I have to admit there are only a couple of poems that have reduced me to tears. One - Stephen posted some time ago - 'Death of a Son'
btw does anyone have any other poetry she's written?
by Gwen Harwood
Daybreak: the household slept.
I rose, blessed by the sun.
A horny fiend, I crept
out with my father's gun.
Let him dream of a child
old no-sayer, robbed of power
by sleep. I knew my prize
who swooped home at this hour
with day-light riddled eyes
to his place on a high beam
in our old stables, to dream
light's useless time away.
I stood, holding my breath,
in urine-scented hay,
master of life and death,
a wisp-haired judge whose law
would punish beak and claw.
My first shot struck. He swayed,
ruined, beating his only
wing, as I watched, afraid
by the fallen gun, a lonely
child who believed death clean
and final, not this obscene
bundle of stuff that dropped,
and dribbled through the loose straw
tangling in bowels, and hopped
blindly closer. I saw
those eyes that did not see
mirror my cruelty
while the wrecked thing that could
not bear the light nor hide
hobbled in its own blood.
My father reached my side,
gave me the fallen gun.
'End what you have begun.'
I fired. The blank eyes shone
once into mine, and slept.
I leaned my head upon
my father's arm, and wept,
owl blind in early sun
for what I had begun..
Thanks for that.
This is one of the main reasons I come here.
I see things I would never find on my own, or know where to look.
Stephen posted 'Remembrance' (?) by Ray Bradbury a few months ago.
It always chokes me up. But, then, I AM an old softie!
And this is where we went, I thought,
Now here, now there, upon the grass
Some forty years ago.
I had returned and walked along the streets
And saw the house where I was born
And grown and had my endless days.
The days being short now, simply I had come
To gaze and look and stare upon
The thought of that once endless maze of afternoons.
But most of all I wished to find the places where I ran
As dogs do run before or after boys,
The paths put down by Indians or brothers wise and swift
Pretending at a tribe.
I came to the ravine.
I half slid down the path
A man with graying hair but seeming supple thoughts
And saw the place was empty.
Fools! I thought. O, boys of this new year,
Why don't you know the Abyss waits you here?
Ravines are special fine and lovely green
And secretive and wandering with apes and thugs
And bandit bees that steal from flowers to give to trees.
Caves echo here and creeks for wading after loot:
A water-strider, crayfish, precious stone
Or long-lost rubber boot --
It is a natural treasure-house, so why the silent place?
What's happened to our boys that they no longer race
And stand them still to contemplate Christ's handiwork:
His clear blood bled in syrups from the lovely wounded trees?
Why only bees and blackbird winds and bending grass?
No matter. Walk. Walk, look, and sweet recall.
I came upon an oak where once when I was twelve
I had climbed up and screamed for Skip to get me down.
It was a thousand miles to earth. I shut my eyes and yelled.
My brother, richly compelled to mirth, gave shouts of laughter
And scaled up to rescue me.
"What were you doing there?" he said.
I did not tell. Rather drop me dead.
But I was there to place a note within a squirrel nest
On which I'd written some old secret thing now long forgot.
Now in the green ravine of middle years I stood
Beneath that tree. Why, why, I thought, my God,
It's not so high. Why did I shriek?
It can't be more than fifteen feet above. I'll climb it handily.
And squatted like an aging ape alone and thanking God
That no one saw this ancient man at antics
Clutched grotesquely to the bole.
But then, ah God, what awe.
The squirrel's hole and long-lost nest were there.
I lay upon the limb a long while, thinking.
I drank in all the leaves and clouds and weathers
Going by as mindless
As the days.
What, what, what if? I thought. But no. Some forty years beyond!
The note I'd put? It's surely stolen off by now.
A boy or screech-owl's pilfered, read, and tattered it.
It's scattered to the lake like pollen, chestnut leaf
Or smoke of dandelion that breaks along the wind of time...
I put my hand into the nest. I dug my fingers deep.
Nothing. And still more nothing. Yet digging further
I brought forth:
Like mothwings neatly powdered on themselves, and folded close
It had survived. No rains had touched, no sunlight bleached
Its stuff. It lay upon my palm. I knew its look:
Ruled paper from an old Sioux Indian Head scribble writing book.
What, what, oh, what had I put there in words
So many years ago?
I opened it. For now I had to know.
