A Few of My Favorite Poems

Autumn Evening

Hi everyone. Have you been well? I certainly hope so. The days have been long for me, and the nights even longer so. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. After all, watching television for hours on end is pretty cool for the first couple of days, but I know I can’t do that forever. As you might have guessed from my last post, I love poetry. Alas, this week I don’t have an original piece, but I do have a few of my favorites. Think of me as your personal poetry curator.

Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I [Round about the cauldron go]

By William Shakespeare

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

My favorite part of this poem is “like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” I hope to use that line the next time I’m cooking a pot of soup or a pot of tomato sauce. It’ll be my standard answer if my boyfriend or father ask me if the said soup or sauce is done or not. I’ll say, “wait until it looks like a hell-broth boil and bubble,” and then I’ll wait to see if they catch the Shakespearean reference. Also, wouldn’t it be a funny way to tell someone how you prefer your bathwater? Just under a “hell-broth boil and bubble” thank you very much.

I also think this phrase has other uses. You could use it to explain someone’s being mad. For example, if someone asks you how angry you are, you could say, “like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

If you’re asked how hot you like your chili or hot sauce, “like a hell-broth boil and bubble” really works.

If you live somewhere where the weather is usually scorching and someone asks you how it feels outside, “like a hell-broth boil and bubble” is equally effective.

As you can see, this phrase never loses its charm. I’ve used it 5 times in this blog post and I’m still amused.

Haunted Houses

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the doorway, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table, than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapors dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star,
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,–

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

The opening line, “All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses.” are my sentiments exactly. Every time I see an abandoned house I think about the happy family that used to live there and what their home used to look like when it was first built. Do you ever do the same when you drive by a boarded-up building? If you do, you and I are kindred spirits.

Speaking of houses, does your childhood home ever come to your mind? Or maybe your grandparent’s home? It happens to me from time to time. I obviously no longer live there and my grandparents have all passed away, so all I have left are the pleasant memories from time spent in both of those houses.

For the record, one of my grandmothers actually lived in an apartment, and not a house. I still remember her apartment number and if this little tidbit of information has piqued your curiosity for more “Storytime with Jackie,” then let me know in a comment below, and I’ll find a way to fit a story about her in a future blog post. She was hilarious, so the stories would be worth reading.

Restless Ghost

By Eric Pankey

The wasp’s paper nest hung all winter.
Sun, angled in low and oblique,
Backlit—with cold fever—the dull lantern.
Emptied, the dangled nest drew him:
Gray. Translucent. At times an heirloom
Of glare, paper white as burning ash.
Neither destination nor charm, the nest
Possessed a gravity, lured him, nonetheless,
And he returned to behold the useless globe
Eclipse, wane and wax. He returned,
A restless ghost in a house the wind owns,
And the wind went right through him.

I love the last two lines of this poem, “A restless ghost in a house the wind owns, And the wind went right through him.” When I read them, it made me think exactly of what it might feel like to be a ghost on a windy night. Since ghosts are ethereal, it makes perfect sense that a gust of wind would pass right through. I’d like to think on windy autumn evenings, that’s exactly what’s happening.

After all. Must all ghosts be spooky? What if Halloween is truly the day that the dearly departed get to visit the Earth to spend some time with the people they loved the most in this world. Or is that All Soul’s Day? I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m fairly certain that one of those holidays has something to do with ghosts frolicking around? Who would you want to see? For me, the answer is dead-easy, no pun intended. I would want to see my grandparents. They were some of the finest and most loving people I have ever met, and I still miss them to this day.

It seems to me that no matter how much time you spend with your loved ones, it was never enough. Once they’re gone, all you wish for is one more minute with them. Luckily for me, I do believe in the afterlife. So, one day I will see them again, and if they really do walk among us on Halloween, I would be happy to see them then too. Now, are ghosts real? I can’t speak for everyone on this blog, but in my opinion, it’s not something I would dismiss so easily. There has not been any proof that they don’t exist and since I believe in the afterlife, it makes it a possibility.

Thank you for taking some time to read these poems and my thoughts about them. I hope I have entertained you and brought a small measure of brightness into your life during this quarantine. And if you are struggling, please reach out to a friend. Remember, you are not alone.

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