Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

 Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago. "Boxing Day" in Canada is December 26th.

Prayer on December 26th

We get up early, push and shove,
corral the cut-rate things we love,
forget the price You had to pay,
the cost incurred just yesterday.

And as we reach the check-out rows
with next year's tinsel, bells and bows,
forgive us that our vision fails
to see beyond the red tag sales.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"If someone said on Christmas Eve . . ."

Hugo and I have just finished packing our bags for the long trip to South America. But before we leave, I wanted to share my favorite Christmas poem with you. I never tire of reciting it, and it unfailingly warms my heart. Best wishes for a blessed and serene holiday season.

Love and Peace,

The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. 
   'Now they are all on their knees,'
An elder said as we sat in a flock
   By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
   They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
   To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
   In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
   'Come; see the oxen kneel

'In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
   Our childhood used to know,'
I should go with him in the gloom,
   Hoping it might be so.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter as a Face . . . As near as memory . . .

The Snow that never drifts

The Snow that never drifts --
The transient, fragrant snow
That comes a single time a Year
Is softly driving now --

So thorough in the Tree
At night beneath the star
That it was February's Foot
Experience would swear --

Like Winter as a Face
We stern and former knew
Repaired of all but Loneliness
By Nature's Alibit --

Were every storm so spice
The Value could not be --
We buy with contrast -- Pang is good
As near as memory --

-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Noel des enfants du Monde

Something to think about today . . . I taught this song to five classes of fifth & sixth graders on Monday. They loved it, and asked lots of questions, the best of which was for an explanation of the "parenthèse" metaphor for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sign on the dotted line . . .

I've just signed my book contract with Able Muse Press. "Lines of Flight" has finally taken wing! I would like to thank several poets who didn't ignore me -- and actually gave me encouraging written feedback -- when I sent them some sample poems in 2003: Richard Wilbur, Rhina P. Espaillat and Timothy Steele.

Also at that time, Rhina steered me in the direction of the Eratosphere, an online poetry workshop, where I timidly posted the poem "Under Olive Branches" (since then revised and renamed "Ruins"). I then received another note of encouragement from the wonderful formal poet A.E. Stallings, who wrote that my poem was "Deep End" material.

Since then, I've made many online poet friends and even met some of them in person.

A great big THANK YOU and cyber hug to all of you who have supported me in my poetic efforts! I'll keep you all posted on how things are proceeding with the book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dreams of Home

A fellow poet on the Eratosphere site has brought up the subject of dreams, and was wondering whether Jung had overestimated their importance. All I can say, from personal experience, is that dreams have played an important role in my own life, especially the recurring dream of trying to "find my way home". Over the past few years the dream has seen me take the following modes of transportation: boat, bus, train, plane, walking, flying, swimming, and even on a motor scooter! Each time, I recognize the landscape, but am unable to reach my final destination, which is Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (although my birthplace is NYC and I've lived in Canada since 1972!). Anyway, as the cliché goes, "Home is where the heart is", and Edna St. Vincent Millay had this to say about it in her sonnet lxiv (see below), which I also take to mean recognizing the source of true poetry:

Grow not too high, grow not too far from home,
Green tree, whose roots are in the granite's face!
Taller than silver spire or golden dome
A tree may grow above its earthy place,
And taller than a cloud, but not so tall
The root may not be mother to the stem,
Lifting rich plenty, though the rivers fall,
To the cold sunny leaves to nourish them.
Have done with blossoms for a time, be bare;
Split rock; plunge downward; take heroic soil, -
Deeper than bones, no pasture for you there;
Deeper than water, deeper than gold and oil:
Earth's firey core alone can feed the bough
That blooms between Orion and the Plough.

Between Orion and the Plough (The Big Dipper) lies Lynx. Lynx resembles a bough, or better still, an albatross, the symbol of the poet!

Friday, November 26, 2010


November 26, 2010. Freezing rain overnight. Ice covers everything this morning. Time to get out the skates or fly south!

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.