To a Mouse by Robert Burns

Little, sly, cowering, timid beast,
Oh, what a panic is in your heart!
You need not start away so hasty
With bickering prattle!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering paddle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth-born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, that you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse green foliage!
And bleak December's winds coming,
Both bitter and piercing!

You saw the fields laid bare and empty,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter's sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

"To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785" Robert Burns, is said t have been ploughing in his fields when he accidentally destroyed a mouse's nest, which it needed to survive the winter. His brother wrote of this saying that composed the poem while still holding his plough. The poem inspired John Steinbeck in his Novel, Of Mice and Men.

Still I Rise, by Maya Angelo

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

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Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

The poem resonates with how we see Maya Angelou as we learn about her from her writings. See the Reviews referenced in the Literary Favorites Section and the books reviewed

Even the Stars Look Lonesome, by Maya Angelou

I Shall Not Be Moved, by Maya Angelou

In Flanders Fields , by Lieut-Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row. That mark our place; and in the sky. The larks, still bravely singing, fly. Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago. We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe; To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, through poppies grow In Flanders Fields.

See the review of One-Hundred and One Famous Poems in Reviews. click here

Thoughts about this Poem

One of the most quoted poems from World War 1. It refers to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers which resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world's most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. 

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Crossing the Bar, by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

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The poem followed some seasickness by Tennyson. He lived on the Isle of Wright and the words came to him after crossing the bar with particularly choppy water s thought to have been inspired by a bout of seasickness. Tennyson lived on the Isle of Wight, and after a particularly choppy crossing of the water the words for came to him most likely in one setting.



The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

See the book review of the book, The Raven and other Poems

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"— here I opened wide the door; —
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" —
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; —
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door —
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door —
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore —
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door —
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore.” 

Miniver Cheevy by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Miniver Cheevy is a poem that Helene Hanff sent in a letter to the her friends in the London Bookstore. See Review 84 Charring Cross Road


Miniver Cheevy

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,

Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;

He wept that he was ever born,

And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old

When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;

The vision of a warrior bold

Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,

And dreamed, and rested from his labors;

He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,

And Priam’s neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown

That made so many a name so fragrant;

He mourned Romance, now on the town,

And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,

Albeit he had never seen one;

He would have sinned incessantly

Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace

And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;

He missed the mediæval grace

Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,

But sore annoyed was he without it;

Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,

And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,

Scratched his head and kept on thinking;

Miniver coughed, and called it fate,

And kept on drinking.

Does Bad Poetry Spring from Genuine Feeling or is it just Sincere?

Oscar Wilde said that “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic. Harold Bloom used this phrase saying instead that "All Bad Poetry is Sincere." Bloom was justifying why Maya Angelou was not included in his big list at the back of his book or among the 26 authors that made up what he felt was the main influence for "Western Canon" in his book of the same name.

  He added that Angelou thoughts were "sincere" but in his own view lacked aesthetic accomplishment. Bloom's conclusion seems to leave us with the question "What does if mean to be a writer?"

Must we really write about things of value? Who defines value? Bloom's real reasons for leaving Angelou off his list may be the political influence she has within what she says and he does admit that is part of the reason?  See more on Bloom and the "Western Canon" under the review section.

I'm a Stranger Here, A Poem by Louis L'Amour

If I, between two suns, should go away,

No voice would lift to ask another why,

No word would question my retreat, nor sigh,

Nor wonder why I'd chosen not to stay;

For I am a stranger here, of other clay:

A guest within this house, a passerby-

A roving life whose theme has been "Goodbye"

A shadow on the road, a thing astray. 

 

What dim ancestral heritage is mine.

That now awakens in my blood regret?

What destiny is this, what strange design,

That I must seek a haunting silhouette

In unremembered lands my dreams divine,

But cannot quite recall or quite forget? 

 

What about this Poem?

This was considered by L'Amour to be one of his best poems and among those he in the book, Smoke From This Altar. It was his first published book; before then he hadn't had much luck with his other writings.

You can see L'Amour's delight and love for words in his poems.  The introduction to this book was written by Kathy L'Amour where she said of Louis that "he has the three things which it takes to make a writer: a love for words, industry, and something to say.'

Review of Poem from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:The Argument

....from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: The Argument by William Blake

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burdened air;

Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

Once meek, and in a perilous path,

The just man kept his course along

The vale of death.

Roses are planted where thorns grow,

And on the barren heath

Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:

And a river and a spring

On every cliff and tomb;

And on the bleached bones

Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,

To walk in perilous paths, and drive

The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks

In mild humility,

And the just man rages in the wilds

Where lions roam.

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burdened air;

Hungry clouds swag on the deep. 

'Review of Poem by Brent M. Jones

Rintrah is considered to be part of William Blake's myth logy who appears in this poem as a just man righteously expressing wrath. Blake felt that good and evil were just different influences we experienced and part of different energies that we had to experience as part of our life.

See Review of the Book: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake / click here

 

Painted Faces Poem

Painted Faces by Ervin Walters

A staged trick
A filtered picture
Mask of irony
A added glare
That magnifies the eyes stare
Of all still so rare
Outlined symmetry
Vague descriptions
Even with a paragraph of words
The sketch has many interpretations
Beauty beholds the eyes attention
The more unattractive the less mentioned
The altered ego
With a adjusted hue of colors

Ervin Walters is young poet. I found the picture below and his poem was posted by it. @WatersRunDeep I don't know if he really had anything to do with this picture but the poem espeically seems to resonate with it. 

 

Surprised by Joy-Impatient as The Wind by William Wordsworth

Surprised by joy — impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport — Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind —
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss? — That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore


*"Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis" is an allusion to this poem. The poem was Wordsworth thoughts following the death of a beloved daughter.   

