coraa: (sunhawk)
Her Triumph

I did the dragon's will until you came
Because I had fancied love a casual
Improvisation, or a settled game
That followed if I let the kerchief fall:
Those deeds were best that gave the minute wings
And heavenly music if they gave it wit;
And then you stood among the dragon-rings.
I mocked, being crazy, but you mastered it
And broke the chain and set my ankles free,
Saint George or else a pagan Perseus;
And now we stare astonished at the sea,
And a miraculous strange bird shrieks at us
          -- William Butler Yeats
coraa: (sun)
It's Shakespeare, and it's a cliche, but the man could turn a beautiful phrase. I won't pretend he was without problems (hello, Taming of the Shrew! hello, The Merchant of Venice!), but I love this piece from Henry V as pure poetry, and also for its commentary on the limitations of art and the commensurate powers of imagination.

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

               - William Shakespeare
coraa: (juniper)
By the monk and poet Ryokan.

Translated by Steven Carter:

     It's all I think of: of when I was young,
     reading books in the empty temple hall
     —refilling the lamp again and again with oil,
     never lamenting the long winter night.

Or, in the original:

     一思少年時
     読書在空堂
     灯火数添油
     未厭冬夜長

(Edit: [personal profile] lnhammer points out that it's interesting that the second is in Chinese, which is interesting since Ryokan is Japanese. I don't know if it was originally written in Chinese, or if my source is a translation of a translation, but it is interesting.)
coraa: (sun)
Still feeling non-interactive, but I do want to start this up again. It's a poem that I feel like I ought to not like because it's... I dunno, I almost want to say 'too happy.' But I do like it, I think because it's such a different god than the god of my scary high school, and I keep coming back to read it. So here it is.

God Says Yes To Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

          — Kaylin Haught
coraa: (Default)
I haven't done this in forever, and I suspect that I already posted this poem anyway, but, hell, I want to post it again. It's one of my favorite love poems ever. Maybe my favorite love poem ever.

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands


-- e. e. cummings
coraa: (key faerie)
I haven't written poetry in quite some time, and this is entirely off-the-cuff, but I was Inspired. [livejournal.com profile] elisem makes beautiful jewelry with intriguing names, and she's having a sale on them right now, and one of the items is a pendant named "The Ladies' Afternoon Tea and Paranormal Research Society." And it made me want to write this.

So I did.

The Ladies' Afternoon Tea and Paranormal Research Society

The ladies meet on Sunday afternoons
for tea and scones.

(they leave a scone and milk for the brownies, and are not
disappointed when the scone is birdpecked, the milk untouched
but for the attentions of cats.
Miss Charlotte's oneirographic device reports:
the scone and milk are sucked quite dry of the proffered generosity
leaving only dairy, flour, raisins for animal attentions.)

They discuss the best way to tell an unrestful ghost
(a pitiable thing and worthy of aid)
from one of the Fair Folk
(dangerous, tricksy, unworthy of sympathy);
whether it is a breach of etiquette to use the aura viewer to determine the suitability of a daughter's suitor;
what runes are best to channel a leyline
so that it enhances one's fortunes
and does not spoil the milk.

They invite a spiritualist
hold hands and listen politely to the table's rapping
thank her kindly
and then smile to themselves as they examine the record from Miss Charlotte's oneirograph:
a flat line, no register at all
save for the spike when the hearth-hob emerged from its hole to see what they were about.

And when the tea is gone and the light begins to fall
they gather themselves
put on their hats
thank one another kindly
and return to the business of their lives and their households.

(Though Miss Charlotte must be careful
to wrap her device in warded silk
to keep it from chattering all night and disturbing her sister's sleep.)
coraa: (inspiration)
I was going to post this on Friday, per Friday Poetry Blogging (which I have been terribly remiss about), but I forgot, and now it's Sunday. Oh, well. It seems an appropriate Sunday poem, too.

I love Sherman Alexie. I read a number of his books in college, mostly poetry, some fiction (The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is fantastic), and saw Smoke Signals, for which he wrote the screenplay and which is based on The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. And of course last year I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Alexie is brilliant: sharp and lucid and a brilliant user of words, and also very, very funny, even when dealing with topics of great anger or sorrow. He writes about a lot of things, but principally about living as a modern Native American in the Northwest.

Then I moved to Seattle, and Pava introduced me to The Stranger, where I found Alexie's (then-running) column "Sonics Deathwatch," covering the Seattle vs. Clayton Bennett Sonics trial. Which was fascinating to me, because I'd been working under the college English-class inspired sense that this was a Serious Author, and in fact he is a Serious Author, but he's also a Serious Basketball Fan, and wrote very funny, sad, insightful articles about Seattle losing its pro basketball team.

Anyway. This week, The Stranger (who is not known for poetry publishing!) printed an Alexie poem, and, well, just go read it. It's good.

Unkissed
A Fibonacci Sequence Poem


And then go find The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and maybe watch Smoke Signals with me.
coraa: (ophelia)
I, Too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

- Langston Hughes
coraa: (badger)
(for the first time in a long time.)

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

          -- Emily Dickinson
coraa: (history)
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

          -- Emily Dickinson
coraa: (greenwild)
Theodora Goss is amazing beyond speaking. I want to buy everything she has written.

The Witch
-- Theodora Goss

Sometimes in the morning, the mist curled into the corners
Of the house like a cat, and Grimalkin, she would cry,
come to me, my Grimalkin. She would gather
the mist to her, and stroke it, and it would settle
in her lap, and lick itself.

