Selection 35 of
by Nancy ClarkCome, familiar strands of poetry!
Roll from spools within my graying spaces
Stitch deeply in my tissues, thoughts, and bones
Bind my humanware to profound places.
Like Wordsworth have I "wandered lonely as a cloud."
"In vacant or in pensive mood" I may recall
his solace in "ten thousand daffodils," "a crowd"
of "jocund company" to keep despair forestalled.
But small and lonely have I felt in crowds before.
I greet Paul Simon, "my old friend," and hear the "sound
of silence" from "ten thousand people, maybe more."
I "dare disturb" to see his "neon god" uncrowned.
For centuries have Chaucer's pilgrims told
Their tales and let their characters unfold.
One Oxford Scholar, "starved for learning's sake,"
Has journeyed with me, urged me undertake
Imparting knowledge, guiding skills of thought.
No better praise could follow one who's taught:
"Of high ideals and virtue was his speech
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach."
The famed Ulysses did Lord Tennyson
Envision, journey-hardened hero aged,
Yet discontent to "pause," "to make an end,"
He bids his men come once again "to shine
In use," to find "some work of noble note,"
An odyssey before "death closes all."
All civilized mankind must hear his call:
"'Tis not too late to seek a newer world."
And I, in private journeys to succeed
Or struggles to endure, inspire myself
And those that I have led by good Ulysses'
Final admonition to his men:
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
Such loss when death untimely takes
A life! What comfort for the pain?
When tears subside, what thoughts remain?
To Tennyson my memory wakes:
"I hold it true whate'er befall
I feel it when I sorrow most,
"'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
The mirror tells me "Beauty is [not] truth,"
Though Keats' famed urn may both preserve in art.
Infirmities of age invade my youth,
Then Yeats begs substance stay when form departs:
"An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress."
Yet Pope's famed couplet spins its truth again
And I must heed its balm to mental pain:
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never is, but always to be, blest."
At memory's touching sights I smile,
I conjure pleasures gone awhile,
A photo's moment blurs with tears.
How fast bright gleams must disappear!
Then comes the poet Frost to say
Profoundly, "Nothing gold can stay."
I pray that ease attend my final bed
Yet Dylan Thomas' plea swirls in my head:
"Do not go gentle into that goodnight
Rage, rage at the dying of the light!"
Such voices come to weave in wise design
A cloak for me of great thoughts intertwined.
Shrewd Saviors, stay! And ever bring to me
The comforts from your lines of poetry.
Selection 35 of
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