Poetry Feed

Open Road

Song of the Open Road, I

Walt Whitman


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)



I like this poem.  The opening stanzas express some of the sentiment behind my memoir, which I entitled Open (hopefully coming soon).  


Leave Certainty

Ars Poetica - Poems | Academy of American Poets

 

Ars Poetica

To have
even a
lotto chance

of getting
somewhere
within yourself

you don’t quite know
but feel

To cling
to the periphery
through the constant

gyroscopic
re-drawing of its
provinces

To make
what Makers make

you must set aside
certainty

Leave it
a lumpy backpack
by the ticket window
at the station

Let the gentleman
in pleated khakis
pressed for time

claim it

The certainty
not the poem.

 


Cake

Poem-A-Day | Academy of American Poets

Cake

Look, you
want it
you devour it
and then, then
good as it was
you realize
it wasn’t
what you
exactly
wanted
what you
wanted
exactly was
wanting

 


Suburbs of the mind

Read some enjoyable lines in Wordsworth's Prelude today:

The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, and the curious props
By which the world of memory and thought
Exists and is sustained.  More lofty themes,
Such as at least do wear a prouder face,
Solicit our regard; but when I think
Of these, I feel the imaginative power
Languish within me; even then it slept,
When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart
Was more than full; amid my sobs and tears
It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth.
For though I was most passionately moved
And yielded to all changes of the scene
With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm
passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind . . . 


"Spare these courts of mystery"

My daily morning poetry reading has suffered since the birth of Sebastian and the loss of my longstanding morning routine.  So, one of the funs of sabbatical will be to take back my morning routine, at least for a while (and later in the morning after he's at daycare).

So, I'm well behind in my reading of Wordsworth's Prelude.  In today's reading from the sixth section, done on the porch on this lovely, damp morning, I enjoyed these lines:

She [Nature] ceased to speak, but while St. Bruno's pines
Waved their dark tops, not silent as they waved,
And while below, along their several beds,
Murmured the sister streams of Life and Death,
Thus by conflicting passions pressed, my heart
Responded; "Honour to the patriot's zeal!
Glory and hope to new-born Liberty!
Hail to the mighty projects of the time!
Discerning sword that Justice wields, do thou
Go forth and prosper; and, ye purging fires,
Up to the loftiest towers of Pride ascend,
Fanned by the breath of angry Providence.
But oh! if Past and Future be the wings
On whose support harmoniously conjoined
Moves the great spirit of human knowledge, spare
These courts of mystery, where a step advanced
Between the portals of the shadowy rocks
Leaves far behind life's treacherous vanities,
For penitential tears and trembling hopes
Exchanged--to equalise in God's pure sight
Monarch and peasant: be the house redeemed
With its unworldly votaries, for the sake
Of conquest over sense, hourly achieved
Through faith and meditative reason, resting
Upon the word of heaven-imparted truth,
Calmly triumphant; and for humbler claim
Of that imaginative impulse sent
From these majestic floods, yon shining cliffs,
The untransmuted shapes of many worlds,
Cerulean ether's pure inhabitants,
These forests unapproachable by death,
That shall endure as long as man endures,
To think, to hope, to worship, and to feel,
To struggle, to be lost within himself
In trepidation, from the blank abyss
To look with bodily eyes, and be consoled."

Now, to reclaim my morning walk!


Blind Boone's Apparitions

Blind Boone’s Apparitions | Academy of American Poets

Blind Boone’s Apparitions

Tyehimba Jess

John William Boone (1864-1927) world-renowned Ragtime                pianist.

C

my motto for life

                      - merit, not sympathy, wins-

                                              my song against death.

E♭

i stroke piano’s

                           eighty eight mouths. each one sings

                                        hot colors of joy

                                                                                                 F

                                                                                     pentatonic black

                                                                 keys raise up high into bliss,

                                                 born to sing my name

                       F#

                    whippoorwill, hawk, crow

                                   sing madrigals for blind men.

                    forests blooms through each note.


                                   G

                               my eyes: buried deep

                                             beneath earth’s skin. my vision

                               begins in her womb.


                             B♭

                         darkness sounds like God

                                             flowering from earth’s molten tomb...

                         writhed wind. chorded cries.

C

rain, flower, sea, wind

           map my dark horizon. i

                                              inhale earth’s songbook

 


Lovely little love poem

Darling Coffee

Meena Alexander, 1951

The periodic pleasure
of small happenings
is upon us—
behind the stalls
at the farmer’s market
snow glinting in heaps,
a cardinal its chest
puffed out, bloodshod
above the piles of awnings,
passion’s proclivities;
you picking up a sweet potato
turning to me  ‘This too?’—
query of tenderness
under the blown red wing.
Remember the brazen world?
Let’s find a room
with a window onto elms
strung with sunlight,
a cafe with polished cups,
darling coffee they call it,
may our bed be stoked
with fresh cut rosemary
and glinting thyme,
all herbs in due season
tucked under wild sheets:
fit for the conjugation of joy.


Coates on Poetry

One the many paragraphs in Between the World and Me which struck me was this one on poetry:

I was learning the craft of poetry, which really was an intensive version of what my mother had taught me all those years ago--the craft of writing as the art of thinking.  Poetry aims for an economy of truth--loose and useless words must be discarded, and I found that these loose and useless words were not separate from loose and useless thoughts.  Poetry was not simply the transcription of notions--beautiful writing rarely is.  I wanted to learn to write, which was ultimately, still, as my mother had taught me, a confrontation with my own innocence, my own rationalizations.  Poetry was the processing of my thoughts until the slag of justification fell away and I was left with the cold steel truths of life.


Wordsworth & Whitehead

Earlier this year I was at a party of the theology and philosophy departments and was talking to a theologian about Alfred North Whitehead.  At some point in the conversation, David Hume came up, and I mentioned Hume was part of the trinity of Hume, James, and Whitehead.  This theologian was shocked that I'd include Hume.  What I forgot was the fourth figure--the Romantic poet William Wordsworth.  Wordsworth's view of experience was deeply influential on Alfred North Whitehead.

This week I began reading The Prelude and immediately began to see the sorts of statements that must have enticed Whitehead and sent him into deep philosophical speculation about the nature of reality and experience.  Here are a few examples:

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society.

***

How Nature by extrinsic passion first
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,
And made me love them

***

To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things

***

I held unconscious intercourse with beauty

***

even then I felt
Gleams like the fleshing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things.