Vachel Lindsay |
[In memory of E.
Frazee, Rush County, Indiana]
Into the acres of the newborn state
He poured his strength, and plowed his ancient name,
And, when the traders followed him, he stood
Towering above their furtive souls and tame.
That brow without a stain, that fearless eye
Oft left the passing stranger wondering
To find such knighthood in the sprawling land,
To see a democrat well-nigh a king.
He lived with liberal hand, with guests from far,
With talk and joke and fellowship to spare, —
Watching the wide world's life from sun to sun,
Lining his walls with books from everywhere.
He read by night, he built his world by day.
The farm and house of God to him were one.
For forty years he preached and plowed and wrought —
A statesman in the fields, who bent to none.
His plowmen-neighbors were as lords to him.
His was an ironside, democratic pride.
He served a rigid Christ, but served him well —
And, for a lifetime, saved the countryside.
Here lie the dead, who gave the church their best
Under his fiery preaching of the word.
They sleep with him beneath the ragged grass.
The village withers, by his voice unstirred.
And tho' his tribe be scattered to the wind
From the Atlantic to the China sea,
Yet do they think of that bright lamp he burned
Of family worth and proud integrity.
And many a sturdy grandchild hears his name
In reverence spoken, till he feels akin
To all the lion-eyed who built the world —
And lion-dreams begin to burn within.
Robinson Jeffers |
I followed the narrow cliffside trail half way up the mountain
Above the deep river-canyon.
There was a little cataract crossed the path,
Over tree roots and rocks, shaking the jeweled fern-fronds, bright bubbling
Pure from the mountain, but a bad smell came up.
Wondering at it I clam-
bered down the steep stream
Some forty feet, and found in the midst of bush-oak and laurel,
Hung like a bird's nest on the precipice brink a small hidden clearing,
Grass and a shallow pool.
But all about there were bones Iying in the grass,
clean bones and stinking bones,
Antlers and bones: I understood that the place was a refuge for wounded
deer; there are so many
Hurt ones escape the hunters and limp away to lie hidden; here they have
water for the awful thirst
And peace to die in; dense green laurel and grim cliff
Make sanctuary, and a sweet wind blows upward from the deep gorge.
wish my bones were with theirs.
But that's a foolish thing to confess, and a little cowardly.
We know that life
Is on the whole quite equally good and bad, mostly gray neutral, and can
To the dim end, no matter what magic of grass, water and precipice, and
pain of wounds,
Makes death look dear.
We have been given life and have used it--not a
great gift perhaps--but in honesty
Should use it all.
Mine's empty since my love died--Empty? The flame-
haired grandchild with great blue eyes
That look like hers?--What can I do for the child? I gaze at her and wonder
what sort of man
In the fall of the world .
I am growing old, that is the trouble.
dren and little grandchildren
Will find their way, and why should I wait ten years yet, having lived sixty-
seven, ten years more or less,
Before I crawl out on a ledge of rock and die snapping, like a wolf
Who has lost his mate?--I am bound by my own thirty-year-old decision:
who drinks the wine
Should take the dregs; even in the bitter lees and sediment
New discovery may lie.
The deer in that beautiful place lay down their
bones: I must wear mine.
Ogden Nash |
People live forever in Jacksonville and St.
Petersburg and Tampa,
But you don't have to live forever to become a grampa.
The entrance requirements for grampahood are comparatively mild,
You only have to live until your child has a child.
From that point on you start looking both ways over your shoulder,
Because sometimes you feel thirty years younger and sometimes
thirty years older.
Now you begin to realize who it was that reached the height of
It was whoever said that grandparents have all the fun and none of
This is the most enticing spiderwebs of a tarradiddle ever spun,
Because everybody would love to have a baby around who was no
responsibility and lots of fun,
But I can think of no one but a mooncalf or a gaby
Who would trust their own child to raise a baby.
So you have to personally superintend your grandchild from diapers
to pants and from bottle to spoon,
Because you know that your own child hasn't sense enough to come
in out of a typhoon.
You don't have to live forever to become a grampa, but if you do
want to live forever,
Don't try to be clever;
If you wish to reach the end of the trail with an uncut throat,
Don't go around saying Quote I don't mind being a grampa but I
hate being married to a gramma Unquote.
Russell Edson |
We bought an electric monkey, experimenting rather
recklessly with funds carefully gathered since
grandfather's time for the purchase of a steam monkey.
We had either, by this time, the choice of an electric
or gas monkey.
The steam monkey is no longer being made, said the monkey
But the family always planned on a steam monkey.
Well, said the monkey merchant, just as the wind-up monkey
gave way to the steam monkey, the steam monkey has given way
to the gas and electric monkeys.
Is that like the grandfather clock being replaced by the
Sort of, said the monkey merchant.
So we bought the electric monkey, and plugged its umbilical
cord into the wall.
The smoke coming out of its fur told us something was wrong.
We had electrocuted the family monkey.
Robert Pinsky |
A monosyllabic European called Sax
Invents a horn, walla whirledy wah, a kind of twisted
Brazen clarinet, but with its column of vibrating
Air shaped not in a cylinder but in a cone
Widening ever outward and bawaah spouting
Infinitely upward through an upturned
Swollen golden bell rimmed
Like a gloxinia flowering
In Sax's Belgian imagination
And in the unfathomable matrix
Of mothers and fathers as a genius graven
Humming into the cells of the body
Or cupped in the resonating grail
Of memory changed and exchanged
As in the trading of brasses,
Pearls and ivory, calicos and slaves,
Laborers and girls, two
Cousins in a royal family
Of Niger known as the Birds or Hawks.
