Carleton Choices for 2014 National Poem in Your Pocket Day
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Art and Art History Department
King David saw her beauty, desired her,
valued her above his integrity.
She had the power that allure bestows;
he could give her wealth, an elevated
state. She holds his summons;
knows his will. Can she defy it?
How show her predicament in paint?
How turn a story into one moment?
The words, the letter she has read
and looks away from, perplexed,
conveys it all. A crisis must be
in her face to tell viewers
what they know but now must see.
She knows what guilt adultery will entail.
Her shame foretells decisions.
Yet she knows not how David will achieve
his goal to free her from her vows.
She sits in stillness; she shows no agony,
she tears no hair, rends no garment.
She looks downward towards her servant;
The moment we see might seem trivial
but King David’s summons decides the future.
How it is wrought we know; she has yet
to feel its pain and their great dishonor.
The story is in her face, her expression.
Did I get it right? Will you see her as I did?
From a collection of five poems by English Department Professor emeritus Robert Tisdale titled Rembrandt: Five Portraits.
Submitted by Alison Kettering for Art and Art History
Iliad 24.503-506: Priam asks Achilles to return the body of Hector for burial
ἀλλ᾽ αἰδεῖο θεοὺς Ἀχιλεῦ , αὐτόν τ᾽ ἐλέησον
μνησάμενος σοῦ πατρός : ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐλεεινότερός περ ,
ἔτλην δ᾽ οἷ᾽ οὔ πώ τις ἐπιχθόνιος βροτὸς ἄλλος ,
ἀνδρὸς παιδοφόνοιο ποτὶ στόμα χεῖρ᾽ ὀρέγεσθαι .
But respect the gods , Achilles, and pity me
thinking of your own father: I am more pi tiable
and I have endured what no other mortal on earth has,
to kiss the hand of the man who killed my son.
Aeneid 2.6-12 : Aeneas responds to Dido's request that he tell her about the fall of Troy
Quis talia fando
Myrmidonum Dolopumve aut duri miles Ulixi
temperet a lacrimis? Et iam nox umida caelo
praecipitat, suadentque cadentia sidera somnos.
Sed si tantus amor casus cognoscere nostros
et breviter Troiae supremum audire laborem,
quamquam animus meminisse horret, luctuque refugit,
Not ev'n the hardest of our foes could hear,
Nor stern Ulysses tell without a tear.
And now the latter watch of wasting night,
And setting stars, to kindly rest invite;
But, since you take such int'rest in our woe,
And Troy 's disastrous end desire to know,
I will restrain my tears, and briefly tell
What in our last and fatal night befell.
Submitted by Clara Hardy for Classics.
The Rows of Cold Trees
To be my own Messiah to the
burning end. Can one endure the
acrid, steeping darkness of
the brain, which glitters and is
dissipated? Night. The night is
winter and a dull man bending,
muttering above a freezing pipe;
and I, bent heavily on books; the
mountain iron in my sleep and
ringing; but the pipe has frozen, haired with
unseen veins, and cold is on the eyelids: who can
remedy this vision?
I have walked upon
the streets between the trees that
grew unleaved from asphalt in a night of
sweating winter in distracted silence.
walked among the tombs--the rushing of the air
in the rich pines above my head is that which
ceaseth not nor stirreth whence it is:
in this the sound of wind is like a flame.
It was the dumb decision of the
madness of my youth that left me with
this cold eye for the fact; that keeps me
quiet, walking toward a
stinging end: I am alone,
and, like the alligator cleaving timeless mud,
among the blessed who have Latin names.
Submitted by Emma Burd, '15, for Classics.
You are tired
You are tired,
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me, then,
And we'll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)
You have played,
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
So am I.
But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.
Ah, come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.
Submitted by Kayla McGrady for Communications.
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Submitted by Susan Jaret McKinstry for English.
by Seamus Heaney
All year round the whin
Can show a blossom or two
But it's in full bloom now.
As if the small yolk stain
From all the birds' eggs in
All the nests of the spring
Were spiked and hung
Everywhere on bushes to ripen.
Hills oxidize gold.
Above the smoulder of green shoot
And dross of dead thorns underfoot
The blossoms scald.
Put a match under
Whins, they go up of a sudden.
They make no flame in the sun
But a fierce heat tremor
Yet incineration like that
Only takes the thorn.
The tough sticks don't burn,
Remain like bone, charred horn.
Gilt, jaggy, springy, frilled
This stunted, dry richness
Persists on hills, near stone ditches
Over flintbed and battlefield.
Submitted by Constance Walker for English.
by Stephen Kampa '05
Tonight I watch four men get shot
On primetime television: two for narking
On partners, one for love, and one for parking
In the wrong parking lot
At the wrong time. There follow fifty
Minutes of swift forensic kung fu moves
That culminate in evidence which proves
These geeks are pretty nifty,
Given that how they nab one crook
Is by enhancing images they find
Reflected in his victim's eyes, a blind
Luck clue in a last look
Caught by a nearby traffic cam
(No chance); they snag another when they trace
His hairspray through their mystic database
Of stylists on the lam
(This viewer ends up feeling fleeced);
And as for the remaining perps, close shaves
Grow closer till they wind up in their graves--
Who most risked, counted least
On crime scene gurus also packing
Serious heat and staminaceous bods
that put them little lower than the gods
(Plus, they get network backing).
My parents lap it up, half-viewing
Half-reading magazines that track the stars'
Marriages, mansions, children, pooches, cars,
And causes of undoing,
Reveling in some hard-earned rest
At home behind their thick-bolted door.
I've noticed, as they're aging, how much more
They fear being dispossessed,
And I'd prefer to blame these shows
Where punks are always knocking off a stranger
For pocket change or fun--they posit danger
As one fixed mark that grows
Only more common with the years--
But Dad says, "Cops or sitcoms, take your pick.
The comedies are worse, they're downright sick,"
So he prefer his fears.
I found online (also unsafe)
One word encompassing the farthestfetched
Technologies that, in a pinch, are stretched
To bring a kidnapped waif
Home and her kidnappers to trial,
Saving both victim and the vacant plot--
The serums, powders, pastes, or newly bought
Dell Inst-o-matic Dial-
Up-DNA, which matches sperm
Samples to cell phone records--and these dumb
Contrivances are called "phlebotinum."
Now, I can't confirm
The scientific fact of it,
I know the feeling well: who doesn't crave
A universal solvent fit to save
Us, make the pieces fit
In every case that we might piece-
meal pass to glory or a second season,
That we might shuck the shackles of our reason
And feel a new release?
I see my snide analysis
Of crime TV as more phlebotinum,
The feeble means by which I try to come
To terms with all of this,
And now I can't remember where
I heard the story--Law & Order? Prime-
time news?--but someone hears the doorbell chime
And pushes back his chair,
Walks to the peephole and, without
A care, peeks through; thugs shoot him in the eye
I am afraid of that--that he could die
Simply by looking out.
Submitted by Tim Raylor for English.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Wie soll ich meine Seele haltlen, daß
sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie
hinhalten über dich zu andern Dingen?
Ach gerne möcht ich sie bei irgendwas
Verlorenem im Dunkel unterbringen
an einer fremden stillen Stelle, die
nicht weiterschweingt, wenn deine Tiefen schwingen.
Doch alles, was uns anrührt, dich und mich,
nimmt uns zusammen wie ein Bogenstrich,
der aus zwei Seiten eine Stimme zieht.
Auf welches Instrument sind wir gespannt?
Und welcher Geiger hat uns in der Hand?
O süßes Lied.
By Rainer Maria Rilke,
translated by A.Z. Foreman, slightly modified
How shall I hold my soul and yet not touch
It with your own? How shall I ever place
It clear of you on anything beyond?
Oh gladly I would stow it next to such
Things in the darkness as are never found
Down in an alien and silent space
That does not resonate when you resound.
But everything that touches me and you
Takes us together like a bow on two
Taut strings to stroke them to the voice of one.
What instrument have we been strung upon?
Whose are the hands that play our unison?
Oh sweet song!
Submitted by Anne Ulmer for German.
The Art of Disappearing
Naomi Shihab Nye
Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
When they say Don't I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say We should get together
It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
Submitted by Harry Williams for History.
This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Submitted by Heather Tompkins for the Library.
from A Child's Garden of Verses)
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The world is so full of a number of things
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
Submitted by Lois Perkins for the Library.
by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Submitted by Sandie Smith for the Library.
by Billy Collins
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.
Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.
And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.
Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page–
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil–
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet–
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”
Submitted by Iris Jastram for the Library.
by Kellie and Emily Spehn
To love is to share life together
to build special plans just for two
to work side by side
and then smile with pride
as one by one, dreams all come true.
To love is to help and encourage
with smiles and sincere words of praise
to take time to share
to listen and care
in tender, affectionate ways.
