Raymond C. Harding Poems From 1964

 

 

PHEASANT SURPRISE

 

(Title suggested by Fla.)

News item, N.B. Sunday Standard Times Jan. 12, ’64 p. 17

“Emden, Ill.”  Pheasant cracks picture window.

“Dazed by impact, the wild bird shock off broken

glass and walked away.”

 

Crashing brush and booming gun

Announce the Season has begun

To decimate the pheasant flock

And Implement the freezer stock.

The Ring-Neck knows this very well,

So let him then, the story tell.

 

“They flushed me from my hiding spot,

So, I seemed off before the shot

Could zero in.  Now in my haste

No plan devised, the danger faced

Was urgent and before I knew

My course, a house loomed into view.

A saving space both clear and wide

Beckoned a haven safe inside.

And so without a further thought

Veered for the safety that I sought.

Man’s habitat I seldom choose

But now I had no time to lose.

Man does not aim at houses I know

So here I’ll rest an hour or so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pheasant Surprise   #2.

 

Then Crash! and stars, a sweet refrain —-

I fell as did the window pane

So large and clear as it had been

But never would be so again.

Stunned for the moment, I arose

And wandered off on tingling toes,

Mulling in my pheasant mind

Why windows had to be that kind,

That human hospitality

Is not what it’s cracked up to be.

 

And so it nearly came to pass

That I’d be pheasant under glass.

 

 

1/12/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMPENSATION

 

You’ll have no birds

Without some flying.

You’ll have no love

Without some crying

You’ll not have courage

Without fear

You’ll not have joy

Without a tear.

Tis in the nature of these things

That yet affects both serfs and kings,

For what we have,

We still have not.

Such would it seem

To be man’s lot.

If we could have

Life’s fullness here

Then what were life

For Heaven’s sphere.

 

1/28/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW

 

 

The Blue Jay isn’t blue, you know,

That’s what the experts say,

Light refraction makes it so,

His color’s really grey.

 

Science has a thousand eyes,

Its findings must be true,

But most of us with mild surprise

Still see the Blue Jay, blue.

 

1/28/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGE

 

 

In silken bonds astir

Within the chrysalis,

Not knowing yet the whir

Of wings.  This

Demands a waiting term

A proving worth

Before the worm

Feels second birth.

 

 

 

1/28/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO WINES

 

 

Who pressed for Dionysus’ cup,

The purple wine

For all the friends of Pan to sup

In ancient time?

 

Another Vintner could not know

That from his vine

A living wine would glow

As Blood Divine.

 

Two Vintners, yet with divers brew

For two needs spent

The shrilling pipes:  His words anew,

His Sacrament.

 

 

2/6/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WING SONG

 

 

I surely know

I’ll never see the day

That I’ll not go

Out of my way

To catch a sight

Of flushing wing

Explode in flight.

I know birds sing

Though I can’t hear

Well as I should.

I know they’re near

In field and wood.

When snows have gone

I’ll look for friends

Nor miss their song

Where the hard road ends.

 

 

 

2/8/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNCO TIME

 

 

These are winter Junco days

Grey, with white draped trees

Dotted here and there with Jays

And questing Chickadees.

 

These sportive birds of northern snow,

For us held out some cheer,

Who never get a chance to go

Southward every year.

 

Undaunted by the ice and cold

They thrive on scanty fare.

We too, like ancient Spartans bold

Their hardy lot can share.

And so here in our northern clime

We’ll spend the whole year thru

And leave midwinter summer time

To the migrating crew.

 

 

2/11/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

EARTH AND I

 

I have a bond with the warm brown earth

And the growing things of the mold,

A kinship with an ancient birth

And the fallow crop of age untold.

 

I have a share in the seedling’s stir

And the groping way of the shrew.

I hear the split of the sunken burr,

Of crumbled forms when the world was new.

 

The Earth and I have a long time date,

And I know she’ll be there for me,

Patient lover, she’ll surely wait,

Knowing I’ll match her constancy.

