Sunday, June 24, 2012

Higher and higher, Long Island Poem for end of school Sunday

Front page of The Roosevelt Bears
We are back to children poetry this week.

The rhymed adventures of the Roosevelt Bears by Seymour Eaton were first published in 1906. The Roosevelt Bears, TEDDY-B (black vs bad) and TEDDY-G (gray vs good), traveled through New York, Chicago, Boston, North Pole; visited a school, worked on a farm, enjoyed a county fair, and let their imagination loose during a balloon ride. Their antics, richly illustrated by V. Floyd Campbell, added a lighter note to children's summer reading lists at the turn of the last century.

The Roosevelt Bears, Their Travels and Adventures
Seymour Eaton

The Roosevelt Bears in a Balloon

      The balloon sailed up above the crowds
      And the county fair and beyond the clouds.
      The sky around was clear and blue,
      The earth below was lost to view.
No sound was heard: the air was still;
The space about was too big to fill
With sound or house or town or hill.
    Distance was gone and direction too;
        The bears had nothing left to do;
            There wasn't a thing to fasten to.
                The sun alone and dazzling bright
                    Seemed to be laughing at their plight.

The first to speak was TEDDY-G;
  "The earth has dropped somewhere," said he;
    "Fell through those clouds: I saw it go;
      And where it's gone I want to know."
        "Don't ask me," said TEDDY-B,
        I never learned astronomy;
        We're off for good: dear knows how far:
        The sky will have another star.
        I suppose we'll have an orbit soon
        And revolve around the sun and moon
        And have day and night and spring and fall,
        And roll about like a rubber ball;
        Or play with Jupiter or the planet Mars,
        Or ride on comets through the stars.
        Scholars will look through telescopes,
        And tell our weight and count these ropes,
And measure time back to our birth,
And say we're peopled like the earth."


The Roosevelt Bears, Their Travels and Adventures by Seymour Eaton.
First published 1906. Reprinted after Dover Publications, Inc.
In public domain.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - "Quintessential moment with my father", Long Island Poem for Father's Day Sunday

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Quintessential moment with my father", Long Island Poem for Father's Day Sunday

"Pear" by Yvonne Dagger
"The pluck, the toss, the catch, the drop"; no, the poem we have chosen for this Father's Day Sunday is not about baseball. It is no about pears, either, though we have picked a still life "Pear" by Yvonne Dagger to accompany it. Read on...

Barbara Novack

The pear tree in the neighbor's backyard
drops its crop on the driveway
with hard thumps
like baseballs hitting a mitt.
But the pears roll, uncaught.

Once my father climbed to the top of the garage
where the pear tree branches stretch over the peak
and perched there, straddling it, plucking pears
and tossing them down to me. I
caught each neatly,
brown-green balls of sweetness, small and firm,
slapping into my cupped palms
and deposited in a large paper bag at my feet.
The pluck, the toss, the catch, the drop:
we had a good rhythm that sunny September afternoon.
And when the bag was finally full and the game ended,
my father lit his pipe, set it at a jaunty angle,
and sat secure and serene
up high against the bluest sky.

The pear tree in the neighbor's backyard
drops its crop on the driveway
with hard thumps:
the pears roll, uncaught.

I stand at the kitchen window
and stare out at the branches
so high against
the emptiest sky.

"September" by Barbara Novack, Writer-in-Residence at Molloy College.
This award winning (First Place Poetry Honors) poem was first published by Nassau Review and it is reprinted here after, with author's permission.
Copyright (c) Barbara Novack.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Sundays of old, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sundays of old, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Front page of When We Were Little
1985 edition
Mary Fanny Youngs, of an old Oyster Bay family, in the PREFACE to her collection of "When We Were Little / Children's Rhymes of Oyster Bay" says: "WHEN we were little, we lived in an old gray house in Oyster Bay Cove, so close to the harbor that the high tides in the Spring and Autumn always flooded the dark, earth-floored cellar. For two hundred and sixty years the little old house has stood there, and in all that time has never gone out of the possession of the lineal descendants of the staunch old pioneer who built it. For that reason, the love of the old traditions, the old ways, the very rafters over our heads and earth beneath our feet, were not only, "bread in our bone," they were soul of our souls."

