Showing posts from April, 2012

National Poetry Month: Day 30

Suddenly, it's the end of the month. It feels like April went by in a flash, yet when  I try to remember the beginning of the month it seems like light years away. Today was my penultimate day of work; they threw a little party for me and gave me a lovely card and parting gift. I wasn't expecting any of that. Tomorrow night I'm flying to Oregon to spend some time with my sister for my birthday. We're going to eat lots of yummy food and stare at the ocean. Should be fun. This morning I hired a babysitter who can start next week; I felt like I didn't really know what I was doing in my little 'interview', but she seems like she'll do a good job. I think May is going to be a good month. One last poem, in Spanish because I don't feel like I've done enough of these:
by Gabriela Mistral

El mar sus millares de olas
mece, divino.
Oyendo a los mares amantes,
mezo a mi niño.
El viento errabundo en la noche
mece los trigos.
Oyendo a los vientos aman…

National Poetry Month, Day 29

Last night I shut my computer at 10 in order to get some much-needed sleep. Then I realized that I had not yet posted a poem. Oh well. Yesterday was a full day and I think it helped. I went to the library in the morning to teach a computer class. I felt kind of grouchy about it, but after spending an hour showing 5 people how to create a basic budget with Excel, I felt better. They thought it was amazing; formulas are magic. Then I went to the temple, took Little Dude to his soccer game and out for frozen yogurt, and brought everyone home for dinner and Finding Nemo before bed. I actually didn't like that movie the first time I watched it, but it's growing on me. I just need to keep swimming; at least I'm at the top of the food chain and not the bottom. Here's a funny poem from Fire in the Pasture that's sort of Sunday-appropriate.

The Short Books
by Danny Nelson

Now, Micah lives near Nahum
in the Bible's closing pages.
Micah is an optimist,
while Nahum speaks in rag…

National Poetry Month: Day 27

I think I forgot about posting yesterday. In other news, this is post number 1000 on my blog. It seems like we should have some kind of celebration but I just don't feel like it. I've been pretty cranky for the last week or so. Change is hard--I feel like I'm throwing a bit of a tantrum. I don't want a new job. I don't want to have to hire a babysitter. I don't want to spend this summer working while my kids play with someone else all day. I don't want to have to do that each summer for the rest of their lives. I don't want my life anymore; I want someone else's. I know that this is the right step for me and for my family. I have had a clear answer that this is where I need to go. And yet, it is still so hard. But I know I'll keep surviving; I have in the past and I can keep going. My mantra lately is "the only way out is through." After a bit of time on Google I found out that this line actually comes from a Robert Frost poem; that on…

National Poetry Month: Day 25

Today Kellie posted on Segullah about ANZAC day; it's not a holiday here in the US, and unfortunately tends to go a bit unnoticed. But I appreciated her post as a reminder that the world is a big place, and as a reminder of a time in history that seems to become the distant past even more each year. Whenever I read this poem to myself I can hear it in Thomas S. Monson's voice; I think that General Conference is when I first remember hearing it.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

National Poetry Month: Day 24

From an Atlas of the Difficult World
by Adrienne Rich

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and …

National Poetry Month: Day 23

The cherry tree in my front yard finally bloomed, so I'm going to celebrate with this favorite poem of mine:

Lovliest of Trees
by A.E. Housman

Lovliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.

National Poetry Month: Day 22

Another poem from Fire in the Pasturethat I heard yesterday.

Blessing the Baby
by Susan Elizabeth Howe

We are low church--a plain chapel, unadorned pews and pulpit,
dahlias on the organ the only image of God. Come today
to give my brother's infant daughter a name and a blessing.

"The purpose of life," says the bishop, "is to gain
a tabernacle of flesh and bone," and I wonder
what my granddaughter imagines, having visited

the great hall on Temple Square but not
the house of metaphor. "He's explaining
our bodies," I tell her. "Why we love them."