 

But I’ll concede the faithlessness

That my cold embrace will tell,

For all that I’ll bring, I must confess

To her narrow couch, – a shell.

 

 

2/12/1964  Ash Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND SIGHT

 

 

At Jericho, one blind from birth

Who cried.  “O Lord, that I may see”

And felt the instant healing earth

Reveal a world of ecstasy.

 

Wordless for a world turned bright,

This by far the saving grace,

Out of darkness into light

He saw his Savior, face to face.

 

Bar Timeus, may we show

With our sight again restored

Your example, steadfast go

Follow Him, Our Saving Lord.

 

2/13/1964

 

2.0129                                    18:35

Matthew, Mark and Luke mention, “and he followed

Him”  tho Matthew gives two blind men; Mark mentions

him by name.  10:46  John 9:1-27 describes spittle and

the later washing at siloe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOST AND FOUND?

 

 

Too often does a man

Play truant from his Soul,

Pretending that he can

Adroitly scape the whole

Of being,  A shadow lost

In devious maze,

Nor reckon out the cost

Until the later days

With weary steps retraced

Slowly back to where

Old memory feels it’s placed,

And hopes to find it there.

 

 

 

 

2/13/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIFT SUPREME

 

 

 

 

Who but our Good and Loving Lord

Would, from a Paradise stoop down

Bless our poor workings with reward,

His erring, willful creatures crown.

 

No one but He could so devise

Sustained Redemption once begun,

Continued on in Sacrifice,

The Gift and Giver all in One.

 

 

 

2/15/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAR GATHERERS

 

I know that I will never find

The magic of the small boy’s mind.

Step from an airplane in full flight

And harvest in the stars at night.

Regain our places without fuss

And change our plane into a bus.

In grandma’s apron stow our prize

That we have gathered from the skies.

 

The imagery’s unmatched I know,

The secret’s held by Ray and Joe.

I’m not sure, I must confess

But I can entertain a guess.

the daisies picked in summer’s field

Accounts for the celestial yield,

And grandpa’s car I could explain

As both a bus and aeroplane.

But there remains an oversight,

Where do these youngsters go at night?

Their gift is sheer precocity

On embryonic poetry.

They’ll need it well as each one grows

Into a world of sodden prose.

 

Wish I could step from planes that way

And pick with them their stars by day.

2/20/1964

 

 

 

Star Gatherers  #2

 

This was a game played by Ray and Joe, of which Grandma was                         a very necessary part.  Actually the “plane” was a magic                                    bus that could fly, step and remain docilely waiting

while a quantity of stars were picked from the mid air

of the bedroom and placed in Grandma’s apron.  Then all

would resume their seats in this bus and each

would take turns driving the bus.  Refueling was no

problem.  Just stop the bus and get some gas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAST LAUGH

 

I never pass a marshland now

But that I see with future eye

The land re-claimers dredge and scow.

A spring of wildlife soon to dry.

Here man outwits wild nature’s need,

And plants his swank “Development”.

Nor cares where birds will find their feed

Or even wonder where they went.

But I have heard Atlantic’s roar

And felt full furied hurricane,

And found a likened sculptured shore

Return to margin land again.

So all’s not lost, this much I know

Old nature’s wounds are healed and soon

From new formed roots the cattails grow,

Some dawn will hear the laughing loon.

2/20/1964

 

Suggested by reclamation work at end of Brandt Island

Road during summer 1963, including grand plans for

making a resort on the Island.  A causeway was half

completed when I last saw it, connecting the Island

with the  “new Development.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTUMN LEAVES

 

Now comes the harvest time of Fall

Time of plenty, but on turning

We find lavished over all

Lawns and streets dead leaves for burning.

 

Wind and man have their duel,

Now the high priest takes his stand

For the season’s ritual

Pontificating rake in hand.

 

As he stoops and careful lights

The piled up readied sacrifice,

Ringed by small fry acolytes

Prepared for bright and smarting yes.

 

The first wisps curling in the air

Presage the all consuming fire

No Vestal tended with more care

Than he the Season’s funeral pyre.

