poems we like

I love a talking book, me
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frogblast
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Re: poems we like

Post by frogblast » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:14 pm

i picked up a copy of the 'translation' of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald in my local second hand book shop the other day. i shan't quote the whole thing here since it's quite long, but a few brief(ish) bits:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

[…]

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean--
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

[…]

Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow:
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd-
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
Another and another Cup to drown
The Memory of this Impertinence!

[…]

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays :
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays.
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

[…]

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help--for it
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

(that's all from the first version he did, later versions had quite considerable changes. for example the first version has 75 quatrains, the second 110. i better stop before i end up with the whole thing in this post)
Sun like honey on the floor,
Warm as the steps by our back door.

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Re: poems we like

Post by Dan » Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:25 am


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Re: poems we like

Post by frogblast » Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:23 pm

Dorothy Parker always makes me smile.

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men....
I'm due to fall in love again.

News Item

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

A Pig's-eye View of Literature

The Lives and Times of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron
Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of Lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn't impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats.

Oscar Wilde
If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
The pure and worth Mrs Stowe
Is one we all are proud to know
As mother, wife, and authoress -
Thank God, I am content with less!

D.G. Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Buried all of his libretti
Thought the matter over - then
Went and dug them up again.

Thomas Carlyle
Carlyle combined the lit'ry life
With throwing teacups at his wife,
Remarking, rather testily,
'Oh, stop your dodging, Mrs C!'

Charles Dickens
Who call him spurious and shoddy
Shall do it o'er my lifeless body.
I heartily invite such birds
To come outside and say those words!

Alexandre Dumas and his Son
Although I work, and seldom cease,
At Dumas pére and Dumas fils,
Alas, I cannot make me care
For Dumas fils and Dumas pére.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Should Heaven send me any son,
I hope he's not like Tennyson.
I'd rather have him play a fiddle
Than rise and bow and speak an idyll.

George Gissing
When I admit neglect of Gissing,
They say I don't know what I'm missing.
Until their arguments are subtler,
I think I'll stick to Samuel Butler.

Walter Savage Landor
Upon the work of Walter Landor
I am unfit to write with candour.
If you can read it, well and good;
But as for me, I never could.

George Sand
What time the gifted lady took
Away from paper, pen and book,
She spent in amorous dalliance
(They do those things so well in France).
Sun like honey on the floor,
Warm as the steps by our back door.


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Martijn
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Re: poems we like

Post by Martijn » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:46 am

The Guardian had a long interview with Poet Peter Porter on Saturday. I love reading interview with poets, especially when they're kind of old (Porter is about to celebrate his 80th birthday). If they could publish ten of them a week, I wouldn't read about the banking crisis, the Gaza conflict and other sad things.

Anyway, I don't think I had heard of him before, but I liked the bit of An Exequy they quote in the interview and then I found the full poem and I thought it was really touching.

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Re: poems we like

Post by cuppie » Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:58 am

I like Wordsworth.

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.

My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.

Edward will come with you;--and, pray,
Put on with speed your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar:
We from to-day, my Friend, will date
The opening of the year.

Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth:
--It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more
Than years of toiling reason:
Our minds shall drink at every pore
The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey:
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
We'll frame the measure of our souls:
They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

alongwalkhome

Re: poems we like

Post by alongwalkhome » Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:55 pm

This isn't a poem, but I find this song ("City Song") by Emmy the Great to be completely moving and poetic (as many of her songs are) and not in a corny way. I think it's better as a piece than 90% of the shit they throw in the New Yorker.:

The city called me so I came
It isn't mine to question what it said
I sleep until the point when I'm awake
I walk until there's nothing left to trek
And everyone is looking for an answer
And everyone is waiting for a break
I came and I was bored of it soon after
But I had nowhere to go and so I stayed
I dreamed a lifetime of this place
It seemed an awful thing to waste
Well the morning fills my mouth up with decay
I like it, it reminds me how you taste
Sometimes I feel you rising up behind me like the wind
But I still try to look away
What will you look like when you're old?
(What will you look like when you're old?)
What will I do if I don't know you?
(What will I do if I don't know you?)
I guess that I decided not to ask the day I took the road
Down to the city as it called
Sun making silhouettes of gauze
I don't remember you at all
The city called me and I came
It isn't mine to question why
Sometimes the clouds will rise ahead, I hear your name
It's like a choir in the sky
What will you look like when you're old?
(What will you look like when you're old?)
What will I do if I don't know you?
(What will I do if I don't know you?)
I guess that I decided not to know the day I took the road
Down to the city as it called
Sun making silhouettes of gauze
I don't remember you at all
They pulled a human from my waist
It had your mouth, it had your face
I would have kept it if I'd stayed.

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Re: poems we like

Post by gumdrops+lollipops » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:55 am

JohaN wrote:i'd never really read hardy's poetry before... and now i definitely will! that's so lovely, marianthi!

here's a kerazee poem for cat lovers, written by christopher smart in 1750-whatsit.
apparently smart was confined to asylums for much of his life... for excessive prayer on street corners (at least, that's what the gf tells me!), and this is actually an excerpt from a MUCH longer poem that her spent 7 years on.
For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry (excerpt, Jubilate Agno)

Christopher Smart
i have added some linebreaks, just to stop the eyes glazing over...
OMIGOSH I love this poem! Doesn't it make you wonder what the "Let" lines read like? Have you read the rest of Jubilate Agno? I just wrote a paper on this, comparing it to the Emerging Church movement and... daily comics!

