January 20: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman

I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

 

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

January 8: L’Epitaphe Villon: Ballade Des Pendus

L’Epitaphe Villon: Ballade Des Pendus

(Villon’s Epitaph: Ballad of the Hanged Men)

 

My brothers who live after us,

Don’t harden your hearts against us too,

If you have mercy now on us,

God may have mercy upon you.

 

Five, six, you see us, hung out to view.

When the flesh that nourished us well

Is eaten piecemeal, ah, see it swell,

And we, the bones, are dust and gall,

Let no one make fun of our ill,

But pray that God absolves us all.

 

No need, if we cry out to you, brothers,

To show disdain, if we’re in suspense

For justice’s sake. How few of the others

Are men equipped with common sense.

 

Pray for us, now beyond violence,

To the Son of the Virgin Mary,

So of grace to us she’s not chary,

Shields us from Hell’s lightning fall.

We’re dead: the souls let no man harry,

But pray that God absolves us all.

 

The rain has soaked us, washed us: skies

Of hot suns blacken us, scorch us: crows

And magpies have gouged out our eyes,

Plucked at our beards and our eyebrows.

 

There’s never a moment’s rest allowed:

Now here, now there, the changing breeze

Swings us, as it wishes, ceaselessly,

Beaks pricking us more than a cobbler’s awl.

 

So don’t you join our fraternity,

 

But pray that God absolves us all.

Prince Jesus, who has all sovereignty,

Preserve us from Hell’s mastery.

 

We’ve no business down there at all.

Men, you’ve no time for mockery.

But pray to God to absolve us all.

 

(Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.)

November 6: Tenant-Landlord

Tenant-Landlord

“Faucet drips,
Screen ripped,
Pipes leak,
Mice squeak,
Trash stacked,
Window’s cracked,
Sink stinks,
Light blinks,
Toilet runs,
Stove’s done,
Water’s cold,
Furnace out,
Neighbors loud,
Frame’s bent.”

“Pay rent.”

~Day Williams

November 4: “Sonnet VIII: If Your Eyes Were Not The Color Of The Moon” by Pablo Neruda

Sonnet VIII: If Your Eyes Were Not The Color Of The Moon

If your eyes were not the color of the moon,
of a day full

[here, interrupted by the baby waking – continued about 26
hours later ]
of a day full of clay, and work, and fire,
if even held-in you did not move in agile grace like the air,
if you were not an amber week,

not the yellow moment
when autumn climbs up through the vines;
if you were not that bread the fragrant moon
kneads, sprinkling its flour across the sky,

oh, my dearest, I could not love you so!
But when I hold you I hold everything that is –
sand, time, the tree of the rain,

everything is alive so that I can be alive:
without moving I can see it all:
in your life I see everything that lives.

~Pablo Neruda

October 31: “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe

The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.
    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.
    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”
    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!
    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

October 28: “In Memory Of W.B. Yeats” – Poem by WH Auden

In Memory Of W.B. Yeats – Poem by WH Auden

I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
The snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

II

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

III

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

[Auden later deleted the next three stanzas.]

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice.

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress.

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountains start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

October 20: Romans Chapter Six

ROMANS CHAPTER SIX

 

1 What shall we say, therefore? Shall we continue

To sin so grace may flourish? 2 Not at all!

We died to sin; how can we live in it

 

Any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all

Of us who have been baptized into Christ

Jesus were baptized in his death? 4 So we

 

Were buried with him through our baptism

In death so that, when God the Father, in

His glory, brought him back to life again,

 

We too received a new life to enjoy,

5 For if we have been planted with him like

This in his death, we shall rise as he did,

 

6 Knowing that our old self was crucified

With him so that the sinful body might

Be done away with, that we should be slaves

 

To sin no longer− 7 for he that is dead

Is freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ,

We have faith that we too will live with him,

 

9 For we know that since Christ was raised out of

The dead, he cannot die again, for death

No longer has its triumph over him.

 

10 The death he died, he died to sin one time

For all; the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 So look upon yourselves as dead to sin

 

But be alive to God in Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore do not let sin control your mortal

Body so you surrender to its lusts.

 

13 Do not present the members of your body

To sin, as instruments of wickedness,

But rather offer up yourselves to God,

 

As those who have been brought from death to life;

And offer the members of your body to

Him as the instruments of righteousness.

