Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Born Two-Hundred Six Years Ago; Born Ninety-Five Years Ago





The traditional March 1 High Egoslavian Holy Day

High Egoslavian Holy Day! Chopin, born in 1810 on either February 22nd or March 1st depending on which calendar one uses, I've used both days in the past, arbitrarily chose March 1st this year. I love Chopin, always have, since a kid, my mother playing him on the living room piano.

Richard Wilbur, whose The Writer provides the title of my favorite post past, present, future (it comes and goes as Planet and I need it), and whose poetry reminds me that spirituality need not have denomination or direct object, was born ninety-five years ago today. I've posted so much Wilbur over the years I'm sure I've posted all of these before, and so?






ADVICE TO A PROPHET

Richard Wilbur

When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,   
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,   
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,   
Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.   
How should we dream of this place without us?—
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,   
A stone look on the stone’s face?

Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive   
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,   
How the view alters. We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip   
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without   
The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?   
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean   
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose   
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding   
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing   
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.





   


AFTER THE LAST BULLETINS

Richard Wilbur
    
After the last bulletins the windows darken   
And the whole city founders readily and deep,   
Sliding on all its pillows
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep,

And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls   
The day’s litter of news in the alleys. Trash   
Tears itself on the railings,
Soars and falls with a soft crash,

Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights   
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead   
Strike at the positive eyes,
Batter and flap the stolid head

And scratch the noble name. In empty lots   
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade   
Of all we thought to think,
Or caught in corners cramp and wad

And twist our words. And some from gutters flail   
Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet,
Like all that fisted snow
That cried beside his long retreat

Damn you! damn you! to the emperor’s horse’s heels.   
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry   
Will the clear announcer’s voice
Beat like a dove, and you and I

From the heart’s anarch and responsible town   
Return by subway-mouth to life again,   
Bearing the morning papers,
And cross the park where saintlike men,

White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove   
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse   
With confident morning sound
The songbirds in the public boughs.






    
CEREMONY 

Richard Wilbur

A striped blouse in a clearing by Bazille   
Is, you may say, a patroness of boughs   
Too queenly kind toward nature to be kin.   
But ceremony never did conceal,
Save to the silly eye, which all allows,
How much we are the woods we wander in.

Let her be some Sabrina fresh from stream,
Lucent as shallows slowed by wading sun,
Bedded on fern, the flowers’ cynosure:
Then nymph and wood must nod and strive to dream   
That she is airy earth, the trees, undone,
Must ape her languor natural and pure.

Ho-hum. I am for wit and wakefulness,   
And love this feigning lady by Bazille.   
What's lightly hid is deepest understood,   
And when with social smile and formal dress   
She teaches leaves to curtsey and quadrille,   
I think there are most tigers in the wood.



4 comments:

  1. https://youtu.be/CxA94uSQ-t0

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  2. Well chosen, Davidly!

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  3. Cannot imagine life without Chopin. And Wilbur is pretty damn good also.

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