Monday, August 31, 2015

My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is

Listen to:

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

My mind to me a kingdom is;
  Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
  That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,        
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
  No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
  No shape to feed a loving eye;        
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.

I see how plenty surfeits oft,
  And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft        
  Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.

Content I live, this is my stay;
  I seek no more than may suffice;        
I press to bear no haughty sway;
  Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.

Some have too much, yet still do crave;        
  I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
  And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.        

I laugh not at another’s loss,
  I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
  My state at one doth still remain:
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;        
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
  Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is their only trust,
  A cloakèd craft their store of skill;        
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
  My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,        
  Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Widow's Lament in Springtime, The Great Figure

Listen to:

The Widow's Lament in Springtime, The Great Figure (1:25)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  Sorrow is my own yard
  where the new grass
  flames as it has flamed
  often before but not
  with the cold fire
  that closes round me this year.
  Thirty five years
  I lived with my husband.
  The plum tree is white today
  with masses of flowers.
  Masses of flowers
  load the cherry branches
  and color some bushes
  yellow and some red
  but the grief in my heart
  is stronger than they
  for though they were my joy
  formerly, today I notice them
  and turn away forgetting.
  Today my son told me
  that in the meadows,
  at the edge of the heavy woods
  in the distance, he saw
  trees of white flowers.
  I feel that I would like
  to go there
  and fall into those flowers
  and sink into the marsh near them.


  Among the rain
  and lights
  I saw the figure 5
  in gold
  on a red
  with weight and urgency
  to gong clangs
  siren howls
  and wheels rumbling
  through the dark city.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Thinker

Listen to:

The Thinker (:39)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  My wife's new pink slippers
  have gay pom-poms.
  There is not a spot or a stain
  on their satin toes or their sides.
  All night they lie together
  under her bed's edge.
  Shivering I catch sight of them
  and smile, in the morning.
  Later I watch them
  descending the stair,
  hurrying through the doors
  and round the table,
  moving stiffly
  with a shake of their gay pom-poms!
  And I talk to them
  in my secret mind
  out of pure happiness.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Youth and Beauty

Listen to:

Youth and Beauty (:29)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  I bought a dishmop--
  having no daughter--
  for they had twisted
  fine ribbons of shining copper
  about white twine
  and made a towsled head
  of it, fastened it
  upon a turned ash stick
  slender at the neck
  straight, tall--
  when tied upright
  on the brass wallbracket
  to be a light for me--
  and naked,
  as a girl should seem
  to her father.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Listen to:

Queen-Ann's-Lace (:58)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  Her body is not so white as
  anemony petals nor so smooth--nor
  so remote a thing. It is a field
  of the wild carrot taking
  the field by force; the grass
  does not raise above it.
  Here is no question of whiteness,
  white as can be, with a purple mole
  at the center of each flower.
  Each flower is a hand's span
  of her whiteness. Wherever
  his hand has lain there is
  a tiny purple blemish. Each part
  is a blossom under his touch
  to which the fibres of her being
  stem one by one, each to its end,
  until the whole field is a
  white desire, empty, a single stem,
  a cluster, flower by flower,
  a pious wish to whiteness gone over--
  or nothing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Listen to:

Primrose (1:13)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  Yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow!
  It is not a color.
  It is summer!
  It is the wind on a willow,
  the lap of waves, the shadow
  under a bush, a bird, a bluebird,
  three herons, a dead hawk
  rotting on a pole--
  Clear yellow!
  It is a piece of blue paper
  in the grass or a threecluster of
  green walnuts swaying, children
  playing croquet or one boy
  fishing, a man
  swinging his pink fists
  as he walks--
  It is ladysthumb, forgetmenots        
  in the ditch, moss under
  the flange of the car rail, the
  wavy lines in split rock, a
  great oaktree--
  It is a disinclination to be
  five red petals or a rose, it is
  a cluster of birdsbreast flowers
  on a red stem six feet high,
  four open yellow petals
  above sepals curled
  backward into reverse spikes--
  Tufts of purple grass spot the
  green meadow and clouds the sky.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Listen to:

Daisy (1:13)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  The days eye hugging the earth
  in August, ha! Spring is
  gone down in purple,
  weeds stand high in the corn,
  the rainbeaten furrow
  is clotted with sorrel
  and crabgrass, the
  branch is black under
  the heavy mass of the leaves--
  The sun is upon a
  slender green stem
  ribbed lengthwise.
  He lies on his back--
  it is a woman also--
  he regards his former
  majesty and
  round the yellow center,
  split and creviced and done into
  minute flowerheads, he sends out
  his twenty rays--a little
  and the wind is among them
  to grow cool there!

