Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My polestar . . .

On this final evening of November, I am reminded of a beautiful poem by Emily Brontë written one hundred seventy-four years ago. 


Now trust a heart that trusts in you, 
And firmly say the word adieu ; 
Be sure, wherever I may roam, 
My heart is with your heart at home ; 

Unless there be no truth on earth, 
And vows most true are nothing worth, 
And mortal man have no control 
Over his own unhappy soul ; 

Unless I change in every thought, 
And memory will restore me nought, 
And all I have of virtue die 
Beneath far Gondal's foreign sky. 

The mountain peasant loves the heath 
Better than richest plains beneath ; 
He would not give one moorland wild 
For all the fields that ever smiled. 

And whiter brows than yours may be, 
And rosier cheeks my eyes may see, 
And lightning looks from orbs divine 
About my pathway burn and shine. 

But that pure light, changeless and strong, 
Cherished and watched and nursed so long ; 
That love that first its glory gave, 
Shall be my pole-star to the grave. 
— Emily Brontë, November 1837

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Pushcart Prize nomination !

My poem, "Críonnacht", a glosa of W.B. Yeats's "The Coming of Wisdom with Time", has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Paul Christian Stevens, Editor, The Chimaera. The poem may be viewed -- and heard -- here.

My fifth Pushcart Prize nomination and second this year!

The word "críonnacht" is Gaelic for "wisdom".

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 25, 2011

2011 Anthology of Montreal Writers

Some of my work will be featured in the 2011 Anthology of Montreal Writers, published by the Canadian Authors Association, Montreal Branch.
The anthology will be launched December 19 at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal.
Cost of the anthology is $14, plus postage if mailed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gracias a la vida . . .

Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends. I hope you enjoy this song, Gracias a la vida, sung by the late Mercedes Sosa.

Miss you, Mommy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

" . . . the weight of the year"

The Death of Autumn

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

When reeds are dead and a straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like agèd warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe; and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek, —
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that Beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again, — but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn! — What is the Spring to me?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

"He's making a list, checking it twice . . ."

Dear Friends,

Do you have formal poetry lovers on your holiday gift list? If so, why not get them a copy of Lines of Flight, available from Able Muse Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan), and The Book Depository (Australia, New Zealand).

At a recent luncheon with some of my favorite Powwow River poets, one poet purchased a copy of Lines of Flight to bring as a gift to poetry-loving friends, instead of a bottle of wine. 

The book contains a beautiful Foreword by Rhina P. Espaillat and sixty formal poems including : sonnet, Sapphic stanza, ballad, ovilejo, leona rima, cinquains, quatrains, triolet, cento, ekphrastic, rondeau, villanelle, haibun, and others, not to mention enthusiastic endorsements of the work by Richard Wilbur, Eric Ormsby and X.J. Kennedy.

Hope you'll consider it!

 Thank you!

Catherine Chandler


Friday, November 18, 2011

"Something between breaths"

And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name

By John Ashbery

You can’t say it that way any more.   
Bothered about beauty you have to   
Come out into the open, into a clearing,
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you
Is OK. To demand more than this would be strange
Of you, you who have so many lovers,   
People who look up to you and are willing   
To do things for you, but you think
It’s not right, that if they really knew you . . .
So much for self-analysis. Now,
About what to put in your poem-painting:   
Flowers are always nice, particularly delphinium.   
Names of boys you once knew and their sleds,   
Skyrockets are good—do they still exist?
There are a lot of other things of the same quality   
As those I’ve mentioned. Now one must
Find a few important words, and a lot of low-keyed,
Dull-sounding ones. She approached me
About buying her desk. Suddenly the street was   
Bananas and the clangor of Japanese instruments.   
Humdrum testaments were scattered around. His head
Locked into mine. We were a seesaw. Something   
Ought to be written about how this affects   
You when you write poetry:
The extreme austerity of an almost empty mind
Colliding with the lush, Rousseau-like foliage of its desire to communicate   
Something between breaths, if only for the sake   
Of others and their desire to understand you and desert you
For other centers of communication, so that understanding
May begin, and in doing so be undone.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

National Take a Hike Day

It seems every day is a "National Something-or-other" day. I thought the one for today, November 17, National Take a Hike Day, was funny, so below is my "take" on Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art". Of course, it's not autobiographical, just in case you wondered ;-)  :

A Different Art
(after Elizabeth Bishop)

The art of keeping isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be kept that their keeping’s no disaster.

Keep something every day. Accept the fluster
of keeping up with the Joneses. The torment
of keeping secrets isn’t hard to master.

