Entry XXXIX – December

The Chambered Nautilus
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

Entry XXXVIII – December

Journey to Iceland
W.H. Auden


And the traveller hopes: “Let me be far from any
Physician”; and the ports have names for the sea;
The citiless, the corroding, the sorrow;
And North means to all: “Reject”.

And the great plains are for ever where cold creatures are hunted,
And everywhere; the light birds flicker and flaunt;
Under a scolding flag the lover
Of islands may see at last,

Faintly, his limited hope; as he nears the glitter
Of glaciers; the sterile immature mountains intense
In the abnormal day of this world, and a river’s
Fan-like polyp of sand.

Then let the good citizen here find natural marvels:
The horse-shoe ravine, the issue of steam from a cleft
In the rock, and rocks, and waterfalls brushing the
Rocks, and among the rock birds.

And the student of prose and conduct, places to visit;
The site of a church where a bishop was put in a bag,
The bath of a great historian, the rock where
An outlaw dreaded the dark.

Remember the doomed man thrown by his horse and crying:
“Beautiful is the hillside, I will not go”;
The old woman “He that I loved the
Best, to him I was worst,”

For Europe is absent. This is an island and therefore
Unreal. And the steadfast affections of its dead may be bought
By those whose dreams accuse them of being
Spitefully alive, and the pale

From too much passion of kissing feel pure in its deserts.
Can they? For the world is, and the present, and the lie.
And the narrow bridge over a torrent,
And the small farm under a crag

Are natural settings for the jealousies of a province;
And the weak vow of fidelity is formed by the cairn;
And within the indigenous figure on horseback
On the bridle-path down by the lake

The blood moves also by crooked and furtive inches,
Asks all our questions: “Where is the homage? When
Shall justice be done? Who is against me?
Why am I always alone?”

Present then the world to the world with its mendicant shadow;
Let the suits be flash, the Minister of Commerce insane;
Let jazz be bestowed on the huts, and the beauty’s
Set cosmopolitan smile.

For our time has no favourite suburb; no local features
Are those of the young for whom all wish to care;
The promise is only a promise, the fabulous
Country impartially far.

Tears fall in all the rivers. Again some driver
Pulls on his gloves and in a blinding snowstorm starts
Upon his deadly journey; and again some writer
Runs howling to his art.



Entry XXXVII – December

Giacometti’s Dog
Robert Wallace

Lopes in bronze:
thin. In
the Museum of Modern Art
down, neck long as sadness
lowering to hanging ears
– he’s eyeless-
that hear
nothing, and the sausage
that leads him as
surely as eyes:
he might
dead, dried webs or clots of flesh
and fur
on the thin, long bones- but
isn’t, obviously
is obviously
traveling intent on his
own aims: legs
with a gayety the dead aren’t known
for, Going
onward in one place,
he doesn’t so much ignore
as not recognize
the well-
dressed Sunday hun-
dreds who passing, pausing make
his bronze
move. Why
do they come to admire
They wouldn’t care for real dogs
less raggy
than he
is? It’s his tragic
bugs them? or is
it that art can make us
anything- this command
of shaping and abutting space-
that makes us love
even mutts,
even the world, accep
the starry wheels by which we’re hurled
toward death, having
the rocks and
wind for comrades?
It’s not this starved hound,
but Giacometti seeing
him we see.
We’ll stand in line all day
to see one man
love anything enough.


Entry XXXVI – November

The Tyger
William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Entry XXXV – November

The Ecchoing Green
William Blake

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John, with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say.
‘Such, such were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.’

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green.


Entry XXXIV – November

Percy Bysshe Shelley

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:—

We rest—a dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:—

It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free;
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.



Entry XXXIII – November

I Remember, I Remember
Thomas Hood

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born, 
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi’lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,—
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heav’n
Than when I was a boy.


Entry XXXII – October

The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyam

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two – is gone.

A Moment’s Halt – a momentary taste
Of Being from the Well amid the Waste –
And Lo! the phantom Caravan has reach’d
The Nothing it set out from – Oh, make haste!



Entry XXXI – October

Before Disaster
Yvor Winters

Evening traffic homeward burns,
Swift and even on the turns,
Drifting weight in triple rows,
Fixed relation and repose.
This one edges out and by,
Inch by inch with steady eye.
But should error be increased,
Mass and moment are released;
Matter loosens, flooding blind,
Levels drivers to its kind.


Entry XXX – October

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness
Arthur Guiterman

The tusks that clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is ferric oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear whose potent hug
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar’s bust is on my shelf,
And I don’t feel so well myself.