Tuesday Poem – Miracles by Walt Whitman

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love – or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds – or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down – or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best – mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savants – or to the soiree – or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring – yet each distinct, and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass – the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim – the rocks – the motion of the waves – the ships, with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Poet and journalist Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York. Considered one of America’s most influential poets, Whitman aimed to transcend traditional epics and eschew normal aesthetic form to mirror the potential freedoms to be found in America. In 1855 he self-published the collection Leaves of Grass; the book is now a landmark in American literature, though at the time of its publication it was considered highly controversial. Read more

 

I was sitting at the computer yesterday paying bills online when up popped this quote from Albert Einstein.

‘There are two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ 

Miracle is a much-used word to the point where it can sometimes lose its impact. After reading this quote I started looking at definitions of miracle. And then I looked for poems about miracles. They were as different as the many definitions. I chose the one above. It seems as if Walt lived surrounded by miracles. I find it interesting that he lists them all rather than going into detail about why they are miraculous. The ‘show don’t tell’ that writers are often cautioned about!  I’ve a lot more thinking to do on this topic myself. I do believe that the ability to show the miracle qualities of a subject is a vital part of a poet’s toolbox.

If you want to read some more poems for Tuesday (yes I know today is Thursday) you can pop over to the Tuesday Poem page here.  Tomorrow is National Poetry Day in New Zealand . Enjoy.

 

 

 

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

 

Did you know or remember the words of this poem? I certainly didn’t though the title and rhythm are as familiar as the smell of a Christmas pine.

The poem was written by Dr. Clement C. Moore. He was born in a house near Chelsea Square, New York City, in 1781; and he lived there all his life. It was a great big house, with fireplaces in it;–just the house to be living in on Christmas Eve.

To read a lovely story about the poem’s origins and how it is still celebrated, go here and scroll down.

A very interesting biography of Moore can be found here

This more controversial view of Moore and how the poem originated, makes interesting reading.

And if you have children in the house they might enjoy this short cartoon video

If you want to read my own version of Christmas, Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas is available in a number of online sites and local bookstores.  Click on the book cover for this title in my left hand column to view inside the book.

And meanwhile I wish you all a peaceful and contented Christmas season and a bountiful 1917.

 

To read more poems for Tuesday go here.