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The Sentence -- Robert Creeley

Guest poem sent in by Don José

  "We'll definitely be running more of Creeley's work in the
  future...."  --thomas, 20 Sep 2000

I figured, after three years, I'd step up!
(Poem #1400) The Sentence
 There is that in love
 which, by the syntax of,
 men find women and join
 their bodies to their minds

 --which wants so to acquire
 a continuity, a place,
 a demonstration that it must
 be one's own sentence.
-- Robert Creeley
Poem #552 needed some company.  I was introduced to Creeley this past summer
in a poetry workshop, my last undergraduate class at university.  Studying
him and his contemporaries (like Williams) definitely opened my eyes to
different styles, not the least of which was the attractiveness of sparse
rhyme; more accurately, perhaps, he uses rhyme where it is most effective.

And it's this that sets Creeley apart, I believe, his "efficiency of design"
as I explained in a critique.  Not a word is out of place; no line break is
unintentional; no punctuation left unconsidered.  He communicates multiple
thoughts with minimal words through his line break, thus the efficiency.
Also interesting, is how the form of his poems often "fit" the poem, if only
subtly ("Water" is a good example).  (His line break is quite deliberate --
to hear him read a selection will go a long way in elucidating this.  Some
performances are downloadable via
[broken link]

As was described of Creeley in the bio of "Morning" [Poem #552], his style
of poetry relied on conversational American English.  He writes, "I love it
that these words, 'made solely of air,' as Williams said, have no owner
finally to determine them....for these words which depend upon us for their
very existence fail as our usage derides or excludes them.  They are no more
right or wrong than we are, yet suffer our presumption forever" (in his
preface to _Selected Poems_, 1991).

There were many poems I could have easily chosen for this selection, but did
this one if for no other reason than it is definitely one of my favourite
Creeley pieces.  Not all of Creeley comes through in this, but one can see
how not only does language convey the poem, it is also a part of the poem,
as Creeley joins together love with a sentence.  Short, to the point,
creative -- Creeley.  I'll leave dissection to the reader.


Critics Nightwatch -- Gwen Harwood

Guest poem sent in by Michelle Chapman
(Poem #1399) Critics Nightwatch
 Once more he tried, before he slept,
 to rule his ranks of words. They broke
 from his planned choir, lolled, slouched and kept
 their tone, their pitch, their meaning crude;
 huddled in cliches; when pursued
 turned with mock elegance to croak

 his rival's tunes. They would not sing.
 The scene that nagged his sleep away
 flashed clear again: the local king
 of verse, loose-collared and loose-lipped.
 read from a sodden manuscript,
 drinking with anyone who'd pay,

 drunk, in the critic's favourite bar.
 "Hear the voice of the bard!" he bellowed,
 "Poets are lovers. Critics are
 mean, solitary masturbators.
 Come here, and join the warm creators."
 The critic, whom no drink had mellowed,

 turned on his heel. Rough laughter scoured
 his reddening neck. The poet roared
 "Run home, and take that face that soured
 your mother's lovely milk from spite.
 Piddle on what you cannot write."
 At home alone the critic poured

 gall on the poet's work in polished
 careful prose. He tore apart
 meaning and metaphor, demolished
 diction, syntax, metre, rhyme;
 called his entire works a crime
 against the integrity of art,

 and lay down grinning, quick, he thought,
 with a great poem that would make plain
 his power to all. Once more he fought
 with words. Sleep came. He dreamed he turned
 to a light vapour, seeped and burned
 in wordless cracks where grain on grain

 of matter grated; reassumed
 his human shape, and called by name
 each grain to sing, conducting, plumed
 in lightning, their obedient choir.
 Dressed as a bride for his desire
 towards him, now meek, the poet came.

 Light sneaked beside his bed. The birds
 began their insistent questioning
 of silence, and the poet's words
 prompted by daylight rasped his raw
 nerves, and the waking world he saw
 was flat with prose and would not sing.
-- Gwen Harwood
For me this poem captures the ineffable magic of poetry - that no matter how
desperately you try, it will not be forced. It may fool others but the
writer will always be aware of the gap between the object and the ideal.

We see the critic dissecting the poet's work with clinical precision yet
failing to pin down the spark of life. This inspires him - he is certain he
can do better - and in his dreams he does. The illusion is fleeting. He
wakes to find his mundane self unchanged, unmagical. His prose is polished
and careful. He cannot share in the carefree drunken flights of poesy and
yet he yearns to do so... I believe anyone who appreciates poetry has
moments like this - where the absolute delight of a poem's song in your
heart cannot quite shoulder aside your jealousy - why can't I write like

There are several ways to read the poem - was Gwen reacting to criticism of
her own poems by mocking the critic... was she sympathising with those of us
who can never quite seem to pin down that spark (those who can, write, those
who can't, criticise).... or was she exploring two different aspects of her
own personality as a writer???


PS. Here are some biographies of Gwen Harwood:
[broken link]

Unfortunately her poems are under-represented on the Internet.

A Man Doesn't Have Time In His Life -- Yehuda Amichai

Guest poem sent in by Abhishek Singh
(Poem #1398) A Man Doesn't Have Time In His Life
 A man doesn't have time in his life
 to have time for everything.
 He doesn't have seasons enough to have
 a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
 Was wrong about that.

 A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
 to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
 with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
 to make love in war and war in love.
 And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
 to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
 what history
 takes years and years to do.

 A man doesn't have time.
 When he loses he seeks, when he finds
 he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
 he begins to forget.

 And his soul is seasoned, his soul
 is very professional.
 Only his body remains forever
 an amateur. It tries and it misses,
 gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
 drunk and blind in its pleasures
 and its pains.

 He will die as figs die in autumn,
 Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
 the leaves growing dry on the ground,
 the bare branches pointing to the place
 where there's time for everything.
-- Yehuda Amichai
Note: From "The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai", translations by Chana
Bloch and Stephen Mitchell.

