Archive for the Poetry Category

In the Beginning

Posted in Photo, Poetry with tags , on October 27, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


In the beginning was the three-pointed star,
One smile of light across the empty face,
One bough of bone across the rooting air,
The substance forked that marrowed the first sun,
And, burning ciphers on the round of space,
Heaven and hell mixed as they spun.

In the beginning was the pale signature,
Three-syllabled and starry as the smile,
And after came the imprints on the water,
Stamp of the minted face upon the moon;
The blood that touched the crosstree and the grail
Touched the first cloud and left a sign.

In the beginning was the mounting fire
That set alight the weathers from a spark,
A three-eyed, red-eyed spark, blunt as a flower,
Life rose and spouted from the rolling seas,
Burst in the roots, pumped from the earth and rock
The secret oils that drive the grass.

In the beginning was the word, the word
That from the solid bases of the light
Abstracted all the letters of the void;
And from the cloudy bases of the breath
The word flowed up, translating to the heart
First characters of birth and death.

In the beginning was the secret brain.
The brain was celled and soldered in the thought
Before the pitch was forking to a sun;
Before the veins were shaking in their sieve,
Blood shot and scattered to the winds of light
The ribbed original of love.

Photo by Lee Miller
Poem by Dylan Thomas
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Indolence

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on October 24, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

guardi-cappricio
We left the city when the summer day
Had verged already on its hot decline,
And charmed Indolence in languor lay
In her gay gardens, ’neath her towers divine:
’Farewell,’ we said, ’dear city of youth and dream!’
And in our boat we stepped and took the stream.

All through that idle afternoon we strayed
Upon our proposed travel well begun,
As loitering by the woodland’s dreamy shade,
Past shallow islets floating in the sun,
Or searching down the banks for rarer flowers
We lingered out the pleasurable hours.

Till when that loveliest came, which mowers home
Turns from their longest labour, as we steered
Along a straitened channel flecked with foam,
We lost our landscape wide, and slowly neared
An ancient bridge, that like a blind wall lay
Low on its buried vaults to block the way.

Then soon the narrow tunnels broader showed,
Where with its arches three it sucked the mass
Of water, that in swirl thereunder flowed,
Or stood piled at the piers waiting to pass;
And pulling for the middle span, we drew
The tender blades aboard and floated through.

But past the bridge what change we found below!
The stream, that all day long had laughed and played
Betwixt the happy shires, ran dark and slow,
And with its easy flood no murmur made:
And weeds spread on its surface, and about
The stagnant margin reared their stout heads out.

Upon the left high elms, with giant wood
Skirting the water-meadows, interwove
Their slumbrous crowns, o’ershadowing where they stood
The floor and heavy pillars of the grove:
And in the shade, through reeds and sedges dank,
A footpath led along the moated bank.

Across, all down the right, an old brick wall,
Above and o’er the channel, red did lean;
Here buttressed up, and bulging there to fall,
Tufted with grass and plants and lichen green;
And crumbling to the flood, which at its base
Slid gently nor disturbed its mirrored face.

Sheer on the wall the houses rose, their backs
All windowless, neglected and awry,
With tottering coins, and crooked chimney stacks;
And here and there an unused door, set high
Above the fragments of its mouldering stair,
With rail and broken step led out on air.

Beyond, deserted wharfs and vacant sheds,
With empty boats and barges moored along,
And rafts half-sunken, fringed with weedy shreds,
And sodden beams, once soaked to season strong.
No sight of man, nor sight of life, no stroke,
No voice the somnolence and silence broke.

Then I who rowed leant on my oar, whose drip
Fell without sparkle, and I rowed no more;
And he that steered moved neither hand nor lip,
But turned his wondering eye from shore to shore;
And our trim boat let her swift motion die,
Between the dim reflections floating by.

Text: Robert Bridges, Poetical Works, Volume II. London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1899
Image: Francesco Guardi, Paesaggio fantastico, oil on canvas, c. 1765, Metropolitan Museum

Eternal Greece

Posted in Greece, Greek Myth, Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 27, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

titian-christ

Our land is the land of immortal spirits and idols
Apollo, full of joy and supreme, is our god.

Christ crucified, lying in his white winding-sheet,
is beautiful Adonis covered with roses.

The soul of ancient Greece lives hidden unwillingly within us.
Great Pan is not dead, no, great Pan does not die!

Text: Kostis Palamas, Iamboi kai Anapaistoi. Athens, 1920
Image: Titian, Il Cristo risuscitato, c. 1511

The Silver Age

Posted in Greek Myth, Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 19, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Corot, Sodom

The second age came after,
and it was much worse.
This silver age of men was made by the immortals
who have palaces on Olympus.
Neither in body nor mind
did they resemble the golden age.
For one hundred years,
each child stayed with its mother.
For one hundred years, she had to raise it,
fussing over it at home, a big dumb child.
Then when it passed puberty,
that measure of youthful prime,
it didn’t live much longer.
Sufferings were brought on
because of their deeply ingrained,
habitually adolescent stupidity. Reckless violence
could not be restrained between them.
As for service to the immortals,
they were unwilling to give it.
They offered no sacrifice on the altars of the blessed.
But sacred law decrees that humans offer sacrifice,
as is our custom. Therefore Zeus,
the son of Cronus, in a just anger, made them disappear.
They refused to give honors
to the blessed gods who hold Olympus.
And for that reason they had to die.

