I know it’s appropriate to post a patriotic poem on July 4th, but a poem by our first US Poet Laureate is the best I can do. It seems to me that this is one of the few formal poems that feels entirely natural.
The Silken Tent
She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.
I remember Frost’s fumbling at Kennedy’s inauguration–an old man then, and the first poet to be asked to read at such an event–such a different time. When asked to recite a poem, this was Frost’s response:
“If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration. I may not be equal to it but I can accept it for my cause — the arts, poetry — now for the first time taken into the affairs of statesmen. … I am glad the invitation pleases your family. It will please my family to the fourth generation and my family of friends and, were they living, it would have pleased inordinately the kind of Grover Cleveland Democrats I had for parents.” Continue reading “Brief history lesson” →
I see I’ve only posted one poem by Robert Frost in the history of this blog. Today’s post makes this two. He’s such a master of rhyme–could anyone else rhyme honeysuckle and knuckle without it seeming contrived?
He lived so long, it’s surprising to remember he was born in 1874. We always see the white-haired Frost–the one who read at Kennedy’s inauguration. But he was a young, unknown, driven, and ambitious man for a long time before that.
Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air
That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of–was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?
I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.
I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.
Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain
Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.
When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,
The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.
I thought I should revisit my “Blogs I read” listing, and discovered in the process that C. Dale is no longer adding to his blog, Avoiding the Muse. But I found an interesting question there: which poem first captured your imagination? Or as he put it: many poets can trace back and name the poem that first took hold of them, excited them beyond anything …the poem that elicited almost a conversion reaction.
Continue reading “The one…” →