 

14 Never again will sin control you, for

You are not under law, but under grace.

15 So does this mean that we can go ahead

 

And sin because we are not under law

But under grace? No− God forbid! 16 Do you

Not know that when you offer up yourselves

 

To someone to obey him as a slave,

You are a slave to the one you obey−

Whether you’re slaves to sin, which leads to death,

 

Or to obedience, which leads you to

Righteousness? 17 But thank God that, though you once

Were slaves to sin, you have obeyed with all

 

Your heart the form of teaching which you were

Entrusted to. 18 You have been freed from sin

And have become the slaves of righteousness.

 

19 I have put this in human terms because

Your flesh is weak; 20 so, as you once enslaved

Your body to impurity and to

 

Ever-increasing wickedness, so now

Allow yourselves to be enslaved to all

The righteousness that leads to holiness.

 

When you were slaves to sin, you were devoid

Of righteousness. 21 What profit did you reap

Then from the things you’re now ashamed of? Those

 

Things lead to death! 22 But now that you have been

Set free from sin and have become the slaves

Of God, the benefit you harvest leads

 

To holiness, and its result, which is

Eternal life, 23 because sin’s wages is

Death, but the gift of God’s eternal life,

 

Eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

S.D.G.

October 18: Romans Chapter Four

ROMANS CHAPTER FOUR

 

1 What therefore shall we say that Abraham,

Our forefather, discovered in this matter?

2 If Abraham was justified by works,

 

Then he had something he could boast about−

But not before the LORD. 3 What does the Scripture

Say? “Abraham believed the LORD, and it

 

Was credited to him as righteousness.”

4 Now when a person works, his wages are

Not credited to him as a donation,

 

But as an obligation. 5 Now as to

The man who does not work but trusts the LORD

Who justifies the sinful man, his faith

 

Is credited to him as righteousness.

6 David declares the same thing when he speaks

About the blessedness of one to whom

 

God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are they whose wrongs have been forgiven,

Whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man

 

Whose sin the Lord won’t count against him.” 9 Is

This blessedness just for the circumcised,

Or for the uncircumcised too? We have

 

Been saying that the faith of Abraham

Was credited to him as righteousness.

10 In what conditions was it credited?

 

After his circumcision, or before?

It was not after, but before! 11 And he

Received the sign of circumcision as

 

A seal of righteousness he had by faith

While he was nonetheless uncircumcised.

So as to each one who believes but has

 

Never been circumcised, he is the father,

So they’ll be credited for righteousness.

12 He is the father of the circumcised,

 

Too, who are not just circumcised but who

Walk in the footsteps of the faith our father

Abraham walked before his circumcision.

 

13 Abraham and his progeny received

The promise he’d inherit all the world,

Not through the law, but through the righteousness

 

That comes by faith, 14 for if the ones who live by law

Are heirs, then faith itself is worthless and

The promise has no worth, 15 for law brings wrath,

 

And where there is no law there is no sin.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so it

May be by grace and may be guaranteed

 

To all of Abraham’s descendants−not

Just ones belonging to the law but also

Those of the faith of Abraham, who is

 

The father of us all, 17 as Scripture says:

“For many nations I have made you father.”

He is our father in the sight of God,

 

God in whom he believed– the God who gives

Life to the dead and calls things that are not

As though they do exist. 18 Against all hope,

 

Abraham in his hope believed and so

Became the father of a myriad

Of nations, just as it was told to him,

 

“So shall your offspring be.” 19 His faith was strong,

So strong he faced the fact his body was

As good as dead−about a hundred years

 

Old−and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

20 Nevertheless he had no doubts that God

Would keep His promise, and he was strengthened in

 

His faith and glorified the LORD, 21 for he

Was fully confident that God had power

To do what he had promised, 22 which is why

 

The LORD forgave his sins, declaring him

“Not guilty,” 23 and this declaration was

Not written solely for his benefit,

 

24 But for ours also, for to us the LORD

Will credit righteousness−for us who have

Faith in him who raised Jesus Christ our Lord

 

Out of the dead. 25 He was delivered over to

Death for our sins and he was raised to life

So that we sinners might be justified.

 

S.D.G.