-discover’d revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.