Category Archives: Poetry

Silver Filigree

Silver Filigree
by Elinor Wylie

The icicles wreathing
On trees in festoon
Swing, swayed to our breathing:
They’re made of the moon.

She’s a pale, waxen taper;
And these seem to drip
Transparent as paper
From the flame of her tip.

Molten, smoking a little,
Into crystal they pass;
Falling, freezing, to brittle
And delicate glass.

Each a sharp-pointed flower,
Each a brief stalactite
Which hangs for an hour
In the blue cave of night.


Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”


Something in Red

Something in Red
written by Angela Kaset and recorded by Lorrie Morgan
I’m looking for something in red
Something that’s shocking to turn someone’s head
Strapless and sequined and cut down to there
Stockings and garters and lace underwear
The guaranteed number to knock the men dead
I’m looking for something in red
I’m looking for something in green
Something to out do an ex-high school queen
Jealousy comes in the color of jade
Do you have some pumps and a purse in this shade
And a perfume that whispers “Please comes back to me”
I’m looking for something in green
I’m looking for something in white
Something that shimmers in soft candlelight
Everyone calls us the most perfect pair
Should I wear a veil or a rose in my hair
Well, the train must be long and the waist must be tight
I’m looking for something in white
I’m looking for something in blue
Something real tiny, the baby’s brand new
He has his father’s nose and his chin
We once were hot lovers now we’re more like friends
Don’t tell me that’s just what old married folk do
I’m looking for something in blue
I’m looking for something in red
Like the one that I wore when I first turned his head
Strapless and sequined and cut down to there
Just a size larger that I wore last year
The guaranteed number to knock a man dead
I’m looking for something
I’ve gotta have something
I’m looking for something in red

I’m giving myself a little birthday present. I bought tickets to go see Lorrie Morgan in concert Saturday night. Fifth row, center seat. I’m just a wee bit excited because I’ve always loved Lorrie Morgan. In case you don’t know who Lorrie Morgan is, she is an American country music singer and the daughter of George Morgan, a country music singer who charted several hit singles between 1949 and his death in 1975. At age 13, songstress Lorrie Morgan was the youngest person ever to become a member of the famed Grand Ole Opera. The country giant has gone on to win four Country Music Association “Female Vocalist of the Year” awards, notch fourteen Top Ten hits, and sell more than eight million records over the course of her illustrious, song-filled career. Morgan has left a strong, contemporary woman’s mark on country music history with timeless standards such as “Five Minutes,” “Except for Monday,” “Something in Red,” “What Part of No,” “Watch Me,” and “A Picture of Me Without You.” 
“Something in Red” has always been one of my favorite songs along with “Except for Monday.”

The Snow Storm

The Snow Storm
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.


Guy Fawkes Day

The Fifth of November

    Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

 


Perhaps most widely known in America from its use in the movie V for Vendetta, versions of the above poem have been wide spread in England for centuries. They celebrate the foiling of (Catholic) Guy Fawkes’s attempt to blow up (Protestant controlled) England’s House of Parliament on November 5th, 1605. Known variously as Guy Fawkes DayGunpowder Treason Day, and Fireworks Night, the November 5th celebrations in some time periods included the burning of the Pope or Guy Fawkes in effigy.

This traditional verse exists in a large number of variations and the above version has been constructed to give a flavor for the major themes that appear in them. Several of the books referenced below cite even earlier sources.

While not all eight cited versions contain all five groupings of lines, the “verses” present in each of the eight appear relative to each other in the order used above. 

