Miscellaneous Musings a Short Collection of Un-dated Poems – Raymond C. Harding

Raymond C. Harding

Miscellaneous Musings

Not previously published in Off the Beaten

Undated and uncategorized works presented here, some 50 years later, unchanged in the editorial process.

 

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FORECAST

 

Who knows what the morrow brings,

I know so I will surely say

I know where a warbler sings,

A marsh where bittern play,

where killdeer loop and wheel

And pipers scamper all along

A glistening each and keel

Their flight to spray filled air.

If not today, tomorrow they’ll be there.

Another day and soon will burst
Another dandelion globe.

A maple leaf with feel the first

color pang and every lake

will soon begin to blush.

I know the chipmunks furtive way

Of joining in the rush

Of herding , while the jay

Leaps to his scolding rounds.

Tomorrow sure, if not today.

I know the sights and sounds.

I see tomorrow’s blueprint clear,

These things will all be done and more.

What difference if we won’t be here,

The surf will surely test the shore,

A phoebe nest beneath a bridge.

 

 

 

Wine and Gall

We have the groves of Myrtle yet

The pipes of Pan shrill out again

But who will think of Olivet,

Gethsemane or pain.

Dancing Dryads garlands twine

About capricious Satyr’s horns,

Sly Bacchus lavishes his wine

But no one speaks of scourge or thorn.

The dance must end, the orgy pall,

But who will feel His agony,

Brave the spear and taste the gall,

And claim a share of Calvary.

 

 

Love Defined

 

Loving means to have and hold

But this we hardly know,

Scarce believing when we’re told,

Love too means letting go.

 

Trees

Not of the woods
I have this kinship with all trees,

Of all Nature’s goods,

None can compare to these

Living pedestals.

Fingering clouds, footstools for stars,

Green memorials

Of pioneers, tall king’s spars

For vanished ships,

Staunch wagons, and log cabin days.

From seedling slips

To all this towering maze.

The smell of pine and hemlock, spruce and oak

Like branches twine.

The tang of forest scents; the smoke

From Stone henged fire

Still lingers on through memories’ haze

Still sparks desire

For knapsack, tent and camping days.

Earth roots, heaven searching leaves

Upright with the heart wood sound,

So I would be counted one of these

To gaze beyond the anchored to the ground

 

[Ray often took inspiration from the writings of  Henry Beston; especially “The Outermost House”, and “Northern Farm”. There are also several references to Rachael Carson, “North With the Spring” ed.]

 

 

FO’CASTLE MAN

(Henry Beston, “Outermost House”)

 

Here on the rim of land          (Chapter VII, p.171. Viking Press Ed.)

Black night and sea merged into one,

He stands again, once more surveys

The constant furrowing of waves.

And at each cadenced interval *             (*Chap. VI last sentence)

Hears the thundering overspill

Of an instant water world

‘Gainst a grudging barrier hurled.

Bright days found his questioning eye

Encompassing wave, land and sky,

Tracing clouds as shadows pass,

Notes the shore lark* in the grass.      *(Horned Lark)

 

He knew a year of sight and sound

Here on the Narrow Land, and found

Soul’s rest and the quietude

Fitting nature’s every mood.

With the age-old changeless tunes

East wind whispering over dunes,

Sampling what each season brings,

Bird days and the “Storm of Wings”    * (*Ch.II. Sect. II)

Old stars keep their ancient track

Perhaps their spell will lure him back

To this same spot on Nauset shore,

Fill his remembering eyes once more   (*Forward.)

With all creation’s majesty –

Beloved land and sky and sea.

 

 

Star Gazer

 

At night this puddle on the street

Can fasten Saturn in its eye

And watch old Tarsus drag his feet

Across the waning western sky.

And view, ere Venus’ late retreat,

A whole celestial train pass by.

[Ray’s note]   {Beston, in “Northern Farm”

mentions a pool of snow water

reflecting a blue sky.

(Ch. 5,).}

 

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ALOHA

 

A sailing ship

Must leave its berth,

The flower seed

Must fall to earth.

Something ends

And something starts.

Thus it is

With life and hearts.

Sleeping babies

Softly sighing

New dug graves

Are for the dying.

Yet no need

To sadly mourn

Someone else

Is being born.

 

Thus the circle’s

Made complete

All in order

Nice and neat.

 

Pose for Prayer

The praying mantis doesn’t pray

he has no such intention.

The name we know him by today

Is but our own invention.

Food is this insect’s only name

He has no prayers for saying.

