Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Fish

Listen to:

The Fish (1:42)

by Marianne Moore 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Marianne Moore was born this day in 1887 in Kirkwood, Missouri

The Fish

through black jade.
   Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
   adjusting the ash-heaps;
      opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
   The barnacles which encrust the side
   of the wave, cannot hide
      there for the submerged shafts of the

split like spun
   glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
   into the crevices —
      in and out, illuminating

turquoise sea
   of bodies. The water drives a wedge
   of iron through the iron edge
      of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

rice-grains, ink-
   bespattered jelly-fish, crabs like green
   lilies, and submarine
      toadstools, slide each on the other.

   marks of abuse are present on this
   defiant edifice —
      all the physical features of
cident — lack
   of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and 
   hatchet strokes, these things stand
      out on it; the chasm-side is
   evidence has proved that it can live
   on what can not revive
      its youth. The sea grows old in it.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Phoebe of the Scottish Glen

Listen to:

Phoebe of the Scottish Glen (1:15)

by John Clare 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

  Agen I'll take my idle pen
  And sing my bonny mountain maid—
  Sweet Phoebe of the Scottish glen,
  Nor of her censure feel afraid.
  I'll charm her ear with beauty's praise,
  And please her eye with songs agen—
  The ballads of our early days—
  To Phoebe of the Scottish glen.
  There never was a fairer thing
  All Scotland's glens and mountains through.
  The siller gowans of the Spring,
  Besprent with pearls of mountain dew,
  The maiden blush upon the brere,
   Far distant from the haunts of men,
  Are nothing half so sweet or dear
  As Phoebe of the Scottish glen.

  How handsome is her naked foot,
  Moist with the pearls of Summer dew:
  The siller daisy's nothing to 't,
  Nor hawthorn flowers so white to view,
  She's sweeter than the blooming brere,
  That blossoms far away from men:
  No flower in Scotland's half so dear
  As Phoebe of the Scottish glen.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mother Night

Listen & Watch:

Mother Night

by James Weldon Johnson

Eternities before the first-born day, Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame, Calm Night, the everlasting and the same, A brooding mother over chaos lay. And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay, Shall run their fiery courses and then claim The haven of the darkness whence they came; Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way. 

So when my feeble sun of life burns out, And sounded is the hour for my long sleep, I shall, full weary of the feverish light, Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt, And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep Into the quiet bosom of the Night.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Meditation of the Old Fisherman

Listen to: 

The Meditation of the Old Fisherman (1:08)

by William Butler Yeats 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

You waves, though you dance by my feet like children at play,

Though you glow and you glance, though you purr and you dart;

In the Junes that were warmer than these are, the waves were more gay, 
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart. 

The herring are not in the tides as they were of old; 
My sorrow! for many a creak gave the creel in the cart 
That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold,

When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

And ah, you proud maiden, you are not so fair when his oar 
Is heard on the water, as they were, the proud and apart, 
Who paced in the eve by the nets on the pebbly shore, 
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Bard's Epitaph

Listen to: 

A Bard's Epitaph (1:43)

by Robert Burns 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Is there a whim-inspired fool,

Owre* fast for thought, owre hot for rule,  *over (o’er)
Owre blate* to seek, owre proud to snool˚,  *timid     ˚cringe, cower
Let him draw near;

And owre this grassy heap sing dool*,    *grief
And drap a tear. 

Is there a bard of rustic song,

Who, noteless, steals the crowds among, 
That weekly this area throng,
O, pass not by! 
But, with a frater-feeling strong, 
Here, heave a sigh. 

Is there a man, whose judgment clear 
Can others teach the course to steer, 
Yet runs, himself, life's mad career, 
Wild as the wave, 
Here pause—and, thro' the starting tear, 
Survey this grave. 

The poor inhabitant below

Was quick to learn the wise to know, 
And keenly felt the friendly glow, 
And softer flame;

But thoughtless follies laid him low, 
And stain'd his name! 

Reader, attend! whether thy soul 
Soars fancy's flights beyond the pole, 
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole, 
In low pursuit:
Know, prudent, cautious, self-control 
Is wisdom's root. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Oven Bird

(Oven bird: Seiurus aurocapilla)
Listen to: 

The Oven Bird (:58)

by Robert Frost 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

There is a singer everyone has heard,
  Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
  Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
  He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
  Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
  He says the early petal-fall is past
  When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
  On sunny days a moment overcast;
  And comes that other fall we name the fall.
  He says the highway dust is over all.
  The bird would cease and be as other birds
  But that he knows in singing not to sing.
  The question that he frames in all but words
  Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The God Called Poetry

Listen to: 

The God Called Poetry (3:16)

by Robert Graves 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

     Now I begin to know at last,
     These nights when I sit down to rhyme,
     The form and measure of that vast
     God we call Poetry, he who stoops
     And leaps me through his paper hoops
     A little higher every time.