But it is a tabernacle, a tabernacle of men
held by the priesthood as planets are held by the sun
who take this infant in their arms. Too many to form

a circle around the child, they make an ellipse. In the name
of Jesus Christ, says my brother, and gives his baby
his great grandmother's name, Julia Brooke Howe.

She sleeps through her blessing, a white bow honeyed
to the crown of her head, the clouds of her dr…

National Poetry Month: Day 21

I spent most of the day at the annual AML meeting and had a great time listening to people talk about literature. During the afternoon I spent several hours at a poetry reading from poets featured in the anthology Fire in the Pasture. I loved meeting the poets and I love listening to people read poetry. It was delightful. I enjoyed all the poetry today, but thought I'd share this one with you:

Kinetic Sculpture
by Elaine M. Craig

Perhaps my first experience
with kinetic sculpture
as at a recital
(violin and piano)
when marcato or accented notes
broke, from the violinist's bow,
several strands of horsehair
in the middle or near the frog
and the passage went on so furiously
that she must ignore them and let them dance wildly,
caught bright in the light,
whipping a sinuous halo
around instrument and player,
jouncing and squiggling--
not quite in time with the music, just behind--
until there was enough of a moment
in the music to stop,
hold the instrument with chin only,
feel to the end and then the…

National Poetry Month: Day 20

I'd never read this poem or heard of Jack Gilbert before a friend posted this the other day. I think it is a wonderful poem and so full of things to ponder.

A Brief for the Defense
by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjo…

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled posting

...for an important announcement. It's been fun posting poetry and I have more posts planned for the rest of the month. However, I haven't been writing about my life at all. I'm not sure if anyone cares too much at this point and I'm certainly not as eloquent as most poets out there. But I finally had some happy news on Tuesday and I wanted to share.

About six weeks ago I saw a job listing for a full-time library job at the university where I currently teach as an adjunct. I went ahead and applied, but then didn't hear back within a few weeks like I have for other jobs. I was a little perplexed that I didn't even get an interview; thankfully they were just slower than I had expected in interviewing. I interviewed last Friday morning and I actually did not think I had done that well. It was a longer interview than I had expected and I felt like I didn't answer things as well as I could have. However, I still kept having a feeling like this was the right job …

National Poetry Month: Day 18

by D.H. Lawrence

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

National Poetry Month: Day 17

On His Blindness
by John Milton

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."

National Poetry Month: Day 16

The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht 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 stretcht 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 home-spun 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 …

National Poetry Month: Day 15

I've heard the line from this poem about picking blackberries numerous times, but I had never sought it out in context until I was writing a talk about parables a few weeks ago. This section is from a much larger poem called "Aurora Leigh" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And, — glancing on my own thin, veined wrist, —
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude.

National Poetry Month: Day 14

One of the best poems about lost love that has ever been written.

by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer

Volverán las oscuras golondrinas
en tu balcón sus nidos a colgar,
y otra vez con el ala a sus cristales
jugando llamarán.

Pero aquellas que el vuelo refrenaban
tu hermosura y mi dicha a contemplar,
aquellas que aprendieron nuestros nombres...
¡esas... no volverán!.

Volverán las tupidas madreselvas
de tu jardín las tapias a escalar,
y otra vez a la tarde aún más hermosas
sus flores se abrirán.

Pero aquellas, cuajadas de rocío
cuyas gotas mirábamos temblar
y caer como lágrimas del día...
¡esas... no volverán!

Volverán del amor en tus oídos
las palabras ardientes a sonar;
tu corazón de su profundo sueño
tal vez despertará.

Pero mudo y absorto y de rodillas
como se adora a Dios ante su altar,
como yo te he querido...; desengáñate,
¡así... no te querrán!

(English version here)

National Poetry Month: Day 13

I totally forgot to post a poem yesterday. Oops! I first read this one on Jana's blog.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Reading Roundup: March 2012

I read a lot of books this month; some of them were quick reads and a number of them were Whitney finalists. I'm just about finished reading the categories that I chose--I plan to read everything except the speculative categories. 
Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett
I first checked out this book simply because I liked the cover. It's quite different from what you usually see on Cedar Fort books. The plot itself was fairly stereotypical (opposites attract and find they actually like each other), but the writing was fun and I had a good time reading it. Sometimes I wanted a bit more introspection from the characters, but since they are high school students that was probably a bit too much to ask for.
Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick
This book gave me a greater, more complex understanding of recent American history. Margolick doesn’t shy away from describing the difficult and ugly parts of our past, and he doesn’t try to force the story into a moral o…

National Poetry Month: Day 11

Last year when we went to California for the weekend to see a play, it was actually a double feature with another student work that dramatized poetry by Robert Hass. I'll confess that I'd never heard of Hass before (I don't pay much attention to modern poetry), and I was more interested in the play we came to see, but I kind of liked the other work as well. As I think I've mentioned before, I don't often spontaneously read poetry on my own, but I really love hearing it read out loud; that is when I enjoy it most This particular poem particularly touched me in its performance. I also find myself still mulling over the title; it's one of my favorite poem titles.

The World as Will and Representation
by Robert Hass

When I was a child my father every morning—
Some mornings, for a time, when I was ten or so,
My father gave my mother a drug called antabuse.
It makes you sick if you drink alcohol.
They were little yellow pills. He ground them
In a glass, dissolved them …

National Poetry Month: Day 10

I don't know at what age I first read this poem, but I was fairly young and this was my first real experience with symbolic language. I remember reading an explanation that talked about how the "resonance of emerald" and "rush of cochineal" described a hummingbird, and suddenly in my mind I could seeit. It was magical.

A Route of Evanescence
by Emily Dickinson

A Route of Evanescence,
With a revolving Wheel --
A Resonance of Emerald
A Rush of Cochineal--
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head--
The Mail from Tunis--probably,
An easy Morning's Ride--


National Poetry Month: Day 9

Time for something a little lighter.

Angels of Mercy
by Darlene Young
The Seventh Ward Relief Society
presidency argued long and soft
whether Janie Goodmansen deserved
to have the sisters bring her family meals.
It seems that precedent was vague—
no one was sure if “boob job” qualified
as a legitimate call for aid.
Janie herself had never asked for help—
a fault they found it harder to forgive
even than the vanity behind
the worldliness of D-cup ambition.
But in the end charity did not fail.
The sisters marched on in grim duty
each evening clutching covered casseroles
(for, after all, it wasn’t the children’s fault).
More than once, though, by some oversight
the dessert came out a little short, as if
by some consensus they all knew
that Janie’s husband, Jim, could do
without a piece of pie that night.

First published in Segullah

National Poetry Month: Day 8

Christ and Mary at the Tomb by Joseph Brickey Resurrection by John Donne

Moist with one drop of Thy blood, my dry soul
Shall—though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly—be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard or foul,
And life by this death abled shall control
Death, whom Thy death slew ; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death bring misery,
If in thy life-book my name thou enroll.
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which it was ;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sin's sleep and death soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last and everlasting day.

National Poetry Month: Day 7

Pieta by Michelangelo

My first major at BYU was Art History, and for that I had to take classes in either French, German, or Italian. I decided to take Italian and got through four semesters of it. We read this poem in my fourth semester class, and even years later I can still hear the way my instructor read it and her reverence for the words. The English translation does not quite caputure the feeling of the last line in Italian, because the phrase "a prender noi 'n croce le braccia", which can mean 'spreading his arms on the cross' or 'carrying us in his arms'. I thought this was a beautiful poem for today.

Rime 285 por Michelangelo Buonarroti

Giunto è già ’l corso della vita mia,
con tempestoso mar, per fragil barca,
al comun porto, ov’a render si varca
conto e ragion d’ogni opra trista e pia.

Onde l’affettüosa fantasia
che l’arte mi fece idol e monarca
conosco or ben com’era d’error carca
e quel c’a mal suo grado ogn’uom desia.

