Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Litany by Billy Collins

This 3 year old recites my favorite Billy Collins' poem, "Litany" from memory.  Be still my poet-heart.  You are all my bread, knives, crystal goblets and wine....xo

By Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine

-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.


"Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting." ~Robert Frost


"I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests." ~Pablo Neruda, quoted in Wall Street Journal,, 14 November 1985



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Before Summer Rain by Rainer Maria Rilke

"When the chickens or dogs wander away, people know enough to search for them, but when the heart wanders away, they don't.

The Way of Learning is nothing other than this: searching for the heart that has wandered away." ~Confucious


By Rainer Maria Rilke
From:  "The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke", page 35
Suddenly, from all the green around you,
something-you don't know what-has disappeared;
you feel it creeping closer to the window,
in total silence. From the nearby wood

you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone's Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour

will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren't supposed to hear what we are saying.

And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.
       "Accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields...." ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
* * * * *
"Isn't it time to turn your heart into a temple of fire?" ~Rumi

* * * * *
"The heart never becomes wrinkled." ~Marie de Rabutin-Chantal
* * * * *

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins!

From one of my collages. 
I guarantee the following poem will leave mice and matches in your head for days.  It does what a great poem should do:  mess with your head.  :-)   Here in the swamp everything is powder-yellow from the Pine pollen.  No real rain for weeks, so yellow abounds.  (It rained a tiny bit last week and left abstract yellow paintings on the concrete where the rain had washed down some of the pollen...)  My house, yard, truck, driveway, cats are all yellow.  When I walk to the mailbox, I can taste the grit of the Pine pollen.  I'm hoping today wil bring us some much-needed rain.
Today is also the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Louis L'Amour.  Speaking of reading, (wasn't I?) I talked to my 9 year old granddaughter yesterday for over an hour about books.  I gave her a little Kindle for Christmas with a cute pink cover.  She wears it around her arm like diamonds and never puts it down.  I gave her a gift card for her birthday on Christmas Eve to buy books and I also taught her how to download the free classics like "Little Women".  She's into the Percy Jackson series now so we had to discuss mythology and plot.  I read the books along with her so we could discuss them and I really enjoyed the stories.  Luckily, my grandson had the series and loaned them to me.  Then she related how she has to get back to the 5th Harry Potter book because her best friend is ahead of her.  She told me she's out of money to buy books, so I sent her a new gift card.  A girl must always have book money!  I'd sell all of my favorite shoes to make sure she has book money.  One must have priorities.  And what are grammy's for anyhoo?? 
On that note, I have to go read.  I have two new books by one of my favorite poet-bloggers, Fireblossom.
They both look nice and juicy:

Happy Spring, Happy Reading, and have a wonderful weekend. 
xo, Marion
By Billy Collins
I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,

the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time—

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

"The Country" by Billy Collins, from Nine Horses: Poems. © Random House, 2003

Monday, March 11, 2013

Moths by Eavan Boland

My favorite Moonflower and Sphinx Moth photo taken after a rain one evening in 2007 on a hot summer night.  I spent hours (days---my entire life!!) stalking this moth and got ate up by mosquitoes in the process.  And yes, 'ate up' is correct grammar in regard to mosquitoes chewing you to pieces here in the South.

By Eavan Boland

Tonight the air smells of cut grass.
Apples rust on the branches.  Already summer is
a place mislaid between expectation and memory.

This has been a summer for moths.
Their moment of truth comes well after dark.
Then they reveal themselves at our window-
ledges and sills as a pinpoint.  A glimmer.

The books I look up about them are full of legends:
ghost-swift moths with their dancing assemblies at dusk.
Their courtship swarms.  How some kinds may steer by the moon.

The moon is up.  The back windows are wide open.
Mid-July fills the neighborhood.  I stand by the hedge.

Once again they are near the windowsill---
fluttering past he fuscia and the lavender,
which is knee-high, and too blue to warn them

they will fall down without knowing how
or why what they steered by became, suddenly,
what they crackled and burned around.  They will perish---

I am perishing---on the edge and at the threshold of
the moment all nature fears and tends towards:

the stealing of the light.  Ingenious facsimile.

And the kitchen bulb which beckons them makes
my child’s shadow longer than my own.

 From:  “New Collected Poems” by Eavan Boland, pages 220, 221

(Thank you, dear Erin, for mentioning Eavan Boland to me not long ago.  I went and found 5 used books of her amazing poetry.  Once again, you feed me.)


In winter, rabid gardeners such as myself read seed catalogues and books about gardening.  My latest favorite gardening book is “The Evening Garden, Flowers and Fragrance from Dusk Till Dawn” by Peter Loewer.  I learned, to my surprise, that of the order Lepidoptera, to which moths and butterflies belong, there are over 11,230 species and only some 800 of these are butterflies. The rest are moths.  I have been an avid night-blooming flower grower for over 20 years (my Moonflower seeds are already planted, sprouted and have two leaves on them) and am well-acquainted with moths.  I just had no idea they outnumbered butterflies by that much.  Also, night-blooming flowers smell like heaven...they have a much stronger scent that day-blooming flowers in order to attract the moths.

Here’s the conundrum I have about loving moths, especially the gorgeous Sphinx Moth, which I especially enjoy stalking and photographing:  one of their favorite meal is tomatoes---every part of the plant.  I also grow tomatoes religiously.  So, as soon as I learned this little tidbit about tomatoes being moth caviar, I began growing some extra (is there such a thing????) tomatoes for the caterpillars to devour.  I know, crazy, right?  But I’m happy to share my bounty.  And crazy runs in my family. 
It's almost Spring.  Do a little happy dance and plant some flower seeds.  (I found my first packet of Moonflower seeds at Wal-Mart quite by accident.  The flowers go to seed in the fall and now I have my own supply of seeds.)  I highly recommend that you grow Moonflowers, if only to have one whiff of their scent before you die... It's sweeter than Magnolias or even Jasmine. They're a member of the Morning Glory family and do well in pots.   You just have to keep the seeds extra wet until they sprout.  I've grown them in pots and in the ground and I prefer pots.  They need part shade here in the hot South, but can do well with full sun further north.  And they need a fence or trellis to climb. 

Happy March. 

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat." ~Beverly Nichols


"Perfumes are the feelings of flowers, and as the human heart, imagining itself alone and unwatched, feels most deeply in the night-time, so seems it as if the flowers, in musing modesty, await the mantling evening....~Heinrich Heine


"The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." ~Tennessee Williams