I was sent this poem by a friend of mine, who adores Amichai. Frankly
speaking, I had not heard of this late Israeli poet, before this poem. But
this one encounter was enough to put me in awe of his art.  What I found out
was that Amichai is the most translated poet in Hebrew after King David!
Like all translations something IS lost from one language to the other.
Amichai's poetry in fact either renders very well or not well at all into
English depending on the point of view taken. His poetry is simple, direct,
colloquial (my friend tells me that he is read by soldiers, shopkeepers...),
while also drawing on history and playing with words and sounds. The wit and
word-play are of course lost in English. In this poem for example, the
second-last stanza seems a bit ackward, with unwieldy words like
'professional' and 'amateur' breaking the flow, but the overall message of
the simplicity of the body and the sophistication of the soul is one that is
powerful beyond words.

Anyway I admit to not knowing a lot more about Amichai, but would love it if
someone told us more about him and his poetry. This write- up has been more
about the poet, because I think the poem itself is amazing enough to speak
for itself! Finally there's nothing more to be said, apart from the final

"He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there's time for everything."

Amichai died in can light a candle in his memorium and


We've run one other poem by Amichai: Poem #1108


Introduction to Poetry -- Billy Collins

Guest poem sent in by Phebe Haugen
(Poem #1397) Introduction to Poetry
 I ask them to take a poem
 and hold it up to the light
 like a color slide

 or press an ear against its hive.

 I say drop a mouse into a poem
 and watch him probe his way out,

 or walk inside the poem's room
 and feel the walls for a light switch.

 I want them to waterski
 across the surface of a poem
 waving at the author's name on the shore.

 But all they want to do
 is tie the poem to a chair with rope
 and torture a confession out of it.

 They begin beating it with a hose
 to find out what it really means.
-- Billy Collins
Not long ago, when my teenage son was struggling with poetry in his English
class, I gave him this wonderful poem.  For a kid trying to figure out what
imagery is all about, this little gem offers itself as a color slide, a
hive, a dark room, a lake, a knowing, but silent, defendant.  It invites
us to engage all these images - except the last one - so that we might see
into the heart of a poem without bludgeoning the poor thing to death.

And who among us doesn't know that feeling of being the mouse dropped into
the poem, trying to probe its way out?


The Children’s Hour -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Guest poem sent in by Matthew Brooks
(Poem #1396) The Children’s Hour
 Between the dark and the daylight,
 When the night is beginning to lower,
 Comes a pause in the day's occupations
 That is known as the Children's Hour.

 I hear in the chamber above me
 The patter of little feet,
 The sound of a door that is opened,
 And voices soft and sweet.

 From my study I see in the lamplight,
 Descending the broad hall-stair,
 Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
 And Edith with golden hair.

 A whisper, and then a silence:
 Yet I know by their merry eyes
 They are plotting and planning together
 To take me by surprise.

 A sudden rush from the stairway,
 A sudden raid from the hall!
 By three doors left unguarded
 They enter my castle wall!

 They climb up into my turret
 O'er the arms and back of my chair;
 If I try to escape, they surround me;
 They seem to be everywhere.

 They almost devour me with kisses,
 Their arms about me entwine,
 Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
 In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

 Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
 Because you have scaled the wall,
 Such an old moustache as I am
 Is not a match for you all?

 I have you fast in my fortress,
 And will not let you depart,
 But put you down into the dungeons
 In the round-tower of my heart.

 And there will I keep you forever,
 Yes, forever and a day,
 Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
 And moulder in dust away!
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Note: Published in The Atlantic Monthly; September 1860.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, 1807-1882. A narrative poet in
the grand tradition; his poems are full of images, atmosphere, suspense, and
emotion. He is identified with American history and legend: his most
well-known works include poems The Song of Hiawatha, The Midnight Ride of
Paul Revere, The Courtship of Miles Standish. I always picture the
illustrations of N.C. Wyeth when I read these poems. During his lifetime he
was popular, widely read and celebrated, sometimes to the disdain of more
literary poets and critics.

This is one of the first poems I ever remember hearing. I think it was in a
book of poetry that my mother would occasionally read from to my sisters and
me. More than the words themselves, it's the rhythm and pace of it that
sends me back in time – the poetry equivalent of Proust's madeleine. I
always loved the images of the little girls sneaking down the stairs, and
the exotic idea of the "Mouse-Tower" on the Rhine. And I always thought that
the last stanza was oddly adult and melancholy for a children's poem, but
now, from an adult's perspective, it has a different meaning.


Here's a link to some of Wyeth's illustrations:

[Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of his "Courtship of Miles Standish"
illustrations, but those should convey the general flavour - martin]

The Man-Moth -- Elizabeth Bishop

Guest poem sent in by Tim Diggins
(Poem #1395) The Man-Moth
Man-Moth: Newspaper misprint for "mammoth".

     Here, above,
 cracks in the buildings are filled with battered moonlight.
 The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat.
 It lies at his feet like a circle for a doll to stand on,
 and he makes an inverted pin, the point magnetized to the moon.
 He does not see the moon; he observes only her vast properties,
 feeling the queer light on his hands, neither warm nor cold,
 of a temperature impossible to record in thermometers.

           But when the Man-Moth
 pays his rare, although occasional, visits to the surface,
 the moon looks rather different to him. He emerges
 from an opening under the edge of one of the sidewalks
 and nervously begins to scale the faces of the buildings.
 He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky,
 proving the sky quite useless for protection.
 He trembles, but must investigate as high as he can climb.

           Up the façades,
 his shadow dragging like a photographer's cloth behind him
 he climbs fearfully, thinking that this time he will manage
 to push his small head through that round clean opening
 and be forced through, as from a tube, in black scrolls on the light.
 (Man, standing below him, has no such illusions.)
 But what the Man-Moth fears most he must do, although
 he fails, of course, and falls back scared but quite unhurt.

           Then he returns
 to the pale subways of cement he calls his home. He flits,
 he flutters, and cannot get aboard the silent trains
 fast enough to suit him.  The doors close swiftly.
 The Man-Moth always seats himself facing the wrong way
 and the train starts at once at its full, terrible speed,
 without a shift in gears or a gradation of any sort.
 He cannot tell the rate at which he travels backwards.

