SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: A WINTER POEM BY ALFRED AUSTIN

"Mit Reif vom Nebel belegte Rose." Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons

“Mit Reif vom Nebel belegte Rose.” Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons

MY WINTER ROSE
By Alfred Austin

Why did you come when the trees were bare?
Why did you come with the wintry air?
When the faint note dies in the robin’s throat,
And the gables drip and the white flakes float?

What a strange, strange season to choose to come,
When the heavens are blind and the earth is dumb:
When nought is left living to dirge the dead,
And even the snowdrop keeps its bed!

Could you not come when woods are green?
Could you not come when lambs are seen?
When the primrose laughs from its childlike sleep,
And the violets hide and the bluebells peep?

When the air as your breath is sweet, and skies
Have all but the soul of your limpid eyes,
And the year, growing confident day by day,
Weans lusty June from the breast of May?

Yet had you come then, the lark had lent
In vain his music, the thorn its scent,
In vain the woodbine budded, in vain
The rippling smile of the April rain.

Your voice would have silenced merle and thrush,
And the rose outbloomed would have blushed to blush,
And Summer, seeing you, paused, and known
That the glow of your beauty outshone its own.

So, timely you came, and well you chose,
You came when most needed, my winter rose.
From the snow I pluck you, and fondly press
Your leaves ‘twixt the leaves of my leaflessness.


Today poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here accordingly.


Alfred Austin (1835 – 1913) was an English poet and journalist who succeeded Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as poet laureate. His acerbic criticism and jingoistic verse in the 1870s led Robert Browning to dismiss him as a “Banjo-Byron,” and his appointment to the laureateship in 1896 was much mocked. He also published a series of stiff verse dramas, some novels, and a good deal of lyrical but very minor nature poetry. A patriotic poet of the most confident phase of the British Empire, his work lacked the resonance of Rudyard Kipling’s. (Annotated biography courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica, with edits.)


Editor’s Note: I love the use of metaphor in today’s poem, and the playful way language is paired with it. Moments like “And the year, growing confident day by day, / Weans lusty June from the breast of May.” I am taken, as well, by the allusion to the beloved, depicted as a winter rose arriving at what appears to be an inopportune time. But the poet eventually realizes that love–as it inevitably does–arrived exactly when it was most needed, occupying a space that had been waiting for just such an arrival: “You came when most needed, my winter rose. / From the snow I pluck you, and fondly press / Your leaves ‘twixt the leaves of my leaflessness.”


Want to read more winter poetry?
The Academy of American Poets
The Poetry Foundation

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: FALL POEMS

By Someone35 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Someone35 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


AFTER APPLE-PICKING
By Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.


AUTUMN: A DIRGE
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

The warm sun is falling, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth is her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Is lying.
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.

The chill rain is falling, the nipped worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling
For the Year;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone
To his dwelling.
Come, Months, come away;
Put on white, black and gray;
Let your light sisters play–
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And make her grave green with tear on tear.


AUTUMN LEAVES
By Juliana Horatia Ewing

The Spring’s bright tints no more are seen,
And Summer’s ample robe of green
Is russet-gold and brown;
When flowers fall to every breeze
And, shed reluctant from the trees,
The leaves drop down.

A sadness steals about the heart,
–And is it thus from youth we part,
And life’s redundant prime?
Must friends like flowers fade away,
And life like Nature know decay,
And bow to time?

And yet such sadness meets rebuke,
From every copse in every nook
Where Autumn’s colours glow;
How bright the sky! How full the sheaves!
What mellow glories gild the leaves
Before they go.

Then let us sing the jocund praise,
In this bright air, of these bright days,
When years our friendships crown;
The love that’s loveliest when ’tis old–
When tender tints have turned to gold
And leaves drop down.


Today’s poems are in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here accordingly.


Editor’s Note: Today we celebrate another change in seasons. As the leaves turn red, yellow, orange and gold, as they fall from the trees and blanket the ground, as Mother Earth sheds her summer splendor and Persephone prepares to go underground, may we bid farewell through poetry. And may we meet again in spring when life blooms anew.


Want to read more fall poetry?
Academy of American Poets
The Poetry Foundation

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS


Gerard_Manley_Hopkins


MOONRISE
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,
Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;
A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.



(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and a Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse. (Annotated biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem appears here on the recommendation of my mother, a faithful reader of this series. As this coming Monday is her birthday, and the moon her ruling planet, I wanted to share this poem with you today in her honor. Happy Birthday, Mama! May you forever shine as brightly as the moon.

Want to read more by and about Gerard Manley Hopkins?
The Poetry Foundation
Academy of American Poets
Bartleby.com

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: JEN CAMPBELL

Jen Campbell


Vaginaland
By Jen Campbell


Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 10.59.02 PM
Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 10.59.16 PM
Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 11.00.21 PM



















“Vaginaland” was previously published in English Pen “Poems for Pussy Riot” and appears here today with permission from the poet.


