Apr 17, 2008 Herm Card Uncategorized
To be a poetry lover, one does not have to love all poetry, just as a dog lover does not have to love all dogs. One merely has to love some poetry, perhaps only one poem, perhaps only part of one poem. For National Poetry Month’s “Poem In Your Pocket Day,” a number of local poetry lovers have contributed poems, or lines of poetry, that are especially meaningful to them, words they share with all of us so that we might appreciate the energy that accompanies them, so that we, too, might understand what it is to be a poetry lover.
Recently I heard for the first time Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Kennedy quoted some lines from Aeschylus that are simply beautiful and I carry them with me in a notebook I keep in my briefcase. I’d challenge anyone to find a more succinct expression of the paradox of suffering that becomes joy or of the complexity of the human soul.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Kennedy slightly misquoted Aeschylus’ lines from “Agamemnon,” but in so doing, provided a poignant and fitting memorial for Dr. King and our nation.
Even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
From the poem “Jack’s Madsong” in A Book of Proverbs by Lewis Turco:
At last we know what it is,
This thing that we call living —
It’s a trudge up a mount,
A swig at a fount,
And a slide down the cliffside raving.
From Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra”
These lines speak to a fearless passion for the future, as we are not to measure life in time alone.
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be.
“Dust Of Snow,” Robert Frost
One of my favorites. It is short, descriptive and optimistic
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
From “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
He prayeth best who lovest best
All things, both great and small
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.
“Message,” Anselm Hollow
Here’s my poem. I read it in The People’s Almanac, which was published back in the early 1970s. I wrote it into a little book that I keep of great quotes. I was looking through it, trying to come up with a poem that would make me appear cool — Bukowski, B.D. Napier, etc. But this is really my favorite poem.
i’m one of your molecules!
i started from crab nebula, but i moved on
i’ve moved for millions of years.
i entered your body, perhaps as a factor
in some edible vegetable, or else i passed
into your lungs as part of the air.
now, what intrigues me is this:
at what exact point, as i entered the
mouth, or was absorbed by the skin,
was i a part of the body?
at what exact moment (later on)
do i cease to be a part of the body
let me know what you think.
Dr. David C. Manfredi
From “The Daffodils,” William Wordsworth
The last stanza of William Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils,” exalting that beautiful harbinger of spring, and most importantly, “day dreaming” a most salubrious pursuit, essential for a sound mind. We should all spend time in a vacant or pensive mood daily!!………..
For oft when I my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
From T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” (No. 4 of “Four Quartets”)
So much of Eliot is making great sense to me lately –“I grow old, I grow
old, I shall wear my trousers rolled.” And there’s another line in
Prufrock about “his hair is getting thin…” Being at the point of my
life when I am retriring, yet really starting anew, “not ceasing from
exploration”–his words ring so true. And as I return to the start, it
all does seem as if I am naive, fresh, seeing it again, but for the
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
From “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman is the father of my holy trinity. I hold these words very close to my heart and when I need to be reminded to take risks, or to jump over the invisible line that I’ve created for myself, these are the words I go to. His words have become my prayer.
Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every
moment of your life. Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout,
and laughingly dash with your hair.
“Resume,” Dorothy Parker
Razors pain you
Rivers are deep
Acids stain you
And drugs cause cramps
Guns aren’t lawful
Gas smells awful
You might as well live
“Mother to Son,” Langston Hughes
“Mother to Son” really touches places in my heart, although others have told me they think that it’s corny. For me, a white girl who grew up rich in Westchester County in the 50s and 60s, it seems like an odd choice. My family started out well and we went to church, had family values instilled in us, and were pretty typical until my social-climbing parents got rich. Then everything fell apart. Mom became a drunk, Dad played around, and nobody minded the kids. We fell from grace when they divorced, the money vanished, my mom got violent, and Dad disappeared. I often couldn’t go home at night out of fear, and often felt pretty desperate. Luckily, I loved to read, and found this poem that told me not to give up. If the mother in the poem could keep climbing upward and onward, despite poverty and prejudice, so could I.
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor –
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
Cause you find it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now –
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’.
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
“Hero or the Goat”
From: O Holy Cow! The Poetry of Phil Rizzuto, Hart Seely, Tom Peyer
Hart Seely and Tom Peyer acquired the rights to LOTS of New York Yankees’ broadcasts, and rendered Phil Rizzuto’s words in poetic form. Many, including this one, had messages for me far beyond baseball. “Hero or the Goat,” especially the last four lines, is one such poem.
All right, this is it,
The whole season coming down
To just one ball game,
And every mistake will be magnified,
And every great play will be magnified,
And it’s a tough night for the players,
I’ll tell ya.
I know last night, being in the same situation many times
With the great Yankee teams of the past,
you stay awake,
And you dream,
And you think of what might be,
If you are the hero or the goat.
October 14, 1976 American League East playoff
Final game, Kansas City at New York
Nancy Keefe Rhodes
“i carry your heart with me”
For years I have carried e.e. cummings’ “i carry your heart in my heart” in my wallet. I read this poem at my grandmother’s funeral because I thought she should have a love poem as part of her send-off. I was astonished last night to hear Abby reciting these lines on “ER” as the show returned to TV. Must be their nod to National Poetry Month.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Community Poet Georgia Popoff will carry one of her poems from her latest collection.
Take in hand
the finest French pocket knife,
its blade curved in a sharp grin.
Prick the skin of an August peach
near the stem but first
roll the fruit in your fingers.
Then nick it slightly, with mercy.
A tiny flap will yield
a velvet weeping heart.
copyright 2008 Georgia Popoff
From “The Doom Weaver”