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Archive for the ‘National Poetry Month’ Category

. . . begins tomorrow, and that is not an April Fool.  If I spend any significant amount of time indoors (a lot depends on the weather and the gardens) I hope to post poems in April, in honor of that high art which is rapidly becoming extinct in our retrograde, dumbed-down American culture.

While a number of my favorite 20th century poets are still under copyright so that I cannot reprint their entire poems, I can go back to my all-time most beloved of all poets and authors of drama—The Old Bard, himself.  His writings are only exceeded by the Holy Bible.  The Bible being God’s Word will always rank number one in ageless truth, but after that comes a human author who speaks universally to the human heart and psyche like none other.  If this author were required reading at every level of every public and private school, there quite possibly would be no need for the “science” of psychology to attempt the unraveling of human nature.

Marry the factor of universality to the most exquisite use of language, and you have William Shakespeare.  I believe that the works of Shakespeare—as well as those of Milton and other past literary giants, plus artists and composers—are living proof of the Creationist World View.  It is pathetically obvious to anyone but the most deluded individual that mankind is not advancing with time!

Meanwhile, to jump-start National Poetry Month, here is Sonnet #64:

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras’d
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
 
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616
 
After the Storm

 

Note:  Great poetry has more permanent staying power than even GORILLA GLUE!  The line, “. . . weep to have that which it fears to lose.” has filled my heart and mind for as long as I can remember.  (I was raised when Shakespeare was read in schools, and of course he was prominent on our bookshelves at home.)

We certainly do “weep to have” that which we fear to lose.  The only antidote is to volitionally celebrate every moment that we do have with those we love.  The moment is all we can be sure of, temporally speaking.  The older I grow, the more I rejoice in the moment.  I think of each precious family member, and even my dog, and I simply can not let myself dwell on my very human tendency to “weep to have”.
 
Margaret L. Been — March 31, 2016

 

 

 

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Winter Breakup.jpg 2  “To think to know the country and not know

    The hillside on the day the sun lets go 

    Ten thousand lizards out of snow!”  Robert Frost, A Hillside Thaw

Although I admit to sometimes dreaming about warm, sunny places during our long Northern winters, I would not chose to trade my home locale with anyone—anywhere, anytime (except for an occasional week or two in New Mexico).

I truly wonder if friends who live in warm places ever experience springtime euphoria—that crazy, headlong, potentially mindless and blithery joy known as SPRING FEVER, when poetry floods one’s soul!  Perhaps that euphoria is common in four season climates around the world.  Certainly in the USA, where April has been designated as NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

Anticipating April, while loving every remaining moment of tumultuous Wisconsin March, here are some snatches of poems from kindred souls—in addition to the above lines from one of my most beloved kindred spirit poets, Robert Frost.  Also I’ll plug in some of my watercolor renderings.  The marriage of a poem and a painting is called Ekphrasis.

—————————————————————————————————

“The Skies can’t keep their secret!

They tell it to the Hills –

The hills just tell the Orchards –

And they – the Daffodils!”  Emily Dickinson, #191

Traces 2

“I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore . . . .” 

William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innesfree

Homeward Bound--1

“Now as I was young and easy under the apple bough

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green . . . .”

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill

. . . the dawn's early light

“O April, full of breath, have pity on us!

Pale where the winter like a stone has been lifted away, we

        emerge like yellow grass.

Be for a moment quiet, buffet us not, have pity on us,

Till the green come back into the vein, till the giddiness pass.” 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Northern April

From Seed

These are only a whisper of the many poems and poets whom I read again and again—immersed in the introspections, nuances, innuendoes, and life metaphors gleaned from a sensitivity to the turning of the year.  I believe that sensitivity is shared by most poetic four-season souls!

Margaret L. Been, Spring 2015

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IF

A few weeks ago a kindred spirited friend, Shari—who loves many of the English poets whom I love—mentioned Milton’s sonnet On His Blindness.  I responded with a whopping “YES!”  I hadn’t read that sonnet for years, but I still recalled the poignant last line:  “They also serve who only stand and wait.”  I thanked Shari for the déjà vue, and that evening I located my beautiful antique volume of John Milton’s poems.  Here is the sonnet, followed by an explanation of why it has meant so much to me in recent weeks:

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton
 
As many of you know, our daughter-in-law, Rosemary, is facing a stand off with breast cancer.  The first post-op reports were encouraging, but complications have been discovered and both chemo and radiation will be needed.  For certain, 15 years ago (and perhaps as recently as 6!) I would have been on a Denver-bound plane—probably more than one time, to help Rosemary, our son, Karl, and their family during the difficult days ahead.  Sometimes physical issues ramp up so gradually, I had to mentally pinch myself to realize that NO—I probably should no longer travel “to help out”.  
 
I cannot “Hoover” (as they say in England) my own carpets, let alone someone else’s.  Fatigue often renders me useless for purposes other than reading, blogging, knitting, writing letters, or painting after 6:00 p. m.  My 82 year old husband and I are so attached to each other that leaving him alone (even in the company of a sweet Pembroke Welsh corgi) might break my heart (or his, or both)! 
 
