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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Course Objectives:

The student is encouraged to examine examples of poetry and story critically by comparing works from within one culture from different historical eras and by comparing the works of writers of the same era in different cultures. The student will begin to write original poetry appropriate to a seasonal ritual.

The primary goal of this course is for students to examine historical examples and techniques implemented in the creation of poetry and stories to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to compose poetic invocations appropriate for implementation within public ritual.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will increase their knowledge of techniques for composing poetry and stories employed within a single culture and the evolution of these techniques by comparing and contrasting examples from different historical eras; of the impact of hearth culture on poetry and story by examining the techniques utilized by writers within different cultures of the same era and demonstrating the similarities and differences of their works; and will utilize knowledge attained from research to develop the skills necessary to write original poetry appropriate for ADF seasonal ritual celebrations.

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On Meditation, Which is Hard

I’m working on my last course in the first circle of the clergy training program tonight, and I came across this poem. Given how many of us struggle our way through the beginnings of meditation practice, who struggle with mental discipline for the Dedicant work, I found it very relevant.

Here are the words of Izumi Shikibu, from 10-11th century (Heian) Japan.

Trust me. It’s never been easy.

*****

Although I try
to hold the single thought
of Buddha’s teaching in my heart,
I cannot help but hear
the many crickets’ voices calling as well.

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A Poem, of cold winter nights

For U-bar-U, which has neither lake nor sentineled firs, but whose darkness is just as filled with the sounds of the spirits.

The Skater of Ghost Lake 
By William Rose Benet

Ghost Lake’s a dark lake, a deep lake and cold:
Ice black as ebony, frostily scrolled;
Far in its shadows a faint sound whirs;
Steep stand the sentineled deep, dark firs.

A brisk sound, a swift sound, a ring-tinkle-ring;
Flit-flit,–a shadow with a stoop and a swing,
Flies from the shadow through the crackling cold.
Ghost Lake’s a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Leaning and leaning with a stride and a stride,
hands locked behind him, scarf blowing wide,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late,
Star for a candle, moon for a mate.

Black is the clear glass now that he glides,
Crisp is the whisper of long lean strides,
Swift is his swaying–but pricked ears hark.
None comes to Ghost lake late after dark!

Cecily only–yes it is she!
Stealing to Ghost Lake, tree after tree,
Kneeling in snow by the still lake side,
Rising with feet winged, gleaming, to glide.

Dust of the ice swirls. Here is his hand.
Brilliant his eyes burn. Now, as was planned,
Arm across arm twined, laced to his side,
Out on the dark lake lightly they glide.

Dance of the dim moon, a rhythmical reel,
A swaying, a swift tune–skurr of the steel;
Moon for a candle, maid for a mate,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late.

Black as if lacquered the wide lake lies;
Breath as a frost-fume, eyes seek eyes;
Souls are a sword edge tasting the cold.
Ghost Lake’s a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Far in the shadows hear faintly begin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin,
Muffled in mist on the lake’s far bound,
Swifter and swifter, a low singing sound!

Far in the shadows and faint on the verge
Of blue cloudy moonlight, see it emerge,
Flit-flit,–a phantom, with a stoop and a swing . . .
Ah, it’s a night bird burdened of wing!

Pressed close to Jeremy, laced to his side,
Cecily Culver, dizzy you glide.
Jeremy Randall sweepingly veers
Out on the dark ice far from the piers.

“Jeremy!” “Sweetheart?” “What do you fear?”
“Nothing my darling,–nothing is here!”
“Jeremy!” “Sweetheart?” “What do you flee?”
“Something–I know not; something I see!”

Swayed to a swift stride, brisker of pace,
Leaning and leaning, they race and they race;
Ever that whirring, that crisp sound thin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin;

Ever that swifter and low singing sound
Sweeping behind them, winding them round;
Gasp of their breath now that chill flakes fret;
Ice black as ebony–blacker–like jet!

Ice shooting fangs forth–sudden–like spears;
Crackling of lightning–a roar in their ears!
Shadowy, a phantom swerves off its prey . . .
No, it’s a night bird flit-flits away!

Low-winging moth-owl, home to your sleep!
Ghost Lake’s a still lake, a cold lake and deep.
Faint in its shadows a far sound whirs.
Black stand the ranks of its sentineled firs.

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“Oh You Mothers…”

This is the prayer I use when leaving offerings for my own ancestors.

Oh you mothers, all my mothers

Those who sleep in heavy soil,

Those who went to death so weary

All you thought was no more toil,

Those who danced with joy and laughter,

Those who fought to break the chains

Though you’ll know no more hereafters,

Here a part of you remains.

 

Oh you fathers, all my fathers

Those who dream in wet, black earth,

Those who let their dreams go hungry

So that mine could come to birth,

Those who died in rage and sorrow

Those who laughed and wandered free,

Though you’ll know no more tomorrows

Your tomorrows live in me.

 

All of you who came before me,

Though I know your names or not.

All who added to my story

Giving blood or deed or thought.

Take this food and drink I give you,

Share it with me, take your fill.

Though your verses may have ended

Yet the song continues still.

– Christopher Scott Thompson

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A TREE SONG
by Rudyard Kipling

Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater is none beneath the sun,
Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
(All of a Midsummer morn!)
Surely we sing of no little thing,
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
Or ever Aeneas began.
Ash of the Loam was a Lady at home,
When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow.
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That any way trusts her shade.
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with wine from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
‘Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But–we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you good news by word of mouth —
Good news for cattle and corn —
Now is the Sun come up from the south,
With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
(All of a Midsummer morn)!
England shall bide till Judgement Tide,
By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

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Wild Geese

Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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by Marie Howe

I have begun,
when I am weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling – whatever leads
to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were –
it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.
Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I’ll do.

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