           Each night he must
 be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams.
 Just as the ties recur beneath his train, these underlie
 his rushing brain.  He does not dare look out the window,
 for the third rail, the unbroken draught of poison,
 runs there beside him. He regards it as a disease
 he has inherited the susceptibility to.  He has to keep
 his hands in his pockets, as others must wear mufflers.

           If you catch him,
 hold up a flashlight to his eye.  It's all dark pupil,
 an entire night itself, whose haired horizon tightens
 as he stares back, and closes up the eye.  Then from the lids
 one tear, his only possession, like the bee's sting, slips.
 Slyly he palms it, and if you're not paying attention
 he'll swallow it.  However, if you watch, he'll hand it over,
 cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink.
-- Elizabeth Bishop
Reading that poem by McGough [Poem #1335] made me immediately think of "The
Man-Moth" by Elizabeth Bishop, which has a similar "justification" for
starting the poem, but quite a different use and tonality.

It's hard to comment on The Man-Moth, because I have no idea what it means
as a whole poem. Most of Bishop's poetry (with the exception maybe of "One
Art") seems to me like that - where it is hard to come up with an
understanding of the poem in total but instead one has a mixture of
impressions - in this case a sense of human emotional fragility (just the
image of a man-as-moth, the tear, but this is also undercut by various
narratorial attitudes to him: Dwelling on his failures ("he trembles",
"although he fails, of course", "he can't", "he does not dare"...) and the
limitations of his lifeworld ("The Man Moth always..." "he must...", "He
regards it as...", "he has to..."). In the last stanza, the narratorial
voice starts to hint that the man-moth has his own desires and identity ("If
you catch him"... "Slyly he ...")

But it's the last sentance that makes me unsure of how to understand the
poem as a whole. The "However" introduces a turn of the poem to something
different - is it to the purity of nature (as opposed to our man-made
buildings and cracked sidewalks through which the man-moth emerges)? I'm not
sure, but this last turn in the poem coming with its confidence after all
the man-moth's uncertainty, seems as refreshing as the man-moth's tear.

Tim Diggins

  [broken link]

Even If You Grab A Piece of Time -- Ruth Forman

Guest poem sent in by Pavithra Krishnan
(Poem #1394) Even If You Grab A Piece of Time
 Conjure something glowing
 Take this day
 You were born with hands for spinning
 Talent for dreams and making them real

 Roll the hours like yarn
 Spin something that makes you feel full
 And big and open to talk

 Make this day your own square
 In your own life quilt
 So shining it brighten the whole of your years
 This far
 Make this day like one of God's seven.
-- Ruth Forman
A friend met this poet at a conference and bought one of her books. "You'll
like her," he said, and I opened the slim volume feeling predictable and
curious. Had never heard of Forman before but some of her poetry felt like
an old, old friend. I like this poet even at the cost of being predictable.
She shines real with love and human-ness. This one was my favorite, it's one
of those poems that picks you up if you're down and shakes you firmly and
enchantingly out of your own excuses for not carpe-ing the diem.  "Conjure
something glowing" An irresistible invitation into this poem, this day, this

Lilies-of-the-field no toil, no spin. Un-aspiring and splendid...and what of
us? Blessed with a beauty beyond lilies we work and dream - or Can. A loving
urgency in this poem pointing us to the potential within not just the hours
but ourselves. Homespun imagery makes her words comfortable, familiar -
themselves a handmade quilt thrown across the page warm and deep and
spirit-lifting (quilts are wonderful things. poems can be too.) Pick up the
colored 'shreds and patches' of your life, and stitch the mystery and the
mundanity into something meaningful and alive. When she puts it like that
how do you decline? It's hard if not impossible.  "Make this day like one of
God's seven."

An order, a dare, a mantra inspiration.  And now if you'll excuse me
I'm going to go carpe what's left of the diem.



The Lawyers Know Too Much -- Carl Sandburg

Guest poem sent in by Salima Virani
(Poem #1393) The Lawyers Know Too Much
 The lawyers, Bob, know too much.
 They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
 They know it all, what a dead hand wrote,
 A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
 The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.
         The lawyers know
         a dead man's thought too well.

 In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
 Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
 Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,
 Too many doors to go in and out of.

 When the lawyers are through
 What is there left, Bob?
 Can a mouse nibble at it
 And find enough to fasten a tooth in?

 Why is there always a secret singing
 When a lawyer cashes in?
 Why does a hearse horse snicker
 Hauling a lawyer away?

 The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.
 The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
 The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
 The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
          Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
          Build a house no wind blows over.
 The lawyers--tell me why a hearse horse snickers
          hauling a lawyer's bones.
-- Carl Sandburg

After reading the last submission to Minstrels about lawyers, I could not
resist making a case in defence ;)

I'm always wary of the reaction I will get from people when I tell them that
I am a lawyer. I've gotten used to the contempt and the look of disdain that
come my way. I think I've also heard almost every lawyer joke that's out
there (and there's far too many) [I'm reminded of the lawyer who said "well,
then, the next time you're arrested, go hire a comedian!" - martin].  I've
browsed through many sites looking for poetry that (even if it does not glorify

lawyers) is (at least) not condescending towards them. I haven't had much

This poem, much like a lawyer joke, highlights some of the stereotypes which
give lawyers the reputation they have. The use of archaic legalese jargon,
for instance. Attributes that lawyers are Insensitive, Cold, Callous and
Unfeeling. Perhaps, that's often the only way we can maintain objectivity
and be competent? Lawyers do know how to show compassion and love.  We also
know how to laugh and feel.  And shocking as it might sound, lawyers also
appreciate poetry. But, that is when they're not being lawyers.  However, a
competent lawyer is one that can put aside personal prejudices and feelings
(even when they are in conflict with the client)and maintain objectivity.

No one explains this dichotomy to lawyer's personality better than Mulan
Ashwin, a fellow lawyer and lover of poetry (I found this poem by him on the

I am not a poet.
I am a lawyer.
Subtlety and sensitivity
are prerequisites for poets,
not so for lawyers.

