Thanksgiving Poems: a CornucopiaPosted: November 28, 2013
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
“I had no time to Hate”
I had no time to Hate –
The Grave would hinder Me –
And Life was not so
Could finish – Enmity –
Nor had I time to Love –
Some Industry must be –
The little Toil of Love –
Be large enough for Me –
. . .
“They might not need me – yet they might”
They might not need me – yet they might –
I’ll let my Heart be just in sight –
A smile so small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.
“Who has not found the Heaven – below”
Who has not found the Heaven – below –
Will fail of it above –
For Angels rent the House next ours,
Wherever we remove –
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
O Lord, the hard-won miles
Have worn my stumbling feet:
Oh, soothe me with thy smiles,
And make my life complete.
The thorns were thick and keen
Where’er I trembling trod;
The way was long between
My wounded feet and God.
Where healing waters flow
Do thou my footsteps lead.
My heart is aching so;
Thy gracious balm I need.
. . .
Paul Laurence Dunbar
A little dreaming by the way,
A little toiling day by day;
A little pain, a little strife,
A little joy,–and that is life.
A little short-lived summer’s morn,
When joy seems all so newly born,
When one day’s sky is blue above,
And one bird sings,–and that is love.
A little sickening of the years,
The tribute of a few hot tears,
Two folded hands, the failing breath,
And peace at last,–and that is death.
Just dreaming, loving, dying so,
The actors in the drama go–
A flitting picture on a wall,
Love, Death, the themes; but is that all?
. . .
Guido Guinizelli (1230-1276)
“Of Moderation and Tolerance”
He that has grown to wisdom hurries not,
But thinks and weighs what Reason bids him do;
And after thinking he retains his thought
Until as he conceived the fact ensue.
Let no man to o’erweening pride be wrought,
But count his state as Fortune’s gift and due.
He is a fool who deems that none has sought
The truth, save he alone, or knows it true.
Many strange birds are on the air abroad,
Nor all are of one flight or of one force,
But each after his kind dissimilar:
To each was portion’d of the breath of God,
Who gave them divers instincts from one source.
Then judge not thou thy fellows what they are.
Translation from the Italian: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1861)
. . .
Luci Shaw (born 1928)
“But not forgotten”
Whether or not I find the missing thing
it will always be
more than my thought of it.
Silver-heavy, somewhere it winks
in its own small privacy
the waiting game for me.
And the real treasures do not vanish.
The precious loses no value
in the spending.
A piece of hope spins out
bright, along the dark, and is not
lost in space;
verity is a burning boomerang;
love is out orbiting and will
. . .
Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)
Hope means to keep living
and to keep humming in darkness.
Hoping is knowing that there is love,
it is trust in tomorrow
it is falling asleep
and waking again
when the sun rises.
In the midst of a gale at sea,
it is to discover land.
In the eye of another
it is to see that he understands you.
As long as there is still hope
there will also be prayer.
And God will be holding you
in His hands.
. . .
“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 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.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
“Speech to the Young, Speech to the Progress-Toward
(Among them Nora and Henry III)”
Say to them
say to the down-keepers,
“Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.
Live not for the battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,
that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted,
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.
But I find that Thy Will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.
. . .
William Matthews (1942-1997)
How easily happiness begins by
dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter
slithers and swirls across the floor
of the sauté pan, especially if its
errant path crosses a tiny slick
of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.
This could mean soup or risotto
or chutney (from the Sanskrit
chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions
go limp and then nacreous
and then what cookbooks call clear,
though if they were eyes you could see
clearly the cataracts in them.
It’s true it can make you weep
to peel them, to unfurl and to tease
from the taut ball first the brittle,
caramel-coloured and decrepit
papery outside layer, the least
recent the reticent onion
wrapped around its growing body,
for there’s nothing to an onion
but skin, and it’s true you can go on
weeping as you go on in, through
the moist middle skins, the sweetest
and thickest, and you can go on
in to the core, to the bud-like,
acrid, fibrous skins densely
clustered there, stalky and in-
complete, and these are the most
pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare
and rage and murmury animal
comfort that infant humans secrete.
This is the best domestic perfume.
You sit down to eat with a rumour
of onions still on your twice-washed
hands and lift to your mouth a hint
of a story about loam and usual
endurance. It’s there when you clean up
and rinse the wine glasses and make
a joke, and you leave the minutest
whiff of it on the light switch,
later, when you climb the stairs.
. . . . .