 

But there’s no dying in these trees

Cyclitic powers working slow,

Completing nature’s mysteries

Send out a single message “Grow”.

 

So cremation’s not complete,

For after snow and sun and rain,

Brown leaves will scamper at our feet,

We’ll burn our dying year again.

2/21/1964

 

PRECISION FLYERS

 

Who gives command

To this small band

Of shorebirds in their headlong flight,

Winged escadrille

With perfect will

To curve the course, now left, now right.

No signal heard

But every bird

Wheels as a part of plumaged whole

The land once more

On sandy shore

Where each resumes his separate role

Till new alarm

Foreboding harm

Once more scales them into space.

For “scope or fun

In Unison

The perfect fusion of this race

To instant timed

None left behind.

No clumsy tyro spoils this show.

Who taught them we would like to know

The fluid blend of curve and swell

Proves surely this, He taught them well.

 

Suggested by Outermost House Capt. 7, Sect. 2.

2/28/1964

 

 

 

 

 

WINTER GRASS

 

This winter grass

Grown old and brown

Still waves above the snow.

Knowing icy winds will pass

And feels a stirring down

Where the quiet rootlets grow,

Embryonic, dark, unseen.

Patience is a virtue here,

All in due time without delay

New season soon will shift new scene,

It always does from year to year.

The brown stalks know another day

Will bring new grass, and make it green.

 

 

 

3/3/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND SPRING AGAIN

 

Now comes the mystic time again

The longer days with warming rain

When morning grass has newly lost

The aged look of bearded frost.

In keeping with this newer look

The ice succumbs to wooing brook

And both run full.  The word

Is passed and distant heard

The twittering of stirring things;.

Bird notes and soft gurglings

Of “peepers” in the ponds at night

Where stars are mirrored in their light

And dandelions golden eyes

Peek out like stars from grassy skies,

Rejoicing in new sight and sound

We marvel at the world we’ve found.

 

New life and new adventure near,

And though we’ve seen it every year

Its newness wears a pristine sheen

To match its new and lustrous green.

We who know each passing phase

Now in our winter, welcome days

That sound the old familiar ring

It’s great to be alive at spring.

3/6/1964

 

 

 

WHITE THROAT

 

This small brown bird

With bit of white,

Which once was heard

In wooded night

By northern rivers’ sylvan vales.

Here frozen stands

Caught in his trill

By unsure hands

Lacking in skill

That vainly tries and always fails.

Your bird won’t sing,

But this I know

You’ve heard his ring

So long ago

He’ll take you back to the old trails.

Recalling all the ancient ways

You both learned form the Montaguais.

3/6/1964

 

 

Beston’s favorite bird which he particularly mentions

in the St. Lawrence, ch. 14.  “Small birds of the north”

and which he heard in a glen at Cap. a l’Aigle during his

journey in preparation of his book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO A SNOWFLAKE

 

 

Small fugitive from outer space,

Atomic dust dressed up in lace,

Delicate and etched with grace,

Shaped and formed so singular,

Flecked with the nature of a star

Minute sojourner from afar

Bringing to this world below

Celestial nourishment to grow

Full lie, this flake of snow

Disappearing with a breath

Or piling up to awesome depth,

Could you be messenger of death?

Proving what we aught to know,

Not only seeds of life we sow

Soft droplet, are you friend and foe?

 

3/6/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL

 

 

 

The restless breeze

Fingers the trees

Combing cloud wisps

From the eyes

Of cool blue skies.

And softly lisps

Promises to come

With warming sun.

Earth’s old refrain

Often the rain

And springtime mists.

 

 

 

3/12/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING STORM

 

 

From over Appalachia’s crest,

A flood of warming upper skies

Rolled in today from out the west.

Spring caught New England by surprise.

Warm winds slam the icy shore.

Two ancient foes in quick attack

Bright sabres flash, the thunders roar

Young March has broken winter’s back.