In Christendom one cousin's child
Becomes a "favorite negro" ennobled
By decree of the Czar and founds
A great family, a line of generals,
Dandies and courtiers including the poet
Pushkin, killed in a duel concerning
His wife's honor, while the other cousin sails
In the belly of a slaveship to the port
Of Baltimore where she is raped
And dies in childbirth, but the infant
Will marry a Seminole and in the next
Chorus of time their child fathers
A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers
Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish
Manager of a Pushkin estate, blowing
His American breath out into the wiggly
Tune uncurling its triplets and sixteenths--the Ginza
Samba of breath and brass, the reed
Vibrating as a valve, the aether, the unimaginable
Wires and circuits of an ingenious box
Here in my room in this house built
A hundred years ago while I was elsewhere:
It is like falling in love, the atavistic
Imperative of some one
Voice or face--the skill, the copper filament,
The golden bellful of notes twirling through
Their invisible element from
Rio to Tokyo and back again gathering
Speed in the variations as they tunnel
The twin haunted labyrinths of stirrup
And anvil echoing here in the hearkening
Instrument of my skull.
Grace Paley |
Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face
how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be
at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.
Ben Jonson |
— ODE TO SIR WILLIAM SIDNEY, ON HIS BIRTH-DAY.
And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher;
Wherefore should I
Stand silent by,
Who not the least, That I may tell to SIDNEY what
And he may think on that
Which I do tell;
When all the noise
Of these forced joys,
Are fled and gone, Are justly summ'd, that make you man;
Strive all right ways it can,
T' outstrip your peers :
Since he doth lack
Of going back
Little, whose will Of nobles' virtue, shew in you ;
And great, must seek for new,
And study more :
Not weary, rest
On what's deceas't.
For they, that swell Whose nephew, whose grandchild you are ;
Say you have follow'd far,
When well begun :
Which must be now,
They teach you how,
And he that stays If with this truth you be inspired ;
Be more, and long desired ;
And with the flame
Of love be bright,
As with the light
Of bonfires ! then
And some do drink, and some do dance,
And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher;
Wherefore should I
Stand silent by,
Who not the least,
Robert Southey |
It was a summer evening;
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found.
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh,
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often, when I go to plow,
The plowshare turns them out;
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.
“Now tell us what ‘twas all about,”
Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for,
I could not well make out;
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ‘twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby, died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlboro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.
“Why, ‘twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay, nay, my little girl,” quoth he;
“It was a famous victory.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why, that I cannot tell,” said he;
“But ‘twas a famous victory.
Anne Bradstreet |
Lo, now four other act upon the stage,
Childhood and Youth, the Many and Old age:
The first son unto phlegm, grandchild to water,
Unstable, supple, cold and moist's his nature
The second, frolic, claims his pedigree
From blood and air, for hot and moist is he.
The third of fire and choler is compos'd,
Vindicative and quarrelsome dispos'd.
The last of earth and heavy melancholy,
Solid, hating all lightness and all folly.
Childhood was cloth'd in white and green to show
His spring was intermixed with some snow:
Upon his head nature a garland set
Of Primrose, Daisy and the Violet.
Such cold mean flowers the spring puts forth betime,
Before the sun hath thoroughly heat the clime.
His hobby striding did not ride but run,
And in his hand an hour-glass new begun,
In danger every moment of a fall,
And when 't is broke then ends his life and all:
But if he hold till it have run its last,
Then may he live out threescore years or past.
Next Youth came up in gorgeous attire
(As that fond age doth most of all desire),
His suit of crimson and his scarf of green,
His pride in's countenance was quickly seen;
Garland of roses, pinks and gillyflowers
Seemed on's head to grow bedew'd with showers.
His face as fresh as is Aurora fair,
When blushing she first 'gins to light the air.
No wooden horse, but one of mettle tried,
He seems to fly or swim, and not to ride.
Then prancing on the stage, about he wheels,
But as he went death waited at his heels,
The next came up in a much graver sort,
As one that cared for a good report,
His sword by's side, and choler in his eyes,
But neither us'd as yet, for he was wise;
Of Autumn's fruits a basket on his arm,
His golden god in's purse, which was his charm.
And last of all to act upon this stage
Leaning upon his staff came up Old Age,
Under his arm a sheaf of wheat he bore,
An harvest of the best, what needs he more?
In's other hand a glass ev'n almost run,
Thus writ about: "This out, then am I done.
Robert William Service |
I bought my little grandchild Ann
A bright balloon,
And I was such a happy man
To hear her croon.
She laughed and babbled with delight,
So gold its glow,
As by a thread she held it tight,
Then--let it go.
As if it gloried to be free
It climbed the sky;
But oh how sorrowful was she,
And sad was I!
And when at eve with sobbing cry
She saw the moon,
She pleaded to the pensive sky
For her balloon.
O Little One, I pray that you
In years to be,
Will hold a tiny baby too,
And know its glee;
That yours will always be the thrill
And joy of June,
And that you never, never will
Cry for the moon.