i thank you God – e e cummings – analysis

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e e cummings (1894 – 1962) (in ‘complete poems 1904 – 1962’)

This is a Sunday praise poem … the birth of another week … the birth of another day. And someone once said that each day is a new life. I can’t help thinking of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and all that happened on a glorious English summer June day in her party arrangements and the entertaining of friends.

This is a thankyou in recognition of the boundless happening of all that is Earth (illimitably – having no bounds).

And a statement that God can be found in the natural world.

Life is to be tasted, touched, heard, seen and breathed in all its immeasurable wonder. And in the last two lines there is a spiritual awakening expressed in terms of hearing and seeing.

And e e c had this prayer his only be want was he be he

(‘may I be I is the only prayer—not may I be great or good or beautiful or wise or strong’)

An excellent discussion of this poem is on this Art and Theology site.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was raised, a pastor’s son, in the Unitarian faith, which emphasizes the oneness of God. As an adult he wed this spiritual framework to Emersonian transcendentalism, a philosophical movement that celebrates humanity and nature. Elements from these two complementary traditions can be detected in his praise poem “i thank You God for most this amazing,” in which the natural world triggers an awakening to Truth. And for Cummings, Truth is a person, a “You” with a capital Y.

e e cummings on Wikipedia.

Fall – Mary Oliver – Analysis

Fall

the black oaks fling
their bronze fruit
into all the pockets of the earth
pock pock

they knock against the thresholds
the roof the sidewalk
fill the eaves
the bottom line

of the old gold song
of the almost finished year
what is spring all that tender
green stuff

compared to this
falling of tiny oak trees
out of the oak trees
then the clouds

gathering thick along the west
then advancing
then closing over
breaking open

the silence
then the rain
dashing its silver seeds
against the house

Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

Well it is autumn in the southern hemisphere and in this part of the world. This is a poem from Mary Oliver based on an American autumn where there are a proliferation of oak trees, and there are many types of oak trees too.

S1 … I guess acorns fall all over the place into nooks and crannies … or as she puts it pock pocking into the pockets of the earth … … I like the use of onomatopoeia … they do have a round sort of shape enabling them to roll into all sorts of places
S2 … they must make a noise as they fall … knocking against the thresholds … coming to rest at the edges like filling the eaves in a line … and the trees could be regarded as flinging them if it is windy.
S3 … and autumn is gold and comes at the finish of the year in the northern hemisphere … and Mary Oliver delights in autumn … in contrast to the dull stereo type that highlights spring as the so called brighter season
S4 … and she loves the falling of the acorns … oak trees out of oak trees … well, potentially oak trees … (the acorns are great fodder for pigs of course … and I do like the little hats they wear)
S5 … then the weather dictates her thoughts … you can imagine her watching from a window as clouds gather in intensity and the pre-storm silence is broken by the dashing of rain (lashing would have been my preference)
S6 … and the rain makes itself known to those inside the house … rain = silver seeds … an equation giving value to water and a nice word fit to the acorn=seed … and rain does seed into the ground too.

Mary Oliver a lover of nature.

A link to Mary Oliver on Wikipedia

And a tribute link, for she died earlier this year

 

Easter Hymn – A. E. Housman

Easter Hymn

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.
But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.

A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

This was one of his unpublished poems. A. E. Housman was an atheist.

The first stanza …
If JC is just asleep unknowing of a resurrection and the following of millions through the centuries – then sleep on and sleep well.

The second stanza …
… If you are indeed all that is said of you … and if you sit at the right hand of majesty on high … then come down out of heaven and see what is happening here and do something!

A common wish by many that in this troubled world it would be nice to see some direct action from above to rectify, give justice, and lead anew.

Best to take the second stanza and belief in an active responding JC (God and spirit) all be it in a subtle indirect way. On the personal level is up to you to identify any such influences from your own life experience.

Celebrate today with hope in a constructive communion with our creator.

