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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Sun. 07/11/04 09:33:10 AM

Three from Matthiessen II

Poems from The Oxford Book of American Verse.

The Sunday Poetry Series is one year old this week!


It is time to be old,
To take in sail:—
The gods of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: "No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There's not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,—fault of novel germs,—
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,—
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb."

As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
"Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed."

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)



Solemnly, mournfully,
   Dealing its dole,
The Curfew Bell
   Is beginning to toll.

Cover the embers,
   And put out the light;
Toil comes with the morning,
   And rest with the night.

Dark grow the windows,
   And quenched is the fire;
Sound fades into silence,—
   All footsteps retire.

No voice in the chambers,
   No sound in the hall!
Sleep and oblivion
   Reign over all!


The book is completed,
   And closed, like the day;
And the hand that has written it
   Lays it away.

Dim grow its fancies;
   Forgotten they lie;
Like coals in the ashes,
   They darken and die.

Song sinks into silence,
The story is told,
   The windows are darkened,
The hearth-stone is cold.

Darker and darker
   The black shadows fall;
Sleep and oblivion
   Reign over all.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

"The last night that she lived"

The last night that she lived,
It was a common night,
Except the dying; this to us
Made nature different.

We noticed smallest things,—
Things overlooked before,
By this great light upon our minds
Italicized, as 't were.

That others could exist
While she must finish quite,
A jealousy for her arose
So nearly infinite.

We waited while she passed;
It was a narrow time,
Too jostled were our souls to speak,
At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot;
Then lightly as a reed
Bent to the water, shivered scarce,
Consented, and was dead.

And we, we placed the hair,
And drew the head erect;
And then an awful leisure was,
Our faith to regulate.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
As edited by Todd & Higginson.

The Oxford Book of American Verse (1950), ed. F.O. Matthiessen, ## 50, 54, 193; pp. 111f, 117f, 437f.

See also Three from Matthiessen: Poems from The Oxford Book of American Verse.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 07/11/04 09:33:10 AM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.


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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”