Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Flight

Listen to:

The Flight (:58)

by Lloyd Mifflin

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Upon a cloud among the stars we stood.
The angel raised his hand and looked and said,
"Which world, of all yon starry myriad
Shall we make wing to?" The still solitude
Became a harp whereon his voice and mood
Made spheral music round his haloed head.
I spake—for then I had not long been dead—
"Let me look round upon the vasts, and brood
A moment on these orbs ere I decide ...
What is yon lower star that beauteous shines
And with soft splendor now incarnadines
Our wings?—There would I go and there abide."
He smiled as one who some child's thought divines:
"That is the world where yesternight you died."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Hill

Listen to:

The Hill (1:11)

by Rupert Brooke

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

   Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
    Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
    You said, "Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
   Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
   When we are old, are old. . . ."  "And when we die
    All's over that is ours; and life burns on
   Through other lovers, other lips," said I,
   -- "Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!"

   "We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here.
    Life is our cry.  We have kept the faith!" we said;
    "We shall go down with unreluctant tread
   Rose-crowned into the darkness!" . . .  Proud we were,
   And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
   -- And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lucifer in Starlight

Listen to:

Lucifer in Starlight (1:01)

by George Meredith 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

On a starr'd night Prince Lucifer uprose.  
  Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend  
  Above the rolling ball in cloud part screen'd,  
Where sinners hugg'd their spectre of repose.  
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.          
  And now upon his western wing he lean'd,  
  Now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careen'd,  
Now the black planet shadow'd Arctic snows.  
Soaring through wider zones that prick'd his scars  
  With memory of the old revolt from Awe,  
He reach'd a middle height, and at the stars,  
Which are the brain of heaven, he look'd, and sank.  
Around the ancient track march'd, rank on rank,  

  The army of unalterable law.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Old Chants

Listen to:

Old Chants (2:14)

by Walt Whitman 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

  An ancient song, reciting, ending,
  Once gazing toward thee, Mother of All,
  Musing, seeking themes fitted for thee,
  Accept me, thou saidst, the elder ballads,
  And name for me before thou goest each ancient poet.

  (Of many debts incalculable,
  Haply our New World's chieftest debt is to old poems.)

  Ever so far back, preluding thee, America,
  Old chants, Egyptian priests, and those of Ethiopia,
  The Hindu epics, the Grecian, Chinese, Persian,
  The Biblic books and prophets, and deep idyls of the Nazarene,
  The Iliad, Odyssey, plots, doings, wanderings of Eneas,
  Hesiod, Eschylus, Sophocles, Merlin, Arthur,
  The Cid, Roland at Roncesvalles, the Nibelungen,
  The troubadours, minstrels, minnesingers, skalds,
  Chaucer, Dante, flocks of singing birds,
  The Border Minstrelsy, the bye-gone ballads, feudal tales, essays, plays,
  Shakespere, Schiller, Walter Scott, Tennyson,
  As some vast wondrous weird dream-presences,
  The great shadowy groups gathering around,
  Darting their mighty masterful eyes forward at thee,
  Thou! with as now thy bending neck and head, with courteous hand
      and word, ascending,
  Thou! pausing a moment, drooping thine eyes upon them, blent
      with their music,
  Well pleased, accepting all, curiously prepared for by them,
  Thou enterest at thy entrance porch.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

At Home from Church

Listen to: 

At Home from Church (1:19)

by Sarah Orne Jewett 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The lilacs lift in generous bloom
   Their plumes of dear old-fashioned flowers;
Their fragrance fills the still old house
   Where left alone I count the hours.

High in the apple-trees the bees
   Are humming, busy in the sun,—
An idle robin cries for rain
   But once or twice and then is done.

The Sunday-morning quiet holds
   In heavy slumber all the street,
While from the church, just out of sight
   Behind the elms, comes slow and sweet

The organ’s drone, the voices faint
   That sing the quaint long-meter hymn—
I somehow feel as if shut out
   From some mysterious temple, dim

And beautiful with blue and red
   And golden lights from windows high,
Where angels in the shadows stand
   And earth seems very near the sky.

The day-dream fades—and so I try
   Again to catch the tune that brings
No thought of temple nor of priest,
   But only of a voice that sings.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher

Listen to:

Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher (:28)

by Walter Savage Landor 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
         Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm’d both hands before the fire of Life;
         It sinks; and I am ready to depart.