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Re: poems we like

Post by Martijn » Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:04 pm

I've grown fond of several poems by Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate. I think he has a very friendly voice, both metaphorically and literally, as can be heard in his reading of his poem Anne Frank Huis. I was happily surprised, too, to discover that someone can actually say something that touched me about this over clichéd topic. Just like I was surprised to be touched by the poems he wrote on the occasions of the queen mum's birthday and her death:
My dream of your birthday
is more like a wedding -
the August sky
confused with confetti,
no, not with confetti,
with photograph falls
where the steady gaze
of the century's eyes
captures your ages
unguarded or posed.
In the eyes of our minds
when the country and cities
turn back to themselves
this history stays:
the four generations
which linked with your life
re-winding their span
to childhood again,
and seeing you stand
at the edge of their days,
where if they so wished
you helped give a shape
to slipstreaming time
with a wave of your hand.
(Full poems are here.)

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Re: poems we like

Post by crystalball » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Oh, is he the former Poet Laureate already? I thought he was staying until May. He is a very gentle poet, isn't he, and I guess that's why it's surprising when he comes up with something that stirs you. His poem on the side of the Sheffield Hallam University building grew on me over time. I love that it's addressed to people visiting the city and I understand it more every time I look at it.
O travellers from
somewhere else to here,
Rising from Sheffield Station
and Sheaf Square
To wander through the
labyrinths of air,

Pause now, and let
the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place
which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?

Cloud-shadows drag
their hands across
the white;
Rain prints the sudden
darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the
bleaching evidence of light.

Your thoughts are like
this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate
a blank facade
And yet, as words are too,
all soon transferred

To greet and understand
what lies ahead -
The city where your
dreaming is re-paid,
The lives which wait
unseen as yet, unread.
Image

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Re: poems we like

Post by Dan » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:14 pm

My friend works in the building where that photo was (presumably) taken from - he said he inadvertantly ended up at the unveiling as it happened to be on his lunch break. Apparently the other attendees were a distracted mother and her screaming infant, and one man and his dog. I might be exaggerating, but it was a hilariously meagre turn-out.

Have you ever seen the Benjamin Zephaniah poems that are off West Street? They don't really work, largely because it's practically impossible to read them.

Image

Also because they are crap.
MINDS

RAISE YOUR HEADS AND DANCE THE DANCE
OF MINDS THAT ARE ADVENTUROUS
FOR IF YOU TAKE THIS UPWARD GLANCE
YOUR NATURE MUST BE CURIOUS.
AND IF YOU GO BEYOND THE LINES
YOU'RE STRIVING TO BE LIMITLESS
SUCH WONDROUS AND SUCH PLAYFUL MINDS
ARE AT THE HEART OF ALL OF US.

AS YOU GAZE UPON THIS STEEL
KNOW THAT THIS STEEL IS FROM THIS GROUND,
NOW LET YOUR PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE FEEL
THE UNITY THAT YOU HAVE FOUND.
MUSIC MAKERS MADE THIS PLACE
WITH THOUGHT AND SWEAT AND MUCH FINANCE,
NOW THAT YOUR MIND IS IN THIS SPACE
RAISE YOUR HEADS AND DANCE THE DANCE.

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Re: poems we like

Post by Bobby Who? » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:22 pm

Teaching the obvious to the idiots.

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Re: poems we like

Post by Dan » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:28 pm

That looks hellish!

Surely 'Poetry has always been an intimate experience' is basically completely untrue?

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Re: poems we like

Post by Martijn » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:50 pm

crystalball wrote:Oh, is he the former Poet Laureate already? I thought he was staying until May.
You are right; it is just that everywhere his name is mentioned it is about the nearing end of his tenure as Laureate that you forget he'll have serious work were the queen to die tomorrow. I wasn't so much surprised to be stirred by a gentle voice --I would say that'd be all the more reason to be stirred-- but rather that he managed to stir me when writing about subjects that I have little to no affiliation with. But perhaps that is what you meant.

I like his poem on the university building too. There should be more poetry in public places! Although perhaps it'd be even better and more suitable if it was done more subtly. Like that bridge in Nijmegen, where there is a plaque with a few sentences of prose from a now-classic Dutch that mentions the city.

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Re: poems we like

Post by Bobby Who? » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:00 pm

Surely 'Poetry has always been an intimate experience' is basically completely untrue?
Ha!!!

"Truth" was obviously the main objective here...

If that's your level of interpretive skill perhaps you should stick to the indiepop threads?

The brothel was "hellish" enough to win every major arts and poetry prize in the uk that year...including the Turner prize...twice.
Teaching the obvious to the idiots.

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Re: poems we like

Post by squirrelboutique » Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:44 pm

Dan! #1 poster in the indiepop threads!

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Re: poems we like

Post by frogblast » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:19 pm

I've no idea what's going on in here. Maybe some Christina Rossetti will make everybody calm down

Code: Select all

When I am dead, my dearest,
      Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
      Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
      With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
      And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
      I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
      Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
      That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
      And haply may forget.
Sun like honey on the floor,
Warm as the steps by our back door.

linus

Re: poems we like

Post by linus » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:48 pm

Bobby Who? wrote:
If that's your level of interpretive skill perhaps you should stick to the indiepop threads?
yeh, Dan... go and fiddle with your hello miffy hairslide and mumble along to the just joans why don't you?

you uninterpretive tweer!

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Re: poems we like

Post by Martijn » Sun May 03, 2009 12:25 am

R.S. Thomas - Evening
The archer with time
as his arrow - has he broken
his strings that the rainbow
is so quiet over our village?

Let us stand, then, in the interval
of our wounding, till the silence
turn golden and love is
a moment eternally overflowing.
Goodnight.

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Re: poems we like

Post by boney » Sun May 03, 2009 11:25 am

I love this Bern Porter poem - it really needs to be heard though, and heard from his own mouth. The man had an amazing life too.

Bern Porter - The Last Acts of St Fuck You

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