 

 

3/12/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGE

 

 

Old age has a backward glance

With heart that seldom sings

Peering for the old romance

Filled with old rememberings.

 

The new horizon is too far

To race against the sun

Kinship with the fading star

The course is nearly run.

 

But still there is a quiet peace.

Hope lingers in these eyes,

Sounds of din and battles cease,

The child awaits his prize.

 

 

3/13/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLD NEST

 

 

I see the old deserted nest

As once it was last spring,

Filled with clamoring unrest,

Gaping mouth, the futile wing.

 

A relic now, this cradle sways

Symbol of a life that’s gone,

 

Its use fulfilled.  Now other days

Will make it lonely with the song

 

Of other birds.  Another brood

Will swing again in nearby tree

Caught up in the Changeless mood,

To sing again Spring’s mystery.

 

 

3/13/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GULLS

 

 

 

Thru the mists the grey group swings

With soft and distant thunderings

Of a thousand milling wings

Swooping in with muted roar,

Landing on the glistening shore

To see what ebb tide holds in store.

 

 

 

 

3/13/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEARCH

 

They loved the forest far too well

To blaze a trail of trees

And so the oft told stories tell

The fate of such as these.

Of how the searchers worked in vain

But never trace was found.

Footprints lost in snow and rain

No signal, sight or sound.

And yet I’m not so sure they’re lost,

These wanderers astray.

They took the risk and weighed the cost

And liked it best that way.

For there are forests of a kind

With their peculiar trees,

The sylvan fosterers of the mind,

With well blazed memories.

Perhaps a clearing is the goal,

The distant mountain comes to view,

A bright horizon for the soul

When life was young and new.

3/15/1964

New item:  Old man, last of his family, wanders into the

woods.  Search continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROSE

 

My good but quite prosaic friend

Cares nothing for the scenic view,

Will not agree, much less pretend

That Nature’s face is always new.

 

He casts a cold indifferent eye

At lakes hemmed in with mountains tall

And turns away with terse reply

“When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”

 

Of course, at that he could be right.

Stones, water, skies, are much the same.

Katchdin lacks Mr. Everest’s might

Though each one holds its proper fame.

 

A pond is water or the sea.

Blue skies you’ll find most anywhere

My friend contends emphatically,

“Clouds are clouds, and air is air.”

 

It;s how you form them in your mind

That Nature’s facets pall.

No simple formula I find,

“When you see one, You’ve seen them all.”

3/15/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECOND SPRING SONG

 

 

 

 

The March day got to dreaming

Of April’s softer skies,

The Vernal warm rays’ beaming

Caught Crocus by surprise.

Winter sports a frosty grin

At these mixed up cues,

As sprightly spring comes tripping in

Wearing overshoes.

 

 

 

3/21/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEALS IN FLIGHT

 

 

The tired, restless feeling of the old

duck not able to make the migrating flight with the

flock but not quite knowing why, trying launching

starts that do not really come off, with lonely

reminiscent eye finds himself pond bound while

the others take off and away.  He paddles around

disconsolately and seems to know he soon will

be prey for the predator – “Sharp-tooth, talon, ice

and snow”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TEAL’S LAST FLIGHT

 

Here in this inlet  by the edge

Of this forgotten Northland slough,

Hemmed in by the saw-toothed sedge,

He idly circles, testing now

The dragging green tint wing

Limp, useless at his side.

He lifts his head inquiring

Scours the heavens far and wide,

For hopeful glimpse again of those

Familiar forms so like his own

Whistling wing strokes as they rose,

Heading for Alberta’s dawn.

He senses that his vigil’s vain

But pushes outward from the shore,

Defying all the stiffening pain,

Attempts his springing rise once more.

One wing will not work as two,

The listing body falls away,

Spinning in its awkward slew,

Green wing will not fly today.

 

From Mississippi’s stream

He led his hurtling green wing band

Guided by the mystic beam

To the new beginning land.

 

 

 

The Teal’s Last Flight  #2

 

This luring pond fell into view,

A promised quiet interlude.

