Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Girl Reading Under an Oak Tree, 1879 (oil on canvas), Winslow Homer
How shall we celebrate poetry month?
Let us count the ways
We could write a poem once a week
Or even once a day
We could borrow books of poems
From the Fremont Library
And read them in a nearby park
Beneath a lovely tree
We could learn about poetry styles and themes
In a Gale Series online
Or read a poet’s biography
Robert Frost or Gertrude Stein
We could check out poetry movies
Such as Sylvia or Howl
Or visit some dear childhood friends
Like Pussycat and Owl
Through April and through every month
Does it matter so much which?
Poems, poem, everywhere!
And every drop so rich.

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Year’s end, all
corners of this
floating world, swept.

                                             -Matsuo Basho

We are busy ,  and one of  the small things  we can  do to  ease our  busy days is to  find  a  small bit of  beauty  or  just a few  words  that add to  our  thoughts.  National  Poetry  month  is a good  time to find some new words  or revisit  some  classics:

to find  more poetry  ,  visit  the Fremont Library facebook page all month.

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You may be aware that April is National Poetry Month, but did you know that it’s also National Frog Month? It sure is! Frogs are very interesting animals known as  amphibians. That means they live in both water and on land during their lifetime. Frogs start life as tadpoles living in the water and then they change into a frog. This change is called metamorphosis. April is almost over but there is still to time learn about frogs and amphibians. The library has lots of books about frogs you can read. You can also learn about frogs from the WorldBookDigital database that is provided through Alameda County Library.

Here are a few frog facts that I found really interesting:

-Frogs don’t drink water, they absorb it through their skin.
-Frogs can breathe air through their skin too.
-Frogs have eyes that rotate so they can see in almost every direction.

Take a look at theses websites to learn more about frogs:

kidzone.ws – learn all about a frogs life and habitat

sfbaywildlife.info – learn about frogs in the San Francisco bay area

oaklandzoo.org – learn about amphibians at the Oakland Zoo

Animal Diversity Web – listen to different frog sounds

A celebration of National Poetry Month and National Frog Month:

Here is a frog haiku written by Matsuo Basho, a famous Japanese poet.

The old pond–
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

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First the reminder:  Be smart and back up everything saved on your computer hard drive — today.  Take it from one who learned the hard way.  Our home computer died a couple of months ago and with it went my “stuff”, including photographs, recipes, saved pages and other bits and pieces that meant something to me.  I hope to find someone who can recover things from that dead hard drive, but at odd moments I think of my lost collections and of possibly reconstructing what I had.  I know I lost two poems introduced to me in long-ago high school literature classes.  After leaving home for college, and for the longest time before online searching became possible, every time I found myself in a book store (remember them?) or any library, I would browse anthologies of poetry hoping to find either poem listed in some book’s table of contents or index.

The feelings each poem evokes, if not their words, have stayed with me through the years.  One fires me up, bringing up defiance and strength in the face of adversity.  “Invictus”, Latin for unconquered or unbeaten, is the title of William Ernest Henley’s poem that left a lasting impression on my teen and adult self.  Invictus also is the title of a 2009 movie that starred Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent 27 years in prison for campaigning against apartheid and then served as South Africa’s first black president.  The other poem encourages patience and reflection and reins me in.  At moments in my life, recalling Vernon Watkins’ Triads has guided me to my senses.  I found these poems again online and now I share them here for safekeeping, sort of.  At any time I can search the library catalog for poems, but for now I intend to keep my resolution to do scheduled backups of my computer hard drive.

by Vernon Watkins (1906-67)

Who am I to load the year with continual misunderstanding?
I will not accuse winter of a protracted hardness,
Nor spring of callousness, nor summer of regret.

The oak-leaf changes; green gloss cups the acorn.
First hidden, then emerging from resistance to statement,
The fruit holds nothing in its fullness but the tree.

To have held through hail, stormwinds, and black frost in darkness
Through the long months, gives meaning to the bud when it opens.
Song loses nothing of moments that are past.

So my labour is still: it is still determination
To resolve itself slowly in the weathers of knowledge.
By virtue of the hidden the poem is revealed.

Remember Earth’s triads: the faith of a dumb animal,
The mountain stream falling, music to the wheat-ears;
The salt wave echoing the grieving of the bones.

The lamb leaps: it is stubborn in its innocence.
The hawk drops, in the energy of instinct,
Dawn fires kindle perfection like a sword.

Fires: the hawk’s talons, the tongue of the chameleon,
In a peacock’s wings’ lightning the contraction of glory,
In death the last miracle, the unconditional gift.

