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Poetry And Quotes

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The new poet laureate in the US is Natasha Trethewey, the daughter of a black mother and a white father who grew up in the deep South. Here is a poem of hers, with the Renaissance painting it’s based on, below.


Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or The Mulata


—after the painting by Diego Velàzquez, ca. 1619


She is the vessels on the table before her:

the copper pot tipped toward us, the white pitcher

clutched in her hand, the black one edged in red

and upside down. Bent over, she is the mortar

and the pestle at rest in the mortar—still angled

in its posture of use. She is the stack of bowls

and the bulb of garlic beside it, the basket hung

by a nail on the wall and the white cloth bundled

in it, the rag in the foreground recalling her hand.

She's the stain on the wall the size of her shadow—

the color of blood, the shape of a thumb. She is echo

of Jesus at table, framed in the scene behind her:

his white corona, her white cap. Listening, she leans

into what she knows. Light falls on half her face.



Edited by rivanna

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Rivanna, Very nice. This is the world I grew up in.



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Tariki mentioned Jane Hirshfield, a great poet, which reminded me of another great poet I’m reading, Mary Oliver--her latest book is A Thousand Mornings (2012). A couple of samples –





I go down to the shore in the morning

and depending on the hour

the waves are rolling in or moving out,

and I say, oh, I am miserable,

what shall—what should I do?

And the sea says in its lovely voice:

Excuse me, I have work to do.





“Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about.”


Which is why we have songs of praise,

songs of love, songs of sorrow.

Songs to the gods, who have so many names.

Songs the shepherd sings on the lonely mountains,

while the sheep are honoring the grass by eating it.

The dance-songs of the bees, to tell

where the flowers suddenly, in the morning light, have opened.

A chorus of many shouting to heaven,

or at it, or pleading.

Or that greatest of love affairs, a violin and a human body.

And a composer, maybe hundreds of years dead.

I think of Schubert, scribbling on a café napkin.

Thank you, thank you.

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Thanks for reopening this thread. There are some real treasures here.


I've started re-reading Middlemarch, by George Eliot.


"Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal's Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart;

and to her the destinies of mankind, seen by the light of Christianity,

made the solicitudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation for


Edited by AnnieG

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