Tipton County, Tennessee, 1917

My great-grandfather cut down huge black oaks
Whose stumps his two young sons helped him uproot,
Each some Yggdrasil yielding to the strokes
Of manic axes in their mad pursuit
Of Paradise providing ample fruit,
A man with two boys made to work as men,
Their faces too soon mute and resolute,
But that was life when they were eight and ten,
The only life those two boys knew back then.


Scenes from Early Childhood

Certain things that are no more:
A sing-a-long around the upright
Piano on a winter’s night;
Fresh milk delivered to one’s door;

The corner grocery where a boy
Would bring our bread out to the car
(A nickel tip would still go far
And make his face light up with joy);

The way we called Time on the phone
And he would set us back on course
With words of firm yet gentle force
That never left us feeling alone;

House calls when we had fever, and
Our family dog allowed to roam
For miles and hours away from home—
Almost another life and land.



Despite the Bischofstrasse’s strident buzz,
Your timber houses stand so silent, trim,
Your little square perhaps much as it was
When Hesse lived here: Protestant and prim.
And though the church bells’ peal is gray and grim,
The pearl-green Neckar still purls, flashes past,
And everyone who hears it hears a hymn:
The current stirring Hermann’s Geist will last
Long after they fade, those motors so absurdly fast.

Lake and Waterfall

By Nikolaus Lenau; translated by William Ruleman

The steep, wild crags, the lake,
The woods and night all round—
These still and mute forms make
For musings most profound.

And there, with echoing thunder
And dashing derring-do,
The waterfall lets its wonder
Rush down the rocks for you.

Like that lake, you should
Seal your mind in thought
Then down in one bold flood
Shoot like that juggernaut.


See und Wasserfall

Nikolaus Lenau

Die Felsen schroff und wild,
Der See, die Waldumnachtung
Sind dir ein stilles Bild
Tiefsinniger Betrachtung.

Und dort, mit Donnerhall
Hineilend zwischen Steinen,
Läßt dir der Wasserfall
Die kühne Tat erscheinen.

Du sollst, gleich jenem Teich,
Betrachtend dich verschließen;
Dann kühn, dem Bache gleich,
Zur Tat hinunterschießen.



William Ruleman’s latest book is Early Poems of Hermann Hesse is available via Amazon. 

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7 Responses

  1. Sultana Raza

    Your poems create an atmosphere, and take us to another time – more relaxed, when people lived fuller or more contented lives. That’s my impression, at least.

  2. David Watt

    These lovely poems transported me to another time and place. My favorite is ‘Scenes from Early Childhood’ due to images created by lines including:
    (A nickel tip would still go far
    And make his face light up with joy)

  3. William Ruleman

    Thank you all for your kind comments. Having savored offerings on the site by every one of you in the past several weeks, it is gratifying to know that you like my work, as well. The wealth of fine poetry and engaging prose emerging via the Society of Classical Poets is overwhelming–humbling but exhilarating, too.

    I want to say more–much more–in the course of time; but for now, my cup runneth over with amazement and gratitude.

    With the best of wishes,

    William Ruleman


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