About Me

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As the poet in residence at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in topics of ecology and public health. I am reappraising the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation at LMU Munich, where I tutor composition and poetics. I also teach English at MVHS and lead the literary circle at Amerikahaus.

20160927

Supremacy

by E. A. Robinson


There is a drear and lonely tract of hell
From all the common gloom removed afar:
A flat, sad land it is, where shadows are,
Whose lorn estate my verse may never tell.
I walked among them and I knew them well:       
Men I had slandered on life’s little star
For churls and sluggards; and I knew the scar
Upon their brows of woe ineffable.

But as I went majestic on my way,
Into the dark they vanished, one by one,       
Till, with a shaft of God’s eternal day,
The dream of all my glory was undone,—
And, with a fool’s importunate dismay,
I heard the dead men singing in the sun.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160926

Sonnet

by E. A. Robinson


When we can all so excellently give
The measure of love’s wisdom with a blow,—
Why can we not in turn receive it so,
And end this murmur for the life we live?
And when we do so frantically strive       
To win strange faith, why do we shun to know
That in love’s elemental over-glow
God’s wholeness gleams with light superlative?

Oh, brother men, if you have eyes at all,
Look at a branch, a bird, a child, a rose,       
Or anything God ever made that grows,—
Nor let the smallest vision of it slip,
Till you may read, as on Belshazzar’s wall,
The glory of eternal partnership.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160924

George Crabbe

by E. A. Robinson


Give him the darkest inch your shelf allows,
Hide him in lonely garrets, if you will,—
But his hard, human pulse is throbbing still
With the sure strength that fearless truth endows.
In spite of all fine science disavows,       
Of his plain excellence and stubborn skill
There yet remains what fashion cannot kill,
Though years have thinned the laurel from his brows.

Whether or not we read him, we can feel
From time to time the vigor of his name       
Against us like a finger for the shame
And emptiness of what our souls reveal
In books that are as altars where we kneel
To consecrate the flicker, not the flame.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

Credo

by E. A. Robinson


I cannot find my way: there is no star
In all the shrouded heavens anywhere;
And there is not a whisper in the air
Of any living voice but one so far
That I can hear it only as a bar       
Of lost, imperial music, played when fair
And angel fingers wove, and unaware,
Dead leaves to garlands where no roses are.

No, there is not a glimmer, nor a call,
For one that welcomes, welcomes when he fears,       
The black and awful chaos of the night;
For through it all—above, beyond it all—
I know the far-sent message of the years,
I feel the coming glory of the Light.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160923

Verlaine

by E. A. Robinson

Why do you dig like long-clawed scavengers
To touch the covered corpse of him that fled
The uplands for the fens, and rioted
Like a sick satyr with doom’s worshippers?
Come! let the grass grow there; and leave his verse       
To tell the story of the life he led.
Let the man go: let the dead flesh be dead,
And let the worms be its biographers.
Song sloughs away the sin to find redress
In art’s complete remembrance: nothing clings       
For long but laurel to the stricken brow
That felt the Muse’s finger; nothing less
Than hell’s fulfilment of the end of things
Can blot the star that shines on Paris now.

20160921

Sonnet

by E. A. Robinson

Oh for a poet—for a beacon bright
To rift this changless glimmer of dead gray;
To spirit back the Muses, long astray,
And flush Parnassus with a newer light;
To put these little sonnet-men to flight       
Who fashion, in a shrewd mechanic way,
Songs without souls, that flicker for a day,
To vanish in irrevocable night.
 
What does it mean, this barren age of ours?
Here are the men, the women, and the flowers,     
The seasons, and the sunset, as before.
What does it mean? Shall there not one arise
To wrench one banner from the western skies,
And mark it with his name forevermore?

Note:  A recitation can be heard here

Horace to Leuconoƫ

by E. A. Robinson

I pray you not, LeuconoĆ«, to pore
With unpermitted eyes on what may be
Appointed by the gods for you and me,
Nor on Chaldean figures any more.
’T were infinitely better to implore        
The present only:—whether Jove decree
More winters yet to come, or whether he
Make even this, whose hard, wave-eaten shore
  
Shatters the Tuscan seas to-day, the last—
Be wise withal, and rack your wine, nor fill       
Your bosom with large hopes; for while I sing,
The envious close of time is narrowing;—
So seize the day, or ever it be past,
And let the morrow come for what it will.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.