Wednesday, April 30, 2014

National Poetry Month: We Point to the New Moon

“This time when you and I sit here, two figures
with one soul, we’re a garden,
with plants and birdsong moving through us like rain.

The stars come out. We’re out
of ourselves, but collected. We point
to the new moon, its discipline and slender joy.

We don’t listen to stories
full of frustrated anger. We feed
on laughter and a tenderness
we hear around us.
when we’re together.

And even more incredible, sitting here in Konya,
we’er this moment in Khorasan and Iraq.
We have these forms in time.
and another in the elsewhere
that’s made of this closeness.”

With that, my indefatigable boozers, national poetry month draws to a close, and April was not so cruel a month as all that.  This has, however, been so much fun that I now hereby declare Tuesdays to be Poetry Tuesdays, whereupon I will endeavor to post poetry.  Or at least symphonic poems.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

National Poetry Month: Troubled

Then stay with me, for I am not.

A thousand naked amorous ones dwell in ancient caves
beneath my eyelids.

Here's a pick, 
My whole body is an emerald that begs,
"Take me."

Write all that worries you on a piece of parchment;
Offer it to god.
Even from the distance of a millenium

I can lean the flame in my heart
Into your life

And turn
All that frightens you
Into holy

Sunday, April 27, 2014

National Poetry Month: Spring and Booze

Courtesy of Li Po:

"Life in the World is but a big dream;
I will not spoil it by any labour or care."
So saying, I was drunk all the day,
Lying helpless at the porch in front of my door.
When I woke up, I blinked at the garden-lawn;
A lonely bird was singing amid the flowers.
I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine?
The Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.
Moved by its song I soon began to sigh,
And as wine was there I filled my own cup.
Wildly singing I waited for the moon to rise;
When my song was over, all my senses had gone.

Omar Khayyam, in his Rubaiyat, adds the following. 

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring 
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling: 
The Bird of Time has but a little way 
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing. 

May your spring be a lovely one filled with birdsong, my dear and indefatigable boozers.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Caturday Wish

Hear our prayer, Lord, for all animals:
May they be well-fed and well-trained and happy;
Protect them from hunger and fear and suffering;
And, we pray, protect specially, dear Lord,
The little cat who is the companion of our home,
Keep her safe as she goes abroad,
And bring her back to comfort us.
                          -Old Russian prayer 


For all the ones with paws or hooves or claws or fins who suffer needlessly at our human hands: the ones we abandon, we abuse, we murder for amusement or neglect or stupid superstitions...may we someday evolve beyond this senseless cruelty.  May we come to respect these forever younger ones who share our planet as thinking, feeling beings like us, regardless of whether they can speak our language.  May we love the ones who share our lives with us.   

Friday, April 25, 2014

National Poetry Month: Kit Marlowe

Of course, as we all know, Shakespeare didn't really write Shakespeare.  Instead his contemporary Christopher Marlowe, in between being the most socially unacceptable person possible (probably atheist AND probably gay), spying, and dying in Mysterious Tavern Brawls, somehow found time to write a vast opus in a style different from what he wrote under his own name.  The dude was talented. Excerpts below from Tamburlaine the Great Part 1.

[Soldan]  Methinks we march as Meleager did.
Environed with brave Argolian knights.
To chase the savage Calydonian boar.
Or Cephalus, with lusty Theban youths.
Against the wolf that angry Themis sent
To waste and spoil the sweet Aonian fields.
A monster of five hundred thousand heads,
Compact of rapine, piracy and spoil,
The scum of men, the hate and scourge of God,
Raves in Egyptia, and annoyeth us. 

I hate it when the scourge of god annoys me.  Also, more of the lusty Theban youths, please. 

[Tamburlaine] The world will strive with hosts of men at arms
To swarm unto the ensign I support.
The hosts of Xerxes, which by fame is said
To drink the mighty Parthian Araris,
Was but a handful to that we will have ; Our quivering lances shaking in the air
And bullets like Jove's dreadful thunderbolts
Enrolled in flames and fiery smouldering mists
Shall threat the gods more than Cyclopian wars;
And with our sun-bright armour as we march.
We'll chase the stars from heaven and dim their eyes
That stand and muse at our admired arms.

