Poem for a Thursday: Amy Lowell

A few weeks ago I started poem a poem each Thursday, inspired by Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness. In spite of being late one week and forgetting entirely another week, I’m enjoying having the routine of something to do each week. It’s also helped me get some other post ideas circulating (though who knows when I’ll be able to focus enough to sit down and write something!).

I have been selecting poems either by raiding my bookshelf (it’s the perfect excuse to look through my small but lovely collection) or by looking at the Academy of American Poets website, or occasionally the Scottish Poetry Library website. Both have extensive, easily searchable collections.

Amy Lowell is a well-known early 20th century poet in America, though I did recently find out she’s less well known in the UK. It’s a shame as her work is beautiful. This one is called “Dawns”. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

Belated Poem for a Thursday: Gillian K. Ferguson

Oops, it’s Friday! Having started a second, temporary, job a couple of weeks ago in addition to my normal one, life is a little bit up and down at the moment and we are still finding our feet with the new routine. Overall this is fine because I know we’ll adjust, but in the meantime I do often forget which day of the week it is.

Anyway, I thought I would still share a poem today. Better late than never, right? I found this one on the Scottish Poetry Library website. I used the browse option and browsed till I found a topic, then poem, that resonated. It’s an approach I would definitely recommend! This one by Gillian K. Ferguson is short and really very sweet. It makes me think of Mabel and her little friends, and I think it does poetry’s job of producing a very individual and yet very universal image exceptionally well.

Learning to Stand

On the earth a stretched second
you stood, balanced. Gravity

glued dolly shoes. You wore
the sky on your head, jauntily,

light blue paper hat plumed
with feather clouds, as air’s

transparent gloves cuddled
you upright. Padding paws

forgot themselves in hands.
You learn the trick of standing

as the world spins, hurtles,
turns you upside down

in darkness. Already
you’ll lean less on me.

Poem for a Thursday: Dorianne Laux

Blossom

What is a wound but a flower 
dying on its descent to the earth,
bag of scent filled with war, forest,
torches, some trouble that befell
now over and done. A wound is a fire
sinking into itself. The tinder serves
only so long, the log holds on
and still it gives up, collapses
into its bed of ashes and sand. I burned
my hand cooking over a low flame,
that flame now alive under my skin,
the smell not unpleasant, the wound
beautiful as a full-blown peony.
Say goodbye to disaster. Shake hands
with the unknown, what becomes
of us once we’ve been torn apart
and returned to our future, naked
and small, sewn back together
scar by scar.

Poem for a Thursday: D.H. Lawrence

This is just a quick post; we celebrated Valentine’s Day by staying up to watch a movie (The Shape of Water) after putting Mabel to bed, so I am very tired!

This poem by D.H. Lawrence is one we included in our wedding ceremony. The sentiment behind it is just beautiful, and the last line is a stunner. (Also, I am a sucker for our wedding memories, so the picture I’ve chosen is from our Save the Date bookmark!)

Fidelity

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.


Poem for a Thursday: Solmaz Sharif

I am trying to broaden my poetry horizons, so I borrowed The Forward Book of Poetry 2017 from my local library a couple of weeks ago. I decided this week I’d share one from it this week, hopefully something a bit different from previous weeks.

Solmaz Sharif is an award-winning Iranian-American poet, and I thought this poem by her was quite thought-provoking and timely. I hope you agree.

Force Visibility

Everywhere we went, I went
in pigtails
no one could see—

ribbon curled
by a scissor’s sharp edge,
the bumping our cars

undertook when hitting
those strips
along the interstate

meant to shake us
awake. Everywhere we went
horses bucking

their riders off,
holstered pistols
or two Frenchies

dancing in black and white
in a torn-apart
living room,

on the big screen
our polite cow faces
lit softly

by New Wave Cinema
I will never
get into. The soft whir

of CONTINUOUS STRIP IMAGERY.
What is fascism?

A student asked me

and can you believe
I couldn’t remember
the definition?

The sonnet,
I said.
I could’ve said this:

our sanctioned twoness.
My COVERT pigtails.
Driving to the cinema

you were yelling
This is not
yelling
you corrected

in the car, a tiny
amphitheater. I will
resolve this
I thought

and through that
RESOLUTION, I will be
a stronger compatriot.

This is fascism.
Dinner party
by dinner party,

waltz by waltz,
weddings ringed
by admirers, by old

couples who will rise
to touch each other
publicly.

In INTERTHEATER TRAFFIC
you were yelling
and beside us, briefly

a sheriff’s retrofitted bus.
Full or empty
was impossible to see.

From Look by Solmaz Sharif, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2016 by Solmaz Sharif.

Poem for a Thursday: Alice Oswald

I’m back with another Poem for a Thursday. It is nice to have a reason to seek out poetry, I must say. And it is nice to be back here more regularly as well. Thanks to Jennifer for providing the inspiration; do go visit her blog if you haven’t yet!

This week’s poem is from British poet Alice Oswald. She is a contemporary poet I found a couple of years ago by picking up her most recent book, Falling Awake, in my local independent bookshop. I just skimmed it, but it was so stunning that I had to buy it. It is full of wonderful, evocative poems, but I chose this one because I think there is something magical about dew 🙂

“A rushed account of the dew”

I who can blink
to break the spell of daylight

and what a sliding screen between worlds
is a blink

I who can hear the last three seconds in my head
but the present is beyond me
              listen

in this tiny moment of reflexion
I want to work out what it’s like to descend
out of the dawn’s mind

and find a leaf and fasten the known to the unknown
with a liquid cufflink
              and then unfasten

to be brief

to be almost actual

oh pristine example
of claiming a place on the earth
only to cancel

What are you reading?

Poem for a Thursday: WS Merwin

Last week’s Mary Oliver poem turned out to be prescient, as she sadly passed away that very day. I have no doubt that her finely crafted yet accessible poems began their legacy decades ago and while I’m sad she won’t be writing anymore, I look forward to seeing poets continuing to cite her influence.

This week’s poem is by WS Merwin, another American poet. His verse is simultaneously vast and particular, something I love. This poem paints a clear picture; I can imagine both the narrator and the scene. I had a hard time choosing a poem as the whole book was beautiful!

Long afternoon light

Small roads written in sleep in the foothills

how long ago and I believed you were lost

with the bronze then deepening in the light

and the shy moss turning to itself holding

its own brightness above the badger’s path

while a single crow sailed west without a sound

we trust without giving it a thought

that we will always see it as we see it

once and that what we know is only

a moment of what is ours and will stay

we believe it as the moment slips away

as lengthening shadows merge in the valley

and a window kindles there like a first star

what we see again comes to us in secret

And as a bonus, I have decided to be brave and share a draft of a poem I wrote a few years ago, because Merwin’s poem reminded me of it. As yet, it remains untitled.

A second ripples through

the honeyed light,

and when the tick hits

the stone boundary

suddenly, a hundred years

have been captured

like a bubble in amber.

Less than the blink

of an eye, and the fields

have flowered and lain fallow

fifty times over and the sheep

have given a hundred winters of wool.