  One turns the thing over
  in his hand and looks
  at it from the rear: brownedged,
  green and pointed scales
  armor his yellow.
  But turn and turn,
  the crisp petals remain
  brief, translucent, greenfastened,
  barely touching at the edges:
  blades of limpid seashell.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Gentle Man, Memory of April, Epitaph

Listen to:

The Gentle Man, Memory of April, Epitaph (:55)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  I feel the caress of my own fingers
  on my own neck as I place my collar
  and think pityingly
  of the kind women I have known.


  You say love is this, love is that:
  Poplar tassels, willow tendrils
  the wind and the rain comb,
  tinkle and drip, tinkle and drip--
  branches drifting apart. Hagh!
  Love has not even visited this country.


  An old willow with hollow branches
  slowly swayed his few high bright tendrils
  and sang:

  Love is a young green willow
  shimmering at the bare wood's edge.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Cold Night, Spring Storm

Listen to:

The Cold Night, Spring Storm (1:26)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  It is cold. The white moon
  is up among her scattered stars--
  like the bare thighs of
  the Police Seargent's wife--among
  her five children....
  No answer. Pale shadows lie upon
  the frosted grass. One answer:
  It is midnight, it is still
  and it is cold...!
  White thighs of the sky! a
  new answer out of the depths of
  my male belly: In April....
  In April I shall see again--In April!
  the round and perfect thighs
  of the Police Sergent's wife
  perfect still after many babies.


  The sky has given over
  its bitterness.
  Out of the dark change
  all day long
  rain falls and falls
  as if it would never end.
  Still the snow keeps
  its hold on the ground.
  But water, water
  from a thousand runnels!
  It collects swiftly,
  dappled with black
  cuts a way for itself
  through green ice in the gutters.
  Drop after drop it falls
  from the withered grass-stems
  of the overhanging embankment.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Winter Trees, Complaint

Listen to:

Winter Trees, Complaint (1:09)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  All the complicated details
  of the attiring and
  the disattiring are completed!
  A liquid moon
  moves gently among
  the long branches.
  Thus having prepared their buds
  against a sure winter
  the wise trees
  stand sleeping in the cold.


  They call me and I go
  It is a frozen road
  past midnight, a dust
  of snow caught
  in the rigid wheeltracks.
  The door opens.
  I smile, enter and
  shake off the cold.
  Here is a great woman
  on her side in the bed.
  She is sick,
  perhaps vomiting,
  perhaps laboring
  to give birth to
  a tenth child. Joy! Joy!
  Night is a room
  darkened for lovers,
  through the jalousies the sun
  has sent one gold needle!
  I pick the hair from her eyes
  and watch her misery
  with compassion.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Approach of Winter, Blizzard

Listen to:

Approach of Winter, Blizzard (1:05)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  The half stripped trees
  struck by a wind together,
  bending all,
  the leaves flutter drily
  and refuse to let go /
  or driven like hail
  stream bitterly out to one side
  and fall
  where the salvias, hard carmine,--
  like no leaf that ever was--
  edge the bare garden.


  years of anger following
  hours that float idly down--
  the blizzard
  drifts its weight
  deeper and deeper for three days
  or sixty years, eh? Then
  the sun! a clutter of
  yellow and blue flakes--
  Hairy looking trees stand out
  in long alleys
  over a wild solitude.
  The man turns and there--
  his solitary track stretched out
  upon the world.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Late Singer, The Desolate Field

Listen to:

The Late Singer, The Desolate Field (1:09)

by William Carlos Williams

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


  Here it is spring again
  and I still a young man!
  I am late at my singing.
  The sparrow with the black rain on his breast
  has been at his cadenzas for two weeks past:
  What is it that is dragging at my heart?
  The grass by the back door
  is stiff with sap.
  The old maples are opening
  their branches of brown and yellow moth-flowers.
  A moon hangs in the blue
  in the early afternoons over the marshes.
  I am late at my singing.