Monday, January 25, 2016

If He from Heaven that Filched that Living Fire

Listen to:

If He from Heaven that Filched that Living Fire (1:01)

by Michael Drayton  

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

If he from heaven that filched that living fire 
Condemned by Jove to endless torment be, 
I greatly marvel how you still go free, 
That far beyond Prometheus did aspire. 
The fire he stole, although of heavenly kind, 
Which from above he craftily did take, 
Of liveless clods, us living men to make, 
He did bestow in temper of the mind. 
But you broke into heaven’s immortal store, 
Where virtue, honor, wit, and beauty lay; 
Which taking thence you have escaped away, 
Yet stand as free as ere you did before; 
   Yet old Prometheus punished for his rape. 
   Thus poor thieves suffer when the greater ‘scape.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

All Is Truth

Listen to:

All Is Truth (2:02)

by Walt Whitman

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

O me, man of slack faith so long,
Standing aloof, denying portions so long,
Only aware to-day of compact all-diffused truth,
Discovering to-day there is no lie or form of lie, and can be none,
    but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth or any natural production of the earth does.

(This is curious and may not be realized immediately, but it must be
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest,
And that the universe does.)

Where has fail'd a perfect return indifferent of lies or the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man?
    or in the meat and blood?

Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see
    that there are really no liars or lies after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called
    lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself and what has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact just as much as
    space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth--but
    that all is truth without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate any thing I see or am,
And sing and laugh and deny nothing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Listen to:

Limitations (1:01)

Henrietta Cordelia Ray 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The subtlest strain a great musician weaves,
Cannot attain in rhythmic harmony
To music in his soul. May it not be
Celestial lyres send hints to him? He grieves
That half the sweetness of the song, he leaves
Unheard in the transition. Thus do we
Yearn to translate the wondrous majesty
Of some rare mood, when the rapt soul receives
A vision exquisite. Yet who can match
The sunset’s iridescent hues? Who sing
The skylark’s ecstasy so seraph-fine?
We struggle vainly, still we fain would catch
Such rifts amid life’s shadows, for they bring
Glimpses ineffable of things divine.


Friday, January 22, 2016

January Cold Desolate

Listen to:

January Cold Desolate (:44)

by Christina Rossetti 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

January cold desolate; 

February all dripping wet; 

March wind ranges; 

April changes; 

Birds sing in tune 

To flowers of May, 

And sunny June 

Brings longest day; 

In scorched July 

The storm-clouds fly 


August bears corn, 

September fruit; 

In rough October 

Earth must disrobe her; 

Stars fall and shoot 

In keen November; 

And night is long 

And cold is strong 

In bleak December. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Leafage

Listen to:

Winter Leafage (1:05)

by Edith Matilda Thomas 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Each year I mark one lone outstanding tree,
Clad in its robings of the summer past,
Dry, wan, and shivering in the wintry blast.
It will not pay the season’s rightful fee,—
It will not set its frost-burnt leafage free;
But like some palsied miser all aghast,
Who hoards his sordid treasure to the last,
It sighs, it moans, it sings in eldritch glee.
A foolish tree, to dote on summers gone;
A faithless tree, that never feels how spring
Creeps up the world to make a leafy dawn,
And recompense for all despoilment bring!
Oh, let me not, heyday and youth withdrawn,
With failing hands to their vain semblance cling!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Bells

Listen to:

The Bells (1:30)

by Walter de la Mare 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Shadow and light both strove to be
The eight bell-ringers' company,
As with his gliding rope in hand,
Counting his changes, each did stand;
While rang and trembled every stone,
To music by the bell-mouths blown,
Till the bright clouds that towered on high
Seemed to re-echo cry with cry.
Still swang the clappers to and fro,
When, in the far-spread fields below,
I saw a ploughman with his team
Lift to the bells and fix on them
His distant eyes, as if he would
Drink in the utmost sound he could;
While near him sat his children three,
And in the green grass placidly
Played undistracted on, as if
What music earthly bells might give
Could only faintly stir their dream,
And stillness make more lovely seem.
Soon night hid horses, children, all
In sleep deep and ambrosial;
Yet, yet it seemed from star to star,
Welling now near, now faint and far,
Those echoing bells rang on in dream,
And stillness made even lovelier seem.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January - Belloc

Listen to:

January (1:03)

by Hillaire Belloc 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

It freezes- all across a soundless sky
The birds go home. The governing dark's begun:
The steadfast dark that waits not for a sun;
The ultimate dark wherein the race shall die.

