Keats: To My Brothers

Tonight I read this occasional poem which John Keats wrote on the 17th birthday of his brother, Tom.

To My Brothers

Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,

And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep

Like whispers of the household gods that keep

A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.

And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,

Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,

Upon the lore so voluble and deep,

That aye at fall of night our care condoles.

This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice

That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.

Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise

May we together pass, and calmly try

What are this world’s true joys,—ere the great voice,

From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.

November 18, 1816

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John Clare, Loss & Gain

On a surprise (forgotten) day of PTO, I learned of John Clare—I am Jack Randall now. I was Byron and Shakespeare formerly. As I read his verse and am confronted with his dismay at the destruction of the wild places he loved—this was the 19th c.—I am filled with sadness and nostalgia for how far this has gone in 200 years.

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Poetic Urges

I’m filled with this longing—again—to be taken up with writing and reading poetry. It will pass, a momentary urge. But where does this urge come from? To be known? Who knows poets but other poets? And it seems unlikely that I’d find publication when I haven’t put the time in. I haven’t read, I haven’t written in years. But that can all change. And let’s say I stop chasing an ideal and just start working at it. What might that get me?

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Time and Value

I am 5. I have my whole life before me. What will I become? A fireman. A policeman. A construction worker.

I am 15. I have my whole life before me. What will I become? A lawyer. An architect. An inventor.

I am 21. I have my whole life before me. What will I become? A writer. An artist. A god.

I am 44. I have lived more than half my life. What will I become? Dust. Ashes. A fading memory.

We think differently at different times about how much time we have before us and what we can become with this time. But who among us can spend, right now, anything more than the present moment?

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