It's not yet Caturday, but have a picture of my little cat Tamerlane anyway. He would absolutely chase the stars from heaven. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Poetry Month: Willie Shax

Yesterday, my dear indefatigable boozers, was the birthday of our darling William Shakespeare.  I forgot about it, but here is a sonnet for today to make up for it.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, 
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle's compass come; 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 
~Sonnet 116

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Poetry Month

                                                            Gossip grows like weeds
                                                            In a summer meadow.
                                                            My girl and I
                                                            Sleep arm in arm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

National Poetry Month: Spring and Flowers and Unquiet Hearts

In the eternal
Light of the spring day
The flowers fall away
Like the unquiet heart.

~Ki no Tomonori

Monday, April 21, 2014

National Poetry Month: From In Country Sleep

Never and never, my girl riding far and near
In the land of the hearthstone tales, and spelled asleep,
Fear or believe that the wolf in a sheepwhite hood
Loping and bleating roughly and blithely shall leap,
My dear, my dear,
Out of a lair in the flocked leaves in the dew dipped year
To eat your heart in the house in the rosy wood.

Sleep, good, for ever, slow and deep, spelled rare and wise,
My girl ranging the night in the rose and shire
Of the hobnail tales: no gooseherd or swine will turn
Into a homestall king or hamlet of fire
And prince of ice
To court the honeyed heart from your side before sunrise
In a spinney of ringed boys and ganders, spike and burn,

Nor the innocent lie in the rooting dingle wooed
And staved, and riven among plumes my rider weep.
From the broomed witch's spume you are shielded by fern
And flower of country sleep and the greenwood keep.
Lie fast and soothed,
Safe be and smooth from the bellows of the rushy brood.
Never, my girl, until tolled to sleep by the stern

Bell believe or fear that the rustic shade or spell
Shall harrow and snow the blood while you ride wide and near,
For who unmanningly haunts the mountain ravened eaves
Or skulks in the dell moon but moonshine echoing clear
From the starred well?
A hill touches an angel. Out of a saint's cell
The nightbird lauds through nunneries and domes of leaves

Her robin breasted tree, three Marys in the rays.
_Sanctum sanctorum_ the animal eye of the wood
In the rain telling its beads, and the gravest ghost
The owl at its knelling. Fox and holt kneel before blood.
Now the tales praise
The star rise at pasture and nightlong the fables graze
On the lord's-table of the bowing grass. Fear most

For ever of all not the wolf in his baaing hood
Nor the tusked prince, in the ruttish farm, at the rind
And mire of love, but the Thief as meek as the dew.
The country is holy: O bide in that country kind,
Know the green good,
Under the prayer wheeling moon in the rosy wood
Be shielded by chant and flower and gay may you

Lie in grace. Sleep spelled at rest in the lowly house
In the squirrel nimble grove, under linen and thatch
And star: held and blessed, though you scour the high four
Winds, from the dousing shade and the roarer at the latch,
Cool in your vows.
Yet out of the beaked, web dark and the pouncing boughs
Be you sure the Thief will seek a way sly and sure

And sly as snow and meek as dew blown to the thorn,
This night and each vast night until the stern bell talks
In the tower and tolls to sleep over the stalls
Of the hearthstone tales my own, lost love; and the soul walks
The waters shorn.
This night and each night since the falling star you were born,
Ever and ever he finds a way, as the snow falls,

As the rain falls, hail on the fleece, as the vale mist rides
Through the haygold stalls, as the dew falls on the wind-
Milled dust of the apple tree and the pounded islands
Of the morning leaves, as the star falls, as the winged
Apple seed glides,
And falls, and flowers in the yawning wound at our sides,
As the world falls, silent as the cyclone of silence.
~Dylan Thomas

Sunday, April 20, 2014

National Poetry Month

I too am visited by angels and devils, 
but I get rid of them.
When it is an angel I pray an old prayer, 
and he is bored;
When it is a devil I commit an old sin, 
and he passes me by.
                  -Khalil Gibran

Saturday, April 19, 2014

La Bayadere

I am slowly filling in the gaps in the repertoire of classical ballets that I have seen.  Most recent was La Bayadere, courtesy of the wonderful Munich StaatsBallet, which streams their performances live online.

La Bayadere is the tragedy of Nikiya, a devadasi who is in love with Solor.  

We do not forgive Solor, even though he has lovely gran jetes.

 Solor is an idiotic twit, even by the standards of ballet princes.  He is perhaps not quite as bad as Albrecht in Giselle, but only by virtue of being apparently genuinely confused, about everything.  He has Nikiya, who has already won our hearts completely in the first scene with her dancing: such grace, spirit, and joy!  But upon being told he is to marry the princess Ghamzatti,    
Solor falls for the sparkly purple pants and agrees.  Trouble is brewing, of course: not even a ballet princess with a sparkly purple costume has things completely her own way.  Nikiya comes to see Ghamzatti,
who proudly refuses to give up Solor.  Nikiya draws a dagger, but what could have been a magnificently choreographed fight is cut short by the elderly servant.  I was disappointed; a well-done knife fight on pointe shoes would have been amazing.  However, one of the priests is also in love with Nikiya, and sees a chance to have her by ratting on Solor and Nikiya to Ghamzatti's father, the rajah.  This doesn't turn out well, as the infuriated rajah decrees that Nikiya, and not Solor, shall die.   

Time for the wedding!  Nikiya dances for the wedding couple, despite an obviously broken heart.  A snake hidden in her basket of flowers, courtesy of the rajah, bites her and this dance becomes her death dance as well. 
Solor is a little disturbed and takes a break from wedding preparations to smoke enough opium to have a drug-induced visit to the land of shades
Wait, a classical tutu?  Why?

where he dances with the ghost of Nikiya, who forgives him.  No, stop.  Stop right there, Nikiya.  You do NOT forgive the jerk who abandoned you for a rich princess, especially since he's not even sorry enough to call off that wedding!  This is where you force him to dance to death, or at least spurn him so he will die of a broken heart when he wakes up from his opium trance! 

This makes me very angry, both the trope of letting the jerk prince off without so much as a slap, and the La Bayadere instance of the trope.  Also confused, because this pas de deux was as emotionless and flat as 3-day-old ginger ale.  Solor and Nikiya don't interact or display any emotion at all, even while dancing together.  The large ensemble sits on stage and is not given anything to do besides being scenery.  I don't get it.  I don't care if you are following the choreography of the supposedly famous Petipa; he obviously didn't know how to do this kind of scene, and you should change it.  If we are going to have a land of shades scene with the grievously wronged prima, we should have recriminations and sorrow and a choreographer who can use large groups for something besides extra scenery!  

Back to the awake world for the wedding celebration!  Ghamzatti appears in a purple tutu and discovers the tutu is much less alluring than her purple sparkly pants.  Her dancing becomes more and more desperate as she tries to convince her new spouse that he should be happy because he now has her!  I feel for Ghamzatti.  She wouldn't have had much choice in her marriage, she wouldn't have been able to call it off, she has to make this work because she can't get a divorce, and she can't kill Solor because of the lovely little custom called suttee.  Patriarchy sucks.

Anyway, Solor alternates between gloomy depression and thinking his new princess is just as nice as the old one, and we have some good ensemble work
 and then the god(s? only one shows up to dance)
Dude, that is totally the wrong hasta (hand position) for a god.  I don't think that's even one of the classical hastas.  You should be doing mushti or sikhara, or pataka for swords of righteous wrath.
show up because they are angry at the wrong done to Nikiya and destroy everyone.  Except we get a disconnected final scene where the three principals...
go to heaven?  attain nirvana?  merge with the tao?  Your guesses, gentle reader?  Any "happy" ending would be shallow and silly after the total lack of resolution between Nikiya and Solor, so I think the ballet should have stopped with the destruction.  

General rant: costumes and hand gestures.  La Bayadere is the ignorant Victorian idea of India, so I would have accepted Western ballet costume and conventions throughout.  However, this production tried to mix things...and came up with vaguely Arabian-nights costumes next to classical tutus, which was weird, and totally wacky hand gestures.  This is the internet age.  How hard would it be to google some actual Indian dance attire and modify it for pointe shoes?  How hard would it have to been to watch some actual classical Indian dance  and copy the actual hastas?  (Conflict of interest disclosure: the video link is of my guru, who is the best dancer in the world!) 