Text: Hesiod, Theogony/Works and Days, translated by C. S. Morrissey. Vancouver: Talon Books, 2012
Image: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, L’incendie de Sodome, oil on canvas, 1843 and 1857, Metropolitan Museum

Man in the stream…

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 17, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Poussin_Landscape_with_Saint_John_on_Patmos

Man in the stream of his mysterious life
Has left to his descendants patterns various and worthy of his
immortal origin
As he has also left traces of the ruins of daybreak,
snowdrifts of heavenly reptiles, paper eagles, diamonds and
the glances of hyacinths
In the midst of sighs, of tears, of hunger, of lamentations
and of the ash of wells under the earth.

Text: Nikos Gatsos, Amorgos, translated by Sally Purcell. London: Anvil Press, 2006
Image: Nicolas Poussin, Paysage avec Saint Jean à Patmos, oil on canvas, 1660, Art Institute of Chicago

They say the mountains shiver…

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 16, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Poussin, Deluge

They say the mountains shiver and the fir trees are enraged
When night crunches up the pegs of the roof-tiles for familiars to enter in
When the swill of hell runs in the froth and trouble of winter streams
Or when the parted hair of the pepper tree becomes a spinning-top for the north wind.

Only the cattle of the Achaeans in the fat meadows of Thessaly
Graze thriving and strong in the everlasting sun that watches them
They eat green grass, leaves of poplar, parsley, drink clean water in the channels
They smell the sweat of the earth and later fall down heavily in the shade of the willow and sleep.

Reject the dead, said Heraclitus, and saw the sky turn pale
And saw two little cyclamens kissing in the dirt
And he too lay down to kiss his own dead body on the hospitable earth
As the wolf comes down from the woods to see the dog’s carcass and to weep.
What is it to me, the drop that runs and glitters down your forehead?
I know the lightning has written his name on your lips
I know an eagle has built his nest in your eyes
But here on the wet bank there is only one road
Only one deceiving road and you must take it
You must dive down into blood before occasion overtakes you
And cross to the other side to rediscover your comrades
Flowers birds deer
To find another sea, another gentleness,
To seize the horses of Achilles by the reins
Instead of sitting dumb to quarrel with the river
To throw stones at the river like the mother of Kitsos.
Because you in your turn will have been ruined and your beauty will have grown old.
On the branches of a willow I see the shirt of your childhood hanging up to dry.
Take the flag of your life for a sheet to wind up death
And let your heart not bend
And let your tear not fall on this unrelenting earth
As the penguin’s tear once fell in the frozen desert
Lamentation is useless
Everywhere life will be the same, with the flute of the serpents in the country of ghosts
With the song of the robbers in the spice groves
With the knife of a sorrow in the cheek of hope
With the grief of a springtime nestling in the heart of the young owl
It is enough if a plough is found and a sickle sharp in a happy hand
Enough if there should flower only
A little grain for festivals, a little wine for remembrance, a little water for the dust…

Text: Nikos Gatsos, Amorgos, translated by Sally Purcell. London: Anvil Press, 2006
Image: Nicolas Poussin, L’Hiver ou Le Déluge, oil on canvas, 1660-1664, Musée du Louvre

A Black Cat Crossed the Road I Was Born On

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 10, 2017 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Benton, June Morning

So many have passed on.

The mailboxes keel over from the weight
Of the catalogues and almanacs
No one has claimed.

On my day off, I’ve thought
Of coming by with posthole diggers,
But Death knows my ass
From a hole in the ground.

The people on the roofs are drinking
But they don’t brew that beer anymore.
Death is no chauffeur,
Nevertheless, he holds it in the road.

When Death beats his child
Nobody listens.

For two bits I would pull over
And lay down in the long legs of the past,
But Death is two-timing me.

Death can lace his boots
Before you can spit.

He can get all the ham off the bone.

Some people I knew hired Death by the hour.
He brought in good money every week.

My mother used to beg,
“Son, don’t write about Death,
We’ll cross that ditch soon enough.”
I ask you to have respect for the dead.

This is the place alright,
Like a flower in the night
Death drifts over the garden
Of our shoulders,
Like a boat with no eyes,
No place for the oars, the hands.

Death has a high voice,
An auctioneer to oversee
All your worldly possessions.

He is selling a bed
That belonged to your father,
He is coming in low,
Dumping your brother’s boots
In the enemy’s field.

Death runs a little side show
And you always buy a ticket.

There is no doubt in my mind,
Death is a bad hog.

Death ties everything down with guy-wires.
It sends you a message every month
To keep you in the black.

The Church has a record of your birth
But Death keeps its own dossier.

When the moon is pulling its blood
From its many lovers,
And Death is caterwauling with the cold fish-
Bone in its mouth, shedding all
Its skins and secret light I, like you,
Set out a dish of milk.

Text: Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2015
Image: Thomas Hart Benton, June Morning, oil on masonite, 1945, Cummer Museum of Art