Saturday, August 5, 2017


      Poems by Ernestine Cobern Beyer, my mom       

The Troubadour

The bee's the minstrel of the air.
He is welcomed everywhere.
When they hear his mandolin,
Eager blossoms let him in.

Clad in brown and yellow bands,
Swaggering he lightly stands
On a carpet of perfume,
Strumming to a lily-bloom.


My love and I, we duel.
I know his every trick!
His rapier-wit is cruel,
My parry, sharp and quick.

Deaf to our hearts' pleading,
We wound each other deep,
Til staggering and bleeding,
We sheathe our words and weep.


In love's most secret alchemy, divine,
I bore you.  You are mine--and yet not mine.
Ancestral patterns blending with the new
Designed the special pattern that is You.

So did the present and the past devise
Your fair young face, your tender, laughing eyes!
Amazed, I look upon your grace and mirth
As might at some sweet flower the marveling earth.

First Love

When I was young and fair to see,
Happiness came courting me.
Alas, he fled at springtime's end.
'Twas then I found a truer friend.

Comforting my heart's distress,
Peace took the place of Happiness.
Yet sometimes as the long years go,
And evening falls, serene and slow,
I wonder, as he wanders free,
If my first love remembers me.

The New Lover

No more I listen for your tread,
And weep and moan;
No more I toss upon my bed
Alone . . . alone.
No more I wait for you;
I lie beside
A colder lover but more true;
His name is Pride.


Timothy's smile is whimsical, slow,
Mocking, the smile of Thomas;
Barnaby's smile is sudden woe
To her who believes its promise.

Peter's smile has power to haunt,
(The smile of a saint or satyr!)
But Barnaby's smile is all I want--
Though I shall be sorry, later.

The May Tree

The May-tree tosses a fragrant branch
Loosing a flower-avalanche;
And out of the dusk a bird is heard,
Speaking a lonely, silver word.

Silent I stroll in the garden walks
Where sway the sweet-breathed hollyhocks,
Trembling beneath the May-tree flood,
Feeling the star-dust in my blood,
Knowing the lonely, silver word
Is my heart calling--and not a bird!

The Winding Road

Road, O road that bids me stray,
Winding past my cottage door,
I have thrown my staff away,
I shall wander you no more!

I have found that roads are false;
Only little homes are true,
Waiting meekly in their walls--
No, I shall not follow you!

 Do not tempt my errant feet,
Do not call or beckon me.
(Ah, the road is wild and sweet . . .
Wait until I turn the key!)

Casual Encounter

We meet by chance and stop to talk together,
Two oldish people pausing for a chat.
He makes a smiling comment on the weather;
I nod . . . and wish I'd worn another hat!

I catch his glance.  At once my heart grows tipsy,
Yet casually my laughter greets his quips.
He does not guess a young, impassioned gypsy
Is kissing him in secret on the lips.

Love is My Song
Love is my song.  I do not sing
Of love when it is in its spring.
I sing of love that knows the years,
A tested love baptized with tears.
The love that has been proven strong --
This is my song!

I sing of love that grows more fair
With every dream the lovers share.
I sing of love that does not faint,
But bears life's pain without complaint,
  The love that lasts a whole life long . . .
This is my song.

O, may my faithful love for you
Grow richer, deeper and more true.
And when our mortal path is trod,
May we go hand in hand to God,
To join at last, the angel throng . . .
This is my song!


"Ho!" roared March, and his lusty cry
Made all the leaves and papers fly.
The clotheslines leapt at his jovial glance,
And the flannels jigged in a scarecrow dance!

"Hi!" laughed March, and he winked an eye
At a slim young thing who was coming by,
But April fled in her flowery clothes
And slammed spring's door on his bold red nose!

David and Goliath

Challenging his frosty foe
A crocus swaggers from the snow,
And with his tiny golden arrow
Pierces Winter to the marrow!


As in a small reflecting-glass
The sun's rays fiercely focus,
So Spring is captured in the grass
By one important crocus.

To a Butterfly

O little astronaut of winged dust,
The summer air is yours to try and trust,
An ocean, limitless, of sunny hours
With isles of rest which are the nodding flowers.

Your languid wings, how excellent their span,
Infallible, ineffable, their plan,
As casually you leave the flower there
And lightly soar the iridescent air.

The Craftsman

What patience filled the cosmic mind
That made all things both great and small,
That reared the mountains and designed
The rock-snail's tiny Taj Mahal.

What tenderness impelled the heart
That loosed the sea, the wind that blows,
Yet planned with sure and flawless art
The architecture of the rose.


Now in the fields the clover-bloom exhales
The hoarded summers on her perfumed breath.
The new grass grows with zest that never fails
Spring's yearly resurrection after death.

Unquestioning, the young fern breaks the mold,
The jonquil's cup is filled with morning wine,
And life's bright flame, unquenched by winter's cold,
Is bright within the candle of the pine.

