Handout for 225H Spring, 2010--6 Poems


From Leslie Norris’s, The Complete Poems

“Autumn Elegy”

September. The small summer hangs its suns
On the chestnuts, and the world bends slowly
Out of the year. On tiles of the low barns
The lingering swallows rest in this timely

Warmth, collecting it. Standing in the garden,
I too feel its generosity; but would not leave.
Time, time to lock the heart. Nothing is sudden
In Autumn, yet the long, ceremonial passion of

The year’s death comes quickly enough
As form veins shut on the sluggish blood
And the numberless protestations of the leaf
Are mapped on the air. Live wood

Was scarce and bony where I lived as a boy.
I am not accustomed to such opulent
Panoply of dying. Yet, if I stare
Unmoved at the flaunting, silent

Agony in the country before a resonant
Wind anneals it, I am not diminished, it is not
That I do not see well, do not exult,
But that I remember again what

Young men of my own time died
In the Spring of their living and could not turn
To this. They died in their flames, hard
War destroyed them. Now as the trees burn

In the beginning glory of Autumn
I sing for all green deaths as I remember
In their broken Mays, and turn
The years back for them, every red September.


From Dylan Thomas Collected Poems

“The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.


From Louise Gluck’s, The Wild Iris

“The Red Poppy”

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.


From Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

A river you could get lost in
and the sun a flashy hawk
on the edge of it

a mile away you see the white path
of an animal moving through water

and you can turn a hundred yard circle
and the horse bends dribbles his face
you step off and lie in it propping your head

till dusk and cold and the horse shift you
and you look up and moon a frozen bird’s eye


From Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End

My mother was a braid of black smoke.
She bore me w swaddled over the burning cities.
The sky was a vast and windy place for a child to play.
We met many other who were just like us.
They were trying to put on their overcoats with arms made of smoke.
The high heavens were full of little shrunken deaf ears instead of stars.


From Lord Albert Dunsany’s, 51 Tales

“Death and The Orange”
Two dark young men in a foreign southern land sat at a restaurant table with one woman.
And on the woman’s plate was a small orange which had an evil laughter in its heart.
And both of the men would be looking at the woman all the time, and they ate little and they drank much.
And the woman was smiling equally at each.
Then the small orange that had the laughter in its heart rolled slowly off the plate on to the floor. And the dark young men both sought for it at once, and they met suddently beneath the table, and soon they were speaking swift words to one another, and a horror and an impotence came over the Reason of each as she sat helpless at the back of the mind, and the heart of the orange laughed and the woman went on smiling; and Death, who was sitting at another table, tête-à-têtewith an old man, rose and came over to listen to the quarrel.