Then practice keeping track of time. And Sister,
keep cool no matter what. To the extent
you keep good company, there’s no disaster.

He kept a mistress, overtaxed his rooster,
and so I told him, Keep in touch, and sent
him packing. Piece of cake to master.

I kept two children (lovely ones), the toaster,
the house, the SUV; and when he went
I kept the faith. It wasn’t a disaster.

I gather every word that I can muster —
a squad, a company, a regiment —
an art of which I’m lady, lord and master:
my castle keep. Keep out! Or face disaster.

-- Catherine Chandler

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Liberating the poem . . .

"The poem freed from its precarious utility as ego's appendage may possibly fly into the sky and become a star permanent in the night air." — Donald Hall, Poetry and Ambition

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Soñando con el campo . . .

Los Pueblitos

Para Nelly y Vicente

En 25 de Mayo, lejos, en las afueras,
entre eucalíptos, plátanos y palmeras,
una casa centenaria, sólida y sencilla
me recibe con su fuente que suena a campanilla.

Rodeada de bosque, de campo y de prado,
de maíz, de soja, de frutales y ganado;
de aves cantoras, de flores silvestres,
su tierra encarna los valores campestres.

Un sendero de pinos me lleva a la capilla,
y a la puesta del sol, al cielo que brilla
de malva, susurro un rezo vespertino —
«¡ Dios bendiga Los Pueblitos, sosiego argentino!»

— Catherine Chandler, 2006

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spenserian Spring

The Ovenbird

In Uruguay, in spring, I’ve often heard
light-hearted trills along the dusty road:
a lively, undiminished ovenbird
sings as she builds her intricate abode.
The wily swallow, with no stringent code
of constancy, surveys the chambered nest;
and knows that, following this episode
of eggs with which the other bird is blessed,
he’ll snatch the abdicated space. Hard-pressed
though he may be for time, for love, for will,
too wise to prove an uninvited guest,
he waits it out upon a window-sill.
The ovenbird, deemed artless by the swallow,
to practiced eyes is one tough act to follow.

— Catherine Chandler

Friday, November 11, 2011


Everyone's commenting on the 11-11-11 phenomenon. I didn't think of this when I wrote my poem, "Eleven", but since it's also Remembrance Day in Canada, I'll share the poem with you:


players on a soccer team
stars in Joseph's second dream

odd reversible and prime
dimensions (counting space and time)

pipers piping, salt (Na)
month day hour Veterans Day

goats hair curtains ripped apart
ounce-weight of the human heart

twelve less Judas, David's men
pearls and tears from Swinburne's pen

heartbreak (on a scale of ten)

— Catherine Chandler

"Actuated by love"

From Thoreau's Walden; or Life in the Woods (which I'm re-reading for the umpteenth time):

"The one who came from farthest to my lodge, through deepest snows and most dismal tempests, was a poet. A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by love. Who can predict his comings and goings?"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My New Book

White Violet Press will be publishing This Sweet Order, a chapbook of twenty-seven sonnets. Available soon. I'll keep everyone posted on progress.


Monday, November 7, 2011

. . . and of course . . .

My November Guest

By Robert Frost

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so surely sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell he so,
And they are better for her praise.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

. . . and another . . .

Design for November

By William Carlos Williams

Let confusion be the design
and all my thoughts go,
swallowed by desire: recess
from promises in
the November of your arms.
Release from the rose: broken
reeds, strawpale,
through which, from easy
branches that mock the blood
a few leaves fall. There
the mind is cradled,
stripped also and returned
to the ground, a trivial
and momentary clatter. Sleep
and be brought down, and so
condone the world, eased of
the jagged sky and all
its petty imageries, flying
birds, its fogs and windy
phalanxes . . .

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Another November Poem . . .

By Walter de la Mare

There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o’er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.

Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.

Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pushcart Prize Nomination

My poem, "The Deep Season", originally published in The Raintown Review, January 2011, and reprinted in the Winter Issue of Victorian Violet Press, has been nominated by the latter for a Pushcart Prize. The poem is available online here:

and here:

This is my fourth Pushcart Prize nomination, the other poems being: "66", "Writ" and "Body of Evidence". Keeping my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011



Between the last triumphant note of fall,
when maples, marigolds and pumpkins vie
for orange jurisdiction, and the rime-
embellished month of Christmas, there he is,

November, stark, severe, demanding all
imagination can afford: a lie
might do the trick; an epic, if there’s time.
Anything to fill that void of his.

by Catherine Chandler (first published in Candelabrum (Scotland), CPM Vol 12, #6, October 2007), reproduced in Lines of Flight.