All posts by Alissa Williams

John O’Donohue’s “This Is the Time to Be Slow”

This Is the Time to Be Slow
by John O’Donohue

This is the time to be slow

Lie low to the wall

Until the bitter weather passes

 

Try, as best you can, not to let

The wire brush of doubt

Scrape from your heart

All sense of yourself

And your hesitant light.

 

If you remain generous,

Time will come good;

And you will find your feet

Again on fresh pastures of promise,

Where the air will be kind

And blushed with beginning.

 

John O’Donohue, “This Is the Time to Be Slow.” From To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. Penguin Random House, 2008. Suggested to the Humanities Institute by Professor Kristie Loescher, McCombs School of Business, UT Austin.

C.P. Cavafy’s “The God Abandons Antony”

The God Abandons Antony (1911)
by C.P. Cavafy

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear

an invisible procession going by

with exquisite music, voices,

don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,

work gone wrong, your plans

all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.

As one long prepared, and graced with courage,

say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.

Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say

it was a dream, your ears deceived you:

don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.

As one long prepared, and graced with courage,

as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,

go firmly to the window

and listen with deep emotion, but not

with the whining, the pleas of a coward;

listen—your final delectation—to the voices,

to the exquisite music of that strange procession,

and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

C.P. Cavafy, “The God Abandons Antony” (translated by Edmund Keeley/Phillip Sherrard) from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems: Revised Edition. Princeton University Press 1993. Poem originally published in 1911. Shared with the Humanities Institute by Professor Allen MacDuffie of the UT Department of English.

Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Hotel Near the Children’s Hospital”

Ode to the Hotel Near the Children’s Hospital
by Kevin Young

Praise the restless beds

Praise the beds that do not adjust

that won’t lift the head to feed

or lower for shots

or blood

or raise to watch the tinny TV

Praise the hotel TV that won’t quit

its murmur & holler

Praise the room service

that doesn’t exist

just the slow delivery to the front desk

of cooling pizzas

& brown bags leaky

greasy & clear

Praise the vending machines

Praise the change

Praise the hot water

& the heat

or the loud cool

that helps the helpless sleep.

 

Praise the front desk

who knows to wake

Rm 120 when the hospital rings

Praise the silent phone

Praise the dark drawn

by thick daytime curtains

after long nights of waiting,

awake.

 

Praise the waiting & then praise the nothing

that’s better than bad news

Praise the wakeup call

at 6 am

Praise the sleeping in

Praise the card hung on the door

like a whisper

lips pressed silent

Praise the stranger’s hands

that change the sweat of sheets

Praise the checking out

 

Praise the going home

to beds unmade

for days

Beds that won’t resurrect

or rise

that lie there like a child should

sleeping, tubeless

 

Praise this mess

that can be left

Kevin Young, “Ode to the Hotel Neat the Children’s Hospital” from Dear Darkness. Alfred Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008. Initially posted by The Poetry Foundation. Suggested by Phillip Barrish, UT  Humanities Institute and Department of English.

William Wordsworth’s “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802”

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
by William Wordsworth

Earth has not any thing to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty:

This City now doth, like a garment, wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;

Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth, “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.” Shared with the Humanities Institute by Professor Elizabeth Cullingford, UT Department of English.