Autumn Morning

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poetry+friday+button-e1341309970195In early morning
summer folds into autumn
with a foretelling chill
Geese soar above rolling golden fields
chasing clouds toward southern climes
A deep mist hovers over the land
as though the earth has exhaled
its memories of summer’s warmth
and the essence of the season passing
lingers in the morning air,
a visible adieu.

Molly Hogan (c) 2016

 

Click here to visit Catherine Flynn’s blog, Reading to the Core, where you’ll find this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

A Book Love Moment

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hAt the end of the day we gathered on the carpet, my fourth graders and I.

“So, guys, I’m going to a library book sale on Friday night, and I need your suggestions. Are there any particular books you’d like me to pick up if I see them? What’s missing from our library?”

“Graphic novels!” called a couple of voices.

“Yeah! Like Sisters and Smile!” someone said.

Hands flew up, waving frantically. Book titles and series names came fast and furious and I diligently jotted them down. “The Narnia books!” “The Stone Fox!” “The False Prince!” “Harry Potter!” My page quickly filled with titles. As students shared suggestions, the room filled with a buzz of vigorous nods and side comments like, “Oh, yeah, I love that book!” or “Those are great!”

Finally, I called on yet another enthusiastic student. “Where the Red Fern Grows,” he proclaimed. “You have got to get that book. I cried so hard when I read it.” Then he paused and declared with great sincerity, “That book is powerful!”

Chipmunks

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This summer and fall the chipmunks have been cavorting in the gardens around our house. They seem to have minimal fear of us or even of our two geriatric cats. We’ve had great fun watching them gorge on sunflower seeds, pose for pictures, linger in the sun, and generally enjoy the high life–or at least as high of a life as a chipmunk can enjoy.  This poem, by Robert Gibb, appeared in my Inbox today, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day.

For The Chipmunk In My Yard

I think he knows I’m alive, having come down
The three steps of the back porch
And given me a good once over. All afternoon
He’s been moving back and forth,
Gathering odd bits of walnut shells and twigs…
(click here to read the rest of the poem)

 

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To enjoy more poetry, click here to go to the Poetry Friday Roundup, hosted this week by Michelle Hendrich Barnes at This Little Ditty.

Taking Credit

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hEarly one day recently I woke up, instantly remembering that I’d left the kitchen a mess the night before. Eventually, I sighed, dragged myself out of bed, and wandered out, prepared to deal with the accumulated dishes. I was stunned to walk into a pristine kitchen–no dirty dishes, clean counters, and no mess. Wow, someone did the dishes! I thought. It must have been Kurt.  It was such a lovely and unexpected surprise. When my husband awoke later, I made it a point to thank him enthusiastically (because I was truly thankful and because I was hoping to reinforce the behavior.)

“Oh, yeah,” he mumbled, accepting my fervent thanks nonchalantly.

The next night the dishes were done again. “Wow! Thanks, guys! This is great.” I commented.  “Did you do the dishes again, Kurt?”

“No, I did, “piped up my daughter.

“Thanks!”I said, “What a nice surprise to have someone else do them two nights in a row-and without me asking!”

“Yeah,” she said, offhandedly,  “I did them last night, too.”

“What!?” I said, as my husband looked away. “I thought Dada did them.”

“No,” she said, “I did.” She paused, “I was kind of surprised you didn’t say anything.”

My disbelief grew. I looked over at my husband, sitting on the couch trying to look innocent, avoiding eye contact. “I thought Dada did them,” I repeated slowly. I looked at my daughter. “I even thanked him,” I said to her, “and he didn’t say anything to deny it!”

We both turned and stared at him. After a long silence, he finally looked up.

“Well, I didn’t actually say I did them,” he said sheepishly.

I’m still speechless.

 

Autumn Day

poetry+friday+button-e1341309970195Recently while browsing through my brimming bookshelf, I picked up a copy of The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke and began reading. This poem, with its initial lyrical images of autumn, captured me and then jolted me with the final haunting stanza.

Autumn Day
by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

rainer_maria_rilke_1900Rilke wrote “Autumn Day” in German and it has been translated many, many times. (Click here if you’d like to see the original German poem and/or if you’re interested in reading multiple translations.) As I read, I was amazed by the differences in the translations. I began to wonder–Is it the translator’s job solely to translate, word by word, or to ensure that the translation includes the rhythm and meaning, the heart of the poem? Or something in between? I found it fascinating to think about the role of translation and the additional demands of translating poetry.

A lifetime ago I was a German major and so I could compare (rustily!) the original and various translation. Below is the translation I thought most closely adhered to Rilke’s original.

Autumn Day (translated by J. Mullen)

Lord: it is time. The summer was great.
Lay your shadows onto the sundials
and let loose the winds upon the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full,
give them yet two more southern days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who now has no house, builds no more.
Who is now alone, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly here and there
in the avenues, when the leaves drift.

Do you prefer one version over the other?  I prefer the Merrill version, but I’ve begun to think of it as more of a collaboration than a translation. What do you think?

The amazing Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog, The Poem Farm. Click on the link to enjoy some more poetry.

Goodbye…Hello…

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hA huge thank you to Amy Warntz (Runner, Reader & Rockin’ Mom)for the structural inspiration for this post! On this first day of school, I couldn’t have written without it. Thanks, Amy!

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goodbye to not knowing the day of the week
hello to TGIF
goodbye to lazy, lounging PJ days
hello to picking out work clothes
goodbye to slow, easy dawns filled with writing and bird song
hello to setting alarms and rushed grab-and-go mornings
goodbye to first grade and a wonderful team
hello to fourth grade and exciting new challenges
goodbye to shorts, tank tops, and iced lattes
hello to slippers, fuzzy socks, and hot coffee
goodbye to sun-ripened berries and juicy pit fruit
hello to the warmth of cinnamon and pumpkin
goodbye to cook-outs and refreshing salads
hello to robust stews and soups bubbling on the stove
goodbye to my girls as they head back to college
hello to weekend visits for concerts or a meal
goodbye to August filled with anticipation and preparation
hello to September and lively, learning days

 

 

Beannacht–Blessing

poetry+friday+button-e1341309970195Beannacht translates from Irish to blessing in English, and this poem is a blessing indeed. I found it difficult to know which stanza to share as each moves me deeply. I have written about my “Make Good Choices” refrain with my children. I wish I could recite this poem to them each time they set off. I love the idea of the wind wrapping words around them protectively. I finally chose to share the second stanza of the poem because of the image of a “flock of colours” awakening a “meadow of delight.” To read the entire poem, just click on the title or click on the video link to hear John O’Donohue recite his work. He has crafted a powerful, beautiful incantation of blessing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Beannacht
by John O’Donohue

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

 

To enjoy more poetry, click here to travel Penny Parker Klosterman’s blog and this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup!