"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time for a Night Walk

"Past three o'clock,
And a cold frosty morning,
Past three o'clock;
Good morrow, masters all!"

~ chant of the medieval musical night watchmen ~
~ also called The Waits ~

Connections for the week:
~ three poems about staying up past 3 A.M. ~

1. I recently came across this poem on facebook and found it the perfect herald for the New Year. Whereas "Wait" opened the season as an Advent poem, this one provides not only a sense of closure to the festivities but hope for new beginnings:

Night Walk
The all-night convenience store’s empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday’s newspaper —
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It’s unendurable, unendurable.

by Franz Wright, in God's Silence: Poems

2. The newly discovered "Night Walk," brings to mind this older favorite from Donald Justice, a poem to remind us of highschool and college, of pre - dawn risings and midnight drives across the Midwest:

Poem to be Read at 3 A.M.
Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

by Donald Justice, in New and Selected Poems

3. Going back to even earlier days is this poem from childhood that invariably echoes through my mind whenever I stay up very late, which seems to be more and more often these days. I might be glancing up at the moon, wondering at an unusual nighttime noise, closing the basement door on the cats before tiptoeing uptairs, switching off the Christmas tree or, better yet, deciding to leave it lit for the last few hours before dawn -- and I'll suddenly think of the furnace man. Despite the fact that I was born way beyond the time of furnace men, and even though all I have to do is look out my window to know that I'm not the only one awake (because the traffic never really stops -- where are those drivers going at 3 A.M.?), I still like the thought that maybe no one is awake except for "God, the furnace man and me":

The Furnace Man
God has a house three streets away,
And every Sunday, rain or shine,
My nurse goes there her prayers to say:
She's told me of the candles fine
That burning all night long they keep
Because God never goes to sleep,
Then there's a steeple of bells;
All through the dark the time it tells,
I like to hear it in the night
And think about those candles bright --
I wonder if God stays awake
For kindness, like the furnace man
Who comes before it's day, to make
Our house as pleasant as he can --
I like to watch the sky grow blue
And think perhaps, the whole world through
No one's awake but just us three --
God, and the furnace man and me.

by Amelia J. Burr, in The American Album of Poetry

Click here to read some
previously posted poems
with a similar message.

Next Fortnightly Post
Wednesday, January 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST, currently featuring
"The Girl Who Just Loved Christmas"

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