Archives for posts with tag: George Herbert

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

Windows are a frequent form of metaphor. Eyes, the windows of the soul, look out onto the world. A great poem should change our view slightly, letting us see the world in a different manner than we usually do. In the first verse of his poem, “The Windows,” George Herbert depicts man as a window through which God makes himself known,

Lord, how can man preach thy eternal word?
    He is a brittle crazy glass;
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
    This glorious and transcendent place,
    To be a window, through thy grace. 

In Howard Nemerov’s “Storm Windows,” the narrator gains a glimpse of lucidity through the lens of rainwater on a storm window lying in the grass:

People are putting up storm windows now,
Or were, this morning, until the heavy rain
Drove them indoors. So, coming home at noon,
I saw storm windows lying on the ground,
Frame-full of rain; through the water and glass
I saw the crushed grass, how it seemed to stream
Away in lines like seaweed on the tide
Or blades of wheat leaning under the wind.
The ripple and splash of rain on the blurred glass
Seemed that it briefly said, as I walked by,
Something I should have liked to say to you,
Something … the dry grass bent under the pane
Brimful of bouncing water … something of
A swaying clarity which blindly echoes
This lonely afternoon of memories
And missed desires, while the wintry rain
(Unspeakable, the distance in the mind!)
Runs on the standing windows and away.

Why has the poet used parens in the middle of his closing thought? 

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Spring 2018 Schedule
February 20: Poetry and Lies
March 6: Poetry and Enjambment
April 17: Poetry and Timing
May 8: Poetry and Choices

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.


Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!

Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

We’re back for the eighth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. Dialogue_0913While there’s no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle started, participants have selected and discussed 892 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, September 13 to discuss Dialogue Poems, a subject that’s sure to provoke lively dialogues.

Dialogue poems can be between people, concepts, or between the aspects of a single person. They often present different voices looking at the same situation, each with a distinctive point of view.

Here is George Herbert’s “A Dialogue-Anthem”:

Alas, poor Death! Where is thy glory?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?

Alas, poor mortal, void of story!
Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

Poor Death! And who was hurt thereby?
The curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.

Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die
These arms shall crush thee.

Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before;
Thou so much worse, thou shalt be no more.

George Herbert, a cleric writing in the 1600s when the subject of body versus soul was popular, believed Christ could render death meaningless as once the body was dead, the soul could live eternally in Heaven. The poem resonates with biblical verses and evokes later poems that call on the same verses. The word “Anthem” indicates a rousing song identified with a particular group, such as Christians here, and a choral composition based on a biblical passage.

In W. H. Auden’s “O What Is That Sound,” two people exchange dialogue that builds from fear and reassurance to abandonment.

O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.

O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.

O what are they doing with all that gear
What are they doing this morning, this morning?
Only the usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.

O why have they left the road down there
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in the orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?

O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care
Haven’t they reined their horses, their horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.

O is it the parson they want with white hair;
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.

O it must be the farmer who lives so near
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farm already, dear,
And now they are running.

O where are you going? stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore me deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.

O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning
Their feet are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.

Twentieth century poet W. H. Auden, may be evoking a war-torn era when one culture’s relentless march destroyed another. Death is again close by as in Herbert’s poem, but in Auden’s poem death has a personal meaning: when death threatens the individual, it ruptures human bonds.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Dialogue Poems and to discussing them with you on September 13.

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend and widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

We hope you will blog with us here on these poems or others at

Fall Schedule
September 13, Dialogue Poems
October 4, A Poem for Your Pocket
November 1, Prose Poems
December 13, Endings

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.