“When Diana Lighteth”

Thomas Watson (After Henry Robert Morland), “A Girl Singing Ballads By a Paper Lanthorn” (1767–81)

When Diana lighteth
Late her crystal lamp,
Her pale glory kindleth
From her brother’s fire,
Little straying west winds
Wander over heaven,
Moonlight falleth,
And recalleth
With a sound of lute-strings shaken,
Hearts that have denied his reign
To love again…

— Latin; twelfth century (Tr. Waddell)

Almost Hear You Sigh

“If no love is, O God, what fele I so?”

Photograph by Les Anderson on Unsplash (edited collage)

if you ever fall in love
to the sounds of violins
and bells
and a melody that wraps itself
around your heart
look for her
one more time

— J.S.

Bells of St. Augustine

To His Coy Mistress

Warren K. Leffler, “New York Scenes” (1969)

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may…

— Andrew Marvell

Love Machine

Love and Life: A Song

cf. CIO Magazine (1987)

All my past life is mine no more,
The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv’n o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
By memory alone.

The time that is to come is not;
How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
Phyllis, is only thine.

Then talk not of inconstancy,
False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
’Tis all that Heav’n allows.

— John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

Hello It’s Me

Oh, when I was in love with you

cf. Video by cottonbro via Pexels (Edit)

OH, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they ’ll say that I
Am quite myself again.

— A. E. Housman

Epistle from Mrs. Yonge to Her Husband

cf. Microcomputing Magazine (1981)

Think not this paper comes with vain pretense
To move your pity, or to mourn th’ offense.
Too well I know that hard obdurate heart;
No softening mercy there will take my part,
Nor can a woman’s arguments prevail,
When even your patron’s wise example fails.
But this last privilege I still retain;
Th’ oppressed and injured always may complain…

— Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Sonnet CXXII

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1952) (Edited Collage)

THY gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character’d with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain,
Beyond all date, even to eternity…

Mainstreet

Emily’s Epigram

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1952)

IT ’S all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget,—
Some one the sun could tell,—
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.

— Emily Dickinson


The Pleasure Principle

Amoretti and Epithalamion: Sonnet LXVI

cf. Nation’s Business Magazine (1970)

TO all those happy blessings, which ye have
With plenteous hand by heaven upon you thrown;
This one disparagement they to you gave,
That ye your love lent to so mean a one.
Ye, whose high worth’s surpassing paragon
Could not on earth have found one fit for mate,
Ne but in heaven matchable to none,
Why did ye stoop unto so lowly state?
But ye thereby much greater glory gat,
Than had ye sorted with a prince’s peer:
For, now your light doth more itself dilate,
And, in my darkness, greater doth appear.
Yet, since your light hath once illumined me,
With my reflex yours shall increased be.

— Edmund Spenser

Just Got Lucky

my lost self

RIP

John Sapiro

cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)

like Antaeus
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
my strength
my spirit
myself
and then I touch ground
again

— J.S.

Van Halen – 6/12/81 – Oakland Coliseum

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On a Dream

cf. Cincinnati Magazine (1983)

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon’d and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So play’d, so charm’d, so conquer’d, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe where Jove griev’d that day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows—pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kiss’d, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

— Keats, On a Dream

Love’s Train

Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay

Zach Muhlbauer, “Wyeth Eyewear” (2019)

Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay,
My love lyke the Spectator ydly sits
Beholding me that all the pageants play,
Disguysing diversly my troubled wits.
Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in myrth lyke to a Comedy:
Soone after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I waile and make my woes a Tragedy.
Yet she beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my merth nor rues my smart:
But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry
She laughes, and hardens evermore her hart.
What then can move her? if not merth nor mone,
She is no woman, but a sencelesse stone.

— Edmund Spenser, “Amoretti LIV: Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay”

Sin City

The Memory Of Laura

Kaye, “Plymouth Savoy in Australia” (ca. 1950s)

O joyous, blossoming, ever-blessed flowers!
’Mid which my pensive queen her footstep sets;
O plain, that hold’st her words for amulets
And keep’st her footsteps in thy leafy bowers!
O trees, with earliest green of springtime hours,
And all spring’s pale and tender violets!
O grove, so dark the proud sun only lets
His blithe rays gild the outskirts of thy towers!
O pleasant country-side! O limpid stream,
That mirrorest her sweet face, her eyes so clear,
And of their living light canst catch the beam!
I envy thee her presence pure and dear.
There is no rock so senseless but I deem
It burns with passion that to mine is near.