I opened it, and wept. I clung then to the tree
And let the tears flow out and down my chin.
Dear boy, strange child, who must have known the years
And reckoned time and smelled sweet death from flowers
In the far churchyard.
It was a message to the future, to myself.
Knowing one day I must arrive, come, seek, return.
From the young one to the old. From the me that was small
And fresh to the me that was large and no longer new.
What did it say that made me weep?
I remember you .
I remember you .
My first cut&paste!
Whenever I read "In Memoriam, VII," I'm moved by the depth of Tennyson's pain over the death of his dear, dear friend. The bleak imagery in the last two lines is especially powerful.
IN MEMORIAM, VII
Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,
A hand that can be clasped no more---
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here, but far away
The noise of life begins again
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
I recently lost my father, who passed away this spring. To anyone who's lost a parent this poem might bring a tear or two.
Give What's Left Of Me Away
Now that I'm gone,
remember me with a smile and laughter.
And if you need to cry,
cry with your brother or sister
who walks in grief beside you.
And when you need me,
put your arms around anyone
and give to them
what you need to give to me.
There are so many
who need so much.
I want to leave you something,
something much better
than words or sounds.
Look for me
in the people
I've known and loved or helped
in some special way.
Let me live in your heart
as well as your mind.
You can love me most
by letting your love
reach out to our loved ones,
by embracing them
and living in their love.
Love does not die,
So, when all that's left of me is love,
give me away as best you can.
I have some of her poems in my 'Australian Women Poets' collections (she was born in Brisbane in 1920 and died in the mid '90's); here's another-
Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day
Gold, silver, pink and blue, the globes distort her,
framed in the doorway: woman with a broom.
Wrappings and toys lie scattered round the room.
A glossy magazine the children bought her
lies open: 'How to keep your husband’s love'.
She stands and stares, as if in recollection,
at her own staring acid-pink reflection.
The simple fact is, she’s too tired to move.
O where’s the demon lover, the wild boy
who kissed the future to her flesh beneath
what skies, what stars, what space! and swore to love her
through hell’s own fires? A child stretches above her
and, laughing, crowns her with a tinsel wreath.
She gathers up a new, dismembered toy.
Les, my condolences to you on losing your father.
I lost my Dad too recently (tragically, in an accident, so we were totally unprepared) and it's amazing how much comfort i've found in poetry.
I love the nostalgia in this little poem; it reminds me of the continuity of life:
Gathering in the Days
I saw my grandad late last evening
On a hillside scything hay
Wiped his brow and gazed about him
Gathering in the day.
My grandmother beside the fireplace
Sleeps the afternoon away
Wakes and stirs the dying embers
Gathering in the day.
Heard screams and laughter from the orchard
Saw a boy and girl at play
Watched them turn their heads towards me
Gathering in the day.
And my mother at a window
On some long-forgotten May
Lifts her eyes and smiles upon us
Gathering in the day.
And all the people I remember
Stopped their lives and glanced my way
Shared the selfsame sun an instant
Gathering in the day.
My condolences to you rikki, (Les, to you too if I haven't already)
Thank you for the Boxing Day poem.
I think I'm going to be looking up some more of her poetry.
fyi you can buy her Selected poems ( used) for less than US 2
( try abebooks, barnes, amazon, etc )
This song has been sung by the Gaither Vocal Band, vince Gill, an probably many others. Anyone who has lost someone might cry when hearing this song.....so beautiful, just reading the words doesn not do it justice.
I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the devil
You were no stranger to the rain
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son
Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve
I wish I could see the angels' faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing
Not a poem, but I was rereading 'On The Beach' the other day. (Nevil Shute, author) It always makes me break out the tissues.
You got me there. Have you read Terry's poem called Dreams? It made me cry too. Sad sad sad sad sad.
"Loving people is like farting in the wind; You don't actually accomplish anything, but you feel better."
~The Great and Powerful Angelia~
I find these two very moving. Both can be found on the Poet List right here on emule.
Adam Cast Forth
by Jorge Luis Borges
Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period
Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,
Might not have been just a magical illusion
Of that God I dreamed. Already it's imprecise
In my memory, the clear Paradise,
But I know it exists, in flower and profusion,
Although not for me. My punishment for life
Is the stubborn earth with the incestuous strife
Of Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon.
Yet, it's much to have loved, to have known true joy,
To have had -- if only for just one day --
The experience of touching the living Garden.
