Posts tagged ‘poem’

Poem of the month: The Wood-Pile

The Wood-Pile

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, ‘I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther – and we shall see.’
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather –
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled – and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
Or even last year’s or the year’s before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

-Robert Frost

November 9, 2009 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Poem of the month: Woods


I wish to grow dumber,
to slip deep into woods that grow blinder
with each step I take,
until the fingers let go of their numbers
and the hands are finally ignorant as paws.
Unable to count the petals,
I will not know who loves me,
who loves me not.
Nothing to remember,
nothing to forgive,
I will stumble into the juice of the berry, the shag of bark,
I will be dense and happy as fur.

— Noelle Oxenhandler

Noelle Oxenhandler’s most recent book is The Eros of Parenthood. (Source)

October 12, 2009 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

Poem of the month: On the Grasshopper and the Cricket, and To Autumn

On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s – he takes the lead
In summer luxury, – he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a long winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

-John Keats

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with a patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river swallows, borne aloft.
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

-John Keats

September 8, 2009 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Poem of the month: I Walk Out Into the Country at Night

I Walk Out Into the Country at Night

The moon is so high it is
Almost in the Great Bear.
I walk out of the city
Along the road to the West.
The damp wind ruffles my coat.
Dewy grass soaks my sandals.
Fishermen are singing
On the distant river.
Fox fires dance on the ruined tombs.
A chill wind rises and fills
Me with melancholy. I
Try to think of words that will
Capture the uncanny solitude.
I come home late. The night
Is half spent. I stand for a
Long while in the doorway.
My young son is still up, reading.
Suddenly he bursts out laughing,
And all of the sadness of the
Twilight of my life is gone.

-Lu Yu, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

August 10, 2009 at 9:54 pm Leave a comment

Poem of the Month: Fireflies


Lately I had looked for you everywhere
but only night’s smooth stare gazed back.

Some said DDT had cupped your glow
in its sharp mouth and swallowed.
The loneliness of growing up
held small soft pockets you could have filled.

This summer I took my son
to the Texas hills where you startled us at dark,
ancestral droves swirling about our heads.
He thought you held kerosene lamps
the size of splinters. He wanted to borrow one,
just for a second, he said.
My head swooned in the blink of your lives.

Near a cedar-shaded stream where by day
fish rise for crumbled lumps of bread,
you were saving us from futures bereft
of minor lovely things.
You’re singing, my boy said that night.
Why are you singing? He opened his hands.
I sang to the quiet rise of joy,
to little light.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

July 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

Poem of the Month: The Porch over the River

The Porch over the River

In the dusk of the river, the wind
gone, the trees grow still–
the beautiful poise of lightness,
the heavy world pushing toward it.

Beyond, on the face of the water,
lies the reflection of another tree,
inverted, pulsing with the short strokes
of waves the wind has stopped driving.

In a time when men no longer
can imagine the lives of their sons
this is still the world–
the world of my time, the grind

of engines marking the country
like an audible map, the high dark
marked by the flight of men,
lights stranger than stars.

The phoebes cross and re-cross
the openings, alert
for what may still be earned
from the light. The whippoorwills

begin, and the frogs. And the dark
falls, again, as it must.
The look of the world withdraws
into the vein of memory.

The mirrored tree, darkening, stirs
with the water’s inward life. What has
made it so? –a quietness in it
no question can be asked in.

–Wendell Berry

June 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

Poem of the month: The Locust Tree in Flower

The Locust Tree in Flower (First Version)

the leaves

of wrist-thick

and old
stiff broken

loosely strung-

come May
white blossom

to spill

their sweets

and quickly

The Locust Tree in Flower (Second Version)






-William Carlos Williams

May 11, 2009 at 7:58 am Leave a comment

Poem of the Month: An Evening when the Full Moon Rose as the Sun Set

An Evening When the Full Moon Rose as the Sun Set
-April 11, 1976

The sun goes down in the dusty April night.
“You know it could be alive!”
The sun is round, massive, compelling, sober, on fire.
It moves swiftly through the tree stalks of the Lundin
grove as we drive past…
The legs of a bronze god walking at the edge of the world,
unseen by many,
On his archaic errands, doubled up on his own energy.
He guides his life by his dreams;
When we look again he is gone.

Turning toward Milan, we see the other one, the moon,
whole and rising.
Three wild geese make dark spots in that part of the sky.
Under the shining one the pastures leap forward,
Grass fields rolling as in October, the sow-colored fields
near the river.
This rising one lights the pair of pintails alert in the
shallow pond.
It shines on those faithful to each other, alert in the early
And the life of faithfulness goes by like a river,
With no one noticing it.

Robert Bly

April 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

Poem of the month: Before you thought of Spring

Before you thought of Spring
Except as a Surmise
You see – God bless his suddenness –
A Fellow in the Skies
Of independent Hues
A little weather worn
Inspiriting habiliments
Of Indigo and Brown –
With specimens of Song
As if for you to choose –
Discretion in the interval
With gay delays he goes
To some superior Tree
Without a single Leaf
And shouts for joy to Nobody
But his seraphic self –

Emily Dickinson

March 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm 1 comment

Poem of the month: Winter Haiku

Winter solitude–
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.

The winter storm
hid in the bamboo grove
and quieted away.

The winter sun-
on the horse’s back
my frozen shadow.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)


Cover my head
or my feet?
the winter quilt.

Calligraphy of geese
against the sky-
the moon seals it.

Lighting one candle
with another candle-
spring evening.

Yosa Buson (1716-1783)


The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.

Crescent moon-
bent to the shape
of the cold.

Face of the spring moon-
about twelve years old,
I’d say.

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

February 9, 2009 at 11:37 pm 2 comments

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