I would be too scared to be
a poet; they feel too much.
Lawyers should not feel too much;
they are trained not to.

Can one train to be a poet?
To feel too much?

- Mulan Ashwin


Not much needs to be said about Carl Sandburg.  The EB biography of Sandburg
can be had at Poem #163



The Law the Lawyers Know About -- H D C Pepler

Guest poem sent in by Mike Lynd
(Poem #1392) The Law the Lawyers Know About
 The law the lawyers know about
 Is property and land;
 But why the leaves are on the trees,
 And why the wind disturbs the seas,
 Why honey is the food of bees,
 Why horses have such tender knees,
 Why winters come and rivers freeze,
 Why Faith is more than what one sees,
 And Hope survives the worst disease,
 And Charity is more than these,
     They do not understand.
-- H D C Pepler
To pick up on the 'hope' theme of the Emily Dickinson poem [Poem #1382],
here is a little poem that I have always liked. Not only does it bash
lawyers in a most satisfying way, but it also delineates faith, hope and
charity both elegantly and succinctly. I am not sure about the "tender
knees" line but the rest of the poem neatly contrasts the prosaic doings of
lawyers with the mysteries of life and nature.

HDC Pepler, the author, seems to have been a printer in Ditchling, Sussex
during the 1930s, and a Google search reveals about 25 references to him,
mainly as a printer of "private press" works but also with a few references
to this poem.

best wishes,

Mike Lynd

The Grain of Sound -- Robert Morgan

(Poem #1391) The Grain of Sound
 A banjo maker in the mountains,
 when looking out for wood to carve
 an instrument, will walk among
 the trees and knock on trunks. He'll hit
 the bark and listen for a note.
 A hickory makes the brightest sound;
 the poplar has a mellow ease.
 But only straightest grain will keep
 the purity of tone, the sought --
 for depth that makes the licks sparkle.
 A banjo has a shining shiver.
 Its twangs will glitter like the light
 on splashing water. But the face
 of banjo is a drum of hide
 of cow, or cat, or even skunk.
 The hide will magnify the note,
 the sad of honest pain, the chill
 blood song, lament, confession, haunt,
 as tree will sing again from root
 and vein and sap and twig in wind
 and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve,
 picks bone and cell and gut and pricks
 the heart as blood will answer blood
 and love begins to knock along the grain.
-- Robert Morgan
I'm an admirer of craftsmanship in all its forms. The combination of
patience, skill and beauty implied by the word always inspires me, and
it's something I look for in everything I see. And poetry (good poetry,
that is) is the perfect vehicle for it: the poet has to carve and fit
words together like a carpenter or mason, he has to create images like a
painter, he has to evoke feelings like a composer, and he has to do all
this with the elegance of a mathematician. It sounds like a tough ask;
fortunately for us, there are poets who can do and have done just that


[Minstrels links]

Poems that are sort of about craftsmanship, music, or both:
Poem #60, Byzantium  -- William Butler Yeats
Poem #205, Crucible  -- Carl Sandburg
Poem #476, In My Craft or Sullen Art  -- Dylan Thomas
Poem #892, Stupid Pencil Maker -- Shel Silverstein
Poem #963, Concerto for Double Bass -- John Fuller

The Salutation -- Thomas Traherne

Guest poem sent in by K J Lee
(Poem #1390) The Salutation
 These little Limbs,
 These Eys and Hands which here I find,
 This panting Heart wherwith my Life begins;
 Where have ye been? Behind
 What Curtain were ye from me hid so long!
 Where was, in what Abyss, my new-made Tongue?

 When silent I
 So many thousand thousand Years
 Beneath the Dust did in a Chaos ly,
 How could I Smiles, or Tears,
 Or Lips, or Hands, or Eys, or Ears perceiv?
 Welcom ye Treasures which I now receiv.

 I that so long
 Was Nothing from Eternity,
 Did little think such Joys as Ear and Tongue
 To celebrat or see:
 Such Sounds to hear, such Hands to feel, such Feet,
 Beneath the Skies, on such a Ground to meet.

 New burnisht Joys!
 Which finest Gold and Pearl excell!
 Such sacred Treasures are the Limbs of Boys
 In which a Soul doth dwell:
 Their organized Joints and azure Veins
 More Wealth include than all the World contains.

 From Dust I rise
 And out of Nothing now awake;
 These brighter Regions which salute mine Eys
 A Gift from God I take:
 The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the lofty Skies,
 The Sun and Stars are mine; if these I prize.

 A Stranger here,
 Strange things doth meet, strange Glory see,
 Strange Treasures lodg'd in this fair World appear,
 Strange all and New to me:
 But that they mine should be who Nothing was,
 That Strangest is of all; yet brought to pass.
-- Thomas Traherne
Nobody does the joy of being more than Traherne. Almost all his poems are
to do with the miracle of existence, the wonder of our universe, and the
sheer extraordinariness of ordinary things. This particular poem never
fails to make me grateful to be alive, not just for all the things
Traherne mentions, but also the near perfection of this poem, with its
changing rhythms which delay then resolve the rhymes.

At the risk of being over-analytical with such a passionate piece of
verse, I particularly like the second stanza: ears alliterates with eyes
and rhymes with tears, and many a lesser poet would have left it there to
end the line, but Traherne makes the 4th line a pentameter - perceive!
which then chimes nicely with the last line, also a pentameter with the
same rhyme. This is wisdom and flawless poetry - Traherne is saying that
the world we live in is not a trifle, but a subject for solemn
amazement, and deserves nothing less.

With regard to Traherne's poetry, we are doubly-blessed, because this and
other beautiful poems by him have been set to music in another great work,
the "Dies Natalis" by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). Finzi is little-known
outside the United Kingdom, but his settings of English verse,
particularly Shakespeare and Hardy, are glorious and well-loved.