Translated by Genia Gurarie, 4.1.96
Copyright retained by Genia Gurarie.
For permission to reproduce, write personally to the translator.
by Christina Georgina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Not I half turning to go, yet turning to stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be too late to counsel or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of thoughts I once had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
and one more-
Journey of the Magi
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
Most of these touched me, and I thank you all for introducing me to some that I would never have had the chance to enjoy.
The one from In Memoriam is so bleak. I read somewhere that it took him 17 years to complete the poem.
Death of a Son, that I mentioned as being the other one that made me cry, Stephen posted in response to a poem on the User Submitted forum.
Death of a Son
(who died in a mental hospital aged one)
Something has ceased to come along with me.
Something like a person: something very like one.
And there was no nobility in it
Or anything like that.
Something there was like a one year
Old house, dumb as stone. While the near buildings
Sang like birds and laughed
Understanding the pact
They were to have with silence. But he
Neither sang nor laughed. He did not bless silence
Like bread, with words.
He did not forsake silence.
But rather, like a house in mourning
Kept the eye turned in to watch the silence while
The other houses like birds
Sang around him.
And the breathing silence neither
Moved nor was still.
I have seen stones: I have seen brick
But this house was made up of neither bricks nor stone
But a house of flesh and blood
With flesh of stone
And bricks for blood. A house
Of stones and blood in breathing silence with the other
Birds singing crazy on its chimneys.
But this was silence,
This was something else, this was
Hearing and speaking though he was a house drawn
Into silence, this was
Something religious in his silence,
Something shining in his quiet,
This was different this was altogether something else:
Though he never spoke, this
Was something to do with death.
And then slowly the eye stopped looking
Inward. The silence rose and became still.
The look turned to the outer place and stopped,
With the birds still shrilling around him.
And as if he could speak
He turned over on his side with his one year
Red as a wound
He turned over as if he could be sorry for this
And out of his eyes two great tears rolled like stones,
and he died.
JP, I have another Jon Silkin poem for you, which like Death of a Son is from his first book The Peaceable Kingdom (1954). This one, though, doesn't make me cry. It makes me think.
A Space In The Air
The first day he had gone
I barely missed him. I was glad almost he had left
Without a bark or a flick of his tail,
I was content he had slipped
Out into the world. I felt,
Without remarking, it was nearly a relief
From his dirty habits. Then, the second
Day I noticed the space
He left behind him. A hole
Cut out of the air. And I missed him suddenly,
Missed him almost without knowing
Why it was so. And I grew
Afraid he was dead, expecting death
As something I had grown used to. I was afraid
The clumsy children in the street
Had cut his tail off as
A souvenir of the living and
I did not know what to do. I grew afraid
Somebody had hurt him. I called his name
But the hole in the air remained.
I have grown accustomed to death
Lately. But his absence made me sad,
I do not know how he should do it
But his absence frightened me.
It was not only his death I feared,
Not only his, but as if all of those
I loved, as if all of those near me
Should suddenly go
Into the hole in the light
And disappear. As if all of them should go
Without barking, without speaking,
Without noticing me there
But go; and going as if
The instrument of pain were a casual thing
To suffer, as if they should suffer so,
Casually, and without greatness,
Without purpose even. But just go.
I should be afraid to lose all those friends like this.
I should fear to lose those loves. But mostly
I should fear to lose you.
If you should go
Without affliction, but even so, I should fear
The rent you would make in the air
And the bare howling
Streaming after your naked hair.
I should feel your going down more than my going down.
My own death I bear every day
More or less
But your death would be something else,
Something else beyond me. It would not be
Your death or my death, love,
But our rose-linked dissolution.
So I feared his going,
His death, not our death, but a hint at our death. And I shall always fear
The death of those we love as
The hint of your death, love.
Well, you've done it again, that's #3 for me.
What is it about him that strikes a chord, that reaches that stuff that you put away a long time ago?
My Aunt had the following poem distributed to all at the funeral when my Uncle passed. I do not know the author, but it is sad and beautiful. They spent thier lives together. They symbolize what love and devotion is supposed to be.