His eye has marked some likely game

Soon now he’ll go a preying.

His attitude is well designed

To stimulate devotion

But this is merely to remind

Us that the notion

That all we have to do to pray

I sometimes do suppose,

Is kneel and hold our hands this way

And strike a praying pose.

 

 

Old Farm Wall

 

An old stone wall

Can mean a lot of things

Or nothing much at all.

But each one that I see

Always brings

A conjured memory.

The gnarled brown hand

That hefted, placed each stone

To mark his lands

As his domain,

To all others known.

Here he would remain.

The wall grew old along with him.

Sun, rain and cold

Have had their day.

His eyes grew dim

Both lost their way,

Stumbled and fell.

This monument remains to tell,

Good markers should,

The way they went –

Resting in the quiet wood.

 

 

Lazy Day

This is what I often say,

I’ll take a real “do nothing day”

Casting daily chores aside,

Just lay around or take a ride,

Our annual odessey.

A day long trip for Fla and me.

Take notes, have glasses too

‘case a bird comes into view.

Take my note book “guide” along,

Start the trip at early dawn.

Head for the Cape. Stop now and then

To visit some old spots again.

Pack a lunch and eat at noon

High above a Truro dune

After skirting Nauset’s shore

Visit Highland Light once more

Back to Barnstable and then

Head the bus for home again.

A couple hundred miles or so

Is what my mileage chart will show

With notes of birds seen on the way,

So ends my real “do nothing” day.

 

GOING AND COMING

 

What lies beyond the kitchen door,

The front path leads away.

This is the time we’ve waited for,

At least, the parting day.

 

Now is the time for tears to shed,

It is the way of man to go.

Now let the blessing prayers be said,

A man must leave for weal or woe.

 

Ever thus the home and nest,

The fledgling goes, the parent stays.

A  man does what he thinks is best,

We know it’s been like this always.

 

What lies inside the kitchen door,

The front path leads to home.

Back they come from sea and moor,

To where they started from.

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JUDGMENT

 

I took a long look

At the short road before me

And find there’s no book

To give answer for me.

 

The road has a bend,

But no telling where

On reaching the end

Who known what is there.

 

How far shall I travel

How far, who can say?

The mystery unravel

Or name the last day.

 

Just what shall I gain,

‘Tis a hard nut to crack

But one thing is plain

There’s no turning back.

 

I hope when He weighs me

The good Lord above

Finds something to praise me

And something to love.

 

 

AUCTION DAY

 

In my time I’ve seen a lot

Of houses gone to seed.

Uncared for, mostly gone to rot

A lawn turned into weed.

But this is sadder still to see

A  home broke up this way,

Folks prying curiosity

And greed on auction day.

A picture frame, a bed, a chair

Prized possessions all

A toy, a table standing there

Outdoors.  The hammers fall

Had smashed the owner’s right

And crushed the spell of years.

No wonder at its close at night

An Auction Day brings tears.

A keepsake dish, a canning jar

Ancient clock, works gone astray,

Now penny values but by far

The treasures of a bygone day.

Where is the boy of yesteryear

Who rode this wooden sled,

And the little girl whose tear

Splashed on this dolly’s bed,

The father’s tools, the mother’s pride

Of kitchen, sewing arts.

All these made a home inside

These were the loving parts

Of what was once a body strong,

But now the skeleton is bare;

Bones brought to daylight, it is wrong

To see them scattered there.

I always pass the red/white flag

And go along my way

Nor let my steps or spirit lag.

For me no “Auction here today.”

 

[Rays note:]  Doug Barlow’s letter arrived today, telling of braking up his mother’s home.  I doubt very much if his household goods will be auctioned off, but I always get the feeling expressed in my lines, every time I went by a place where an auction was going on.

 

_____V_____

 

Now the race is nearly run,

Time nipping at my heels

No lighted way, the sinking sun

No saving patch reveals

 

Somewhere in the gathering pall

A sudden cliff hangs high,

A grieving few will mark my fate

But I will only sigh

 

When final fog or night

Blots out the world of things

I pray a vision bright

Of white and curving wings.

 

A homeward gull sculls thru a leaden sky,

Gorged, finding all things are dull,

and so do I…

and so do I.

 

 

Untitled

 

I have no use                                                  Cold rushing streams

For avenues                                                               It almost seems

With just an edge                                                      Like yesterday

Of grass or hedge,                                                    They passed this way

A token yield                                                              The pioneers

For open field.                                                           Of frontier years

Progress must wheel                                                And

But still I feel                                                               That long ago

We’d learn a lot                                                         They went away

Of things forgot.                                                         And to this day

We once were wide                                                  Their footsteps pass

When open skies                                                      In this year’s grass.

