Natasha Trethewey |
Here, she said, put this on your head.
She handed me a hat.
you 'bout as white as your dad,
and you gone stay like that.
Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down
around each bony ankle,
and I rolled down my white knee socks
letting my thin legs dangle,
circling them just above water
and silver backs of minnows
flitting here then there between
the sun spots and the shadows.
This is how you hold the pole
to cast the line out straight.
Now put that worm on your hook,
throw it out and wait.
She sat spitting tobacco juice
into a coffee cup.
Hunkered down when she felt the bite,
jerked the pole straight up
reeling and tugging hard at the fish
that wriggled and tried to fight back.
A flounder, she said, and you can tell
'cause one of its sides is black.
The other is white, she said.
It landed with a thump.
I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,
switch sides with every jump.
Alfred Lord Tennyson |
MY father left a park to me,
But it is wild and barren,
A garden too with scarce a tree,
And waster than a warren:
Yet say the neighbours when they call,
It is not bad but good land,
And in it is the germ of all
That grows within the woodland.
O had I lived when song was great
In days of old Amphion,
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
Nor cared for seed or scion!
And had I lived when song was great,
And legs of trees were limber,
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
And fiddled in the timber!
'Tis said he had a tuneful tongue,
Such happy intonation,
Wherever he sat down and sung
He left a small plantation;
Wherever in a lonely grove
He set up his forlorn pipes,
The gouty oak began to move,
And flounder into hornpipes.
The mountain stirr'd its bushy crown,
And, as tradition teaches,
Young ashes pirouetted down
Coquetting with young beeches;
And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
Ran forward to his rhyming,
And from the valleys underneath
Came little copses climbing.
The linden broke her ranks and rent
The woodbine wreaths that bind her,
And down the middle, buzz! she went
With all her bees behind her:
The poplars, in long order due,
With cypress promenaded,
The shock-head willows two and two
By rivers gallopaded.
Came wet-shod alder from the wave,
Came yews, a dismal coterie;
Each pluck'd his one foot from the grave,
Poussetting with a sloe-tree:
Old elms came breaking from the vine,
The vine stream'd out to follow,
And, sweating rosin, plump'd the pine
From many a cloudy hollow.
And wasn't it a sight to see,
When, ere his song was ended,
Like some great landslip, tree by tree,
The country-side descended;
And shepherds from the mountain-eaves
Look'd down, half-pleased, half-frighten'd,
As dash'd about the drunken leaves
The random sunshine lighten'd!
Oh, nature first was fresh to men,
And wanton without measure;
So youthful and so flexile then,
You moved her at your pleasure.
Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs'
And make her dance attendance;
Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs,
And scirrhous roots and tendons.
'Tis vain ! in such a brassy age
I could not move a thistle;
The very sparrows in the hedge
Scarce answer to my whistle;
'Or at the most, when three-parts-sick
With strumming and with scraping,
A jackass heehaws from the rick,
The passive oxen gaping.
But what is that I hear ? a sound
Like sleepy counsel pleading;
O Lord !--'tis in my neighbour's ground,
The modern Muses reading.
They read Botanic Treatises,
And Works on Gardening thro' there,
And Methods of transplanting trees
To look as if they grew there.
The wither'd Misses! how they prose
O'er books of travell'd seamen,
And show you slips of all that grows
From England to Van Diemen.
They read in arbours clipt and cut,
And alleys, faded places,
By squares of tropic summer shut
And warm'd in crystal cases.
But these, tho' fed with careful dirt,
Are neither green nor sappy;
Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
The spindlings look unhappy.
Better to me the meanest weed
That blows upon its mountain,
The vilest herb that runs to seed
Beside its native fountain.
And I must work thro' months of toil,
And years of cultivation,
Upon my proper patch of soil
To grow my own plantation.
I'll take the showers as they fall,
I will not vex my bosom:
Enough if at the end of all
A little garden blossom.
Alfred Lord Tennyson |
O you chorus of indolent reviewers,
Irresponsible, indolent reviewers,
Look, I come to the test, a tiny poem
All composed in a metre of Catullus,
All in quantity, careful of my motion,
Like the skater on ice that hardly bears him,
Lest I fall unawares before the people,
Waking laughter in indolent reviewers.