Wings slant and the tired crew

Begin their slide for rest and food.

Too late he heard the cracking gun,

Too late to slip or turn.

A shock and then the spinning sun,

The crumpled wing the pellet’s burn.

Then the trembling crazy slide

Ending where the tall grass grows,

Blends with the tawny bird to hide

From retriever’s nose.

 

But that was suns and moons ago,

Frosty dawn – the shorter day,

Darkened clouds, He seems to know

The flock will not return this way.

He circles round to calmly wait

The urge of life now burning low,

Unmindful of the final fae,

Sharp tooth, talon, ice or snow.

Forlorn, this living bird can dream,

The half bird with the shattered wing

That chains him to this inland stream,

Still waiting for another Spring.

4/11/1964

 

 

 

 

 

RICH AND POOR

 

 

From Dives table fell

The crumbs for Lazar, so

The rich one gained his Hell

The starving one his Heaven, though

Those self same crumbs with blessing given

Could plead poor Dives case

And Charity him could have shriven

And saved him from that awful place.

We know the Scripture story well,

The Justice of it we can see

But who is this poor Dives, pray tell

Could it be your – or me?

 

4/20/1964

 

 

Thought for Humility.

 

It has taken man about 4000 or 5000 years to become

his present idea of the perfect being.  The cockroach

attained his well over 20,000 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARENTS PRAYER

 

 

Dear Jesus, Lord, we pray

For him who stands

Before You on this festive day,

With newly consecrated hands

To offer up his heart and years

To share Your Sacred Sacrifice.

Please pardon us the happy tears

That mist these grateful eyes.

He was ours, but not all.

Somehow we knew some day,

Heading Your gentle call

He’d place his footsteps in Your way.

Dear Jesus, hear our prayer.

Sustain him in Your Holy Joy.

Priest, man as he stands there,

But yesterday he was our boy.

 

 

5/14/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORDINATION

Fear not.  He calls you, “friend,”

His Chosen One, and puts Himself

Into your hands each day;

Trusts you and has no fear.

Friend gives to friend

Equally and more,

Measure pressed down and running over.

He gives Himself to you, entire

You can give nothing less,

So, place yourself confidently

In His Hands each day

In that mystic moment

When all is silent

And the Word takes Flesh,

As you complete

At His small bidding

The Sacred Bond of God to man

While Heaven stands in awe

Echoing “Sanctus”,

While you bear

Life to waiting souls..

For this you were ordained

Fulfillment of Eternal Plan

His Love has found you

In this moment

And will abide forever, Fear Not.

5/15/1964

 

 

ME AND THE MASTERS

 

I am a journeyman with rhyme

Taking meter as I please.

No limpid scousion will be mine

Iambic feet are brought to knees

“Poetic License”, that’s the dish

I feed on and expand,

Translating prose just as I wish,

To fit the fancy at my hand.

I make my rules and so depart

From Masters with their finesse keen.

I’ll never substitute for are

“Ne’er” for “never” – “evening” as “a’en”.

Some reason stays, I cannot find

The need to change a simple sound

And call the blowing wind, “the wind”

It’s easier I’ve always found

Matching rhyme now with the sense

Of what you’re saying, so

I guess that is the difference

“Tween” me and Byron, – there I go

My rule is fractured with that “Tween”.

Caught in my snare I must confess

The other boys keep all their sheen.

My posey star grows less and less.

 

5/15/1964

 

 

 

OLD BIRDS

OLD DAYS

 

The only birds I ever see

These days

Are ones I’ve always known

The silent ones of secrecy

Have ways

Of keeping well alone.

Guess They’ve found the reason why

The well spring of my list went dry.

 

Your quick ear and sharper eye

To tell

Which song from hidden brush

Silent to the passer by

Clear bell

The speaks for Hermit Thrush

While I vainly searched around

You surely named it by its sound.

 

But I’ll keep looking just the same

And try

To fix high soaring hawks

Keep up the ancient game

While I

Set out again on old familiar walks.

