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.
“I was gravely warned by some of my female acquaintances
that no woman could expect to be regarded as a lady after
she had written a book.”
– Lydia M. Child (1802-1880), American activist for
women’s rights, ending slavery, and Native American rights
“The genesis of a poem for me is usually
a cluster of words. The only good metaphor
I can think of is a scientific one: dipping
a thread into a supersaturated solution to
induce crystal formation. I don’t think I
solve problems in my poetry; I think I
uncover the problems.”
— Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist
and poet, author of The Handmaid’s Tale
Eleven poets born this week.
1046 – Nasir Khusraw, Persian poet, philosopher, scholar, and Islamic mystic, begins the seven-year Middle Eastern journey which he will later describe in Safarnama (Book of Travels)– widely regarded as the most authentic account of the Muslim world in the mid-11th century, it is still required reading in Iran today.
His poems are very long, so here is just the opening from
I shall turn over a new leaf, and whatever
is better, that shall I make my mind’s aim.
The world of April – for instance -is an emblem of delight:
shall I not by contemplation make my heart fresh as Spring?
On the green lawns and beds of this my poetic Divan
I shall weave lines and feet into hyacinths and sweet basil,
meanings and allusions into ripe fruit and plum roses,
and grow great trees from tiny seeds of precise words.
Clouds make a desert’s jaundiced face a garden –
thus shall I too rain gently on my book’s face
and in the assembly of debate, favour the wise
with fine subtle points like scattering of petals;
if dusty error greys one of my blooms I’ll sprinkle
from a clear sky upon it my commentary …
1953 – Katarina Frostenson born, a leading Swedish poet, prose writer, dramatist, and translator; elected to the Swedish Academy in 1992, and honored in 2016 with the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize; noted for her poetry collection I det gula (In the Yellow), and a work of fiction, Berättelser från dom (Stories from Them).
by Katarina Frostenson
See and go
Everything that appears can be perceived
To see without succumbing – is the path
to see and leave, a silent stream of items and things
tree trunk sandbox gravel trails
a coiled branch
the shining tree
empty days. You are ravishing. Let me feel this
as I experience it
snap, step, metal roofs and clouds
the street is a structure that calms
layer upon layer of facades and glass
to the suburbs and back again
Hägersten is a kangaroo pouch in thought
carrying, brown, damp
turning in and out
like the words: you birthed me mother
listen: there is no going back
A rain drew in during the night. The night rain pulling a membrane
across the objects. Muffled sounds.
Hägersten is an urban district of Stockholm.
– translated by Bradley Harmon
“Silent Directive” appeared in the Tupelo Quarterly in March 2022
1806 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning born, English poet and writer; in frail health, she used her pen to campaign for the abolition of slavery and influence reform of child labour laws. After the publication of her Poems in 1844 was much acclaimed, Robert Browning began a correspondence with her, which turned into a secret courtship and marriage. Her father disinherited her when he learned of their wedding. She and her husband moved to Italy in 1846, where she gave birth to their son in 1849. Her health continued to decline, and she died in Florence in 1861. Robert Browning published her last poems posthumously.
Sonnets from the Portuguese 22: When
our two souls stand up erect and strong
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvéd point, — what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think. In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us, and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd, — where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
1924 – Kōbō Abe born, Japanese poet, novelist, and playwright; best known for his novel Woman in the Dunes. His first book was a small self-published poetry collection entitled Mumei shishū (Poems by a Nameless Poet) in 1947.
by Kōbō Abe
When your body blazes like spirit
Dream casts its net into the immaterial
O shroud of death
Wrapped in its endless web you hallucinate
A herd of beasts, thirsty, running for shore
“Ennui” translated by Darcy L. Gauthier, © 2015
1892 – Juana de Ibarbourou born in the Cerro Largo department of northeastern Uruguay; an early South American feminist and pantheist, her poetry is full of nature imagery and eroticism. At age 17, she published Derechos femeninos (Women’s Rights), a prose work. In 1979, she died at age 87 in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Being Rained On
by Juana de Ibarbourou
How the rain is sliding down my back!
How it’s soaking into my skirt
and planting its icy cold on my cheeks!
