Poetry Corner


By Djuan Barnes

A frog leaps out across the lawn,

And crouches there—all heavy and alone,

And like a blossom, pale and over-blown,

Once more the moon turns dim against the dawn.

Crawling across the straggling panoply

Of little roses, only half in bloom,

It strides within that beamed and lofty room

Where an ebon stallion looms upon the hay.

The stillness moves, and seems to grow immense,

A shuddering dog starts, dragging at its chain,

Thin, dusty rats slink down within the grain,

And in the vale the first far bells commence.

Here in the dawn, with mournful doomèd eyes

A cow uprises, moving out to bear

A soft-lipped calf with swarthy birth-swirled hair,

And wide wet mouth, and droll uncertainties.

The grey fowls fight for places in the sun,

The mushrooms flare, and pass like painted fans:

All the world is patient in its plans—

The seasons move forever, one on one.

Small birds lie sprawling vaguely in the heat,

And wanly pluck at shadows on their breasts,

And where the heavy grape-vine leans and rests,

White butterflies lift up their furry feet.

The wheat grows querulous with unseen cats;

A fox strides out in anger through the corn,

Bidding each acre wake and rise to mourn

Beneath its sharps and through its throaty flats.

And so it is, and will be year on year,

Time in and out of date, and still on time

A billion grapes plunge bleeding into wine

And bursting, fall like music on the ear.

The snail that marks the girth of night with slime,

The lonely adder hissing in the fern,

The lizard with its ochre eyes aburn—

Each is before, and each behind its time.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 20, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this poem: “Pastoral” appeared in A Book (Boni and Liveright, 1923).

Djuna Barnes In Paris

About this poet: Djuna Barnes, born in a log cabin near Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, on June 12, 1892, was a novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, and visual artist who is associated with the early 20th-century, Modernist movement. She moved from bohemian Greenwich Village in 1921 to Paris and spent the rest of the decade there writing and enjoying the salon circuit. After residing at a manor in south west England throughout the 1930s, she returned to Greenwich Village in 1940, renting a small apartment she occupied for the next 40 years. Here, after sobering up, she wrote The Antiphon (1958), a play responding to her upbringing within an abusive household.

Amongst the many books Barnes authored, The Book of Repulsive Women (Bruno Chap Books, 1915), A Book (Boni and Liveright, 1923), and Nightwood (Faber & Faber, 1936) are her most famous.

She died at few days after her 90th birthday, on June 18, 1982.

Much Later

By Gertrude Stein

Elephants and birds of beauty and a gold fish. Gold fish or a superstition. They always bring bad luck. He had them and he was not told. Gold fish and he was not old. Gold fish and he was not to scold. Gold fish all told. The result was that the other people never had them and he knows nothing of it.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 19, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this poem: “Much Later” appeared in A Book Concluding With As A Wife Has A Cow: A Love Story (Éditions de la Galerie Simon, 1926).

About this poet: Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was another American and Modernist movement poet and novelist who resided in Paris during the 1920s. Her most well-known work is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.

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