On the Second December’s Poems


This has been a distinctly odd month, weather-wise:  warm when it should have been cold, rain when there should have been snow.  As always, we plug along to the death of the old year, the days growing shorter, the darkness stretching.  This month, though, some of the boys have been asking for poems with hunting, poems with deer.  Guy poems.  One young man decided to do a web search for a poem about three of his favorite things–and managed to come up with something…which led to a discussion of literary merit, and revision (I didn’t care for the poem, primarily because of the apparent lack of thought that went into the revision; but I shared it because of the effort TJ went to in tracking it down–and the discussion was well worth it!).

Also this month, I learned of the death of a poet I’ve known since I was 18–a man who was by turns the kindest and cruelest person I’ve ever known.  Herb Coursen was a man who could at once discuss wonderful ideas about poetry–content, construction–and at the same time become enraged if your opinions did not conform to his.  In recent years we had come to a kind of truce.  He had organized the readings for Longfellow Days at the library in Brunswick, and two times he chose to include me in his program…then proceeded to tell the audiences that he’d taught me everything I know.  After some thought, I included a poem he wrote (and published in Love Poem, a book from the mid-90’s) as a kind of tribute:  he once told me it was–as was that entire book–an outgrowth of a series of discussions we’d had via letter about the process of writing sonnets.

So there it is.  Now it’s vacation.

December 1, Thursday:  Robert Frost, “An Old Man’s Winter Night

Carl Sandburg

December 2, Friday: Thomas Hardy, “The Fallow Deer at the Lonely House

December 5, Monday: Emily Dickinson, “There’s a certain Slant of light

December 6, Tuesday: Carl Sandburg, “Horses and Men in Rain”  (especially appropriate for the rain, and for the fact that we’d just got done a series of readings about knights)

December 7, Wednesday: Delmore Schwartz, “Poem (In the morning, when it was raining)

December 8, Thursday: H. R. Coursen, “Love Poem (Sort of): for Anne” (for Herb, whose death I’m not sure what to do with)

December 9, Friday: Erica Jong, “Ordinary Miracles

December 12, Monday: Wes McNair, “Glass Night”

December 13, Tuesday: Annie Deppe, “The Minister’s Wife”

December 14, Wednesday: Jane Kenyon, “Apple Dropping into Deep Early Snow

December 15, Thursday: Kirsten Dierking, “Shoveling Snow

December 16, Friday: Emily Dickinson, “Besides the Autumn Poets Sing

December 19, Monday: Robert Francis, “Blue Winter

Robert Francis

December 20, Tuesday: Mary Oliver, “On Winter’s Margin

December 21, Wednesday:  unknown, “”A Poem of Hunting, Fishing, and a Truck” (this was a poem brought to me by TJ in my third period class, who likes–you guessed it–hunting, fishing, and trucks)

December 22, Thursday: Gary Johnson, “December

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