Willow Poem by William Carlos Williams

Claude_Monet,_Water-Lily_Pond_and_Weeping_Willow

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

 

 

William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963.

 

Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow, Claude Monet

Dawns by Amy Lowell

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

 

 

Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925.

 

Photograph by Sanketsans. 

Demeter by H. D.

Elliott_Daingerfield_-_'Tanagra',_oil_on_canvas,_1901,_High_Museum_of_Art

I

Men, fires, feasts,
steps of temple, fore-stone, lintel,
step of white altar, fire and after-fire,
slaughter before,
fragment of burnt meat,
deep mystery, grapple of mind to reach
the tense thought,
power and wealth, purpose and prayer alike,
(men, fires, feasts, temple steps)—useless.
Useless to me who plant
wide feet on a mighty plinth,
useless to me who sit,
wide of shoulder, great of thigh,
heavy in gold, to press
gold back against solid back
of the marble seat:
useless the dragons wrought on the arms,
useless the poppy-buds and the gold inset
of the spray of wheat.
Ah they have wrought me heavy
and great of limb—
she is slender of waist,
slight of breast, made of many fashions;
they have set her small feet
on many a plinth;
she they have known,
she they have spoken with,
she they have smiled upon,
she they have caught
and flattered with praise and gifts.
But useless the flattery
of the mighty power
they have granted me:
for I will not stay in her breast
the great of limb,
though perfect the shell they have
fashioned me, these men!
Do I sit in the market place—
do I smile, does a noble brow
bend like the brow of Zeus—
am I a spouse, his or any,
am I a woman, or goddess or queen,
to be met by a god with a smile—and left?

II

Do you ask for a scroll,
parchment, oracle, prophecy, precedent;
do you ask for tablets marked with thought
or words cut deep on the marble surface,
do you seek measured utterance or the mystic trance?
Sleep on the stones of Delphi—
dare the ledges of Pallas
but keep me foremost,
keep me before you, after you, with you,
never forget when you start
for the Delphic precipice,
never forget when you seek Pallas
and meet in thought
yourself drawn out from yourself
like the holy serpent,
never forget
in thought or mysterious trance—
I am greatest and least.
Soft are the hands of Love,
soft, soft are his feet;
you who have twined myrtle,
have you brought crocuses,
white as the inner
stript bark of the osier,
have you set
black crocus against the black
locks of another?

III

Of whom do I speak?
Many the children of gods
but first I take
Bromios, fostering prince,
lift from the ivy brake, a king.
Enough of the lightning,
enough of the tales that speak
of the death of the mother:
strange tales of a shelter
brought to the unborn,
enough of tale, myth, mystery, precedent—
a child lay on the earth asleep.
Soft are the hands of Love,
but what soft hands
clutched at the thorny ground,
scratched like a small white ferret
or foraging whippet or hound,
sought nourishment and found
only the crackling of ivy,
dead ivy leaf and the white
berry, food for a bird,
no food for this who sought,
bending small head in a fever,
whining with little breath.
Ah, small black head,
ah, the purple ivy bush,
ah, berries that shook and spilt
on the form beneath,
who begot you and left?
Though I begot no man child
all my days,
the child of my heart and spirit,
is the child the gods desert
alike and the mother in death—
the unclaimed Dionysios.

IV

What of her—
mistress of Death?
Form of a golden wreath
were my hands that girt her head,
fingers that strove to meet,
and met where the whisps escaped
from the fillet, of tenderest gold,
small circlet and slim
were my fingers then.
Now they are wrought of iron
to wrest from earth
secrets; strong to protect,
strong to keep back the winter
when winter tracks too soon
blanch the forest:
strong to break dead things,
the young tree, drained of sap,
the old tree, ready to drop,
to lift from the rotting bed
of leaves, the old
crumbling pine tree stock,
to heap bole and knot of fir
and pine and resinous oak,
till fire shatter the dark
and hope of spring
rise in the hearts of men.
What of her—
mistress of Death—
what of his kiss?
Ah, strong were his arms to wrest
slight limbs from the beautiful earth,
young hands that plucked the first
buds of the chill narcissus,
soft fingers that broke
and fastened the thorny stalk
with the flower of wild acanthus.
Ah, strong were the arms that took
(ah evil, the heart and graceless,)
but the kiss was less passionate!

hdoolitt

H. D., 1886 – 1961.

Painting Tanagra by Elliot Dangerfield.

At the Carnival by Anne Spencer

622px-Beatrice_Kyle

Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank,
I desire a name for you,
Nice, as a right glove fits;
For you—who amid the malodorous
Mechanics of this unlovely thing,
Are darling of spirit and form.
I know you—a glance, and what you are
Sits-by-the-fire in my heart.
My Limousine-Lady knows you, or
Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark
Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile?
Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning.
The bull-necked man knows you—this first time
His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health
And thinks not of his avocation.
I came incuriously—
Set on no diversion save that my mind
Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds
In the presence of a blind crowd.
The color of life was gray.
Everywhere the setting seemed right
For my mood.
Here the sausage and garlic booth
Sent unholy incense skyward;
There a quivering female-thing
Gestured assignations, and lied
To call it dancing;
There, too, were games of chance
With chances for none;
But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last!
Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free
The gaze you send the crowd,
As though you know the dearth of beauty
In its sordid life.
We need you—my Limousine-Lady,
The bull-necked man and I.
Seeing you here brave and water-clean,
Leaven for the heavy ones of earth,
I am swift to feel that what makes
The plodder glad is good; and
Whatever is good is God.
The wonder is that you are here;
I have seen the queer in queer places,
But never before a heaven-fed
Naiad of the Carnival-Tank!
Little Diver, Destiny for you,
Like as for me, is shod in silence;
Years may seep into your soul
The bacilli of the usual and the expedient;
I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!

 

Anne Spencer, 1882 – 1975.

 

 

Photograph high diver Beatrice Kyle sitting on a fire engine wheel between acts at the Society Circus at Fort Myer, Va. Courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

Tavern by Edna St. Vincent Millay

toulouse-lautrec-

I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.
There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.
There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey’s end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.
Aye, ‘tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

 

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950.

 

At the Moulin Rouge: The Women Dancing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894.

 

The Swan by F. S. Flint

407px-Tsarevna-Lebed_by_Mikhail_Vrubel_(brightened)

Under the lily shadow
and the gold
and the blue and mauve
that the whin and the lilac
pour down on the water,
the fishes quiver.
Over the green cold leaves
and the rippled silver
and the tarnished copper
of its neck and beak,
toward the deep black water
beneath the arches,
the swan floats slowly.
Into the dark of the arch the swan floats
and into the black depth of my sorrow
it bears a white rose of flame.

 

 

F. S. Flint, 1885 – 1960.

Painting: The Swan Princess by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel, based on the The Tale of Tsar Saltan opera of Rimsky-Korsakov (which was based on the fairytale of the same name by Pushkin). Vrubel designed the decor and costumes for this opera. The part of the Swan Princess was performed by his wife, N. Zabela-Vrubel.

Mending by Hazel Hall

Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.

mrssewandsew_avatar_twitter

 

Hazel Hall, 1886-1924. 

 

Photograph “Make Do and Mend” in Britain during the Second World War
Remnants and oddments of material being sold by the pound at Kennard’s store, Croydon, London. Ministry of Information Second World War Press Agency Print Collection.