As someone who has worn classical dance costume, I can attest that that fan opens out a full half-circle or more of fabric, so you could do arabesques in it with very little, if any, modification.  And the blouse is close-fitting, so that could be used almost as-is as well.  The belt and jewelry might have to be modified, but while the Arabian nights look is pretty, you can get much closer to the real thing and still dance classical ballet in it.  And the ignorant guessing about hand gestures just makes me roll my eyes that the choreographer was too lazy to do some research.

In the end, though, I will forgive everything about this production for Nikiya (Ekaterina Petina).  I do not have enough superlatives to describe how good her dancing was.  Not just the technique, everyone at the Munich StaatsBallet has perfect technique, but the unbounded grace and the clear storytelling through her dance.  She was perfect.     

Caturday Poetry: Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban my cat, 
'Tis a like task we are at: 
Hunting mice is his delight, 
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men 
'Tis to sit with book and pen; 
Pangur bears me no ill-will, 
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry task to see 
At our tasks how glad are we, 
When at home we sit and find 
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray 
In the hero Pangur's way; 
Oftentimes my keen thought set 
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye 
Full and fierce and sharp and sly; 
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I 
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den, 
O how glad is Pangur then! 
O what gladness do I prove 
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply, 
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I; 
In our arts we find our bliss, 
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made 
Pangur perfect in his trade; 
I get wisdom day and night 
Turning darkness into light.
~Anonymous 9th century Irish monk

Neither Scaramouche nor Tamerlane are particularly strong against mice, but my old kitty Miriah is very very strong against all small rodents.  But she is old and grey and full of sleep, so now she just dreams of killing mice. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Poetry Month: From the Wanderings of Oisin

'Joy drowns the twilight in the dew, And fills with stars night's purple cup, And wakes the sluggard seeds of corn, And stirs the young kid's budding horn, And makes the infant ferns unwrap, And for the peewit paints his cap, And rolls along the unwieldy sun, And makes the little planets run: And if joy were not on the earth, There were an end of change and birth, And Earth and Heaven and Hell would die, And in some gloomy barrow lie Folded like a frozen fly; Then mock at Death and Time with glances And wavering arms and wandering dances. 'Men's hearts of old were drops of flame That from the saffron morning came, Or drops of silver joy that fell Out of the moon's pale twisted shell; But now hearts cry that hearts are slaves, And toss and turn in narrow caves; But here there is nor law nor rule, Nor have hands held a weary tool; And here there is nor Change nor Death, But only kind and merry breath, For joy is God and God is joy.' With one long glance for girl and boy And the pale blossom of the moon, He fell into a Druid swoon. And in a wild and sudden dance We mocked at Time and Fate and Chance And swept out of the wattled hall And came to where the dewdrops fall Among the foamdrops of the sea, And there we hushed the revelry; And, gathering on our brows a frown, Bent all our swaying bodies down, And to the waves that glimmer by That sloping green De Danaan sod Sang, 'God is joy and joy is God, And things that have grown sad are wicked, And things that fear the dawn of the morrow Or the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.' We danced to where in the winding thicket The damask roses, bloom on bloom, Like crimson meteors hang in the gloom. And bending over them softly said, Bending over them in the dance, With a swift and friendly glance From dewy eyes: 'Upon the dead Fall the leaves of other roses, On the dead dim earth encloses: But never, never on our graves, Heaped beside the glimmering waves, Shall fall the leaves of damask roses. For neither Death nor Change comes near us, And all listless hours fear us, And we fear no dawning morrow, Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.' The dance wound through the windless woods; The ever-summered solitudes; Until the tossing arms grew still Upon the woody central hill; And, gathered in a panting band, We flung on high each waving hand, And sang unto the starry broods. In our raised eyes there flashed a glow Of milky brightness to and fro As thus our song arose: 'You stars, Across your wandering ruby cars Shake the loose reins: you slaves of God. He rules you with an iron rod, He holds you with an iron bond, Each one woven to the other, Each one woven to his brother Like bubbles in a frozen pond; But we in a lonely land abide Unchainable as the dim tide, With hearts that know nor law nor rule, And hands that hold no wearisome tool, Folded in love that fears no morrow, Nor the grey wandering osprey Sorrow.'
~W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Technological Solutions which are Unbecoming the Twenty-First Century

