zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
[personal profile] zirconium
May Sarton (1912-1995) wrote two poems titled "All Souls." The first one was published in Harper's in 1957 and reprinted in the collections In Time Like Air (1958) and Collected Poems, 1930-1993. (Sarton was prolific enough for a Collected Poems to appear in 1973; as an aside, my library owns that version but not the more recent compilation.)

An abridged version of the first "All Souls" poem appears in Singing the Living Tradition (1993), the primary hymnal for most Unitarian Universalist congregations. It is printed in the "Funerals and Memorials" section as a responsive reading, which means the minister (or other worship leader) and the congregation alternate speaking the lines to each other.

It begins, "Did someone say that there would be an end, / An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning?" Read more... )

The second All Souls poem was published as "All Souls 1991" in the collection Coming into Eighty (1994; no online copy available, as far as I can tell). Read more... )

On October 30, 1992, Sarton wrote:

Yesterday was special because I was able to finish the poem "All Souls" which I had to write because of four articles in the Manchester Guardian Weekly about the children of Iraq and the numbers of them who are dying....And that, of course, is what we did and what President Bush said he had no responsibility for. So he kept the sanctions on, and the food is not getting there. I was in a rage after I read that, and thank God I am a poet because I was able to use it and write a poem that may be of use.
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
[personal profile] bookblather
Samhain (pronounced SOW-in-- I know, look, it's Celtic) is one of four major Sabbats on the Wiccan wheel of the year. It marks the turning of the year from light to dark, the shift into the autumn and winter months of rest. Generally it takes place on the 31st at sundown, but it can also be celebrated on November 1st. On Samhain, the veil between this world and the next is thin, and the dead pass through on their way to the Summerlands. It's also the Wiccan New Year, which is the way I primarily celebrate it.

Samhain has its roots in a Celtic celebration, and many of its current symbols come from those ancient roots. The word literally means "summer's end." Like its opposite celebration, Beltane, Samhain celebrations involved bonfires and feasts, aimed at honoring the dead rather than Beltaine's celebration of life. Sometimes people would walk between two bonfires in a ritual cleansing that some Wiccans still practice today. It's a celebration of the close of the year, a time to honor the dead and what has passed before reaching into the new world.

Samhain poetry tends toward ritual chants, which can be highly personal, and poetry, words written for the dead, in contemplation of the dark. I've included a selection below: I hope that you enjoy them!

A Samhain celebration chant. This is not one I personally use, as it's aimed more at group practices. The focus on the fire and the turn of the year is, however, typical of Wiccan celebrations.

Samhain, Full Moon, Ardath Mayhar. This is a wonderfully creepy poem about the wandering dead, passing through on their way to the Summerlands. It's a more traditional reading of Samhain, going back to the Celtic festival rather than modern celebrations.

Samhain, by Annie Finch. I love this poem. It reaches into the past, into the long history that Samhain celebrates, and portrays the dead as warm and living memories.

Poem in October, Dylan Thomas. This one isn't strictly a Samhain poem, but Thomas captures so perfectly the spirit of the holiday that I couldn't resist it.

Thank you for your time; I hope you have enjoyed the poems.
primeideal: Multicolored sideways eight (infinity sign) (Default)
[personal profile] primeideal
Hello! Today I'm going to share a couple hymns for All Saints' Day, November 1.

All Saints' Day is a Christian festival that, as the name implies, honors untold saints--our predecessors. I'm a Lutheran, and this tradition doesn't have a formal canonization process that recognizes various levels on the way to sainthood or make a big deal of verifying who is or is not a saint, so in that sense we emphasize the "all" part. Lutherans also celebrate the denomination on October 31, Reformation Day, when our namesake Martin Luther is said to have nailed his "95 Theses" to a church door--to make sure that everyone would see it when they came to church for All Saints' Day. So while it's not the most theologically important holiday, it's one with a rich tradition.

I would guess the best-known hymn for All Saints' Day is "For All The Saints," whose lyrics were written by William How, and whose eventual melody was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The hymn tune is known as "Sine nomine," ("Without name"). This might be a reference to unrecognized saints, but another source suggests that this was a common name for all sorts of hymn tunes in the Renaissance era, so I'm not sure.

