Sunday, April 5, 2015

The earth

This piece by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman is a great evocation of the earth, the transience of life, and the endless amount of types of beauty in the natural world. It has a great ghostly feeling to it, with a real sense of danger--not dramatic danger, but the real, supreme danger of death. Of death's inevitability. 


Sweet summer is gone; they have laid her away—The last sad hours that were touched with her grace—In the hush where the ghosts of the dead flowers play;The sleep that is sweet of her slumbering spaceLet not a sight or a sound eraseOf the woe that hath fallen on all the lands:Gather ye, dreams, to her sunny face,Shadow her head with your golden hands.
The woods that are golden and red for a dayGirdle the hills in a jewelled case,Like a girl's strange mirth, ere the quick death slayThe beautiful life that he hath in chase.Darker and darker the shadows paceOut of the north to the southern sands,Ushers bearing the winter's mace:Keep them away with your woven hands.
The yellow light lies on the wide wastes gray,More bitter and cold than the winds that race,From the skirts of the autumn, tearing away,This way and that way, the woodland lace.In the autumn's cheek is a hectic trace;Behind her the ghost of the winter stands;Sweet summer will moan in her soft gray place:Mantle her head with your glowing hands.
Till the slayer be slain and the spring displaceThe might of his arms with her rose-crowned bands,Let her heart not gather a dream that is base:Shadow her head with your golden hands.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Canadian poet Archibald Lampman [1861-1899] wrote some interesting work, especially this yearning, dream you want to visit of fall or winter in the countryside:


The hills and leafless forests slowly yieldTo the thick-driving snow. A little whileAnd night shall darken down. In shouting fileThe woodmen's carts go by me homeward-wheeled,Past the thin fading stubbles, half concealed,Now golden-grey, sowed softly through with snow,Where the last ploughman follows still his row,Turning black furrows through the whitening field.
Far off the village lamps begin to gleam,Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way;The hills grow wintery white, and bleak winds moanAbout the naked uplands. I aloneAm neither sad, nor shelterless, nor grey,Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream.


The English writer D.H. Lawrence [1885-1930] is someone with a particular reputation, and especially famous for his novels. He's also a very interesting poet--try this piece below. More and other poets here.


A faint, sickening scent of irises
Persists all morning. Here in a jar on the table
A fine proud spike of purple irises
Rising above the class-room litter, makes me unable
To see the class's lifted and bended faces
Save in a broken pattern, amid purple and gold and sable.

I can smell the gorgeous bog-end, in its breathless
Dazzle of may-blobs, when the marigold glare overcast
You with fire on your brow and your cheeks and your chin as you dipped
Your face in your marigold bunch, to touch and contrast
Your own dark mouth with the bridal faint lady-smocks
Dissolved in the golden sorcery you should not outlast.

You amid the bog-end's yellow incantation,
You sitting in the cowslips of the meadows above,
—Me, your shadow on the bog-flame, flowery may-blobs,
Me full length in the cowslips, muttering you love—
You, your soul like a lady-smock, lost, evanescent,
You, with your face all rich, like the sheen on a dove—!
[Pg 77]
You are always asking, do I remember, remember
The buttercup bog-end where the flowers rose up
And kindled you over deep with a coat of gold?
You ask again, do the healing days close up
The open darkness which then drew us in,
The dark that swallows all, and nought throws up.

You upon the dry, dead beech-leaves, in the fire of night
Burnt like a sacrifice;—you invisible—
Only the fire of darkness, and the scent of you!
—And yes, thank God, it still is possible
The healing days shall close the darkness up
Wherein I breathed you like a smoke or dew.

Like vapour, dew, or poison. Now, thank God,
The golden fire has gone, and your face is ash
Indistinguishable in the grey, chill day,
The night has burnt you out, at last the good
Dark fire burns on untroubled without clash
Of you upon the dead leaves saying me yea.


H.D. [1886-1961], the famous American female Imagist/Modernist poet Hilda Doolittle [usually referred to with her initials], is one that is not often celebrated. Her work is incredible, often about the ancient world of Greece and Rome, and has an intense 'visual' aspect. For more, read here.


[Artemis speaks]
The cornel-trees
uplift from the furrows,
the roots at their bases
strike lower through the barley-sprays.

So arise and face me.
I am poisoned with the rage of song.

I once pierced the flesh
of the wild-deer,
now am I afraid to touch
the blue and the gold-veined hyacinths?

I will tear the full flowers
and the little heads
of the grape-hyacinths.
I will strip the life from the bulb
until the ivory layers
lie like narcissus petals
on the black earth.

lest I bend an ash-tree
into a taut bow,
and slay—and tear
all the roots from the earth.

The cornel-wood blazes
and strikes through the barley-sprays,
but I have lost heart for this.

I break a staff.
I break the tough branch.
I know no light in the woods.
I have lost pace with the winds.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring materializes

As winter leaves us, it's depths seem more appealing than they used to be. That strange twilight of clouded winter days, that mist in the woods filled with snow, it's very unique. It's like a dream and yet an adventure that you're not sure you want to venture into. Hiking short trails in the winter can be a really fun experience, the atmosphere really cannot be reproduced anywhere else. 

One poem this brings to mind is the famous American poet Robert Frost's [1874-1963] "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening"--here are more poems of his, and to hear/listen more of his work look here; his most famous poems also include "The Road Not Taken" and "Fire and Ice". Frost won four Pulitzers for poetry.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.