Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Inspiration

I may never have mentioned it, but as someone with a degree in English (Secondary Ed/English concentration, actually), I'm not only a lover of literture...I've gotten swept away by a fair number of poems, as well, some of which are as inspiring as the most beautiful pieces of music. I thought, for this Monday, I'd share one of my very favorites. Like much of my favorite poetry, it's moving, lyrical, wistful, and its imagery, speaking of love captured in one of its fleeting moments of perfection in a decidedly imperfect world, has always rung true for me. The picture, which I put up recently on Wickedly Romantic, is also by an artist I've always liked, an early twentieth century illustrator named Maxfield Parrish. This piece is called Sleeping Beauty...I thought it fit:-) Hope the picture and the poem help start your week off with something lovely. And if you're a poetry lover, are there any special poems you carry with you?



by W.H Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.


  1. Lovely poem, Kendra. My favorite is Ulysses by Tennyson. Thanks for starting off the week in style!

  2. Mine is Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve by Robert Frost. I love that poem. :) It always made me wish I could write poetry like that! :)

  3. I love 'My Last Duchess' by Browning. Love the Gothic feel and eeriness.

    "That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
    Looking as if she were alive."

    Love it... a murder mystery in poetry; my kind of poem!

  4. I so admire anyone who can condense such intense feeling and thought to so few words. It always takes me at least 85,000 to say what I want to. :)

  5. Morning, Ladies! Ooh, you all have wonderful favorites! I love poetry, and it's been far too long since I really sat down and just enjoyed reading some. I remember the first time I read T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men." The hair on the back of my neck actually stood up! Terry, I agree, Frost is also one of my favorites. That poem, and "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

  6. I LOVE poetry. I was (and probably still am) one of those English Major literary dorks (I sweeped our department awards my senior year of college... I was "that" student) and poetry is one of my favorite things! I can't pick just one, but I LOVE the British Romantics--William Wordsworth to be exact. Splendour In the Grass is one of my absolute favorites. But I can appreciate any kind of verse. I love it :)

    Sourcebooks actually publishes this great series called "Poetry Speaks," where they have all of these great poems in an impressive volume, and a CD accompaniment with the poets reading their work. Everything from TS Eliot up to Gwendolyn Brooks. We even have two childrens books that were both NY Times bestsellers: "Poetry Speaks to Children" and "Hip Hop Speaks to Children." If you are looking for a way to get your kids into poetry, these books are AMAZING! I gave Hip Hop Speaks To Children to just about every kid I know this past holiday and will continue to do so!

    (Can you tell it's Monday and I'm putting off starting my work day?)

  7. Thanks, Kendra. What a beautiful way to start the day! I've always loved poetry. Frost is my favorite. I've read book of his collected poems over and over and over again. I literally wore it out and had to replace it.

  8. Hi Danielle! Okay, I'm a dork too, because I also have a favorite Romantic poet: Shelley. For whatever reason, "Ozymandias" has always stayed with me, and I love his work in general. Very beautiful. Hooray for English geeks!

    Robin, Frost is like that. He's so accessible, and the beauty of the words never goes away. I love that you had to buy a new copy! I have a busted up copy of some of e.e. cummings' poetry laying around here that probably needs replacing as well:-)

  9. Great post, Kendra. I liked the Auden.

    If we're talking poetry, I have to mention "Xanadu" by Coleridge.

    My mother loved poetry and could quote great reams of it, but I'm not sure I understood what poetry was until I read "Xanadu" and experienced being captured and carried off by the sheer power of words.

    I was so deeply hypnotised, I felt slapped in the face by a cold cloth when it abruptly broke off.

    I have to confess I love Ogden Nash doggerel as well. Here's one called "Fleas."



  10. Late to the party as usual!

    Kendra, I LURVE Maxfield Parrish! Sometimes, when the sun is just going down and the sky is a very vivid shade of blue and there are wispy pink and lavender clouds, the DH and I call this A Maxfield Parrish Sky. ;-)

    I'm a big poetry fan also, even tried to write some back in my twenties. Short pithy stuff a la Emily Dickinson. MM, I loved "Xanadu" and Kendra I like "Ozymadias" too, but my favorite of the Romantics was Keats. When we studied him in high school, I had this hopelessly romantic image of him writing, "When I have fears that I may cease to be, Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain..." and then dying of consumption! (Aunty gives a girlish swoon) And yes, I even liked "Ode on a Grecian Urn" with all the "Truth is beauty and beauty truth..."

    For sheer command of language, I just don't think you can beat Poe. Not just "The Raven" which is a masterpiece, but his other stuff like "Annabelle Lee" and "The Bells" are amazing.

    Shutting up now that I've proven beyond a doubt I am a poetry geek and I didn't even mention my all time fave, Shakespeare!


  11. LOL, MM, I once had a teacher who loved Ogden Nash! And I LOVE "Xanadu," very beautiful. The best poetry manages to touch something deep within, just carries you off and you don't quite know how it happened!

    Cindy, I love that image you had of Keats:-) Spoken like a true poetry geek, and it seems we're all in that club! I will also cop to having loved "Ode on a Grecian Urn." And Poe...oh my God...
    *Kendra does her own girlish swoon*