Death, with his evil finger to his lip,
Leers in at human windows, turning spy
To learn the country where his rule shall lie
When he assumes perpetual generalship.

The undefeated enemy, the chill
That shall benumb the voiceful earth at last,
Is master of our moment, and has bound
The viewless wind it-self. There is no sound.
It freezes. Every friendly stream is fast.
It freezes; and the graven twigs are still. 

Monday, January 18, 2016


Listen to:

Clouds (1:08)

by Rupert Brooke 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Down the blue night the unending columns press
In noiseless tumult, break and wave and flow,
Now tread the far South, or lift rounds of snow
Up to the white moon's hidden loveliness.

Some pause in their grave wandering comradeless,
And turn with profound gesture vague and slow,
As who would pray good for the world, but know
Their benediction empty as they bless.

They say that the Dead die not, but remain
Near to the rich heirs of their grief and mirth.
I think they ride the calm mid-heaven, as these,
In wise majestic melancholy train,
And watch the moon, and the still-raging seas,
And men, coming and going on the earth.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January - Jackson

Listen to:

January (1:07)

by Helen Hunt Jackson 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build. O Heart, when Love's sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter's own release. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bright Star

Listen to:

Bright Star (1:05)

by John Keats 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever-or else swoon to death.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Believe a Leaf of Grass

Listen to:

I Believe a Leaf of Grass (:45)

by Walt Whitman 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

from Song of Myself     


I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg
    of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

* chef-d'oeuvre - a masterpiece, especially in art or literature

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Euclid Alone

Listen to:

Euclid Alone  (1:01)

by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Listen to:

The Blind Men and the Elephant (2:28)

 by John Godfrey Saxe

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he,
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Listen to:

January (1:03)

by Cornelius Webb 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Cold January comes in Winter's car,
Thick hung with icicles-its heavy wheels
Cumbered with clogging snow, which cracks and peels
With its least motion or concussive jar
'Gainst hard hid ruts, or hewn trees buried far
In the heaped whiteness which awhile conceals
The green and pastoral earth. Old Christmas feels,-
That well-fed and wine-reeling wassailer,-
With all his feasts and fires, feels cold and shivers,
And the red runnel of his indolent blood
Creeps slow and curdled as a northern flood.
And lakes and winter-rills, impetuous rivers
And headlong cataracts, are in silence bound,

Like trammelled tigers lashed to th'unyielding ground.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Listen to:

Invictus (:55)

by William Ernest Henley 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Listen to:

January (:34)

by William Carlos Williams 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Again I reply to the triple winds
running chromatic fifths of derision
outside my window:
                                          Play louder.
You will not succeed. I am
bound more to my sentences
the more you batter at me
to follow you.
                                           And the wind,
as before, fingers perfectly
its derisive music.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Huge Vapours Brood Above the Clifted Shore

Listen to:

Huge Vapours Brood Above the Clifted Shore (1:01)

by Charlotte Smith 

Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore,
Night o'er the ocean settles, dark and mute,
Save where is heard the repercussive roar
Of drowsy billows, on the rugged foot
Of rocks remote; or still more distant tone
Of seamen, in the anchored bark, that tell
The watch relieved; or one deep voice alone,
Singing the hour, and bidding "strike the bell."
All is black shadow, but the lucid line
Marked by the light surf on the level sand,
Or where afar, the ship-lights faintly shine
Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land
Mislead the pilgrim; such the dubious ray
That wavering reason lends, in life's long darkling way.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Listen to:

Winter (2:17)

by Samuel Johnson 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

No more the morn with tepid rays
Unfolds the flower of various hue; 
Noon spreads no more the genial blaze,
Nor gentle eve distills the dew.

The lingering hours prolong the night,
Usurping darkness shares the day;
Her mists restrain the force of light,
And Phoebus holds a doubtful sway.

By gloomy twilight half revealed,
With sighs we view the hoary hill,
The leafless wood, the naked field,
The snow-topp'd cot, the frozen rill.

No music warbles through the grove,
No vivid colours paint the plain;
No more with devious steps I rove
Through verdant paths, now sought in vain.

Aloud the driving tempest roars;
Congeal'd impetuous showers descend;
Haste, close the window, bar the doors,
Fate leaves me Stella, and a friend.