     Tempts me to think I'll grow a proper
     Singing cricket or grass-hopper
     Making prodigious jumps in air
     While shaken crowds about me stare
     Aghast, and I sing, growing bolder
     To fly up on my master's shoulder
     Rustling the thick strands of his hair.

     He is older than the seas,
     Older than the plains and hills,
     And older than the light that spills
     From the sun's hot wheel on these.
     He wakes the gale that tears your trees,
     He sings to you from window sills.

     At you he roars, or he will coo,
     He shouts and screams when hell is hot,
     Riding on the shell and shot.
     He smites you down, he succours you,
     And where you seek him, he is not.

     To-day I see he has two heads
     Like Janus--calm, benignant, this;
     That, grim and scowling:  his beard spreads
     From chin to chin"  this god has power
     Immeasurable at every hour:

     He first taught lovers how to kiss,
     He brings down sunshine after shower,
     Thunder and hate are his also,
     He is YES and he is NO.

     The black beard spoke and said to me,
     "Human frailty though you be,
     Yet shout and crack your whip, be harsh!
     They'll obey you in the end:
     Hill and field, river and marsh
     Shall obey you, hop and skip
     At the terrour of your whip,
     To your gales of anger bend."

     The pale beard spoke and said in turn
     "True:  a prize goes to the stern,
     But sing and laugh and easily run
     Through the wide airs of my plain,
     Bathe in my waters, drink my sun,
     And draw my creatures with soft song;
     They shall follow you along
     Graciously with no doubt or pain."

     Then speaking from his double head
     The glorious fearful monster said
     "I am YES and I am NO,
     Black as pitch and white as snow,
     Love me, hate me, reconcile
     Hate with love, perfect with vile,
     So equal justice shall be done
     And life shared between moon and sun.
     Nature for you shall curse or smile:
     A poet you shall be, my son.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Listen to: 

Wisdom (:47)

by Sara Teasdale 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

  It was a night of early spring,
    The winter-sleep was scarcely broken;
  Around us shadows and the wind
    Listened for what was never spoken.

  Though half a score of years are gone,
    Spring comes as sharply now as then--
  But if we had it all to do
    It would be done the same again.

  It was a spring that never came;
    But we have lived enough to know
  That what we never have, remains;
    It is the things we have that go.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

I Would I Were a Careless Child

Listen to: 

I Would I Were a Careless Child (3:22)

by George Gordon, Lord Byron 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

I would I were a careless child,

Still dwelling in my Highland cave,

Or roaming through the dusky wild,

Or bounding o’er the dark blue wave;

The cumbrous pomp of Saxon pride

Accords not with the freeborn soul,

Which loves the mountain’s craggy side,

And seeks the rocks where billows roll.

Fortune! take back these cultured lands,

Take back this name of splendid sound!

I hate the touch of servile hands,

I hate the slaves that cringe around.

Place me among the rocks I love,

Which sound to Ocean’s wildest roar;

I ask but this – again to rove

Through scenes my youth hath known before.

Few are my years, and yet I feel

The world was ne’er designed for me:

Ah! why do dark’ning shades conceal

The hour when man must cease to be?
Once I beheld a splendid dream,

A visionary scene of bliss:

Truth! – wherefore did thy hated beam

Awake me to a world like this?

I loved – but those I loved are gone;

Had friends – my early friends are fled:

How cheerless feels the heart alone,

When all its former hopes are dead!

Though gay companions o’er the bowl

Dispel awhile the sense of ill
Though pleasure stirs the maddening soul,

The heart – the heart – is lonely still.

How dull! to hear the voice of those

Whom rank or chance, whom wealth or power,

Have made, though neither friends nor foes,

Associates of the festive hour.

Give me again a faithful few,

In years and feelings still the same,
And I will fly the midnight crew,

Where boist’rous joy is but a name.

And woman, lovely woman! thou,

My hope, my comforter, my all!

How cold must be my bosom now,

When e’en thy smiles begin to pall!

Without a sigh would I resign

This busy scene of splendid woe,

To make that calm contentment mine,

Which virtue know, or seems to know.

Fain would I fly the haunts of men –

I seek to shun, not hate mankind;

My breast requires the sullen glen,

Whose gloom may suit a darken’d mind.

Oh! that to me the wings were given

Which bear the turtle to her nest!

Then would I cleave the vault of heaven,

To flee away, and be at rest.