Evening Poetry, May 20

First Fig

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–

It gives a lovely light!

You can find this poem in The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry.

Evening Poetry, May 19

(From Book of Pilgrimage in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke)

In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.

For all I have seen

that clutters the surface of my world

is poor and paltry substitute

for the beauty of you

that has not happened yet…

My hands are bloody from digging.

I lift them, hold them open in the wind,

so they can branch like a tree.

Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky

as if you had shattered there,

dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.

What is this I feel falling now,

falling on this parched earth,

softly,

like a spring rain?

II, 34

Evening Poetry, May 18

Stone

by David Whyte

The face in the stone is a mirror looking into you.

You have gazed at the moving waters

you have seen the slow light, in the sky

above Lough Inagh, beneath you, streams have flowed,

and rivers of earth have moved beneath your feet,

but you have never looked into the immovability

of stone like this, the way it holds you, gives you

not a way forward but a doorway in, staunches

your need to leave, becomes faithful by going nowhere

something that wants you to stay here and look back,

be weathered by what comes to you, like the way you too

have travelled from so far away to be here, once reluctant

and now as solid and as here and as willing

to be touched as everything you have found.

You can find this poem in the collection The Bell and The Blackbird by David Whyte.

Evening Poetry, May 17

Moonlight

by Sara Teasdale

It will not hurt me when I am old.

A running tide where moonlight burned

Will not sting me like silver snakes;

The years will make me sad and cold,

It is the happy heart that breaks.

The heart asks more than life can give,

When that is learned, then all is learned;

The waves break fold on jewelled fold,

But beauty itself is fugitive,

It will not hurt me when I am old.

You can find this poem in the collection The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry.

What I’m Reading Now

Happy Friday! Here is a list of five books I’m currently reading. I would love to know what you are reading lately!

Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man by Anne-Sophie Constant will be published by Plough Publishing House on August 4th. Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche community in France passed away on May 7th. I’ve read his book Community and Growth, have heard him interviewed on Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast, and have a great respect for him and the work he did. He served those who the modern world often sees as “the least of these”, and I was introduced to him through some of Henri Nouwen’s writings. I’m looking forward to an inspiring read about this modern spiritual giant who has left behind a beautiful legacy.

I am listening to The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton on audiobook. It is read by Joanne Froggatt (Lady Mary’s maid, Anna Bates, from Downton Abbey) and is a gorgeous, intricate, many-layered tale containing murder, mystery, ghosts, and voices from the past and present. I haven’t read a Kate Morton book in several years and am truly enjoying this book!

She’s My Dad: A Father’s Transition and A Son’s Redemption by Jonathan K. Williams with Paula Stone Williams is an eye-opening, heart-wrenching true story of a Christian minister’s family turned upside-down by the revelation that their father is a woman. Told through the son’s eyes, the story is filled with many references to charismatic 80s and 90s church culture in the U.S., ( with which I am, for better or worse, familiar). I am only about a third of the way through and will give a full review when I finish the book.

I just began reading In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden last weekend. It’s the story of a successful businesswoman in her mid-forties who decides to join a Benedictine order of nuns in Sussex, England. At this stage, she has just taken the train to the Abbey and has been allowed inside. This is going to be a wonderful story, I think. This is my first Rumer Godden book for adults; I’ve only read her children’s books. (My favorite children’s book of hers–and all-time favorite Christmas book is The Story of Holly and Ivy.) She has several titles I am adding to my TBR list…

As so many others are doing because of her recent, untimely death, I am reading Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding Church by beloved writer Rachel Held Evans. Because I have struggled with my relationship to church, I want to read the words of someone who has been there and understands.

Evening Poetry, May 16

May Song

by Wendell Berry

For whatever is let go

there’s a taker.

The living discovers itself

where no preparation

was made for it,

where its only privilege

is to live if it can.

The window flies from the dark

of the subway mouth

into the sunlight

stained with the green

of the spring weeds

that crowd the improbable

black earth

of the embankment,

their stout leaves

like the tongues and bodies

of a herd, feeding

on the new heat,

drinking in the seepage

of the stones:

the freehold of life,

triumphant

even in the waste

of those who possess it.

But it is itself the possessor,

we know at last,

seeing it send out weeds

to take back

whatever is left:

Proprietor, pasturing foliage

on the rubble,

making use

of the useless–a beauty

we have less than not

deserved.

This poem can be found in New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry.

Evening Poetry, May 15

The Clothes Pin

by Jane Kenyon

How much better it is

to carry wood to the fire

than to moan about your life.

How much better

to throw garbage

onto the compost, or to pin the clean

sheet on the line

with a gray-brown wooden clothes pins!

You can find this poem in the collection Otherwise by Jane Kenyon.