When I was young, I tried to write poetry.  The degree to which I succeeded is for you to judge.  As my critical faculties matured, I came to realize that it wasn't very good, and so I stopped.  Nevertheless, I offer a few of my juvenile efforts for your amusement.  The titles are those I gave them when I wrote them, and I've kept them, even if they don't make much sense.  While these are the least bad of my poems, they are typical in the allusions they contain:  the ancient Greek literature, Shakespeare, and the Bible.  The Biblical references drop out after my conversion to Christianity (May 1970); for some reason, I have never been able to write religious poetry.  My attempts in that direction have been uniformly dismal.

A Last Verse: When I wrote this, I was experimenting with a syllable-counting form the name of which I can't remember.

Paraphrase of Plato to Aster: This is a paraphrase of an epigram Plato wrote to a boy apparently named Aster (Star).  Literally translated, it goes something like, “You are gazing at stars, my Star; would that I could become the sky in order to look at you with many eyes.”  I twisted it around a bit and left out the pun.  The original title “Pretty Ophelia” has nothing to do with the poem. The girl to whom it was originally dedicated had just played Ophelia in a production of Hamlet in which I played the Gravedigger.

The Independent: I don't know where the title comes from.

I Loved You Once: The beauty of Sappho's lyrics (in the original) is what attracted me to these fragments, not her reputation as the foundress of female homosexuality.

Orpheus for Consolation: I think I wrote this in a poetry class as part of an assignment to write a poem with rhyme and metre. I took two poetry classes at Antioch College; the first (for which this was written) was worthwhile, the second was a waste.

Glen Helen: Glen Helen is a tract of woods adjacent to the campus of Antioch College.

Sunrise, All Seasons

Silver Bracelet: I have no idea what this one means.

If I Go On, It'll Become an Obsession: I submitted this to my second poetry class.  The teacher wrote disapprovingly in the margin opposite the last part, “Laughing at himself?”  He took himself rather more seriously than was warranted.  The young lady who is “you” was in the same class.  I don't know what she thought of it.

This Is Just Like It Was in the Old School: This poem and the next one were written for the same poetry class as the last one.


Protective Custody: I had not attempted to write any poetry for at least 15 years when I wrote this one.

Indian Summer: This has no date, but I think it should be Autumn 1986.  The woman who is “you” was already engaged to someone else, although I did not know it at the time.

Sometimes in the Spring It Rains: I discovered this poem, which I had totally forgotten, in 2002. It is dated May 1988, so I presume I wrote it then. It had no title, so I named it after the first line.