Evening Poetry, September 19

September Midnight

By Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer, 
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing, 
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects, 
Ceaseless, insistent.  

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples, 
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence 
Under a moon waning and worn, broken, 
Tired with summer.  

Let me remember you, voices of little insects, 
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters, 
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us, 
Snow-hushed and heavy.  

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction, 
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest, 
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to, 
Lest they forget them.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of Sara Teasdale.

Evening Poetry, September 18

My kids enjoyed Ogden Nash’s silly poetry when they were small. Here are two for the kids in your life or the kid in you.

The Lama

by Ogden Nash

The one-l lama,

He’s a priest.

The two-l llama,

He’s a beast.

And I will bet

A silk pajama

There isn’t any

Three-l lllama.

The Fly

The Lord in His wisdom made the fly

And then forgot to tell us why.

You can find these poems in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, September 17

The Solitary

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Like one who’s voyaged over foreign oceans

am I among these eternally at home;

the full days stand dumbly on their tables,

but to me the far-off is full of dream.

Deep inside my face a world reaches,

which perhaps is uninhabited like a moon;

but they leave no feeling to itself,

and all their words have long been lived in.

The things I brought with me from far away

appear outlandish, compared with theirs–:

in their great homeland they were wild animals,

here they hold their breath out of shame.

You can find this poem in The Book of Images.

Evening Poetry, September 16

Messenger

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—

equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand. 

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work, 

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here, 

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

You can find this poem in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, September 15

Retreat

By John Fuller

I should like to live in a sunny town like this
Where every afternoon is half-day closing
And I would wait at the terminal for the one train
Of the day, pacing the platform, and no one arriving.

At the far end of the platform is a tunnel, and the train
Slows out of it like a tear from a single eye.
You couldn’t get further than this, the doors all opened
And the porter with rolled sleeves wielding a mop.

Even if one restless traveller were to arrive
With leather grip, racquets under the arm,
A belted raincoat folded over the shoulder,
A fishing hat, and a pipe stuck in his mouth,

There would be nowhere for him to move on to
And he would settle down to tea in the lounge
Of the Goat Hotel, doing yesterday’s crossword,
And would emerge later, after a nap, for a drink.

You meet them in the bar, glassy-eyed, all the time.
They never quite unpack, and expect letters
From one particular friend who doesn’t write.
If you buy them a drink they will tell you their life history:

‘I should have liked to live in a sunny town like this,
Strolling down to the harbour in the early evening,
Looking at the catch. Nothing happens here.
You could forget the ill-luck dogging you.

‘I could join the Fancy Rat Society and train
Sweet peas over the trellised porch
Of my little slice of stuccoed terrace. I could
Be in time for the morning service at Tesco’s.

‘I expect death’s like this, letters never arriving
And the last remembered failure at once abandoned
And insistent, like a card on a mantelpiece.
What might it be? You can take your choice.

‘ “I shook her by the shoulders in a rage of frustration.”
“I smiled, and left the room without saying a word.”
“I was afraid to touch her, and never explained.”
“I touched her once, and that was my greatest mistake.” ’

You meet them before dinner. You meet them after dinner,
The unbelieved, the uncaressed, the terrified.
Their conversation is perfectly decent but usually
It slows to a halt and they start to stare into space.

You would like it here. Life is quite ordinary
And the self-pity oozes into the glass like bitters.
What’s your poison? Do you have a desire to drown?
We’re all in the same boat. Join us. Feel free.

And when the bar closes we can say goodbye
And make our way to the terminal where the last
(Or is it the first?) train of the day is clean and waiting
To take us slowly back to where we came from.

But will we ever return? Who needs us now?
It’s the town that requires us, though the streets are empty.
It’s become a habit and a retreat. Or a form of justice.
Living in a sunny town like this.

You can find this poem in Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, September 14

Granadilla

By Amy Lowell

I cut myself upon the thought of you
And yet I come back to it again and again,
A kind of fury makes me want to draw you out
From the dimness of the present
And set you sharply above me in a wheel of roses.
Then, going obviously to inhale their fragrance,
I touch the blade of you and cling upon it,
And only when the blood runs out across my fingers
Am I at all satisfied.

You can find this poem in The Complete Poetical Works by Amy Lowell.

Evening Poetry, September 13

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.

by Amy Lowell

They have watered the streets,

It shines in the glare of the lamps,

Cold, white lamps,

And lies

Like a slow moving river,

Barred with silver and black.

Cabs go down it,

One,

And then another,

Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.

Tramps doze on the window-ledges,

Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.

The city is squalid and sinister,

With the silver-barred street in the midst,

Slow-moving,

A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,

The moon cuts,

Clear and round,

Through the plum-colored night.

She cannot light the city:

It is too bright.

It has white lamps,

And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the

moon.

She is thin and lustreless.

But I love her.

I know the moon,

And this is an alien city.

You can find this poem in The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell.