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April 02, 2020

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PLACE

On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree

what for
not the fruit

the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted

I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time

with the sun already
going down

and the water
touching its roots

in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing

one by one
over its leaves

— W.S. Merwin, from his book The Rain in the Trees (Knopf). Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin. Used by permission of the publisher.

To browse through our archive of previously posted Poems of the Week, click here.

To support the preservation of W.S. Merwin’s legacy and our efforts to preserve his home and palm forest for future generations, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Merwin Conservancy.

(Lifted from here. If even the conservancy named after Merwin seeks permission, I suppose this isn't really cricket. Take it down if need be. But -- I'm growing maple trees in pots from seedlings at the moment. 'Nuf said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXpPoyuZdvc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA9TTVwghNQ&t=55s

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

-- e e cummings

A Litany in Time of Plague
Thomas Nashe

Adieu, farewell, earth's bliss;
This world uncertain is;
Fond are life's lustful joys;
Death proves them all but toys;
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade.
All things to end are made,
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty is but a flower
Which wrinkles will devour;
Brightness falls from the air;
Queens have died young and fair;
Dust hath closed Helen's eye.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds open her gate.
"Come, come!" the bells do cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death's bitterness;
Hell's executioner
Hath no ears for to hear
What vain art can reply.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Haste, therefore, each degree,
To welcome destiny;
Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player's stage;
Mount we unto the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Robert Frost:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QJVMnwDQ3A0

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/opinion/coronavirus-shakespeare.html

The New York Times seems to be biased against plague.

I think I'll stop reading it until it provides both sides of the issue.

One Train May Hide Another

'Spring is always like what it used to be.'
Said an old Chinese man.
Rain hissed down the windows.
Longings from a great distance.
Reached us.

Anne Carson

The world is taking little heed
And plods from day to day:
The vulgar flourish like a weed,
The learned pass away.

We miss him on the summer path
The lonely summer day,
Where mowers cut the pleasant swath
And maidens make the hay.

The vulgar take but little heed;
The garden wants his care;
There lies the book he used to read,
There stands the empty chair.

The boat laid up, the voyage oer,
And passed the stormy wave,
The world is going as before,
The poet in his grave.

"The Poet's Death"

John Clare.

As One does Sickness over
In convalescent Mind,
His scrutiny of Chances
By blessed Health obscured —

As One rewalks a Precipice
And whittles at the Twig
That held Him from Perdition
Sown sidewise in the Crag

A Custom of the Soul
Far after suffering
Identity to question
For evidence 'thas been —


"As One Does Sickness Over"

Emily Dickenson.

I cannot do poetry while drunk. I will come back to this tomorrow.

the angel came to him & said

I'm sorry, mac, but
we talked it over
in heaven
& you're going

to have to live
a thousand years

Robert Lax

I Am Waiting
BY LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

OK, I just posted (twice!) one of my favourite poems by Ferlinghetti. If someone rescues it (once!) from the Spam trap, I'll be grateful. In the meantime:

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
Dylan Thomas

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

Mine got into the spam trap too, and it is one of my favorite poems ever. So sad.

wj: got GftNC's out of Spam. Not seeing anything from you there, however.

Thanks wj!

sapient, was yours One Train May Hide Another, which is somewhere upthread?

Yes! Didn't see it. Sorry that I troubled people.

There are so many good poems, but that one I come back to always.

And, since Ferlinghetti says he is waiting for the last long careless rapture, I thought I might finish tonight by giving you this wonderful poem (which is where he got the line) of homesickness by Browning, who is often a poet I dislike, but not here:

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad
BY ROBERT BROWNING

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Thank you so much GftNC. There are so many Kenneth Koch poems that do nicely for spring. I found some, but I went with my favorite of his because I don't participate in the personal threads very often.

You are so wonderful at choosing the poem for the moment. All my best to you.

De nada, sapient, sharing poetry gives me tremendous pleasure. We need to take pleasure where we can: nil desperandum.

I'm a beekeeper. I caught a swarm this week after a winter when they didn't do well.

Thanks again.

That's a rather beautiful and hopeful piece of news, sapient. Thank you.

GFTNC, thank you so much for the Ferlinghetti. A credo, for me, for now. Maybe for always.

sapient, thank you for helping the bees.

The bees did give me hope and comfort, as you all of you. Goodnight.

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