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, June 22. 2019
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
From the New England Primer, via American Digest's Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
Saturday, May 4. 2019
The House by the Side of the Road
There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
I see from my house by the side of the road,
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) wrote plain verse for the "common man". Homey, corny, comfortably instructive stuff. In fact, for many years Foss turned out a poem a day for his local Somerville, MA newspaper. We recently saw a graveyard monument (1936) with "Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man." inscribed upon it.
Saturday, December 1. 2018
Shakespeare probably wrote this sonnet in his late 30s, making it, I suppose, a creation of sentimental imagination. It seems to be addressed to a younger man. Here are some thoughts, etc about Sonnet 73. Interesting to me that John Berryman believed it to be the best poem written in English, despite its flaws.
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
Saturday, November 3. 2018
Out of the night that covers me,
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
It matters not how strait the gate,
Saturday, October 13. 2018
Afternoon on a Hill
I will be the gladdest thing
I will look at cliffs and clouds
And when lights begin to show
Saturday, September 22. 2018
The Foggy, Foggy Dew (by Anon)
When I was a bachelor I lived all alone
I wooed her in the wintertime
One night she came to my bedside
She wept, she cried, she damn near died,
O I am a bachelor, I live with my son
He reminds me of the wintertime
Saturday, September 15. 2018
Gypsies in the Wood
My mother said that I never should
I went to the sea - no ship to get across;
Saturday, July 14. 2018
It's meadow mowing season in New England. Haying season too.
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
Saturday, May 12. 2018
There is a sacred, secret line in loving
Friendship is weak and useless here,
Those who try to come near it are insane
Saturday, April 21. 2018
I wander'd lonely as a cloud
A poet could not but be gay,
For oft, when on my couch I lie
Saturday, January 20. 2018
An Old Man's Winter Night
All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Saturday, January 6. 2018
You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Robert Frost"
Saturday, December 2. 2017
My Garden (1866)
If I could put my woods in song,
In my plot no tulips blow,
My garden is a forest-ledge,
Here once the Deluge ploughed,
The sowers made haste to depart,
Waters that wash my garden-side
Hither hasted, in old time, Jove,
Keen ears can catch a syllable,
Æolian harps in the pine
Canst thou copy in verse one chime
Wonderful verse of the gods,
Ever the words of the gods resound,
Wandering voices in the air,
When the shadow fell on the lake,
But the meanings cleave to the lake,
These the fates of men forecast,
Saturday, July 1. 2017
I checked the weather for our trip: 40s (F) at night, high 50s (F) daytime. Some precipitation 21 out of 30 days/month in summer (more in winter). North Atlantic weather. I've done a few ship crossings in the north Atlantic and know what it's like: cool mist and drizzle, no need for sunscreen.
Gwynnie lent me his waterproof Olympus.
My Mom and Dad were partial to trips to northern climes. Dad wrote the poem below to document the habit (with a photo of the poet at the farm).
Continue reading "Outer Hebrides weather with Saturday Doggerel"
Saturday, June 17. 2017
Reposted from 2009. 2009 ?!? Sheesh. This site is getting long in the tooth.
Photo: If you have areas you want mowed instead of just hayed once a year, the trick is to get the kids on the mini-John Deere. They love it. It's easy to teach them how to jump off if the thing starts to tip over on a steep, angled, rocky New England hill - just tip it over when they are on it, and they will figger it out. Child abuse, no doubt. This birch hill looks good as a distant vista from ye olde farmhouse kitchen window when the top of the hill is mowed occasionally. We prefer to keep most of the fields only mowed once-yearly in late August or September for the wildlife and wildflowers, because I know in my heart that God loves meadows - but not lawns.
Yes, that is in the Berkshires and yes, we have big tractors too. Ford and Farmall. I'd never take that old dainty-front-footed Farmall on a steep, angled Yankee pasture hill, tho. The old Ford has a nice, comfortable wide stance.
I think it was in Pogo where somebody said "What is so rare as a steak in June?"
Two verses from Part 1 of James Russell Lowell's (1819-1891) religious epic The Vision of Sir Launfal:
Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Saturday, June 10. 2017
The boy stood on the burning deck,
Saturday, April 29. 2017
I am reposting this Empson poem because Michael Wood has a new book out about Empson's critical writing, The Codebreaker - On the critical legacy of William Empson.
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, April 1. 2017
Breathes There The Man... from The Lay Of The Last Minstrel
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Saturday, March 25. 2017
There are many versions and verses.
On a summer day in the month of May a burly bum came hiking
There's a lake of gin we can both jump in, and the handouts grow on bushes
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, you never change your socks
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin,
This song was written and performed by Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock in the 1920s. The only other hobo/bum/homeless song that competes with this one is Roger Miller's country version of King of the Road - not as good as this song, though.
Saturday, March 18. 2017
The Death of the Hired Man (1915)
You can hear Frost read the poem here.
Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Robert Frost"
Saturday, March 4. 2017
The World Is Too Much With Us
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Saturday, February 25. 2017
I hunted down a misquote ("Beware the wrath of patient men") that was quoted in a piece linked at American Digest, and learned that it was from a Dryden epic, possibly a satirical one, Absalom and Achitophel.
John Dryden was the literary giant of his time. He influenced many, especially Pope, and knew Marvell and Milton. Never read any Dryden - just one of countless holes in my education.
The fragment goes like this:
Oh that my Pow'r to Saving were confin’d:
Lots of Dryden fragments and quotes here to get a sense of his clear, forceful style. He liked heroic couplets.
Saturday, February 11. 2017
Thanks to Vanderleun. Somehow, I never knew this Tennyson poem. We all have regretful knowledge lacunae but we fight them daily. In sophomore (required) Public Speaking, part of that course was to memorize and recite a poem, an epic fragment (choice of Milton, Homer, Chaucer, Virgil, Hesiod, or Dante), or a Shakespeare soliloquy, each month. I have a few Shakespeare sonnets permanently in my hippocampus. Wish I had found this Tennyson then. The Sparks Notes re Ulysses.
It little profits that an idle king,
Saturday, November 12. 2016
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
Frost is mocking his wall-loving neighbor, but also admits that he mends wall too - together with his neighbor. A reflection on boundaries of all sorts. We happen to have a (stone) wall mending project at hand. New England dry stone walls have always been fragile things because glacial residue tends towards rounded shapes.
Saturday, November 5. 2016
Ross Coggins composed "The Development Set" in 1976. Nothing has changed.
The Development Set is bright and noble
In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We discuss malnutrition over steaks
We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
The language of the Development Set
It pleasures us to be esoteric —
When the talk gets deep and you’re feeling numb,
Or say, “That’s fine in practice, but don’t you see:
Development set homes are extremely chic,
Enough of these verses – on with the mission!