In nature's aid let art supply
With light and heat my little sphere;
Rouse, rouse the fire, and pile it high;
Light up a constellation here.

Let music sound the voice of joy!
Or mirth repeat the jocund tale;
Let love his wanton wiles employ,
And o'er the season wine prevail.

Yet time life's dreary winter brings,
When mirth's gay tale shall please no more;
Nor music charm, though Stella sings;
Nor love, nor wine the spring restore.

Catch the, O! catch the transient hour,
Improve each moment as it flies;
Life's a short Summer - man a flower,

He dies - alas! how soon he dies!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Come, Said the World

Listen to:

Come, Said the World (1:03)

by Wallace Stevens 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Come, said the world, thy youth is not all play,
Upon these hills vast palaces must rise,
And over this green plain that calmly lies
In peace, a mighty city must have sway.
These weak and murmuring reeds cannot gainsay
The building of my wharves; this flood that flies
Unfathomed clear must bear my merchandise,
And sweep my burdens on their seaward way.
No, cried my heart, this thing I cannot do,
This is my home, this plain and water clear
Are my companions faultless as the sky—
I cannot, will not give them up to you.
And if you come upon them I shall fear,

And if you steal them from me I shall die.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Fly

Listen to:

The Fly (:45)

by Walter De La Mare 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

How large unto the tiny fly
  Must little things appear!—
A rosebud like a feather bed,
  Its prickle like a spear;
A dewdrop like a looking-glass,
  A hair like golden wire;
The smallest grain of mustard-seed
  As fierce as coals of fire;

A loaf of bread, a lofty hill;
  A wasp, a cruel leopard;
And specks of salt as bright to see
  As lambkins to a shepherd.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fabliau of Florida

Listen to:

Fabliau of Florida (:38)

by Wallace Stevens 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,

Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.

Foam and cloud are one.
Sultry moon-monsters
Are dissolving.

Fill your black hull
With white moonlight.

There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Snow Man

Photo by Leonardo Valeri

Listen to:

The Snow Man (:56)

by Wallace Stevens 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

To the Moon

Listen to:

To the Moon (1:03)

by Charlotte Smith 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Queen of the silver bow!--by thy pale beam
Alone and pensive, I delight to stray,
And watch thy shadow trembling in the stream,
Or mark the floating clouds that cross thy way.
And while I gaze, thy mild and placid light
Sheds a soft calm upon my troubled breast;
And oft I think--fair planet of the night--
That in thy orb, the wretched may have rest:
The sufferers of the earth perhaps may go,
Released by Death--to thy benignant sphere,
And the sad children of Despair and Woe
Forget, in thee, their cup of sorrow here.
Oh! that I soon may reach thy world serene,
Poor wearied pilgrim--in this toiling scene!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Brain is Wider Than the Sky

Listen to:

The Brain is Wider Than the Sky (:38)

by Emily Dickinson 

The brain is wider than the sky,

  For, put them side by side,

The one the other will include

  With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
  For, hold them, blue to blue,

The one the other will absorb,

  As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,

  For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,

  As syllable from sound.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Written January 1st, 1832

Listen to:

Written January 1st, 1832 (1:56)

by Henry Alford 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The year is born today -- methinks it hath
A chilly time of it; for down the sky
The flaky frost-cloud stretches, and the Sun
Lifted his large light from the Eastern plains,
With gloomy mist-enfolded countenance,
And garments rolled in blood. Under the haze
Along the face of the waters, gather fast
Sharp spikes of the fresh ice; as if the year
That died last night, had dropt down suddenly
In his full strength of genial government,
Prisoning the sharp breath of the Northern winds;
Who now burst forth and revel unrestrained
Over the new king's months of infancy.

The bells rung merrily when the old year died;
He past away in music; his death-sleep
Closed on him like the slumber of a child
When a sweet hymn in a sweet voice above him
Takes up into its sound his gentle being.

And we will raise to him two monuments;
One where he died, and one where he lies buried;
One in the pealing of those midnight bells,
Their swell and fall, and varied interchange,
The tones that come again upon the spirit
In years far off, mid unshaped accidents;--
And one in the deep quiet of the soul,
The mingled memories of a thousand moods
Of joy and sorrow;--and his epitaph
Shall be upon him;--``Here lie the remains
Of one, who was less valued while he lived,
Than thought on when he died.''