We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, March 28. 2015
A Hymn to God the Father
Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.
Saturday, March 21. 2015
There lived a carl in Kellyburn Braes,
Saturday, March 14. 2015
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917)
Saturday, March 7. 2015
Wiki: ″The Nymph′s Reply to the Shepherd″ (1596), by Sir Walter Raleigh, is a poem that responds to ″The Passionate Shepherd to His Love″ by Christopher Marlowe (published in 1599) wherein the courted nymph presents her rejection of the shepherd's invitation to pastoral life as perpetual idyll. We posted that Marlow poem a couple of weeks ago here.
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
If all the world and love were young,
Saturday, February 28. 2015
Written the night before his death in 1618, this version of the last stanza of one of Raleigh's earlier poems was found in the flyleaf of his Bible in the Abbey Gatehouse at Westminster. Sir Walter was one heck of a fellow.
Saturday, February 21. 2015
The Simple Truth
Saturday, February 14. 2015
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Come live with me and be my love,
Saturday, February 7. 2015
The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
And have been cold a long time
Of the January sun; and not to think
Which is the sound of the land
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
Saturday, January 31. 2015
A short excerpt from Snowbound: A Winter Idyl (1866):
Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Ahhh, the benediction of the air. Read the entire wonderful but old-fashioned-sounding 1865 poem by the great north of Boston newspaper editor and abolitionist here.
He made a lot of money from that poem. Whittier's home, to which the poem refers, stands in Haverhill, MA. It's a sentimental poem you can read to the kids - with feeling! Especially on a snowbound day.
Friday, January 23. 2015
Dylan's recording on Empire Burlesque is better and deeper than this one with Patti Smith, but this is all I could find.
The remarkable lyrics:
Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is on the riverside
Tuesday, January 20. 2015
The (no math) science of fire
He included this oldie but goodie in his post:
Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
Oaken logs, if dry and old
Saturday, January 17. 2015
The keen stars were twinkling,
Shelley was not a typical Maggie's Farm sort of fellow. He was a fan of all of the hip and rebellious ideas of the early 1800s: vegetarianism, free love, atheism, (and anti-monarchism and related radical politics of the time), and he always seemed to be chasing 16 year-old girls.
Saturday, January 3. 2015
The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 1919 (here's what a copybook is, and, by "markets," he means the political speakers in the marketplace of ideas)
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
Saturday, December 13. 2014
The Last Pain
This last pain for the damned the Fathers found:
Maggie's Farmers are fans of William Empson, more for his books than for his poetry. For many of us, his 7 Types of Ambiguity (written at age 22) opened a door to a new world. A commenter here claimed that his The Structure of Complex Words is the best book ever written. Better check it out.
Saturday, December 6. 2014
Veni, veni Emanuel!
Veni, veni o oriens!
Veni, veni Adonai!
Saturday, November 29. 2014
I long to talk with some old lover's ghost,
Thursday, November 27. 2014
Saturday, November 22. 2014
A Winter Night
It snowed and snowed, the whole world over,
Saturday, November 15. 2014
Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes
First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.
And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.
Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.
You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.
The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.
Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.
What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.
So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset
and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.
Saturday, November 8. 2014
I met a traveller from an antique land
Shelley (1792-1822) led one heck of a rebellious life - a classic poet's life full of tragedy,
Saturday, November 1. 2014
A poem should be palpable and mute
Saturday, October 25. 2014
The House Of Clouds
I would build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in;
When for earth too fancy-loose
And too low for Heaven!
Hush! I talk my dream aloud
I build it bright to see,
I build it on the moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee.
Cloud-walls of the morning's grey,
Faced with amber column,
Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn!
May mists, for the casements, fetch,
Pale and glimmering;
With a sunbeam hid in each,
And a smell of spring.
Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and then brightening,
If a riven thunder-cloud,
Veined by the lightning.
Use one with an iris-stain,
For the door within;
Turning to a sound like rain,
As I enter in.
Build a spacious hall thereby:
Boldly, never fearing.
Use the blue place of the sky,
Which the wind is clearing;
Branched with corridors sublime,
Flecked with winding stairs
Such as children wish to climb,
Following their own prayers.
In the mutest of the house,
I will have my chamber:
Silence at the door shall use
Evening's light of amber,
Solemnising every mood,
Softening in degree,
Turning sadness into good,
As I turn the key.
Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,
Close, but soundless - glorified
When the sunbeams come here;
Wandering harpers, harping on
Waters stringed for such,
Drawing colours, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.
Bring a shadow green and still
From the chestnut forest,
Bring a purple from the hill,
When the heat is sorest;
Spread them out from wall to wall,
Whereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.
Bring the fantasque cloudlets home
From the noontide zenith
Ranged, for sculptures, round the room,
Named as Fancy weeneth:
Some be Junos, without eyes;
Naiads, without sources
Some be birds of paradise,
Some, Olympian horses.
Bring the dews the birds shake off,
Waking in the hedges,
Those too, perfumed for a proof,
From the lilies' edges:
From our England's field and moor,
Bring them calm and white in;
Whence to form a mirror pure,
For Love's self-delighting.
Bring a grey cloud from the east,
Where the lark is singing;
Something of the song at least,
Unlost in the bringing:
That shall be a morning chair,
Poet-dream may sit in,
When it leans out on the air,
Unrhymed and unwritten.
Bring the red cloud from the sun
While he sinketh, catch it.
That shall be a couch, with one
Sidelong star to watch it,
Fit for poet's finest Thought,
At the curfew-sounding;
Things unseen being nearer brought
Than the seen, around him.
Poet's thought, not poet's sigh!
'Las, they come together!
Cloudy walls divide and fly,
As in April weather!
Cupola and column proud,
Structure bright to see -
Gone - except that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee!
Let them! Wipe such visionings
From the Fancy's cartel
Love secures some fairer things
Dowered with his immortal.
The sun may darken - heaven be bowed -
But still, unchanged shall be,
Here in my soul, that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with THEE!
Saturday, October 18. 2014
Poetic language is an intensification of the use of words. Prof Booth likes to look at the "physics" of poetic language. When a person gets into a poetry state, whether writing or reading, the mind can take over and let the inner physics of the thing just happen the same way you can hit a moving car with a snowball without knowing the math and the brain physiology of it.
I found this essay to be fascinating, and had to re-read it: Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense - What the Bard can teach science about language and the limits of the human mind. One quote:
Saturday, October 11. 2014
On January 20, 1961, Robert Frost spoke at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. The snow-glare made it impossible for him to read his new poem for the occasion (he was 87 years old), so he recited a better poem, The Gift Outright, from memory.
~ The Gift Outright ~
The land was ours before we were the land's.
Saturday, October 4. 2014
An annual reposting, now at the beginning of duck hunting season.
WHATEVER YOU DO IS WRONG
When you sit in the blind awaiting the flight
Then you curse yourself for a fool greenhorn,
And so, through life, a poor wretch tries
Still, I think that our God who sits in His sky,
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