Sunday, October 31, 2010
Does anyone still burn leaves in the fall?
When I was a kid my Dad raked leaves into bushel baskets (remember those?) and piled them at the end of the driveway, away from the house and the garage. Then he set fire to them and carefully tended them until they were burned to ashes.
All this became illegal at some point because of the pollution, but I remember the whole process fondly. Burning leaves smelled wonderful in the crisp autumn air. Us kids danced around in the driveway just from the excitement.
Here is a great little poem From A Childís Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.
If you have kids, read this to them and explain how people used to set fires in the fall.
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something great in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I haven't been blogging much recently. I've been busy with work and other things, staying the course and generally enjoying life. But I wanted to share the following bit of poetry before October is over. It's from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot. This has been a favorite poem of mine since I was in my teens. I could write pages about this poem, and some day I might, but today I'm just going to share one little image from it. The poem is available on the internet if you want to read it for yourself.
"The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. "
From "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot
I hope you all are enjoying those "soft October nights".
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I felt really good in my yoga class tonight. My mind felt still for a change, and I didn't think about work even once.
Then on the way home, I saw the sun set - just ribbons of color between the trees and under the clouds - and decided to share the following Emily Dickinson poem.
Iíll tell you how the sun rose,--
A ribbon at a time
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
The I said softly to myself,
ďThat must have been the sun!Ē
But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while
Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The moon was full last night and it made me think of a poem by Billy Collins.
I love this poem because it reminds me to view the universe with the delight of a small child.
The moon is full tonight
an illustration for sheet music,
an image in Matthew Arnold
glimmering on the English Channel,
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield
in one of the history plays.
Itís as full as it was
in that poem by Coleridge
where he carries his year-old son
into the orchard behind the cottage
and turns the babyís face to the sky
to see for the first time
the earthís bright companion,
something amazing to make his crying seem small.
And if you wanted to follow this example,
tonight would be the night
to carry some tiny creature outside
and introduce him to the moon.
And if your house has no child,
you can always gather into your arms
the sleeping infant of yourself,
as I have done tonight,
and carry him outdoors,
all limp in his tattered blanket,
making sure to steady his lolling head
with the palm of your hand.
And while the wind ruffles the pear trees
in the corner of the orchard
and dark roses wave against a stone wall,
you can turn him on your shoulder
and walk in circles on the lawn
drunk with the light.
You can lift him up into the sky,
your eyes nearly as wide as his,
as the moon climbs high into the night.
Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. He is a former Poet Laureate of the United States and edits a poetry site for the Library of Congress. You can find it at
The website is designed to introduce high school students to poetry. Iíve found a lot of good poems at Poetry 180.
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