  Vast and grey, the sky
  is a simulacrum
  to all but him whose days
  are vast and grey, and--
  In the tall, dried grasses
  a goat stirs
  with nozzle searching the ground.
  --my head is in the air
  but who am I...?
  And amazed my heart leaps
  at the thought of love
  vast and grey
  yearning silently over me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Great is the Sun

Listen to:

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
  Through empty heaven with repose;
  And in the blue and glowing days
  More thick than rain he showers his rays.

  Though closer still the blinds we pull
  To keep the shady parlour cool,
  Yet he will find a chink or two
  To slip his golden fingers through.

  The dusty attic spider-clad
  He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
  And through the broken edge of tiles
  Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

  Meantime his golden face around
  He bares to all the garden ground,
  And sheds a warm and glittering look
  Among the ivy's inmost nook.

  Above the hills, along the blue,
  Round the bright air with footing true,
  To please the child, to paint the rose,
  The gardener of the World, he goes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

To Night

Listen to:

To Night (1:17)

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Mysterious Night! when our first parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of light and blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
And lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
Whilst fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind!
Why do we then shun Death with anxious strife?
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Am

Listen to:

I Am (1:18)

by John Clare

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

 I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Epitaph on a Hare

Listen to:

Epitaph on a Hare (2:08)

by William Cowper

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

[Written March, 1783. Published in The Gentleman's Magazine,
    Dec., 1784; afterwards in 1800. A MS. copy is in the British

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
     Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
     Nor ear heard huntsman's Hallo',

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
     Who, nurs'd with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin'd,
     Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
     His pittance ev'ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,
     And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
     And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
     With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regal'd,
     On pippins' russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads fail'd,
     Slic'd carrot pleas'd him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
     Whereon he lov'd to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
     And swing his rump around.

His frisking was at evening hours,
     For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show'rs,
     Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
     He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out his idle noons,
     And ev'ry night at play.

I kept him for his humour's sake,
     For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
     And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut-shade
     He finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,
     'Till gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
     From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
     Must soon partake his grave.


from Six Centuries of English Poetry by James Baldwin

WILLIAM COWPER was born at Great Berkhamstead, November 26, 1731. His
father was the rector of the parish, and his mother was Ann Donne of the
family of the famous John Donne. Cowper was educated at a private school
and afterwards at Westminster. It was intended that he should follow the
profession of law, and, after the completion of his studies at
Westminster, he entered the Middle Temple and was articled to a
solicitor. At the age of twenty-two, through the influence of his uncle,
Major Cowper, he was appointed to two clerkships in the House of Lords.
The excitement brought on by this occurrence, together with an unhappy
love affair, induced an attack of insanity, from which he suffered for
more than a year. In 1773 he suffered from a second attack of insanity,
which continued for sixteen months. It was not until 1780, when in his
fiftieth year, that he began really to write poetry. His first volume
was published in 1782, and comprised, besides several shorter pieces,
the three poems, "Conversation," "Retirement," and "Table Talk." His
second volume appeared in 1785, and contained "The Task," "Tirocinium,"
and the ballad of "John Gilpin," which had already become famous through
the recitations of one Henderson, an actor. Cowper's translation of
Homer was completed and published in 1791. From that time until his
death in 1800 he suffered from hopeless dejection, regarding himself as
an object of divine wrath, a condemned and forsaken outcast.

Cowper was not a great poet; but he was the first to abandon the
mechanical versification and conventional phrases of the artificial
poets, to find inspiration and guidance in nature. It may be said that
he lacked creative power; but he possessed a quickness of thought, a
depth of feeling, and a certain manliness and sincerity, which lifted
him above the level of the ordinary versifiers of his time.

=Other Poems to be Read:= The Castaway; John Gilpin; The Task; The Loss of
the Royal George.

