from Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is from Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” This except encourages me to keep writing “through obscurity.”

from Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”

… if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worthwhile.

Virgina Woolf

Ruth Stone’s “Train Ride”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is Ruth Stone’s “Train Ride.” This is one of the few poems I have memorized. Its duality is outside of reality to me, in a magical and reassuring way. It’s what I want all my poems to be.

Train Ride

All things come to an end;
small calves in Arkansas,
the bend of the muddy river.
Do all things come to an end?
No, they go on forever.
They go on forever, the swamp,
the vine-choked cypress, the oaks
rattling last year’s leaves,
the thump of the rails, the kite,
the still white stilted heron.
All things come to an end.
The red clay bank, the spread hawk,
the bodies riding this train,
the stalled truck, pale sunlight, the talk;
the talk goes on forever,
the wide dry field of geese,
a man stopped near his porch
to watch. Release, release;
between cold death and a fever,
send what you will, I will listen.
All things come to an end.
No, they go on forever.

                                    Ruth Stone

 

 

Yannis Ritsos’s “January 21”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is Yannis Ritsos’s “January 21.” Oh, to have written that last image.

 

January 21

 

A cessation.

You’re not searching.

How nice it is tonight.

Two birds fell asleep in your pocket.

 

                                                      Yannis Ritsos

Russell Edson’s “With Sincerest Regrets”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is Russell Edson’s “With Sincerest Regrets.” This poem cracks me up. I love making poems funny.

WITH SINCEREST REGRETS

Like a white snail the toilet slides into the living room, demanding to be loved.
It is impossible, and we tender our sincerest regrets.
In the book of the heart there is no mention made of plumbing.

And though we have spent our intimacy many times with you, you belong to a rather unfortunate reference, which we would rather not embrace…

The toilet slides out of the living room like a white snail, flushing with grief…

 

                                                Russell Edson

Charles Wright’s “WHAT DO YOU WRITE ABOUT, WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is Charles Wright’s “WHAT DO YOU WRITE ABOUT, WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?”

“Never again, never again” is often the feeling that spurs a poem in me.

 

WHAT DO YOU WRITE ABOUT, WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?

 

Landscape, of course, the idea of God and language

itself, that pure grace

which is invisible and sure and clear,

fall equinox two hours old,

pine cones dangling and doomed over peach tree and privet,

clouds bulbous and buzzard-traced.

The Big Empty is also a subject of some note,

dark dark and never again,

the missing word and there you have it,

heart and heart beat,

never again and never again,

backdrop of beack yard and earth and sky

jury-rigged carefully into place,

wind from the west and then some,

everything up and running hard,

everything under way,

never again never again.

 

                                                Charles Wright, Appalachia

Robert Frost’s “Good Hours”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is Robert Frost’s “Good Hours.” The rhyme in the 5th and 6th lines breaks my heart every time.

 

GOOD HOURS

I had for my winter evening walk—
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.

 

                        Robert Frost

From Louise Gluck’s “Fugue”

I’m posting a series of poems and excerpts from poems and essay that I love. Today’s is from Louise Gluck’s poem “Fugue,” from the book Averno. The mix of memory and myth creates magic.

 

From FUGUE

 

6.

I had a dream: my mother fell out of a tree.

After she died, the tree died:

it had outlived its function.

My mother was unharmed—her arrows disappeared, her wings

turned into arms. Fire creatures. Sagittarius. She finds herself in—

 

a suburban garden. It is coming back to me.

 

I put the book aside. What is a soul?

A flag flown

too high on the pole, if you know what I mean.

 

The body

cowers in the dreamlike underbrush.

 

Well, we are here to do something about that.

 

(In a German accent.)

 

I had a dream: we are at war.

My mother leaves her crossbow in the high grass.

 

(Sagittarius, the archer.)

 

My childhood, closed to me forever,

turned gold like an autumn garden,

mulched with a thick layer of salt marsh hay.

10.

A golden bow: a useful gift in wartime.

 

How heavy it was—no child could pick it up.

 

Except me: I could pick it up.

 

 

                        Louise Glück