Jen Campbell is an award-winning poet and short story writer. She’s also the author of the bestselling Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops Series. Her poetry collection, The Hungry Ghost Festival, is published by The Rialto and her latest book, The Bookshop Book, will be published in October by Little, Brown.


Editor’s Note: What is a girl? What is her mouth, her body, her words? Who is that girl when the world tries to hold her down and shut her up? When “She has been baked / as a blackberry pie and / now everyone wants a piece / of her”?

“Vaginaland” was originally published by English PEN as a political act. In an act of solidarity. In support of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who were then in prison for their outspoken feminism, LGBT advocacy, and opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Who — and what — does a girl become when she stands up, breaks free, and fires out the words that are deep inside of her? When those words are political? When her voice is political? When “She says: this is the capital of me”?


Want to read more by Jen Campbell?
Jen Campbell Official Website
The Hungry Ghost Festival
The Prose-Poem Project
Jane Martin Poetry Prize 2013
The Plough Prize

Taking Shade with Buddha

markm

Taking Shade with Buddha

by Mark Murphy

Of all the dense vegetation in this wild country
I have come to take shade with Buddha
(though he is equally at ease in sun or shadow)
under the bent branches of the Bodhi tree.

Frankly, it is not the best spot to make camp,
break the night’s fast,
or break the habits of a life-time
but Buddha seems at home, like a man who has lived

irreverent aeons alone – he makes a welcome as only he can –
confident of my comings and goings, naked
as one new born, sure that living is its own answer,
he offers figs for my hunger.

Slowly then, Buddha savours the morning air
as though it were sustenance enough
while the first light bakes the land
and each man and beast in the field is busy with the crop.

Already, I am in at the deep-end with my questions:
what if the knowledge of trees is no knowledge at all –
and if the trees should support the sky no more,
and the deliberate hush in the night really is the end, then what?

But Buddha is having none of it. And indeed, why should he trouble,
being at one, as he is, with forest, sky and the hallowed ground.
And by and by a talkative brook bothers the shadows
and Buddha is smiling – pleased at the sound of water on stone.

For an instant, he is like a child who has found his mother’s hand
in some crowded place and then a moment later
he is old all over again like a being who has lived many lives.
Buddha breathes deeply. He breathes in the universe.

 

***

Mark A. Murphy is the author of two chapbooks, Tin Cat Alley and Our Little Bit of Immortality. Murphy’s poems have been published in over 100 magazines and ezines in 17 different countries world wide. His first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in November 2013 from Salmon Poetry (Eire). He is currently working on a new play, Lenny’s Wake for which he is looking for a publisher.

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: JOANNA CHEN

Joanna head shot
I WILL ALWAYS GO BACK
By Joanna Chen

I will always go back to my brother’s voice, not yet fully broken, counting to ten,

the leaves crackling underfoot, the snag of an oak branch on my old red coat

as I search for a place to hide from him. The smell of damp bracken

from late summer showers, a shudder in the warm air, a whirring of bees,

hundreds of them, whose hive my clumsiness has violated, hunting me down,

swarming full throttle from the depths of the glade, catching up with my awkward

sprint, poison throbbing in their little bodies. They capture me swiftly, clinging

ecstatically to my face, invading my nostrils, attacking my ear lobes, covering the

cuffs of my coat with their rage. When I reach the driveway of our house, I stop

batting my childish hands, stop resisting. I just stand there and let them do it

to me. My brother, hearing my animal screams piercing through the glade,

finds me. He fights them off with his beautiful bare hands.


(Today’s poem originally appeared in Poet Lore Volume 107, Number 3/4 and appears here today with permission from the poet.)


Joanna Chen is a British-born poet, journalist and translator. She has written extensively for Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Marie Claire and the BBC World Service. Her poetry and poetic translations were most recently published with Poet Lore, The Bakery, and The Moon Magazine, among others.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem pairs pace with alliteration, image with language, and scene with nostalgia to whisk us away to another place and time. Every sense is enlisted so that we are on high alert, in the throes of the events at hand. We are one with the girl, at the mercy of the bees; we, too, know the salvation of a brother and his beautiful bare hands.

Want to read more by and about Joanna Chen?
Joanna Chen’s Official Website
The Ilanot Review
Haaretz
The Bakery

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: D H LAWRENCE

A WHITE BLOSSOM
by D H Lawrence

A tiny moon as white and small as a single jasmine flower
Leans all alone above my window, on night’s wintry bower,
Liquid as lime-tree blossom, soft as brilliant water or rain
She shines, the one white love of my youth, which all sin cannot stain.

D H Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English author, poet, playwright, essayist and literary critic. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality and instinct. (Annotated biography of D H Lawrence courtesy of publicdomainpoems.com, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: D H Lawrence is a name well-known among lovers of poetry, but from time to time a classic is in order! As is often the case for me, the end line of this poem won me over. The idea of a first love, one that becomes idealized and lives on in your heart forever on a pedestal, is a universal concept that Lawrence sums up splendidly with “the one white love of my youth, which all sin cannot stain.”

Want to read more by and about D H Lawrence?
DHLawrence.org

online-literature.com
poets.org