I’ll miss a lot of birds, I know

But you’ll be with me as I go.

5/18/1964

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING AGAIN

 

 

 

Spring really isn’t slow

But plods with steady gait,

Sleight of hand beneath the snow,

Well known to us who wait

To see the softened pond

Go dimpled with the rain.

Bud, bush and leafy frond

Take on new life again.

We, patient, wait our little while

To see her slow bright smile.

 

 

5/23/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In Spring a young man’s fancy turns to ————–

And those not so young turn back to other springs.  I

do not hold that Spring is for the very young.  They

Can be spendthrift with it.  The old hoard and

treasure this season as an heirloom with which they

must soon part, but still strive to hold it as

a promise of the Greater Spring.  Easter could

Not come at any other time.

 

 

5/23/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAMENT FOR A LOON

 

Here at the low-tide’s sandy edge

Limp, silent, still the black sheen form

Nesting  in life’s last pose, the sedge

But half conceals him, and the warm

June sun will have its way.

No more to keep his slow patrol,

Quick sounding for his watery prey

Deep riding on the outward shoal.

Silent now his raucous cry,

The taunting laugh that Walden knew.

This is no way for such a bird to die,

Ancient when most the world was new.

Now science stretches out a hand

And deftly lifts him from his bed

Of matted grass and changing sand,

Slung to a waiting truck and sped

To where a questing nosey knife

And some biologist will know

What brought to end this vibrant life

Here at tide’s ebb where the sedges grow.

6/20/1964

 

In the summer of 1961 Fla and I visited a beach on the

Inner Cape,  at the foot of side road of Rt. 6 and saw

the carcass of a loon, undamaged.  An official of the

Wild life Service took it away.

 

 

 

 

 

CAMP SITE REVISITED

 

Here are the walls that mark its bounds,

The groves and clearings that I used to know,

But change has touched these once familiar grounds,

The Scout Camp of these many years ago.

 

Young pines and maples thickly crowd

The front field and the seedling trees

I knew, now screen the passing cloud

And taller bushes trap the summer breeze.

 

The mountain shelter stands alone

Much as I left it and its open face

Rests, secure from supporting stone.

Within, a phoebe finds a nesting place.

Patrol sites show this Scouting skill,

Fire places wait the friendly flames.

Echoes of camp songs seem to fill

The woods and shouts of scouting games.

 

Time was I knew this wooded land.

Years pass, and when I come again

Midst all the change alone I stand,

Seedling to trees, boys to men.

7/20/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER WIND

 

 

 

 

 

November’s wind is a mother’s call

To flower children at their play,

Unmindful of the season’s fall,

And winter soon must have its way.

Her vibrant voice sounds loud and harsh

But love is there (as any child can tell),

Well known to flowering field and marsh

They heed the call from dale and dell.

Lightly she tucks them into bed,

Thin blanket first, and later with the cold

The heavy cover she will surely spread,

This loving mother wise and old.

 

 

7/21/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE QUIET LAND

 

 

 

 

This is the land that I would see once more,

The mystic land full of creation’s grace,

Wide, sweeping scimitar of shore,

Vast ocean’s night sprawled out in foamy lace.

 

This is the quiet scene that I would see

Before my tired eyes close down in rest.

Land, sea and sky in placid majesty,

The flame tinged clouds go sailing to the west.

 

Here undisturbed the quiet noiseless things

For one who sees much better that he hears,

Twilight and dawn, the soft descending wings

Then silent shadows as the ending nears.

 

7/21/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMER DAY

 

 

These summer days are just too much for me,

A quick surrender to the vagabond

I find myself confronted by the sea

Or suddenly beside a wayside pond.

 

It only takes a bird’s swift flight

To carry me beyond the wall

Of work day world.  You might

Call me lazy, but then after all

 

I an be very busy in a way.

Tracing bird tracks on the beach

Or watching warblers at their play,

Or Monarchs just beyond my reach.

 

I can’t describe the alchemy

That turns me back to Nature’s way.