*click to see review

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost plus analysis

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken Analysis

Where did the two roads lead?  Could they have both been to the same destination? Did the narrator only experience one of the roads? Is this poem suggesting that choice itself is like a road. Is the difference that we picked a road, or that we had a choice?

The poem implies that we won't make a difference in the world unless we make choices of our own.  It isn't clear that making a difference was because of the road picked, but it seems clear that without having traveled one of them no difference would have resulted. 

We are left wanting to make a difference, hoping for a less traveled road that is easier and safer. The call to action of this poem is a call to want the right thing.

The Winds of Fate, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox with analysis

"The Winds of Fate,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One ship drives east, and another west,

With the self-same winds that blow.

’Tis the set of the sail, and not the gale,

Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,

As we journey along through life;

’Tis the set of the soul that decides the goal,

And not the calm or the strife.

Analysis

The ship is an effective metaphor for the lives and journeys of people. Each individual has their own choices on how they chose to be influenced by those things that happen. People pick very different goals and destinations. 

 

The Sick Rose, by William Blake, an analysis.

 

O Rose thou art sick. The invisible worm, That flies in the night In the howling storm: 

Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy: And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy


 

Analysis of Poem

by Brent M. Jones

The rose and the worm represent humans. This rose is in a state of decay suggesting death is coming soon. The rose is feminine, delicate and represents love, loyalty and beauty, 

The worm is masculine ( His dark secret love), invisible and comes at night. What happens is evil, secret and hurtful. What is done can't be found out and destroys the rose.  Crimson joy and ‘dark secret love happen in the bed of the rose. The crimson color show the violence and passion and blood. 

This seems like it may have been Blake's intent, but "why" was this his message? Was it a statement against the relationship of men and women? Was the masculinity of the worm the right relationship for the feminine rose? Perhaps Blake just was again in this poem just questioning the the accepted ideas of marriage in his day as so many authors and poets of that time did.

Was Blake so anxious to comment on male female relationships that he got this wrong? It was the bee that fertilized the rose. The worm just participated in the natural process of death. Blake was not alone among writers of the late 1800's in questioning the accepted ideas of marriage. 

Life by Charlotte Bronte Poem and Analysis

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!

What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

 Analysis and Thoughts on Poem

A simple message suggesting that life is good. It takes on darkness that is felt to be bad and unpleasant. Clouds, like the bad days will clear. The days will "merrily" fly by.  Things that go wrong will not be victorious. Nothing can beat you not even death. "Life is still life whatever it's pangs"-Charlotte Bronte Her Quotes sums it all up.

 

 

 

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

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It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee: And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me.                                     

I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea, But we loved with a love that was more than love-    I and my Annabel Lee- With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven Coveted her and me.                                                       

And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her highborn kinsmen came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre In this kingdom by the sea.                                               

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven Went envying her and me-Yes!-that was the reason (as all men know,    In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.                             

But our love it was stronger by far that the love Of those who were older than we- Of many far wiser than we-        And neither the angels in Heaven above Nor the demons down under the sea Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;                                            

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams  Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side Of my darling-my darling- my life and my bride In her sepulchre there by the sea- In her tomb by the sounding sea.   

Analysis of the Poem Annabel Lee

Perhaps Annabel Lee was inspired by Poe's wife, Virginia? The Poem was his last and well known as one of his best.

Many of his poems explore the death of a beautiful women. In the Raven he suggests that his love is gone and they will "nevermore" be together. In this poem he knows he will be with her again saying that not even demons "can ever dissever" their souls.

His love is deep and even ideal likely because he has married young. His youthful immaturity may be the reason for blaming the Gods for taking her out of jealousy. 

Annabel Lee's death is the supreme loss reveals that she was worshiped both in life and death. 

 

Edgar Allan Poe's wife, Virgina, shown above on the left

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight by Dylan Thomas Analysis

"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight" -Dylan Thomas

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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Analysis of Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night- by Brent M. Jones

Death will come to all of us and we evolve through life in stages of birth, then life ,and death. We start as "good men", often live as "wild men," but then finish as grave men."

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The son is speaking in this poem to the father who seems to have accepted his coming death. In rage he tells his "grave" father on his deathbed to hold on.

The father is part of "the last wave"  of his own generation which is almost gone, with only a few still alive.  His memories are like a "green bay", bright and alive, where the younger generation is coming but where the father can't go back and change anything.

Blind eyes and bright lights suggest near death experiences by the old man while death still waits for him. Death is darkness and night and light is life.   

The son pleads with the father, "Do not go gentle into that good night". The night can be considered as good, since it is so close and easy to obtain for the father, but that doesn't mean the son wants the father to go. He wants him to hold on and to "rage against the the dying of the light". If light goes away then the fathers life will end and it's presence proves his existence. 

The father and the son may have accepted death by the end of this poem, but the son still wants more from the father.  He asks, "Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears" because your tears will show your love for me and curse your death for taking you.. 

This poem resonates with many. Sometimes death is only the final change and bits of life leave a little at a time with affirmatives and struggles and the poem tells us to rage and fight for life and sing in the sun of life. 

 

 

 

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost Reviewed

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“Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To know that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice."    

Fire is emotion, ice is hate. Frost leaves it clear that it is either fire or ice that destroys the world, and nothing else. It seems clear that either can destroy.  

The two elements have a metaphorical relationship with the "world". Too much fire and passion can destroy a relationship while cold, indifference and hate can do the same.  The world symbolizes our relationships and fire and ice represent the various people in our lives.

Some people are fire and some are ice inferring that becoming surrounded by one type can be destructive. 

Perhaps "Fire and Ice" was inspired by Dante's Inferno where sinners are condemned to a fiery hell and then submerged up to their necks in ice.