It’s raining, raining, raining.
And I’m off, I’m on my way,
with a lightness in my soul and a smile on my face,
with no emotions, no dreams,
just full of the pleasure of not thinking.
Here’s a bird taking a bath
in a muddy puddle. Surprised by my presence,
it pauses… looks me in the eye… feels like we’re friends…
We’re both in love with sky and fields and wheat!
Then the startled face
of a passing labourer with his hoe on his shoulder
and the rain is drenching me in all the scents
of October hedges.
And, soaked to the skin as I am,
a kind of wonderful, stupendous crown of crystal drops,
of flowers stripped of their petals,
pours over me from the astonished plants I brush against.
And I feel, in this mindless,
sleepless state, the pleasure,
the infinite, sweet, strange delight
of a moment’s oblivion.
It’s raining, raining, raining,
and in my soul and in my flesh, this icy cold.
– translation by Jean Morris, © 2015 – published online at Via Negativa
Jayne Jaudon Ferrer born on March 8 in Wauchula, Florida “sometime after dinosaurs and before the Internet.” Longtime resident of Greenville, South Carolina. Her books of poetry include Dancing With My Daughter, A Mother of Sons, and a New Mother’s Prayer. She is the editor and host of http://www.Your Daily Poem.com.
Sunday Afternoon at Lake Poway
by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer
Wall Street, Washington, and wars don’t exist
on this day that’s pure perfection.
Those of us who passed up a nap, a ballgame, a tryst,
who decided the term paper/laundry/brake job could wait,
have received a princely reward.
September sun glints off rowboats drifting past,
warms the rocks on tawny hills that rise around us,
streaks the emerald grass with olive shadows.
Charmed, we stroll benignly on the sand,
cast lazy fishing lines in cobalt ripples,
trade treats for tricks with bombastic, greedy ducks,
sit sated with the beauty and the bliss.
Here, Monday seems miles away;
world peace seems possible.
© 2018 by Jane Jaudon Ferrer
1606 – Edmund Waller was born in Coleshill, Buckinghamshire; English poet and Member of Parliament, but he was frequently in and out of office because of the political and social turmoil of the times, including Civil War, regicide, and the Restoration. He died in London at age 81 in 1687.
On a Girdle
by Edmund Waller
That which her slender waist confin’d,
Shall now my joyful temples bind;
No monarch but would give his crown,
His arms might do what this has done.
It was my heaven’s extremest sphere,
The pale which held that lovely dear,
My joy, my grief, my hope, my love,
Did all within this circle move.
A narrow compass, and yet there
Dwelt all that’s good, and all that’s fair;
Give me but what this ribbon bound,
Take all the rest the sun goes round.
1892 – Vita Sackville-West born, English novelist, poet, journalist, diarist, and garden designer. Portrait of a Marriage, a memoir of her love life, including her marriage to Harold Nicolson and her relationship with Violet Keppel, wasn’t published until 1973. She published more than a dozen collections of poetry and 13 novels during her life, and wrote a column for The Observer newspaper (1946-1961). Her novel All Passions Spent was a best-seller in 1931, and is probably her best-known work today.
by Vita Sackville-West
When little lights in little ports come out,
Quivering down through water with the stars,
And all the fishing fleet of slender spars
Range at their moorings, veer with tide about;
When race of wind is stilled and sails are furled,
And underneath our single riding-light
The curve of black-ribbed deck gleams palely white,
And slumbrous waters pool a slumbrous world;
–Then, and then only, have I thought how sweet
Old age might sink upon a windy youth,
Quiet beneath the riding-light of truth,
Weathered through storms, and gracious in retreat.
“Evening” from Collected Works of Vita Sackville-West – Delphi Classics, © 2022
1841 – Ina Coolbrith born, American poet, author, and city librarian of Oakland (1874-1892). She was the first Poet Laureate (1915-1928) of the state of California, which was the first American state to appoint a poet laureate. Her poetry collections include A Perfect Day and Songs from the Golden Gate. Coolbrith’s health was already in decline before the 1906 earthquake. She escaped from her house carrying her cat, but the fire that followed burned her home to the ground. She lost over 3,000 books, many of them first editions signed by their authors, and the manuscript of her history of the California literary scene, which she never completed. She lived in temporary quarters until her friends raised the money to build a new house for her. Ina Coolbrith died in 1928 at age 86.
