Monthly Archives: October 2012


at the altar

Tread, try, trust; trust, tremble.
O Betrayed: to us -ward (astray)
Stride thou–in travail.

Trial. Tree once (for us, try) torn,
Fruit tried; hearts tied, we tire, stumble.
Tree (for us, torn) try, and terror; (humble).

Torn, thou: o come. Come, Desired.
(Come thou tired, tired thou My
People, and try.)

EDIT: Don’t worry, folks, I’m not going to go all Wasteland on you. If you’re going to seriously write poetry that requires footnotes, you should be as brilliant–and wise–as Eliot. I’m not.

It’s mostly a study in the “tr” sound (which is admittedly not a very nice one, but it was stuck in my head one day, and wanted to get out),  combined with a Latin teacher’s hobby of playing with cases. How do the words go together? How would a line read, if you took such-and-such as the subject, versus taking it as the direct object? Or as modifying the addressee? (In the second verse, for instance, the parentheticals are vocative, while the first clause is indicative (with an implied ‘is’), while the second is hortatory subjunctive. This tickles me pink…(!!), but it needn’t trouble you in the least.)

It’s like a ball of yarn: a just-for-fun, rather hairy, and convoluted problem, better suited to being batted about than unravelled. (You’re welcome for that simile. It was inspired by Maggie the Cat…who is currently snoozing, in her useless feline fashion, on my bed.) Maybe someday I will use it to make something sensible.

(Then again: maybe not.)

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Take not roundness
from the acorn; light
from fire; nor color

from the midnight

And take not thy
Holy Spirit from


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wendell berry: come forth

I just ran across this poem in a beautiful little autumn-yellow book of Berry’s poetry, recently–and illicitly, for it wasn’t on the Official Book List–garnered at Half Price Books. It startled me the first time, and made me cry the second. Probably because I know the man it might have been written about; an old soldier who joined the army when “cavalry” still meant horses, and who, a few months ago, went to be with his God.

Grandpa, I can’t wait to meet you again, when you are strong and shouting with glory, older and younger and more splendid than we could have imagined.

I can’t wait to meet you for the first time.

Come Forth

I dreamed of my father when he was old.
We went to see some horses in a field;
they were sorrels, as red almost as blood,
the light gold on their shoulders and haunches.
Though they came to us, all a-tremble
with curiosity and snorty with caution,
they had never known bridle or harness.
My father walked among them, admiring,
for he was a knower of horses, and these were fine.

He leaned on a cane and dragged his feet
along the ground in hurried little steps
so that I called to him to take care, take care,
as the horses stamped and frolicked around him.
But while I warned, he siezed the mane of the nearest one.
“It’ll be all right,” he said, and then from his broken stance
he leapt astride, and sat lithe and straight
and strong in the sun’s unshadowed excellence.

{Wendell Berry}


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