RemembranceDay

As did many Canadians today, I attended a Remembrance Day service during which prayers, poems, and poignant stories were shared in honour of those who’d served and sacrificed. This Thomas Hardy poem was recited and keenly captures the wry reality of conflict.

 

The Man He Killed by Thomas Hardy

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because—
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like—just as I—
Was out of work—had sold his traps—
No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

– See more at: http://allpoetry.com/The-Man-He-Killed#sthash.RMnyGtbD.dpuf

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Spring with Mary Oliver

March 20, 2014

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Mary Oliver simply writes the most beautiful, evocative poetry. The first day of Spring seemed like the ideal time to draw your attention to her spunky spirit and love of Nature. Gosh it was hard to narrow down the quotes from her poems – I have collected so many. You may recall her Peonies poem being featured here a few years ago. I encourage you to take a Spring stroll through the pages of any one of her books, savouring the images she paints with her words as you go. She has won many awards (a little one called the Pulitzer among them) and she is widely cherished though rarely appears in the media. Fortunately, she has made good use of her quiet time and has many volumes available, the most recent being these two:

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“Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.”

― Mary Oliver

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Happy Spring to you!

Long time readers will know I have a special place in my heart for poems and have been inclined to share a stand-out with you now and then. I couldn’t resist gifting you this one.

A secret indulgence of mine has been to tune into the charming, and inspiring, “bent-lily” blog for a poetic perk in my day. Samantha Reynolds is a Vancouver-based entrepreneur and a mother who, desiring to be mindful of the moments in her baby son’s first year, decided to write a poem a day capturing the essence of even the tiniest events. (Some of us just aimed to take a shower!) Samantha has compiled a wonderful archive of poetry, along with other creative thoughts and opportunities, at bentlily.com. My secret is no-more, I encourage you to visit!

And so, I share this little gem with you in honour of Mother’s Day. As a mum of boys, I remember all too well, moments like these. My boys are now long past the toddler stage and it’s my actions causing the embarrassment (they tell me) so I loved this little trip back in time. I marvel at how simply Samantha creates the scene.

We sneak into the elevator before it closes
us with our cart full of groceries
her with just one cloth bag

I blurt out would you mind
if my son presses the button
but her face doesn’t move
so that I wonder if she is deaf
or sad or just as austere as she looks
her hair grey as stone
her potato-coloured raincoat
her sensible shoes
which is when my son
turns to me and asks

does that lady have a bagina

which had been a topic over breakfast
who does and doesn’t
the mention of certain people
making us both giggle

but in the confines of the elevator
and the brittle twitch of her old cheek
his question turns my brain to mud
and I am trapped in the boiling
heat of awkwardness

then the doors open
and with a voice as light as a moth
and a look that absolves me
she says

would you believe
I left it at home.

(Bagina, by Samantha Reynolds, April 27, 2013)

The Gardener

Happy Mother’s Day

Daffodils

March 15, 2013

Daffodils

I just planted some baby daffodils and it put a spring in my step. Spring! Get it? Happy spring break to you … Here’s an oldie but a goodie:

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gaz’d–and gaz’d–but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

William Wordsworth Poems in Two Volumes: Moods of my Mind 7 (1807)

 

 

Peonies

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

(from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver)

I discovered Mary Oliver through this interview with Maria Shriver and have been a fan ever since. Today we’ll post about peonies; Mary will have a post of her own another day soon!

I, like most Canadians, was enthralled with the spoken word performance of Shane Koyczan at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver. Click here if you are not familiar with it or if you just want to wander down memory lane. Mark Grist (link below) is also a Spoken Word artist and has performed the following poem. I couldn’t resist including the written version. It’s tremendous!

(Saucy language ahead – consider thy sensibilities and thyself warned)

I WANT A GIRL WHO READS

by Mark Grist

“So, what do you go for in a girl?”
He crows, lifting a lager to his lips
Gestures where his mate sits
Downs his glass
“He prefers tits
I prefer ass.
What do you go for in a girl?”

I don’t feel comfortable
The air left the room a long time ago
All eyes are on me
Well, if you must know

I want a girl who reads
Yeah. Reads.
I’m not trying to call you a chauvinist
Cos I know you’re not alone in this
but…

I want a girl who reads
Who needs the written word
& uses the added vocabulary
She gleans from novels and poetry
To hold lively conversation
In a range of social situations

I want a girl who reads
Whose heart bleeds at the words of Graham Greene
Or even Heat magazine
Who’ll tie back her hair while reading Jane Eyre
and goes cover to cover with each Waterstones three for two offer
but I want a girl who doesn’t stop there

I want a girl who reads
Who feeds her addiction for fiction
With unusual poems and plays
That she hunts out in crooked bookshops for days and days and days
She’ll sit addicted at breakfast, soaking up the back of the cornflakes box
And the information she gets from what she reads makes her a total fox
Cos she’s interesting & unique
& her theories make me go weak at the knees

I want a girl who reads

A girl whose eyes will analyse
The menu over dinner
Who’ll use what she learns to kick my ass in arguments
so she always ends the winner
But she’ll still be sweet and she’ll still be flirty
Cos she loves the classics and the classics are dirty
So late at night she’d always have me in a stupor
As she paraphrases the raunchier moments from the works of Jilly Cooper

See, some guys prefer asses
Some prefer tits
And I’m not saying that I don’t like those bits
But what’s more important
What supercedes
For me
Is a girl a with passion, wit and dreams
So I want a girl who reads.

 

Ahhhh Bookshelves

March 12, 2012

When it comes to furniture shopping I think I’d be content to buy but only bookshelves … apparently I’m not alone. Here is a poem by Robert Service and a quote from Anna Quindlen and a few images of lovely shelves to admire …

 Book Lover

I keep collecting books I know
I’ll never, never read;
My wife and daughter tell me so,
And yet I never heed.
“Please make me,” says some wistful tome,
“A wee bit of yourself.”
And so I take my treasure home,
And tuck it in a shelf.

And now my very shelves complain;
They jam and over-spill.
They say: “Why don’t you ease our strain?”
“some day,” I say, “I will.”
So book by book they plead and sigh;
I pick and dip and scan;
Then put them back, distrest that I
Am such a busy man.

Now, there’s my Boswell and my Sterne,
my Gibbon and Defoe;
To savour Swift I’ll never learn,
Montaigne I may not know.
On Bacon I will never sup,
For Shakespeare I’ve no time;
Because I’m busy making up
These jingly bits of rhyme.

Chekov is caviare to me,
While Stendhal makes me snore;
Poor Proust is not my cup of tea,
And Balzac is a bore.
I have their books, I love their names,
And yet alas! they head,
With Lawrence, Joyce and Henry James,
My Roster of Unread.

I think it would be very well
If I commit a crime,
And get put in a prison cell
And not allowed to rhyme;
Yet given all these worthy books
According to my need,
I now caress with loving looks,
But never, never read.

Robert William Service
“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” – Anna Quindlen