Entry XCI – October

Those Winter Sundays

Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
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Entry XC – October

The Stone Man
Geoffrey Hill

Half-recognized kingdom of the dead:
A deeper landscape lit by distant
Flashing from their journey.

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Entry LXXXIX – October

In the prison pen
Herman Melville

Listless he eyes the palisades
And sentries in the glare;
’Tis barren as a pelican-beach—
But his world is ended there.
Nothing to do; and vacant hands
Bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think—to recollect,
But the blur is on his brain.
Around him swarm the plaining ghosts
Like those on Virgil’s shore—
A wilderness of faces dim,
And pale ones gashed and hoar.
A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
He totters to his lair—
A den that sick hands dug in earth
Ere famine wasted there,
Or, dropping in his place, he swoons,
Walled in by throngs that press,
Till forth from the throngs they bear him dead—
Dead in his meagerness.

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Entry LXXVIII – October

“But When I Became a Man…”

Raymond Holden

Now, being grown, I put away
The childish things that are no child’s;
Such as the thought that what men say
Can shrive them against natal wilds,
Such as the fear that others know
The secret hidden from my hope,
Such as the terror lest men grow,
In age, remaining dwarfs in scope.

Distinguished behind fogs of glass,
Self-laurelled for a state attained,
I sit and think the hours that pass
Admire the way my glass is stained.
And all the time those hours’ eyes,
Unused to man’s small shifts of sort
Not noticing my mind and size,
Name me a child in their report.

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Entry LXXVII – September

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Delicate omens traced on air
To the lone bard true witness bare;
Birds with auguries on their wings
Chanted undecieving things
Him to beckon, him to warn;
Well might then the poet scorn
To learn of scribe or corier
Hints writ in vaster character;
And on his mind, at dawn of day,
Soft shadows of the evening lay
For the prevision is allied
Until the thing so signified;
Or say, the foresight that awaits
Is the same Genius that creates.

Entry LXXVI – September

Vulture
William Carlos Williams

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a
bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a
vulture wheeling high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer,
its orbit narrowing,
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and
heard the flight feathers
Whistle above me and make their circle and come
nearer…
. . . how beautiful he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked,
veering away in the sea-light
over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be
eaten by that beak and
become part of him, to share those wings and
those eyes –
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an ensky-
ment; what a life after death.

 

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Entry LXXXV – September

September Song
Geoffrey Hill

Undesirable you may have been, untouchable
you were not. Not forgotten
or passed over at the proper time.

As estimated, you died. Things marched,
sufficient, to that end.
Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented
terror, so many routine cries.

(I have made
an elegy for myself it
is true)

September fattens on vines. Roses
flake from the wall. The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.

This is plenty. This is more than enough.

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Entry LXXXIII – September

The Wanderer

W.H. Auden

Doom is dark and deeper than any sea-dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud-soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.
There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.
Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger’s leap at corner;
Protect his house,
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.
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Entry LXXXII – September

Buffalo Dusk

Carl Sandburg

The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.
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Entry LXXXI – September

Winter Night

Ted Olson

Blow now against the cold your thin
Ephemeral breath. Evoke the ghost
Of the pale flame that pants within.
This is yourself. This phantom, lost
On air, this filigree in frost,
Is all of warmth and brawn that hold
At bay the interstellar cold.

Trace in the braided wrist the tick
Of tunneling blood. This quiver, brief
As the wind’s tread along the leaf,
This rhythm feebler than the flick
Of cricket’s wing, no less sustains
The thrust of chaos blindly hurled
Against the frail tide of the veins–
The weight of crumbling world on world.

Breathe hard against the icy wind
Once more. Blow forth against the bright
Brave ghost of flame, a javelinned
Defiance to the crowding night.
Then get you in–to bed– forget,
If so you can, how pulse and breath
(A moment yet . . . a moment yet . . .)
Beat back the seismic tides of death.

 

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