“First Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

“First Fig”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

“Despair” by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday:
Herald now the autumnal season of death, darkness, and Halloween.
-The Voice before the Void

“Despair”

H.P. Lovecraft

O’er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro’ the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair; Continue reading

“A Guest” by Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce’s Birthday:
Bierce regards Death with fine, sarcastic, suppurating contempt.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Guest”

Ambrose Bierce

Death, are you well? I trust you have no cough
That’s painful or in any way annoying—
No kidney trouble that may carry you off,
Or heart disease to keep you from enjoying
Your meals—and ours. ‘T were very sad indeed
To have to quit the busy life you lead. Continue reading

“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” from Wikipedia

D-Day Anniversary and U.S. Memorial Day:
Little compares to encountering this poem for the first time,
the most famous U.S. poem of the Second World War,
unassuming, and unforgettable.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”

Wikipedia

“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft.

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, Continue reading

“Oft, In the Stilly Night” by Thomas Moore

“Oft, In the Stilly Night”

Thomas Moore

Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me;
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone, Continue reading

“A highly successful raid” by R.L. Johnson and The Voice before the Void

The spectacle of that woman’s grief being exploited in the U.S. Capitol embarrassed me and disgusted me; commentators and newsreaders describing it as “moving” amplified my revulsion. The commonplace exaltation of murdered military personnel paired with the commonplace disregard of militarily murdered people remains perpetually disappointing… and embarrassing, and disgusting.
-The Voice before the Void

“A highly successful raid”

R.L. Johnson and The Voice before the Void

Children and Ryan Owens fall dying,
the dust turning to soft mud in their eyes;
amid gunshots and wailing and crying,
the Devil alone can claim any prize.
The sounds of the battle are but distant,
the flashes of light dim and far away;
young lives pass into death nonexistent:
I read it all in the fake news today.

“America First” is clearly the motto
as bold leaders call Owens a hero
and make a spectacle of his widow,
so Americans snack and play the lotto
as their soldiers die for ol’ PepsiCo
and Yemeni children die for nothing.

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Immigration has been a charged – and ugly – political issue in the U.S. for all of its history. It seems almost miraculous that this sonnet, and the French statue in New York, exist as components of U.S. culture.

Perhaps one day a colossal metal monument of welcome to tired, poor, wretched, yearning masses will be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This quoted in the Wikipedia article on the statue:

“‘Liberty enlightening the world,’ indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the ‘liberty’ of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the ‘liberty’ of this country ‘enlightening the world,’ or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.”
–“Postponing Bartholdi’s statue until there is liberty for colored as well,” The Cleveland Gazette, 1886 November 27

“The New Colossus”

Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“Oh, For a Home of Rest!” by Eliza Paul Kirkbride Gurney

The contemplation of suicide in the aftermath of loss.
-The Voice before the Void

“Oh, For a Home of Rest!”

Eliza Paul Kirkbride Gurney

Oh, for a home of rest!
Time lags alone so slow, so wearily;
Couldst thou but smile on me, I should be blest.
Alas, alas! that never more may be.
Oh, for the sky-lark’s wing to soar to thee!

This earth I would forsake
For starry realms whose sky’s forever fair;
There, tears are shed not, hearts will cease to ache,
And sorrow’s plaintive voice shall never break
The heavenly stillness that is reigning there.

Life’s every charm has fled,
The world is all a wilderness to me;
“For thou art numbered with the silent dead.”
Oh, how my heart o’er this dark thought has bled!
How I have longed for wings to follow thee!

In visions of the night
With angel smile thou beckon’st me away,
Pointing to worlds where hope is free from blight;
And then a cloud comes o’er that brow of light,
Seeming to chide me for my long delay.

