language tidbits ~pgadey rss
Alden Nowlan
2023-08-10-4 at 05h

Alden Nowlan on Wikipedia

An Exchange of Gifts

 As long as you read this poem
 I will be writing it.
 I am writing it here and now
 Before your eyes,
 Although you can’t see me.
 Perhaps you’ll dismiss this
 As a verbal trick,
 The joke is you’re wrong;
 The real trick
 Is your pretending
 This is something
 Fixed and solid
 External to us both.
 I tell you better:
 I will keep on
 Writing this poem for you
 Even after I’m dead.

The Mysterious Naked Man

A mysterious naked man has been reported
on Cranston Avenue. The police are performing
the usual ceremonies with coloured lights and sirens.
Almost everyone is outdoors and strangers are conversing
as they do during disasters when their involvement is

'What did he look like?' the lieutenant is asking.
'I don't know,' says the witness. 'He was naked.'
There is talk of dogs—this is no ordinary case
of indecent exposure, the man has been seen
a dozen times since the milkman spotted him and now
the sky is turning purple and voices
carry a long way and the children
have gone a little crazy as they often do at dusk
and cars are arriving
from other sections of the city.

And the mysterious naked man
is kneeling behind a garbage can or lying on his belly
in somebody's garden
or maybe even hiding in the branches of a tree,
where the wind from the harbour
whips at his naked body,
and by now he's probably done
whatever it was he wanted to do
and wishes he could go to sleep
or die
or take to the air like Superman.

Great Things Have Happened

We were talking about the great things
that have happened in our lifetimes;
and I said, "Oh, I suppose the moon landing
was the greatest thing that has happened
in my time." But, of course, we were all lying.
The truth is the moon landing didn't mean
one-tenth as much to me as one night in 1963
when we lived in a three-room flat in what once had been
the mansion of some Victorian merchant prince
(our kitchen had been a clothes closet, I'm sure),
on a street where by now nobody lived
who could afford to live anywhere else.
That night, the three of us, Claudine, Johnnie and me,
woke up at half-past four in the morning
and ate cinnamon toast together.

"Is that all?" I hear somebody ask.

Oh, but we were silly with sleepiness
and, under our windows, the street-cleaners
were working their machines and conversing in Italian, and
everything was strange without being threatening,
even the tea-kettle whistled differently
than in the daytime: it was like the feeling
you get sometimes in a country you've never visited
before, when the bread doesn't taste quite the same,
the butter is a small adventure, and they put
paprika on the table instead of pepper,
except that there was nobody in this country
except the three of us, half-tipsy with the wonder
of being alive, and wholly enveloped in love. 
Mark Jokinen
2017-05-22-1 at 00h

this arising within me

this arising within me, this glory become,
I feel it, behind my eyes and near,
so near; begun in my roots, it brings
rain to my heart; cleanses there,
with grace of gardener, and pruning me,
pruning me; I feel it through my day,
gentle as touch to arm, and companion
unto blossoming; for he alone
knows me in my heart, and by these
fruits of my heart am I known;
let winter come; let my winter come.

In the beginning was Silence

 In the beginning was Silence
    and the Silence waited.
 Its waiting was everything,
    for there was nothing else.

 From Silence came the Word,
    and the Word echoed everywhere.
 The Word waited, and then became Light,
    and the Light filled everywhere.

 And that is the Light in us,
    though were not yet Spoken.

 In Silence is our beginning; we wait
    and are gathered together in it.

 In this Silence comes Light,
    we know now how or why.

 We know only that, trusting it,
    we live within this Light
        and walk its unknown path.
Saint Francis
2017-05-22-1 at 00h

La prière pour la paix attribuée à Saint François

La Clochette, n° 12, déc. 1912, p. 285.

Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l'amour.
Là où il y a l'offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l'union.
Là où il y a l'erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l'espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu'à consoler, à être compris qu'à comprendre, à être aimé qu'à aimer, car c'est en donnant qu'on reçoit, c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve, c'est en pardonnant qu'on est pardonné, c'est en mourant qu'on ressuscite à l'éternelle vie.
Ludoviko Zamenhof
2017-05-22-1 at 00h

Ho, mia kor'

Ho, mia kor', ne batu maltrankvile,
El mia brusto nun ne saltu for!
Jam teni min ne povas mi facile,
Ho, mia kor'!