REFERENCES: Southey's _Life of William Cowper_; _Cowper_ (English Men of
Letters), by Goldwin Smith; Hazlitt's _English Poets_; Macaulay's Essay
on _Moore's Life of Byron_; _Life of Cowper_, in the "Globe Edition" of
his works.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Solitary Reaper

Listen to:

The Solitary Reaper (1:34)

by William Wordsworth

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

 Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
So sweetly to reposing bands
Of Travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian Sands:
No sweeter voice was ever heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of today?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;
I listen'd till I had my fill;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sonnet to a Lady

Listen to:

Sonnet to a Lady Seen For a Few Moments (1:05)

by John Keats

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Time's sea hath been five years at its slow ebb,
Long hours have to and fro let creep the sand,
Since I was tangled in thy beauty's web,
And snared by the ungloving of thine hand.
And yet I never look on midnight sky,
But I behold thine eyes' well memory'd light;
I cannot look upon the rose's dye,
But to thy cheek my soul doth take its flight.
I cannot look on any budding flower,
But my fond ear, in fancy at thy lips
And hearkening for a love-sound, doth devour
Its sweets in the wrong sense: - Thou dost eclipse
Every delight with sweet remembering,
And grief unto my darling joys dost bring.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Furl of Fresh-Leaved Dogrose

Listen to:

The Furl of Fresh-Leaved Dogrose (1:13)

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The furl of fresh-leaved dogrose down
His cheeks the forth-and-flaunting sun
Had swarthed about with lion-brown
     Before the Spring was done.

His locks like all a ravel-rope's-end,
   With hempen strands in spray--
Fallow, foam-fallow, hanks--fall'n off their ranks,
   Swung down at a disarray.

Or like a juicy and jostling shock
   Of bluebells sheaved in May
Or wind-long fleeces on the flock
   A day off shearing day.

Then over his turnéd temples--here--
   Was a rose, or, failing that,
Rough-Robin or five-lipped campion clear
   For a beauty-bow to his hat,
And the sunlight sidled, like dewdrops, like dandled
Through the sieve of the straw of the plait.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Listen to:

Ribblesdale (1:17)

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Earth, sweet Earth, sweet landscape, with leavés throng
And louchéd low grass, heaven that dost appeal
To, with no tongue to plead, no heart to feel;
That canst but only be, but dost that long--

Thou canst but be, but that thou well dost; strong
Thy plea with him who dealt, nay does now deal,
Thy lovely dale down thus and thus bids reel
Thy river, and o'er gives all to rack or wrong.

   And what is Earth's eye, tongue, or heart else, where
Else, but in dear and dogged man?--Ah, the heir
To his own selfbent so bound, so tied to his turn,
To thriftless reave both our rich round world bare
And none reck of world after, this bids wear
Earth brows of such care, care and dear concern.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup

Listen to:

Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed From a Skull (1:39)

by George Gordon, Lord Byron

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Start not -nor deem my spirit fled:
In me behold the only skull
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaffed like thee;
I died: let earth my bones resign:
Fill up -thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape
Than nurse the earthworm's slimy brood,
And circle in the goblet's shape
The drink of gods than reptile's food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others' let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaff while thou canst; another race,
When thou and thine like me are sped,
May rescue thee from earth's embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not -since through life's little day
Our heads such sad effects produce?
Redeemed from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs to be of use.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Webster Ford

Listen to:

Webster Ford (2:16)

from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Do you remember, O Delphic Apollo,
  The sunset hour by the river, when Mickey M'Grew
  Cried, "There's a ghost," and I, "It's Delphic Apollo,".
  And the son of the banker derided us, saying, "It's light
  By the flags at the water's edge, you half-witted fools."
  And from thence, as the wearisome years rolled on, long after
  Poor Mickey fell down in the water tower to his death
  Down, down, through bellowing darkness, I carried
  The vision which perished with him like a rocket which falls
  And quenches its light in earth, and hid it for fear
  Of the son of the banker, calling on Plutus to save me?
  Avenged were you for the shame of a fearful heart
  Who left me alone till I saw you again in an hour
  When I seemed to be turned to a tree with trunk and branches
  Growing indurate, turning to stone, yet burgeoning
  In laurel leaves, in hosts of lambent laurel,
  Quivering, fluttering, shrinking, fighting the numbness
  Creeping into their veins from the dying trunk and branches!
  'Tis vain, O youth, to fly the call of Apollo.
  Fling yourselves in the fire, die with a song of spring,
  If die you must in the spring. For none shall look
  On the face of Apollo and live, and choose you must
  'Twixt death in the flame and death after years of sorrow,
  Rooted fast in the earth, feeling the grisly hand,
  Not so much in the trunk as in the terrible numbness
  Creeping up to the laurel leaves that never cease
  To flourish until you fall. O leaves of me
  Too sere for coronal wreaths, and fit alone
  For urns of memory, treasured, perhaps, as themes
  For hearts heroic, fearless singers and livers--
  Delphic Apollo.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Willie Metcalf