And some Easter words from 2017 …

https://mywordinyourear.com/2017/04/16/easter-sunday-2017/

A. E. Housman on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._E._Housman

 

Walking Away – Cecil Day-Lewis – Analysis

Walking Away

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 – 1972)

There are four five line stanzas with rhyming in first, third and last lines.

A poem all about separation of child from parent and still the parent remembers that first day of watching the child take to the sports field to play football. So maybe there is something special to warrant reflection at this time.

Our children have to grow up and move from home to school and develop new paths so aptly portrayed in the last line of the second stanza – who finds no path where the path should be.

But this poem is all about the pain of separation. Apart from dates there are many other triggers that can act to invoke the memory of a past event that has significant personal memory. It appears there was something very special in that movement of the child away from the parent – the child a hesitant figure, eddying away. It is usually the child that moves away rather than the parent.

Then in the third stanza a reflection of how nature frequently has such separations giving the example of a seed from a parent stem.

This parting is very special and gnaws at the mind. We do not know of course what has happened over the eighteen years and to what extent he has developed and grown and forged new paths, or indeed any associated personal tragedy that could have occured.

But parent child separation is an act of love and an imperative. Like God allowing humanity the freedom to develop; despite the times when we think he should be more involved!

Cecil Day-Lewis (or Day Lewis) often writing as C. Day-Lewis, was an Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972.

Cecil Day-Lewis was buried at St Michael’s Church, Stinsford in Dorset close to Thomas Hardy.

Cecil Day-Lewis on Wikipedia

Cecil Lewis Grave

Shall I be gone long?
For ever and a day.
To whom there belong?
Ask the stone to say.
Ask my song.

from his poem – ‘Is it Far to Go’

The Hour is Lost – John Shaw Neilson – Comments

The Hour is Lost

The hour is lost. Was ever hour so sweet?
Fruitful of blessing, friends and honeyed words —
The sunlight in our faces — at our feet
The world bright, beautiful, its flocks and herds,
Foliage of forests, choruses of birds . .
O happy time, why did we stand downcast?
We should have leapt for love: but now, the hour is past.

The hour is lost. Scarce had we time to mark
The glory of the green, the sky’s soft blue;
It came as silently as comes the dark,
Our hearts burned hot within us ere we knew . .
Then suddenly we said, Can it be true
This golden time was ours? — and now downcast
We stand dumb and amazed. Alas! the hour is past.

John Shaw Neilson (1872 -1942)

This sonnet is broken into two distinct seven line stanzas with rhyming scheme ‘ababbcc’.

If we think of life as condensed into an hour then we realize the brevity of our existence.

S1 … When we look back on life as the hour completes then according to the first stanza we may regret not making the most of our time. Life is beautiful, the world is beautiful, friends have been wonderful with honeyed words, nature has been bright before our eyes – did we not see that! We should have leapt for love!

S2 … Time has gone so quickly and our sight has been blinkered by our downcast attitude. We stand dumb and amazed that we did not appreciate the beauty of life to the full. Perhaps we are experiencing the beauty of life for the first time, and then a sad lament that it is late in life and ‘our hour’ could have had more meaning.

So whether you have a few minutes or half an hour or more take time to rejoice and live life to the full in appreciation of your own unique personal experience. Colour the gravity of those bleak news headlines with optimistic eyes seeing beyond the dark shadows to the bright amazing world that abounds around us!

Here are the links to two well know carpe diem (seize the day) poems –

From A. E. Housman …
https://mywordinyourear.com/2018/10/05/loveliest-of-trees-a-e-housman/

And from Andrew Marvell …
https://mywordinyourear.com/2019/01/14/to-his-coy-mistress-andrew-marvell/

Sonnet V – Edna St. Vincent Millay – Comments

Sonnet V

If I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again–
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbour in a subway train,
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man–who happened to be you–
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud–I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place–
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)

A sonnet with rhyming scheme ‘abab cdcd efef gg’ with a clear volta breaking the text into the notice of a death and the corresponding effect on the person hearing the news.

