Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Holiday Gift of Poetry 2015

This is the third holiday season for Russ on Reading and the third opportunity to share some poetry for the holidays. This year, as with every year, I am convinced that the world would be a better place if the people of the world read and shared more poetry. I am also reminded that all cultures and all religious traditions have their poetry and that much of that poetry speaks to what is universal in all of us.

A huge thank you to all of my readers. Thank you for reading and sharing my work. I am pleased to be able to share the work of these great poets with you. Have a peaceful and joyous holiday.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;--
The happy days unclouded to their close;

The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,

White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;--a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

The Boy at the Window
By Richard Wilbur

Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear. 

Burning of the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds,
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems,
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn't,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn't do
circle after the blazing dies.

     from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, OR: Far Corner Books, 1995)

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