Category Archives: American Poets

Dienstag Dictung XXIII

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child leaving his be wander’d alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower’d halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.

–Walt Whitman

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Dienstag Dictung XXI

Instruments (2)

Hold me against the dark: I am afraid.
Circle me with your arms. I am made
So tiny and my atoms so unstable
That at any moment I may explode. I am unable
To contain myself in unity. My outlines shiver
With the shock of living. I endeavor
To hold the I as one only for the cloud
Of which I am a fragment, yet to which I’m vowed
To be responsible. Its light against my face
Reveals the witness of the stars, each in its place
Singing, each compassed by the rest,
The many joined to one, the mightiest to the least.
It is so great a thing to be an infinitesimal part
of this immeasurable orchestra the music bursts the heart,
And from this tiny plosion all the fragments join:
Joy orders the disunity until the song is one.

–Madeleine L’Engle

Dienstag Dictung XIX

You know you’ve done enough when every bone is sore
You know you’ve prayed enough when you don’t ask any more
You know you’re coming to some kind of understanding
When every dream you’ve dreamed has passed and you’re still standing
Mama says God tends to every little skinny sheep
So count your ribs and say your prayers and get to sleep
Nothing is louder to God’s ears than a poor mans sorrow
Daddy is poor today and he will be poor tomorrow

Hey that’s the poor man’s house
Everybody get a look at the poor man’s house
Everywhere they went before must have turned them out
And now they’re living in a poor man’s house

There’s nothing like poverty to get you into heaven
They got a lot of wine and fish up there and the bread’s unleavened
They got a lot of ears that heard a whip go crack
Lots of missing toes and fingers and scars upon their backs
Daddy’s been working too much for days and days he doesn’t eat
He never says much but I think this time it’s got him beat
It isn’t that he isn’t strong or kind or clever
Your daddy’s poor today and he will be poor forever

Hey that’s the poor man’s house
Those kids are living in a poor man’s house
They walk to school with the soles of their shoes worn out
And come home in the evening to the poor man’s house

What are you chopping that wood for
Why are you growing that corn
Mama’s sewing a brand new shirt and
You’re wearing the one that’s torn
I guess it’s for some one else’s kid who wasn’t born
In a poor man’s house

Hey take a look at that house
Everybody we’re living in a poor man’s house
Seems like everywhere we go they find us out
Find out that we’ve been living in a poor man’s house

— Patty Griffin

Dienstag Dictung XVII

Five-Finger Exercise

When things get hot and heavy this weekend or one August
twenty years from now, and I start tapping hexameters
up and down the shoulder-blades of my beloved (insert
auspicious, trustworthy-sounding, stolid but fun name here
for I can conjure none), I hope I do it right,
never losing sight of the skin whose golden toughness
allows the counting, never moving my fingers so briskly
that I can’t hear his breathing, and never forgetting, even
in the lonely heights of sublimest inspiration—
What is your substance?… O rose … and grey and full of sleep—
to flip the warm flesh over and whisper, It had to be you.


–Rachel Wetzsteon


Dienstag Dictung XIII

Through Storm

Love cannot always ride a pleasant sea,
     Lulled by soft breezes o’er caressing blue;
     Life’s frigate, packed with eager thoughts for crew,
Wherein affianced souls sail gloriously
On time’s wide ocean toward their desting,
     Shuns not the tempest, though its wrath may strew
     Drear shores with wreckage of the fair and true,
Or whelm all longings in eternity:

But God, I thank thee for the might of storm
     To toss and buffet love and test its power,
That when the splendid sun’s refulgent form
     Bursts through the sullen clouds that darkly lower,
The evanescent arch of light will shine,–
Token of everlasting love divine.

–Charles Keeler

Dienstag Dictung XII

Joy

Let a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere–
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

— Carl Sandburg

Dienstag Dictung X

My Favorite Things
(Sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things” by Richard Rogers)

Baskets of geodes and bowls of black candy,
Cans of E. Bola and bottles of brandy,
Vats of dead flies that I swatted myself,
These are the things that I keep on my shelf.

Vases of tulips and piles of glass dishes,
Aquariums full of tropical fishes,
Fairy tale books about Tiny the Elf,
These are the things that I keep on my shelf.

Chorus:
These are the things, I remember, when I’m all alone,
And when I remember these wonderful things, it livens up life’s dull drone!

Platters of spiders and cases of vapor,
Flasks of Yttrium and folders of paper,
The severed head of a Hawaiian boar,
These are the things that I keep in my drawer.

Boxes of seashells and samples of hail,
Jars of red sand and a scorpion’s tail,
Gopher intestines all covered in gore,
These are the things that I keep in my drawer.

Chorus

Pungent old gym socks and a spittle bug’s spittle,
Delicious goat’s meat that’s right from the grittle,
Lycopod leaves and some chattering teeth,
These are the things that I keep down beneath.

Dozens of cow eyes and droplets of oil,
Green chloropicrin that’s starting to boil,
Piles of unsalted and now rotten beef,
These are the things that I keep down beneath.

Chorus

Pieces of termites and bushels of barley,
Baskets of roots and my old rusted Harley,
Pictures of Grandpa who has long been dead,
These are the things that I keep under my bed.

Dinosaur ligaments attached to femurs,
Test tubes of ancient pine scent toilet cleaners,
Rocks from volcanoes that glow eerie red,
These are the things that I keep under my bed.

— Nathan Roy (age 8 or so…)