On "Bethlehem Down"

The first thing one must deal with, I think, at least for the non-Anglophile reader/hearer of this hymn, is the title. It’s simple, really—Wikipedia has it that the Celtic word for hill resembles our contemporary word down. So the term “Bethlehem Down” would mean the hillsides of Bethlehem, or, more generally, the countryside […]

Changes to The O-files

I’ve decided, for the foreseeable future at least, to take this website in another direction. Since I’m on Facebook now, I’ve got a place to post the family items and the occasional herptile picture, so, fear not, those won’t stop. And The O-files will be my place to concentrate on poetry, literature, and […]

The House of Mourning

The lovely Angela and I have a friend for whom the medical prognosis is not good. Our time with her seems ever to be shorter. Of course, this has prompted much prayer and reflection on our part. We have pleaded with God to extend her days for His sake and the sake of […]

A Translation Attempt

Love Song

Rainer Maria Rilke


How might I restrain my soul
from touching yours? How could I
raise it beyond you to other things?
How I would secret it
in some far place, dark and
silent as the space between stars,
which is not shaken when you tremble.

But all that touches you and me
unites us, as a bow stroke
calls from separate […]

No Small Fête

This poem is the one that first drew Stevens (born today these 134 years ago) to my attention.

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last […]

Who is Azcan? What's a hoo?

Bantams in Pine-Woods

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan
Of tan with henna hackles, halt!

Damned universal cock, as if the sun
Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail.

Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal.
Your world is you. I am my world.

You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat!
Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines,

Bristles, […]

Lacking Imagination

Wallace Stevens’ birthday is next Wednesday, one day before mine (note to self: post Amazon wishlist in sidebar), so I’ll be posting a poem each (non-Sabbath) day until then. Happily, many of his works are public domain, so I don’t have to wrest or wrangle in order to claim fair use. Today, let […]

A Stevens Flirtation with Imagism?

The Load of Sugar-Cane

The going of the glade-boat
Is like water flowing;

Like water flowing
Through the green saw-grass
Under the rainbows;

Under the rainbows
That are like birds,
Turning, bedizened,

While the wind still whistles
As kildeer do,

When they rise
At the red turban
Of the boatman.

Things I like about this Wallace Stevens poem:

– It’s all one sentence.
– It includes words outrageous as “bedizened”. […]

Two Poems with the Same Subject

and, to my mind, one is far superior. Which one gets your vote?


Boy at the Window

Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with […]

Vicit Agnus Noster

Many (20?) years ago, I heard a song I’ve never forgotten. The production of the song itself was understated but trendy CCM. The words, however, stuck out to me as quite good, and I liked the melody.

This year I discovered that the melody is actually an older hymn tune, St. Peter […]