Thomas Traherne, was born in Hereford, near the Welsh border, in 1637, and
died in 1674. A biography can be found at

The Amores: Book 1, Poem #3 -- Ovid

Guest poem sent in by Kerri
(Poem #1389) The Amores: Book 1, Poem #3
 Fair's fair now, Venus. This girl's got me hooked. All I'm asking from her
 Is love - or at least some future hope for my own
 Eternal devotion. No, even that's too much--hell, just let me love her!
 (Listen, Venus: I've asked you so often now.)
 Say yes, pet. I'd be your slave for years, for a lifetime.
 Say yes--unswerving fidelity's my strong suit.
 I may not have top-drawer connections, I can't produce blue-blooded
 Ancestors to impress you, my father's plain middle-class,
 And there aren't any squads of ploughmen to deal with my broad acres -
 My parents are both pretty thrifty, and need to be.
 What have I got on my side, then?  Poetic genius, sweetheart,
 Divine inspiration. And love. I'm yours to command -
 Unswerving faithfulness, morals above suspicion
 Naked simplicity, a born-to-the-purple blush.
 I don't chase thousands of girls, I'm no sexual circus-rider;
 Honestly, all I want is to look after you
 Till death do us part, have the two of us living together
 All my time, and know you'll cry for me when I'm gone.
 Besides, when you give me yourself, what you'll be providing
 Is creative material. My art will rise to the theme
 And immortalise you. Look, why do you think we remember
 The swan-upping of Leda, or Io's life as a cow,
 Or poor virgin Europa whisked off overseas, clutching
 That so-called bull by the - horn?  Through poems, of course.
 So you and I, love, will enjoy that same world-wide publicity,
 And our names will be linked, forever, with the gods.
-- Ovid
        (trans. from the Latin by Peter Green)

Hard to believe he was born in 43 BC, huh?  Such a wonderful,
irreverent, naughty, brilliant poet, bursting with passion and
self-confidence. For me, this poem has an exuberance which is
unstifled by the intervening years. So many great writers over the
centuries have been influenced by Ovid's works, and upon reading this,
it's apparent why. I just love this poem - it always makes me laugh
with sheer delight.


[Latin original]

Iusta precor: quae me nuper praedata puella est,
    aut amet aut faciat, cur ego semper amem!
a, nimium volui—tantum patiatur amari;
    audierit nostras tot Cytherea preces!
Accipe, per longos tibi qui deserviat annos;
    accipe, qui pura norit amare fide!
si me non veterum commendant magna parentum
    nomina, si nostri sanguinis auctor eques,
nec meus innumeris renovatur campus aratris,
    temperat et sumptus parcus uterque parens—
at Phoebus comitesque novem vitisque repertor
    hac faciunt, et me qui tibi donat, Amor,
et nulli cessura fides, sine crimine mores
    nudaque simplicitas purpureusque pudor.
non mihi mille placent, non sum desultor amoris:
    tu mihi, siqua fides, cura perennis eris.
tecum, quos dederint annos mihi fila sororum,
    vivere contingat teque dolente mori!
te mihi materiem felicem in carmina praebe—
    provenient causa carmina digna sua.
carmine nomen habent exterrita cornibus Io
    et quam fluminea lusit adulter ave,
quaeque super pontum simulato vecta iuvenco
    virginea tenuit cornua vara manu.
nos quoque per totum pariter cantabimur orbem,
    iunctaque semper erunt nomina nostra tuis.

        -- [broken link]


A more literal translation: Green deserves at least some of the credit for the delightful irreverence
of the first translation.

A biography of Ovid:

And of Peter Green (scroll to the bottom)
  [broken link]

Ovid FAQ:

Silent Noon (Sonnet XIX) -- Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Guest poem sent in by
(Poem #1388) Silent Noon (Sonnet XIX)
 Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,-
 The finger-points look through, like rosy blooms:
 Your eyes smile peace.  The pasture gleams and glooms
 'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
 All round our nest far, as the eye can pass
 Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
 Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge
 'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

 Deep in the sun searched groves, a dragon-fly
 Hangs, like a blue thread loosened from the sky:-
 So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.
 Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower
 This close-companioned inarticulate hour
 When twofold silence was the song of love.
-- Dante Gabriel Rossetti
          (from 'The House of Life')


A previous posting (Poem #715) has many links to various biogs of D G
Rossetti, so I won't go into much detail, save to say that whatever you
think of his poetry, the deep passion and commitment of the man always is
apparent.  Whilst undoubtedly a deeply troubled person, his poetic spirit
seems largely romantic and hopeful. His voice reaches far beyond the
romanticism of his pre-Raphaelite age on which modernism so rapidly turned
its back: acknowledgements of his influence from Frost, Pound and Yeats
cement his place in posterity, already secured by the quality of the very
best of his work.

Whether this particular sonnet - from his tour-de-force of 101 Sonnets: The
House of Life - is indeed his best work is hard for me to be objective
about.  I first heard this in the musical setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams
and it had a profound effect on me both lyrically and musically. Its
evocation of an English summer day with clouds and sunshine is perfect and
within its span, of two people whose very silence encapsulates their love is
so accurate.

Technically, its sonnet form is unusual (abbaacca ddeffe) and perhaps looser
than some classical forms.  One might also quibble with some of the metrical
precision.  Neither of these facts detract, for me, from the overall effect
and the last two lines in particular which never fail to summon memories of
my own experiences of silence and love.

The Explosion -- Philip Larkin

Proceeding with the mining disaster theme, here's a guest poem submitted
independently by Mike Christie and
Ameya Nagarajan
(Poem #1387) The Explosion
 On the day of the explosion
 Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
 In the sun the slagheap slept.

 Down the lane came men in pitboots
 Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke,
 Shouldering off the freshened silence.

 One chased after rabbits; lost them;
 Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
 Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.

 So they passed in beards and moleskins,
 Fathers, brothers, nicknames, laughter,
 Through the tall gates standing open.

 At noon, there came a tremor; cows
 Stopped chewing for a second; sun,
 Scarfed as in a heat-haze, dimmed.