Gave ample room

For sun and moon

And hosts of things

Of song and wings.

When you could hear

The rush of clear

 

SUMMER IDYL

 

Here in the warm white sand

I lay in waving tufted grass,

Gaze at the azure spread and

Watch while overhead they pass,

The cotton puffs of piled up clouds

Lose form and meet with the sea.

Here there are no voices, crowds,

But shore birds play for company.

Here on my sandy rampart high

The ocean’s mass thins out of foam

Where gulls cut slaloms in the sky

And full gorged terns curve home.

A sand crab digs his evening nest

Ignoring me a foot away.

The sun flamed cloud rows in the west.

So ends for me this summer day.

A plover peeps a plaintive cry

And pipers wave a last good bye.

 

 

STORM CLOUDS

 

Once when thunderheads rode high

I watched them grow across the sky,

And from my couch upon the grass

I watch the slowly moving mass

All pictured in my fantasy

A full blown ship upon the sea,

While fairy towers, one by one

Glowed with the back light of the sun

And just to meet the weather’s tone

I’d see a heaped up ice cream cone

And then a chief with feathers tall;

A pug nosed funny face and all

The imagery the small boy knows

Just how to fashion. I suppose

It’s strange that I remember still

Those boyhood days upon a hill

Now all a cloud could mean to me

The gathering storm that is to be.

 

SOUTH SEA ISLES

 

When I was young my fantasy

Shipped me to each distant sea.

The South Pacific specially,

That’s where I’d go

Avoiding Borneo.     *

 

Romance names and palm swept breeze,

The Christmas Isles, New Hebrides,

Map dots on the Coral Sea,

Marianas, Marshals too,

Except of course Zulu.    **

 

I wasn’t sure, once I got there

What I would do and didn’t care.

Beach comb perhaps and drink the air

Like wine in Paradise.

I wasn’t very wise.

 

The names rang out their magic tune

I wrote a verse “Samoan Moon”   ***

But lived my South Sea life too soon

I know I never will

See Bougainville.

But there were others after me,

Who made the trip across the sea

In Conflict’s grim reality,

Returned no more

From this same shore.

Here perhaps a boy from Maine,

Wisconsin or the Western plain

Had never heard before he came

Of this Atoll

Where he gave all.

If ever now I get to go

To my dream isles of long ago,

I’ll find no romance I know

Watching palm  and tide

Where they had died.

For them another, better Isle

Awaited them, where Angels smile

They were away a little while

But that’s all past

They’re home at last.

 

[Ray’s notes} *   **  Natural aversion to cannibals and headhunters.

   ***  I actually wrote such a poem.  It was a doozy

   Had this one beat a mile.

 

 

BIRD WATCHERS, JUNIOR SIZE

 

My little grandson, not quite three

Has mastered ornithology

And know his birds to a degree

I hadn’t reached at twenty-one.

 

He can identify at sight

Some thirty birds and might

Count more.  He is that bright.

Like grandpa is, my dear grandson.

 

I have another, he’s past four

He knows his birds too, even more

Than his small brother and before

Much longer he’ll be writing books

 

We’ll have to go and see some birds

So I tell them in my words

To see in life what they’ve observed

And tramp thru woods and brooks.

 

But that’s a little while away

Then to school and not much play

Except to “hook” it for a day

But that they’d never do

 

I’m not so sure these steps of mine

Will match their pace when it comes time

To stalk the quarry, maybe climb

A hill to get a better view.

 

 

PROFIT AND LOSS

 

Since man first learned to hoe a rill

And sow his frugal seed with care

I know some birds upon the hill

Swooped down to claim a share.

 

Though he fought them tooth and nail

To hold his precious grain,

He struggled through to no avail,

He sent them, Who had sent the rain.

 

And so we must allowance make,

A little loss mixed in with gain

And learn we cannot always take

All pleasure’s joy without some pain.

 

This is the last release of Ray C.Harding poems. I’m sure more were written but as of this date in August of 2016, we have posted all the works that are known to have survived. Ray would have totally enjoyed sharing these thoughts with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He would certainly encourage them to explore their world and cherish a love of nature and the written word.

Enjoy!

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Searching a Different View

Photo by Laura Harding Tallen – at West Island, Fairhaven, MA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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