Death is nothing at all- I have only slipped
away into the next room. Whatever we were
to each, that we're still. Call me by my old
familiar name, speak to me in the easy way
which you always used to. Laugh as we always
laughed together. Play, smile, think of me,
pray for me. Let my name be the household
word that it always was. Let it be spoken
without effort. Life means all that it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity. Why
should I be out of your mind because I am out
of your sight? I am out but waiting for you,
for an interval, somewhere very near, just around
the corner. All is well. Nothing is past;
nothing is lost. One brief moment and all
will be as it was before- only better, infinitely
happier and for ever will all be one together
The death of a child is very hard to deal with. This is Little Boy Blue...by Eugene Field
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.
"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;
And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue---
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place---
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;
And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.
This one always touches my heart too..
THE DYING CHILD
He could not die when trees were green,
For he loved the time too well.
His little hands, when flowers were seen,
Were held for the bluebell,
As he was carried o'er the green.
His eye glanced at the white-nosed bee;
He knew those children of the spring:
When he was well and on the lea
He held one in his hands to sing,
Which filled his heart with glee.
Infants, the children of the spring!
How can an infant die
When butterflies are on the wing,
Green grass, and such a sky?
How can they die at spring?
He held his hands for daisies white,
And then for violets blue,
And took them all to bed at night
That in the green fields grew,
As childhood's sweet delight.
And then he shut his little eyes,
And flowers would notice not;
Birds' nests and eggs caused no surprise,
He now no blossoms got;
They met with plaintive sighs.
When winter came and blasts did sigh,
And bare were plain and tree,
As he for ease in bed did lie
His soul seemed with the free,
He died so quietly.
JOHN CLARE (1793-1864)
Thanks for the photo, not quite how I imagined her, but then people rarely are.
Or this, also by John Clare.
JOHN CLARE 1793-1864
Infants' graves are steps of angels, where
Earth's brightest gems of innocence repose.
God is their parent, and they need no tear,
He takes them to his bosom from earth's woes,
A bud their lifetime and a flower their close.
Their spirits are an Iris of the skies,
Needing no prayers; a sunset's happy close,
Gone are the bright rays of their soft blue eyes;
Flowers weep in dewdrops o'er them, and the gale gently sighs.
Their lives were nothing but a sunny shower,
Melting on flowers as tears melt from the eye,
Their deaths were dewdrops on heaven's amaranth bower,
And tolled on flowers as summer gales went by.
They bowed and trembled, and they left no sigh,
And the sun smiled to show their end was well.
Infants have naught to weep for ere they die;
All prayers are needless, beads they need not tell,
White flowers their mourners are, nature their passing-bell.
Archibald MacLeish, "Epistle to Be Left in the Earth":
. . . It is colder now,
there are many stars,
we are drifting
North by the Great Bear,
The leaves are falling,
The water is stone in the scooped rocks,
Red sun, grey air:
The crows are
Slow on their crooked wings,
the jays have left us:
Long since we passed the flares of Orion.
Each man believes in his heart he will die.
Many have written last thoughts and last letters.
None know if our deaths are now or forever:
None know if this wandering earth will be found.
We lie down and the snow covers our garments.
I pray you,
You (if any open this writing)
Make in your mouths the words that were our names.
I will tell you all we have learned,
I will tell you everything:
The earth is round,
There are springs under the orchards,
The loam cuts with a blunt knife,
Elms in thunder,
The lights in the sky are stars--
We think they do not see,
We think also
The trees do not know nor the leaves of the grasses hear us:
The birds too are ignorant.
do not listen.
Do not stand at dark in the open windows.
We before you have heard this:
they are voices:
They are not words at all but the wind rising.
Also none among us has seen God.
(. . . We have thought often
The flaws of sun in the late and driving weather
Pointed to one tree but it was not so.)
As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous:
The wind changes at night and the dreams come.
It is very cold,
there are strange stars near Arcturus,
Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky
Yes. A poem so good you don't notice the form of rhyme and rhythm-
which is excellent. thanks dlc
Except for Bear and air, I confess I did not notice a rhyme schme. Rhythm? It seemed free verse to me.
To me, a sad poem touches the emotions more if it's not obviously rhymed. The 'Death of a Child, Aged 1' feels sadder then 'Little Boy Blue.'
Anthony Corrente - I can help you with the author of your aunt's poem. It is from a sermon on death written by Henry Scott Holland, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, London. He delivered it in St. Paul's on 15 May 1910, at which time the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster.