Ho, mia kor'! Post longa laborado
Ĉu mi ne venkos en decida hor'?
Sufiĉe! trankviliĝu de l' batado,
Ho, mia kor'!

Pregho sub la Verda Standardo

Al Vi, ho potenca senkorpa mistero,
fortego, la mondon reganta,
al Vi, granda fonto de l' amo kaj vero
kaj fonto de vivo konstanta,
al Vi, kiun ĉiuj malsame prezentas,
sed ĉiuj egale en koro Vin sentas,
al Vi, kiu kreas, al Vi, kiu reĝas,
hodiaŭ ni preĝas.

Al Vi ni ne venas kun kredo nacia,
kun dogmoj de blinda fervoro:
silentas nun ĉiu disput' religia
kaj regas nun kredo de koro.
Kun ĝi, kiu estas ĉe ĉiuj egala,
kun ĝi, la plej vera, sen trudo batala,
ni staras nun, filoj de l' tuta homaro
ĉe Via altaro.

Homaron Vi kreis perfekte kaj bele,
sed ĝi sin dividis batale;
popolo popolon atakas kruele,
frat' fraton atakas ŝakale.
Ho, kiu ajn estas Vi, forto mistera,
aŭskultu la voĉon de l' preĝo sincera,
redonu la pacon al la infanaro
de l' granda homaro!

Ni ĵuris labori, ni ĵuris batali,
por reunuigi l' homaron.
Subtenu nin Forto, ne lasu nin fali,
sed lasu nin venki la baron;
donacu Vi benon al nia laboro,
donacu Vi forton al nia fervoro,
ke ĉiam ni kontraŭ atakoj sovaĝaj
nin tenu kuraĝaj.

La verdan standardon tre alte ni tenos;
ĝi signas la bonon kaj belon.
La Forto mistera de l' mondo nin benos,
kaj nian atingos ni celon.
Ni inter popoloj la murojn detruos,
kaj ili ekkrakos kaj ili ekbruos
kaj falos por ĉiam, kaj amo kaj vero
ekregos sur tero.

Kuniĝu la fratoj, plektiĝu la manoj,
antaŭen kun pacaj armiloj!
Kristanoj, hebreoj aŭ mahometanoj
ni ĉiuj de Di' estas filoj.
Ni ĉiam memoru pri bon' de l' homaro,
kaj malgraŭ malhelpoj, sen halto kaj staro
al frata la celo ni iru obstine
antaŭen, senfine.
Wendell Berry
2017-05-22-1 at 00h

How to Be a Poet

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   


Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.

Be Still in Haste

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first
Langston Hughes
2017-05-22-1 at 00h

A Christian Country

God slumbers in a back alley
With a gin bottle in His hand.
Come on, God, get up and fight
Like a man.

Ph. D.

He never was a silly little boy
Who whispered in the class or threw spit balls,
Or pulled the hair of silly little girls,
Or disobeyed in any way the laws
That made the school a place of decent order
Where books were read and sums were proven true
And paper maps that showed the land and water
Were held up as the real wide world to you.
Always, he kept his eyes upon his books:
And now he has grown to be a man
He is surprised that everywhere he looks
Life rolls in waves he cannot understand,
And all the human world is vast and strange—
And quite beyond his Ph.D.'s small range.

Wisdom and War

We do not care-
That much is clear.
Not enough
Of us care
We are not wise-
For that reason,
Mankind dies.
To think
Is much against
The will.
And easier-
To kill. 
Que ton Esprit nous inspire
2016-06-12-0 at 15h
  Éternel, Que ton Esprit nous inspire et nous guide ; que ta volonté soit faite.

  Donne-nous la force d’accomplir notre tâche sans orgueil, sans égoïsme, sans paresse et sans lâcheté.

  Donne-nous la force de résister aux tentations, de pardonner aux autres comme nous voudrions que largement on nous pardonne.

  Donne-nous de répondre aux offenses uniquement en redoublant nos efforts pour ne jamais offenser autrui.

