Saturday, September 19, 2020

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman

Because I’ve ignored the magnificent, eloquent Mr. Walt Whitman on my blog!  This is a beautiful free verse pastoral elegy to President Abraham Lincoln.  Read it slowly & reverently and absorb the beauty...

I’d like to say Rest In Peace to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Although I disagreed with her politically, I respect her as a successful, intelligent, intellectual, hardworking woman.  May the next Supreme Court Justice be God’s choice to help to bring peace, along with the other justices, back to our divided, troubled country. ~Marion

“When ‘Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd’ - is an elegy on the death of Abraham Lincoln, though it never mentions the president by name. Like most elegies, it develops from the personal (the death of Lincoln and the poet's grief) to the impersonal (the death of "all of you" and death itself); from an intense feeling of grief to the thought of reconciliation. The poem, which is one of the finest Whitman ever wrote, is a dramatization of this feeling of loss. This elegy is grander and more touching than Whitman's other two elegies on Lincoln's death, "0 Captain! My Captain!" and "Hush'd Be the Camps To-day." The form is elegiac but also contains elements found in operatic music, such as the aria and recitative. The song of the hermit thrush, for example, is an "aria." ~ from “cliff notes”

Lilacs on a Fence

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d


When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d, 
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night, 
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. 

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, 
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west, 
And thought of him I love. 

O powerful western fallen star! 
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night! 
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star! 
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me! 
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul. 

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings, 
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love, 
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard, 
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
A sprig with its flower I break. 

In the swamp in secluded recesses, 
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song. 

Solitary the thrush, 
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, 
Sings by himself a song. 

Song of the bleeding throat, 
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know, 
If thou wast not granted to sing thou would’st surely die.) 

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities, 
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris, 
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass, 
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen, 
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards, 
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave, 
Night and day journeys a coffin. 

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, 
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land, 
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black, 
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil’d women standing, 
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night, 
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads, 
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces, 
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn, 
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin, 
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these you journey, 
With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang, 
Here, coffin that slowly passes, 
I give you my sprig of lilac. 

(Nor for you, for one alone, 
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring, 
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred death. 

All over bouquets of roses, 
O death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies, 
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, 
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes, 
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, 
For you and the coffins all of you O death.) 

O western orb sailing the heaven, 
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d, 
As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night, 
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night, 
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on,) 
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,) 
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe, 
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night, 
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night, 
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb, 
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone. 

Sing on there in the swamp, 
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call, 
I hear, I come presently, I understand you, 
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain’d me, 
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me. 

O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved? 
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone? 
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love? 

Sea-winds blown from east and west, 
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting, 
These and with these and the breath of my chant, 
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love. 

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? 
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, 
To adorn the burial-house of him I love? 

Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes, 
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright, 
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air, 
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific, 
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there, 
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows, 
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys, 
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning. 

Lo, body and soul—this land, 
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships, 
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri, 
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn. 

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty, 
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes, 
The gentle soft-born measureless light, 
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon, 
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars, 
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land. 

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird, 
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes, 
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. 

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song, 
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe. 

O liquid and free and tender! 
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer! 
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,) 
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me. 

Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth, 
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops, 
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests, 
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds and the storms,) 
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women, 
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d, 
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor, 
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages, 
And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo, then and there, 
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest, 
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail, 
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death. 

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me, 
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me, 
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions, 
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not, 
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness, 
To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still. 

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me, 
The gray-brown bird I know receiv’d us comrades three, 
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love. 

From deep secluded recesses, 
From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still, 
Came the carol of the bird. 

And the charm of the carol rapt me, 
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night, 
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird. 

Come lovely and soothing death, 
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, 
In the day, in the night, to all, to each, 
Sooner or later delicate death. 

Prais’d be the fathomless universe, 
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious, 
And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise! 
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death. 

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet, 
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? 
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all, 
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly. 

Approach strong deliveress, 
When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead, 
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee, 
Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death. 

From me to thee glad serenades, 
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee, 
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting, 
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. 

