20150327

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

by Walt Whitman

1

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d, 
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night, 
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. 

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, 
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west, 
And thought of him I love. 

2

O powerful western fallen star! 
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night! 
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star! 
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me! 
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul. 

3

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings, 
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love, 
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard, 
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
A sprig with its flower I break.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150326

Credo

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

I cannot find my way: there is no star
In all the shrouded heavens anywhere;
And there is not a whisper in the air
Of any living voice but one so far
That I can hear it only as a bar
Of lost, imperial music, played when fair
And angel fingers wove, and unaware,
Dead leaves to garlands where no roses are.

No, there is not a glimmer, nor a call,
For one that welcomes, welcomes when he fears,
The black and awful chaos of the night:—
For through it all—above, beyond it all—
I know the far-sent message of the years,
I feel the coming glory of the Light!


Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150325

Sonnet

by Arthur Hugh Clough

Yes, I have lied, and so must walk my way,
Bearing the liar's curse upon my head;
Letting my weak and sickly heart be fed
On food which does the present craving stay,
But may be clean-denied me e'en today,
And though 'twere certain, yet were ought but bread;
Letting—for so they say, it seems, I said,
And I am all too weak to disobey!
Therefore for me sweet Nature's scenes reveal not
Their charm; sweet Music greets me and I feel not;
Sweet eyes pass off me uninspired; yea, more,
The golden tide of opportunity
Flows wafting-in friendships and better,—I
Unseeing, listless, pace along the shore.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150324

Of Modern Poetry

by Wallace Stevens

The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
 Then the theatre was changed

To something else. Its past was a souvenir.
It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
 It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.


Note:  A recitation can heard here.

20150323

Sonnet

by John Keats 

To one who has been long in city pent,
  ’Tis very sweet to look into the fair
  And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with hearts content,        
  Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
  Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
  Catching the notes of Philomel,—an eye        
Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
  He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
  That falls through the clear ether silently.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150322

Scorn Not the Sonnet

by William Wordsworth

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned, 
Mindless of its just honours; with this key 
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody 
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound; 
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound; 
With it Camöens soothed an exile's grief; 
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf 
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned 
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp, 
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land 
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp 
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand 
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew 
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!

20150321

Sonnet

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Oh, for a poetfor a beacon bright

To rift this changeless glimmer of dead gray;
To spirit back the Muses, long astray,
And flush Parnassus with a newer light;
To put these little sonnet-men to flight
Who fashion, in a shrewd mechanic way,
Songs without souls, that flicker for a day,
To vanish in irrevocable night.

What does it mean, this barren age of ours?

Here are the men, the women, and the flowers,
The seasons, and the sunset, as before.
What does it mean? Shall there not one arise
To wrench one banner from the western skies,
And mark it with his name for evermore?

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.