 The dead go on before us, they
 Are sitting in God's house in comfort,
 We shall see them face to face -

 Plain as lettering in the chapels
 It was said, and for a second
 Wives saw men of the explosion

 Larger than in life they managed -
 Gold as on a coin, or walking
 Somehow from the sun towards them,

 One showing the eggs unbroken.
-- Philip Larkin
Note: the sixth verse ("The dead go on . . . ") should be in italics.

[Mike's commentary]

I've liked the two poems people sent in about mining disasters: I wanted to
add this one to the list.  It's long been one of my favourite Larkin poems.
It manages to be powerfully moving without being sentimental; the last image,
of the men somehow expanding and disappearing away from this mortal world, as
the wives understand they are dead, is one of my favourite images in all of

Mike Christie

[Ameya's commentary]

All these mining poems reminded me of larkin, what I like about this poem is
that it focuses on the life of the miners and thus highlights even more the
tragedy of their death.

The saddest image is the one conjured by "Gold as on a coin" because it
implies the miners are worth more to their families after death because of
compensation, an amount of money that their labour could never provide.


Ballad of Spring Hill (Spring Hill Disaster) -- Peggy Seeger

Guest poem sent in by Dale Rosenberg
(Poem #1386) Ballad of Spring Hill (Spring Hill Disaster)
 In the town of Spring Hill, Nova Scotia,
 Down in the heart of the Cumberland Mine,
 There's blood on the coal and miners lie
 In the roads that never saw sun or sky
 Roads that never saw sun or sky.

 Down at the coal face the miner's workin'
 Rattle of the belt and the cutter's blade
 Crumble of rock and the walls close round
 Living and the dead men two miles down
 Living and the dead men two miles down

 Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft
 Listen for the drillin' of a rescue team
 Six hundred feet of coal and slag
 Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam
 Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam

 Eight days passed and some were rescued
 Leaving the dead to lie alone
 All their lives they dug their graves
 Two miles of earth for a markin' stone
 Two miles of earth for a markin' stone

 In the town of Spring Hill you don't sleep easy
 Often the Earth will tremble and groan
 When the Earth is restless, miners die
 Bone and blood is the price of coal
 Bone and blood is the price of coal
-- Peggy Seeger
Yesterday's poem about a mining disaster made me think of Peggy Seeger's
"Ballad of Spring Hill."  Based on a real mining accident, where a number of
the trapped miners survived until rescued 8 days later, it has a haunting
melody and even more haunting lyrics.  I heard it as a child, listening to
Peter, Paul and Mary's recording.  I doubt I've heard or read it for 30 years,
but the line "all their lives they dug their graves" still gives me shivers.

Dale Rosenberg

  [broken link]

[p.s. thanks to everyone who identified Stephen Mitchell as the translator of
the Rilke poem. - martin]

Miners -- Wilfred Owen

Guest poem sent in by Dave Fortin
(Poem #1385) Miners
 There was a whispering in my hearth,
 A sigh of the coal,
 Grown wistful of a former earth
 It might recall.

 I listened for a tale of leaves
 And smothered ferns,
 Frond-frosts, and the low sly lives
 Before the fauns.

 My fire might show steam-phantoms simmer
 From Time's old cauldron,
 Before the birds made nests in summer,
 Or men had children.

 But the coals were murmuring of their mine,
 And moans down there
 Of boys that slept wry sleep, and men
 Writhing for air.

 And I saw white bones in the cinder-shard,
 Bones without number.
 Many the muscled bodies charred,
 And few remember.

 I thought of all that worked dark pits
 Of war, and died
 Digging the rock where Death reputes
 Peace lies indeed.

 Comforted years will sit soft-chaired,
 In rooms of amber;
 The years will stretch their hands, well-cheered
 By our life's ember;

 The centuries will burn rich loads
 With which we groaned,
 Whose warmth shall lull their dreaming lids,
 While songs are crooned;
 But they will not dream of us poor lads,
 Left in the ground.
-- Wilfred Owen
Tuesday, November 4th, marked the 85th anniversary of Wilfred Owen's death.
He was killed in action on the Oise-Sambre Canal near Ors one week before
the Armistice was signed.

The above poem is one of my favorites by Owen.  He originally meant to write
about a mining accident at Podmore Hill Colliery, Halmerend that killed 140
men and boys.  In a letter to a friend, he writes "Wrote a poem on the
Colliery Disaster: but I get mixed up with the War at the end."

The list has a number of poems by Owen and other poets from WWI.  In
thinking about the congruence of poetry and war, I came across a passage in
one of Erich Maria Remarque's novels, The Black Obelisk (1957):

  "I push the poems aside.  They suddenly seem to me flat and childish,
  typical of the attempts almost every young man makes at one time or
  another.  I began to write during the war, but then it made some
  sense--for minutes at a time it took me away from what I was seeing.  It
  was like a little hut of protest and of belief that something else existed
  beyond destruction and death."

Dave Fortin

Autumn -- Rainer Maria Rilke

Guest poem sent in by Sashidhar Dandamudi
(Poem #1384) Autumn
 Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
 Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
 and on the meadows let the wind go free.

 Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
 grant them a few more warm transparent days,
 urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
 the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

 Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
 Whoever is alone will stay alone,
 will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
 and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
 restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

The first fall day is here, at this latitude [Sep 29 - ed]. The long
sleeves come out of the closet as do dawns after 7.00 am. Light and darkness
slice the day almost evenly, two halves of a pumpkin. And as I wander along
the boulevards, up and down, only Rilke sings in the wind.


Untitled -- Wendell Berry

(Poem #1383) Untitled
    To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust Museum
    on the day of the burial of Yitzak Rabin, November 6th 1995.

 Now you know the worst
 we humans have to know
 about ourselves, and I am sorry,

 for I know you will be afraid.
 To those of our bodies given
 without pity to be burned, I know

 there is no answer
 but loving one another
 even our enemies, and this is hard.

 But remember:
 when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
 he gives a light, divine

 though it is also human.
 When a man of peace is killed
 by a man of war, he gives a light.