The Snail

Adventuring a tangled trail,
How slowly crawls the patient snail!
He pauses for a moment, brief,
To take the measure of a leaf;
Then up a twig and down a rose
His tiny covered wagon goes!

The Firefly

A firefly that tours my lawn
Turns his tiny flashlight on;
And with this valiant little spark
He bravely travels through the dark.

All night long he cruises there
On his avenue of air,
But daylight dims his winsome wink.
He has blown a fuse, I think!

Sudden Silver

The air is chill.  The clouds are rent asunder.
Upon the sky the lightning scribbles "Rain!"
"Rain!" corroborates the distant thunder,
And sudden silver glistens in the lane.

The Miser Squirrel

The squirrel, prince of friskers,
Who loves the nibbly nut,
Is mostly tail and whiskers --
In fact, he's nothing but.

He stores away the best nuts
In either roomy cheek.
With both jaws crammed with chestnuts,
He truly looks unique.

To satisfy my wonder,
I've watched him at his pranks,
And found he hides his plunder
In vaults of flower-banks.


The milkweed seeds drift lightly everywhere.
Carrying the weight of unborn springs,
They float along;
So seeds of thought that pollinate the air
Drift softly to my heart on filmy wings
To make a song.

In Autumn

Behold the timid twilight
With his starry folk;
Note the evening shadow
Stalking in his cloak,

Mark the minstrel cricket
With his lonely lute,
Prophesying winter
To a heedless root.


My gift was delivered at seven
Just as I woke where I lay.
Postmarked explicitly "Heaven,"
My gift was this beautiful day.

One matchless, miraculous morning.
Surrendered in trust to my care,
It came bearing only this warning,
"Fragile.  Handle with prayer."


The buttercups that gild the hills
What wealth provide us;
Earth's brimming tills of daffodils
Would dazzle Midas.

This is April's legacy
Which all inherit:
The tender gold of flower and tree.
Rejoice and share it!

The Weather Vane Horse

The weather vane horse, he trots his track
In the silvery dusk or dawn;
The wind is the jockey that rides his back
And urges him on and on.
He paws the sky with a sprightly hoof
And a brave inaudible neigh,
As gallantly there on the old red roof,
He gallops the years away.

The Grandfather Clock

The grandfather clock on the stair,
How solemn and courtly his air!
With motionless hands he patiently stands,
Recalling a day more fair.

Never again will he start.
Silent, he stands there, apart,
Holding the hour when life was in flower
Forever unspent in his heart.


The stars maintain eternal espionage
Above the earth, light centuries away.
To them our globe seems but a brief mirage
Created in experimental play.

In cosmic calm, indifferent, they beam
On good and evil, tears and wars and scars;
Earth--are you but a transitory dream
Envisioned by the cool and timeless stars?


Oh Life that guards with care, immense,
The flickering ferny frond,
When ice with diamonds cements
The pale and fluid pond;

O wondrous and persistent spark,
O quenchless breath, divine,
That keeps alight through winter's dark
The candle of the pine!

Incredible, persevering Life
That wakes the frozen tree,
And fills with its insatiate strife
Philosopher and flea!

Trees Have Memories

Their boughs are bent with snowdrifts in December,
But trees forget not spring.  Their roots remember . . .
Remember how the bud was shaped and molded
And how the leaf within was pressed and folded.
In winter's seeming death their hearts are vernal.
Trees have memories of things eternal.

The Wounded One

Here in the dark I lie, but cannot sleep
For thoughts of you whom I have wounded deep.
For sins against you, sins now past recall,
These bitter tears at midnight slowly fall.
My better-self whose dreams I dared to blight,
It is for you, for you I weep, tonight.


Night clasps the darkened earth in her embrace.
Me too, she clasps, compassion on her face.
O, she has heard full long the heartbreak sigh
Of those who love and suffer, dream and die.

Night bends to me.  I feel my brow caressed;
My tears are dried against her ageless breast.
Peace comforts me.  My sorrow drops away;
Night's gentle task is done . . . and it is day.

Mourning Dove

O little bird ineffably remote
That mourns behind a wall of flower and leaf,
Though you but woo your mate with pulsing throat,
You tremolo all loneliness, all grief!

The Measure

The strong warm hand, the broad and steady shoulder,
The face you love grown dearer, kinder, older,
The comrade-glance, the peace, the burden-sharing,
The well loved voice, the touch, the tender caring . . .
O, you who have this, guard it well and treasure it,
For only when you've lost it can you measure it!

The New Year

The New Year's a notebook whose pages are white;
The New Year's a penny untarnished and bright;
The New Year's a baby just this moment born,
A beautiful baby asleep in the morn.

Let's write in the notebook without any smudges,
Let's spend the bright penny and settle our grudges.
Let's comfort the baby who'll cry when he wakes
And discovers he's stuck with his father's mistakes!

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