Archives for posts with tag: William Blake

The One Page Poetry Circle met on April 2nd to discuss Poetry and Mystery.

Abigail opened the circle with the last stanzas of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King describing the mystery of the end of King Arthur: “He passes to be King among the dead,/And after healing of his grievous wound/He comes again; but—if he come no more—…”

Roger read from “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who specialized in mystery, “‘Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—/Tell me what they lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’/Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’”

Hazel read “The Tyger” by William Blake in which the poet wonders about the mystery of duality in nature, “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright,/In the forests of the night,/What immortal hand or eye/Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Gail broke the nineteenth century mood with Raymond Carver’s Another Mystery”: “That time I tagged along with my dad to the dry cleaners—/What’d I know then about Death? Dad comes out carrying a black suit in a/plastic bag. Hangs it up behind the back seat of the old coupe/and says, ‘This is the suit your grandpa is going to leave/the world in.’ What on earth could he be talking about? I wondered.”

Alice read “To Paula in Late Spring” by W. S. Merwin, expressive of his longing: “Let me imagine that we will come again/when we want to and it will be spring/we will be no older than we ever were.”

Mei read poetry by Sing Chigi (1140-1207) that she had translated from the Chinese. One was reminiscent of New Year celebrations: “Ladies wear fancy shining jewelries,/Pass by with laughs giggling and perfume./Among crowd looking for her thousand times,/Suddenly look backwards,/Such soul,/At dim light far away shadows.”

Howard read Robert Frost’s two-line poem, “The Secret Sits”: We dance round in a ring and suppose,/But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”

Cate read Ru Freeman’s “The Heart Shows No Signs” with its mysterious images that run through the poem, “The heart, the surgeon says, does not reveal/the small rifts, the hairline cracks which/split the hairline cracks they conceal cops/and robbers in a stretch of skin.”

It rarely happens in the circle that two people bring the same poem, but both Daria and AnnaLee brought Paul Laurence Dunbar’s powerful poem, “The Mystery,” which provides no answer to the eternal mysteries, “I question of th’ eternal bending skies/That seem to neighbor with the novice earth;/But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes/On me, as I one day shall do on them,/And tell me not the secret that I ask.”

Kai couldn’t be there, but thought of “Dream Song 29” by John Berryman with the ominous lines, “But never did Henry, as he thought he did,/end anyone and hacks her body up/and hide the pieces, where they may be found.”

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the May 7th One Page Poetry Circle for Poetry and Longing. Whether a poem expresses longing or you just long to bring it, choose a poem that has meaning to you. And if you can, come with copies for others to share. Can’t locate a poem you want to bring? Browse the poetry section at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or

In the meantime, please blog with us at

Spring 2019 Season
Tuesday, May 7, Poetry and Longing

The One Page Poetry Circle will be back in the fall. Look for the upcoming schedule of dates and themes.

~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 at St. Agnes Branch Library will be back on September 11, 2018, for its eleventh season, where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While 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 began, participants have selected and discussed 1081 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

For September’s theme, Poetry and Disaster, we recognize the anniversary of one of the worst disasters of our lives. Maurice Blanchot wrote that “Disaster shuts down language. Disaster cannot be fathomed. Disaster stops all speech because the suffering it causes is so total and complete.” Theodor Adorno stated that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Yet the poet finds a way to respond to disaster with language, bearing witness to disaster. Psalm 137 begins with the lament after the destruction of Jerusalem, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept/when we remembered Zion” and ends with a desire for revenge, a response difficult to check. When disaster strikes, we look to poetry for comfort and support, seeking to understand how others felt in similar situations or how we can get past our despair.

According to William Blake in “Infant Sorrow,” man begins in a hostile environment and finds what comfort he can:

My mother groand! My father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud;
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my fathers hands:
Striving against my swaddling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mothers breast.

After 9/11, the New Yorker published Adam Zagajewski’s “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.” Actually written in 2000, the poem seemed prescient then, and continues to echo our times. Its words provide a point of view for living with recurring disaster.

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.
(trans. Clare Cavanagh)

We’re looking forward to the poems you bring and read aloud on the subject of a disaster, response to a disaster, or that can provide comfort after a disaster. Bring one that has meaning for you, along with copies for the others, if you can. Looking for a poem to bring? Browse the poetry section at the library or check out Poetry Foundation or

In the meantime, please blog with us here about poetry at

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

Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave., 3rd Fl.
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm

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.