Poem of the Week, by Tracy K. Smith

“Poems infatuated with their own smarts and detached from any emotional grounding can leave the reader feeling lonely, empty and ashamed for having expected more.” YES. That line is excerpted from a tiny but fierce essay that the poet Tracy K. Smith wrote this past summer. Don’t try to be smart, don’t try to hide. Just put your heart on the line.

Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?
– Tracy K. Smith

1.

After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being—a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on my coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.


For more information on Tracy K. Smith, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/18/does-poetry-matter/wipe-that-smirk-off-your-poem


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Poem of the Week, by William Butler Yeats

I went to a literary festival last week and took part in a flash fiction workshop, in which you had to write a story under 250 words. My story was titled “The Pilgrim Soul in Her,” and I was feeling pretty smuggish-proud of myself, having come up with that clever title, because it’s a line lifted from the below poem by Mr. Yeats and I thought that most in the room (writers all) would recognize it. But nope. Nary a one did. This raised a silent hue and cry inside me, along the lines of Bring Back Yeats, so here you go.

 

When You Are Old
– William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

​For more information on Yeats, please click here.

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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