I know it is too strong for me,

I can’t resist a summer day.

 

7/22/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REAL ESTATE VENTURE

 

 

Bought a piece of land today

Down by Mattapoisett way,

Though I know its getting late

For dabbling now in real estate.

For this I have a special plan.

I’ve always thought that every man

Should own a piece of property

To give him some security.

A country place beside a wood

Nice quiet, friendly neighborhood.

A smallish place, but then

The standard size for most all men.

About as nice a place I guess

As even tycoons could posses.

Yes, bought as nice as it can be,

With room enough for Fla and me.

 

7/29/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOMENT OF GLORY

 

 

 

A dingy sparrow wings

Hasty flight

Toward flaming west

And in that moment brings

An image bright

Of Tanager, his breast

This instant now aflame –

With fading light

A dingy bird again.

 

 

8/3/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALANCE

 

 

 

I’ve often wondered, with surprise,

At the insect’s wide range view

With all his many hundred eyes

While I have only two.

 

But then there is so much to see

In this wide world of ours

For all the years God gives to me

He gives him only hours.

 

 

8/5/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLD TRAILS

 

 

Out of  the night the call

Of memory’s baying hounds

Disturbing dreams, and all

The old frustrating sounds

Of when the trail grows cold

Or crossing scents delay

The fruitless chase of old

Wraiths whitened in the day.

Why play their foolish game

Backtracking olden days,

Running down the same

Familiar endless maze

Of what has been

And will not be again.

 

 

8/15/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIME

 

Man inherits the earth but only for a time, and strives

for a very small portion of it, and the very smallest portion

of it comes to him at the end, not as a reward but as an

inevitable promise.

Time is the universal clock with its thousands of

faces and multi-million cog wheels, constantly dropping

out and constantly renewed.  I ride one of the wheels

turning with dials for heat, cold, sleeping, eating, loving,

laughing, crying.   The seed and its bursting into flower,

it’s dry stalk, its dust, the seconds, minutes, hours, days,

months, years.  I took flight with the eagle wing of youth

and flutter to earth as a wounded quail.  My fancy has

roamed the cloud crowded summer sky.  My soul has tasted

the warm summer rain and the stabbing needles of winter.  I

have journeyed along the Milky Way and once slid down the

curve of the rainbow and was not all disappointed by

the jarring impact of earth with not a bit of gold in sight.

My cog wheel begins to slip.  It cracks, and while I

still spin with it I see other cogs revolving near by and

I know that some time soon I’ll be whirling out of this

wonderful clock at a dizzying pace and another will take

my place.  But that is as it should be and will continue so

until the mainspring lets go and all the thousand faces,

and  multi-million cog wheels go flying who knows where.

8/16/1964

 

 

 

 

 

REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUN

 

Today we pierce the outer space

With energetic darts

The school boy and machinist talk

Like scientists of parts

We’ve photographed the nearest orb

And now so very soon

We’ll land our newest space craft

And man upon the moon .

And so the olden love song and

The nursery rhyme somehow

Join hands and sing for sheerest joy

The lunar vaulting cow.

We’ll keep on firing bullets

At the blinking blooming stars

And skip away to Saturn, visit

Xenias, even Mars.

But still I’ll trade the spaceman’s jargon

For the Children’s nursery tune.

The strangest flight the world has seen,

The eloping plate and spoon.

 

8/17/1964

 

 

 

 

 

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 beach 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 will feel the first

Color pang

And every lake will soon begin to blush.

I know the chipmunk’s furtive way

Of joining in the rush

Of hoarding, 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,

 

 

FORECAST  #2

 

A rose will tempt a bee

A hawk patrols a windy bridge,

A rainbow paints a fantasy

Of airy archway cross the sky,

What matters who is there to see.

The sun and stars will hang as high

And cast their spell of mystery

Stirring up the season sings

I know what the morrow brings.

 

 

8/18/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLORERS

 

 

 

One thousand years away from kite

To sound swifter planes and satellite,

Are but  a twinkling of His eyes

Our pygmies lost among His skies.

