Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Celebrate Myself

In honor of his birthday today, (May 31, 1819), here is the opening to Walt Whitman's signature poem, "Song of Myself," from the deathbed edition of his magnum opus, Leaves of Grass.

Listen to:

I Celebrate Myself (:37)

by Walt Whitman

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
    parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Apostrophe to the Ocean

Listen to:

Apostrophe to the Ocean (1:36)

by George Gordon, Lord Byron

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

    There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society, where none intrudes,
    By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
    I love not man the less, but nature more,
    From these our interviews, in which I steal
    From all I may be, or have been before,
    To mingle with the universe, and feel
  What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

    Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean--roll!
    Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
    Man marks the earth with ruin--his control
    Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
    The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
    A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
    When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
    He sinks into thy depths, with bubbling groan--
  Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
    Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
    Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
    I wantoned with thy breakers--they to me
    Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
    Made them a terror--'twas a pleasing fear;
    For I was as it were a child of thee,
    And trusted to thy billows far and near,
  And laid my hand upon thy mane--as I do here.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The World is Too Much With Us

Listen to:

The World is Too Much With Us (:48)

by William Wordsworth

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

          The world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                        
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

Listen to:

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass (:52)

by Emily Dickinson

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him, — did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun, —
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Tiger

Listen to:

The Tiger (1:09)

by William Blake

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?