Sunday, July 7, 2013


1 Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

2 Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, want­ing to fly the air.

3 Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for eXplanations.

4 Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

5 Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

6 Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

7 Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

8 Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

9 Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

10 Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.


Man's mind is larger than his brow of tears;
 This hour is not my all of time; this place

My all of earth; nor this obscene disgrace 
My all of life; and thy complacent sneers 
Shall not pronounce my doom to my compeers
 While. the Hereafter lights me in the face, 
And from the Past, as from the mountain's base, 
Rise, as I rise, the long tumultuous cheers. 
And who slays me must overcome a world: 
Heroes at arms, and virgins who became 
Mothers of children, prophecy and song; 
Walls of old cities with their flags unfurled; 
Peaks, headlands, ocean and its isles of fame­
And sun and moon and all that made me strong!


Whose woods these are 1 think 1 know.
 His house is in the village though;
 He will not see me stopping here
 To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near 
Between the woods and frozen lake 
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake 
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
 But 1 have promises to keep,
And miles to go before 1 sleep,

And miles to go before 1 sleep.


He gave the solid rail a hateful kick.
From far away there came an answering tick; 
And then another tick. He knew the code:
His hate had roused an engine up the road.
He wished when he had had the track alone
He had attacked it with a club or stone
And bent some rail wide. open like a switch 
So as to wreck the engine in the ditch.
Too late, though, now to throw it down the bank;
 Its click was rising to a nearer clank.

Here it came breasting like a horse in skirts.
(He stood well back for fear of scalding squirts.)
 Then for a moment there was only size, 
Confusion, and a roar that drowned the cries
He raised against the gods in the machine. 
Then once again the sand-hank lay serene. 

The traveler's eye picked up a turtle trail, 
Between the dotted feet a streak of tail,
And followed it to where he made out vague, 
But certain signs of buried turtle egg;
And probing with one finger not too rough, 
He found suspicious sand, and sure enough
The pocket of a little turtle mine.      

If there was one egg in it, there were nine,
 Torpedo-like, with shell of gritty leather
All packed in sand to wait the trump together. 
"You'd "better not disturb me any more,"

He told the distance. "I am armed for war.
 The next machine that has the power to pass 
Will get this plasm in its goggle glass."


Sea waves are green and wet, 
But up from where they die 
Rise others vaster yet,
And those are brown and dry.
They are the sea made land 
To come at the fisher town, 
And bury in solid sand
The men she could not drown.
She may know cove and cape, 
But she does not know mankind 
If by any change of shape
She hopes to cut off mind.

Men left her a ship to sink; 
They can leave her a hut as well,
 And be but more free to think 
For the one more cast-off shell.


the shattered water made a misty din,
great waves looked over others coming in, 
and thought of doing something to the shore 
that water never did to land before.

the clouds were low and hairy in the skies
 like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if 
The sand was lucky in being backed by cliff, 

The cliff in being backed by continent.
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
 Some one had better be prepared for rage.
 There would be more than ocean water broken

before God's last "Put out the light" was spoken.


Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
 I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,
 I think I know enough of hate
 To say that for destruction ice Is also great

And would suffice.


When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all, for I know your savor;
But I am completely nourished.


If there is no God for thee
Then there is no God for me
If He sees not when you share
 With the poor your frugal fare,
 Does not see you at a grave,
Every instinct bred to save;
As if you were the only one 
Believing in a resurrection;
When you wait, as lovers do, 
Watching till your friend comes true;
Does not reverence when you take
 Angry words for love's sweet sake;
If his eye does not approve
All your faith and pain and love;
If the heart of justice fail 
And is for you of no avail;
If there is no heaven for thee
 Then there is no heaven for me.

If the Lord they tell us of
Died for men yet loves not love,
If from out His Paradise
He shuts the innocent and wise,
The gay, obedient, simple, good, 
The docile ones, of friendly mood,
Those who die to save a friend 
Heavenly faithful to the end;
If there is no cross for thee. 
Then there is no cross for me.

If its boughs reach not so high
That they bowed star and sky,
If its roots are not so sound
That they cleave the heavy ground,
If it thrills not through all Nature
 Plunged through every living creature,
If its leaves do not enmesh
 Every bit of groaning flesh,
If it strike no mighty spur
Through fang and claw and tooth and fur
Piercing tree and earth and stone,
 Then indeed I stand alone.
Nothing less than this can save
 Me, from out my fleshly grave,
Me, in whom such jungles are 
Where the beasts go out to war.

If there is no God for thee
 Then there is no God for me.


Oh, out in the West where the riders are ready,
            They sing an old song and they tell an old tale,
And its moral is plain: Take it easy, go steady,
            While riding a horse on the Malibu Trail.
It's a high, rocky trail with its switch-backs and doubles,
            It has no beginning and never an end:
It's risky and rough and it's plumb full of troubles,
            From Shifty-that's shale-up to Powder Cut Bend.
Old.timers will tell you the rangers who made it,
            Sang "Roll A Rock Down," with a stiff upper lip,
And cussed all creation, but managed to grade it;
            With a thousand.foot drop if a pony should slip.
Oh, the day it was wet and the sky it was cloudy,
            The trail was as slick as an oil.rigger's pants,
When Ranger McCabe on his pony, Old Rowdy,
            Came ridin' where walkin' was takin' a chance.