“At the Piano” by Anna Katharine Green

As all is unknown.
-The Voice before the Void

“At the Piano”

Anna Katharine Green

Play on! Play on! As softly glides
The low refrain, I seem, I seem
To float, to float on golden tides,
By sunlit isles, where life and dream
Are one, are one; and hope and bliss
Move hand in hand, and thrilling, kiss
‘Neath bowery blooms,
In twilight glooms,
And love is life, and life is love. Continue reading

“A Fairy Glee” by Eugene Field

“Oho,” indeed.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Fairy Glee”

Eugene Field

From the land of murk and mist
Fairy folk are coming
To the mead the dew has kissed,
And they dance where’er they list
To the cricket’s thrumming.
Circling here and circling there,
Light as thought and free as air,
Hear them cry, “Oho, oho,”
As they round the rosey go.

Appleblossom, Summerdew,
Thistleblow, and Ganderfeather!
Join the airy fairy crew
Dancing on the sward together!
Till the cock on yonder steeple
Gives all faery lusty warning,
Sing and dance, my little people,—
Dance and sing “Oho” till morning!

“A Late Good Night” by Robert Fuller Murray

What a great poem.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Late Good Night”

Robert Fuller Murray

My lamp is out, my task is done,
And up the stair with lingering feet
I climb. The staircase clock strikes one.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

My solitary room I gain.
A single star makes incomplete
The blackness of the window pane.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

Dim and more dim its sparkle grows,
And ere my head the pillows meet,
My lids are fain themselves to close.
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

My lips no other words can say,
But still they murmur and repeat
To you, who slumber far away,
Good night, my love! good night, my sweet!

“A Social Call” by Ambrose Bierce

Xmas:
The most glorious misanthrope, Bierce, gives the best holiday greetings.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Social Call”

Ambrose Bierce

Well, well, old Father Christmas, is it you,
With your thick neck and thin pretense of virtue?
Less redness in the nose—nay, even some blue
Would not, I think, particularly hurt you.
When seen close to, not mounted in your car,
You look the drunkard and the pig you are.

No matter, sit you down, for I am not
In a gray study, as you sometimes find me.
Merry? O, no, nor wish to be, God wot,
But there’s another year of pain behind me.
That’s something to be thankful for: the more
There are behind, the fewer are before.

I know you, Father Christmas, for a scamp, Continue reading

“Train of thoughts (Tren de pensamientos)” by Alsazzi Terrato

“Obligaciones que no se quieren cumplir…”

http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/blog/mostrar-poema-1211

“Train of thoughts”

Alsazzi Terrato

translated from the Spanish by the author and The Voice before the Void

Houseplants, “well trimmed nails.”
street and documents… a little Dr. Pepper over sterile soil…
blind men and federales…
red Mustang, torn bills and blood… dried blood on leather seats… Continue reading

“Happy the Man” by Horace

“Happy the Man”

Horace

translated from the Latin by John Dryden

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

“De Moose” by Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

“De Moose”

from Dakota Horizons

Jessamine Slaughter Burgum

published in 1940 by The Times Publishing Co., Hunter, North Dakota

“The poems herein may be reprinted or used in any program as desired if due credit is given to author and publisher.”

Yes, by Gar,
I tak you two young fallers,
From de states,
To where de moose live; Continue reading

“Lament” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Armistice Day:
Survivor’s guilt – and we are all survivors, and are all guilty for all of war.
-The Voice before the Void

“Lament”

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun, or feel the rain, Continue reading

“Patterns” by Amy Lowell

Armistice Day:
A celebrated poem about the Flanders Campaign of the British army during the War of the First Coalition, written and published during the First World War as the British army was fighting in Flanders.
-The Voice before the Void

“Patterns”

Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down Continue reading

“The March” by J.C. Squire

Armistice Day
World War I poetry, in commemoration of all wars

“The March”

J.C. Squire

I heard a voice that cried, “Make way for those who died!”
And all the coloured crowd like ghosts at morning fled;
And down the waiting road, rank after rank there strode,
In mute and measured march a hundred thousand dead. Continue reading

“The Dancers” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Armistice Day:
Beauty drawn from the murder of millions, and I cannot handle this beauty, I cannot handle this beauty.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Dancers”

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

All day beneath the hurtling shells
Before my burning eyes
Hover the dainty demoiselles–
The peacock dragon-flies.