The original text consists of eleven verses, each of three lines in rhyming iambic pentamenter. It was first printed in 1864.
Read more... )
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[personal profile] poetree_admin

Since today is an open slot on our These Hallowed Days week, the admins are opening it up for trick or treating, poetry-style. If you start a new comment thread on this post with the subject line 'trick or treat: [your prompt]', the POETREE community is invited to write and reply to that thread with haiku inspired by your prompt that fits the category of 'trick' or 'treat'. We hope you enjoy exchanging haiku!
zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
[personal profile] zirconium
When I signed up for today, I had in mind some of the poems listed below. Then I reread them and realized most of them were about the dead people rather than directly to them. Memory is the devil, and so are prepositions.

Anyway, here are some poems about death that have either lingered in my memory or caught my attention when I went fishing in the inter-oceans on this topic.

* * *

"Expired" by Denise Duhamel

This poem is not online, but I feel compelled to mention it anyway, because it's so striking: Duhamel narrates her attachment to her dead father's Albuterol inhaler, which she is using "until it runs out, / until I absolutely have to say goodbye." It's as vivid and powerful a poem about grief as I've ever read, printed in one of the most beautifully designed chapbooks I've encountered. The ordering information can be accessed at the book's page at Slapering Hol Press. [A more detailed review of the collection is at Galatea Resurrects.]

* * *

"the rites for Cousin Vit" by Gwendolyn Brooks

A sonnet I encountered in grade school. Even though it's about a dead woman, it's bursting with life. The phrase "larger than life" embodied within fourteen lines. Marilyn Hacker wrote an appreciation of it soon after Brooks's own passing.

* * *

"What the Living Do" by Marie Howe

I first met this poem in Michael Klein and Richard McCann's Things Shaped in Passing: More "Poets for Life" Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (1997). The anthology also includes Donna Masini's "Beauty." These two poems are to dead people -- about seeing the world and the self anew through the prism of loss. Masini writes, "How much can the eye take in? / I think it must be the organ of feeling."

(Almost ten years ago, in an World AIDS Day post, I quoted from David Bergman's "The Care and Treatment of Pain," which is also in this anthology.)

* * *

"What Came to Me" by Jane Kenyon
About a gravy boat. It's not coincidence that I'm moved by poems about possessions -- astrologically, I'm a Taurus (i.e., materialistic); historically, I've served as the executor of an estate, and I've helped sort things out elsewhere; in general, my friends and I are at the stage where more of us are having to deal with parents and friends passing away,and there frankly tends to be a lot to do when that happens, and interacting with the possessions (regardless of whether they're retained or sold or given away) is an intrinsic, intricate part of that. (My poem "A Stack of Cards" isn't autobiographical, but it does emerge from personal experience.)

* * *

A Dialogue with My Daughter through the Window of Her Dollhouse by J. R. Solonche

Its opening line, quoting the daughter: "The days never end, but people end, right?" Oh, my heart.
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
[personal profile] poetree_admin
There are many different celebrations and observances that happen on the last day of October and the first day of November, almost all of which focus on the thinning of veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living. Halloween, All Saint's Eve/Day, All Hallows Eve/Day, Samhain, Día de los Muertos, these are just some of the names used to describe the end of October and the beginning of November.

For this multi-hosted week we would like to focus on poetry celebrating these two days. The posts do not have to be directly themed around the days, but should reflect some aspect that is usually associated with the days. In other words the poem could be about otherworldly creatures, communing with the dead, Devil's Night, etc.

Ideally we would like to have a post on each day from Monday, October 29 through Saturday, November 3. If you are interested in participating, please leave a comment on this post indicating what day(s) you might be available. Assignment of days will be on a first come, first served basis; this post will be edited as slots fill up to show which days are still available. Participation is not limited to current comm members or even Dreamwidth members - please contact the admins at poetree.at.dreamwidth [at] gmail if you will need someone to post on your behalf. More than one person can collaborate on a particular post if some wish to sign up as a group.

Details of available days behind the cut )


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