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Showing posts from November, 2009

A Thanksgiving Poem

Color Shifts
Hope Ellen Rapson

Color Shifts
In a rain of leaves,
Let us pause and stop
To consider this season,
A time to harvest a crop
Of thanks…for a reason.
Among autumn woods,
We may see losses
And dry dreams,
But also clinging mosses
That green in streams.
So when color changes,
We can know relief.
For what a season takes
Leaving hearts with grief,
The Blessed Redeemer remakes.

During darker days,
Let us quietly wait,
Worship our loving Father.
Let each heart state,
“I am a blessed son, or daughter.”
With grateful wills,
Let us seek to share
Christ’s gracious gifts,
Reflecting God’s care,
Amid life's color shifts.

Remembering Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A legendary poet like Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) needs no introduction. In Pakistan, where one authoritarian government has made way for another since 1947, Faiz’s person and work is largely known as a symbol of resistance. In his poetry, he represented the people’s longing for freedom and democracy and became a source of inspiration for those seeking to build a just society.

Faiz began his career as a lecturer in English at Amritsar, but switched to journalism after the Second World War. He went on to become the editor of The Pakistan Times. In 1951, he was charged with complicity in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case and imprisoned. It was his four-year term in prison that gave him first-hand experience of the harsh realities of life and provided him with much-needed solitude to translate his thoughts into poetry.

As a poet, Faiz began writing on the conventional themes of love and beauty, but soon these thoughts were submerged in the larger social and political issues of the day. An adm…

Life is the gold and sweetness of wheat...

Serene Words
Gabriela Mistral

Now in the middle of my days I glean
this truth that has a flower's freshness:
life is gold and sweetness of wheat,
hate is brief and love immense.

Let us exchange for a smiling verse
that verse scored with blood and gall.
Heavenly violets open, and through the valley
the wind blows a honeyed breath.

Now I understand not only the man who prays;
now I understand the man who breaks into song,
Thirst is long-lasting and the hillside twisting;
but a lily can ensnare our gaze.

Our eyes grow heavy with weeping,
yet a brook can make us smile.
A skylark's song bursting heavenward
makes us forget it is hard to die.

There is nothing now that can pierce my flesh.
With love, all turmoil ceased.
The gaze of my mother still brings me peace.
I feel that God is putting me to sleep.

Wind, Water and Stone

Wind and Water and Stone
Octavio Paz

The water hollowed the stone,
the wind dispersed the water,
the stone stopped the wind.
Water and wind and stone

The wind sculpted the stone,
the stone is a cup of water,
the water runs off and is wind.
Stone and wind and water.

The wind sings in its turnings,
the water murmurs as it goes,
the motionless stone is quiet.
Wind and water and stone.

One is the other, and is neither:
among their empty names
they pass and disappear,
water and stone and wind.

Great Opening Lines

Here are some of my favorites:

Peter Seaburg lived in a flat without a kitchen. "Kitchens make you fat," he said. - Ruth Rendell, The Copper Peacock

If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. - Rupert Brooke, The Soldier

Midway in our life's journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood. - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno

In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. - Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Favorite Song Lyrics

Most people have favorite song lyrics. They stick in your mind and you find yourself singing them at odd moments. Yesterday, having taught Spanish all day, I was in the Latin mood and on the way home from work, I found myself singing these lines from Gloria Esteban's "Conga".

It’s the rhythm of the island, and like the sugar cane so sweet
If you want to do the conga, you’ve got to listen to the beat.

Feel the fire of desire, as you dance the night away’
cause tonight were gonna party, ’til we see the break of day

The lyrics capture the mood of la danza conga, a dance of Cuban origin inspired by African rhythms. One can almost see and feel the movement of the dancers as they form a long, winding line.

Here's another I like from Dave Matthews' Grave Digger:

Cyrus Jones 1810 to 1913
Made his great grandchildren believe
You could live to a hundred and three
A hundred and three is forever when you're just a little kid
So Cyrus Jones lived forever.

What are your favorite song …