Archives for posts with tag: Wallace Stevens

The One Page Poetry Circle met in November to discuss Poetry and Simplicity.

All of the poems presented complex ideas in a single page.

Abigail opened the circle with Una Hynum’s “Origami,” “Yesterday I laundered a mouse — / wash, rinse, spin cycled.” The mouse emerges looking “as if sculpted from Japanese Kami paper,” perfect but dead.

Roger read Dejan Stojanovic’s “Simplicity,” which in two-line verses explores the idea that “The most complicated skill/Is to be simple.”

Hazel read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s tranquil “Prelude to the Voices of the Night,” evoking the beauty of lying under a tree and looking up, “Pleasant it was, when woods were green,/And winds were soft and low.”

Gail read “The Meaning of Simplicity” by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos in which everyday things become bridges of connection, “you will touch those objects my hand has touched/the traces of our hands will mingle.”

Elizabeth read Ron Padgett’s “Wristwatch,” written while the author was “… feeling rather tempus fugit.” “Maybe I should/just sit here/for a while, let/some time pass/so my wife will think/I’ve been working hard.”

Christiana read “To Stand in the Shadow” by Paul Celan, with its suggestion of something that cannot be spoken, “To stand in the Shadow/of the Wound’s-Mark in the Air.”

Michael read “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by William Butler Yeats. The narrator seeks Aengus, a god of love and youth in Irish mythology, who beckoned him in his youth, “Though I am old with wandering/through hollow lands and hilly lands,/I will find out where she has gone.”

Cate read Joy Harjo’s “Sunrise Healing Song” that combines English with the Creek language, “What obscures, falls away./Ha yut ke hvtke.” Although we don’t know the translation, we love the mystery of the refrain.

Kat read the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore’s “Paper Boats,” “I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and/hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land/in the night.”

Phil read “On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins, “You tell me it is too early to be looking back,/but that is because you have forgotten/the perfect simplicity of being one/and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.”

AnnaLee read Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica,” which concludes, “A poem should not mean/But be.” She also brought John Ciardi’s exercise of stripping out the imagery of MacLeish’s poem to show that to oversimplify removes the “be.”

Kai couldn’t be there but suggested “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens with its startling images.

Fall 2018 Schedule
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine

Join us in the Spring!
Tuesday, February 12, Poetry and You
Tuesday, March 5, Poetry and Food
Tuesday, April 2, Poetry and Mystery
Tuesday, May 7, Poetry and Longing

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.


The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 8th to discuss Poetry and Choice. We all agreed that Choice was a wonderful theme for the last program of the spring season. We enjoyed the variety of poems even though two were by Robert Frost and three were sonnets. The poems reflected the myriad choices we make every day.

Abigail opened our discussion by reading the ending of Mathilde Blind’s drama in miniature, The Russian Student’s Tale,” in which a woman tells a man of her past and he realizes his own limitations, as well as the failure of society, “Poor craven creature! What was I,/To sit in judgment on her life,/Who dared not make this child my wife,/And lift her up to love’s own sky?”

Roger read Robert Frost’s The Armful” in which the poet reflects on keeping the aspects of his life in balance, “I had to drop the armful in the road/And try to stack them in a better load.” The poem appeared in the New York City subway series Poetry In Motion.

Hazel read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet XLIII,” “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” a celebration of the different ways the author chooses to love, ending with eternal love, “and, if God choose,/I shall but love thee better after death.”

Gail read Balance” by Alice B. Fogel, the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, “Balance is everything, is the only/way to hold on./I’ve weighed the alternatives, the hold/as harbor: It isn’t safe/to let go.” This poem generated much discussion about its line-by-line meaning although we all know the importance of keeping ourselves in balance in this crazy world.

Ken read Federico Garcia Lorca’s Qasida of the Dark Doves,” an enigmatic poem that generates a surrealistic mood, “Through the laurel branches/I spied two dark doves./One was the sun,/the other the moon.”

Linda read Sonnet XLV” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, telling of a fraught relationship, “I know my mind and I have made my choice;/Not from your temper does my doom depend;/Love me or love me not, you have no voice/In this, which is my portion to the end.”

Cate read Wallace Stevens’s Thirteen ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and let us choose which one we liked best. AnnaLee chose V: “I do not know which to prefer,/The beauty of inflections/Or the beauty of innuendoes,/The blackbird whistling/Or just after.”

Susan read One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop in which the narrator chooses to learn how to lose things or perhaps the things choose to be lost, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

Carol read Allen Steble’s Choices,” which reminded her that we do have a choice in our perspective on life, “We all have a choice/to climb our highest mountain/or fall into our deepest hole/to drink from life’s fountain/or live life like a troubled soul.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Robert Frost’s beautiful Choose Something Like a Star,” “So when at times the mob is swayed/To carry praise or blame too far,/We may choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid.” This poem was set to music in Randall Thompson’s Frostiana,” a 1959 choral work.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. In the meantime, blog with us at Don’t be shy.

Fall 2018 Schedule (all Tuesdays)
September 11, Poetry and Disaster
Tuesday, October 9, Cowboy Poetry
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
December 11, Poetry and Wine

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!
Tuesday, Nov. 14,  5:30 – 6:30 pm, St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave.
Theme: Poetry and Power

We’re back for the 10th season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine works of established poets. 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, 1010 poems have been selected and discussed. Countless others have been read in pursuit of poetry that speaks to us.

Power is everywhere: the power of poetry, the power of anything and everyone to change our world and ourselves. In Madge McKeithen’s memoir, Blue Peninsula, the author finds that the power in poetry’s messages gives her strength to cope with a son’s illness. The poet Wallace Stevens believed poetry had the power to take us beyond religion. In “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon, she ponders the effect of “a breath of passing air”

‘Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death. A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—
A word is but a breath of passing air. 

In this excerpt from “Power” by Adrienne Rich, the poet conflates multiple meanings of her title:

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power

If you have a favorite poem on the theme of Power, we hope you’ll post it here at . Let us know what you like about it.  

Abigail Burnham Bloom & 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.


All are welcome to attend the One Page Poetry Circle on May 6 to discuss Poetry and Birds.

green-bird-white-backgroundBirds have long been an inspiration to poets, perhaps because, like poets, they sing: Percy Bysshe Shelley refers to a skylark, “Like a Poet hidden/In the light of thought.” Birds and poets have the ability to defy gravity and soar above the earth: John Keats seeks to fly with a nightingale on “the viewless wings of Poesy.”

With a topic so rich as birds, it may be difficult to select just one poem. In “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Wallace Stevens’s strange title seems to say that there is no finite number of ways to view a blackbird. The author gives us thirteen, an odd number, because he knows there are many, many more.

Stevens begins with an all-seeing blackbird:

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

After a few stanzas he wonders about his many options:

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

He ends with the persistent blackbird:

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

What do you have to say about Stevens’s poem or another poem on the subject of birds?