Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “American poets”

POM: April 18


The Brownings provided one the most moving romances in literature. Robert writes to Elizabeth first as a fan, then as an admirer, and finally as confident and husband. Although older and ill, Elizabeth escapes the oppression of her father’s household and elopes with Robert to Italy, living out the remainder of her days in the bliss of her husband’s love. Okay, it probably wasn’t that perfect, but I do get a bit sentimental when I read poetry. I didn’t want to investigate this particular poem. I didn’t want to pop the bubble of how enduring love  remains through time by discovering he wasn’t looking for Elizabeth. I also wanted to believe she was perhaps just visiting friends, or had popped out for a gelato and would return. It would be too sad to think that she had passed away and he kept looking for her throughout their house. *sniff* Now and then mushy stuff is good to feast on.  Hope you appreciate R.B.’s poem as much I do.

 

Love in a Life

Robert Browning, 18121889

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew,—
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune—
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But ‘tis twilight, you see,—with such suits to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

image: pintrest

POM: April 16


Dunbar was one of the first African Americans recognized for his talent in poetry. This is almost magical in its lyric imagery. I can’t even think of trying to find a photograph that could possibly capture its radiance. Perhaps a Monet?

les Coquelicots

 

 

Invitation to Love

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 18721906

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome

POM: April 15


This is a new poet for me and I’m not sure why I’ve not come across her works before. She apparently was influential in the Modernist movement so I’m curious as to why when I read up on Pound and Elliot, Djuna Barnes doesn’t chime in. Lovely name and lived nearly a century. Somehow this poem seemed appropriate for the date.

Call of the Night

Djuna Barnes, 1892 – 1982
Dark, and the wind-blurred pines,

With a glimmer of light between.

Then I, entombed for an hourless night

With the world of things unseen.
Mist, the dust of flowers,

Leagues, heavy with promise of snow,

And a beckoning road ‘twixt vale and hill,

With the lure that all must know.
A light, my window’s gleam,

Soft, flaring its squares of red—

I loose the ache of the wilderness

And long for the fire instead.
You too know, old fellow?

Then, lift your head and bark.

It’s just the call of the lonesome place,

The winds and the housing dark.

 

POM: April 14


I still adore Bugs Bunny cartoons. The physics of cartoon logic is so irrationally funny. Why does Wile E. Coyote never manage to figure out ACME products are designed to harm, not help him in his goal to catch the Roadrunner?

Today’s poem by Nick Flynn addresses that very issue:

 "At ten we are still learning

the rules of cartoon animation,

that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries

will crash into the rock." 

POM: April 12


As a teen I used to complain about having to dragged off every weekend to our family’s cabin. Silly me. How many sixteen old girls would have loved having a community pool to hang out once we were done waterskiing? No wonder my parents were a tad irked with my complaints at times. Aah–sixteen year old girls with a pool to themselves (mostly) and hoping a cute boy or two (we actually needed three) would chance by and liven up our weekend. This poem is so about our baby oil tan days.

The Summer I Was Sixteen

—Geraldine Connolly

"The turquoise pool rose up to meet us,
its slide a silver afterthought down which
we plunged, screaming, into a mirage of bubbles.
We did not exist beyond the gaze of a boy..."

morguefile image

POM: April 8


dandelions

I wish I could grow like a dandelion,
from gold to thin white hair,
and be carried on a breeze
to the next yard.

—Julie Lechevsky

POM: April 7


Mentors. They are sometimes early in our life. Sometimes they arrive too late. A cautionary tale offered by Timothy Murphy.

 

Mentor

For Robert Francis

Had I known, only known
when I lived so near,
I'd have gone, gladly gone
foregoing my fear
of the wholly grown
and the nearly great.
But I learned alone,
so I learned too late.

—Timothy Murphy

 

POM: April 6


Jellyfish freak me out. This stems from a series of childhood encounters with them. One instance involved being dumped into a flock of the gelatinous goo by my dad. These were the teeny non-stinging transparent types, so no harm to me except I cringe whenever I see them now. The jellyfish scene in Bond required deep breathing. 

It’s said we overcome our fears by facing them. This poem helps. I still don’t like jellyfish. I see them in a bit friendlier way now.

A Jelly-Fish

 by Marianne Moore

Visible, invisible,

A fluctuating charm,

An amber-colored amethyst

Inhabits it; your arm

Approaches, and

It opens and

It closes;

You have meant

To catch it,

And it shrivels;

You abandon

Your intent—

It opens, and it

Closes and you

Reach for it—

The blue

Surrounding it

Grows cloudy, and

It floats away

From you.

POM: April 5


Bildungsroman

Bil·dungs·ro·man
ˈbildo͝oNGzrōˌmän,ˈbēldo͝oNGks-/noun 
  1. a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education

Such an interesting word. My German heritage perks up when I hear this term bantered around in literary musings. Bildungsroman is the combination of two German words: Bildung, meaning “education,” and Roman, meaning “novel.” To Kill a Mockingbird always comes to mind when I try to explain to students what the word is all about. After the mention of TKaM titles ping about the classroom: “Oh, you mean like Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye…I get it now.” Gotta love those literary epiphanies. In fact, the other day my across-the-hall-colleague walked over with purpose and asked, “What is the long word you like to toss around when it comes to To Kill a Mockingbird?”  I told him. He tried repeating it and I shrugged with a smile. “Try it phonetically.” I’ll see his students in about three years and I’ll ask them if they know the technical term for a coming-of-age novel. Or maybe I’ll toss out examples.

All that to say this is why I’m featuring this poem excerpt today. Enjoy. What’s your favorite bildungsroman novel, play, or poem?

 

 

                         i.m. Scott David Campbell (1982-2012)

From “Bildungsroman” by Malachi Black

Streetlights were our stars,
hanging from the midnight
in a planetary arc
above each empty ShopRite
parking lot—spreading
steam-bright
through the neon dark—
buzzing like ghost locusts,
trembling in the chrome

POM: April 4


Nikki Giovanni is a poet who knows how to capture a moment, a feeling, an event. She is a poet of note. This poem, never no matter it’s about Tennessee, gets me itching for summer. Summer and its treats is summer regardless of the state. Summer is a state all its own.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nikki Giovanni, 1943

I always like summer
best
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy’s garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
barbecue
and buttermilk
and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
outside
at the church
homecoming
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep

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