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The Poplar by Richard Aldington

Going through some old mail, as I am wont to do. In one letter, I asked: “What does it mean to be a person? A good person? What does it mean to be happy?”

I wrote in another letter: “I am writing to say that you’ve made an impact in my life, and like all things I find amazing and true I want to run around in circles waving my arms in the air while shouting THIS IS SPECTACULAR! DON’T LEAVE ME! I AM INSUFFERABLE BUT PERHAPS YOU LIKE ME! THIS IS FANTASTIC! DON’T STOP BEING AMAZING! I don’t think my face will betray that ever, but it’s what I’m thinking anyway.”

Also: “Please don’t discard me, I’ll be a curmudgeon again in the morning, which is a few hours from now. If we haven’t seen each other in awhile, I miss you. If we haven’t seen each other yet, I miss you just as well. Truth.”

And another: “I was almost whole. The experience was…ethereal. I still think about it from time to time. Especially when I feel like jumping over a cliff. Or sleeping and never waking up again. That night, I felt like I could do this, you know? This being human thing.”

I am reading poems, too. Because they are prayers. Because they are anchors.

The Poplar
Richard Aldington

Why do you always stand there shivering
Between the white stream and the road?

The people pass through the dust
On bicycles, in carts, in motor-cars;
The waggoners go by at dawn;
The lovers walk on the grass path at night.

Stir from your roots, walk, poplar!
You are more beautiful than they are.

I know that the white wind loves you,
Is always kissing you and turning up
The white lining of your green petticoat.
The sky darts through you like blue rain,
And the grey rain drips on your flanks
And loves you.
And I have seen the moon
Slip his silver penny into your pocket
As you straightened your hair;
And the white mist curling and hesitating
Like a bashful lover about your knees.

I know you, poplar;
I have watched you since I was ten.
But if you had a little real love,
A little strength,
You would leave your nonchalant idle lovers
And go walking down the white road
Behind the waggoners.

There are beautiful beeches
Down beyond the hill.
Will you always stand there shivering?

Comments (2)

  • Briana

    Too many moments of my day, moments like this one, I spend worrying, following monkey mind from crooked branch to crooked branch inside my busy brain. Hafiz is trying to throw me this anchor, this poem, this prayer:

    What Should We Do About That Moon?

    A wine bottle fell from a wagon
    And broke open in a field.

    That night one hundred beetles and all their cousins

    And did some serious binge drinking.

    They even found some seed husks nearby
    And began to play them like drums and whirl.
    This made God very happy.

    Then the “night candle” rose into the sky
    And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument,
    Said to his friend—for no apparent

    “What should we do about that moon?”

    Seems to Hafiz
    Most everyone has laid aside the music

    Tackling such profoundly useless

  • I’ve been reading Olson and Creeley… We are all poems, when you catch a certain angle of it. Thoughts and deeds which drift pretty with broken lines. To an end. And the end is never there for the poem itself. Our shapes have a way of lasting, despite our individual limitations. Thru poetry, life seems like a continuous circle of perspectives. It’s a gift, we are a kind of gift…

    Take care, T!


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