Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Sun. 07/18/04 07:23:39 AM

Three from Matthiessen III

Poems from The Oxford Book of American Verse.

Sic Vita

I am a parcel of vain strivings tied
      By a chance bond together,
Dangling this way and that, their links
      Were made so loose and wide,
         For milder weather.

A bunch of violets without their roots,
      And sorrel intermixed,
Encircled by a wisp of straw
      Once coiled about their shoots,
                  The law
         By which I'm fixed.

A nosegay which Time clutched from out
      Those fair Elysian fields,
With weeds and broken stems, in haste,
      Doth make the rabble rout
                  That waste
         The day he yields.

And here I bloom for a short hour unseen,
      Drinking my juices up,
With no root in the land
      To keep my branches green,
                  But stand
         In a bare cup.

Some tender buds were left upon my stem
      In mimicry of life,
But ah! the children will not know,
      Till time has withered them,
                  The woe
         With which they're rife.

But now I see I was not plucked for naught,
      And after in life's vase
Of glass set while I might survive,
      But by a kind hand brought
         To a strange place.

That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its hours,
      And by another year,
Such as God knows, with freer air,
      More fruits and fairer flowers
                  Will bear,
         While I droop here.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures,
      were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams,
      to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured
      with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

In the Past

There lies a somnolent lake
Under a noiseless sky,
Where never the mornings break
Nor the evenings die.

Mad flakes of colour
Whirl on its even face
Iridescent and streaked with pallor;
And, warding the silent place,

The rocks rise sheer and gray
From the sedgeless brink to the sky
Dull-lit with the light of pale half-day
Thro' a void space and dry.

And the hours lag dead in the air
With a sense of coming eternity
To the heart of the lonely boatman there:
That boatman am I,

I, in my lonely boat,
A waif on the somnolent lake,
Watching the colours creep and float
With the sinuous track of a snake.

Now I lean o'er the side
And lazy shades in the water see,
Lapped in the sweep of a sluggish tide
Crawled in from the living sea;

And next I fix mine eyes,
So long that the heart declines,
On the changeless face of the open skies
Where no star shines;

And now to the rocks I turn,
To the rocks, around
That lie like walls of a circling urn
Wherein lie bound

The waters that feel my powerless strength
And meet my homeless oar
Labouring over their ashen length
Never to find a shore.

But the gleam still skims
At times on the somnolent lake,
And a light there is that swims
With the whirl of a snake;

And tho' dead be the hour i' the air,
And dayless the sky,
The heart is alive of the boatman there:
That boatman am I.

Trumbull Stickney (1874-1904)

The Oxford Book of American Verse (1950), ed. F.O. Matthiessen, ## 104, 129, 248; pp. 241f, 371f, 523f.

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

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 07/18/04 07:23:39 AM
Categorized as Literary & Sunday Poetry Series.


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