So I’m not generally a big poetry fanatic but every once in a while I stumble across a poem or hear someone perform a piece of spoken word and it strikes something in me. So today I don’t have a book review prepared for you but as it is National Poetry Month I thought I’d share a few poems that I love instead. Maybe you’ll like them or maybe you’re not big on poetry either. Either way I felt like sharing these. Maybe it’s my trip to the ocean that’s putting me in a poetic mood?
For this post I made sure to include a few poems about books since books are what we all love.
When Death Comes | Allowables | King Henry VI | Good Books | Macbeth | Notes on the Art of Poetry | Old Books | The Gold Bell in Charn | The Arrow and The Song | Hades and Persephone | The Author to Her Book
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn’t
And she scared me
And I smashed her
I don’t think
To kill something
Because I am
(Ummmm so I really love this poem and what it’s saying but at the same time I’m like, but real spiders don’t actually count, do they? Because if they cross the threshold into my domain they will die)
King Henry VI
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile
And cry ‘Content’ to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you’re lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.
The fellowship of books is real.
They’re never noisy when you’re still.
They won’t disturb you at your meal.
They’ll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they’ll always share.
When slighted they will not complain.
And though for them you’ve ceased to care
Your constant friends they’ll still remain.
Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They’ll help you pass the time away,
They’ll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.
Notes on the Art of Poetry
I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.
THE people up and down the world that talk and laugh and cry,
They’re pleasant when you’re young and gay, and life is all to try,
But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease,
There’s none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries–
The counselors who never change, the friends who never go,
The old books, the dear books that understand and know!
The Gold Bell in Charn
Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.
The Arrow and The Song
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Hades and Persephone
You bring the light clasped round you, and although
I knew you’d bring it, knew it as I waited,
Knew as you’d come that you’d come cloaked in light
I had forgotten what light meant, and so
This longed for moment, so anticipated,
I stand still, dazzled by my own delight.
I see you, and you see me, and we smile
And your smile says you are as pleased as me
With everything and nothing still to say
All that we’ve saved and thought through all this time
Boils down to affirmation now as we
Stand here enlightened in my realm of grey.
Cerberus wags his solitary tail,
And though the dust of Hell lies round our feet
Your flowers are already sprouting through.
“You came,” “I said I would,” “You didn’t fail,”
“And you’re still here,” “Of course. We said we’d meet.”
“Yes,” “Yes!” “You’re really here! “And so are you!”
We don’t say yet that you will have to go
And Hell return inevitably black
Your flowers fade when parted from your tread
Though this is something we both surely know,
As certain as you come, you must go back,
And I remain alone among the dead.
They say I snatched you from the world above
Bound you with pomegranates, cast a spell
Bribed you with architecture. It’s not so.
Friendship is complicated, life is, love,
Your work the growing world, my task is Hell
You come back always, always have to go.
But here and now, this moment, we can smile,
Speak and be heard, this moment we can share
And laugh, and help each other to be great,
And talk aloud together, all worthwhile,
Our work, our worlds, and all we really care,
Each word shines golden, each thought worth the wait.
And Hell’s poor souls whirl round us as they glide
Off up to Lethe to begin again,
On to new lives, new dawns beyond Hell’s night.
We walk among your flowers, side by side,
Such joys we share are worth a little pain.
You come back. And you always bring the light.
The Author to Her Book
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.