I remember a quiet morning in Amherst 10 years ago, sitting with my mother on Emily Dickinson’s stoop, wondering what had transpired behind those walls as she wrote her nearly 1,800 poems. Dickinson is one of the first poets I read–and truly loved–and tonight these verses speak to me like never before.
“After great pain, a formal feeling comes–“
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
Posted in poetry | Tagged "After great pain, a formal feeling comes", Emily Dickinson, poems, poems about grief, poems about pain, poetry, poets | Leave a Comment »
Happy summer, readers. This achingly beautiful poem is brought to you by Li-Young Lee and the bag of peaches I purchased from the farmers’ market this morning.
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Posted in poetry | Tagged Li-Young Lee, peaches, poem, poems, poems about peaches, poems about summer, poetry, Summer poems | 2 Comments »
Thank you for joining me for another National Poetry Month. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last four weeks of verse–and I hope even more that you continue to seek out poetry all year long. For now, I will close with this selection from the magnificent writer, activist, and farmer Wendell Berry (1934-).
from Sabbaths 1998
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
This is the time you’d like to stay.
Not a leaf stirs. There is no sound.
The fireflies lift light from the ground.
You’ve shed the vanities of when
And how and why, for now. And then
The phone rings. You are called away.
Early in the morning, walking
in a garden in Vancouver
three thousand miles from your grave,
the sky dripping, song
sparrows singing in the borders,
I come suddenly upon
a Japanese dogwood, a tree
you loved, bowed down with bloom.
By what blessedness do I weep?
The woods and pastures are joyous
in their abundance now
in a season of warmth and much rain.
We walk amidst foliage, amidst
song. The sheep and cattle graze
like souls and bliss (except for flies)
and lie down satisfied. Who now
can believe in winter? In winter
who could have hoped for this?
Posted in poetry | Tagged environmental poems, National Poetry Month, nature poems, poem, poem a day, poems, poet, poetry, poets, Sabbaths 1998, Sabbaths 1998 by Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry | 1 Comment »
I never grow tired of Jane Hirshfield (1953-) and her clear, calming verse.
“Stone and Knife”
One angle blunts, another sharpens
Loss also: stone & knife
Some griefs augment the heart,
rooms unwalked in,
these losses are small.
Others cannot be described at all.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged "Stone and Knife", grief poems, Jane Hirshfield, National Poetry Month, poem, poem a day, poems, poems about grief, poetry, poets | 1 Comment »
This Franz Wright (1953-) poem renders me speechless.
“Did This Ever Happen to You”
A marble-colored cloud
engulfed the sun and stalled,
a skinny squirrel limped toward me
as I crossed the empty park
and froze, the last
or next to last
fall leaf fell but before it touched
the earth, with shocking clarity
I heard my mother’s voice
pronounce my name. And in an instant I passed
beyond sorrow and terror, and was carried up
into the imageless
I came from
and am. Nobody’s
stronger than forgiveness.
Posted in poetry | Tagged "Did This Ever Happen to You", forgiveness poems, Franz Wright, National Poetry Month, poem, poem a day, poems, poems about forgiveness, poet, poetry, poets | 1 Comment »
An anthology of Fanny Howe (1940-) selected poems has been quietly haunting me for months. Here is just one of the many gems.
You travel a path on paper
and discover you’re in a city
you only thought about before.
It’s a Sunday marketplace. Parakeets and finches
are placed on the stones
and poppies in transparent wrapping.
How can you be where you never were?
And how can you find the way–with your mind
your only measure?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Fanny Howe, National Poetry Month, poem a day, poems, poetry, poets | Leave a Comment »