A Soft-Dying Day

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, —
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 

        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue —

~John Keats, lines from “To Autumn”

 

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The trees are undressing, and fling in many places—
On the gray road, the roof, the window-sill—
Their radiant robes and ribbons and yellow laces;
A leaf each second so is flung at will,
Here, there, another and another, still and still.
~Thomas Hardy from “Last Week in October”

 

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We think we are mere witness to this,
this transformation happening before our eyes
as unforgiving wind strips leaves from trees
left bare and naked in their bones–

yet we too will be exposed for who we are
under the window dressing we spend so much to create,
too soon nothing is left to cover our flaws
and our bones alone will tell our story of redemption.

 

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Shed No Tear

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Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
~ Brian Jacques 

The end-of-summer farm is silently sobbing in its losses; tears of fall, from fog, mist and drizzle, cling to everything everywhere. I arrive back in the house from barn chores soaked through from walking through the weeping.  ‘Tis no shame to be drenched in such sorrow.

The memory of summer is pressed deep in our grieving, our wounds healed by Light that illumines our tears.

We are never left comfortless and weep in the knowing.

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Shed no tear! oh, shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
Weep no more! oh, weep no more!
Young buds sleep in the root’s white core.
Dry your eyes! oh, dry your eyes!
For I was taught in Paradise
To ease my breast of melodies,–
Shed no tear.

Overhead! look overhead!
‘Mong the blossoms white and red–
Look up, look up! I flutter now
On this fresh pomegranate bough.
See me! ’tis this silvery bill
Ever cures the good man’s ill.
Shed no tear! oh, shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year.
~John Keats from “Fairy Song”

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Again and again we weep and know why.
It is not simply the sorrowful loss
of the perfection of spring giving way to the dying of the fall,
the last gasp coloring of leaves and skies.
It is the loss of innocence, of sense of reverence for life,
this blight man was born for,
this bleeding out perpetrated for no reason.
What must drive one man’s selfish rage, loneliness and despair to compel him to deprive innocent others of their blood and life?
What unexplained evil overtakes one heart that he seeks to stop the beating hearts of others?
When will there ever again be safe havens in society, if not within our schools, our churches, our medical facilities, our malls, then where?
This is a day for lament, for tears, and for prayers to God that we bleed out the sickness that is infecting us all.
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Thank you to Male Ensemble Northwest for singing this song based on the Keats poem during their concert last night.

 

 

Ode to Oatmeal

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I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have
breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary
companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,
as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,
and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should
not be eaten alone…
~Galway Kinnell from “Oatmeal”

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But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
~John Keats from “Ode on Melancholy”

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Oatmeal porridge and melancholy,
poets and peonies —
it is so early, so Monday morning…
nothing more need be said.

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The Soft-Dying Day

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;

~John Keats, lines from “To Autumn”

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Tip-toe Wings

sweeterpeasHere are sweet-peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.
~John Keats

I grew up watching sweet peas climb a trellis in our family garden. Their delicate tendrils did wrap clinging fingers around anything they could reach and grasp. The blossoms were too ephemeral to bring indoors for a vase on the table — the petals would droop and then drop within a day or so. They were meant to be appreciated right where they grew, so I would visit them regularly, breathe deeply with my nose in their midst to capture and keep their lovely scent with me as I went on about my day, leaving them waving their vines in my wake.

Some things are better left undisturbed, to flourish right where they have taken hold. In the case of sweet peas, if I had stood beside them long enough, the finger-like tendrils would have reached out and grasped me as well, climbing up my frame and wrapping their blooming fragrance around me, truly changing me forever.

And so it will be in heaven someday: we will be grasped and clung to with the sweet scent of everlasting love, never to be let go, and never again to be what we once were.

Sweet Peas Run Wild

A dichotomy in October

“Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, the sweet pea that has run wild, Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.”
~Boris Pasternak

Sweet peas and pumpkins are strange neighbors on the same table
Always separated by weather and season,
one from late spring, the other from mid-autumn,
truly never meant to meet.

Yet here they are, side by side,
grown in the same soil
through the same weeks,
their curling vines entwined.

A dropped packet of sweet pea seeds
forgotten in the weeds during summer rains;
escapees swelled and thrived, now forming rich autumn blooms
gracing a harvest table with bright pastels and spring time fragrance.

Perhaps I too may bloom where I land, even ill-timed, out of place,
I might run wild, interwoven, bound to others
who look nothing like me, encouraged to climb higher,
to blossom bravely in the face of a killing frost.

“Here are sweet-peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.”
~John Keats