Little Brown Birdies #2

As you may have guessed, I was going to post Edna Jacques’ poem about the birds that came to her yard in spring. I decided not to for fear of the Copyright Infringement Police, but I forgot to remove the title. My apologies for the confusion!

However, I’ll give you another poem about little birds. This one by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman is a bit more complex, but just as good, I think.

March

Over the dripping roofs and sunk snow-barrows,
The bells are ringing loud and strangely near,
The shout of children dins upon mine ear
Shrilly, and like a flight of silvery arrows
Showers the sweet gossip of the British sparrows,
Gathered in noisy knots of one or two,
To joke and chatter just as mortals do
Over the days long tale of joys and sorrows;

Talk before bed-time of bold deeds together,
Of thefts and fights, of hard-times and the weather,
Till sleep disarm them, to each little brain
Bringing tucked wings and many a blissful dream,
Visions of wind and sun, of field and stream,
And busy barn-yards with their scattered grain.

By Archibald Lampman

The Crowded Street

Today’s contribution to National Poetry Month is a long verse by William Cullen Bryant, an American poet who lived from 1794-1878. I often have the same sort of thoughts as I watch humanity flow past me on the crowded street or in a mall.

The Crowded Street

by William Cullen Bryant

Let me move slowly through the street,
filled with an ever-shifting train,
amid the sound of steps that beat
the murmuring walks like autumn rain.

How fast the flitting figures come!
The mild, the fierce, the stony face —
some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some
where secret tears have left their trace.

They pass — to toil, to strife, to rest;
to halls in which the feast is spread;
to chambers where the funeral guest
in silence sits beside the dead.

And some to happy homes repair,
where children, pressing cheek to cheek,
with mute caresses shall declare
the tenderness they cannot speak.

And some, who walk in calmness here,
shall shudder as they reach the door
where one who made their dwelling dear,
its flower, its light, is seen no more.

Youth with pale cheek and slender frame,
and dreams of greatness in thine eye,
goest thou to build an early name
or early in the task to die?

Keen son of trade, with eager brow!
Who is now fluttering in thy snare?
Thy golden fortunes, tower they now,
or melt the glittering spires in air?

Who of this crowd tonight shall tread
the dance till daylight gleam again?
Who, sorrow o’er the untimely dead?
Who, writhe in throes of mortal pain?

Some famine-struck, shall think how long
the cold dark hours, how slow the light;
and some, who flaunt amid the throng,
shall hid in dens of shame tonight.

Each, where his tasks or pleasures call,
they pass, and heed each other not.
There is who heeds, who holds them all
in His large love and boundless thought.

These struggling tides of life, that seem
in wayward, aimless course to tend
are eddies of the mighty stream
that rolls to its appointed end.

Hope

Today, in honor of National Poetry Month, I’m posting a verse by American poet Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886. She was extremely prolific, penning almost 1800 mostly short but inspiring verses. However, less than a dozen were published during her short lifetime; the rest were discovered by her sister after she died.

Hope Is A Strange Invention

Hope is a strange invention —
A Patent of the Heart —
In unremitting action
Yet never wearing out —

Of this electric Adjunct
Not anything is known
But its unique momentum
Embellish all we own —

The Windows of Poetry

April is National Poetry Month and the League of Canadian Poets has adopted the theme, Celebrate nature with poetry. Which suits me just fine: I like to write about nature.

Imagine yourself walking down a long hall with a good friend. In this hallway there are a number of small windows, and as you pass each one, your friend points out some particular scene just outside that window. Something is happening out there that they want you to notice.

Like a painting, a good poem is a window on some scene in life and a book of poetry is like a line of windows. At each one you stop as your poet friend draws your attention to some detail outside. Some writers will make more comment what they’re pointing out, some less.

Poets of long ago gave readers the whole story and their take on what they are seeing. For example, Robert Burns’ To A Louse, is an eight-verse poem about a louse he saw crawling on a fine lady’s hat in church. Seven are saying, “This is what I see”:
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her—
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

And then the punch line, now famous around the world:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion:
What airs in dress an gait wad lea’es us,
An ev’n devotion!

These words have resonated with readers of all ages, since we’ve all seen people with foolish notions of their own importance and wish they could see just how their behavior looks to us. Sometimes, on reading these lines, we may shake our heads as we think of situations in the past when we acted like a know-it-all, a snob or an airhead. We see it clearly now, and surely everyone around us saw back then how silly, selfish, or defensive our attitude was. It’s amazing, when we’re trying our best to put on a persona, how much of our real self sticks out.

In our day, poets tend to rather describe what they are seeing and let you draw your own conclusions. I appreciate both kinds of verses, the one that evokes a feeling as well as the one that delivers an understanding — actually a good poem should do both. I have a harder time appreciating verses where I haven’t a clue what the writer is trying to say. No matter what size or style, give me an accessible poem any day.

For National Poetry Month I’m going to try to post a verse a day, plus get my book of haiku & senryu published. I HAD it all prepared, but glitches arose… Today I’m going back to “Self-Pub U” and hope to learn how to insert images properly. Sigh…

Life is learning, and I have lots more to do. 😉