29 November 2007

Feeling Poetical

To make up for all the intellectual thoughts I've been forced to have (alas, they come with the end of term), my heart has turned to lighthearted poetry. Lacksadaisical poetry. Capricious poetry. Some favorites for the end of term:

"Warning," by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

"I Sit and Think" J.R.R. Tolkien
I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall never see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

"The Pope's Penis" Sharon Olds
It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
clapper at the center of a bell.
It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
halo of silver sweaweed, the hair
swaying in the dark and the heat -- and at night
while his eyes sleep, it stands up
in praise of God.

"The Mad Farmer Revolution: Being a Fragmentof the Natural History of New Eden,in HomageTo Mr. Ed McClanahan, One of the Locals" Wendell Berry
The mad farmer, the thirsty one,
went dry. When he had time
he threw a visionary high
lonesome on the holy communion wine.
"It is an awesome event
when an earthen man has drunk
his fill of the blood of a god,"
people said, and got out of his way.
He plowed the churchyard, the
minister's wife, three graveyards
and a golf course. In a parking lot
he planted a forest of little pines.
He sanctified the groves,
dancing at night in the oak shades
with goddesses. He led
a field of corn to creep up
and tassel like an Indian tribe
on the courthouse lawn. Pumpkins
ran out to the ends of their vines
to follow him. Ripe plums
and peaches reached into his pockets.
Flowers sprang up in his tracks
everywhere he stepped. And then
his planter's eye fell on
that parson's fair fine lady
again. "O holy plowman," cried she,
"I am all grown up in weeds.
Pray, bring me back into good tilth."
He tilled her carefully
and laid her by, and she
did bring forth others of her kind,
and others, and some more.
They sowed and reaped till all
the countryside was filled
with farmers and their brides sowing
and reaping. When they died
they became two spirits of the woods.

On their graves were written
these words without sound:
"Here lies Saint Plowman.
Here lies Saint Fertile Ground."

23 November 2007

Four Stamps Worth of Thoughts

I find that as time passes, and I grow more content with who I am, the things I desire are simple, and necessary. The life I want is simple, uncluttered by desires for greatness, exceeding riches, and impossible love. I can say that now, in this moment, I am pleased with my life.

I mailed the last parts of my UNC-Chapel Hill application this evening (pushing it, I know...the deadline is the 1st...), and right before I dropped the envelope in the box, I failed to stop and breathe good karma over it. Not that I don't need it, I just didn't think about it until I got back to my car. I thought, "Oh, should I have prayed or meditated over that or something?" And in a brief conversation with myself, I noted that I'm really not too concerned with the outcome of this application. I want to get in, of course, or I wouldn't have applied. But if I'm concerned with rewards, or good karma, then I've got to expect a denial letter. (I've not lived up to certain moral standards this past year, but strangely, I'm far more happy than when I did.) If I'm concerned with grace or blessed opportunities or heavenly intervention, I should then feel guaranteed an acceptance. Neither of those seem plausible as a foundation for where I'll go to graduate school, though, so I've resigned myself to letting what comes, come. At this point in talking to myself, I saw the Christmas lights beginning to light up Broad Street. I was actually more excited about lights in store windows than I was about submitting my Statement of Purpose.

Perhaps this says something about myself and my desires for my life. Or maybe it just points out how excited I am for the holidays. Either way, it seems like all the things I wish for these days are simple things. Trite things, perhaps, but I think that they will bring me far more contentment than any school or degree could ensure.