“Sublimation”

“Go, hang these just-washed sheets out on the line.
Though last night’s snowdrifts rise above your knees,
The creek out back is silent, frozen solid,
And underneath the morning’s brilliant blue
The lazy, bitter breeze will burn your cheek,
The sun shines bright, so ere the evening falls
These cloths, though sopping now, will be as dry
As Sinai’s sandy, scorching wilderness.”

In the same way, if God will smile on me
With the bright sunshine of his countenance,
Though I feel sin and failures weigh me down
Like leaden chains, or thick and soaking wool,
They’ll lift from me, and pass away like dew,
As light as down, and all shall work his praise.

March by Isaac Levitan
The opening phrases of this poem came to me last month when I suddenly found myself thinking about sublimation by which water and ice pass away on sunny days even in winter’s bitter cold, and also about the spiritual, psychological, or alchemical sense of the term. And I found the alternate voice I found for the first lines interesting, and was minded to continue. I finished the poem earlier this week.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

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“Molly’s Wedding”

We come from under winter sun-lit skies
And, from first opening the door, we hear
Such golden flourishes of sound pour out
From silver strings that brighter smiles break forth.
Then, for not quite five hours’ space of time,
I almost float across the polished floor.
When words need scarce be said—hands, bows, and smiles
Exchanged amid each passage through the dance—
My heart cannot but leap for joy to see,
Experience, this poetry in motion: Continue reading

“Winter Morning”

Soft music gently flows around my shoulders;
Sunbeams play upon my heavy head.
Why can my bleary eyes not flutter open?
Why will this distressing dream not end?
It’s worse in winter: cold is kept at bay
By thick and heavy blankets piled high;
When half-awake, I sooner snuggle deep
Than throw this comfortable burden off.
Yet so I must; the morning is half gone,
And too much work remains for me to do.
“Wake up, O sleeper; from the dead now rise”—
And, oh! to have that trumpet call within!

I began composing this poem this morning while in the condition it describes; the first couple of lines went through several iterations before I settled on what you see above, and then I went on to the subsequent lines. Fortunately, I was awake enough to get up to write it down by the time I got about halfway through, because I would have started to forget earlier lines.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This is also archived on my wiki.

“First Snow”

The blades of grass have not yet bent their backs,
As soon enough they must in coming months,
But proudly bear these first few wisps of snow
As garlands, wreaths of honor, on their heads.
Mere hours later, when the night has passed,
The sunbeams frolic on the glistening white,
Amid the shadows of the trees, unheeding
Of the snowmelt-rivulets they make.

Another snowfall, once, under grey skies,
As I trudged slowly to and from my class,
Was to my spirit’s eyes made glorious
Despite the clouds that day, with sudden weight.
And so—though I grow maudlin—such a snow
Shall always make me think of you, dear friends,
Who by companionship lent happiness
And joy and even glory to that year.

We had a dusting of snow Monday evvening, and looking out at it that night, and then the next morning, prompted the image that began the above. And then my thoughts turned inexorably to another year’s first snow, which sparked my Untitled Metaphor #6.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive ” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“Stories”

As winter closes in and nights grow long,
The darkness and the cold repressing joy
As sun and birdsong once had made it spark,
I’ll curl or comfort in a blanket’s warmth
Ad turn my eyes from gloom to read a tale
Of gallant knights, intrepid ladies fair,
Of monsters grim, and homely happiness,
In worlds that were, or never could have been.
So if you seek me and I seem not here,
My mind’s indeed distracted, swept away
By skilful threads of fascinating story.

I wrote this earlier today, after pulling The Princess and the Goblin and Understood Betsy from our shelves earlier this month and spending much more time than I’d meant reading some newly-discovered (excellent, but very lengthy) fanfiction this week.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.

“Be thou with me”

Be thou with me, and I would brave the blast
Of bitter cold that blows to stay with thee.
Speak but the word, and I would run these miles
Between us just to see thy face again.

I wrote this several years ago, in a season of bitter cold, soon after I first became acquainted with the Bach aria “Bist du bei mir.” And it’s because of that piece’s role in sparking this poem that I leave the archaic familiar “thou” in, even though I otherwise stopped using it in my poetry not long after the writing of this poem.

I’ve wanted to revise and (especially) expand this poem for several years now, thinkinng of it more as a “fragment” than a “poem,” but lately I’ve come to see it as fit to stand on its own, so I decided to post it here once the weather turned wintry.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.