We have an amazingly energetic daughter, Debbie, who loves to travel, loves her brother and his family (just as I do), and is incredibly deft at helping most anyone, anywhere!  Debbie has already been to Denver once since Rosemary’s surgery 2 weeks ago, and may quite possibly return!  Thus the re-reading (again and again) of On His Blindness ministered powerfully to my soul which had been considerably troubled by the realization that I’d no longer be flying to Denver, to help out. 
 
“They also serve who only stand and wait.”  And while I stand (sit or lie down) and wait, I pray!  I’m quite certain that Milton did that as well! 
 
Margaret L. Been, ©2013

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Thanks to the countless friends who have prayed for Rosemary.  She is coming along, better each day—praise God!  MB

In celebration of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, here is one of my all time favorite poems—also preempting April which is National Poetry Month!  🙂

Pied Beauty 
 
Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.
 
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844–1889
 
___________________________________________________________________
 
Have a blessed RESURRECTION DAY!!!
 
Margaret L. Been, 2013
 

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The Colour of Terrible Crystal

(referring to the firmament above Ezekiel’s chariot vision, recalled by the visual of a sunset)

Topaz, beryl, peridot

steeped in royal purple

dipped in blood . . . .

We are not Ezekiel by the Chebar,

yet exiled for a time

on this fallen planet we call “home”

we dream through half-remembered mist

while four-faced chariots surge Heavenward—

each face four within a face and tandem wings,

incandescent chariots with eye-encrusted rims

and omnipresent wheels.

Land riveted,

we could lose our half-remembered dream

but for the brilliance of terrible crystal

radiating westward twilight-wise,

rushing, surging, beckoning . . .

Topaz, beryl, peridot

steeped in royal purple,

dipped in blood.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

Note:  After Easter, I hope to begin adding to the Paintings and Poems page on this site — adding my paintings and additional poems by (not only me but) poets whose work I love. 

My painting passion has taken a sharp right turn toward the abstract in recent months, and I’ve many new renderings that I want to share with you.  Enjoy the ride on Paintings and Poems.   🙂

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In celebration of April which is National Poetry Month . . . .

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –

For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;

For rose-moles all in stiple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;

Praise Him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844-1889

Note:  English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was a Jesuit priest whose work overflows with praise for the Lord and His creation.  Here is a quote from http://www.public-domain-poetry.com/ concerning this inspiring poet:

“Besides this great love for God’s creation, we see in Hopkins a sincere love for all of humanity.  Gifted with the three great theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, he succeeded in performing in an exemplary manner his pastoral duties as priest amid the appalling poverty of nineteenth-century Liverpool.”

Note:  If you are a poetry lover, you’ll enjoy visiting some kindred souls on their blogs:  Patti at http://wolfsrosebud.wordpress.com/ ; Ellen at http://ellenolinger.wordpress.com/ ; and Darlene at http://darlenemb.wordpress.com/

If you do, you’ll be glad you did!  🙂

MB

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Last night I had a dream which nearly woke me up crying.  I dreamed that our entire nation was spanned in all directions by high speed railways with overpasses—and that all the old fashioned tracks with freight trains, crossing barricades, flashing lights, and shrieking whistles had been done away with:  forever banished from the American scene. 

I never have been a nightmare person (praise God for that!) but last night’s dream was scary!  Trains have always been a great joy to me.  I love to see trains, and will purposely sit by a trackside window at a favorite restaurant so that I can count the freight cars as they rumble by.  As a child, I was as much at home on a train as anywhere else on earth.  I loved the shake, rattle, and roll.  I loved walking from car to car in that airy interim space where you lurched and lunged in transit. 

Now we live about 280 yards from the busiest railroad in our part of Wisconsin.  On most days the whistles (normally in sets of four at the crossing 2 miles away) come right through our walls, into our rooms.  When I’m outdoors I’m all there, and the train sounds shake my soul. 

The Amtrak speeds by several times per week, carrying my imagination to points west.  Freight trains lumber through many times day and night, evoking an image of America for me.  Trains are a part of our nation’s heritage, and a part of me.  Trains are thrilling!

When I woke up from my “nightmare”, I asked my knowledgeable Joe if that dream could ever really happen.  He assured me that the high speed trains would be on different tracks, and there would always be freight trains chugging along to make my day.

In keeping with the topic of this ramble, and National Poetry Month which begins tomorrow, here is my rambling/rumbling/racketing/rolling ode to trains:

Comfort

Day and night they rumble through . . .

often hourly, sometimes less.

When a morning passes bereft of rumbling,

I worry that progress may have removed them;

but then they resume their racketing, lurching,

rumbling through–roaring four times

at the east crossing or when westbound

roaring first, then rumbling through. 

Day and night they rumble through . . .

and when they do I close my eyes–comforted

to know some things are still unchanged.

Day and night they rumble through.

Margaret Longenecker Been ©2011

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