Evening Poetry, March 29

Old Friends

by Freya Manfred

Old friends are a steady spring rain,

or late summer sunshine edging into fall,

or frosted leaves along a snowy path–

a voice for all seasons saying, I know you.

The older I grow, the more I fear I’ll lose my old friends,

as if too many years have scrolled by

since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.

Old friend, I knew you before we met.

I saw you at the window of my soul–

I heard you in the steady millstone of my heart

grinding grain for our daily bread.

You are sedimentary, rock-solid cousin earth,

where I stand firmly, astonished by your grace and truth.

And gratitude comes to me and says:

“Tell me anything, and I will listen.

Ask me anything, and I will answer you.”

You can find this in ""“>Loon in Late November Water.

Evening Poetry, March 28

Quartz Clock

by Jane Hirshfield

The ideas of a physicist

can be turned into useful objects:

a rocket, a quartz clock,

a microwave oven for cooking.

the ideas of poets turn into only themselves,

as the hands of a clock do,

or the face of a person.

It changes, but only more into the person.

You can find this poem in The Beauty: Poems.

Evening Poetry, March 27

Alternatives

by Rachel Hadas

Our argument went walking down the street.

Fresh light bounced off the water:

a harbor was behind us, out of sight

except for those exuberant refractions,

morning’s hope and afternoon’s late ripeness

arm in arm. What time was it? Where were we?

I craned for street signs; could decipher nothing.

Radiant, rinsed, the slates beneath our feet

shone up at us, wet silver.

Was this the city where we’d always lived?

You can find this in Halfway Down the Hall.

Evening Poetry, March 25

(From the first section in the first series entitled Life.)

VI.

by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life in aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

You can find this poem in Hope is the Thing With Feathers.

Evening Poetry, March 24

Prayer For This House

by Louis Untermeyer

May nothing evil cross this door,

And may ill-fortune never pry

About these windows; may the roar

and rains go by.

Strengthened by faith, the rafters will

Withstand the battering of the storm.

This hearth, though all the world grow chill

Will keep you warm.

Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,

Touching your lips with holy wine,

Till every casual corner blooms

Into a shrine.

Laughter shall drown the raucous shout

And, though the sheltering walls are thin,

May they be strong to keep hate out

And hold love in.

You can find this in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, March 22

Have you all read this yet? I had to share it in case you haven’t. Love to you all!

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
 
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

You can purchase her new book of poetry here and you can visit her website here.

Evening Poetry, March 21

Spring

(by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

Again, the violet bows to the lily.
Again, the rose is tearing off her gown!

The green ones have come from the other world,
tipsy like the breeze up to some new foolishness.

Again, near the top of the mountain
the anemone’s sweet features appear.

The hyacinth speaks formally to the jasmine,
“Peace be with you.” “And peace to you, lad!
Come walk with me in this meadow.”

Again, there are sufis everywhere!
The bud is shy, but the wind removes
her veil suddenly, “My friend!”

The Friend is here like water in the stream,
like a lotus on the water.

The narcissus winks at the wisteria,
“Whenever you say.”

And the clove to the willow, “You are the one
I hope for.” The willow replies, “Consider
these chambers of mine yours. Welcome!”

The apple, “Orange, why the frown?”
“So that those who mean harm
will not see my beauty.”

The ringdove comes asking, “Where,
where is the Friend?

With one note the nightingale
indicates the rose.

Again, the season of Spring has come
and a spring-source rises under everything,
a moon sliding from the shadows.

Many things must be left unsaid, because it’s late,
but whatever conversation we haven’t had
tonight, we’ll have tomorrow.

You can find this in The Essential Rumi.

Evening Poetry, March 20

Then Bluebird Sang

by Mary Oliver

Bluebird

slipped a little tremble

out of the triangle

of his mouth

and it hung in the air

until it reached my ear

like a froth or a frill

that Schumann

might have written in a dream.

Dear morning

you come

with so many angels of mercy

so wondrously disguised

in feathers, in leaves,

in the tongues of stones,

in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click

and the rustle

that greet me wherever I go

with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!

You can find this poem in Evidence.

Evening Poetry, March 19

Joy

by Lisel Mueller

“Don’t cry, it’s only music,”

someone’s voice is saying.

“No one you love is dying.”

It’s only music. And it was only spring,

the world’s unreasoning body

run amok, like a saint’s, with glory,

that overwhelmed a young girl

into unreasoning sadness.

“Crazy,” she told herself,

“I should be dancing with happiness.”

But it happened again. It happens

when we make bottomless love–

there follows a bottomless sadness

which is not despair

but its nameless opposite.

It has nothing to do with the passing of time.

It’s not about loss. It’s about

two seemingly parallel lines

suddenly coming together

inside us, in some place

that is still wilderness.

Joy, joy, the sopranos sing,

reaching for the shimmering notes

while our eyes fill with tears.

You can find this poem in Alive Together.

Evening Poetry, March 18

Swans

by Mary Oliver

They appeared

over the dunes,

they skimmed the trees

and hurried on

to the sea

or some lonely pond

or wherever it is

that swans go,

urgent, immaculate,

the heat of their eyes

staring down

and then away,

the thick spans

of their wings

as bright as snow,

their shoulder-power

echoing

inside my own body.

How could I help but adore them?

How could I help but wish

that one of them might drop

a white feather

that I should have

something in my hand

to tell me

that they were real?

Of course

this was foolish.

What we love, shapely and pure,

is not to be held,

but to be believed in.

And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.

You can find this in Evidence.