Showing posts from November, 2011

Let Us Meditate the Virtue

by Donald Hall Let us meditate the virtue of slogans. Let us declare onomastic* solutions to difficulties largely unnameable, and by the mottoes of euphemism contract verbal righteousness. Let's indite bulletins to tell everyone the Jargon of Things, to name Lifestyles, to learn the Tongue of High Coy: Do you desire to purchase a beverage? We thank you for not smoking. Have a nice day. May we share these suggestions with you? Let us praise exultation, never calling a route salesman a milkman, nor an officer of the law a cop, nor a senior citizen old, nor a starving freezing bagwoman poor. When we can't alter ills that upset us, we will change their names to prevent compassion from disturbing our ungulate composure: words to deny worlds. Vocabulary voids original sin; cavalry of the lie reaches Calvary just in time--to bugle Christ down from the cross. But: no nails, no Christ. Jean Jouvenet "Descent From The Cross"

The Windhover

by Gerard Manley Hopkins To Christ our Lord I caught this morning morning's minion, king- dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dáwn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rólling level úndernéath him steady áir, & stríding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl & gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird, -- the achieve of, the mastery of the thing! Brute beauty & valour & act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, o my chevalier! No wónder of it: shéer plód makes plóugh down síllion Shine, & blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gáll themsélves, & gásh góld-vermílion.

Just Now

by W.S. Merwin In the morning as the storm begins to blow away the clear sky appears for a moment and it seems to me that there has been something simpler than I could ever believe simpler than I could have begun to find words for not patient not even waiting no more hidden than the air itself that became part of me for a while with every breath and remained with me unnoticed something that was here unnamed unknown in the days and the nights not separate from them not separate from them as they came and were gone it must have been here neither early nor late then by what name can I address it now holding out my thanks


by Rafael Jesus Gonzalez Thanks & blessings be to the Sun & the Earth for this bread & this wine, this fruit, this meat, this salt, this food; thanks be & blessing to them who prepare it, who serve it; thanks & blessings to them who share it (& also the absent & the dead). Thanks & Blessing to them who bring it (may they not want), to them who plant & tend it, harvest & gather it (may they not want); thanks & blessing to them who work & blessing to them who cannot; may they not want - for their hunger sours the wine & robs the taste from the salt. Thanks be for the sustenance & strength for our dance & work of justice, of peace.

Arms Full

by Rebecca del Rio Gratitude means showing up on life’s doorstep, love’s threshold, dressed in a clown suit, rubber-nosed, gunboat shoes flapping. Gratitude shows up with arms full of wildflowers, reciting McKuen or the worst of Neruda. To talk of gratitude is to be the fool in a cynic’s world. Gratitude is pride’s nightmare, the admission of humility before something given without expectation or attachment. Gratitude tears open the shirt of self importance, scatters buttons across the polished floors of feigned indifference, ignores the obvious and laughs out loud. Even more, gratitude bears her breasts, rips open her ribs to show the naked heart, the holy heart. What if that sacred heart is not, after all, about sacrifice? Imagine it is about joy, barefoot and foolhardy, something unasked for, something unearned. What if the beat we hear, when we are finally quiet is simply this: Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, Rebecca!

Cult of the Warrior

by Al Markowitz originally published on November 12, 2007 On Memorial Day, for all the Veterans who marched against the War in Iraq and were jeered. Keep the faith! A palpable silence of reverence where “soldier” is synonymous with hero revered. Where service in battle is holy and mysterious dark foreigners feared. We venerate our soldiers’ presence on the always far front and with heads bowed in adoration try to show off our symbols of public support – as long as they shut up and die. contact: Partisan Press P.O. 11417 Norfolk, VA 23517

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it And spills the upper boulder in the sun, And make gaps even two can pass abreast. The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair Where they have left not one stone on a stone, But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we find them there, I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance: "Stay where you are until our backs are turned!" We wear our fingers rough with handling them. Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, One on a side. It co

"The Beauty Of Hopelessness"

by Rebecca del Rio You are hanging from a branch by your teeth. No way to save yourself or others who hang, too. Arms that cannot reach any branch, legs stretch but cannot find the smooth safe trunk. All around, your loved ones, friends, strangers hang-- teeth clamp bony twigs that suspend necessary hopes and plans. It is hopeless. No rescue will arrive. So you relax, taste the clean, unfamiliar tang of sap, feel the forgiving wind against your waving arms, arms that swim through emptiness. Without hope, life is focused, fluid, a ledge of fragile earth suspended over the ocean of unknowing, the end of the branch. Life is the glorious moment before the fall when all plans are abandoned, the love you give as you hang, loving those who hang with you.

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Listen to Ms. Oliver read her own poem. If you want to read more of Mary Oliver’s poems, here are some that I like. Copyri


by Robert Frost Although this was one of the first poems I learned by heart, when I was a teenager Frost's poems seemed too sentimental for my austere soul. Now I find myself turning to his elegant New England verses more and more. Is that a sign of growing older or some inner thawing? When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay. Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust-- Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to brea

The Gift Outright

by Robert Frost Frost tried to read a poem he wrote for Kennedy's Inauguration . When the sun and wind stopped him, he recited "The Gift Outright" from memory. Three cheers f or the wind and the sun! The land was ours before we were the land's. She was our land more than a hundred years Before we were her people. She was ours In Massachusetts, in Virginia, But we were England's, still colonials, Possessing what we still were unpossessed by, Possessed by what we now no more possessed. Something we were withholding made us weak Until we found out that it was ourselves We were withholding from our land of living, And forthwith found salvation in surrender. Such as we were we gave ourselves outright (The deed of gift was many deeds of war) To the land vaguely realizing westward, But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced, Such as she was, such as she would become. To read this poem in Frost's own hand... Please click here to g


by Robert Frost [sometimes you have to hear a poem.] Out of the mud two strangers came And caught me splitting wood in the yard, And one of them put me off my aim By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!" I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind And let the other go on a way. I knew pretty well what he had in mind: He wanted to take my job for pay. Good blocks of oak it was I split, As large around as the chopping block; And every piece I squarely hit Fell splinterless as a cloven rock. The blows that a life of self-control Spares to strike for the common good, That day, giving a loose my soul, I spent on the unimportant wood. The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March. A bl

Acquainted With The Night

by Robert Frost I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain — and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light. I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet When far away an interrupted cry Came over houses from another street, But not to call me back or say good-bye; And further still at an unearthly height, One luminary clock against the sky Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night. Stieglitz: ‘Reflections—Night’, New York, 1896 (in Picturesque Bits of New York and Other Studies, 1897) Please click here to go to a page I created for more of Frost’s poems.

Discontinuous Poems

by Alberto Caeiro Fernando António Nogueira Pêssoa (1888 - 1935) The frightful reality of things Is my everyday discovery. Each thing is what it is. How can I explain to anyone how much I rejoice over this, and find it enough? To be whole, it is enough to exist. I have written quite a number of poems And may write many more, of course. Each poem of mine explains it, Though all my poems are different, Because each thing that exists is always proclaiming it. Sometimes I busy myself with watching a stone, I don't begin thinking whether it feels. I don't force myself to call it my sister, But I enjoy it because of its being a stone, I enjoy it because it feels nothing, I enjoy it because it is not at all related to me. At times I also hear the wind blow by And find that merely to hear the wind blow makes it worth having been born. I don't know what others will think who read this; But I find it must be go

God Does Not Answer Prayer

by Stephen Levine for little Whitney of 5 weeks God does not answer prayer. It is a sacrilege to think so. An insult to the god-drenched hearts of all who pray through the night and in the morning are nonetheless handed a dead child. The churches in Salem used to burn heretics to increase attendance. Now those who feel their prayer didn't reach quite far enough, that they were not pure enough, are victims of a merciless atheism that says all good fortune comes from God though the brutal often prosper and it is not uncommon to torture the pure of heart. We pray for the best, forgetting the unpredictable unfolding that must occur for us to learn prayer for others works better than for ourselves. Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane and is refused. Ten thousand, ten million prayers rise in Latin, Arabic, Hindi, and Hebrew yet their husbands and wives, children and sisters, fathers and brothers do not survive well if at all though in their chest bea

Come, said my Soul

by Walt Whitman Come, said my Soul, Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after death invisibly return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the verses owning---as, first, I hear and now, Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name, photo by Barbara Mensch Walt Whitman said that the Brooklyn Bridge was “the best, most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken”.