"Oh, Roll A Rock Down!" picks and shovels was clangin',
            And Rowdy a-steppin' that careful and light,
When the edge it gave way and McCabe was left hangin'
            Clean over the rim-with no bottom in sight.
I shook out a loop-bein' crowded for throwin';
            I flipped a fair noose for a rope that was wet:
It caught just as Mac lost his holt and was go in',
            And burned through my fingers: it's burnin' them yet.

For Ranger McCabe never knuckled to danger;
            My pardner in camp, on the trail, or in town:
And he slid. into glory, a true forest-ranger,
            With: "Hell! I'm a.goin'! Just roll a rock down."
So, roll a rock down where a ranger is sleepin'
            Aside of his horse below Powder Cut Bend:
I ride and I look where the shadows are creep in',
            And roll a rock down-for McCabe was my friend.

I've sung you my song and I've told you my story,
            And all that I ask when I'm done with the show,
Is, roll a rock down when I slide into glory,
            And say that I went like a ranger should go.

Alone on Lykaion

Alone on Lykaion since man hath been
Stand on the height two columns, 
where' at rest
 Two eagles hewn of gold sit looking East 
Forever; and the sun goes up between.
Far down around the mountain's oval green
 An order keeps the falling stones abreast. 
Below within the chaos last and least
A river like a curl of light is seen.
Beyond the river lies the even sea,
Beyond the sea another ghost of sky,­
0 God, support the sickness of my eye
Lest the far space and long antiquity
Suck out my heart, and on this awful ground 
The great wind kill my little shell with sound.


A poet had a cat.
There is nothing odd in that­
(I might make a little pun about the Mews!)

But what is really more
Remarkable, she wore
A pair of pointed patent-leather shoes.
            And 1 doubt me greatly whether
            You have heard the like of that:
            Pointed shoes of patent-leather
            On a cat!
His time he used to pass
Writing sonnets, on the grass­
(I might say something good on pen and sward!) 
While the cat sat near at hand,
Trying hard to understand
The poems he occasionally roared.
            (I myself possess a feline,
            But when poetry 1 roar
            He is sure to make a bee-line
            For the door.)
The poet, cent by cent, .All his patrimony spent­
(I might tell how he went from verse to worse!)
 Till the cat was sure she could, ~ By advising, do him good.
            So addressed him in a manner that was terse:
            "We are bound toward the scuppers,
            And the time has come to act,
            Or we'll both be on our uppers
            For a fact!"
On her boot she fixed her eye, But the boot made no reply­
(I might say: "Couldn't speak to save its sole!")
 And the foolish bard, instead
Of responding, only read
A verse that wasn't bad upon the whole.
            And it pleased the cat so greatly,
            Though she knew not what it meant,
            That I'll quote approximately
            How it went:­

"If I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree"­
(I might put in: "I think I'd just as leaf!") 
"Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough"­
Well, he'd plagiarized it bodily, in brief!
            But that cat of simple breeding
            Couldn't read the lines between,
            So she took it to a leading Magazine.

She was jarred and very sore
When they showed her to the door.
(I might hit off the door that was a jar!)
 To the spot she swift returned
Where the poet sighed and yearned,
And she told him that he'd gone a little far. 
"Your performance with this rhyme has
            Made me absolutely sick,"
            She remarked. "I think the time has
            Come to kick!"
I could fill up half the page
With descriptions of her rage­
(I might say that she went a bit too fur!)
 When he smiled and murmured: "Shoo!" "There is one thing I can do!"

She answered with a wrathful kind of purr.
            "Y ou may shoe me, an it suit you,
            But I feel my conscience bid
            Me, as tit for tat, to boot you!"
            (Which she did.)
The Moral of the plot (Though I say it, as should not!)
Is: An editor is difficult to suit. But again there're other times When the man who fashions rhymes

            Is a rascal, and a bully one to boot!


A raven sat upon a tree,
 And not a word he spoke,
for His beak contained a piece of Brie,
 Or, maybe, it was Roquefort.

 We'll make it any kind you please¬
 At all events it was a cheese.
Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb
 A hungry fox sat smiling;
He saw the raven watching him,
 And spoke in words beguiling:

 "!'admire," said he, "ton beau plumage,"
 (The which was simply persiflage).
Two things there are, no doubt you know,
 To which a fox is used:
 A rooster that is bound to crow,
 A crow that's bound to roost;
 And whichsoever he espies
 He tells the most unblushing lies.

 "Sweet foul," he said,"I understand
 You're more than merely natty,
 I hear you sing to beat the band
 And Adelina Patti.
 Pray render with your liquid tongue
 A bit from 'Gotterdammerun'g.'

" This subtle speech was aimed to please 
The crow, and it succeeded;
He thought no bird in all the trees
 Could sing as well as he did.
 In flattery completely doused,
 He gave the "Jewel Song" from "Faust."

 But gravitation's law, of course,
 As Isaac Newton showed it,
Exerted on the cheese its force,
 And elsewhere soon bestowed it.
 In fact, there is no need to tell
 What happened when to earth it fell.

 I blush to add that when the bird
 Took in the situation He said one brief, emphatic word,
 Unfit for publication. The fox was greatly startled,
 but He only sighed and answered "Tut."

The Moral is: A fox is bound To be a shameless sinner.
 And also: When the cheese comes round You know it's after dinner.
 But (what is only known to few) The fox is after dinner, too.