Sometimes, she wove
cobwebs and out of the cloth, thin, gray, luminescent,
she would cut the pattern for a dress. But for what purpose?
Where could she wear it? Where could she go, except
to the pond, where she would kneel and dip her fingers
into the water, and stir, and out would jump
a trout, thick, silver, luminescent, and splashing
water onto her dress, whose hem was already
soaked and covered with mud.

She would make it speak,
recite Shakespearean sonnets, sing old songs,
before she put it into the pot. Witches
are lonely, but also hungry, and practical
in their impracticality. She had learned
how from her mother, the old witch, now dead
if witches are ever entirely dead, which is doubtful.

She never wondered who her father had been,
a peasant gathering wood, perhaps a hunter,
perhaps even a prince, on his way to the country
where a princess had been promised for dispatching
a dragon or something similar, and had seen
a light through the trees, and found her mother waiting,
and perhaps gone on the next morning, and perhaps not.

Her mother had built the house by the edge of the pond,
out of gray stone and branches of white birch,
birds’ nests and moss, and spit to hold it together.
That is how witches build what they call houses.
What they are not: sturdy, comfortable.
What they are: cold.

There was still a row of bottles
in the cupboard, holding martens’ eyes, dried frogs,
robins' eggs, random feathers, balls of string,
oak galls. She had forgotten what they were for.
From the rafters hung a fox's skeleton.

Once, village girls had come to visit her mother
for charms to attract the schoolmaster's attention,
make their rivals' hair fall out, abortions.

Afterward, they would say, Did you see her? Standing
by the door? In her ragged dress, with her tangled hair,
I tell you, she creeps me out. But they stopped coming
after the old witch disappeared and her daughter
was left alone. Sometimes she would remember
the smell of the bread in their pockets, the clink of coins,
their dresses covered with embroidery,
their whispering, and look at her reflection
in the pond, floating on the water like a ghost.

Sometimes she made the frogs at the edge of the pond,
calling to one another, speak to her.
"Pretty one," they would say, "in your spider silk,
in your birchbark shoes, like a princess lost in the woods,
kiss us." But she knew that was not her story.

Sometimes she would make the birds perch on her fingers
and sing to her: warblers, thrushes, chickadees,
and sing to them out of tune, then break their necks
and roast them.

Sometimes she would gather the stones
that had fallen from her house, and think of making
a dog, a stone dog. Then, she would forget.
It was the forgetting that made her what she was,
her mother's daughter. Witches never remember
important things: that fire burns, and that bottles
labeled poison are not to be drunk. Witches
are always doing what they should not, dancing
at midnight with the Gentleman, kicking their skirts
over the tops of their stockings, kissing frogs
they know perfectly well won't turn into princes.

She makes no magic. Although the stories won't tell you,
witches are magic. They do not need the props
of a magician, the costumes or the cards,
the scarves, the rabbits. They came down from the moon
originally, and it still calls to them,
so they go out at night, when the moon is shining,
and make no magic, but magic happens around them.

Sometimes at night she would look up at the moon
and call Mother? Mother? but never got an answer.

I want you to imagine: her ragged dress,
her hair like cobwebs, her luminescent eyes,
mad as all witches are, stirring the pond
like a cauldron (witches need no cauldrons, whatever
the stories tell you) while above her the clouds
are roiling and a storm is about to gather.
coraa: (inspiration)
This week, something different. I wrote this poem two years ago, in response to [livejournal.com profile] nanowripo. I don't write poetry usually -- prose is more my thing -- but, well, I've always mourned the fact that my birthday month gets short shrift -- not quite the harvesty goodness of September or October, not quite the holiday cheer and winteryness of December. But it's my month, darn it. I make no claims that the poem is very good; as I said, I don't write poetry, and I didn't edit this one between then and now, so it's also my writing two years old. But enough apologizing

This is a poem about winter in Southern California, because that's where I was when I wrote it, though some of it applies to Seattle, too.

hinge

the colors of November are soft
mild mellow -- slipping quietly
from one shade to another:
sunlight like poured honey, morning mists
gold-touched brown and red-touched yellow
dusty bluegreen tree-needles

now, the world stands in its hinge-time
in the north, a pause from warm to cold
light to dark
lively to sleeping
here in the softening south, the season turns another way:
brown to green
dry to wet
death to life at the beginning of the cool-time, the raining-time
standing at the threshold of winter in the desert

imported trees die into winter as native ones go quietly
greening into the rainseason

sink into cool and quiet
into slanted sunlight, softening clouds
as on the opposite roof the mothercat lies
a well-deserved rest
finally having weaned the last of her rowdy summer kittens
coraa: (moon)
Drinking Alone With The Moon

From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me –
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring....
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
...Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.

-- Li Bai (Tang Dynasty)
coraa: (juniper)
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry
coraa: (inspiration)
To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

-- Andrew Marvell
coraa: (kairi)
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                    i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-- e.e. cummings
coraa: (juniper)
Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.


Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.


Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.


Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.


-- William Butler Yeats
coraa: (inspiration)
Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

-- William Butler Yeats
coraa: (juniper)
Penelope

In the pathway of the sun,
  In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
  He shall ride the silver seas,
    He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
    They will call him brave.

-- Dorothy Parker
coraa: (juniper)
On Looking into the Eyes of a Demon Lover

Here are two pupils
whose moons of black
transform to cripples
all who look:

each lovely lady
who peers inside
take on the body
of a toad.

Within these mirrors
the world inverts:
the fond admirer's
burning darts

turn back to injure
the thrusting hand
and inflame to danger
the scarlet wound.

I sought my image
in the scorching glass,
for what fire could damage
a witch's face?

So I stared in that furnace
where beauties char
but found radiant Venus
reflected there.

-- Sylvia Plath

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