Evening Poetry, October 3

Happy National Poetry Day, readers! I know it’s only a UK thing, but since the US doesn’t have one yet (what’s up with that?), I’m celebrating anyway.

Briefly It Enters, Briefly It Speaks

by Jane Kenyon

I am the blossom pressed in a book,

found again after two hundred years….

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper….

When the young girl who starves

sits down to a table

she will sit beside me….

I am food on the prisoner’s plate….

I am water rushing to the well-head,

filling the pitcher until it spills….

I am the patient gardener

of the dry and weedy garden….

I am the stone step,

the latch, and the working hinge….

I am the heart contracted by joy…

the longest hair, white

before the rest….

I am there in the basket of fruit

presented to the widow….

I am the musk rose opening

unattended, the fern on the boggy summit….

I am the one whose love

overcomes you, already with you

when you think to call my name.

You can find this poem in The Boat of Quiet Hours.

Evening Poetry, October 1

The Painters

by Jane Kenyon

A hot dry day in early fall…

The men have cut the vines

from the shutters, and scraped

the clapboards clean, and now

their heads appear all day

in all the windows…

their arms or shirtless torsos,

or a rainbow-speckled rag

swinging from a belt.

They work in earnest–

these are the last warm days.

Flies bump and buzz

between the screens and panes,

torpid from last night’s frost:

the brittle months advance…

ruts frozen in the icy drive,

and the deeply black and soundless

nights. But now the painters

lean out from their ladders, squint

against the light, and lay on

the thick white paint.

From the lawn their radio predicts rain,

then cold Canadian air….

One of them works way up

on the dormer peak,

where a few wasps levitate

near the vestige of a nest.

You can find this poem in The Boat of Quiet Hours by Jane Kenyon.

A hot dry day in early fall….

Evening Poetry, September 29

Fall, leaves, fall

By Emily Bronte

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

You can find this in The Complete Poems of Emily Bronte.

Evening Poetry, September 28

Autumn

By Amy Lowell

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

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

Evening Poetry, September 26

Thirst

by Mary Oliver

Another morning and I wake with thirst

for the goodness I do not have. I walk

out to the pond and all the way God has

given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,

I was never a quick scholar but sulked

and hunched over my books past the

hour and bell; grant me, in your

mercy, a little more time. Love for the

earth and love for you are having such a

long conversation in my heart. Who

knows what will finally happen or

where I will be sent, yet already I have

given a great many things away, expect-

ing to be told to pack nothing, except the

prayers which, with this thirst, I am

slowly learning.

You can find this in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, September 25

Before The Beginning

by John O’ Donohue

Unknown to us, there are moments

When crevices we cannot see open

For time to come alive with beginning.

As in autumn a field of corn knows

When enough green has been inhaled

From the clay and under the skill

Of an artist breeze becomes gold in a day,

When the ocean still as a mirror

Of a sudden takes a sinister curve

To rise in a mountain of wave

That would swallow a village.

How to a flock of starlings

Scattered, at work on grass,

From somewhere, a signal comes

And suddenly as one, they describe

A geometric shape in the air.

When the audience becomes still

And the soprano lets the silence deepen,

In that slowed holding, the whole aria

Hovers nearer, then alights

On the wings of breath

Poised to soar into song.

These inklings were first prescribed

The morning we met in Westport

And I was left with such sweet time

Wondering if between us something

Was deciding to begin or not.

You can find this poem in Conamara Blues.

Evening Poetry, September 24

Autumn

By Alice Cary

Shorter and shorter now the twilight clips 
   The days, as though the sunset gates they crowd, 
And Summer from her golden collar slips 
   And strays through stubble-fields, and moans aloud, 

Save when by fits the warmer air deceives, 
   And, stealing hopeful to some sheltered bower, 
She lies on pillows of the yellow leaves, 
   And tries the old tunes over for an hour. 

The wind, whose tender whisper in the May 
   Set all the young blooms listening through th’ grove, 
Sits rustling in the faded boughs to-day 
   And makes his cold and unsuccessful love. 

The rose has taken off her tire of red— 
   The mullein-stalk its yellow stars have lost, 
And the proud meadow-pink hangs down her head 
   Against earth’s chilly bosom, witched with frost. 

The robin, that was busy all the June, 
   Before the sun had kissed the topmost bough, 
Catching our hearts up in his golden tune, 
   Has given place to the brown cricket now. 

The very cock crows lonesomely at morn— 
   Each flag and fern the shrinking stream divides— 
Uneasy cattle low, and lambs forlorn 
   Creep to their strawy sheds with nettled sides. 

Shut up the door: who loves me must not look 
   Upon the withered world, but haste to bring 
His lighted candle, and his story-book, 
   And live with me the poetry of Spring.

You can find this poem in American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century.