20141124

For My Contemporaries

by J. V. Cunningham


How time reverses   
The proud in heart!   
I now make verses   
Who aimed at art.


But I sleep well.   
Ambitious boys
Whose big lines swell   
With spiritual noise,


Despise me not!
And be not queasy   
To praise somewhat:   
Verse is not easy.


But rage who will.
Time that procured me   
Good sense and skill   
Of madness cured me.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141123

Edmund Pollard

by Edgar Lee Masters


I would I had thrust my hands of flesh
Into the disk-flowers bee-infested,
Into the mirror-like core of fire
Of the light of life, the sun of delight.
For what are anthers worth or petals         
Or halo-rays? Mockeries, shadows
Of the heart of the flower, the central flame!
All is yours, young passer-by;
Enter the banquet room with the thought;
Don’t sidle in as if you were doubtful  
Whether you’re welcome—the feast is yours!
Nor take but a little, refusing more
With a bashful “Thank you,” when you’re hungry.
Is your soul alive? Then let it feed!
Leave no balconies where you can climb;  
Nor milk-white bosoms where you can rest;
Nor golden heads with pillows to share;
Nor wine cups while the wine is sweet;
Nor ecstasies of body or soul,
You will die, no doubt, but die while living  
In depths of azure, rapt and mated,
Kissing the queen-bee, Life!

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141120

Sonnet

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

The master and the slave go hand in hand,
Though touch be lost. The poet is a slave,
And there be kings do sorrowfully crave
The joyance that a scullion may command.
But, ah, the sonnet-slave must understand
The mission of his bondage, or the grave
May clasp his bones, or ever he shall save
The perfect word that is the poet's wand.

The sonnet is a crown, whereof the rhymes
Are for Thought's purest gold the jewel-stones;
But shapes and echoes that are never done
Will haunt the workship, as regret sometimes
Will bring with human yearning to sad thrones
The crash of battles that are never won.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141117

Sonnet

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

When we can all so excellently give
The measure of love's wisdom with a blow,
Why can we not in turn receive it so,
And end this murmur for the life we live?
And when we do so frantically strive
To win strange faith, why do we shun to know
That in love's elemental over-glow
God's wholeness gleams with light superlative?
Oh, brother men, if you have eyes at all,
Look at a branch, a bird, a child, a rose,
Or anything God ever made that grows,--
Nor let the smallest vision of it slip,
Till you may read, as on Belshazzar's wall,
The glory of eternal partnership.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141116

Battle after War

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Out of a darkness, into a slow light
That was at first no light that had a name,
Like one thrust up from Erebus he came,
Groping alone, blind with remembered sight.
But there were not those faces in the night,
And all those eyes no longer were aflame
That once he feared and hated, being the same
As his that were the fuel of his fright.

He shone, for one so long among the lost,
Like a stout Roman after Pentecost:
"Terror will yield as much as we dare face
Ourselves in it, and it will yield no more,"
He said.  And we see two now in his place,
Where there was room for only one before.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141115

Doctor of Billiards

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Of all among the fallen from on high,
We count you last and leave you to regain
Your born dominion of a life made vain
By three spheres of insidious ivory.
You dwindle to the lesser tragedy--
Content, you say.  We call, but you remain.
Nothing alive gone wrong could be so plain,
Or quite so blasted with absurdity.

You click away the kingdom that is yours,
And you click off your crown for cap and bells;
You smile, who are still master of the feast,
And for your smile we credit you the least;
But when your false, unhallowed laugh occurs,
We seem to think there may be something else.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20141114

The Dark Hills

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Dark hills at evening in the west,
Where sunset hovers like a sound
Of golden horns that sang to rest
Old bones of warriors under ground, 
Far now from all the bannered ways
Where flash the legions of the sun,
You fade--as if the last of days
Were fading, and all wars were done.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.