A Birthday Rhyme
by Ina Coolbrith
So glide the days, dear! Dawn will not delay,
Noontide will come, nor linger in its flight;
And even-time in turn must pass away
Into the darkness of a dreamless night.
Hold fast, Beloved, thy season of delight:
Make merry while the morning gilds the sky,
And dews undried upon the roses lie;
Thy golden morn of May-time, brief as bright.
For labor waits; and cares thou canst not miss;
Grief for thy gladness, and for laughter, tears.
Ah, love! if only love might spare thee this-
Might hold a little farther off the years! –
A little longer bind thy winged feet,
O youth, -most swift in passing, and most sweet!
“A Birthday Rhyme” from Songs from the Golden Gate, by Ina Coolbrith – originally published in 1895
1933 – Elizabeth Azcona Cranwell born in Buenos Aires; Argentine poet, author, translator, and literary critic for La Nación newspaper. She was also on the faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires. Her poetry collections include La vida disgregada (The Disintegrated Life) and De los opuestos (Of Opposites). She died at age 71 in Buenos Airies.
by Elizabeth Azcona Cranwell
When dinosaurs run to their duty over
my heart, I cannot explain. On Sunday I shot
a pheasant, walked on rails, iris bloomed
in the stock market. Walter de la Mare, consecrated
and pale, my raft is giaour, on Sunday I cleaned
the pheasant and watched the road from this house.
I see the arrows are parallel. Crow is in the library
on the wall. When I think about the scale of America
binding round roots, under the ocean, I feel
cotton is in both seas. Harpoon cuts
in the blue, little hair of mushrooms’ smoke
are wounds in the human night. When a pheasant falls
I see feedback of fluttering of the generals. Silk
falls into the lake. Skiers speak into the microphone.
– translated by the author with Elliott Anderson, © 1960
1843 – ‘Pearl Rivers’ born as Eliza Jane Poitevent in Gainsville, Mississippi; American Southern author, newspaperwoman, and poet. She moved to New Orleans in 1872, and became the literary editor of The Daily Picayune, which was owned by Alva Holbrook, who asked her to marry him. A month after their marriage, Holbrook’s first wife returned from New York and attacked her with a pistol and a bottle of rum, followed by a messy and protracted court battle. Their marriage quickly became a bitter one. In 1876, she inherited the paper – and a heavy load of debts – when Holbrook died. She took over as managing editor, added features to attract more readers, including a highly successful advice column and a daily forecast featuring a frog as the weather prophet. She also wrote editorials and published poetry under the name Pearl Rivers. She married George Nicholson, the paper’s business manager, in 1878. In the 18 years they ran the Picayune, it became one of the most successful newspapers in the South. In 1896, Eliza Poitevent Holbrook Nicholson died at age 52 of influenza, ten days after her husband George had died.
Under the Snow
by Pearl Rivers
Deep, deep, deep,
Quickly, so none should know,
I buried my warm love stealthily
Under the winter snow.
For you had coldly said,
Coldly and carelessly,
“Bury your love or let it live,
It is all the same to me.”
I tore it out of my heart!
I crushed it within my hand!
It cried to you in its agony
For help, but you came not; and
It struggled within my grasp;
It fought with my woman’s will;
It kneeled to my woman’s pride with tears
Then silent it lay, and still.
I knew that it was not dead,
But I said: “It soon will die,
Buried under the winter snow,
Under the winter sky.”
I kissed it tenderly,
Just once, for the long ago;
Then shrouded it with your cold, cold words,
Colder than all the snow!
Deep, deep, deep,
Quickly, so none should know,
I buried my warm love stealthily
Under the winter snow.
Then with my murderous hands
I raised up the heavy stone
Of Silence over my buried love,
Lest the world should hear it moan.
“Under the Snow” from Lyrics, © 1873 by Pearl Rivers – J.B. Lippincott & Co.
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