The full extract reads,
"I suppose all of us hover between two ways of regarding death, which appear to be in hopeless contradiction with each other. First there is the familiar and instinctive recoil from it as embodying the supreme and irrevocable disaster...
But, then, there is another aspect altogether which death can wear for us. It is that which first comes to us, perhaps, as we look down upon the quiet face, so cold and white, of one who has been very near and dear to us. There it lies in possession of its own secret. It knows it all. So we seem to feel. And what the face says in its sweet silence to us as a last message from one whom we loved is:
'Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!'
So the face speaks. Surely while we speak there is a smile flitting over it; a smile as of gentle fun at the trick played us by seeming death...''
ababcc. The caesura marches in cadence across the page. See?
Like a sparrow-you hardly notice the stripes and spots. Naturally. dlc
ababcc. The caesura marches in cadence across the page. See?
Aha, you meant the first poem. Gotcha.
When I first discovered this site it was to find a poem from my past. It made me cry then and it still does today..
That one small boy with a face like pallid cheese
And burnt out little eyes.Could make a blaze
As brazen, fierce and huge. As red and gold
And zany yellow as the one that spoiled
Three thousand guineas worth of property
And crops at Godwin's farm on Saturday
Is frightening- as fact and metaphor:
An ordinary match intended for
The lighting of a pipe or kitchen fire
Misused may set a whole menagerie
Of flame fanged tigers roaring hungrily.
And frightening, too, that one small boy should set
The sky on fire and choke the stars to heat
Such skinny limbs and such a little heart.
Which would have been content with one warm kiss.
Had there been anyone to offer this.
I discovered today that Gwen Harwood wrote under several pen names as well as her own - her alter egos were Walter Lehmann, Francis Geyer, Miriam Stone, W.W. Hagendoor (an anagram of her own name), and beat poet Timothy Kline.
Long ago, (well, maybe a year or so back, but think what it is in dog years), you posted a poem about an old woman looking back at her life and regretting much of it. I keep wading through the search function, but am not coming up with anything yet- any recollections?
Pam, i wonder if it was this poem by Antigone Kefala (from about ten dog years ago!) - if not, i'll try delving back a bit further..
A freedom fighter, she said
lighting the gas stove.
In the mountains we fought
the words stubborn,
weary in the shabby kitchen
with the yellowed fridge
and the tinted photograph
of the dead husband.
The house full of morose
rooms suffocated with rugs.
We came out on the low verandah
her heavy stockings pitch black
the rough spun dress the
indigo blue of some wild flower,
the Sunday neighbourhood still asleep.
Come again, she said indifferently
watching the windy street
and the Town Hall squatting
on its elephant legs,
I remembered the freedom fighter bit- but as 'revolutionary,' which didn't help in searching.
And I was thinking about my father this morning, of how I miss him, and thought I would share this, written in Ireland in the first part of this century:
Father and Son - by F.R. Higgins
Only last week, walking the hushed fields
Of our most lovely Meath, now thinned by November,
I came to where the road from Laracor leads
To the Boyne river--that seems more lake than river,
Stretched in uneasy light and stript of reeds.
And walking longside an old weir
Of my people's, where nothing stirs--only the shadowed
Leaden flight of a heron up the lean air--
I went unmanly with grief, knowing how my father,
Happy though captive in years, walked last with me there.
Yes, happy in Meath with me for a day
He walked, taking stock of herds hid in their own breathing;
And naming colts, gusty as wind, once steered by his hand,
Lightnings winked in the eyes that were half shy in greeting
Old friends--the wild blades, when he gallivanted the land.
For that proud, wayward man now my heart breaks--
Breaks for that man whose mind was a secret eyrie,
Whose kind hand was sole signet of his race,
Who curbed me, scorned my green ways, yet increasingly loved me
Till Death drew its grey blind down his face.
And yet I am pleased that even my reckless ways
Are living shades of his rich calms and passions--
Witnesses for him and for those faint namesakes
With whom now he is one, under yew branches,
Yes, one in a graven silence no bird breaks.
Thank you, Stephen.
Damn this dusty old computer! There's something in my eye.
Stephen, i come back to emule after being away from computers for a couple of weeks, and the first poem i read reduces me to a soggy wreck.
Anybody got some cyber-kleenex?
I used to read bed-time poetry to our daughter, Maddy. Once when she was about 9, I read Alfred Noyes' 'The Highwayman' to her and was shocked when she burst into floods of tears at the end. I was instantly stricken with remorse at having chosen a poem that, for all its romantic imagery and dashing rhythm, tells an appallingly sad tale. So add that one to your list.
