About Me

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As the resident poet at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at M√ľnchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20170428

Yet Do I Marvel

by Countee Cullen

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair. 
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune 
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!


Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

Sonnet

by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present 
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best 
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.


Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170427

Sonnet

by John Keats

How many bards gild the lapses of time!
  A few of them have ever been the food
  Of my delighted fancy,—I could brood
Over their beauties, earthly, or sublime:
And often, when I sit me down to rhyme,       
  These will in throngs before my mind intrude:
  But no confusion, no disturbance rude
Do they occasion; ’tis a pleasing chime.
So the unnumber’d sounds that evening store;
  The songs of birds—the whisp’ring of the leaves—        
The voice of waters—the great bell that heaves
  With solemn sound,—and thousand others more,
That distance of recognizance bereaves,
  Make pleasing music, and not wild uproar.

20170426

Sonnet

by William Wordsworth

A poet!—He hath put his heart to school,
Nor dares to move unpropped upon the staff
Which art hath lodged within his hand—must laugh
By precept only, and shed tears by rule.
Thy Art be Nature; the live current quaff,
And let the groveller sip his stagnant pool,
In fear that else, when Critics grave and cool
Have killed him, Scorn should write his epitaph.
How does the Meadow-flower its bloom unfold?
Because the lovely little flower is free
Down to its root, and, in that freedom, bold;
And so the grandeur of the Forest-tree
Comes not by casting in a formal mould,
But from its own divine vitality.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170425

Sonnet

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A Sonnet is a moment's monument,

Memorial from the Soul's eternity
To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be,
Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
Of its own intricate fulness reverent:
Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
As Day or Night prevail; and let Time see
Its flowering crest impearled and orient.

A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
The soul,its converse, to what Power 'tis due:
Whether for tribute to the august appeals
Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue
It serve; or, 'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath,
In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170424

Sonnet

by John Keats

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art— 
         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night 
And watching, with eternal lids apart, 
         Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, 
The moving waters at their priestlike task 
         Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, 
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask 
         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors— 
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable, 
         Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, 
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, 
         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, 
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, 
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170422

For a Coming Extinction

by W. S. Merwin


Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him 
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.