Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.
All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.
And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
-Dylan Thomas 1914-1963
Vested clergy, their souls
engorged by millennia
of annual hunts
for the elusive Lord Christ,
lead a caffeinated shuffle
across church parking lots.
Their parades track alleluias
and scatter astonishments past
sheds still mum.
Their processions spread praises
near dumfounded dumpsters,
as crane-neck lights blink and
doze off above them.
Wakened and softened by therapy
of the sun, soil underfoot waits
for seeds to be pressed in,
and for heavy root-ball offerings
to be presented from the knees,
to the altar of the earth,
prepared today, as on no other,
for glory and growth of mystery.
Spell for Encanto Creek
Tall blades of tufted grasses, keep on flowing.
Towhees like good ideas, keep on flowing.
Pooled water, black in shadow, green in sunshine,
with wild olives bending down to drink,
those figures coming daily to the bridge
to look at their two shadows on your surface,
keep them returning, keep them coming back.
Anything I praise praises your secret name–
the stream of the singing kettle,
a black night with stars sparking the bright branches,
fire furling about the oak in the grate,
the savor of soup, the mango seed I suck
not to waste the sweet fruit.
Don’t tell me your secret name,
No one–I want to sense it as the blind
tell words by touch, as the wind shivers
when the falcon soars from the thicket by the river,
rising with wings on fire toward the sun.
Margaret was one of the stars of the poetry world I invited to write an essay on a hymn or spiritual song for the anthology, Stars Shall Bend Their Voices.
If you write for a living, as a hobby, as therapy, as a spiritual exercise; if you are a student or a teacher, you will want this book on your shelf. Dreyer is the top-dog editor at Random House.
Grammars naturally have a school-master-scolding tone about them, but this one is washed in enough good humor, humility, and common sense to make it not only a valuable reference to current usage, but an entertaining read as well.
Reader/writers will find confusions clarified, memory blocks exposed, assumptions corrected and confirmed. It’s a funhouse and a playground for those who think about usage and grammar.
Sometime around 1850, Thoreau walked to Walden. There, among his other thoughts, were worries about what America was becoming, as the railroad was built beside his beloved pond. One hundred years later, and thirty miles north, Jack Kerouac worried about the America his immigrant father thought was crumbling under the weight of new immigrants, from other places, arriving to work in the mills.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell presents pure Kerouac, in Kerouac’s hometown, Lowell, Massachusetts. The script is by Sean Daniels, based on Kerouac’s unfinished trilogy of novels. The cast is diverse; the setting is pre-WWII. Themes of family and gender differences, of walls and war, of childhood lost and of the small town neatness messed up by warring instincts, are all there again.
It’s worth a drive to Kerouac’s town, where the American industrial revolution was born, to hear his words, when he was a young man. The parking is free in the lot of the hulking Catholic church next to a mill building, across the street from the theater.
I’m Thankful That My Life Doth Not Deceive
I’m thankful that my life doth not deceive
Itself with a low loftiness, half height,
And think it soars when still it dip its way
Beneath the clouds on noiseless pinion
Like the crow or owl, but it doth know
The full extent of all its trivialness,
Compared with the splendid heights above.
See how it waits to watch the mail come in
While ’hind its back the sun goes out perchance.
And yet their lumbering cart brings me no word,
Not one scrawled leaf such as my neighbors get
To cheer them with the slight events forsooth,
Faint ups and downs of their far distant friends—
And now ’tis passed. What next? See the long train
Of teams wreathed in dust, their atmosphere;
Shall I attend until the last is passed?
Else why these ears that hear the leader’s bells
Or eyes that link me in procession?
But hark! the drowsy day has done its task,
Far in yon hazy field where stands a barn,
Unanxious hens improve the sultry hour
And with contented voice now brag their deed—
A new laid egg—Now let the day decline—
They’ll lay another by tomorrow’s sun.
-Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862
There are thoughts that come to the door screen summer nights,
lured by a light kept on by
some childhood fear. They bump against it, or cling.
Darkness frees them.
There is love comes late, in darkness, and gives reason.
Body speckled, sweet as a pear.
the heart bears its weight.
At dusk, deep in the summer woods, a silence.
Something that was here, expected
to continue being here,
I see the line in my palm etched by fate and not yet
snipped. The afterlife,
what is it
if not a further body desire turns toward?
No clear edge to the universe, now the scientists tell us.
They describe an intense
fuzziness instead. World spins into other worlds as incandescent
as what arises from cocoons
ripening on the underskin of leaves and stars.
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.
-Richard Wilbur 1921-2017