— Petrarch (Tr. Higginson)

Heaven Help Me

Love’s Justification

Photograph by Renate Vanaga via Unsplash

YES! hope may with my strong desire keep pace,
And I be undeluded, unbetrayed;
For if of our affections none find grace
In sight of Heaven, then wherefore hath God made
The world which we inhabit? Better plea
Love cannot have, than that in loving thee
Glory to that eternal peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts
As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of paradise.

— Michelangelo (Tr. Wordsworth)

Grow Old With Me

“A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

cf. Video by Welton Souza via Pexels

ALAS! so all things now do hold their peace!
Heaven and earth disturbed in no thing;
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease,
The nightès car the stars about doth bring.
Calm is the sea; the waves work less and less:
So am not I, whom love, alas! doth wring,
Bringing before my face the great increase
Of my desires, whereat I weep and sing,
In joy and woe, as in a doubtful ease.
For my sweet thoughts sometime do pleasure bring;
But by and by, the cause of my disease
Gives me a pang, that inwardly doth sting,
When that I think what grief it is again,
To live and lack the thing should rid my pain.

— Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, “A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

Nights Are Forever Without You

Was the past in color?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1987)

was the past in color?

1987 was in color
ablazedboldbrightbrilliant
bigger than life
but then again
it could have been
only black and white —
I can’t see in this light
late at night

— J.S.

Love T.K.O.

A Modern Odyssey: Book V

Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe…

While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do…

Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him…

Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor, hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with leaves; and Minerva shed a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his eyelids, and made him lose all memories of his sorrows.

Shadows Of The Night

I know it—and to know it is despair

Bright Star (2009)

The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life—My love has made me selfish.

— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne

Love Lies Bleeding

To the Moon

Image by GeorgeB2 via Pixabay

Hide this one night thy crescent, kindly Moon;
So shall Endymion faithful prove, and rest
Loving and unawakened on the breast;
So shall no foul enchanter importune
Thy quiet course; for now the night is boon,
And through the friendly night unseen I fare,
Who dread the face of foemen unaware,
And watch of hostile spies in the bright noon.
Thou knowest, Moon, the bitter power of Love;
‘Tis told how shepherd Pan found ways to move,
For little price, thy heart; and of your grace,
Sweet stars, be kind to this not alien fire,
Because on earth ye did not scorn desire,
Bethink ye, now ye hold your heavenly place.

— Pierre de Ronsard (Tr. Lang)

99

That time of year

Image by Vicki Nunn via Pixabay

That time of year
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold…

autumn
leaves
me
again
every year
— J.S.

Always The Last To Know

Who goes with Fergus?

(1963)

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

— Yeats

Return of the Mack

Bipolar Depression II

cf. photograph by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay (edit)

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end —
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release —
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best —
God! but the interest!

— Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Debt

Lithium

Invictus

cf. photograph by Denis Streltsov via Pixabay (edit, modification and 3D recomposition by me)

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…

— William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Back In Black

“The Tin Bird”

cf. photograph by Pixabay via Pexels

There is an amazing bird:
its beak an old umbrella
its body nothing but empty tins
of corned beef and sardines.

It sees with the eyes
of a doll now broken and forgotten.
Its nest is a dump all smelly and rotten.

When the moon rises like a cradle in the sky,
the bird flies and sings and cries:

Sleepytimes, little sleepy heads
of those who have no food.
I am the angel of your dreams.
I am the birdsong of your sighs.

Ugly as I am,
all rusted and torn,
my song is sweet,
my friendship even sweeter.

Sleepytime, sleepytime, o beloved children.
I watch over babies who know no pillows,
over the little sleepyheads who have no suppers.

— Ramón C. Sunico, “The Tin Bird” (Tr. by the poet)

25 Organizations Dedicated to Fight Hunger

Man in the Mirror

time and tide

Charlotte Brooks, “Teenage driver Bill Kolb…driving his date in an MG convertible” (1958)

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie…

— Sonnet LXXIII

Top of the World

Atomic Courtesy Collaboration – Jacobson

A collaboration with the talented Marcy Erb and featured on her eclectic blog Illustrated Poetry | Art by Marcy Erb

Illustrated Poetry

GIF by John Sapiro

Atomic Courtesy

To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment.

