Juvenilia, An Ode to Natural Beauty

There is a power whose inspiration fills
Nature's fair fabric, sun- and star-inwrought,
Like airy dew ere any drop distils,
Like perfume in the laden flower, like aught
Unseen which interfused throughout the whole
Becomes its quickening pulse and principle and soul.
Now when, the drift of old desire renewing,
Warm tides flow northward over valley and field,
When half-forgotten sound and scent are wooing
From their deep-chambered recesses long sealed
Such memories as breathe once more


July 10

The sky was a midnight blue
velvet cloth draping
a birdcage and no moon
but the breeze was whistling
and the sound of a car
on Valentine Place was
the rush of a waterfall
on the phone in New York City
and that's when the muse
turned up with curly brown locks
she was a poet, too, and wanted
me to give her an assignment
she was willing to trade
fifteen minutes of inspiration
in return for a phone call
from Frank O'Hara in heaven
sipping espresso and Irish whiskey
and then a morning swim


January 1

Some people confuse inspiration with lightning
not me I know it comes from the lungs and air
you breathe it in you breathe it out it circulates
it's the breath of my being the wind across the face
of the waters yes but it's also something that comes
at my command like a turkey club sandwich
with a cup of split pea soup or like tones
from Benny Goodman's clarinet my clarinet
the language that never fails to respond
some people think you need to be pure of heart
not true it comes to the pure and impure alike


Inspiration

I

How often have I started out
With no thought in my noodle,
And wandered here and there about,
Where fancy bade me toddle;
Till feeling faunlike in my glee
I've voiced some gay distiches,
Returning joyfully to tea,
A poem in my britches.
II
A-squatting on a thymy slope
With vast of sky about me,
I've scribbled on an envelope
The rhymes the hills would shout me;
The couplets that the trees would call,
The lays the breezes proffered . . .
Oh no, I didn't think at all -


Insomnia

I

Heigh ho! to sleep I vainly try;
Since twelve I haven't closed an eye,
And now it's three, and as I lie,
From Notre Dame to St. Denis
The bells of Paris chime to me;
"You're young," they say, "and strong and free."
II
I do not turn with sighs and groans
To ease my limbs, to rest my bones,
As if my bed were stuffed with stones,
No peevish murmur tips my tongue --
Ah no! for every sound upflung
Says: "Lad, you're free and strong and young."
III
And so beneath the sheet's caress


Inspiration

Not like a daring, bold, aggressive boy,
Is inspiration, eager to pursue,
But rather like a maiden, fond, yet coy,
Who gives herself to him who best doth woo.

Once she may smile, or thrice, thy soul to fire,
In passing by, but when she turns her face,
Thou must persist and seek her with desire,
If thou wouldst win the favor of her grace.

And if, like some winged bird she cleaves the air,
And leaves thee spent and stricken on the earth,
Still must thou strive to follow even there,


Inspiration

Whate'er we leave to God, God does,
And blesses us;
The work we choose should be our own,
God leaves alone.

If with light head erect I sing,
Though all the Muses lend their force,
From my poor love of anything,
The verse is weak and shallow as its source.

But if with bended neck I grope
Listening behind me for my wit,
With faith superior to hope,
More anxious to keep back than forward it;

Making my soul accomplice there
Unto the flame my heart hath lit,


Imitation

I saw the Death, and she was seating
By quiet entrance at my own home,
I saw the doors were opened in my tomb,
And there, and there my hope was a-flitting
I'll die, and traces of my past
In days of future will be never sighted,
Look of my eyes will never be delighted
By dear look, in my existence last.

Farewell the somber world, where, precipice above,
My gloomy road was a-streaming,
Where life for me was never cheering,
Where I was loving, having not to love!
The dazzling heavens' azure curtain,


Hymn 151

Prophecy and inspiration.

'Twas by an order from the Lord
The ancient prophets spoke his word;
His Spirit did their tongues inspire,
And warmed their hearts with heav'nly fire.

The works and wonders which they wrought
Confirmed the messages they brought;
The prophet's pen succeeds his breath,
To save the holy words from death.

Great God, mine eyes with pleasure look
On the dear volume of thy book;
There my Redeemer's face I see,
And read his name who died for me.


God Needs Antonio

Your soul was lifted by the wings today
Hearing the master of the violin:
You praised him, praised the great Sabastian too
Who made that fine Chaconne; but did you think
Of old Antonio Stradivari? -him
Who a good century and a half ago
Put his true work in that brown instrument
And by the nice adjustment of its frame
Gave it responsive life, continuous
With the master's finger-tips and perfected
Like them by delicate rectitude of use.
That plain white-aproned man, who stood at work


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