  • Umbrellas
    • Sure, they work fine if there is no associated wind, not enough pedestrian traffic for umbrellas to cause significant hindrances, one isn't too concerned about one's feet, and doesn't mind having the sopping things sopping indoors everywhere.  
  • Irons
    • We still get wrinkles out of clothing by running over the fabric repeatedly with a piece of hot metal.  But if you do it wrong, the hot metal puts more wrinkles into the fabric than what you started with.
  • Grass
    • The classic method of decorating the space around one's home is with an uninteresting and high maintenance plant that doesn't last all year and isn't particularly well adapted to many of the climates in which it is cultivated.  Moreover, it only comes in green.  What's the good of having the technology to rapidly genetically modify plants if I can't have a purple lawn?  

National Poetry Month: From the Book of Questions

Is there a collector of clouds
in the Columbian sky?

Why do assemblies of umbrellas
always occur in London?

Did the Queen of Sheba
have blood the color of amaretto?

When Baudelaire used to weep
did he weep black tears?

~Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month: The Moon

For the Full Moon:



Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.
                                          -Walter de la Mare

For the Eclipse...

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Poetry Month: Fears of Work

Quit talking about your fears of work
And of being uncomfortable.

It's time to speak of roses and pomegranates,
And of the ocean where pearls are made
Of language and vision, and of the invisible ladders,
Which are different for each person, that lead
To the infinite place where trees
Murmur among themselves
"What a fine stretch 
This is in the air today!"
And nightingales ask
The just-beginning nubs of fruit that appear
When the blossoms fall off 
Give us some of what you're drinking!"

Join that endless joy-talking,
And forget the other, the worrying that
You might be taken for a jackass! 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

National Poetry Month: A Maid in Bedlam

Meav Ni Mhaolchatha - Maid in Bedlam 

(Traditional: English late 1700's)

Abroad as I was walking
One evening in the spring
I heard a maid in Bedlam
So sweetly for to sing
Her chain she rattled with her hands
And thus replied she

Chorus: I love my love
Because I know
My love loves me

Oh my cruel parents
Are being too unkind
They drove and punish me
And trouble my mind
For though I'm ruined for his love
Contented will I be


Would I become a swallow
Ascend into the air
And if I lost my lover
And could not find him there
I quickly would become a fish
And search the flowing sea


With straw I'll make a garland
And dress it very fine
I'll mix the wame with roses
Lily pink and tyne
I will preserve it for my love
When he returns from sea


Just as she was sadly weeping
Her love came on the land
Hearing she was in Bedlam
He ran straight out of hand
And as he entered into the gates
He heard her sigh and say


He stood and gazed on her
Hearing his love complain
He could not stand any longer
He bled in every vein
He flew in to her snowy white arms
And thus replied he

She said, "My love, don't frighten me, are you my love or no?"
"Oh yes, my dearest Nancy, I am your love also
I am returned to make amends for all your injury
I love my love because I know my love loves me
I love my love because I know my love loves me"

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Caturday Poetry: Special Musical Edition

My sweet old kitty Miriah, as in, "They Call the Wind..."

Way out here they have a name
For wind and rain and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe,
And they call the wind Miriah

Miriah blows the stars around,
Sets the clouds a'flyin'
Miriah makes the mountain sound
Like folks was up there dyin'

Miriah, Miriah
They call the wind Miriah.

Before I knew Miriah's name
And heard her wail and whinin'
I had a gal and she had me
And the sun was always shinin'

Then one day I left my gal,
I left her far behind me
And now I'm lost,
So gol-durned lost 
Not even God can find me

Miriah, Miriah
They call the wind Miriah.

Out here they have a name
For rain wind and fire only
When you're lost and all alone
There ain't no name for lonely

I'm a lost and lonely man
Without a star to guide me
Miriah, blow my love to me,
I need my gal beside me

Miriah, Miriah
They call the wind Miriah.

Mairiah, Miriah
They call the wind Miriah.