The night in silence under many a star, 
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know, 
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death, 
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee. 

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song, 
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide, 
Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways, 
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death. 

To the tally of my soul, 
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, 
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. 

Loud in the pines and cedars dim, 
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume, 
And I with my comrades there in the night. 

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, 
As to long panoramas of visions. 

And I saw askant the armies, 
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags, 
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them, 
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody, 
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,) 
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken. 

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, 
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them, 
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, 
But I saw they were not as was thought, 
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not, 
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d, 
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d, 
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d. 

Passing the visions, passing the night, 
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands, 
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul, 
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song, 
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, 
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, 
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven, 
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses, 
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves, 
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring. 

I cease from my song for thee, 
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, 
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night. 

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night, 
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul, 
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe, 
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird, 
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well, 
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake, 
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul, 
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Mad Girls’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath

We survived hurricanes Laura...and Sally, now Wilfred may be forming for an exciting weekend.  I’m hurricane weary... During/after Laura we spent 8 very long days indoors, 100 degree heat with NO electricity, trees down on power lines, horrific wind, wind damage everywhere, food all spoiled, but we survived, exhausted and sick. Our cable is still out.  The heat was the worst, and no aid from anywhere:  no Red Cross, FEMA, United Way.  We finally found drinking water at a police station in another city.  This hurricane Laura was the worst one I’ve seen in 50 years...  I hope Wilfred poops out...

Rock City, Chattanooga, TN

Red River, backwater

My prolific red Rose bush...

Granddaughter, in the Chattanooga setting sun...

Sylvia Plath

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"


Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Mary Karr Poem & Famous Sunflowers

Sunflowers by Van Gogh

Sunflowers by Hockney

One of my favorite Mary Karr poems...Metaphors be with you.

sweating and dreaming of Autumn

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Weight of Oranges by Anne Michaels

One of my favorite books of poetry by an amazing poet.

For Annie

By Anne Michaels

My cup’s the same sand color as bread.
Rain’s the same colour of a building across the street,
its torn red dahlias
and ruined a book propped on the sill.
Rain articulates the skins of everything,
pink of bricks from the fire they baked in,
lizard green leaves,
the wrinkled tongues of pine cones.
It’s accurate the way we never are,
bringing out what’s best
without changing a thing.
Rain that makes beds damp,
our room a cave in the morning,
a tent in late afternoon,
ignites the sound of leaves we miss all winter.
The sound that pulled us to bed…
caught in the undertow of wind in wet leaves.
I’m writing in the sound we woke to,
curtains breathing into a half-dark room.
I’m up early now, walking.
Remember our walks, horizons like lips
barely red at dawn,
how kind the distance seemed?
Letters should be written to send news, to say
send me news, to say
meet me at the train station.
Not these dry tears, to honour us like a tomb.
I’m ashamed of our separation.
I wake in the middle of the night and see “shame”
written in the air like a Bible story.
I dreamed my skin was tattooed,
covered with the words that put me here,
covered in sores, in quarantine—and you know what?
I was afraid to light the lamp and look.
Your husband’s a good builder—I burned
every house we had,
with a few words to start the flames.
Words of wood,
they had no power of their own.
“The important” gave them meaning
and humble with gratitude
they exploded in my face.
Now we’re like planets, holding to each other
from a great distance. When we lay down
oceans flexed their green muscles,
life got busy in the other hemisphere,
the globe tilted, bowing to our power!
Now we’re hundreds of miles apart,
our short arms keep us lonely,
no one hears what’s in my head.
I look old. I’m losing my hair.
Where does lost hair go in this world,
lost eyesight, teeth?
We grow old like rivers, get shrunk and doubled over
until we can’t find the mouth of anything.
It’s March, even the birds
don’t know what to do with themselves.
Sometimes I’m certain those who are happy
know one thing more than us… or one thing less.
The only book I’d write again
is our bodies closing together.
That’s the language that stuns,
scars, breathes into you.
Naked, we had voices!
I want you to promise
we’ll see each other again,
you’ll send a letter.
Promise we’ll be lost together
in our forest, pale birches of our legs.
I hear your voice now—I know,
everyone knows promises come from fear.
People don’t live past each other,
you’re always here with me. Sometimes
I pretend you’re in the other room
until it rains… and then
this is the letter I always write:
The letter I write
when they’re keeping me from home.
I smell your supper steaming in the kitchen.
There are paper bags on the table
with their bottoms melted out
by rain and the weight of oranges.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Throwback Thursday- Indigo Poem

An unloved shotgun house in New Orleans...shining Indigo...