 You do not have to walk in darkness.
 If you have the courage for love,
 you may walk in light. It will be

 the light of those who have suffered
 for peace. It will be
 your light.
-- Wendell Berry
     from: A Timbered Choir, The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

I should probably be sitting on my hands having already submitted a poem to
you recently but I discovered this was not on your site. It has been
pinned to the bulletin board next to my desk for quite a while. I was
tracking down a poem by Denise Levertov which I found on minstrels. I
then wondered if Mr. Berry made an appearance and discovered he did not nor
could I find this poem anywhere on the internet. With all that has
happened since his death, Rabin's life and death are even more significant.
And more tragic. The 8th anniversary of his death approaches and the
poem's sentiment could not be more timely.

Being a military veteran (retired, full career) and a pacifist contains
some inherent conflicts and guilt. I've Berry's poem by my desk for a year
now and still nearly weep every time I read the first four lines. This
poem speaks to me in all of the ways that give me hope. Hope in times like
these when the cry of havock calls forth in my name, in all of our names.
Hope when I feel so helpless to effect any change. And Hope that my
actions in the second half of my life wiill create a light to burn after
me. That my children and theirs can see just a little further in the
darkness and make their contribution to the advancement of civilization.

Bill Schubert

  [broken link]

Hope -- Emily Dickinson

Guest poem sent in by Jessica Schnell
(Poem #1382) Hope
 Hope is the thing with feathers
 That perches in the soul,
 And sings the tune--without the words,
 And never stops at all,

 And sweetest in the gale is heard;
 And sore must be the storm
 That could abash the little bird
 That kept so many warm.

 I've heard it in the chillest land,
 And on the strangest sea;
 Yet, never, in extremity,
 It asked a crumb of me.
-- Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson has long been a favorite poet of mine, and I've loved this
particular poem ever since some time in middle school when I first read it.
Maybe it's because it presents such a cheerful and enduring imagery for me,
of what hope is like, as a little bird with a beautiful and uplifting song.

I noticed you had numerous other poems by Dickinson, and thought this would
be a wonderful addition to your collection, to share with others (I
regularly pick a random poem to post on profiles, away messages, etc.)
Great site, keep up the hard work! [thanks! - ed.]


[Martin adds]

I am reminded of Poem #646 - the imagery in the two poems make an
interesting blend.

The Paradigm -- Nammalwar

Guest poem sent in by Ravi Rajagopalan
(Poem #1381) The Paradigm
 We here and that man, this man,
     and that other in-between,
 and that woman, this woman,
     and that other, whoever,

 those people, and these,
     and these others in-between,
 this things, that thing,
     and this other in-between, whichever,

 all things dying, these things,
     those things, those others in-between,
 good things, bad things,
     things that were, that will be,

 being all of them,
 he stands there.
-- Nammalwar
           (ca AD 850), Tr by AK Ramanujan

We had a recent bereavement, and in my grief, trying to sleep and failing, I
picked up this slim volume called "Hymns for the Drowning: Poems for Vishnu
by Nammalwar" by AK Ramanujan, and read this gem. I had purchased this book
in Chennai recently to better acquaint myself with my ancestry. When I read
this poem I felt things fall into place for me, and even as I write this I
can feel the emotions well up due to the loss of a long-awaited one.

Nammalwar is often called the greatest of the Tamil poets who sang songs in
praise of Vishnu (known as Alwars) and was the one of the creators of the
Tamil Bhakti cult. He is supposed to have lived between AD880 to AD930, from
a peasant family, and apparently died at the age of 35. He composed more
than a thousand poems, and the work from which this one is taken
("Tiruvaymoli") is the best known. By the time he died his influence on the
common man was so profound that statues of Nammalwar were installed at most
Tamil shrines where they are worshipped to this day, and his songs are
celebrated and sung by people every day in Tamil Nadu. Not many poets are
revered this way.

The doyen of Tamil scholars, Prof A K Ramanujan, the translator, taught for
many years at the University of Chicago and died in 1993 at the age of
sixty-four. The original poem in Tamil is a simple gem of pronouns and
semiotic pointers, and it goes to the genius of Prof Ramanujan that he has
managed to create through translation what I thought was a beautiful piece
of verse in itself.

The poem is addressed to Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe in the Hindu
trinity. Nammalwar was a devout man, and truly believed that Vishnu is
immutable and inclusive, of people and things, birth and death, joy and
sorrow. In this poem, Nammalwar plays on Tamil pronouns to point to each of
us present and not present, man or woman, and every object, dead or alive.
The poem is one long sentence, and starting with the 'we' at the start, and
the "he" - denoting Vishnu - at the end, Nammalwar manages to create a sense
of one-ness and inclusion. However, as Prof Ramanujan says, Nammalwar
manages to point to a central stillness or oneness - "He stands there".

To quote from Prof Ramanujan - since I cannot better this - in a poem like
this "grammar becomes poetry, and poetry becomes theology. If one may be
fanciful, the 'present perfect' here describes both a grammatical form and
the form of the divine. Conceptions of god are enacted by word and syntax;
furthermore, god's one-and-manyness becomes the living word to be uttered,
danced to, sung and chanted in temples as these poems are to this day".

For me, I began to feel the stillness underlying our lives and the process
of coping with loss is just beginning.



The Ideal -- James Fenton

(Poem #1380) The Ideal
 This is where I came from.
 I passed this way.
 This should not be shameful
 Or hard to say.

 A self is a self.
 It is not a screen.
 A person should respect
 What he has been.

 This is my past
 Which I shall not discard.
 This is the ideal.
 This is hard.
-- James Fenton
An reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent me this poem, saying "I
loved it - it's concise, but it speaks volumes." I loved it too, if for a
slightly different reason - this is one of those poems that appears to be
drifting on aimlessly, until you reach the ending, and the whole suddenly
crystallises. The final two lines,

  This is the ideal.
  This is hard.

not only form a wonderful conclusion to the poem, but by their minimalist
form lead the reader to reevaluate the language and form of the previous
verses. Viewed in isolation, the second verse tends perilously close to
doggerel; as part of a larger whole the awkward construction only reinforces
the 'voice' of the poem.