What do I need but patience before the unpredictable,
The endurance of the stepping-stone before the footprint,
Cadence that reconciles wisdom and the dance?

I need more, I need more. In the moment of perception
Fit me, prayer, to lose everything, that nothing may be lost.
The stone that accumulates history is falling.

History is a pageant, and all men belong to it.
We die into each other: remember how many
Confided their love, not in vain, to the same earth.


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April will be here soon, and I want to remind everyone that this is a very special month: National Poetry Month.  In our hurry, scurry, rushed world we are lucky if we have time to read something, anything.  Often it is Facebook or Twitter.  Or maybe we even carve out time to read that hot new bestseller everyone is buzzing about.  Often we don’t think about poetry which has a different way of looking at the world.  Poetry has its own pace and rhythm that invites us to take time to ponder, and think about our feelings, our memories, our values.Growing up, poetry was a big part of my life.  My dad loved poetry, and especially a book called “101 Famous Poems”.  He gave me a copy for my 10th birthday, which I still own.  We would read the poems in that book, and often I would memorize them.  I still remember snatches of them some 50 years later.”Daffodils” by William Wordsworth was one of my favorites:

I wander’d lonely as a cloud

that floats on high o’er vale and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils:
That poem not only evokes for me the thought of a beautiful field of daffodils, but also the wonderful times I spent with my dad when we would go on “adventures” all around the Bay Area to local parks.
That little book also contained the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
Those are words that mean a lot to me, and I still have the poem displayed in my cubicle at work. It reminds me that I can be strong when I am facing adversity. Poems had a huge influence on me as I grew up, and as I mentioned, those poems I learned as a child, can transport me back to those simpler days of my life.
Are there poems that influenced you as a child or teen or perhaps now influence you?  Think about them and why they were or are important to you. What feelings or images do they evoke?
And remember, there is a world of poetry at your local library.  Stop by a branch this April and  pick up a poetry book. Many poems are short, and don’t require the time commitment of a novel, yet contain thoughts, images and ideas that may challenge you, thrill you or widen your horizons.   Read poetry for your own enjoyment or share it with someone.  After all, poetry invites us to read it aloud. Discover or re-discover the joys of poetry!

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On September 1, 1939, Hitler’s Germany invaded Poland, thereby starting World War II.  W.H. Auden expressed his anger and sadness over the outbreak of the global war in his poem “September 1, 1939”, which was published the following month.  Auden was in Manhattan when he wrote the poem.  In the days following September 11, 2001, people turned to the poem and it was widely reproduced, its relevance discussed and analyzed in the light of modern events.  Listen to the poem.  Do Auden’s words and images still resonate ten years after 9/11?  What do you think?  Find more of Auden’s poems at your library.

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Today I picked up one of Shel Silverstein’s books, Where The Sidewalk Ends.   It is an old favorite , and a great pick me up.  Before you get to the library, enjoy one of his poems recited by a bunch of people in New York’s Central Park:

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Photograph of beach 

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon —
A depth — an Azure — a perfume —
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see —

Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me —

The wizard fingers never rest —
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes it’s narrow bed —

Still rears the East her amber Flag —
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red —

So looking on — the night — the morn
Conclude the wonder gay —
And I meet, coming thro’ the dews
Another summer’s Day!

by Emily Dickinson


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If You Were Coming in the Fall

Emily DickinsonAh, Emily Dickinson. There is something so appealing and yet so elusive in her poetry. Just when I think I understand it, I realize there’s much more there than I saw at first glance. This poem about the absence of a loved one and the uncertainty of his return is one of my favorites. Van Dieman’s land is apparently another name for the island Tasmania which is now part of Australia. In any case, it is somewhere far away from where she is.

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

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National Poetry Month is a little more than half over, but it isn’t too late to celebrate. You can still surf on over to Poets.org (brought to you by the Academy of American Poets) and read poetry, listen to poetry, learn about poetry, and even sign up to get a poem a day for the rest of the month of April. This nice thing about the “poem a day” is that you can sign up this year, and you will still be signed up next April. Poets.org features poetry both modern and classic, so if you stop by you are certain to find something that you will enjoy.

If, on the other hand, you would prefer to play with a random poetry generator I offer you Hyperpoetry. On this site you can even choose the type of poem you would like to generate. If you choose a “Clarity Pyramid” you could end up with something like this:

jungle heat
he runs through the green
bones of old industry
jungles bounded on all sides
found in the broken pulse of time


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