A Valentine for Emily Dickinson

(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved.

WARNING, STUDENTS: DO NOT COPY & PASTE

We’ll get ya, count on it!

For all the critical and popular acclaim she receives today, the poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) passed her life in the obscure rounds of a reclusive  spinster in her father’s home in Amherst, Mass.  And for all her early intellectual promise, native talent and the fine education she received, she was dismissed as a nervous eccentric by the literati of her day and died an unpublished author.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet today no American student escapes grade school without a classroom encounter with a handful of her poems, and since her death and the discovery of her hidden cache of the thousand plus poems she had written during her lifetime by her sister Vinny, several publishing fortunes and countless academic careers have been built upon her corpus. Each new year sees hundreds of new academic articles and books published on Dickinson and her achievement, and thousands of copies of her Complete Poems are sold like clockwork. Greeting card companies use her verses with abandon and her very life story has become mythic and has been transmuted through the lens of many years’ distance into “the solitary misunderstood poet” or “the Mystic of Amherst.” Tourists swarm to the family home in Amherst to visit her sparse bedroom and to gawk at the tiny spectral white dress she wore exclusively after her moment of “white renunciation” from a world all too happy to ignore her and her poems while she lived. A stern legion of passionate women in sensible shoes patrols the grounds like a sorority wholly devoted to preserving the sanctity and purity of the temple of her genius.

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts...

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts – side view of Emily Dickinson’s house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Truly, from this vantage point in the twenty-first century, her life seems one long ironical yarn, a stem-winder of frustration, thwarted hopes, insult, loneliness and hopeless misunderstanding and mistreatment by her contemporaries and peers. Her story is supremely poignant, in fact painful to contemplate at some junctures, and yet shines with the light of transcendence and triumph ultimately. For her bequest to readers whom she would never know has born such bounteous fruit and people the world over of all stripes know and appreciate her distinctive pithy and insightful lyrics while the work of her more popular contemporaries, poets and novelists much in vogue during her lifetime, has been long forgotten.

Certainly nothing is more bitter-sweet than contemplating the earliest surviving poem we have from Dickinson, one written when she was but a girl of nineteen, still in school, and with reference to a gaggle of her girlfriend-schoolmates. Naïve, full of innocence and the swelling expectation of a fulfilling life according to the norms of her time, it was a “Valentine” and was dated Valentine Week, 1850.  In Emily’s time the “feast of St Valentine” was celebrated  for a whole week with just about everyone of marriageable age sending bushels of Valentines off to everyone else and receiving the same in kind. This particular Valentine she sent to Elbridge Bowdoin, her father’s law partner, who kept it for forty years. Though it has wordplay and a flirtatious coyness aplenty, poetically it does little to indicate the sophistication and style of her mature poems, the ones critics and scholars now denote as “great.” It is written in long thumping rhyming lines, shot through with Shakespearean image and allusion and the standard metaphorical shorthand of popular 19th century verse as found in contemporary magazines and newspapers.

But what is really striking and arresting to me about this otherwise “slight” girlish versifying at the outset of a great poet’s life is the implicit optimism, the trust that exists in all little girls’ hearts until it’s dashed and destroyed, that she would eventually like most women find a soul-mate, a sweetheart companion with whom to pass her life and share her dreams. In the poem she mentions her school chums by name and playfully summons “swains” to follow nature’s rule and claim one of them for their own. In a sense, the poem is a tease, not only to the recipient, but also to those girlfriends. Yet it is also a blessing as well, a promise that they—one and all—would one day find the love of their lives.

Oh the Earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain,

For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain. (ll.3-4)

It’s sad to read it today knowing what ensued from the date of writing for Emily herself, apart from her happier schoolmates, but what better time than Valentine’s Day to appreciate her for the gift she gave to future readers with the brilliant wholly original lyrics that were to follow this tender adolescent effort?

As early as 1862 Dickinson, disappointed in love and perhaps even more damaged from receiving much rejection at the hands of editors, had resigned herself to living not only unmarried but wholly unrecognized and unappreciated as a poet.  Even so, she intuited her gift would not molder in the grave with her,  sensed that her work would not be in vain, but had in fact a life of its own.  She captured these sentiments in this oft quoted and prescient little poem from that year—

This is my letter to the World

That never wrote to Me—

The simple news that Nature told—

In simple Majesty

 

Her Message is committed

To Hands I cannot see—

For love of Her—Sweet—countrymen—

Judge tenderly—of Me

She consigned the fruit of her life’s work to our eyes and hands and, frankly, if she’s watching now, I am certain she feels vindicated, if not exultant at the love and appreciation she has finally found.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is It Just Me, or that “The World Is too Much with Us?”

william-wordsworth

I woke up at two a.m. this morning with this well-known masterpiece by the incomparable English bard Wordsworth coiling through my mind.

This sonnet was penned in Britain just as the Industrial Revolution was upending the trusted old courtesies and mores, and wreaking widespread damage in English cities and the countryside. It seems incredibly current and timely today. Amazing, because no one in the eighteenth or nineteenth century could have anticipated the incipient mess could have swollen to the size and seriousness confronting us today.

“The World Is Too Much With Us”
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Posted in Literary Classics, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged | 9 Comments

Baby, it’s cold inside …

The "Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is."
Wallace Stevens was a seminal, groundbreaking American modernist poet.  A contemporary of Eliot, he flipped the archetype of the wan, pale, misunderstood verbal virtuoso.  Instead, he pursued a lucrative career as a vice president of Hartford Life Insurance and yet somehow was also able to simultaneously write and publish mind-bending original verse in a distinctively American idiom.  Go figure.  Right brain, left brain, maybe. But that’s one of the hallmarks of genius in my book.
Anyway, here is one of his more popular poems to ponder and parse if you are so inclined. Stay warm, stay well.  Spring will be here before you know it, with its birds, bees and own distinctive conundra and delights.
                                          “The Snow Man”
                                           Wallace Stevens
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
—————————————————————
Wallace Stevens, “The Snow Man” from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens and renewed 1982 by Holly Stevens. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Posted in American Literature, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

The Father’s Eye. . .

I clipped this beautiful poem from the New York Times years ago.  It still remains one of my all-time Christmas favorites. So subtle, understated and allusive.  Thought I’d share while wishing you the joy of this miraculous season! Pardon the watermarks; it’s survived a lot of handling.

star of the nativity brodsky

fav Russian emigre poet

Save

Posted in Joseph Brodsky, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
 Let earth receive her King;
 Let every heart prepare Him room,
 And Heaven and nature sing,
 And Heaven and nature sing,
 And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
 
 Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
 Let men their songs employ;
 While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
 Repeat the sounding joy,
 Repeat the sounding joy,
 Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
 
 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
 Nor thorns infest the ground;
 He comes to make His blessings flow
 Far as the curse is found,
 Far as the curse is found,
 Far as, far as, the curse is found.
 
 He rules the world with truth and grace,
 And makes the nations prove
 The glories of His righteousness,
 And wonders of His love,
 And wonders of His love,
 And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Posted in Literature | Leave a comment

My Life as a Turkey (really)

turkeys2

Young wild turkeys on my farm, Spring/fall 2016

Apropos of the holiday, I thought I’d share a curious life-changing experience I had this year with respect to (you got it) turkeys.

For some reason, a number of large wild turkey mamas decided to use my place to feed and raise their babies.  How interesting and what fun…

I watched the babies sprout from tiny little poults (see bottom photo) to the hefty adolescents you see above.

Strangely, my big dogs and horses got along with them famously. Smart move on their part because no one in his right mind would want to tangle with a mama turkey standing watch over her brood. They are gentle but ferocious when it comes to taking care of their babies.