On a happier note, Maddy has now grown up, and enjoys poetry, and has probably long forgotten that evening when I was the one who caused 'tears before bed-time'.
Post Edited (11-02-03 08:12)
I can remember my mother, who is not one to read much, read me a bedtime story that I picked out...an old paperback book she bought at a yard sale and we were unsure of its contents....turned out to be Edgar Allen Poe. She read me "The Tell Tale Heart". I must have about 5! It never scared me, but I spent a good several years always trying to find that story and then I did....and my mom bought me the big black leather bound collection of Poe's Tales! Go figure!
This one is just so poignant that it makes me a little sad. And if you've ever read any of her other poems, you'll know that this is a big difference from her usual sarcastic, cutting tone.
Dorothy Parker - A Dream Lies Dead
A dream lies dead here. May you softly go
Before this place, and turn away your eyes,
Nor seek to know the look of that which dies
Importuning Life for life. Walk not in woe,
But, for a little, let your step be slow.
And, of your mercy, be not sweetly wise
With words of hope and Spring and tenderer skies.
A dream lies dead; and this all mourners know:
Whenever one drifted petal leaves the tree-
Though white of bloom as it had been before
And proudly waitful of fecundity-
One little loveliness can be no more;
And so must Beauty bow her imperfect head
Because a dream has joined the wistful dead!
bravo to that appgrrl!
She wrote some good ones on a religious theme, too, which also seems a bit out of character - The Maid -Servant at the Inn and Prayer for a New Mother:
The Maid-Servant at the Inn
by Dorothy Parker
"It's queer," she said; "I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We've not had stars like that again!
"And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one's better than the old.
"I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.
"I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You'd know he was his mother's son.
"It's queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I've prayed that all is well with them."
Prayer for a New Mother by Dorothy Parker
The things she knew, let her forget again-
The voices in the sky, the fear, the cold,
The gaping shepherds, and the queer old men
Piling their clumsy gifts of foreign gold.
Let her have laughter with her little one;
Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing,
Grant her her right to whisper to her son
The foolish names one dare not call a king.
Keep from her dreams the rumble of a crowd,
The smell of rough-cut wood, the trail of red,
The thick and chilly whiteness of the shroud
That wraps the strange new body of the dead.
Ah, let her go, kind Lord, where mothers go
And boast his pretty words and ways, and plan
The proud and happy years that they shall know
Together, when her son is grown a man.
I'd love to know WHEN she wrote those, considering the life she led it's be interesting to know that.
I must confess that I've never been much of a Dorothy Parker fan. I have smiled now and then at some of her more biting humor, but I have never been moved to investigate her work any further. The two poems you've included here have changed my mind. Can you recommend a good anthology of her work?
Sorry Joet - I've found pieces of her work in various places, over many years and can't remember specific sources. In all that time I've only come across two 'serious' pieces - the two I posted - the one appgrrl posted being new to me. Parker's day job was columnist and reviewer, and the biting wit was useful and what kept her in the pubic eye. I suspect publishing a lot of more serious stuff would have messed up her public image, so she'd have been deterred from doing it, and probably hadn't time, anyway.
There are quite a lot of books devoted to her wit and her poems, but you won't find much in a 'serious' vein. I'm sure someone will post some titles - if not try Amazon. A lighter one that resonates with me and which shows just how important poetry was to her is:
Say my love is easy had,
Say I'm bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad-
Still behold me at your side.
Say I'm neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tongue-
Still you have my heart to wear.
But say my verses do not scan,
And I get me another man!
Forgive them for the name of the site:
marian2 and Hugh:
Thank you both.
marian and joseph
I suggest you read You Might As Well Live: The Life And Times Of Dorothy Parker. The author is John Keats, and my copy is published by Penguin Books. Page 145:
'she badly wanted to care [about children]. She seemed to fear that an expression of her true feelings would be taken for sentimentality. More important, her heart went out to a child because she was convinced that life was a tragedy, and she had expressed this most poignantly in two poems, published in the 1927 and 1928 Christmas issues of The Bookman. The first was 'The Maidservant at the Inn'. The same foreboding was expressed in 'Prayer For A New Mother'. She wrote again about Mary and the Christ in her poem 'The Gentlest Lady', which ends:
'They say she'd kiss the boy awake
And hail Him gay and clear
But oh, her heart was like to break
To count another year.'
