Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy National Poetry Month!

A Painter in New England

Did you ever note the beauty of the soft New England grasses,
— All the ochres, reds and browns;
And the flowers: the purple asters and the goldenrod's rich masses
— With the cardinals' flaming gowns,
Dots of blood against the tangle of the reedy lone morasses
Where the nodding cat-tails rustle under every wind that passes?
— Ah! what reticent depth of color,
— Growing brighter, growing duller,
As a smile of sunlight broadens or a gloomy storm-cloud frowns.

Have you read the blazoned glory of the sunset's revelations,
— Glowing scarlet streaked with gold;
Or observed the crumbling sky-towers cleft by radiant fulgurations,
— Ruins gorgeous to behold?
While the East is hung with tapestries in dove-serene gradations
And the naked vault of heaven is touched with vivid variations,
— Where in all the world resplendent
— Or the poet's mind transcendent
Can such miracles be imaged, form so grand or hue so bold?

Have you watched the dreamy progress of a gray New England schooner
— Drifting seaward with the tide
Darkly down a line of radiance, dawn-bright gold or silvery lunar,
— Ribbon narrow or ocean wide?
Such a boat in such a background I will paint you ten times sooner
Than a lily-perfect yacht with drooping topsail and ballooner.
— No, for me the old-time vessel
— In a land-locked bay to nestle
Till the light breeze flaps her stay-sail and the light wave laps her side.

Have you shrunk before the grimness of the rugged 'long-shore ledges
— Where the groundswell surf rolls in
Round the battlemented coast-line with its walls and bastion wedges?
— Hark! the cave-resounded din
As a breaker smites the granite with the strength of giant sledges
And a swaying fringe of foam enfolds the dark cliff's dripping edges.
— Readily will other nations
— Yield a sheaf of sharp sensations,
But the landscape of New England holds a rapture hard to win.

I Know
By Elsa Barker
OH! I know why the alder trees
  Lean over the reflecting stream;
And I know what the wandering bees
  Heard in the woods of dream.
I know how the uneasy tide        
  Answers the signal of the moon,
And why the morning-glories hide
  Their eyes in the forenoon.
And I know all the wild delight
  That quivers in the sea-bird’s wings,        
For in one little hour last night
  Love told me all these things.

A Hillside Thaw by Robert Frost
To think to know the country and now know
The hillside on the day the sun lets go
Ten million silver lizards out of snow!
As often as I've seen it done before
I can't pretend to tell the way it's done.
It looks as if some magic of the sun
Lifted the rug that bred them on the floor
And the light breaking on them made them run.
But if I though to stop the wet stampede,
And caught one silver lizard by the tail,
And put my foot on one without avail,
And threw myself wet-elbowed and wet-kneed
In front of twenty others' wriggling speed,--
In the confusion of them all aglitter,
And birds that joined in the excited fun
By doubling and redoubling song and twitter,
I have no doubt I'd end by holding none.

It takes the moon for this. The sun's a wizard
By all I tell; but so's the moon a witch.
From the high west she makes a gentle cast
And suddenly, without a jerk or twitch,
She has her speel on every single lizard.
I fancied when I looked at six o'clock
The swarm still ran and scuttled just as fast.
The moon was waiting for her chill effect.
I looked at nine: the swarm was turned to rock
In every lifelike posture of the swarm,
Transfixed on mountain slopes almost erect.
Across each other and side by side they lay.
The spell that so could hold them as they were
Was wrought through trees without a breath of storm
To make a leaf, if there had been one, stir.
One lizard at the end of every ray.
The thought of my attempting such a stray!

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