J.G. Whittier: Snow-Bound

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun,
but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”
COR. AGRIPPA, Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.
“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”
EMERSON.

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

 

FULL POEM

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Eighteen Hundred And Thirty

Sarah Josepha Hale (1788–1879)

We bring no earthly wreath for Time;
To man th’immortal Time was given—
Years should be marked by deeds sublime,
That elevate his soul to heaven.
Thou proudly passing year—thy name
Is registered in mind’s bright flame,
And louder than the roar of waves,
Thundering from ocean’s prison caves,
Comes the glad shout that hallows thee
The Year of Freedom’s Jubilee!
‘Tis strange how mind has been chained down,
And reason scourged like branded sin!
How man has shrunk before man’s frown,
And darkened heaven’s own fire within!
But Freedom breathed-the flame burst forth—
Wo to the spoilers of the earth,
Who would withstand its lightning stroke,
And heavier forge the galling yoke;—
As well the breaking reed might dare
The cataract’s rush—the whirlwind’s war!
Ay, thrones must crumble—even as clay,
Searched by the scorching sun and wind!
And crushed be Superstition’s sway
That would with writing scorpions bind
The terror-stricken conscience down
Beneath anointed monarch’s frown;
Till Truth is in her temple sought,
The soul’s unbribed, unfettered thought,
That, science-guided, soars unawed,
And reading Nature rests on God!
This must be-is-the passing year
Has rent the veil, and despots stand
In the keen glance of Truth severe,
With craven brow and palsied hand:—
Ye, who would make man’s spirit free,
And change the Old World’s destiny,
Bring forth from Learning’s halls the light,
And watch, that Virtue’s shield be bright;
Then to the ‘God of order’ raise
The vow of faith, the song of praise,
And on-and sweep Oppression’s chains,
Like ice beneath the vernal rains!
My Country, ay, thy sons are proud,
True heirs of Freedom’s glorious dower;
For never here has knee been bowed
In homage to a mortal power:
No, never here has tyrant reigned,
And never here has thought been chained!
Then who would follow Europe’s sickly light,
When here the soul may put forth all her might,
And show the nations, as they gaze in awe,
That Wisdom dwells with Liberty and Law!
O, when will Time his holiest triumph bring—
‘Freedom o’er all the earth, and Christ alone reigns King!’

Name of a City

https://connecthook.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/0df85-boston1.jpg?w=229&h=228
So many people have come and gone… their faces fade as the years go by
Yet I still recall as I wander on — as clear as the sun in the summer sky
                                                                                                                            BOSTON

Your name remains: a magic word
to conjure nights of springs long-gone.
I muse upon your face, alone
and find my heaven’s hope deferred.
Since unpoetic life occurred,
Romance has gilded scenes long dead.
Nostalgic memory has fed
the embers of a fire you stirred.
You turned and walked out of my days.
I never heard your voice again.
Yet memories of you amaze
Engraved in my adoring brain.
In labyrinths we wonder free
to meet again eventually.

or decasyllables . . .  which is better ?

Your name remains with me. A magic word
To conjure nights and scents of springs long-gone.
I muse upon your tawny face, alone
And find my heaven’s hope now long–deferred.
Since unpoetic life and age occurred,
Romance has gilded scenes that lie long dead.
Nostalgic memory of you has fed
The smoldering embers of a fire you stirred.
One spring, you turned and walked out of my days.
I never heard your feline voice again.
Yet memories of you, intense, amaze
Engraved for good in my adoring brain…
On, through the labyrinths, we wander free
To meet in time again, celestially.

 

Something Japanese:
carp-pools, bamboo, some old monk . . .
yes—Oriental !

Cutting Nutmeg

CT sigillum
Qui Transtulit Sustinet ! Motto of light!
‘Neath the folds of that banner we strike for the right;
Connecticut’s watchword oer hill and o’er plain,
The Hand that transplanted, that Hand will sustain.
S. S. Weld

There sat CONNECTICUT, a twit
blue nanny-state, and doomed to sit
on welfare-warrens of the damned
her social service on demand.
She withers on NEW ENGLAND‘s vine
a bygone has-been, and a sign
of democratic overkill
where her once-dear and verdant rill
now stagnant flows: polluted stream
a moribund New England dream.
The richest state with poorest heart:
the Northeast’s saddest story. Part
of history’s renowned revival,
now irrelevant. Survival
chains her children in dependence
keeping back the state’s ascendance.
Apostate Puritan, grown old—
for LIBERTY, no longer bold;
a slave to Man, where once God’s WORD
awakened greatness. Souls were stirred
in ENFIELD (of all strange places),
Christ beheld in radiant faces . . .
Edwards held their spellbound souls
like spiders over flaming coals,
in gratitude for Gospel grace
renewing thus both town and race.
But I digress. Connecticut
is what I came to speak about:
forgotten dull colonial matron
yoked in failure, plebe as patron
nostalgic for her Charter Oak
whose deadwood limbs went up in smoke
along with dark tobacco wrap
while the plantation took a nap.
Her social programs overgrowth
pose forest fire-risk. Under oath
her public servants signal virtue;
sign which really should alert you
to the democrat-machine’s
impending failure (ways and means).
Nutmeg-addled Tax-and-spenders,
dollar drunks on welfare benders
widen economic rifts;
force single moms toward double shifts
while Latin Kings hold court in prison
waiting out their royal season:
fiscally unsustainable—
yet totally explainable
(nutmeg is a drug for witches
spendthrift warlocks, bankrupt bitches).
Oh HARTFORD, city of the dead
which dies at five, then home to bed,
insurance once assured your rise;
but now your ghosts haunt sadder skies.
Your life displaced, outsourced, out-dated;
so, it seems, your fall was fated.
Meanwhile, close to New York City,
fairer fields are growing pretty
long on corporate commutes.
Data-driven growth computes
as data-drivers flood the roads
and enter by Manhattan-loads
from golden coasts’ Atlantic shores
and posh patrician golden doors
to bite the apple of our time:
a number-cruncher built on crime.
New England’s puritannic granny
(data-driven tyrant tranny)
seeks to harbor tropic isles
with blandly bureaucratic smiles.
Your poor dear heart cannot afford
to welcome every island lord
who looks to better his estate
and so decides to emigrate.
Displaced Jamaicans outta yard
compel the soft verse to get hard.
Boricua separatists, dispersed
show nationalities reversed
and dwell between two foreign lands
in Spanglish no one understands.
Such nutmeg gets the covens high
to soar the stormy Liberal sky.
It’s Yankee hubris: condescension
taxing plebes for such dissension.
Though you connect, there I would cut,
excising from New England’s gut
metastasizing social tumors:
clueless and obese consumers,
teenage moms, pajama-clad
whose nenes wait in vain for dad.
QUI TRANSTULIT SUSTINET—truth . . .
but that was was in our nation’s youth.
She’s gotten worse with passing years
confirming citizens’ worst fears;
showing her colors every vote
her monotone, a droning note
on which the blue-bloods hang their hue
when hope and change are overdue.
Her atheist zeal meets Yankee pride:
a most progressive broomstick ride;
oblivious to her Christian past,
an enemy of God at last.

 

Senryu and Haikai:
Basho-san, can you get me
another beer, please?