References:

  • Chambers, Robert.  The Book of Days. London: W. & R. Chambers, 1888. 
  • Hems, Harry. The fifth of November: Guy Fawkes Celebrations.  Notes and Queries, 1908; s10-X, 496-497. 
  • J.C.R. The fifth of November.  Notes and Queries, 1857; s2-IV, 450-451.
  • McDowall, S.S. The fifth of November: Guy Fawkes Celebrations. Notes and Queries, 1908; s10-X, 496.
  • Moore, Alan & Lloyd, David. V for Vendetta. New York: DC Comics, Inc., 1990. 
  • Northall, G.F. English Folk-Rhymes. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., 1892. (As reissued by Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1968).
  • Thiselton-Dyer, Rev. T.F.  British Popular Customs, Present and Past. London: George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden, 1876. (As reissued by Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1968.)
  • From:  
  • Habing, B. (2006, November 3).  The Fifth of November – English Folk Verse. Retrieved from http://www.potw.org/archive/potw405.html

  • The Raven

    The Raven
    Edgar Allan Poe, 1809 – 1849

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
    “‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
    Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
    For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
    Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
    Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
    “‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
    Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
    This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
    That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
    Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
    Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
    Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
    Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
    Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
    ‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
    In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
    “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
    Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
    Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
    Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
    Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
    With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
    That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
    On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
    Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
    “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
    Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
    Of ‘Never—nevermore.'”

    But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
    What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
    Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
    To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
    But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
    She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
    Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore;
    Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
    Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
    Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
    Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
    Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
    By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
    Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
    Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
    “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
    Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
    Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted—nevermore!

    This version appeared in the Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner, September 25, 1849. For other versions, please visit the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore’s site: http://www.eapoe.org/works/poems/index.htm#R.


    Queer

    Queer
    by Frank Bidart, 1939

    Lie to yourself about this and you will
    forever lie about everything.

    Everybody already knows everything

    so you can
    lie to them. That’s what they want.

    But lie to yourself, what you will

    lose is yourself. Then you
    turn into them.

    *

    For each gay kid whose adolescence

    was America in the forties or fifties
    the primary, the crucial

    scenario

    forever is coming out—
    or not. Or not. Or not. Or not. Or not.

    *

    Involuted velleities of self-erasure.

    *

    Quickly after my parents
    died, I came out. Foundational narrative

    designed to confer existence.

    If I had managed to come out to my
    mother, she would have blamed not

    me, but herself.

    The door through which you were shoved out
    into the light

    was self-loathing and terror.

    *

    Thank you, terror!

    You learned early that adults’ genteel
    fantasies about human life

    were not, for you, life. You think sex

    is a knife
    driven into you to teach you that.


    He would not stay for me, and who can wonder

    He would not stay for me, and who can wonder
    A. E. Housman, 1859 – 1936

    He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
    He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
    I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
    And went with half my life about my ways.


    At the Touch of You

    At the Touch of You
    Witter Bynner, 1881 – 1968

    At the touch of you,
    As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
    The arrows of delight shot through my body.

    You were spring,
    And I the edge of a cliff,
    And a shining waterfall rushed over me

    This poem kind of summed up what I was feeling last night.


    An Apple Gathering

    An Apple Gathering
    by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

    I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple-tree
    And wore them all that evening in my hair:
    Then in due season when I went to see
    I found no apples there.

    With dangling basket all along the grass
    As I had come I went the selfsame track:
    My neighbours mocked me while they saw me pass
    So empty-handed back.

    Lilian and Lilias smiled in trudging by,
    Their heaped-up basket teased me like a jeer;
    Sweet-voiced they sang beneath the sunset sky,
    Their mother’s home was near.

    Plump Gertrude passed me with her basket full,
    A stronger hand than hers helped it along;
    A voice talked with her through the shadows cool
    More sweet to me than song.

    Ah Willie, Willie, was my love less worth
    Than apples with their green leaves piled above?
    I counted rosiest apples on the earth
    Of far less worth than love.

    So once it was with me you stooped to talk
    Laughing and listening in this very lane:
    To think that by this way we used to walk
    We shall not walk again!

    I let me neighbours pass me, ones and twos
    And groups; the latest said the night grew chill,
    And hastened: but I loitered, while the dews
    Fell fast I loitered still.


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