Tuesday, December 20, 2016

One Kindred Spider

By Robert Frost

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One Quelled Child

from The Woman Who Cannot

The woman who cannot bring forth her child: go to a dead man’s grave and then step three times over the grave, and then say these words three times:

This is my cure for the loathsome late-birth
This is my cure for the bitter black-birth
This is my cure for the loathsome imperfect-birth

And when that woman is with child and she goes to her lord in his bed, then let her say:

Up I go, over you I step,
with a quick child, not a quelled one,
with a full-born one, not a doomed one.

And when the mother feels the child is quick, go then to a church, and when she comes before the altar say then:

Christ, I said it. This has been uttered.

The woman who cannot bring forth her child: grasp a handful of her own child’s grave, and after that, bind it in black wool and sell it to peddlers, and say then:

I sell it, you sell it.
This blackened wool, this sorrow seed.

--Anonymous, translated from the Old English by Miller Oberman

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Fiery Risk

We gave a helping hand to grass–
it turned into corn.
We gave a helping hand to fire–
it turned into a rocket.

we give a helping hand
to people,
to some people...

--By Miroslav Holub

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

One Flat Land

from Special Problems in Vocabulary
By Tony Hoagland

There is no single particular noun
for the way a friendship,
stretched over time, grows thin,
then one day snaps with a popping sound.

No verb for accidentally
breaking a thing
while trying to get it open
 —a marriage, for example.

....There is no expression, in English, at least,
for avoiding the sight
of your own body in the mirror,
for disliking the touch

of the afternoon sun,
for walking into the flatlands and dust
that stretch out before you
after your adventures are done.

No adjective for gradually speaking less and less,
because you have stopped being able
to say the one thing that would
break your life loose from its grip.

....No word for waking up one morning
and looking around,
because the mysterious spirit

that drives all things
seems to have returned,
and is on your side again.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

One Dead Sea

By Zbigniew Herbert

We walk by the sea-shore
holding firmly in our hands
the two ends of an antique dialogue
—do you love me?
—I love you

with furrowed eyebrows
I summarize all wisdom
of the two testaments
astrologers prophets
philosophers of the gardens
and cloistered philosophers

and it sounds about like this:
—don’t cry
—be brave
—look how everybody

you pout your lips and say
—you should be a clergyman
and fed up you walk off
nobody loves moralists

what should I say on the shore of
a small dead sea

slowly the water fills
the shapes of feet which have vanished

--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott | Book

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

One Deep Bed

The Tides 
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I saw the long line of the vacant shore,
The sea-weed and the shells upon the sand,
And the brown rocks left bare on every hand,
As if the ebbing tide would flow no more.
Then heard I, more distinctly than before,
The ocean breathe and its great breast expand,
And hurrying came on the defenseless land
Th'insurgent waters with tumultuous roar.
All thought and feeling and desire, I said,
Love, laughter, and the exultant joy of song
Have ebbed from me forever! Suddenly o’er me
They swept again from their deep ocean bed,
And in a tumult of delight, and strong
As youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

One Freighted If

from In Memoriam A. H. H.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Calm is the morn without a sound,
 Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
 And only thro' the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground: 

Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
 And on these dews that drench the furze.
 And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold:

Calm and still light on yon great plain
 That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
 And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main:

Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
 These leaves that redden to the fall;
 And in my heart, if calm at all,
If any calm, a calm despair:

Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
 And waves that sway themselves in rest,
 And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.