SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: SPRING!

Fotor0503142835New York’s Jefferson Market Garden in full spring bloom; the editor enjoying the same.
Flower photos by Sivan Butler-Rotholz. Editor photo by Frank Ortega.


Poems & Excerpts For Spring:

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

                          – Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
                            Atalanta in Calydon (1865)


Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.

                          – A.E. Housman (1859–1936)
                            A Shropshire Lad (1896)


The month of May was come,
when every lusty heart beginneth
to blossom, and to bring forth fruit;
for like as herbs and trees bring
forth fruit and flourish in May,
in likewise every lusty heart
that is in any manner a lover,
springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.
For it giveth unto all lovers courage,
that lusty month of May.

                          – Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471)
                            Le Morte d’Arthur (1485)


A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.

                          – Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)
                            No. 1333 (c.1875)


(Today’s poems are in the public domain, belong to the masses, and appear here today accordingly.)

Editor’s Note: Why? “For winter’s rains and ruins are over,” and the trees are “hung with bloom[s] along the bough.” Because “that lusty month of May” is here, and there is “[a] little Madness in the Spring.” Because everywhere I turn there are bright colors, sweet sights and smells of spring blossoms, and new life overtaking what was once the winter earth. Because it is spring! Nature is putting on her party dress and blessing us with glorious, beautiful spring. And what better way to welcome this lovely season than with poetry?

Want to read more spring poems?
Edna St. Vincent Millay gives the month of April a run for her money
Poets.org
The Poetry Foundation

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: JESSE LOREN

CONSIDER ICARUS
by Jesse Loren

Consider Icarus as a woman pasting wings on
Testing her harness and the snugness over breasts
And think of that flawless moment before the yawn
When she tires of waiting for the rest.

Think of her there above obelisk and spruce
Coasting above the small men scything down below
Her latched bindings slip and become loose
Her internal timing races and then slows.

She is circling above the town picking out the strong
Glancing to the corners of every lawn
A trickle of blood spills out between thighs
The blind sun melts wax into her eyes

Consider Icarus as a woman pasting wings on
Consider the tedious boredom of kite string and tumbling down.



Jesse Loren is originally from East Los Angeles and is currently rooted near Davis, California with her family and chickens. Her poetry can be found in Exquisite Corpse, Yawp, New Virginia Review, and Screamin’ Meme, her first book of collected poems. Ms. Loren co-edited two anthologies of poetry; Mourning Sickness, a collection about miscarriage and infant death, and Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront, a collection of homefront tales spanning from WWII to the present. Loren is a graduate of UC Irvine, and MFA graduate of UNO, and is a frequent columnist at iPinion.


Editor’s Note: Typically I don’t go in for rhymed poetry, but when Ms. Loren sent me poems for consideration for As It Ought To Be, this poem struck a chord with me. In Judaism the term “midrash” is used to describe a story that is created by opening up an existing story. With this poem Loren creates a midrash of sorts – opening up the story of Icarus to allow for another new tale. The tale of Icarus as a woman, a story that has feminist undertones, that explores the trials and tribulations of being a woman under the lens of a beloved mythological tale. This poem is clear and imagistic, and takes us on a journey on the wings of one who both has the opportunity to fly, and learns what it is to fall.

Want to hear more by Jesse Loren?
Buy Screamin Meme at Amazon.com
Jesse Loren’s Blogspot
Exquisite Corpse

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: NATHAN REICH

SOMEWHERE IN COLORADO
by Nathan Reich

I see it here
In the way the leaves are moving
A hurricane will be coming
Though I don’t know how soon

I close the window and try
To get some sleep ’til the morning
While the clouds outside are forming
Will I ever feel prepared?

Somewhere in Colorado
I am drowning in a bottle
I see the sun
But I know it don’t see me
Somewhere in Colorado
I am drowning in a bottle
I see my home
But I know it don’t see me

A thousand miles
Could I make it any farther?
I don’t want to be a martyr
Is there something I could trade?

And there was a time
When I thought that we were something
But now we’re a little more than nothing
So can you blame me for my fears?

Somewhere in Colorado
I am drowning in a bottle
I see the sun
But I know it don’t see me
A thousand miles
From the edge of California
I see my home
But I know it don’t see me
Oh I know it don’t see me
Oh I know it don’t see me

Nathan Reich was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and began studying guitar in earnest at the age of 12. At the age of 22 Nathan was accepted at the Berklee College of Music as a guitar performance major, where his unique style of playing predominately with just his thumb earned him the nickname “Thumb Kid.” In 2006 Nathan began songwriting, and later that year wrote and recorded his first EP “Paper Planes.” Just before graduating in May of 2009 he released his first full length record entitled “Arms Around A Ghost.” He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Editor’s Note: Recently a friend of mine played me some songs on his iPod as we ambled through the streets of New York in search of a decent bar. Instantly I was taken with the music – singer/songwriter music that was guitar-centric and full of meaningful powerful lyrics – exactly my cup of tea. I was in love with Nathan Reich at first listen. A few days later my friend shared a YouTube video of a cover of Nathan Reich’s “Somewhere in Colorado,” and I’m pretty sure I haven’t listened to anything else since.

