Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Parting at Morn

by Robert Browning

Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim--
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.

* * *

This is the sequel to last week's poem. I never paid much attention to it until I read it in The Virginian (by Owen Wister -- the only Western book I have ever read, but I like it). Here is the Virginian's reaction to the poem. It helps to know that "him" in the poem refers to the sun, and the speaker is the man.

* * *

"That is very, very true," murmured the Virginian, dropping his eyes from the 's intent ones.

"Had they quarrelled?" she inquired.

"Oh, no!"


"I reckon he loved her very much."

"Then you're sure they hadn't quarrelled?"

"Dead sure, ma'am. He would come back afteh he had played some more of the game."

"The game?"

"Life, ma'am. Whatever he was a-doin' in the world of men. That's a bedrock piece, ma'am!"

* * *

The Virginian is right, of course. Lovers leaving one another doesn't mean they are angry, or that all is not well. Sometimes life just takes them apart for awhile -- but if their love is true, this will only bring them closer. Love doesn't keep the man in the poem from living his life -- it gives him a reason for living it fully.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Meeting at Night

by Robert Browning

The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

* * *

Such wonderful description. "Startled little waves" is a neat personification there. And "quench its speed i' the slushy sand" is a slushy-sounding line for sure.

I'll put the sequel to this poem, "Parting at Morn," later.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I'd heard people talk about this, but had never read an official news article ...

Contracepting the Environment

For people (like me) who don't like following all the links, this is an article about the effects of contraceptives on the environment. They're entering streams through sewage (which, though well-filtered, misses things like hormones, antibiotics, and steroids) and doing weird things to the fish. For example, in the study mentioned, they found a disproportionate number of female fish to male fish, and many mutant "intersex" fish.

A study in New Jersey discovered hormones and other medications in municipal tap water supplies throughout the state. No one knows what they might do to people, but I might venture a guess that if people are anything like fish, it might be very bad indeed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

* * *

She's talking about the Statue of Liberty -- the famous sign to immigrants that they are welcome, no matter how much like "wretched refuse" they may seem in their current condition. The poor, illiterate immigrants who arrived to Ellis Island as little as a hundred years ago, often not even speaking English, have had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would give reality to their dreams: this is a land of opportunity, and their descendants have proved it by their success.

I posted it because it seems very relevant to the current immigration debate. I know this is a poetry blog and not a politics blog -- because I understand poetry much better than politics -- but I'd still like to hear people's ideas on the subject. I have some opinions, but they're not very well-formed because I lack good information about both sides. I'm hoping people from every side of the issue will comment here and we can have some fruitful discussion on the subject -- not to take down other people's ideas, but to exchange thoughts.

What do you say? Are you for more open borders, or less? How is new immigration to be regulated? Is the good of the country opposed to the good of those who wish to come to it, and if so, whose needs come first?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Motu Proprio

I hate to consider myself a trend-follower, but the fact is, every blogger in the world has something to say about the Motu Proprio. I'd be lax not to have something to say too.

But this is all I really have to say: it's online, so read it yourself. (Courtesy of Rorate Coeli.)

The document comes into effect September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.