Category Archives: Poetry

Christmas Oratio by W.H. Auden

Christmas Oratio
by W. H. Auden

Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes —
Some have got broken — and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school.  There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week —
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers.  Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.  But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays.  The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this.  To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened.  Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering.  So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
“Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.”
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine.  In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance.  The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
that God’s Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.


√-1 2³ Σ π

√-1  2³  Σ  π  … and it tasted good.

A few weeks ago, a vendor at the market was selling persimmon pulp and persimmon cookbooks. She had samples too, which was a big selling point, because I had never tasted persimmon pudding before. I had heard of it, mostly acquaintances mentioning that their grandmothers made it as a special holiday treat. Usually these were people whose families had been farmers. Persimmons were completely out of my realm of experience.

So, I handed her some money and she gave me two cups of frozen pulp and a cookbook Old-Fashioned Persimmon Recipes (Bear Wallow Books, Indianapolis, © 1978). There were a few pages about “persimmon country” and the lore of persimmons, but it didn’t give enough information to satisfy my curiosity. Where’s a food anthropologist when you need one? I did find some more information on the internets, including that early pioneers didn’t like the fruit at first, but learned from the Algonquins that the bitter fruit became a sweet treat if it was left on the tree until late fall.

What more could be more fitting for a Thanksgiving feast? Besides, you must have pie at Thanksgiving!
It wasn’t difficult to make. Mix some sugar, eggs, milk, spices together. Add some flour.

Step 1: Mix wet ingredients together & then add flour & baking powder.

Pour into a crust and bake!

Step 2: Put in pie shell. Step 3: Bake. Step 4: Enjoy.

I thought I had snapped a picture of the finished product, but all I have is what it looked like before it cooked. So imagine this, with the dough now a crust, baked to a nice golden tone. The pecans had a bit more brown on them than what I would have anticipated, but that just made it look more homemade.

I baked a pie. I ate some pie (√-1 2³  Σ π).  And it was good!

Thanksgiving Persimmon Pie:, From Old-Fashioned Persimmon Recipes
1 9 inch unbaked pie shell
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c milk,
1 c persimmon pulp
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/3 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg

Mix sugar, egg, vanilla, milk and pulp. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Gradually combine into wet ingredients. Pour in pie shell. Top with pecans. Bake 350 F for 30 – 35 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

While I was looking for some history and traditions on persimmons, I found two things that I found particularly interesting.

There were three regiments in the Civil War known as the “Persimmon Regiment” because they looked for persimmons when they made camp.  In the case of the Indiana 100th, on their way to the Battle of Vicksburg, the persimmons they collected helped to feed them once supply lines were cut off by the Confederate Armies.

And I found this love poem:  Persimmons, by Li-Young Lee.

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant.

Read the rest here.

Prairie Making

I’m missing summer already!

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, —
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

~ Emily Dickinson

Here, There . . . Like A Dead Leaf

Chanson d’automne
~ Paul Verlaine

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

Translation here.

Today in history

The Writers’ Almanac celebrates the 129th birthday of William Carlos Williams — and the discovery of bacteria.   Listen to the podcast in iTunes, or read the text here.

You can hear Williams read his poem in the link below.  It surprised me how he read it, much faster than I would read it.

Last year, I wrote about Williams and included some links.  You can find that post here.

It’s raining here today, but no chickens or wheelbarrows anywhere.   And, so, no photo either.

One Short Post Containing One Photo, One Poem, One Order

One photo: One branch, two catkins, four leaves.

One pussy willow branch

One poem:

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
Pablo Neruda
Translated by Mark Eisner

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

One word comment: Discuss.

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is O. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.

What Any Lover Learns

One of my favorite poems.  I especially like the truth of the poem revealed by the title.

What Any Lover Learns
Archibald MacLeish

Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone’s
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone and stone refuses.

What runs,
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone’s
Refusal of the river, not the river.

Heavy Silver

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is L. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.

Ah! Bright Wings

God’s Grandeur,
~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is H. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.

Sunday Quote (2012 Week 7)

‎A poet’s work…to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.  ~ Salman Rushdie

Mysteries & the Deep Blue Sea

Current Reading

In a sense, poems are not even fair. For instance, they do not always assert what they mean. And the same for pictures. A reader must get meaning through an action, through an act of response. And there are endless combinations of irony possible, and reversals, and second thoughts, and adjustments. Images and words put near each other begin to interact. What a poem says, it keeps on saying, with variations, to any being who keeps on saying and judging too, in his own way.

“Introduction to ‘Since Feeling is First'”, reprinted in Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation by William Stafford

This, of course, reminds me of Emily Dickenson’s “Tell the truth, but tell is slant”:

All truth must dazzle gradually/Or every man be blind

Once I thought of that, my mind went wandering, tossing this idea about. It isn’t coincidence that I used the word tossing, as Stafford wrote about bouncing ideas — and poems — off of backboards! I look forward to reading more essays in this collection; when I start up again, I’ll be on page 9!

Welcome to the Sunshine State