Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Raindrops on Roses

I took this yesterday after a rain sprinkle. Just now (about 11 pm)
there came a rattle and heavy downpour, When I looked it up, the weather people
had just spotted on Doppler radar, a hailstorm moving over Eagle, toward Boise.
There was a tremendous clatter for 10 or 15 minutes; 
I imagine rose damage, but won't know until it gets light.
Each year when the roses bloom, I remember the rose-loving fellow who 
lived here until he died. We bought from the widow;
and his roses and irises still delight us every spring!

it comes to  my shoulder
longing for human company
a red dragonfly

Natsume Soseki

Modern Japanese Haiku, Makoto Ueda,
University of Toronto Press, Toronto and Buffalo, 1974, page 46.

I can recommend his novel, I am a Cat!
He left a body of excellent work in many forms and 
for many years his face was on the 1000 yen Japanese banknote.
He is generally considered to be one of Japan's greatest writers.
It pleases me that he wrote haiku and took the form seriously.

Monday, May 25, 2015

By Lamplight

Just now, S and his dog, Cassie. 
Now you can understand the term "lapdog"

The Rosy Hearth, The Lamplight's Narrow Beam

The rosy hearth, the lamplight's narrow beam,
The meditation that is rather dream,
With looks that lose themselves in cherished looks;
The hour of steaming tea and banished books;
The sweetness of the evening at an end,
The dear fatigue, and right to rest attained,
And worshipped expectation of the night,--
Oh, all these things, in unrelenting flight,
My dream pursues through all the vain delays,
Impatient of the weeks, mad at the days!

Paul Verlaine

(translator not credited on the web page where I found this; 
I think it is from Verlaine's Romances Sans Paroles.)

Poor Paul! Ever since I read that book about Rimbaud, I imagine Verlaine's despair over that whole exciting mess with the talented boy. I understand that Verlaine's poetry shows an excellent command of the French language, classically used. This translation is in a regular form, which I am assuming represents the plan of the original. How I wish I had paid more attention to Miss Isabel Zimpel in French classes in 1951 and 1952! Can you read French poetry in the original? 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Forever comes to mind

Last night, when we were loading the groceries into the Tundra, the sky beyond the parking lot
looked like this! I had to stop loading a bit and take some iPhone pictures. 
Then we drove home and unloaded the groceries,
but this sky stays with me.


The meadow’s a dream I’m working to wake to.
The real river flows under the river.
The real river flows
Over the river.
Three fishermen in yellow slickers
Stitch in and out of the willows
And sometimes stand for a long time, facing the water,
Thinking they are not moving.

Thoughts akimbo
Or watching the West slip through our hopes for it.
We’re here with hay down,
Startling the baler, and a thunderhead
Stands forward to the east like a grail of milk.

The sky is cut out for accepting prayers.
Believe me, it takes them all.
Like empty barrels afloat in the trough of a swell
The stupid bales wait in the field.
The wind scatters a handful of yellow leaves
With the same sowing motion it uses for snow.

After this we won’t be haying anymore.
Lyle is going to concentrate on dying of a while
And then he is going to die.
The tall native grasses will come ripe for cutting
And go uncut, go yellow and buckle under snow
As they did before for thousands of years.
Of objects, the stove will be the coldest in the house.
The kitchen table will be there with its chairs,
Sugar bowl, and half-read library book.
The air will be still from no one breathing.

The green of the meadow, the green willows,
The green pines, the green roof, the water
Clear as air where it unfurls over the beaver dam
Like it isn’t moving.

In the huge secrecy of the leaning barn
We pile the bodies of millions of grasses,
Where it’s dark as a church
And the air is the haydust that was a hundred years.
The tin roof’s a marimba band and the afternoon goes dark.
Hay hooks clink into a bucket and nest.
Someone lifts his boot to the running board and rests.
Someone lights a cigarette.
Someone dangles his legs off the back of the flatbed
And holds, between his knees, his hands,
As if they weighed fifty pounds.
Forever comes to mind, and peaks where the snow stays.

James Galvin

Poet's Choice; poems for everyday life, selected and introduced by Robert Hass, Ecco, 1998, pages 126-127.

(This poem is from Galvin's book, Resurrection Update; collected poems 1975-1997, Copper Canyon Press, 1997.)

James Galvin has written a wonderful prose book called The Meadow. This very country, and this very Lyle are in this book. If you love the world and the things in it, it is well worth reading.

I love the specificity in this poem, and the irregular line and stanza lengths, Our task might be to write a poem about a place and an activity we know very well--in such an open form.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Apricot Iris

This afternoon, a short rainshower
and beautiful late afternoon light.

short interlude
the heart of the iris
after spring rain

June Hopper Hymas

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sit down . . .

Looking up from the lower garden space that I am developing now with Handyman B.
I am thankful every spring for the man who lived here first 
and left me all these irises and the roses in the front yard.
It is a fine place to sit and watch ducks and ducklings in the creek.
Amazing how the little ones swim, even against the current;
they cannot be more than a few days old.
I saw them again this morning.


           (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Wendell Berry

Poetry Magazine, January, 2001

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Viewing Herbs and Trees

Cassie is getting so fond of the daily walk that she reminds us to get going!
What we are noticing now in The Treasure Valley is that perennials are beginning to bloom.
We went and bought some for the front yard today.


To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.

Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
The glory that is by;
Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
Yet not behold the sky.

And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
The bliss in which they move;
Like statues dead
They up and down are carried
Yet never see nor love.

To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.

To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
Admire each pretty flow’r
With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
The marks of his great pow’r.

To fly abroad like active bees,
Among the hedges and the trees,
To cull the dew that lies
On ev’ry blade,
From ev’ry blossom; till we lade
Our minds, as they their thighs.

Observe those rich and glorious things,
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
The fructifying sun;
To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
For us his race to run.

A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought,
But there’s a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
To which we shall be brought.

While in those pleasant paths we talk,
’Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.

Thomas Traherne    

English-speaking people used to have the patience to write and to read carefully constructed poems like this. This poem reminds us that ev'ry word can be messed with to make a smoother transit through the poem.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apricot Iris

The apricot iris always makes us wait until the others are almost finished blooming.
This morning it finally fully revealed itself. Looking beyond 
I see the first violet vinca bloom on this side of the fence.
And there the white chair I watch ducks from.
Burley has spread dark brown mulch where the weeds were.
It's a lovely season; I almost never think about politics here.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Walt Whitman

In these wired and wireless times, it is easy to forget about the parents of American poetry, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Here is a reminder, especially to myself.