Evening Poetry, May 25

The Garden by Moonlight

BY AMY LOWELL

A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,   
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish   
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.   
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,   
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.

You can find this poem in Amy Lowell: Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, May 14

Parable

by Richard Wilbur

I read how Quixote in his random ride

Came to a crossing once, and lest he lose

the purity of chance, would not decide

Whither to fare, but wished his horse to choose.

For glory lay wherever he might turn.

His head was light with pride, his horse’s shoes

Were heavy, and he headed for the barn.

You can find this in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 12

Vilnius

by Jane Hirshfield

For a long time

I keep the guidebooks out on the table.

In the morning, drinking coffee, I see the spines:

St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Vienna.

Choices pondered but not finally taken.

Behind them-sometimes behind thick fog-the mountain.

If you lived higher up on the mountain,

I find myself thinking, what you would see is

more of everything else, but not the mountain.

You can find this poem in After.

Evening Poetry, May 8

People I Admire

by Naomi Shihab Nye

poke their shovels into the dirt.

Whatever they turn over interests them,

not just what they plant.

If there are roots or worms,

if the soil is darker, or mottled,

maybe the cap of an old bottle,

a snail, an ancient tunnel

left by a burrowing mole.

They know there is plenty of ground.

Every place has a warm old name.

The plumed grasses bend backwards

in the breeze, their job in life,

and they are proud of it.

You can find this poem in A Maze Me: Poems for Girls.

Evening Poetry, May 3

May

by Christina Rossetti

I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

You can find this in The Complete Poems.

Evening Poetry, April 30

Wild, Wild

by Mary Oliver

This is what love is:

The dry rose bush the gardener, in his pruning, missed

Suddenly bursts into bloom.

A madness of delight; an obsession.

A holy gift, certainly,

But often, alas, improbable.

Why couldn’t Romeo have settled for someone else?

Why couldn’t Tristan and Isolde have refused

The shining cup

Which would have left peaceful the whole kingdom?

Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests

Of our lives.

Over and over Faust, standing in the garden, doesn’t know

Anything that’s going to happen, he only sees

The face of Marguerite, which is irresistible.

And wild, wild sings the bird.

You can find this in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

Evening Poetry, April 24

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

You can find this poem in New Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, April 10

An April Night

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The moon comes up o’er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;

And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.

Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o’-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.

The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear,
Akin to all eerie and elfin things,
Who weaves about us in meadow and mere
The spell of a hundred vanished Springs.

You can find this in A World of Songs: Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, April 5

There Will Come Soft Rains (War Time)

by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

You can find this poem in The Four Seasons: Poems.

Evening Poetry, April 4

For Belonging

by John O’ Donohue

May you listen to your longing to be free.

May the frames of your belonging be generous

enough for your dreams.

May you arise each day with a voice of blessing

whispering in your heart.

May you find a harmony between your soul and

your life.

May the sanctuary of your soul never become

haunted.

May you know the eternal longing that lives at the

heart of time.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look

within.

May you never place walls between the light and

yourself.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world

to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in

belonging.

You can find this poem in To Bless the Space Between Us.