Monday, December 23, 2013

A Victorian Christmas

What can I give Him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would give Him a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man,
I would do my part --
But what can I give Him,
Give my heart.
Christina Rossetti
The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid, the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.
Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound;
Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease;
Peace and good will, good will and peace;
Peace and good will to all mankind.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Cold and wintry is the sky,
Bitter winds go whistling by,
Orchard boughs are bare and dry,
Yet here stands a faithful tree.
Household fairies kind and dear,
With loving magic none need fear,
Bade it rise and blossom here,
Little friends, for you and me.
Come and gather as they fall,
Shining gifts for great and small;
Santa Claus remembers all
When he comes with goodies piled.
Corn and candy, apples red,
Sugar horses, gingerbread,
Babies who are never fed,
Are handing here for every child.
Shake the boughs and down they come,
Better fruit than peach or plum,
'T is our little harvest home;
For though frosts the flowers kill,
Though birds depart and squirrels sleep,
Though snows may gather cold and deep,
Little folks their sunshine keep,
And mother-love makes summer still.
Gathered in a smiling ring,
Lightly dance and gaily sing,
Still at heart remembering
The sweet story all should know,
Of the little child whose birth
Has made this day throughout the earth
A festival for childish mirth,
Since the first Christmas long ago.
Louisa May Alcott

Monday, November 25, 2013

Songs for Thanksgiving

Over the River and Through the Wood
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Now Grandmother's cap I spy! --
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
Lydia Maria Child, 1844
Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Thomas Ken, 1674
Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
Martin Rinkart, 1636
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple come;
Raise the song of harvest home!
Henry Alford, 1844
Dawn Pisturino
(artwork by Currier and Ives)

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Screaming Skull and Other Poems

by Dawn Pisturino
The skull screams when the moon is bright,
Warning of evil a-foot in the night,
Calling to phantoms hidden from sight,
Keeping them all at bay.
Shrieking aloud when the zombies fight,
It glows in the darkness, waking with fright,
Shivering children, crying for light,
Fearful 'til break of day.
High on a shelf, when the bats take flight,
The dead skull cries with all its might,
Disrupting dreams, however slight,
Sending them all away.
September 20, 2011
by Dawn Pisturino
Creeping footfalls on the stair warn me that a ghost is there.
Shivering in my bed with fright, the door creaks open . . .
(good night)
January 5, 2012
by Dawn Pisturino
Deep within the forest,
Inside a magic ring,
Fairy lads pluck at their harps
While fairy maidens sing.
Queen Mab, arrayed in starlight,
Sits upon her chair,
Plotting all the dirty tricks
No other folk would dare.
Last spring they stole poor Margaret,
Sound asleep in bed.
They laid her in the Irish Sea
With stones beneath her head.
The fishes kept close vigil,
Traditional at wakes.
"Too bad," remarked a hungry shark.
"A lovely corpse she makes!"
January 19, 2012
All poems copyright 2011-2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


by James Russell Lowell

And what is so rare as a day in June?
   Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
   And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
   An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
   Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
   Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
   The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there’s never a leaf nor a blade too mean
   To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
   Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
   With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest, –
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best? 

Now is the high tide of the year,
   And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back, with a ripply cheer,
   Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
’T is enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near,
   That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack,
   We could guess it all by yon heifer’s lowing, –
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
   Tells all in his lusty crowing!

BIO: Born in 1819, James Russell Lowell became a member of the Fireside Poets, a New England group of Romantic poets whose popularity rivaled the great British poets of the era. In 1857, he was appointed editor of The Atlantic Monthly. He used his poetry to promote abolitionism and social reform. Lowell died in 1891.

Artwork: "Flaming June" by Sir Frederic Leighton, 1895.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Butterfly, Butterfly


by Dawn Pisturino
For my daughter Ariel
Butterfly, Butterfly,
Dappled with red,
Night-time is coming,
Fly home to your bed!
The white moon is rising,
He hasn't a care;
The bright stars are shining,
Reflecting him there.
Oh, Butterfly, Butterfly,
What shall you do?
If darkness enfolds you,
How will you get through?
Fly home on a moonbeam,
Guided by stars,
Or maybe such planets
As Venus and Mars?
Or, drifting along on a
Sweet summer breeze,
You'll land where you want
And do as you please?
Float down on a flower,
The sweet nectar there,
Drawing you inward
And filling the air?
You'll suck up your supper,
Then lay down to sleep,
Your wings folded neatly,
Their beauty to keep.
And when, in the morning,
You suddenly wake,
The sun will be rising,
A new day will break.
Then, Butterfly, Butterfly,
Fly away home!
Or follow your instincts
To wander and roam.
But come again - do! -
If you happen this way,
Night-time or daytime
Or any old day!
February 8, 1986
This poem was set to music by composer and film maker Barry Gremillion and recorded in October 2013 by Barry Gremillion and Ariel Pisturino.
Thanks, Ariel and Barry!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The changing light
                    at San Francisco
          is none of your East Coast light
                    none of your
                              pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
                         is a sea light
                                        an island light
And the light of fog
                    blanketing the hills
          drifting in at night
                         through the Golden Gate
                                        to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
          after the fog burns off
               and the sun paints white houses
                                        with the sea light of Greece
               with sharp clean shadows
                    making the town look like
                         it had just been painted
But the wind comes up at four o'clock
                                        sweeping the hills
And then the veil of light of early evening
And then another scrim
                    when the new night fog
                                        floats in
And in that vale of light
                    the city drifts
                              anchorless upon the ocean
From How to Paint Sunlight, Copyright 2000 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. All Rights Reserved.
BIO: Lawrence Ferlinghetti was a leading member of the "Beat" movement of the 1950s and continues to be an important political activist to this day. A beloved San Francisco icon, he was named San Francisco's Poet Laureate in August 1998. His City Lights Booksellers & Publishers has published works by Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. A Coney Island of the Mind, published in 1958, remains his best-known collection of poems.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

BIO:  Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on October 27, 1914 in Swansea, South Wales. His father, an  English literature professor, recited Shakespeare to the young boy, instilling in him a lifelong love of poetry. At the age of 16, Thomas quit school and became a junior reporter for the South Wales Daily Post. In 1932, Thomas quit working to become a full-time poet, winning the Poet's Corner book prize in 1934. His first book, 18 Poems, was released to rave reviews. Thomas loved the poetry of Hopkins, Yeats, Poe, and D.H. Lawrence. Attracted to the ballads of the Romantic tradition, he wrote in lyrical rhythms that evoked deep emotions. He died of complications related to alcoholism on November 9, 1953 in New York City.