She was haunted by this sense of foreboding, by the dread of being Mary.'
Have you read Wilferd Owens "Disabled"?
Thanks Hugh for that website - I'd NEVER have gone there if I'd seen its title on a google search. And thanks Stephen - I'll try and get that book . I do hope it was written while she was still alive - she'd have loved the irony of the author's name being associated with her work.
She died June 1967, aged 73.
Keats's book first came out in 1971.
No dice, then.
everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not at all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold on to refugeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Days KINGSIZE was
the worst I'd think will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when I'd cling beside you sobbing
you'd shrug it off with the quietest I'm still
here I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don't dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps men spotless but it doesn't
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it all
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I'm here oh I'm here
I don't get around much anymore.
This is why I keep coming back here.
I love that, Stephen!
You sure can pick 'em Stevie, wonder how you manage it.
Where've you been Jack, we've missed you.
I am not fit company lately.
Something there is in me that grieves the way
Your voice reflects the sadness that you wear,
Take heart my friend, there’ll come a brighter day,
And in the meantime, we have love to share.
Youse guys is da greatest.
Here's one that I wrote after graduation - I know, I'm so very young - and it's a little sad. Well, I was sad when I wrote it, and it makes me all nostalgic when I read it, so it's going here. Enjoy!
As my days go passing by,
And the sun sets behind the trees,
As the leaves do wither and die,
Will you ever think of me?
When the stars shine so bright,
And the solemn moon gleams,
When still waters turn black as night,
Will you ever think of me?
When great Sol does awake,
And I slip into dreams,
Will your heart still beat, yet ache?
Will you ever think of me?
~ Heather S.
Well said for one so young. Continue to write, striving to improve at all times, and I am certain that you will be remembered by many.
There is something about the repetition of words and phrases in this poem which always chokes me up. I hear the poet's tone quickly change from negotiation through clinging desperation and frantic bargaining before finally arriving at the calmer acceptance of "how long ago. my love." Seems to me that is the journey in mourning any lost love.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.
Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago!
I don't cry often. At all.
but this one moves me. A lot.
You weren't well or really ill yet either;
just a little tired, your handsomeness
tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought
to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
I didn't for a moment doubt you were dead.
I knew that to be true still, even in the dream.
You'd been out--at work maybe?--
having a good day, almost energetic.
We seemed to be moving from some old house
where we'd lived, boxes everywhere, things
in disarray: that was the story of my dream,
but even asleep I was shocked out of the narrative
by your face, the physical fact of your face:
inches from mine, smooth-shaven, loving, alert.
Why so difficult, remembering the actual look
of you? Without a photograph, without strain?
So when I saw your unguarded, reliable face,
your unmistakable gaze opening all the warmth
and clarity of you--warm brown tea--we held
each other for the time the dream allowed.
Bless you. You came back, so I could see you
once more, plainly, so I could rest against you
without thinking this happiness lessened anything,
without thinking you were alive again.
If an angel came with one wish
I might say, deliver that child
who died before birth, into life.
Let me see what she might have become.
He would bring her into a room,
fair-skinned the bones of her hands
would press on my shoulder blades in our long embrace
we would sit
with the albums spread on our knees:
now here are your brothers and here
your sister here the old house
among trees and espaliered almonds.
- But where am I?
Ah, my dear
I have only one picture
in my head I saw you lying
still folded one moment forever
your head bent down to your heart
eyes closed on unspeakable wisdom
Your delicate frog-pale fingers
apart as if you were playing
a woodwind instrument.
It was never given.
-Where is my grave?
in my head I suppose
the hospital burnt you.
-Was I beautiful?
-Do you mourn for me every day?
Not at all it is more than thirty years
feeling the coolness of age
the perspectives of memory change.
Pearlskull what Iifts you here
From night-drift to solemn rightness?
Mushroom dome? Gourd plumpness?
The frog in my pot of basil?
-It is none of these, but a rhythm
the bones of my fingers dactylic
rhetoric smashed from your memory.
Forget me again.
Had I lived
no rhythm would be the same
nor my brothers and sister feast
in the world's eternal house.
Overhead wings of cloud
burning and under my feet
stones marked with demons' teeth