Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poems For Today

I should have posted this last year:

On Being Twenty-six
by Philip Larkin

I feared these present years,
The middle twenties,
When deftness disappears,
And each event is
Freighted with a source-encrusting doubt,
And turned to drought.

I thought: this pristine drive
Is sure to flag
At twenty-four or -five;
And now the slag
Of burnt-out childhood proves that I was right.
What caught alight

Quickly consumed in me,
As I foresaw.
Talent, felicity—
These things withdraw,
And are succeeded by a dingier crop
That come to stop;

Or else, certainty gone,
Perhaps the rest,
Tarnishing, linger on
As second-best.
Fabric of fallen minarets is trash.
And in the ash

Of what has pleased and passed
Is now no more
Than struts of greed, a last
Charred smile, a clawed
Crustacean hatred, blackened pride—of such
I once made much.

And so, if I were sure
I have no chance
To catch again that pure
Unnoticed stance,
I would calcine the outworn properties,
Live on what is.

But it dies hard, that world;
Or, being dead,
Putrescently is pearled,
For I, misled,
Make on my mind the deepest wound of all:
Think to recall

At any moment, states
Long since dispersed;
That if chance dissipates
The best, the worst
May scatter equally upon a touch.
I kiss, I clutch,

Like a daft mother, putrid
That can and will forbid
All grist to me
Except devaluing dichotomies:
Nothing, and paradise.

Poem in October
by Dylan Thomas

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

The Chestnut Casts His Flambeaux
-A.E. Housman

The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May.

There's one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
One season ruined of your little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
But ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

We for a certainty are not the first
Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.

Spring and Fall
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.


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