. . .Good Morning!
Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
Be at war with your vices, at peace
with your neighbors, and let every
new year find you a better man.
– Benjamin Franklin,
Poor Richard’s Almanac
September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day, started as Good Neighbor Day by Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter issued Proclamation 4061 officially proclaiming National Good Neighbor Day in the U.S.
Almost everybody has neighbors – some of them are also friends, while others make our lives more difficult. My husband and I are very fortunate that our closest neighbors are all good people, and after the many years that we have lived here, they are also good friends. We’ve helped each other through earthquakes, droughts, the L.A. riots in 1992, the current pandemic, and personal losses, but also shared our joys in the good times.
Today’s poems express some of the many aspects of neighborliness.
by Rudyard Kipling
The man that is open of heart to his neighbour,
And stops to consider his likes and dislikes,
His blood shall be wholesome whatever his labour,
His luck shall be with him whatever he strikes.
The Splendour of Morning shall duly possess him,
That he may not be sad at the falling of eve.
And, when he has done with mere living–God bless him!–
A many shall sigh, and one Woman shall grieve!
But he that is costive of soul toward his fellow,
Through the ways, and the works, and the woes of this life,
Him food shall not fatten, him drink shall not mellow;
And his innards shall brew him perpetual strife.
His eye shall be blind to God’s Glory above him;
His ear shall be deaf to Earth’s Laughter around;
His Friends and his Club and his Dog shall not love him;
And his Widow shall skip when he goes underground!
“Neighbours” from The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling – Wordsworth Editions – 1999
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India, but returned with his parents to England at the age of five; English novelist, poet, short-story writer, children’s author, and journalist. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was an immensely popular author. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to that date. His reputation has since suffered – George Orwell called him a “jingo imperialist” who was “morally insensitive” – but he remains in print because he is a consummate story-teller. Noted for Kim, The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Captains Courageous, and his poems If, Gunga Din, and Recessional.
by Robert Service
My neighbour has a field of wheat
And I a rood of vine;
And he will give me bread to eat,
And I will give him wine.
And so we are a jolly pair,
Singing with supper as we share
Red wine and crusty bread.
Now venison is mighty meat
And so is trout and hare;
A mallard duck is sweet to eat
And quail is dainty fare.
But such are foods for festal day,
And we will not repine
While on the table we can lay
Crisp bread and rosy wine.
A will to till one’s own of soil
Is worth a kingly crown,
With bread to feed the belly need,
And wine to wash it down.
So with my neighbour I rejoice
That we are fit and free,
Content to praise with lusty voice
Bread, Wine and Liberty.
“Neighbors” from The Complete Poems of Robert Service, © 1945 by Robert Service – Dodd, Mead & Company
Robert Service (1874-1958) was born in Lancashire, England; prolific novelist and poet known as the “Bard of the Yukon.” Between the ages of five and nine, he was sent to live with his grandfather and three young aunts in Scotland. He wrote his first poem on his sixth birthday. Service rejoined his parents and siblings when the family moved to Glasgow in 1883, and was sent to several of Scotland’s best schools, where he took a deep interest in books and poetry, but also played fullback on his high school rugby team. After jobs in a shipping office and a bank, he spent a year at the University of Glasgow, but left when his essay on Ophelia’s questionable “purity” in Hamlet was called “obscene” by his professor. In 1895, he set sail for Montreal with a suitcase and a letter of reference from the bank where he had worked, but determined to become a cowboy in western Canada. He arrived in Vancouver by train, where he did work on ranches, and gathered material for his books, which include Songs of a Sourdough, Harper of Heaven, Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (written while he was an ambulance driver during WWI), The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and Best Tales of the Yukon.
by Adélia Prado
The young man has finished his lunch
and is picking his teeth behind his hand.
The bird scratches in the cage, showering
him with canary seed and bird droppings.
I consider picking one’s teeth unsightly;
he only went to primary school
and his bad grammar grates on me.
But he’s got a man’s rump so seductive
I fall desperately in love with him.
Young men like him
like to wolf their food:
beef and rice, a slice of tomato
and off to the movies
with that face of invincible weakness
for capital sins.
I feel so intimate, simple,
so touchable – because of love,
a slow samba,
because of the fact that we’re going to die
and a refrigerator is a wonderful thing,
and the crucifix his mother gave him,
its gold chain against that frail chest –
He scrapes at his teeth with the toothpick,
he scrapes at my strumpet heart.
“Neighbourhood” from The Mystical Rose: Selected Poems, © 2014 by Ellen Doré Watson (translator) and Adélia Prado – Bloodaxe Books
Adélia Prado (1935 – ) was born in Divinópolis, in the Brazilian interior state of Minas Gerais, to a family of railroad laborers. She was the first member of her family to see the ocean, and to go to university, where she earned degrees in Philosophy and Religious Education. She taught school until 1976, then became the Cultural Liaison for the City of Divinópolis (1983-1988). Her poetry was “discovered” when she was 40 years old in 1976, when she sent a small collection of her poems to poet Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna. De Sant’Anna passed her work on to the Brazilian modernist poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who read it and proclaimed in his weekly newspaper column that “St. Francis was dictating lines to a housewife in Minas Gerais.” Her work is a paradox of a deep and spiritual Catholicism combined with the physical and the carnal. She says,”It’s the soul that’s erotic.” She is writes often about the everyday concerns of women. Prado has published eight volumes of poetry and seven volumes of prose, starting with her first poetry collection Bagegem (Baggage). In describing her work, Robert Hass said, “Brazil has produced what might seem impossible: a really sexy, mystical, Catholic poet.” She tries to avoid the limelight, but Prado is one of Brazil’s foremost poets. Her work has been translated into English, Italian, and Spanish. American poet and translator Ellen Doré Watson has translated several of Prado’s collections, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems of Adélia Prado; Ex-Voto:Poems of Adélia Prado; and The Mystical Rose: Selected Poems.
by Helen Dunmore
is the same as ours, but different.
Back to front stairs,, and a bass that thuds
like the music of demolition
year after year, but the house
is still standing.
When we have parties they tense into silence
although they are good at fighting.
After the last screech and slam, their children
play war on their scab of a lawn.
We’re mirrors of one another,
never showing what’s real.
If I turn like this, quickly,
and look over the fence, what will I see?
“Next Door” from Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001, © 2011 by Helen Dunmore – Bloodaxe Books
Helen Dunmore (1952 – ) British poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, and literary reviewer, born in Yorkshire, England. She studied English at the University of York, taught English as a foreign language in Finland, and taught poetry and creative writing at the Arvon Foundation, the University of Glamorgan, and the Open College of the Arts. She has reviewed poetry and fiction for The Observer, The Times and The Guardian. Her poetry collections include The Apple Fall, Glad of These Times, and The Malarkey (the collection’s title poem won the National Poetry Competition in the UK.) She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
by Fred Rogers
It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, we might as well say
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please
Won’t you please
Please won’t you be my neighbor?
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” © 1967 by Fred M. Rogers
Fred Rogers (1928-2003) born in Pennsylvania, better known as Mister Rogers; American children’s television icon, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, children’s book author, and Presbyterian minister. Best known for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which he created and hosted from 1968 to 2001. He attended the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development, where he began his 30-year long collaboration with child psychologist Margaret McFarland. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was critically acclaimed for its focus on children’s emotional and physical concerns, including difficult topics like death, divorce, and national catastrophes. His broadcasts have been a source of comfort during tragic events, and his comments are still cited as new tragedies occur. Among many other honors, Rogers was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997, induction into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Rogers died of stomach cancer in February, 2003, at the age of 74.