He smiles upon our summer night,

Illumined by the June bug’s light,

And tho we skip on stepping stones

Through starry meadows that He owns,

Indulgent lets us have our way

and aids us at ambitious play.

He knows we’ll tire of our fun,

Nor pierce the hard core of His sun.

Perhaps we’ll reach beyond the rim

And turn our eyes again to Him.

 

8/20/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUTUMN PREVIEW

 

 

Where only shades of green should be

I caught a glimpse of red and gold.

A blushing maple timidly

Sets forth her fashion clear and bold,

Not caring if the season’s young.

Autumn’s palette touched her soul.

While listening to the woodland’s tongue

She chose the garb of oriole,

And tanager which flitted by

With dripping scarlet fire.

His flowing beauty caught her eye.

She blended it with her attire

And so she sets Fall’s fashion pace,

Flaunts her color proud and gay,

First of her kind, to her the race

Far in advance of opening day.

 

A small maple sapling seen sporting autumn color in a patch of green along Sconticut Neck Rd.

 

8/24/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER DAYS

 

 

Now comes the time for gathering,

The early evening of the year.

The south bound flocks are on the wing,

The harvest days grow near.

 

The middle time before the cold

Of winter, –  after summer’s blaze,

A time to pause and grateful hold

The fragrant quiet days.

 

Marigold, chrysanthemum,

Asters, and the yellow grasses,

Last targets for the questing hum

And so the summer passes.

 

Oh, we will have fair weather,

White clouds and bluing skies,

One last bloom, a fallen feather,

Before our summer dies.

 

9/8/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAGIC SHIP

 

I’d surely like to take a ride

With my grandson Joe

Aboard his mighty magic ship.

The places we would go.

First, cut upon the ocean

And then upon the sea,

Wherever we’d a notion,

And the sights that we would see.

Bolivia, the far off Isles,

Visit Sister Mary too.

Travel ’bout a million miles

And even maybe two.

We’d cross the Andes neat as pie

And jump the Isthmus too.

(You see our magic ship can fly)

With Joe the skipper, me the crew.

The wondrous thing about his boat,

He makes this very plain,

For all the miles we are afloat

By dawn we’re home again.

9/9/1964

 

This follows pretty closely Joe’s description

of his travels in his boat, as told to Grandma.

 

 

 

 

 

SMALL SOUNDS

 

 

These small voices sound

His Benediction;

A woodland stream

Fern hidden, cool

Inviting dragon flies

Scorned by the angler’s lure.

A stripling birch

With whispering leaves

And hidden there

A transient warbler’s muted song,

While in a sunny wildflower patch

A nosey bee makes noisome business

And on a nearby dusty road

A country boy announces all is well

With off key whistled tune.

 

9/9/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER, 1964

 

 

I shall not evermore

Look on a sandy beach spread

Out before

A blue green sea

But that I’ll recall him back from the dead

Days of yesteryear and see him

Striding out toward expanse of sky

Such as the picture shows him

And the Image I

Shall keep, – the lithe, trim,

Figure, dauntless, breasting forward

To the shining destiny ahead.

 

 

11/12/1964

 

Lines occasioned by a photo of JFK

walking across a grassy sandy patch toward

the sound from the compound at Hyannis port.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAROL FOR MARY

 

 

 

Somehow we knew you would not stay

For everyone must have a star

To follow so you went away

To where it took you to the far

Off land: a new Judea where

The voice and light led on to Him

As clear as in the midnight air

Brought wise ones on to Bethlehem.

 

 

 

 

11/19/1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBRANCE JFK ’64

 

 

We did not have him long

But then

Who marks the echoes of a song

Knows when

The Heart is surfeited with tears.

Who knows

When life is full of years.

 

We know him young, strong, brave

His life

Gave vision far beyond a grave.

The strife

Of day is done, and still

We see

A flame upon a wooded hill.

Fulfillment of a destiny,

Enshrined now in eternity.

 

 

 

Nov.  22, 1964

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