There is an ‘if’ about this poem – If I should learn. But it strikes me as being close to the experience of many who have suddenly been made aware of an unexpected death. Recently I was informed of the death of a friend who had limited life but it was quite unexpected that death would arrive quickly and I was immediately stunned by the news. It took me quite awhile to refocus and become emotionally stable enough in order to share with others who knew her.

The poem relates to such a notification but in a public place and by the chance reading of the back page of a paper being read by a fellow traveller on the seat opposite. It is up to the reader to infer the extent of personal connection with the death. We do not know whether it is a close family member or a work college not seen for several years. I have that feeling it might have been someone from the past such as a previous lover. I think there was quite a depth in the relationship with the ‘you’ in the text.

But this is irrelevant for the poem describes the catering of the emotional shock by a somewhat artificial concentration on the station lights and other text on the back of the paper. Self-control is evident in not wishing to draw attention from others on the train. But perhaps this represents an immediate internalisation of the death in coming to terms with the sudden shock unexpected news. It does not, of course, preclude a private emotive release a little later and under different circumstances.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright.  She received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923,  and she was known for her feminist activism.  A link to her on Wikipedia.

Love’s Coming – John Shaw Neilson – Analysis

Love’s Coming

Quietly as rosebuds
Talk to thin air,
Love came so lightly
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as lovers
Creep at the middle noon,
Softly as players tremble
In the tears of a tune;

Quietly as lilies
Their faint vows declare,
Came the shy pilgrim:
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as tears fall
On a wild sin,
Softly as griefs call
In a violin;

Without hail or tempest,
Blue sword or flame,
Love came so lightly
I knew not that he came.

John Shaw Neilson (1872 -1942)

This simple poem concentrates on one aspect of ‘Love’ namely that it is of an imperceptible quiet background nature. Latent to life but not readily recognised.

The four four line opening stanzas are a poetic transfer of this thought in terms of rosebuds, lovers, lilies and tears. The emphasis is on ‘quiet’ the first word of each opening line. The second and last lines of these stanzas rhyme and in a way a ‘list’ introduction.

It is a case of hearing or not hearing love’s coming as it gives subtle voice to its underlying existence. Love’s coming requires an acute sensitivity for any awareness.
There is no fanfare – without hail or tempest.

And the last stanza states that perhaps recognition is only known in retrospect. Love came so lightly / I knew not that he came. It is personified as masculine, I think feminine would be more appropriate given the quiet soft nature described. Perhaps when we look back on life we see how we have been cared for in terms of our spiritual understanding of life.

Now God and ‘Love’ are often equated. If this is the case then perhaps God has a similar subtle positive imperceptible influence on life as it evolves. Many believe that God created the world. However, some think that God then sat back on a cloud and switched to a different channel!

A link to John Shaw Neilson on Wikipedia

It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free – Wordsworth – Comments

It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea;
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

William Wordsworth

Evenings always seem to be a special time of the day. And Wordsworth is totally absorbed in the beauty of the evening, breathless in adoration.

But this is a very special time for Wordsworth for he is in France walking the beach with his illegitimate daughter not seen since he left Paris at the time of the French Revolution. She would be about twelve years of age.

The lines …

                     Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
                     And doth with his eternal motion make
                     A sound like thunder—everlastingly

… obviously relate to the background of the sea … but Wordsworth is in reflective philosophical mode as he is stunned by the beauty of nature and equally the mighty Being could refer to the creator noting that Being is capitalised.

At the Volta the last six lines of the sonnet reflect on the nature of a child who is untouched by such thought. But none the less the child lies in the care of God though she may not know it. Reference is made to ‘Abraham’s bosom’ and a religious heritage of connectivity. Abraham being the common patriarch of three religions.

No matter the mental capacity of a person in an understanding God and independent of age God is there in a supportive role – especially for children. Well, I belief in a caring God for all. A great pillar of support to have such belief.

The Sabbath … is an ‘evening to evening’ observance … more details via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbath_in_Christianity

However, there is nothing to stop us having a quiet holy time whenever in communication with God and creation – whether ‘a thank you for just the joy of life’ or for any other personal reason.