Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dolan Morgan / The Inheritance



by Dolan Morgan
Stop counting other people’s money.
You’re pulling from the discards.
We had to liquidate your holdings to
ensure your future comfort. It’s
someone else’s child. It changed. We
are ideal candidates. We’re not
related by blood and you love me.
Astronauts love golf. You know, I’ve
been dreaming about a suitcase.
Everything’s perfect. We’re supposed
to keep it dim, I don’t know why. Ice
blue, white top. Don’t pretend like it’s
not scary. We’ve tried. I’m not allowed
to talk about it. It’s a convention. This
was all supposed to be ours. The smell.
Time to put something else in that mouth.
People do that. Do I have to go around
and write my name on all the things
I want? We were halfway to the hospital
before I noticed I was in my nightie.
The doctors say it’s not serious.

—lines from Mad Men, season two, episode ten
Dolan Morgan lives and writes in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The Believer, March 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

William Butler Yeats / The Stolen Child

yeats 2

The Stolen Child 

by William Butler Yeats

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats:
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters and the wild 
With a faery, hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters and the wild 
With a faery, hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child! 
To the waters and the wild 
With a faery, hand in hand, 
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child, 
To the waters and the wild 
With a faery, hand in hand, 
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Emily Dickinson / There's a Certain Slant of Light

By Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons -
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes -

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us -
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are -

None may teach it - Any -
’Tis the Seal Despair -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air -

When it comes, the Landscape listens -
Shadows - hold their breath -
hen it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death -

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tree, tree dry and green by Federico García Lorca

Tree, tree 
dry and green
The girl with the pretty face
is out picking olives.
The wind, playboy of towers,
grabs her around the waist.
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies,
with blue and green jackets
and big, dark capes.
"Come to Cordoba, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
Three young bullfighters passed,
slender in the waist,
with jackets the color of oranges
and swords of ancient silver.
"Come to Sevilla, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
When the afternoon had turned
dark brown, with scattered light,
a young man passed by, wearing
roses and myrtle of the moon.
"Come to Granada, inuchacha."
And the girl won't listen to him.
The girl with the pretty face
keeps on picking olives
with the grey arm of the wind
wrapped around her waist.
Tree, tree
dry and green. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein


Alexander Pushkin

My hero: Alexander Pushkin

 by Elaine Feinstein

Pushkin transformed every form of Russian literature he touched. By Elaine Feinstein

Saturday 6 November 2010

He was exiled to southern Russia just before his 21st birthday for verse written against despotism. Those poems were found among the papers of many of the Decembrists. The failure of their rebellion against Tsar Nicholas I in 1825 led to executions that haunted Pushkin all his life. When Nicholas summoned him to inquire into his loyalties, Pushkin declared that, had he been in St Petersburg, he would have been on Senate Square with his friends. Nicholas appeared impressed by his frankness and allowed him back to the capital, but appointed Count Benkendorff to keep an eye on what he was writing. In Soviet times, poets who were censored or silenced found Pushkin an inspiration. Anna Akhmatova revered him.

Pushkin chose a cold young beauty for a wife. Natalya loved balls at court, where she was surrounded by admirers and wore expensive dresses Pushkin could not afford. He longed to retreat to his country estate, but the tsar would not allow him to remove Natalya from court. After receiving letters accusing him of being a cuckold, Pushkin felt obliged to fight a duel to defend his wife's honour. He lost his life in it at the age of 37.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

My hero / Edward Thomas by David Constantine

Edward Thomas, circa 1912. Photograph: EO Hoppe

My hero: 

Edward Thomas

by David Constantine

'Thomas has been a kind and implacable friend to me'

Saturday 4 December 2010


began reading Edward Thomas in a cold winter 40 years ago. I found the blue hardback Collected Poems secondhand on Durham market, and by the fire in our strange habitation under the castle mound, nobody else at home, I read him at once, entire, knowing ever more certainly, poem by poem, that I loved him, he would be with me for life, I would learn from him.

Like other Romantics, Thomas got his poems most characteristically by walking. He was a man who walked away solitary into the wind and the rain when anxiety and the black melancholy were upon him; or who might tramp by your side, mile after mile, companionable, and never say a word; or be with you, as he was with Robert Frost, talking, listening, pausing at a gate, a gap, a stile, and so in the rhythm of a long walk and in the attentive to and fro of a conversation you would come nearer and nearer, both of you, to some important understanding.

At the heart of writing, it is always a matter of truth or lies, and anyone in that vocation wants companions, living and dead, who, when you glance their way inquiringly, will warn you by a look if you are edging away from the truth into the many ways of telling lies. Thomas has been one such kind and implacable friend to me. Having his own true tone of voice, he acts like a tuning fork in the ceaseless effort to hit and hold your own.

The dead move and change as the living do. You may think you know them through and through but then, after a lapse of time (in which you have aged), they startle you again. Just the other day, out of context, on a card, not in a book, these lines filled me with a new rush of gratitude: "A house that shall love me as I love it, / Well-hedged, and honoured by a few ash trees / That linnets, greenfinches, and goldfinches / Shall often visit and make love in and flit . . ."


Friday, March 2, 2012

Emily Dickinson / This Quiet Dust

By Emily Dickinson

This quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies
And Lads and Girls -
Was laughter and ability and Sighing
And Frocks and Curls -

This Passive Place a Summer’s nimble Mansion
Where Bloom and Bees
Fulfilled their Oriental Circuit
Then ceased, like these.