Saturday, November 24, 2012

Halcyon Daze

Here are two excerpts from poems that have been on my mind for a couple of days.

The first is from Upon Appleton House by Andrew Marvell:

So when the shadows laid asleep
From underneath these banks do creep,
And on the river as it flows
With eben shuts begin to close;
The modest halcyon comes in sight,
Flying betwixt the day and night;
And such an horror calm and dumb,
Admiring Nature does benumb.

The viscous air, wheres’e’er she fly,
Follows and sucks her azure dye;
The jellying stream compacts below,
If it might fix her shadow so;
The stupid fishes hang, as plain
As flies in crystal overta’en;
And men the silent scene assist,
Charmed with the sapphire-wing├Ęd mist.
The halcyon is an old name for the riverside-dwelling bird we call the kingfisher.

This is from Humming-bird, by D. H. Lawrence:

I can imagine, in some otherworld 
Primeval-dumb, far back 
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed, 
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul, 
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate, 
This little bit chipped off in brilliance 
And went whizzing through the slow, vast succulent stems.