Love Song – Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn’t touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn’t resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin’s bow,
which draws *one* voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The Reckoning by Theodore Roethke

All profits disappear: the gain
Of ease, the hoarded, secret sum;
And now grim digits of old pain
Return to litter up our home.

We hunt the cause of ruin, add,
Subtract, and put ourselves in pawn;
For all our scratching on the pad,
We cannot trace the error down.

What we are seeking is a fare
One way, a chance to be secure:
The lack that keeps us what we are,
The penny that usurps the poor.

The vanity of accumulation is a common theme in poetry.   Grim digits of old pain are that the numbers in the books that ‘litter up’ the home like the home of a real pathological 21th century hoarder is littered up with stacks of newspaper or piles of assorted junk.

By couching the true meaning of the poems in ambiguous ways, Roethke succeeds in elevating the poetry to a level of literature more artistic and creatively demanding than journalism and by doing so ultimately exposes poetry’s power capacity to deliver connotation to the reader on a more meaningful level than the mere dissemination of facts.

To Be In Love by Gwendolyn Brooks

To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but
You know you are tasting together
The winter, or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes
Because your pulse must not say
What must not be said.
When he
Shuts a door-
Is not there_
Your arms are water.
And you are free
With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half
Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth
To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare
Is certain Death!
Oh when to apprize
Is to mesmerize,
To see fall down, the Column of Gold,
Into the commonest ash.

Sonnet 65: Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
   O, none, unless this miracle have might,
   That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Other Sonnets:

NIGHT ON THE MOUNTAIN By George Sterling

The fog has risen from the sea and crowned
The dark, untrodden summits of the coast,
Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost,
From midnight waters vibrant and profound.
High on each granite altar dies the sound,
Deep as the trampling of an armored host,
Lone as the lamentation of a ghost,
Sad as the diapason of the drowned.

The mountain seems no more a soulless thing,
But rather as a shape of ancient fear,
In darkness and the winds of Chaos born
Amid the lordless heavens’ thundering–
A Presence crouched, enormous and austere,
Before whose feet the mighty waters mourn.

Sterling’s Night on the Mountain captures the malevolence that mountains sometimes seem to possess. It’s difficult to find a heart “free of care” during a ferocious mountain storm.

If this list shows us anything, it’s that mountains encompass a rainbow-spectrum of meaning. They are beautiful and ugly, peaceful and malevolent, holy and unholy — sometimes all at once. The shape shifting nature of mountains will continue to inspire and provoke us with wonder, and will continue to scare us, as well.

An Octopus – Poetry

By Marianne Moore

of ice. Deceptively reserved and flat,
it lies ‘in grandeur and in mass’
beneath a sea of shifting snow-dunes;
dots of cyclamen-red and maroon on its clearly defined
pseudo-podia
made of glass that will bend–a much needed invention–
comprising twenty-eight ice-fields from fifty to five hundred
feet thick,
of unimagined delicacy.
‘Picking periwinkles from the cracks’
or killing prey with the concentric crushing rigor of the python,
it hovers forward ‘spider fashion
on its arms’ misleading like lace;
its ‘ghostly pallor changing
to the green metallic tinge of an anemone-starred pool.’

So begins Moore’s 193 line poem An Octopus, the longest of her career. Like Dickinson, personifies the mountain — in this case, the glacier on top of Mount Rainier, around which she once hiked. The metaphor isn’t stable, however: the eponymous octopus changes into a python, then a spider. By the middle of the poem, Rainier turns into the home of the ancient Greek gods, Mount Olympus.

An important point that Moore’s poem observes is that mountains are not discrete objects that can be separated from their landscapes. They are connected in infinitely complex ways to the animals who call it home, the trees growing its hills and the people who attempt to climb it.