Listen to:

Willie Metcalf (1:23)

from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

I was Willie Metcalf.
  They used to call me "Doctor Meyers,"
  Because, they said, I looked like him.
  And he was my father, according to Jack McGuire.
  I lived in the livery stable,
  Sleeping on the floor
  Side by side with Roger Baughman's bulldog,
  Or sometimes in a stall.
  I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horses
  Without getting kicked--we knew each other.
   On spring days I tramped through the country
  To get the feeling, which I sometimes lost,
  That I was not a separate thing from the earth.
  I used to lose myself, as if in sleep,
  By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
  Sometimes I talked with animals--even toads and snakes--
  Anything that had an eye to look into.
  Once I saw a stone in the sunshine
  Trying to turn into jelly.
  In April days in this cemetery
  The dead people gathered all about me,
  And grew still, like a congregation in silent prayer.
  I never knew whether I was a part of the earth
  With flowers growing in me, or whether I walked--
  Now I know.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Oaks Tutt

Listen to:

Oaks Tutt (1:31)

from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

My mother was for woman's rights
  And my father was the rich miller at London Mills.
  I dreamed of the wrongs of the world and wanted to right them.
  When my father died, I set out to see peoples and countries
  In order to learn how to reform the world.
  I traveled through many lands. I saw the ruins of Rome
  And the ruins of Athens, And the ruins of Thebes.
  And I sat by moonlight amid the necropolis of Memphis.
  There I was caught up by wings of flame,
  And a voice from heaven said to me:
  "Injustice, Untruth destroyed them.
  Go forth Preach Justice! Preach Truth!"
  And I hastened back to Spoon River
  To say farewell to my mother before beginning my work.
  They all saw a strange light in my eye.
  And by and by, when I talked, they discovered
  What had come in my mind.
  Then Jonathan Swift Somers challenged me to debate
  The subject, (I taking the negative):
  "Pontius Pilate, the Greatest Philosopher of the World."
  And he won the debate by saying at last,
  "Before you reform the world, Mr. Tutt
  Please answer the question of Pontius Pilate:
  "What is Truth?"

Friday, August 7, 2015

Harmon Whitney

Listen to:

Harmon Whitney (1:47)

from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Out of the lights and roar of cities,
  Drifting down like a spark in Spoon River,
  Burnt out with the fire of drink, and broken,
  The paramour of a woman I took in self-contempt,
  But to hide a wounded pride as well.
  To be judged and loathed by a village of little minds--
  I, gifted with tongues and wisdom,
  Sunk here to the dust of the justice court,
  A picker of rags in the rubbage of spites and wrongs,--
  I, whom fortune smiled on!
  I in a village,
  Spouting to gaping yokels pages of verse,
  Out of the lore of golden years,
  Or raising a laugh with a flash of filthy wit
  When they bought the drinks to kindle my dying mind.
  To be judged by you,
  The soul of me hidden from you,
  With its wound gangrened
  By love for a wife who made the wound,
  With her cold white bosom, treasonous, pure and hard,
  Relentless to the last, when the touch of her hand,
  At any time, might have cured me of the typhus,
  Caught in the jungle of life where many are lost.
  And only to think that my soul could not react,
  Like Byron's did, in song, in something noble,
  But turned on itself like a tortured snake--judge me this way,
  O world.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Petit the Poet

Listen to:

Petit the Poet (1:25)

from Spoon River Anthology
by Edgar Lee Masters

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

 Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick,
  Tick, tick, tick, like mites in a quarrel--
  Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens--
  But the pine tree makes a symphony thereof.
  Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus,
  Ballades by the score with the same old thought:
  The snows and the roses of yesterday are vanished;
  And what is love but a rose that fades?
  Life all around me here in the village:
  Tragedy, comedy, valor and truth,
  Courage, constancy, heroism, failure--
  All in the loom, and oh what patterns!
  Woodlands, meadows, streams and rivers--
  Blind to all of it all my life long.
  Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus,
  Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, Tick, tick, tick, what little iambics,
  While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines?