Poem of the day

The Tree of Life
by Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849)

There is a mighty, magic tree,
That holds the round earth and the sea
In its branches like a net:
Its immortal trunk is set
Broader than the tide of night
With its star-tipped billows bright:
Human thought doth on it grow,
Like the barren misletoe
On an old oak’ s forehead-skin.
Ever while the planets spin
Their blue existence, that great plant
Shall nor bud nor blossom want;
Summer, winter, night and day,
It must still its harvest pay;
Ever while the night grows up
Along the wall of the wide sky,
And the thunder-bee sweeps by
On its brown wet wing, to dry
Every day-star’s crystal cup
Of its yellow summer:— still
At the foot of heaven’s hill
With fruit and blossom flush and rife,
Stays that tree of Human Life.
   Let us mark yon newest bloom
Heaving through the leafy gloom;
Now a pinkish bud it grows
Scentless, bloomless; slow unclose
Its outer pages to the sun,
Opened, but not yet begun.
Its first leaf is infancy,
Pencilled pale and tenderly,
Smooth its cheek and mild its eye:
Now it swells, and curls its head—
Little infancy is shed.
Broader childhood is the next—
      *   *   *   *

Views: 41

Ignorance becomes the GOP

Paul Krugman in the NYT: “The current obsession with critical race theory is a cynical attempt to change the subject away from the Biden administration’s highly popular policy initiatives, while pandering to the white rage that Republicans deny exists. But it’s only one of multiple subjects on which willful ignorance has become a litmus test for anyone hoping to succeed in Republican politics.

“Thus, to be a Republican in good standing one must deny the reality of man-made climate change, or at least oppose any meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One must reject or at least express skepticism about the theory of evolution. And don’t even get me started on things like the efficacy of tax cuts. …

“Accepting evidence and logic is a sort of universal value, and you can’t take it away in one area of inquiry without degrading it across the board. That is, you can’t declare that honesty about America’s racial history is unacceptable and expect to maintain intellectual standards everywhere else. In the modern right-wing universe of ideas, everything is political; there are no safe subjects.

“This politicization of everything inevitably creates huge tension between conservatives and institutions that try to respect reality.”

Views: 46

Poem of the day

The Soul’s Defiance
by Lavinia Stoddard (1787-1820)

I said to Sorrow’s awful storm,
      That beat against my breast,
Rage on—thou may’st destroy this form,
      And lay it low at rest;
But still the spirit that now brooks
      Thy tempest, raging high,
Undaunted on its fury looks
      With steadfast eye.

I said to Penury’s meagre train,
      Come on—your threats I brave;
My last poor life-drop you may drain,
      And crush me to the grave;
Yet still the spirit that endures
      Shall mock your force the while,
And meet each cold, cold grasp of yours
      With bitter smile.

I said to cold Neglect and Scorn,
      Pass on—I heed you not;
Ye may pursue me till my form
      And being are forgot;
Yet still the spirit, which you see
      Undaunted by your wiles,
Draws from its own nobility
      Its high-born smiles.

I said to Friendship’s menaced blow,
      Strike deep—my heart shall bear;
Thou canst but add one bitter woe
      To those already there;
Yet still the spirit that sustains
      This last severe distress
Shall smile upon its keenest pains,
      And scorn redress.

I said to Death’s uplifted dart,
      Aim sure—oh, why delay?
Thou wilt not find a fearful heart—
      A weak, reluctant prey;
For still the spirit, firm and free,
      Unruffled by this last dismay,
Wrapt in its own eternity,
      Shall pass away.

Views: 40

Poem of the day

The Barefoot Boy
by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

   Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, —
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art, — the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye, —
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

   Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, —
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

   Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

   Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

   Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

Views: 26

Game of the week

Today is grandmaster Christiansen’s 65th birthday so I chose one of his victories. He tells me that he recalls Watson being in time trouble near the end.

Views: 37

Poem of the day

The Poet
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

He sang of life, serenely sweet,
      With, now and then, a deeper note.
      From some high peak, nigh yet remote,
He voiced the world’s absorbing beat.

He sang of love when earth was young,
      And Love, itself, was in his lays.
      But ah, the world, it turned to praise
A jingle in a broken tongue.

Views: 42

Poem of the day

Miniver Cheevy
by Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
      Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
      And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
      When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
      Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
      And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
      And Priam’s neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
      That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
      And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
      Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
      Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
      And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the medieval grace
      Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
      But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
      And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
      Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
      And kept on drinking.

Views: 38

Poem of the day

The Double Fortress
by Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

Time, would’st thou hurt us? Never shall we grow old.
         Break as thou wilt these bodies of blind clay,
Thou canst not touch us here, in our stronghold,
         Where two, made one, laugh all thy powers away.

Though ramparts crumble and rusty gates grow thin,
         And our brave fortress dwine to a hollow shell,
Thou shalt hear heavenly laughter, far within;
         Where, young as Love, two hidden lovers dwell.

We shall go clambering up our twisted stairs
         To watch the moon through rifts in our grey towers.
Thou shalt hear whispers, kisses, and sweet prayers
         Creeping through all our creviced walls like flowers.

Would’st wreck us, Time? When thy dull leaguer brings
         The last wall down, look heavenward. We have wings.

Views: 44

Poem of the day

Scots Wha Hae
by Robert Burns (1721-1770)
because today is Bannockburn Day and here is a version recorded by Theodore Bikel.

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
         Or to victorie.
Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front of battle lour;
See approach proud Edward’s power –
         Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor’s knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha’s sae base as be a slave?
         Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland’s King and Law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Free-man stand, or free-man fa’?
         Let him follow me!

By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
         But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!
         Let us do, or die!

Views: 56