Gli amorosi pensier, già vani e l…

National Poetry Month: Day 6

An anonymous sonnet from Spain for Good Friday:

A Cristo crucificado
No me mueve, mi Dios, para quererte
el cielo que me tienes prometido;
ni me mueve el infierno tan temido
para dejar por eso de ofenderte.

Tú me mueves, señor; muéveme el verte
clavado en una cruz y escarnecido;
muéveme ver tu cuerpo tan herido;
muévenme tus afrentas y tu muerte.

Muéveme, en fin, tu amor, y en tal manera
que aunque no hubiera cielo, yo te amara,
y aunque no hubiera infierno, te temiera.

No me tienes que dar porque te quiera,
pues aunque cuanto espero no esperara,
lo mismo que te quiero te quisiera.

(You can read several different translations here)

National Poetry Month: Day 5

Way back when I was an undergraduate, before my mission, I took a class on Shakespeare. I had read some Shakespeare before, but this class particularly focused on rhetoric and on Shakespeare's writing. We spent quite a bit of time on the sonnets, and my professor even had us write a sonnet (mine wasn't very good), and I fell in love with sonnets. After that first time, I took several other classes on Early Modern literature, both in England and the rest of Europe. I still love sonnets; I love the way that a tight form governs word choice and I love their particular rhythm. A sonnet is beauty wrapped up in a neat little package.

This is a sonnet that I encountered several times in my studies. It was written by Sir Thomas Wyatt, who is generally considered to be the person who introduced the sonnet form to England through his translations of Petrach. He was a member of the Tudor court and was one imprisioned on suspicion of having an affair with Anne Boleyn. Many people think thi…

National Poetry Month: Day 4

Today's poem comes from someone I know, Sharlee Mullins Glenn. We've become friends through Segullah, which is also where I discovered this poem. I love the use of symbolic language in this poem and the way she explores choice in our lives.
Blood and Milk
I dreamed of Oxford . . .      (spires, a thousand spires, endless lectures, musty halls      a solitary self in a Bodleian expanse     A good life, my dear Wormwood. An orderly life.) then awakened to laundry      and things to be wiped      (countertops, noses, bottoms) How did this happen? And when, exactly?

Time flows, it flows, it flows
and there are choices to be made:
    left or right?     paper or plastic?     blood or milk? There’s freedom in the bleeding;
bondage in the milk—do not be deceived.
Ah, but it’s an empty freedom; a holy bondage,
A sweet and holy bondage.
Five times I chose the chains, those tender chains,
(though once will bind you just as well!)
and checked the crimson flow.
Suckled while dreaming of Tr…

National Poetry Month: Day 3

There are two books of poems that I remember well from my childhood. One was an edition of A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson that had illustrations made of string and burlap (very 1970s). I couldn't remember the name of the other book, but I could vividly remember most of the poems and stories from it. There was one about animal crackers, The Owl and the Pussycat, the Nonsense Alphabet from Edward Lear (A was once an apple pie...), and Wynken, Blinken, and Nod. Thankfully a bit of investigation on Google revealed the name of the book: The Bumper Book. I was so excited to find out what the name was! My kids don't seem to be as attached to particular books in the same way that I was, but if they were to fall in love with a book I wish it could be this one. A favorite poem from this was The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, which now that I read it is a little violent and disturbing. I think I just liked the sound of the words "gingham" and "ca…

National Poetry Month: Day 2

Yes, I know that there wasn't any Day 1. However, I have challenged myself to try posting a poem every day for this month and talk about it. I will admit that I rarely pick up poetry spontaneously, and though I like to complain that no one checks out the poetry books at the library, I don't either. Many of my friends are poets and I always feel a little guilty that I'm not so great and appreciating poetry in the way that I should. Nevertheless, when I started thinking about poetry the other day I could easily recall a number of poems that have touched my life in various ways. I will be posting them throughout the month and possibly commenting on them. Some are very well-known, some or not. Some are written by my friends, and I hope that if I omit some of my friend-poets they will forgive me. This is a personal challenge, but it's a loosely structured one.

Today I will start with a poem by Billy Collins that is a lot of fun. It's fairly well-known and you've pro…