Today’s post continues our ongoing discussion on where the lines are blurred between poetry and music. For me, what makes a song fall within the realm of poetry is its lyrics, which is why most of the songs I love are lyric-based with lyrics that hold their own on paper. Today’s post is no exception. A story of heartbreak, of unrequited love and longing, the lyrics to this song fall square within the realm of those elements that, for me, make up a great poem. The lyric that kills me most in today’s post? “And there was a time / When I thought that we were something / But now we’re a little more than nothing / So can you blame me for my fears?” It’s moments like this that set Nathan Reich apart from the pack and earn him his reputation as not only a fantastic musician and songwriter, but as a talented poet. When it comes to lyrics of this caliber I think Mr. Reich says it best when he asks “Will I ever feel prepared?”

Want to hear more by Nathan Reich?
Nathan Reich’s Myspace page
Somewhere in Colorado (Nathan Reich cover)

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

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: ANNE SEXTON




THE TRUTH THE DEAD KNOW
by Anne Sexton

For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959

Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in the stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) was an influential American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. Themes of her poetry include her suicidal tendencies, long battle against depression, and various intimate details from her own private life, including her relationship with her husband and children. (Annotated biography of Anne Sexton courtesy of Wikipedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is dedicated to the poet Norma Liliana Valdez, who recently shared an audio recording of Sexton reading today’s selection. Keep an eye out for the work of Ms. Valdez who, like Sexton, has the ability to transform emotional turmoil into a poetic experience that transforms her readers.

For me, this piece slices as close to the bone as a poem can. That inevitable human experience of losing my parents is my greatest fear.

Despite the inherently personal nature of the poem and of Sexton’s experience, a distance can be felt in her choice of words and images. In another country people die, not in this, her own country. The dead lie in boats, not here with her. And Sexton’s discussion within the poem is directed to her darling, to someone among the living with whom she is sharing an experience of touch, of connection, of living and of not being alone. It feels as though in order to even comprehend the overwhelming experience of losing her parents Sexton has to distance herself from that experience and throw herself into connection with another living being, with the notion that “no one’s alone.”

Want to read more by and about Anne Sexton?
Audio recording of Sexton reading “The Truth the Dead Know”
Modern American Poetry
Poets.org

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

By William Butler Yeats:

NO SECOND TROY

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

“No Second Troy” is reprinted from The Green Helmet and Other Poems. W.B. Yeats. Dundrum: Cuala Press, 1910.

ON BEING ASKED FOR A WAR POEM

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

“On Being Asked for a War Poem” is reprinted from The Wild Swans at Coole. W.B. Yeats. New York: Macmillan, 1919.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). (Annotated biography of William Butler Yeats courtesy of Wikipedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: I’ll be honest, I do not tend to be a fan of rhyming poetry. As a result, I tend to overlook many of the greats of yesteryear, such as Longfellow, Keats, and Yeats – to name a few. However, my mother informs me that William Butler Yeats was a relative of ours, being of the same Butlers from which my family comes. Having presented me with that information, my mother promptly informed me that I should feature Mr. Yeats on my Saturday Poetry Series. Well, what kind of a Jewish daughter would I be if I did not heed the subtly guilt-ridden instructions of my mother?

Of course I would not publish something that I do not stand behind, so I perused Mr. Yeats’ work and found two pieces that I am pleased to share here today. “No Second Troy” I adore for both its story and its end line. “On Being Asked For a War Poem” I find wholly appropriate for As It Ought To Be in that it explores the relationship between the poet and politics. I was doubly pleased as I learned more about Yeats to find that he himself was a politician in addition to a poet.

May the relationship between poetry and politics live long and prosper, and may poets have the power to make the change we want to see in the world, as it ought to be.

Want to read more by and about William Butler Yeats?

The National Library of Ireland Presents The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats
NobelPrize.org
Poets.org
The Literature Network
The Poetry Archive
Poetry Archive

SUNDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: “If” by Rudyard Kipling

kipling

 

IF

by Rudyard Kipling

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
 
 
 
Rudyard Kipling was a wildly prolific late 19th and early 20th century British author born in India. He is most famous for the novels, The Jungle Book and Kim, though he also published many poems, “If” being the most famous of them.