As a captivated spectator of this wonderful exhibit of mother nature at work, I learned so much about their behavior and habits, and I was won over to the turkey “cause,” you might say. They have eyes like ours and are great mothers who make their chicks behave! They sleep (roost) in trees or on fences, love bugs, worms and cracked corn — and the bigger they get, the more land they need to forage. The Florida Wildlife Commission agents who came over and visited with me about how to care for them said grown wild turkeys need 100 sq. miles to forage effectively!

After playing turkey nursemaid for so many months, I suppose it’s no surprise that I’ve lost my taste for turkey and will be celebrating with other festive choices on the holiday dinner table.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all! Thanks for stopping by …

turkeys3

Save

Save

Posted in Humor, Literature | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ….”

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“The Mother of Exiles,” a gift from France and dedicated in Oct. 1886, stands tall in New York Harbor, and welcomes all comers yearning to breathe free; immigrants, exiles, the homeless, refugees. Let’s not forget that with the exception of Native Americans, all Americans are the descendants of wave after wave of immigrants. Americans come in all colors, shapes and sizes,  and as a composite, we are as richly textured as all humanity, and yet …

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

statue-of-liberty-evacuation

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” – Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826

Save

Save

Save

Posted in American Literature, Literature, poets, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bob Dylan Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

Forever Young

 dylan

From CNN today: Book Critic Jay Parini on “Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize” WORTH READING

Bob Dylan Lyrical Genius

Album: Blonde on Blonde [1966]

All lyrics are property and copyright of their respective owners and are provided for educational purposes only. Rockmagic.net is a not-for-profit project.

Tracks 14
01 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
02 Pledging My Time
03 Visions of Johanna
04 One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
05 I Want You
06 Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
07 Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
08 Just Like a Woman
09 Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
10 Temporary Like Achilles
11 Absolutely Sweet Marie
12 4th Time Around
13 Obviously 5 Believers
14 Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

all Bob Dylan lyrics

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good,
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would.
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home.
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ ‘long the street.
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat.
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor.
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table.
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able.
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck.
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, good luck.
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end.
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again.
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car.
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar.
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone.
They’ll stone you when you are walking home.
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave.
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.back to top

Pledging My Time
Well, early in the mornin’
’til late at night,
I got a poison headache,
But I feel all right.
I’m pledging my time to you,
Hopin’ you’ll come through, too.Well, the hobo jumped up,
He came down natur’lly.
After he stole my baby,
Then he wanted to steal me.
But I’m pledging my time to you,
Hopin’ you’ll come through, too.Won’t you come with me, baby?
I’ll take you where you wanna go.
And if it don’t work out,
You’ll be the first to know.
I’m pledging my time to you,
Hopin’ you’ll come through, too.Well, the room is so stuffy,
I can hardly breathe.
Ev’rybody’s gone but me and you
And I can’t be the last to leave.
I’m pledging my time to you,
Hopin’ you’ll come through, too.Well, they sent for the ambulance
And one was sent.
Somebody got lucky
But it was an accident.
Now I’m pledging my time to you,
Hopin’ you’ll come through, too.back to top

Visions of Johanna
Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of johanna that conquer my mindIn the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the d train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it’s him or them that’s really insane
Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That johanna’s not here
The ghost of ‘lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of johanna have now taken my placeNow, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it’s so hard to get on
And these visions of johanna, they kept me up past the dawnInside the museums, infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But mona lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, jeeze
I can’t find my knees
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of johanna, they make it all seem so cruelThe peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Sayin’, name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him
But like louise always says
Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?
As she, herself, prepares for him
And madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of johanna are now all that remainback to top