  Éternel, nous voulons écouter ton appel et lui obéir, afin de l’entendre toujours plus nettement.

  Donne-nous l’honnêteté d’examiner avec le même scrupule et la même sévérité nos propres actions et pensées que celles des autres.

  Délivre-nous du fanatisme et de l’orgueil qui nous empêchent d’accueillir la vérité aussi par l’enseignement et l’expérience des autres.

  Donne-nous la confiance tranquille que tu sauras toi-même révéler à autrui ta vérité et ta justice, comme nous croyons que tu les as partiellement révélés à nous-mêmes.

  Apprends-nous à collaborer de tout coeur, sans intérêt personnel, ambition égoïste sordide, et sans vanité mesquine, à la recherche commune de la vérité.

  Apprends-nous la pitié et l’effort réel pour soulager les misères d’autrui.

  Donne-nous le courage tranquille, nécessaire en toutes circonstances, et naturel à celui qui t’a consacré sa vie.

  Qu’au sommet de l’existence où l’homme et la femme se rencontrent, soit d’abord le respect passionné des vraies valeurs de la vie : d’abord ta vérité et ton amour.

  Qu’aucune défaite, chute ou rechute ne nous éloigne jamais de toi ; qu’au milieu de toutes nos misères, ton amour nous saisisse et nous élève peu à peu à jusqu’à toi.
The Worship of Nature
2016-05-30-1 at 01h

The Worship of Nature

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

 The harp at Nature’s advent strung
       Has never ceased to play;
 The song the stars of morning sung
       Has never died away.

 And prayer is made, and praise is given,
       By all things near and far;
 The ocean looketh up to heaven,
       And mirrors every star.

 Its waves are kneeling on the strand,
       As kneels the human knee,
 Their white locks bowing to the sand,
       The priesthood of the sea!

 They pour their glittering treasures forth,
       Their gifts of pearl they bring,
 And all the listening hills of earth
       Take up the song they sing.

 The green earth sends its incense up
       From many a mountain shrine;
 From folded leaf and dewy cup
       She pours her sacred wine.

 The mists above the morning rills
       Rise white as wings of prayer;
 The altar-curtains of the hills
       Are sunset’s purple air.

 The winds with hymns of praise are loud,
       Or low with sobs of pain,—
 The thunder-organ of the cloud,
       The dropping tears of rain.

 With drooping head and branches crossed
       The twilight forest grieves,
 Or speaks with tongues of Pentecost
       From all its sunlit leaves.

 The blue sky is the temple’s arch,
       Its transept earth and air,
 The music of its starry march
       The chorus of a prayer.

 So Nature keeps the reverent frame
       With which her years began,
 And all her signs and voices shame
       The prayerless heart of man.
Io ritornai da la santissima onda

In the original:

Io ritornai da la santissima onda   
rifatto sì come piante novelle     
rinovellate di novella fronda,  
puro e disposto a salire a le stelle.   

Purg. 33 142-145

And in English:

    From those most holy water
    I came away remade, as are new plantss
    renewed with new-sprung leaves,
    pure and prepared to rise up to the stars.
Sole Dios con su poder
2016-02-10-3 at 23h
Sole Dios con su poder
Este fierro destruira
Porque en el mundo no habra
Quien lo puede deshacer
    -Morito (Fred Schaaf)
2016-02-10-3 at 23h

The Loom of Years

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

 In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea,
  In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree,
  Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears,
  I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 The leaves of the winter wither and sink in the forest mould
  To colour the flowers of April with purple and white and gold:
  Light and scent and music die and are born again
  In the heart of a grey-haired woman who wakes in a world of pain.

 The hound, the fawn, and the hawk, and the doves that croon and coo,
  We are all one woof of the weaving and the one warp threads us through,
  One flying cloud on the shuttle that carries our hopes and fears
  As it goes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 The green uncrumpling fern and the rustling dewdrenched rose
  Pass with our hearts to the Silence where the wings of music close,
  Pass and pass to the Timeless that never a moment mars,
  Pass and pass to the Darkness that made the suns and stars.

 Has the soul gone out in the Darkness? Is the dust sealed from sight?
  Ah, hush, for the woof of the ages returns thro' the warp of the night!
  Never that shuttle loses one thread of our hopes and fears,
  As it comes thro' the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

 O, woven in one wide Loom thro' the throbbing weft of the whole,
  One in spirit and flesh, one in body and soul,
  Tho' the leaf were alone in its falling, the bird in its hour to die,
  The heart in its muffled anguish, the sea in its mournful cry,

 One with the flower of a day, one with the withered moon
  One with the granite mountains that melt into the noon
  One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
  We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.

The Infinite Stars

A.C. Holm

 I stand at night and gaze up at the sky,
  A huge, inverted bowl above my head ;
  Upon its blue-black concave surface spread,
  Unnumbered twinkling lights intrigue my eye.

 A bit of conscious clay upon a speck 
 Of age-cooled fire-mist, sun-warmed into life,
  With mortal eyes I glimpse a vastness rife
  With stars whose years no finite mind may reck.

 Across their background glows the Milky Way,
  The cradle-place of new born stars untold,
  Whose light shall shine adown eternity,
  When those now bright have long been dark and cold.
  And as I marvel at this vast array,
  My spirit bows in deep humility. 

In Spite of Everything, the Stars

Edward Hirsch (1950)

 Like a stunned piano, like a bucket
  of fresh milk flung into the air
  or a dozen fists of confetti
  thrown hard at a bride
  stepping down from the altar,
  the stars surprise the sky.
  Think of dazed stones
  floating overhead, or an ocean
  of starfish hung up to dry. Yes,
  like a conductor's expectant arm
  about to lift toward the chorus,
  or a juggler's plates defying gravity,
  or a hundred fastballs fired at once
  and freezing in midair, the stars
  startle the sky over the city.

 And that's why drunks leaning up
  against abandoned buildings, women
  hurrying home on deserted side streets,
  policemen turning blind corners, and
  even thieves stepping from alleys
  all stare up at once. Why else do
  sleepwalkers move toward the windows,
  or old men drag flimsy lawn chairs
  onto fire escapes, or hardened criminals
  press sad foreheads to steel bars?
  Because the night is alive with lamps!
  That's why in dark houses all over the city
  dreams stir in the pillows, a million
  plumes of breath rise into the sky. 
earth voices
2016-02-10-3 at 23h

Earth Voices

Bliss Carman (1861-1929)


 I HEARD the spring wind whisper
 Above the brushwood fire,
 "The world is made forever
 Of transport and desire.

 "I am the breath of being,
 The primal urge of things;
 I am the whirl of star dust,
 I am the lift of wings.

 "I am the splendid impulse
 That comes before the thought,
 The joy and exaltation
 Wherein the life is caught.

 "Across the sleeping furrows
 I call the buried seed,
 And blade and bud and blossom
 Awaken at my need.

 "Within the dying ashes
 I blow the sacred spark,
 And make the hearts of lovers
 To leap against the dark."


 I heard the spring light whisper
 Above the dancing stream,
 "The world is made forever
 In likeness of a dream.

 "I am the law of planets,
 I am the guide of man;
 The evening and the morning
 Are fashioned to my plan.

 "I tint the dawn with crimson,
 I tinge the sea with blue;
 My track is in the desert,
 My trail is in the dew.

 "I paint the hills with color,
 And in my magic dome
 I light the star of evening
 To steer the traveller home.

 "Within the house of being,
 I feed the lamp of truth
 With tales of ancient wisdom
 And prophecies of youth."


 I heard the spring rain murmur
 Above the roadside flower,
 "The world is made forever
 In melody and power.

 "I keep the rhythmic measure
 That marks the steps of time,
 And all my toil is fashioned
 To symmetry and rhyme.

 "I plow the untilled upland,
 I ripe the seeding grass,
 And fill the leafy forest
 With music as I pass.

 "I hew the raw, rough granite
 To loveliness of line,
 And when my work is finished,
 Behold, it is divine!

 "I am the master-builder
 In whom the ages trust.
 I lift the lost perfection
 To blossom from the dust."


 Then Earth to them made answer,
 As with a slow refrain
 Born of the blended voices
 Of wind and sun and rain,
 "This is the law of being
 That links the threefold chain:
 The life we give to beauty
 Returns to us again."
generated by bake