The Manifestation

It has been a long time since I’ve posted a poem, so here is one that is particularly meaningful for me written by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963).  As I learn and read more from him, I come to appreciate these sentiments more and more.

Many arrivals make us live: the tree becoming
Green, a bird tipping the topmost bough,
A seed pushing itself beyond itself,
The mole making its way through darkest ground,
The worm, intrepid scholar of the soil—
Do these analogies perplex? A sky with clouds,
The motion of the moon, and waves at play,
A sea-wind pausing in a summer tree.

What does what it should do needs nothing more.
The body moves, though slowly, toward desire.
We come to something without knowing why.


The Seven Ages of Man

From William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It.”     Typical.          I missed a step somewhere….
                        All the world’s a stage,
                        And all the men and women merely players.
                        They have their exits and their entrances,
                        And one man in his time plays many parts,
                        His acts being seven ages.  At first the INFANT,
                        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
                        Then the whining SCHOOLBOY, with his satchel
                        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
                        Unwillingly to school.  And then the LOVER,
                        Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
                        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.  Then a SOLDIER,
                        Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
                        Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
                        Seeking the bubble reputation
                        Even in the cannon’s mouth.  And then the JUSTICE,
                        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
                        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
                        Full of wise saws and modern instances,
                        And so he plays his part.  The sixth age shifts
                        Into the lean and slippered PANTALOON
                        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
                        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
                        For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
                        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
                        And whistles in his sound.  Last scene of all,
                        That ends this strange eventful history,
                        Is SECOND CHILDISHNESS and mere oblivion, 
                        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The Altar

A favorite poem of mine from George Herbert (1593-1633):

A   broken   ALTAR,   Lord,   thy   servant   rears,
Made   of   a   heart,   and   cemented   with  tears:
Whose  parts are  as  thy  hand  did  frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
A   HEART    alone
Is   such    a   stone,
As      nothing    but
Thy pow’r doth  cut.
Wherefore each part
Of   my  hard   heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy  name.
That   if  I   chance  to   hold   thy   peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O    let    thy     blessed     SACRIFICE    be    mine,
And    sanctify     this    ALTAR    to     be     thine.