A Little Yeats for Valentines Day

There are so many wonderful poems out there, I’m not sure I could ever pick a favorite romantic one.  But the one below by Yeats has always touched me ever since I heard the first lines.  Note, it begins, “when you are old”.   Is the man writing this to the woman he loves as a warning?  Telling her to ignore those other men who only love her pretty face while he loves her true soul?  If so, perhaps she will listen and end up not an old woman by the fire filled with regret.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

–W. B. Yeats

What are some of your favorite romantic poems?

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm  Comments (22)  
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Of The Rabbit Year and Walt Whitman

 

Come February 3rd, according to Chinese astrology, we enter the year of the rabbit.   According to belief,   during rabbit years, people tend to concentrate much on family and loved ones.  There is a renewed desire to slow down and enjoy the little things in life.  And yes, there is often much passion and sex.  Rabbit nature being as it is.

Rabbits are the 4th sign in the Chinese zodiac and are noted for being  happy-go-lucky, sensual, refined,  loyal, and very serene.  They tend to hate discord of any kind and will go out of their way to avoid rows.  It is not that they are timid, so much as they just wish to be left alone and live in harmonious environments.

On the negative side, rabbits may be moody, overly sensitive, and aloof.

To ensure good fortune during their special year, those born under the sign of Rabbit should wear red on the New Year, and avoid washing their hair.  (don’t want to wash away any good luck!)

And now a poem from that Rabbit Victorian, Walt Whitman:

To A STRANGER

by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

  •  
      ASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
      You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
      I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
      All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
      You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
      I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
      You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
      I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
      I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
      I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm  Comments (23)  
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Danse Macabre

Come All Hallows Eve, Death calls the dead to rise from their graves.  While he plays his fiddle, the awakened spirits dance until the rooster crows at dawn.

French composer, Camille Saint-Saens, composed Danse Macabre for vocals and piano.  The text was written by poet, Henri Cazalis and the premiere took place in 1872.   Initial audiences were so disturbed by the piece (especially the eerie vocals) that Saint-Saens reworked it into a tone poem for orchestra.

English translation of the poem:

“Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
White skeletons pass through the gloom,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
A lustful couple sits on the moss
So as to taste long lost delights.
Zig zig, zig, Death continues
The unending scraping on his instrument.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
Her partner grasps her amorously.
The lady, it’s said, is a marchioness or baroness
And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
Like the rustic was a baron.
Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
They all hold hands and dance in circles.
Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
The king dancing among the peasants.
But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
Long live death and equality!”

And an elegantly creepy, short silent film (starring Adolph Bolm and Ruth Page) set to the music of Danse Macabre:

Ingeborg Bachmann’s Stay (a poem)

 

Ingeborg Bachmann (Austrian poet) 25 June 1926 – 17 October 1973

Stay

by Ingeborg Bachmann

“Now the journey is ending,
the wind is losing heart.
Into your hands it’s falling,
a rickety house of cards.

The cards are backed with pictures
displaying all the world.
You’ve stacked up all the images
and shuffled them with words.

And how profound the playing
that once again begins!
Stay, the card you’re drawing
is the only world you’ll win.”

I came across this poem by the renowned female poet last night and it struck a chord with me.

Play with whatever hand you are dealt in this life.  It is yours alone.   The good cards are your strength and talents.  The bad cards symbolize where your weaknesses reside.  You can use them all  foolishly or wisely.   You can waste talents.  You can overcome difficulties.

The choice is yours.

Play the game!

What does the poem mean to you?

And the original:  Bleib

“Die Fahrten gehn zu Ende,

der Fahrtenwind bleibt aus.

Es fällt dir in die Hände

ein leichtes Kartenhaus.

Die Karten sind bebildert

und zeigen jeden Ort.

Du hast die Welt geschildert

und mischst sie mit dem Wort.

Profundum der Partien,

die dann im Gange sind!

Bleib, um das Blatt zu ziehen,

mit dem man sie gewinnt.”

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm  Comments (11)  
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