Unceasingly they dart and glance
Above the stagnant stream–
And I am fighting here in France
As in a senseless dream– Continue reading

“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

All lost, all forgotten.
-The Voice before the Void

“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

“Darkness” by Lord Byron

Halloween:
Ineluctably, the world shall end.
-The Voice before the Void

ca-1825-jmw-turner-barnard-castle-watercolor
“Darkness”

Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crownéd kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face; Continue reading

“Lemon Wedges” by Tracy Lindquist Price

Love is a tremendous thing. I love this poem.
Read Price’s work at The Cherry Window and Plains Prose.
-The Voice before the Void

“Lemon Wedges”

Tracy Lindquist Price

Today I chewed on lemon wedges to kill the sweet taste of you
in my mouth but still the water came and the acid stung my cheeks
as the pulp tears slid down my face they leapt off my chin
hit the ground and beneath my feet a lemon tree grew

I watched as it emerged, the trunk was crusted in sugar
the leaves were glossy and crystallized, the fruit had begun to bear
from the yellow cracked bits of flowers that perched upon the edges
of candied sticks and there is where the hard rock lemon drops formed

by the thousands; and to shake the hung tree was tempting
so I did just that in my sapphire dress with a wedge between my teeth
it poured over me like rain in a storm, landing quiet as cotton balls
and a mountain of stones built around me, I was pushed atop the peak.

I took a step, grabbed the highest branch and sat quiet on a limb.
I listened when the dropped mountain began to tremble, gazed
as it all started falling upwards from the bottom to the top until nothing remained
on the grass, but me, the empty tree and the last of my lemon rinds.

Through the sky the drops flew higher, beyond the clouds and the moon
and I could not tell what twinkled more, the sugar or the stars
each stopped in time to find its place and I fixated on Cepheus when into
his crown did a handful slip as Cassiopeia sighed; love within reach forever.

http://cherrywindow.blogspot.com/2012/03/lemon-wedges.html

“Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen

U.S. Independence Day:
A popular poet subverts patriotism.
-The Voice before the Void

“Born in the U.S.A.”

Bruce Springsteen

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man Continue reading

“The Rainbow” by Leslie Coulson

World War I:
Soldier’s war poetry. Crushing, wrenching, unmatchable poetry.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Rainbow”

Leslie Coulson

Watch the white dawn gleam,
To the thunder of hidden guns.
I hear the hot shells scream
Through skies as sweet as a dream
Where the silver dawn-break runs.
And stabbing of light
Scorches the virginal white.
But I feel in my being the old, high, sanctified thrill,
And I thank the gods that the dawn is beautiful still.

From death that hurtles by
I crouch in the trench day-long,
But up to a cloudless sky
From the ground where our dead men lie
A brown lark soars in song.
Through the tortured air,
Rent by the shrapnel’s flare,
Over the troubleless dead he carols his fill,
And I thank the gods that the birds are beautiful still.

Where the parapet is low
And level with the eye
Poppies and cornflowers glow
And the corn sways to and fro
In a pattern against the sky.
The gold stalks hide
Bodies of men who died
Charging at dawn through the dew to be killed or to kill.
I thank the gods that the flowers are beautiful still.

When night falls dark we creep
In silence to our dead.
We dig a few feet deep
And leave them there to sleep —
But blood at night is red,
Yea, even at night,
And a dead man’s face is white.
And I dry my hands, that are also trained to kill,
And I look at the stars — for the stars are beautiful still.

“Under Fire (Breakfast)” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

World War I:
Influential early poetry of the war.
-The Voice before the Void

“Under Fire”

(later retitled “Breakfast”)

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

We eat our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread
That Hull United would beat Halifax
When Jimmy Stainthorpe played full-back instead Continue reading