Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"And many a dancing April"

Blue squills on the McGill University campus. McGill Sustainability Project

Blue Squills


How many million Aprils came
         Before I ever knew
How white a cherry bough could be,
         A bed of squills, how blue.

And many a dancing April
         When life is done with me,
Will lift the blue flame of the flower
         And the white flame of the tree.

Oh, burn me with your beauty, then,
         Oh, hurt me, tree and flower,
Lest in the end death try to take
         Even this glistening hour.

O shaken flowers, O shimmering trees,
         O sunlit white and blue,
Wound me, that I through endless sleep
         May bear the scar of you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

from Earth Science Digital Library

One of my favorite Millay sonnets. I have my own interpretation of the ending couplet and, in essence, the entire poem. I believe the secret lies in uncovering what she means by "the bough/That blooms between Orion and the Plough."  I would love to hear other readers' ideas on this beautiful poem.

"Grow not too high" -- sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from The Buck in the Snow

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 fiery core alone can feed the bough
That blooms between Orion and the Plough.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Literary Bohemian - Current Issue (22)

The Susquehanna River

Pleased to post a link to my poem, "Watershed", published in The Literary Bohemian this week.

Thanks to Carolyn, Colin and Kristen!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12: Lucid Dreaming Day

My poem,"Oneironaut" (first published in 14 by 14, Issue 1, December 2007) is about lucid dreaming.

It was reprinted in the U.K. journal, Orbis  (#144, Fall 2008) and is the first poem in my book, Lines of Flight (Able Muse Press, 2011).

"Oneironaut" is recorded on SpokenVerse. HERE's the YouTube video and more information on the process.

Sweet dreams!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Naiotnal Poetry Month - A Terrible Beauty

Easter, 1916

by William Butler Yeats

I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

More info on the poem HERE.

Friday, April 3, 2015

National Poetry Month - Day 3

No poem today.

Just a bit of advice to poets: never have a third-rate novelist review your book of poetry. Especially if you are a metrist.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

National Poetry Month - Day 2

An area in West Wales where Dylan Thomas spent his summers at his aunt and uncle's dairy farm
"Fern Hill", one of my Top Ten.  You can hear Dylan Thomas read it HERE.

HERE is some information on Dylan Thomas's life in Wales, including some photos.

Fern Hill

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be 
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.
     And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
     Flying with the ricks, and the horses
          Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
     Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
          The sky gathered again
     And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
     Out of the whinnying green stable
          On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
     In the sun born over and over,
          I ran my heedless ways,
     My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
     Before the children green and golden
          Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
     In the moon that is always rising,
          Nor that riding to sleep
     I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
     Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month - Day 1

I would never accept the "challenge" of writing a poem a day for a month. In my case, since I write very slowly and revise continually (example: it's April 1 and I've only written one poem to my satisfaction this year!), this effort would be onerous and doomed to fail.

However, I will try to post one poem a day on The Wonderful Boat, either one of my poems or a poem I particularly love.

To start off the month, here's my "Setback", first published in 14 by 14  in 2008, and part of my first collection, Lines of Flight (page 20):


I'd seen a goldfinch, days were getting mild,
the crocuses were up, and I could hear
the wild geese honking on the pond. Beguiled,
I'd set the garden chairs in place in sheer
delight. The northern winter-spring transition
is never easy, but I'd hoped this year --
Alicia's cancer gone into remission --
that April would be kind. Then we had snow
this afternoon, a boreal admonition:
Not so fast. Not so
               Oh, to be the quiet sort
who bow their heads, accept the status quo,
conceding there's a God and we're his sport,
that winter is so long, and life so short!