Note the somewhat unusual use of rhyme and metre to give the poem an
*unpolished* air (or, perhaps 'unsophisticated' is a better word) - contrast
this with Poem #186, which claims to do this, but does not.


Rain -- Naomi Shihab Nye

Guest poem sent in by Nelson JS Santhosh
(Poem #1379) Rain
 A teacher asked Paul
 what he would remember
 from third grade, and he sat
 a long time before writing
 "this year somebody tutched me
 on the sholder"
 and turned his paper in.
 Later she showed it to me
 as an example of her wasted life.
 The words he wrote were large
 as houses in a landscape.
 He wanted to go inside them
 and live, he could fill in
 the windows of "o" and "d"
 and be safe while outside
 birds building nests in drainpipes
 knew nothing of the coming rain.
-- Naomi Shihab Nye

I don't know much about the poetic merits of this modern piece. But what I do
know is that Naomi takes a stereotype, turns it upside down and shows what
strange waters can flow from the most unexpected of places if you can see
them. I have always known that a dunce is not so a dunce if you don't look
for them. So many of these so-called "dunces" were some of the best friends
I had, guys who would gang up & beat seniors who ragged me while
"intellectuals" watched in fear. Whenever teachers slapped these "dunces", I
would always want to scream at them, but I had to quietly satisfy myself
with splashing ink on their clean shirts and sarees when they weren't
looking. That was once upon a time, but I still fill the windows of my "o"s
and "d"s and don't even leave out the tiny half-moon of "e" ;-)


  [broken link]

The Horses -- Edwin Muir

Guest poem sent in by Simon Pereira Shorey
(Poem #1378) The Horses
 Barely a twelvemonth after
 The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
 Late in the evening the strange horses came.
 By then we had made our covenant with silence,
 But in the first few days it was so still
 We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
 On the second day
 The radios failed; we turned the knobs, no answer.
 On the third day a warship passed us, headed north,
 Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
 A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
 Nothing. The radios dumb;
 And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
 And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
 All over the world. But now if they should speak,
 If on a sudden they should speak again,
 If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
 We would not listen, we would not let it bring
 That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
 At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
 Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
 Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
 And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
 The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
 They look like dank sea-monsters crouched and waiting.
 We leave them where they are and let them rust:
 "They'll molder away and be like other loam."
 We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
 Long laid aside. We have gone back
 Far past our fathers' land.
 And then, that evening
 Late in the summer the strange horses came.
 We heard a distant tapping on the road,
 A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
 And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
 We saw the heads
 Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
 We had sold our horses in our fathers' time
 To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
 As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield
 Or illustrations in a book of knights.
 We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
 Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
 By an old command to find our whereabouts
 And that long-lost archaic companionship.
 In the first moment we had never a thought
 That they were creatures to be owned and used.
 Among them were some half a dozen colts
 Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
 Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
 Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads,
 But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
 Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.
-- Edwin Muir

A deeply moving poem, I first came across it in the English countryside in
the 1970's when the Cold War was at it's height and the idea of a nuclear
exchange initiating an apocalypse was not too far away.

Now living in Manhattan through September 11th, the idea of a biological
warfare catastrophe seems no longer confined to the pages of science fiction

The contrast between the purity of the horses and the corruption of
mechanized 'civilization' has a strong elegiac quality.

Simon Pereira Shorey

Biography: See Poem #1233

The Quiet World -- Jeffrey McDaniel

Guest poem sent in by Ivan Krstic
(Poem #1377) The Quiet World
 In an effort to get people to look
 into each other's eyes more,
 the government has decided to allot
 each person exactly one hundred
 and sixty-seven words, per day.

 When the phone rings, I put it
 to my ear without saying hello.
 In the restaurant I point
 at chicken noodle soup. I am
 adjusting well to the new way.

 Late at night, I call my long
 distance lover and proudly say
 I only used fifty-nine today.
 I saved the rest for you.

 When she doesn't respond, I know
 she's used up all her words
 so I slowly whisper I love you,
 thirty-two and a third times.
 After that, we just sit on the line
 and listen to each other breathe.
-- Jeffrey McDaniel
In a time where the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) stifles
academic research[1], the European Union is evaluating a combined
medical-record-on-a-card system that would contain a microchip ultimately
able to store any piece of personal information, and bars in Vancouver are
networking to be able to keep track of patrons [2], two things are
certain. One, Orwell is turning in his grave, and two - Richard Stallman's
infamous story 'The Right to Read' is getting scarier by the day [3].

Though mixing politics and poetry is somewhat like mixing two extremely
volatile chemicals, McDaniel, a contemporary poet with a rather
interesting style, seems to do it effortlessly - and powerfully.
Powerfully enough that questioning even the right to read wasn't
appropriate to carry McDaniel's message. Instead, McDaniel went directly
to the source of one of the greatest distinctions between humans and
virtually any other species on the planet: the existence of an elaborate
language that allows for arbitrary, not just survival-mandated,
expression. McDaniel goes beyond just revoking the First Amendment - in
his world, the government restricts how much people can say, a measure
perhaps even more dreadful than dictating what can and cannot be said.

The first two stanzas of the poem flow nicely, including the (obvious)
autosuggestion of good adaptation to the new way; the next two stanzas
carry the real impact of this poem. The image of two lovers on the phone,
unable to speak, makes me cringe. So does the exactness of McDaniel's
detail. Even though he's describing an overarching social condition, he
still sneaks in very precise images - the chicken noodle soup, and the 32
1/3 times he says 'I love you' to his silent lover (167 words - 59 = 108
and -11 for the last two lines of the 3rd stanza = 97. Now 97 / 3 for 'I
love you' gives the 32 1/3).

Ultimately, the last two lines of the poem are a worthy conclusion - an
idea of closure, of acceptance. The lovers know their situation is
inescapable and beyond any capacity for repair - so they sit on the line,
and let their breathing express the love which words may not.


On McDaniel:

Brief bio, with sound clips of two of his poems:

Interview (by Jaime Wright):

[1] or
      - both are brilliant computer security researchers
[broken link]