Should I flounder awhile without a tumble
Thro' this metrification of Catullus,
They should speak to me not without a welcome,
All that chorus of indolent reviewers.
Hard, hard, hard it is, only not to tumble,
So fantastical is the dainty meter.
Wherefore slight me not wholly, nor believe me
Too presumptuous, indolent reviewers.
O blatant Magazines, regard me rather -
Since I blush to belaud myself a moment -
As some rare little rose, a piece of inmost
Horticultural art, or half-coquette-like
Maiden, not to be greeted unbenignly.
Ellis Parker Butler |
To be a great musician you must be a man of moods,
You have to be, to understand sonatas and etudes.
To execute pianos and to fiddle with success,
With sympathy and feeling you must fairly effervesce;
It was so with Paganini, Remenzi and Cho-pang,
And so it was with Peterkin Von Gabriel O’Lang.
Monsieur O’Lang had sympathy to such a great degree.
No virtuoso ever lived was quite so great as he;
He was either very happy or very, very sad;
He was always feeling heavenly or oppositely bad;
In fact, so sympathetic that he either must enthuse
Or have the dumps; feel ecstacy or flounder in the blues.
So all agreed that Peterkin Von Gabriel O’Lang
Was the greatest violinist in the virtuoso gang.
The ladies bought his photographs and put them on the shelves
In the place of greatest honor, right beside those of themselves;
They gladly gave ten dollars for a stiff backed parquette chair.
And sat in mouth-wide happiness a-looking at his hair.
I say “a looking at his hair,” I mean just what I say,
For no one ever had a chance to hear P.
So subtle was his sympathy, so highly strung was he,
His moods were barometric to the very last degree;
The slightest change of weather would react upon his brain,
And fill his soul with joyousness or murder it with pain.
And when his soul was troubled he had not the heart to play.
But let his head droop sadly down in such a soulful way,
That every one that saw him declared it was worth twice
(And some there were said three times) the large admission price;
And all were quite unanimous and said it would be crude
For such a man to fiddle when he wasn’t in the mood.
But when his soul was filled with joy he tossed his flowing hair
And waved his violin-bow in great circles in the air;
Ecstaticly he flourished it, for so his spirit thrilled,
Thus only could he show the joy with which his heart was filled;
And so he waved it up and down and ’round and out and in,—
But he never, never, NEVER touched it to his violin!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
As a fisher-boy I fared
To the black rock in the sea,
And, while false gifts I prepared.
Listen'd and sang merrily,
Down descended the decoy,
Soon a fish attack'd the bait;
One exultant shout of joy,--
And the fish was captured straight.
Ah! on shore, and to the wood
Past the cliffs, o'er stock and stone,
One foot's traces I pursued,
And the maiden was alone.
Lips were silent, eyes downcast
As a clasp-knife snaps the bait,
With her snare she seized me fast,
And the boy was captured straight.
Heav'n knows who's the happy swain
That she rambles with anew!
I must dare the sea again,
Spite of wind and weather too.
When the great and little fish
Wail and flounder in my net,
Straight returns my eager wish
In her arms to revel yet!
Omer Tarin |
Some souls pass away so quietly that not even the suspiration of their fleeting wings
is heard, or known, to us, among so many other activities, so many other things;
so, this was one such soul, that breathed its last, effortlessly and without pain,
melting away into the unknown, rising to the snowy Himalayan heights, shining forth beyond these dusty plains;
only now, people seem to have woken up to her plaudits, her praise,
something she never sought in her long and eventful life, through years of joy and strife
yet all this is somehow her due, more than many who falsely claim it
and its no small achievement, hers, at so many levels, when we think of it-
personal and national-- daughter, wife, mother; and an inspiring enabling guide
to millions, who flounder in the shallows, or sink with each fickle tide;
for these, the poor, the helpless, the friendless, the outcast,
she brought hope and comfort and a vision eternal, one that will last
and outlive us all.
(BR magazine 25th March 2015)