Alan Jay Lerner - Frederick Loewe

Friday, April 11, 2014

National Poetry Month: Grown-up

                                                  Was it for this I uttered prayers
                                                  And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs
                                                  That now, domestic as a plate,
                                                  I should retire at half past eight?
                                        -Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On the Non-Necessity of Originality in Art

Not every performance needs to be new and different.  Not every poem needs to say something new.  It is perfectly acceptable to be the 17 millionth person to write a haiku about cherry blossoms, as long as what is said is still beautiful.

This is not to say that new things are not beautiful and worthy of being said, but one would be better served by yet another cherry blossom poem than novelty which has no merit other than novelty.

Poetry Month: Cherry Blossoms

Kannon's tiled temple  
roof floats far away in clouds  
of cherry blossoms  


Storming over
Lake Nio, Whirlwinds 
of cherry blossoms.

The leafless cherry,
Old as a toothless woman,
Blooms in flowers,
Mindful of its youth.


What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.


Drinking up the clouds,
It spews out cherry blossoms -
Yoshino Mountain.


shining on the sea...
dazzling sunlight shaking over
hills of cherry-bloom


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poetry Month:Wishing

I wish I could be 
Kannon of the thousand heads
To kiss you and Kannon
Of the thousand arms
To embrace you, and
Dainichi to hold you


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Poetry Month: Skater of Ghost Lake

Ghost Lake's a dark lake, a deep lake and cold:
Ice black as ebony, frostily scrolled;

Far in its shadows a faint sound whirrs;
Steep stand the sentineled deep, dark firs.

A brisk sound, a swift sound, a ring-tinkle-ring;

Flit-flit--a shadow, with a stoop and a swing,
Flies from the shadow through the crackling cold.
Ghost Lake's a dark lake, a deep lake and old!

Leaning and leaning, with a stride and a stride,

Hands locked behind him, scarf blowing wide,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late,
Star for a candle, moon for a mate.

Black is the clear glass now that he glides,

Crisp is thaw whisper of long lean strides,
Swift is his swaying--but pricked ears hark.
None come to Ghost Lake late after dark!

Cecily only--yes, it is she!

Stealing to Ghost Lake, tree after tree,
Kneeling in snow by the still lake side,
Rising with feet winged, gleaming, to glide.

Dust of the ice swirls. Here is his hand.

Brilliant his eyes burn. Now, as was planned,
Arm across arm twined, laced to his side,
Out on the dark lake lightly they glide.

Dance of the dim moon, a rhythmical reel,

A swaying, a swift tune--skurr of the steel;
Moon for a candle, maid for a mate,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late.

Black as if lacquered the wide lake lies;

Breath is a frost-fume, eyes seek eyes;
Souls are a sword-edge tasting the cold.
Ghost Lake's a dark lake, a deep lake and old!

Far in the shadows hear faintly begin

Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin,
Muffled in the mist on the lake's far bound,
Swifter and swifter, a low singing sound!

Far in the shadows and faint on the verge

Of blue cloudy moonlight, see it emerge,
Flit-flit--a phantom, with a stoop and a swing...
Ah, it's a night bird, burdened of wing!

Pressed close to Jeremy, laced to his side,

Cecily Culver, dizzy you glide.
Jeremy Randall sweepingly veers
Out on the dark ice far from the piers.

"Jeremy!" "Sweetheart?" "What do you fear?"

"Nothing, my darling--nothing is here!"
"Jeremy?" "Sweetheart?" "What do you flee?"
"Something--I know not; something I see!"

Swayed to a swift stride, brisker of pace,

Leaning and leaning, they race and they race;
Ever that whirring, that crisp sound thin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin;

Ever that swifter and low singing sound

Sweeping behind them, winding them round;
Gasp of their breath now that chill flakes fret:
Ice black as ebony--blacker--like jet!

Ice shooting fangs forth--sudden like spears;

Crackling of lightning--a roar in their ears!
Shadowy, a phantom swerves off from its prey...
No, it's a night bird flit-flits away!

Low-winging moth-owl, home to your sleep!

Ghost Lake's a still lake, a cold lake and deep.
Faint in its shadows a far sound whirrs.
Black stand the ranks of its sentinel firs.

~William Rose Benét