One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
I didn’t mean to treat you so bad
You shouldn’t take it so personal
I didn’t mean to make you so sad
You just happened to be there, that’s all
When I saw you say goodbye to your friends and smile
I thought that it was well understood
That you’d be comin’ back in a little while
I didn’t know that you were sayin’ goodbye for good.But sooner or later one of us must know
But you just did what you’re supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.I couldn’t see what you could show me
Your scarf had kept your mouth well hid
I couldn’t see how you could know me
But you said you knew me and I believed you did
When you whispered in my ear
And asked me if I was leavin’ with you or her
I didn’t realize just what I did hear
I didn’t realize how young you were.But sooner or later one of us must know
But you just doing what you’re supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.I couldn’t see when it started snowin’
Your voice was all that I heard
I couldn’t see where we were goin’
But you said you knew and I took your word
And then you told me later as I apologized
That you were just kiddin’ me, you weren’t really from the farm
And I told you, as you clawed out my eyes
That I never really meant to do you any harm.But sooner or later one of us must know
But you just did what you’re supposed to do
Sooner or later one of us must know
That I really did try to get close to you.back to top

I Want You
The guilty undertaker sighs,
The lonesome organ grinder cries,
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you.
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn,
But it’s not that way,
I wasn’t born to lose you.
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep,
They wait for you.
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin’ from my broken cup
And ask me to
Open up the gate for you.
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.Now all my fathers, they’ve gone down
True love they’ve been without it.
But all their daughters put me down
’cause I don’t think about it.Well, I return to the queen of spades
And talk with my chambermaid.
She knows that I’m not afraid
To look at her.
She is good to me
And there’s nothing she doesn’t see.
She knows where I’d like to be
But it doesn’t matter.
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.Now your dancing child with his chinese suit,
He spoke to me, I took his flute.
No, I wasn’t very cute to him,
Was i?
But I did it, though, because he lied
Because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side
And because I . . .
I want you, I want you,
I want you so bad,
Honey, I want you.back to top

Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
Oh, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block.
I’d ask him what the matter was
But I know that he don’t talk.
And the ladies treat me kindly
And furnish me with tape,
But deep inside my heart
I know I can’t escape.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.Well, shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells,
Speaking to some french girl,
Who says she knows me well.
And I would send a message
To find out if she’s talked,
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line.
She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine.
An’ I said, oh, I didn’t know that,
But then again, there’s only one I’ve met
An’ he just smoked my eyelids
An’ punched my cigarette.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.Grandpa died last week
And now he’s buried in the rocks,
But everybody still talks about
How badly they were shocked.
But me, I expected it to happen,
I knew he’d lost control
When he built a fire on main street
And shot it full of holes.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.Now the senator came down here
Showing ev’ryone his gun,
Handing out free tickets
To the wedding of his son.
An’ me, I nearly got busted
An’ wouldn’t it be my luck
To get caught without a ticket
And be discovered beneath a truck.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.Now the preacher looked so baffled
When I asked him why he dressed
With twenty pounds of headlines
Stapled to his chest.
But he cursed me when I proved it to him,
Then I whispered, not even you can hide.
You see, you’re just like me,
I hope you’re satisfied.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.

Now the rainman gave me two cures,
Then he said, jump right in.
The one was texas medicine,
The other was just railroad gin.
An’ like a fool I mixed them
An’ it strangled up my mind,
An’ now people just get uglier
An’ I have no sense of time.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.

When ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon,
Where I can watch her waltz for free
‘neath her panamanian moon.
An’ I say, aw come on now,
You must know about my debutante.
An’ she says, your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.

Now the bricks lay on grand street
Where the neon madmen climb.
They all fall there so perfectly,
It all seems so well timed.
An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.back to top

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hatWell, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it’s really that expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hatWell, if you wanna see the sun rise
Honey, I know where
We’ll go out and see it sometime
We’ll both just sit there and stare
Me with my belt
Wrapped around my head
And you just sittin’ there
In your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hatWell, I asked the doctor if I could see you
It’s bad for your health, he said
Yes, I disobeyed his orders
I came to see you
But I found him there instead
You know, I don’t mind him cheatin’ on me
But I sure wish he’d take that off his head
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hatWell, I see you got a new boyfriend
You know, I never seen him before
Well, I saw him
Makin’ love to you
You forgot to close the garage door
You might think he loves you for your money
But I know what he really loves you for
It’s your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hatback to top

Just Like a Woman
Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
Ev’rybody knows
That baby’s got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls.
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.Queen mary, she’s my friend
Yes, I believe I’ll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
Hat baby can’t be blessed
Till she sees finally that she’s like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.It was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what’s worse
Is this pain in here
I can’t stay in here
Ain’t it clear that? br>
I just can’t fit
Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit
When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don’t let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world.
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl.back to top

Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)
You say you love me
And you’re thinkin’ of me
But you know you could be wrong
You say you told me
That you wanna hold me
But you know you’re not that strong
I just can’t do what I done before
I just can’t beg you any more
I’m gonna let your pass
And I’ll go last
Then time will tell just who has fell
And who’s been left behind
When you go your way and I go mine.You say you disturb me
And you don’t deserve me
But you know sometimes you lie
You say you’re shakin’
And you’re always achin’
But you know how hard you try
Sometimes it gets so hard to care
It can’t be this way ev’rywhere
And I’m gonna let you pass
Yes, and I’ll go last
Then time will tell who has fell
And who’s been left behind
When you go your way and I go mine.The judge, he holds a grudge
He’s gonna call on you
But he’s badly built
And he walks on stilts
Watch out he don’t fall on you.You say you’re sorry
For tellin’ stories
That you know I believe are true
You say ya got some
Other kinda lover
And yes, I belive you do
You say my kisses are not like his
But this time I’m not gonna tell you why that is
I’m just gonna let you pass
Yes, and I’ll go last
Then time will tell who has fell
And who’s been left behind
When you go your way and I go mine.back to top

Temporary Like Achilles
Standing on your window, honey,
Yes, I’ve been here before.
Feeling so harmless,
I’m looking at your second door.
How come you don’t send me no regards?
You know I want your lovin’,
Honey, why are you so hard?Kneeling ‘neath your ceiling,
Yes, I guess I’ll be here for a while.
I’m tryin’ to read your portrait, but,
I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child.
How come you send someone out to have me barred?
You know I want your lovin’,
Honey, why are you so hard?Like a poor fool in his prime,
Yes, I know you can hear me walk,
But is your heart made out of stone, or is it lime,
Or is it just solid rock?Well, I rush into your hallway,
Lean against your velvet door.
I watch upon your scorpion
Who crawls across your circus floor.
Just what do you think you have to guard?
You know I want your lovin’, honey, but you’re so hard.Achilles is in your alleyway,
He don’t want me here,
He does brag.
He’s pointing to the sky
And he’s hungry, like a man in drag.
How come you get someone like him to be your guard?
You know I want your lovin’,
Honey. but you’re so hard.back to top

Absolutely Sweet Marie
Well, your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it
Sometimes it gets so hard, you see
I’m just sitting here beating on my trumpet
With all these promises you left for me
But where are you tonight, sweet marie?Well, I waited for you when I was half sick
Yes, I waited for you when you hated me
Well, I waited for you inside of the frozen traffic
When you knew I had some other place to be
Now, where are you tonight, sweet marie?Well, anybody can be just like me, obviously
But then, now again, not too many can be like you, fortunately.Well, six white horses that you did promise
Were fin’lly delivered down to the penitentiary
But to live outside the law, you must be honest
I know you always say that you agree
But where are you tonight, sweet marie?Well, I don’t know how it happened
But the river-boat captain, he knows my fate
But ev’rybody else, even yourself
They’re just gonna have to wait.Well, I got the fever down in my pockets
The persian drunkard, he follows me
Yes, I can take him to your house but I can’t unlock it
You see, you forgot to leave me with the key
Oh, where are you tonight, sweet marie?