Ethel Jacobson

collage of beige and red particles escaping from a black concentric reactor

John Sapiro and I began our email correspondence about this little poem and the history of the atomic age a few months ago, before the early August anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but amidst the early chaos of the pandemic. It seemed almost ridiculous to be talking about yet another threat to worldwide health, peace, and humanity and yet, it was the mood of the day. I couldn’t find an exact date for Ethel Jacobson’s poem, although it is in a book I have that has a copyright date of 1952. And so our conversation centered mostly around the cold war of the 1950s and 60s but veered around widely. We talked about the physicist Richard Feynman and his…

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I am looped in the loops of her hair

Photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash

I WHISPERED, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

— Yeats, The Young Man’s Song

Inside Out

My wheel is in the dark

Image by Myriam Zilles via Pixabay

MY Wheel is in the dark,—
I cannot see a spoke,
Yet know its dripping feet
Go round and round.

My foot is on the tide—
An unfrequented road,
Yet have all roads
A “clearing” at the end.

Some have resigned the Loom,
Some in the busy tomb
Find quaint employ,
Some with new, stately feet
Pass royal through the gate,
Flinging the problem back at you and I.

— Emily Dickinson

Part of the Plan

“recuerdo”

Photograph by Juliane Mergener via Unsplash

recuerdo

upon a violin
Sentio, ergo sum
my musical Descartes
each song
deeper
deeper
deeper
into my heart
mercy I cried
but in her lantern slide
did see my life
as though magnified

— J.S.

Killing Me Softly With Her Song

Sherry

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)

She laughed: ‘No, surely; am I not with you?’
And uttering that soft starry ‘you,’ she leaned
Her gentle body near him, looking up;
And from her eyes, as from a poison-cup,
He drank until the flittering eyelids screened…

— George Meredith, Modern Love: IX

Hard To Laugh

The largest fire ever known

cf. Videos by mohamed Hassan (storm) and Moshe Harosh (woman) both via Pixabay (edited collage by me)

THE LARGEST fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men,
An Occidental town,
Rebuilt another morning
To be again burned down.

— Emily Dickinson

10,000 Lovers (In One)

A Serenade at the Villa

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1966) (edit)

I
That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II
Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I…

IV
What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing’s best was done,
To my lute I left the rest…

— Robert Browning, A Serenade at the Villa (excerpt)

Gabrielle

Insomnia

Image by Arek Socha via Pixabay

Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit’s wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love’s new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.

— Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Insomnia

Sun And Moon

The Darkling Thrush

Photograph by Mateo Avila Chinchilla via Unsplash

So little cause for carollings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessèd Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

— Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush (excerpt)

Bad Reputation

To Fanny

cf. TV Commercial

I know it—and to know it is despair
To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny,
Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
Nor when away you roam,
Dare keep its wretched home:
Love, love alone, has pains severe and many;
Then, loveliest! keep me free
From torturing jealousy.

— Keats, “To Fanny”

What’s Her Name Today?

“Lock the Place in your Heart”

cf. Photograph by María Victoria Heredia Reyes via Unsplash (edit)

Lock the place in your heart
into which I have poured my emotions

I do not want to be hurt again
use your heartbeat as the key
only you can hear if it unlocks itself

If the wind around you
should blow away
breathe into it and let my secrets go

— Zindzi Mandela, “Lock the Place in your Heart”

Same Old Lang Syne

“The Meaning of Simplicity”

Photograph by John-Mark Smith via Unsplash (detail) (edit)

I hide behind simple things so you’ll find me;
if you don’t find me, you’ll find the things,
you’ll touch what my hand has touched,
our hand-prints will merge…

— Yannis Ritsos, “The Meaning of Simplicity” (Tr. Keeley)

Lorelei

“The Model And The Statue”

cf. Video by Bassman5420 via Pixabay (edited and modified by me)

When divine Art conceives a form and face,
She bids the craftsman for his first essay
To shape a simple model in mere clay:
This is the earliest birth of Art’s embrace.
From the live marble in the second place
His mallet brings into the light of day
A thing so beautiful that who can say
When time shall conquer that immortal grace?
Thus my own model I was born to be–
The model of that nobler self, whereto
Schooled by your pity, lady, I shall grow.
Each overplus and each deficiency
You will make good. What penance then is due
For my fierce heat, chastened and taught by you?

— Michelangelo, The Model And The Statue

Hot Cherie

“Love’s Philosophy”

cf. from the Toni Frissell Collection, Library of Congress, (detail) (1946)

THE fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle—
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

— Shelley, “Love’s Philosophy”

Could It Be I’m Falling in Love

dreamless

cf. photograph by Toni Frissell, “Weeki Wachee spring, Florida” (underwater view of a woman, wearing a long gown, floating in water) (1947) and video (underwater seabed light) by motionstock via Pixabay (edited collage by me)

I placed my dream in a boat
and the boat into the sea;
then I ripped the sea with my hands
so that my dream would sink.

My hands are still wet
with the blue of the slashed waves,
and the color that runs from my fingers
colors the deserted sands.

The wind arrives from far away,
night bends itself with the cold;
under the water in a boat
my dream is dying away.

I’ll cry as much as necessary
to make the sea grow
so that my boat will sink to the bottom
and my dream disappear…

— Cecilia Meireles, “Song” (Tr. Giacomelli)

Jackie Blue

The Waiting Game

WHEN you are very old, at evening
You’ll sit and spin beside the fire, and say,
Humming my songs, “Ah well, ah well-a-day!
When I was young, of me did Ronsard sing.”
None of your maidens that doth hear the thing,
Albeit with her weary task foredone,
But wakens at my name, and calls you one
Blest, to be held in long remembering.

I shall be low beneath the earth, and laid
On sleep, a phantom in the myrtle shade,
While you beside the fire, a grandame grey,
My love, your pride, remember and regret;
Ah, love me, love! we may be happy yet,
And gather roses, while ’tis called to-day.

— Pierre de Ronsard, “Of His Lady’s Old Age” (Tr. Lang)

The Waiting Game

A Late Walk

Rainy day, Paris, August, 1984

WHEN I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

— Robert Frost, “A Late Walk”

Another Park Another Sunday

ephemera

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)

Tide be runnin’ the great world over:
T’was only last June month I mind that we
Was thinkin’ the toss and the call in the breast of the lover
So everlastin’ as the sea.

Heer’s the same little fishes that sputter and swim,
Wi’ the moon’s old glim on the grey, wet sand;
An’ him no more to me nor me to him
Than the wind goin’ over my hand.

— Charlotte Mew, “Sea Love”

I Can’t Make You Love Me

“Poetry Was Like This”

David Stroble, “Students at Band Practice at Cathedral High School…” (ca. 1975)

Poetry was the memory of adolescence…
Poetry was Ayesha Akhter of my village school
with her long loose flowing hair.

— Al Mahmud, “Poetry Was Like This” (Tr. Chowdhury)

Baby, Now That I’ve Found You

“Wanting to Move”

Image by Niek Verlaan via Pixabay

Continually, a bell rings in my heart.
I was supposed to go somewhere, to some other place,
Tense from the long wait—
Where do you go, will you take me
“With you, on your horses, down the river, with the flame
of your torches?”

They burst out laughing.
“A tree wanting to move from place to place!”
Startled, I look at myself—
A tree, wanting to move from place to place, a tree
Wanting to move? Am I then—
Born here, to die here
Even die here?
Who rings the bell, then, inside my heart?
Who tells me to go, inside my heart?
Who agitates me, continually, inside my heart?

— Vijaya Mukhopadhyay, “Wanting to Move”

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

cf. photograph by Nathan Anderson via Unsplash

One day I asked the mirror facing me,
Friend, what’s true?…

How about my heart, mirror?…

Silence.

O mirror, I see.

I need a human friend
True enough
To reflect my heart.

— Tialuga Sunia Seloti

Stand by Me

She moves me

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)

HAVE you got a brook in your little heart…
Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go…

— Emily Dickinson

Something in the Way She Moves

“House of Spring”

cf. Photographs via Unsplash and Pexels

Hundreds of open flowers
all come from
the one branch
Look
all their colors
appear in my garden
I open the clattering gate
and in the wind
I see
the spring sunlight
already it has reached
worlds without number

— Musō Soseki (Tr. Merwin & Shigematsu)

I Just Want To Celebrate