Theodore Roosevelt adds in the Foreword: "Miss YOUNGS writes of the quaint, old-time Long Island life, of which not only her father and I, but she herself and my children, were part." Beautiful description of delights of Long Island follows. Conclusion reflects on good, honest living anywhere: "I hope these poems will also appeal to others; for our life was essentially the same as all the old-fashioned life lived elsewhere in the open coutry; this was fundamentally a simple and a wholesome life."

Now the poem:

Mary Fanny Youngs

SUNDAY is such a different day
From all the other days-
I do such different kinds of things
And play such different plays.
Up to the queer old Chapel, first,
To Sunday-school I go,
And there learn Bible stories
Which I already know.

Then serv'ral miles to church we drive
All in our Sunday things-
Across the graves and out to sea
The cheerful church-bell rings.
We sit so far toward the front
We never dare be late-
I love to hear my Grandpa sing
And see him pass the plate.

And when it comes to sermon-time
Which I can't understand,
I watch the window where the Christ
Looks down, with lifted hand;
I look across the shining bay
All crinkled with the breeze,
And up into the still, blue sky,
And flowering locust trees.

And after we have gone back home
And dinner all is done,
Then I would like to go and play
And have a little fun,
But Grandma says "No games to-day!"-
Then Katie comes, and we
Go out for hours among the woods
To see what we can see.

And sometimes it is windflowers,
And sometimes bloodroot white,
And sometimes it is arbutus
Half hidden out of sight.

And sometimes it is puddingstones
And sometimes velvet moss-
But always we are happy there
And never come back cross.

Then, after tea we read awhile,
And when I've gone to bed-
When I am safely tucked away
And all my prayers are said,
Katie upstairs, and Grandpa down,
They both begin to sing,
And as I drift away to sleep
I hear their voices ring-

"From Greenland's Icy Mountains",
"Nearer, My God, to Thee,"
"The Church's One Foundation,"
"Jesus Loves Even Me"-
And that's the very last I hear.
And this is why I say
I like my Sundays different
From any other day!

"SUNDAY" by Mary Fanny Youngs from When We Were Little, published by The Mad Printers of Mattituck under the auspices of the Oyster Bay Historical Society.
Reprinted after 1985 edition, with publisher's permission.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - All the Swans, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Sunday, June 3, 2012

All the Swans, Long Island Poem for Sunday

We sink
quietly into each
other's company, watch
the sunset pour into the sea
a pink the sky cannot contain,
the artist cannot paint. Instead,
she paints the boats, kissing her
baby profusely between strokes.
Gulls squat on the stone bench
where we sip coffee, In the
salt marsh, a light blinks,
summoning infinite
summer bugs.
We ride home in silence, sweating, past all the swans.

"All the Swans" by Patricia Butler from "Poems by the Boatyard", Finishing Line Press, 2011.
Reprinted with author's permission.

Cover drawing by Jack Butler
Courtesy of Patricia Butler
"A beach. A boat. A backyard. And a father building a boat big enough to contain his large family, not to mention their imagination..." Patricia Butler, Long Island native, introduces herself. Her quirky sense of humor makes her fill her blogspot profile entry "Favorite Music" with "The sound of seagulls, an ocean wave crashing, the slap of water against the side of a boat" instead the usual name of a musician or an album.

Patricia grew up on Long Island, lived and traveled in many varied geographic and cultural areas; she is currently residing in Georgia.

The quintessential summer poem we have picked for this week was first published in Patricia's 2011 collection "Poems from the Boatyard" which we carry at he store. A drawing by her late uncle, Jack Butler of Oyster Bay Cove / Sea Cliff / Syosset, graces the cover.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - Long Island Poem for Sunday, Walt Whitman's birthday, May 27th 2012