Purple Kale
Purple glass
                                   Indigo book---
                                   Indigo kitchen stools---
                                   Indigo's mystery.

I drank Purple Russian Kale
in my plastic purple glass
and it transmogrified into
a misty, holy, Russian Mass
in a huge psychedelic cathedral with
melting stained glass windows.


Modigliani was a poet;
his medium was paint on canvas.
He loved long-necked women
and Absinthe---green liquor
that took him to other worlds---

Dearest, I love you the way 
purple loves elusive indigo,
the way paint loves canvas and
the way words and ink love paper...
the way my fingers love
the feel of dirt as I plant
indigo eggplants and tomatoes.
I dream of touching your soft skin
the way morning sunlight caresses
the tips of the trees...

I think of your dark, long hair
tangled in a morning breeze,
your face upturned as words
come to you---pure & unfiltered.

I wake, eager to read them.

5/17/17 by Marion Lawless

Thursday, July 9, 2020

God Will Make a Way

Isaiah 43:18, 19

Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.


Isaiah 41:13

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”


Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  

Because he  loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.

Graves Into Gardens
Elevation Worship

I searched the world
But it couldn't fill me
Man's empty praise
And treasures that fade
Are never enough
Then You came along
And put me back together
And every desire
Is now satisfied
Here in Your love (Hey)
Oh, there's nothing better than You
There's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You (Oh)
(Yes, I know it's true)
(Come on, stand up, hey)
I'm not afraid
To show You my weakness
My failures and flaws
Lord, You've seen them all
And You still call me friend
'Cause the God of the mountain
Is the God of the valley
There's not a place
Your mercy and grace
Won't find me again (Come on, now)
Oh, there's nothing better than You
There's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You
(I know it's true)
Oh, there's nothing better than You (Somebody testify)
There's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You
You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory
You're the only one who can (Come on)
You turn mourning to dancing
You give beauty for ashes
You turn shame into glory (Tell 'em now)
You're the only one who can (Let's turn the graves)
You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You're the only one who can (He's the only Lord)
You're the only one who can
Oh, there's nothing (Come on, choir), better than You
Oh, there's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You (Search and not found)
Oh, there's nothing better than You
There's nothing better than You
Lord, there's nothing
Nothing is better than You
Oh, come on, if He turned your grave into a garden, say
You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies
You turn seas into highways
You're the only one who can (Turn to graves)
You turn graves into gardens (Turn bones into an army)
You turn bones into armies (He's makin' waves through the seas)
You turn seas into highways
You're the only one who can
You're the only one who can
You're the only one who can
Somebody give Him praise in this house
I don't think we're finished yet, come on
I think He's turning some things over tonight
You turn my mourning into dancing, come on
You turn mourning to dancing (Yeah)
You give beauty for ashes (Shame into glory)
You turn shame into glory
You're the only one who can (Oh, He's turnin' my grave)
You turn graves into gardens
You turn bones into armies (He's makin' waves through the seas)
You turn seas into highways (You're the only)
You're the only one who can (Come on, one more time)
(You turn my grave into a garden)
You turn graves into gardens (You're resurrectin' bones)
You turn bones into armies (You're makin' waves through my sea)
You turn seas into highways (Shout it out, You're the only)
You're the only one who can (You're the only)
You're the only one who can (You're the only)
You're the only one who can
Jesus, You're the only one
Come on, give Him one more shout of praise
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Christopher Joel Brown / Steven Furtick / Brandon Lake / Tiffany Hammer
Graves Into Gardens lyrics © Be Essential Songs