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By the act of reading…

…you enter the long black branches of other lives.

Poetry: Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches (post 2 of 2)


Poetry: Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches (post 1 of 2)


1.  This is a Mary Oliver poem I cut-and-pasted from the internet.
One of the disservices that comes from this practice is that you are “taking the word” of the blogger or the site from which you find the poem that the author’s punctuation and presentation has been faithfully honored.  (That this punctuation is crucial is something you should be becoming increasingly aware of.)

Well, make sure you see the google ebook of this poem, because the punctuation and presentation here is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off.

2. She approaches Whitman’s “Song of Myself” in this.

3. Young people! Do NOT leave your desk for long: right now you are in the process of provisioning yourself for the journey of life. Understand this deeply.

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches

Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives —
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left —
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one’s foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Poetry: Genius Child

Genius Child

Langston Hughes

This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can –
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him – and let his soul run wild.

Poetry: The Black Riders



Understanding Poetry: “West Wind #2” and intonation

I’ll use Snagit to add voice to this later. (I need a different microphone and a quieter venue with better acoustics.)

The linguist uses the International Phonetic Alphabet to indicate rising intonation, e.g., in an interrogative:

He found it on the street?
[ hiː ˈfaʊnd ɪt | ɒn ðə ↗ˈˈstɹiːt ‖ ]

The reader/speaker can use intonation to change attitude or meaning:

You are young.
1.  ↗You are young, as opposed to others, perhaps me, the [the older, wiser] speaker.
2.  You ↗are young, in case you don’t think so.
3.  You are ↗young, to quite a degree.
So you know everything.
1.  So ↗you know everything, as opposed to me, the [more enlightened] speaker.
2.  So you ↗know everything, emphasizing the act of knowing.
3.  So you know ↗everything, emphasizing that you believe you are informed [perhaps a know-it-all].

A little taller, a little quicker…