To love is to have someone special
one who you can always depend
to be there through the years
sharing laughter and tears
as a partner, a lover, a friend.
To love is to make special memories
of moments you love to recall
of all the good things
that sharing life brings
love is the greatest of all.
I've learned the full meaning
of sharing and caring
and having my dreams all come true;
I've learned the full meaning
of being in love
by being and loving with you.
Submitted by Cindy Spehn for the Library.
Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare
by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1923)
Sonnet from The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems
Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.
Submitted by Deanna Haunsperger for Mathematics.
Music, When Soft Voices Die
Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792–July 8, 1822
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heap'd for the belovèd's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
Submitted by Lawrence Burnett for Music.
The Power of the Word
, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ9Q6PbSMgA a video made in support of the beleaguered independent television station "Rain" in Russia of people in a Moscow trolleybus declaiming poetry by Pushkin, Fet, Tiutchev and Tsvetaeva. At the end it says, "Words have astonishing power - when they are free."
It seems like a good year for something elegiac, and there is no shortage in the Russian cannon. This poem by Boris Pasternak is from “The Poems of Yuri Zhivago,” that appear at the end of the novel, attributed to the main character.
Я кончился, а ты жива.
И ветер, жалуясь и плача,
Раскачивает лес и дачу.
Не каждую сосну отдельно,
А полностью все дерева
Со всею далью беспредельной,
Как парусников кузова
На глади бухты корабельной.
И это не из удальства
Или из ярости бесцельной,
А чтоб в тоске найти слова
Тебе для песни колыбельной.
Both items submitted by Laura Goering for Russian.
-translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerny
I have died, but you are still among the living.
And the wind, keening and complaining,
Makes the country house and forest rock--
Not each pine by itself
But all the tress as one,
Together with the illimitable distance;
It makes them rock as the hulls of sailboats
Rock on the mirrorous waters of a boat-basin.
And this the wind does not out of bravado
Or in a senseless rage,
But so that in its desolation
It may find words to fashion a lullaby for you.
All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you
. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
blackberry, blackberry, blackberry
Submitted by Lori Pearson for Religion.
There is this motor inside me
I watch myself for clues.
the hands in front of me
conducting me through this house
a spoon too soon wiped clean
the hands sweeping it away
the sensation of fullness
I watch myself for clues.
Catch my face, a moving portrait
in a storefront window
am taken aback
by the drop
my face sinking into itself
I watch myself for clues.
for the first time in my life
feel the sound
bulldoze out of my mouth
I earned that word somewhere
the syllables secretly meeting within me
planning to blast me open.
There is this motor inside me
propelling me forward.
I watch myself for clues,
trying to catch up
inhabit my body
On the highest point of a hill
sitting, there is
the view of three bridges
each one with a special feature
a view of the red rock
Each with a particular destination
coming and going.
I watch them for clues
about making connections
Submitted by Liz Raleigh for Sociology/Anthropology
El descanso del guerrero (Soldier's Rest)
by Roque Dalton
, Taberna y otros lugares (1969)
Los muertos están cada día más indóciles.
Antes era fácil con ellos:
les dábamos un cuello duro una flor
loábamos sus nombres en una larga lista:
que los recintos de la patria
que las sombras notables
que el mármol monstruoso.
El cadáver firmaba en pos de la memoria
iba de nuevo a filas
y marchaba al compás de nuestra vieja música.
Pero qué va
los muertos son otros desde entonces.
Hoy se ponen irónicos
Me parece que caen en la cuenta
de ser cada vez más la mayoría!
The dead grow more intractable every day.
Once they were obedient:
we gave them a stiff collar a flower
we eulogized their names on an Honor Roll:
in the National Cemetery
among distinguished shades
on hideous marble.
The corpse signed up pursuing glory
once more joined the ranks
marched to the beat of our old drum.
Wait a minute!
they have changed.
These days they grow ironic,
It seems to me they realize that more and more
they are the majority!
Submitted by Yansi Pérez for Spanish.
The Writing Program
I'm sure lots of us had to memorize this macabre ballad back in the day. A year ago, when I was tending my 4-week-old granddaughter while her parents enjoyed their first dinner date since her birth, I discovered that ballads of all kinds, sung or recited, calmed her. This one was particularly effective; I suspect she picked up on rhythm and alliteration. She's perceptive.
- Carol Rutz
By Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Submitted by Carol Rutz for the Writing Program.