Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Poems for October: "The Day is Done," "The Wild Swans," "Stepping Westward"

(week of Oct 5 - 11)

The Day is Done
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is done and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sorrow comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist.

A feeling of sadness and longing
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple, heartfelt lay
That will soothe this restless feeling
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime
Whose distant footsteps echo
Along the corridors of time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor
And tonight I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet
Whose song gushed from his heart
Like rain from the clouds of summer
Or tears from the eyelids start,

Who, through long days of labor
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have the power to quiet
The restless pulse of care
And come like a benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night will be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Will fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.


(week of Oct 12 - 18)

Wild Swans
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.

Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock the door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!


(week of Oct 19 -25)

Stepping Westward
by Denise Levertov

What is green in me
darkens, muscadine.

If woman is inconstant,
good, I am faithful to

ebb and flow, I fall
in season and now

is a time of ripening.
If her part

is to be true,
a north star,

good, I hold steady
in the black sky

and vanish by day,
yet burn there

in blue or above
quilts of cloud.

There is not savor
more sweet, more salt

than to be glad to be
what, woman,

and who, myself,
I am, a shadow

that grows longer as the sun
moves, drawn out

on a thread of wonder.
If I bear burdens

they begin to be remembered
as gifts, goods, a basket

of bread that hurts
my shoulders but closes me

in fragrance. I can
eat as I go.

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