Now, I been in jail when all my mail showed
That a man can’t give his address out to bad company
And now I stand here lookin’ at your yellow railroad
In the ruins of your balcony
Wond’ring where you are tonight, sweet marie.back to top

4th Time Around
When she said,
Don’t waste your words, they’re just lies,
I cried she was deaf.
And she worked on my face until breaking my eyes,
Then said, what else you got left?
It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, don’t forget,
Everybody must give something back
For something they get.I stood there and hummed,
I tapped on her drum and asked her how come.
And she buttoned her boot,
And straightened her suit,
Then she said, don’t get cute.
So I forced my hands in my pockets
And felt with my thumbs,
And gallantly handed her
My very last piece of gum.She threw me outside,
I stood in the dirt where ev’ryone walked.
And after finding i’d
Forgotten my shirt,
I went back and knocked.
I waited in the hallway, she went to get it,
And I tried to make sense
Out of that picture of you in your wheelchair
That leaned up against . . .Her jamaican rum
And when she did come, I asked her for some.
She said, no, dear.
I said, your words aren’t clear,
You’d better spit out your gum.
She screamed till her face got so red
Then she fell on the floor,
And I covered her up and then
Thought I’d go look through her drawer.And, when I was through
I filled up my shoe
And brought it to you.
And you, you took me in,
You loved me then
You didn’t waste time.
And i, I never took much,
I never asked for your crutch.
Now don’t ask for mine.back to top

Obviously 5 Believers
Early in the mornin’
Early in the mornin’
I’m callin’ you to
I’m callin’ you to
Please come home
Yes, I guess I could make it without you
If I just didn’t feel so all aloneDon’t let me down
Don’t let me down
I won’t let you down
I won’t let you down
No I won’t
You know I can if you can, honey
But, honey, please don’tI got my black dog barkin’
Black dog barkin’
Yes it is now
Yes it is now
Outside my yard
Yes, I could tell you what he means
If I just didn’t have to try so hardYour mama’s workin’
Your mama’s moanin’
She’s cryin’ you know
She’s tryin’ you know
You better go now
Well, I’d tell you what she wants
But I just don’t know howFifteen jugglers
Fifteen jugglers
Five believers
Five believers
All dressed like men
Tell yo’ mama not to worry because
They’re just my friendsEarly in the mornin’
Early in the mornin’
I’m callin’ you to
I’m callin’ you to
Please come home
Yes, I could make it without you
If I just did not feel so all aloneback to top

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
With your mercury mouth in the missionary times,
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes,
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes,
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last,
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass,
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass,
Who among them do they think could carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace,
And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace,
And your basement clothes and your hollow face,
Who among them can think he could outguess you?
With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims,
And your match-book songs and your gypsy hymns,
Who among them would try to impress you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?The kings of tyrus with their convict list
Are waiting in line for their geranium kiss,
And you wouldn’t know it would happen like this,
But who among them really wants just to kiss you?
With your childhood flames on your midnight rug,
And your spanish manners and your mother’s drugs,
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs,
Who among them do you think could resist you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?Oh, the farmers and the businessmen, they all did decide
To show you the dead angels that they used to hide.
But why did they pick you to sympathize with their side?
Oh, how could they ever mistake you?
They wished you’d accepted the blame for the farm,
But with the sea at your feet and the phony false alarm,
And with the child of a hoodlum wrapped up in your arms,
How could they ever, ever persuade you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?With your sheet-metal memory of cannery row,
And your magazine-husband who one day just had to go,
And your gentleness now, which you just can’t help but show,
Who among them do you think would employ you?
Now you stand with your thief, you’re on his parole
With your holy medallion which your fingertips fold,
And your saintlike face and your ghostlike soul,
Oh, who among them do you think could destroy you
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

Save

Save

Save

Posted in American Literature, Literary Lions, Literature, poetry, poets | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments