Favourite poetry

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Tarantella
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Favourite poetry

Post by Tarantella » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:09 pm

I've posted a poem by Kenneth Slessor, "Five Bells" on the music part of the forum. Here's a chance for people to park their own favourite poems and to say why. I'll start with one of mine by Ted Hughes, from "Birthday Letters", and it's called "Your Paris". It tells of the time Hughes spent in Paris on his honeymoon with American poet Sylvia Plath (I taught this work for Advanced English matriculation). Interesting juxaposition of 'his' and 'hers' perceptions. Wonderful imagery! (Plath had also been to Paris with a previous lover.)

Your Paris, I thought, was American.
I wanted to humour you.
When you stepped, in a shatter of exclamations,
Out of the Hotel des Deux Continents
Through frame after frame,
Street after street, of Impressionist paintings,
Under the chestnut shades of Hemingway ,
Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein.

I kept my Paris from you. My Paris
Was only just not German . The capital
Of the Occupation and old nightmare.
I read each bullet scar in the Quai stonework
With an eerie familiar feeling,
And stared at the stricken, sunny exposure of pavement
Beneath it. I had rehearsed
Carefully, over and over, just those moments –
Most of my life, it seemed. While you
Called me Aristide Bruant and wanted
To draw les toits , and your ecstasies ricocheted
Off the walls patched and scabbed with posters –
I heard the contrabasso counterpoint
In my dog-nosed pondering analysis
Of café chairs where the SS mannequins
Had performed their tableaux vivants
So recently the coffee was still bitter
As acorns, and the waiters’ eyes
Clogged with dregs of betrayal, reprisal, hatred.
I was not much ravished by the view of the roofs.

My Paris was a post-war utility survivor,
The stink of fear still hanging in the wardrobes,
Collaborateurs barely out of their twenties,
Every other face closed by the Camps
Or the Maquis . I was a ghostwatcher.
My perspectives were veiled by what rose
Like methane from the reopened
Mass grave of Verdun. For you all that
Was the anecdotal aesthetic touch
On Picasso’s portrait
Of Apollinaire , with its proleptic
Marker for the bullet. And wherever
Your eye lit, your immaculate palette,
The thesaurus of your cries,
Touched in its tints and textures. Your lingo
Always like an emergency burn-off
To protect you from spontaneous combustion
Protected you

And your Paris. It was diesel aflame
To the dog in me. It scorched up
Every scent and sensor. And it sealed
The underground, your hide-out,
That chamber, where you still hung waiting
For your torturer
To remember his amusement. Those walls,
Raggy with posters, were your own flayed skin –
Stretched on your stone god.
What walked beside me was a flayed,
One walking wound that the air
Coming against kept in a fever, wincing
To agonies. Your practiced lips
Translated the spasms to what you excused
As your gushy burblings – which I decoded
Into a language, utterly new to me
With conjectural, hopelessly wrong meanings –
You gave me no hint how, at every corner,
My fingers linked in yours, you expected
The final fate-to-face revelation
To grab your whole body. Your Paris

Was a desk in a pension
Where your letters
Waited for him unopened. Was a labyrinth
Where you still hurtled, scattering tears.
Was a dream where you could not
Wake or find the exit or
The minotaur to put a blessed end
To the torment. What searching miles
Did you drag your pain
That were for me plain paving, albeit
Pecked by the odd, stray, historic bullet.
The mere dog in me, happy to protect you
From your agitation and your stone hours,
Like a guide dog, loyal to correct your stumblings,
Yawned and dozed and watched you calm yourself
With your anaesthetic – your drawing, as by touch,
Roofs, a traffic bollard, a bottle, me

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:01 pm

This has been a favorite of mine for several years now. I think we artists all have to get in this state of mind while working, no matter where we actually are. :)

William Carlos Williams's "Danse Russe"
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
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Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:32 pm

Current favorite: "The Room" by Conrad Aiken

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/236962
Through that window — all else being extinct
Except itself and me — I saw the struggle
Of darkness against darkness. Within the room
It turned and turned, dived downward. Then I saw
How order might — if chaos wished — become:
And saw the darkness crush upon itself,
Contracting powerfully; it was as if
It killed itself: slowly: and with much pain.
Pain. The scene was pain, and nothing but pain.
What else, when chaos draws all forces inward
To shape a single leaf? . . .

For the leaf came,
Alone and shining in the empty room;
After a while the twig shot downward from it;
And from the twig a bough; and then the trunk,
Massive and coarse; and last the one black root.
The black root cracked the walls. Boughs burst the window:
The great tree took possession.

Tree of trees!
Remember (when time comes) how chaos died
To shape the shining leaf. Then turn, have courage,
Wrap arms and roots together, be convulsed
With grief, and bring back chaos out of shape.
I will be watching then as I watch now.
I will praise darkness now, but then the leaf.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 11:41 pm

IcedNote wrote:Current favorite: "The Room" by Conrad Aiken
Although I just posted a quotation from a poem by Robert Lowell to make an ironic point, I must say that you are a bit hung up on putative anthologies from the 1960s, as when I would have been in school. I don't want to tell you not to like what you like, or suggest that what you have posted is without merit, but if this is typical of your reading, then I can tell you that you are not getting the high points. Poetry anthologies are like historical music anthologies, uncourageous in distinguishing relative merit. Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane are better poets, though I blanch at the thought of just having recommended you to a difficulty which also confounds me.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
Posts: 19852
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Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by John F » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:31 am

IcedNote wasn't nominating poems for Best of All Time but saying which ones are his personal favorites. That's good enough for me. The Williams poem has become a classic; I didn't know the Aiken poem, but I think it's a powerful image and a fine piece of work.

If we're talking about anthologies, Conrad Aiken almost made it into the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, which I worked on. He won America's top award for poetry, the Bollingen, for "A Letter from Lí Po and Other Poems" (1955), as well as other important prizes such as the National Book Award, and his "Selected Poems" (1961) was reissued in 2003 with a foreword by Harold Bloom, who says, "If you read and enjoy Conrad Aiken, then you have been in search of authentic poetry, and you have found it." Aiken evidently hasn't gone out of style, then, at least in the academy.

So why wasn't he in our anthology? We had to make hard decisions to keep the book's length within bounds. It wasn't about the quality of Aiken's poetry but his importance, not just in his own time which was beyond question but also historically, and other poets and poems seemed more necessary to the college course in modern and contemporary poetry for which the anthology was designed.

My own favorite poems go back at least as far as Catullus and as far forward as Roger McGough, they're too many to list let alone quote, so I won't even try.
John Francis

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:17 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Although I just posted a quotation from a poem by Robert Lowell to make an ironic point, I must say that you are a bit hung up on putative anthologies from the 1960s, as when I would have been in school. I don't want to tell you not to like what you like, or suggest that what you have posted is without merit, but if this is typical of your reading, then I can tell you that you are not getting the high points. Poetry anthologies are like historical music anthologies, uncourageous in distinguishing relative merit. Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane are better poets, though I blanch at the thought of just having recommended you to a difficulty which also confounds me.
That's very helpful. I'll remember to consult you on All Things Taste.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:17 pm

John F wrote:IcedNote wasn't nominating poems for Best of All Time but saying which ones are his personal favorites. That's good enough for me.
I'm glad someone noticed. I mean, it's not like it's written in the title of the thread or anything... ;)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:19 pm

John F wrote:So why wasn't he in our anthology? We had to make hard decisions to keep the book's length within bounds. It wasn't about the quality of Aiken's poetry but his importance, not just in his own time which was beyond question but also historically, and other poets and poems seemed more necessary to the college course in modern and contemporary poetry for which the anthology was designed.
That's an interesting insight into the process. Thanks!

I envy you for witnessing such a process, but I don't envy you in the slightest for having to take part in it. :D

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:13 pm

IcedNote wrote:
John F wrote:IcedNote wasn't nominating poems for Best of All Time but saying which ones are his personal favorites. That's good enough for me.
I'm glad someone noticed. I mean, it's not like it's written in the title of the thread or anything... ;)
It was the spelling of "favourite" that threw me. :wink:

(Sorry, Garrett.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Tarantella
Posts: 1089
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:09 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by Tarantella » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:49 pm

I like this one by Thomas Hardy - "Drummer Hodge" - and there was a magnificent section in the film "The History Boys" which involved Hardy's poem and drew my attention to this little gem.

Drummer Hodge

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined -- just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around:
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the drummer never knew --
Fresh from his Wessex home --
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.

I wish I could tell you how wonderful the scene was in the film with superb British actor Richard Griffiths deconstructing the poem for one of the boys (his character, Mr. Hector, is an English teacher) and providing the most mesmerizing performance in this rather 'stagey' film!!

Tarantella
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by Tarantella » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:50 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
IcedNote wrote:Current favorite: "The Room" by Conrad Aiken
Although I just posted a quotation from a poem by Robert Lowell to make an ironic point,
An ironic point? (cough)

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:03 pm

What a nice surprise--found Christian Bok's "Eunoia" in full online!

http://archives.chbooks.com/online_books/eunoia/

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by John F » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:51 am

If Lance reads this forum, this is for him:

The Piano Tuner's Wife
by Karl Shapiro

That note comes clear, like water running clear,
Then the next higher note, and up and up
And more and more, with now and then a chord,
The highest notes like tapping a tile with a hammer,
Now and again an arpeggio, a theme
As if the keyboard spoke to the one key,
Saying, No interval is exactly true,
And the note whines slightly and then truly sings.

She sits on the sofa reading a book she has brought,
A ray of sunlight on her white hair.
She is here because he is blind. She drives.
It is almost a platitude to say
That she leads him from piano to piano.
And this continues for about an hour,
Building bridges from both sides of the void,
Coasting the chasms of the harmonies.

And in conclusion,
When there is no more audible dissent,
He plays his comprehensive keyboard song,
The loud proud paradigm,
The one work of art without content.
John Francis

IcedNote
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:38 am

ARTICHOKE by Joseph Hutchinson

O heart weighed down by so many wings

8)

(You'll never think of an artichoke the same way again!)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:32 pm

Came across this in a book last night. Love it.

http://ageofjahiliyah.wordpress.com/200 ... da-pastan/

November
by Linda Pastan

It is an old drama
this disappearance of the leaves,
this seeming death
of the landscape.
In a later scene,
or earlier,
the trees like gnarled magicians
produce handkerchiefs
of leaves
out of empty branches.

And we watch.
We are like children
at this spectacle
of leaves,
as if one day we too
will open the wooden doors
of our coffins
and come out smiling
and bowing
all over again.


-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:36 am

Not a big fan of Billy Collins, but I like this one quite a bit:

http://www.billy-collins.com/2005/06/on ... g_ten.html
On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:16 pm

You're getting into poetry way over my head. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

IcedNote
Posts: 2963
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:24 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:15 am

jbuck919 wrote:You're getting into poetry way over my head. :)
Ha! I don't believe that for a second. :P

But if you've somehow lost your mind, here's one by the same poet which I'm *sure* you can relate to. ;)

http://rinabeana.com/poemoftheday/index ... y-collins/
Piano Lessons
By Billy Collins

1.
My teacher lies on the floor with a bad back
off to the side of the piano.
I sit up straight on the stool.
He begins by telling me that every key
is like a different room
and I am a blind man who must learn
to walk through all twelve of them
without hitting the furniture.
I feel myself reach for the first doorknob.

2.
He tells me that every scale has a shape
and I have to learn how to hold
each one in my hands.
At home I practice with my eyes closed.
C is an open book.
D is a vase with two handles.
G flat is a black boot.
E has the legs of a bird.

3.
He says the scale is the mother of the chords.
I can see her pacing the bedroom floor
waiting for her children to come home.
They are out at nightclubs shading and lighting
all the songs while couples dance slowly
or stare at one another across tables.
This is the way it must be. After all,
just the right chord can bring you to tears
but no one listens to the scales,
no one listens to their mother.

4.
I am doing my scales,
the familiar anthems of childhood.
My fingers climb the ladder of notes
and come back down without turning around.
Anyone walking under this open window
would picture a girl of about ten
sitting at the keyboard with perfect posture,
not me slumped over in my bathrobe, disheveled,
like a white Horace Silver.

5.
I am learning to play
“It Might As Well Be Spring”
but my left hand would rather be jingling
the change in the darkness of my pocket
or taking a nap on an armrest.
I have to drag him in to the music
like a difficult and neglected child.
This is the revenge of the one who never gets
to hold the pen or wave good-bye,
and now, who never gets to play the melody.

6.
Even when I am not playing, I think about the piano.
It is the largest, heaviest,
and most beautiful object in this house.
I pause in the doorway just to take it all in.
And late at night I picture it downstairs,
this hallucination standing on three legs,
this curious beast with its enormous moonlit smile.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:20 pm

I've been DEVOURING Louise Gluck's book "Averno" lately. Holy cow. So good.

Here's Part IV from the poem "October."

http://thefloatinglibrary.com/2009/08/1 ... ise-gluck/
4.

The light has changed;
middle C is tuned darker now.
And the songs of morning sound over-rehearsed. –

This is the light of autumn, not the light of spring.
The light of autumn: you will not be spared.

The songs have changed; the unspeakable
has entered them.

This is the light of autumn, not the light that says
I am reborn.

Not the spring dawn: I strained, I suffered, I was delivered.
This is the present, an allegory of waste.

So much has changed. And still, you are fortunate:
the ideal burns in you like a fever.
Or not like a fever, like a second heart.

The songs have changed, but really they are still quite beautiful.
They have been concentrated in a smaller space, the space of the mind.
They are dark, now, with desolation and anguish.

And yet the notes recur. They hover oddly
in anticipation of silence.
The ear gets used to them.
The eye gets used to disappearances.

You will not be spared, nor will what you love be spared.

A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity.

How priviledged you are, to be passionately
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.

Maestro, doloroso:

This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:29 pm

For the approaching...uh...Mayan holiday. ;)
DARKNESS

by Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash—and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer'd not with a caress—he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects—saw, and shriek'd, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:55 pm

Using this poem as inspiration for my new commission: a string orchestra piece for the Sacramento Youth Symphony. :)

The poet, Louise Gluck, is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

-G

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/poem ... _lake.html
There was a war between good and evil. We decided to call the body good.

That made death evil.
It turned the soul
against death completely.

Like a foot soldier wanting
to serve a great warrior, the soul
wanted to side with the body.

It turned against the dark,
against the forms of death
it recognized.

Where does the voice come from
that says suppose the war
is evil, that says

suppose the body did this to us,
made us afraid of love—
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:42 pm

A tough one, but I'm enjoying trying to figure it out. :)

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175588
Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
By Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down

whose secret we see in a children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.
A very nice discussion of it can be found here: http://poemtalkatkwh.blogspot.com/2010/01/duncan.html (Love this site, by the way. All talks led by Prof. Al Filreis of UPenn.)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:09 am

Recently read "The Outskirts of Troy" by Carl Dennis. Really, really enjoyed three parts of this four-part collection. (The second part is mostly about politics, and I don't care much for politics.)

Here's one of my favorites from the collection.

Image

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrym ... !/20600535

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:26 am

Been a while! How about a little Hart Crane to welcome us back...

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172017
Legend
By Hart Crane

As silent as a mirror is believed
Realities plunge in silence by ...

I am not ready for repentance;
Nor to match regrets. For the moth
Bends no more than the still
Imploring flame. And tremorous
In the white falling flakes
Kisses are,—
The only worth all granting.

It is to be learned—
This cleaving and this burning,
But only by the one who
Spends out himself again.

Twice and twice
(Again the smoking souvenir,
Bleeding eidolon!) and yet again.
Until the bright logic is won
Unwhispering as a mirror
Is believed.

Then, drop by caustic drop, a perfect cry
Shall string some constant harmony,—
Relentless caper for all those who step
The legend of their youth into the noon.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:09 am

Linda Pastan reading "Why Are Your Poems So Dark?":



Haunting.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:00 pm

Charles Simic reads "Stone":



So good.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:02 pm

Sylvia Plath reads "Tulips" (BBC, 1961)

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/ ... ulips-bbc/

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:46 pm

I've been reading a lot of Anna Akhmatova recently. And my goodness... :( :cry: Makes a powerful pairing with Shostakovich playing in the background.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrym ... oem/181304
In Memoriam, July 19, 1914
By Anna Akhmatova

Translated By Stephen Edgar

We aged a hundred years and this descended
In just one hour, as at a stroke.
The summer had been brief and now was ended;
The body of the ploughed plains lay in smoke.

The hushed road burst in colors then, a soaring
Lament rose, ringing silver like a bell.
And so I covered up my face, imploring
God to destroy me before battle fell.

And from my memory the shadows vanished
Of songs and passions—burdens I'd not need.
The Almighty bade it be—with all else banished—
A book of portents terrible to read.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:53 pm

With the recent death of John Hollander, I found this old thing from the Yale Alumni Magazine interesting.

The Persistence of Poetry
In an era of sound bites and instant communication, a hard-core group of faculty and students still subscribes to the close reading of great verse as a way to help fathom the world around them.

March 2000
by Peter Hawes

Peter Hawes has written for the Yale Alumni Magazine on the composers Charles Ives, Paul Hindemith, and the Theater Studies program.

White-bearded and clad in faded jeans, a brown turtleneck, and a tweed jacket, John Hollander twirls his bifocals in one hand and uses the other to fan the air with understated exuberance. Deep in discourse, he doesn’t see that the papers piled atop his desk are about to glide to the floor—again. With a student’s help, he shuffles them back to their perch and goes on.

“What I have from you here,” Hollander says, preparing to return marked-up homework to the 20-odd students in his verse-writing class, “is essentially prose narrative broken up into lines. That’s not what narrative verse is.” He then embarks on a two-hour monologue that ranges from the sequentiality of storytelling to theatrical blocking and narrative plot, verbal and physical paradox, joke-writing, mathematics, and metaphor. Along the way, Hollander and his students pick apart excerpts of poems by John Donne, Ben Jonson, William Blake, J.V. Cunningham, Wallace Stevens, and James Merrill.

“It’s a vulgarization to say that intellect gets in the way of the aesthetic experience,”declares Hollander, who has been teaching the subject at Yale as atenured professor since 1977. “It’s just the other way around.” To support his point in another medium, Hollander invokes his own affection for a particular Mozart string quartet. “When I came to learn more—first about Mozart, then about string quartets, then Mozart string quartets, and finally this quartet—I got a better sense of what the music was doing to me and why. It didn’t diminish the wonder one bit.”

Hollander’s faith in the value of such intense scrutiny is shared by a dedicated circle at Yale that includes the likes of Langdon Hammer, who is director of undergraduate studies in English, and J. D. McClatchy, editor of the Yale Review and a prolific practicing poet, among others. Their efforts to maintain some traditional rigor in the subject come at a time of what may seem to some to be a surprising surge in public interest in poetry. The sale of poetry books has increased steadily since the mid-1990s, as has the number of new poetry magazines. Poetry-writing courses are offered in adult-education programs and at New Age retreat centers. It’s the rare American coffeehouse that doesn’t have poetry readings or “slams”—public gatherings that encourage emotional outpourings in various types of verse. There’s a house poet on MTV, and a handful of poets are even finding day jobs as team-building consultants for corporations.

But popularity does not necessarily mean high quality, and Yale’s faithful are sticking to a disciplined approach to poetry as high art. Says Hollander, a Sterling Professor of English who is also one of the nation’s leading critical readers of poetry and an accomplished poet himself: “The idea of some 28th-rate writer letting students do anything they want and saying, ‘I like this about that,' makes serious poets and teachers cringe.”

Indeed, Yale still stresses the careful analysis of poetry and focuses on a simple tenet in teaching it: To be a great writer, one has to be a great reader. By disciplining one’s self to learn the traditions, study the greats, understand the form, dive deeply into the craft, and know as much as possible about, say, language and history, one can expect to have a richer experience of poetry—and perhaps of the rest of the world.

Even in the e-mail age, this view still makes converts among undergraduates. Oana Marian, a sophomore who was born in Romania but grew up near Waterbury, Connecticut, says that studying and writing poetry is helping her shape communication more precisely in all areas of her life. “Since I got to Yale I’ve been a little less sure about my speaking,” she says. “I suddenly realize I often didn’t know what I really was saying when I said something. Studying poetry teaches you to concentrate on every word. It makes you more conscious of what you’re saying.”

Other students echo Marian’s view, saying that the way they’ve been taught to read, analyze, and write about poems in the classroom has helped them with such real-world demands as constructing an argument or developing persuasive ways of writing.

In his role as both teacher and director of undergraduate studies in English, Langdon Hammer has had plenty of time to assess the impact of the traditional study of poetry on a high-speed generation that is often highly pre-professional in its orientation. “One of the things to be said about poetry,” Hammer says, “is that it is valuable precisely because it resists being reduced to the criterion of usefulness, which governs the economy. You can be concerned, in and through poetry, with things that most of us don’t get concerned with in our jobs. You can consider, reflect on, and enjoy non-useful uses of language; you can take time to think and feel, and to think and feel at the same time.”

Those sentiments are not limited to the academic world. Karl Kirchwey '79, who for 15 years has run the Unterberg Poetry Center at New York City’s 92nd Street. YMCA/YWCA, goes a step further. “Poetry uncovers resources in the language that the language never knew it had,” he says. Kirchwey cites Hollander’s verse-writing class as “the single most important thing that steered me on the path to being a poet. Listening to him talk about poetry inspired me and taught me how huge a calling this was.” Kirchwey has published three collections of poetry and often visits Yale to read his work.

So do a host of other professionals. Recent readers include Seamus Heaney, John Ashbery, Gary Snyder, and Charles Wright. In one week alone last fall, students could attend a reading by Whitman Prize winner Jan Heller Levi in the master’s house at Ezra Stiles College, a reading (in Italian) by six Italian poets in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and a reading of Hebrew and Arabic love poetry in the Jonathan Edwards College common room.

Such professional visits augment what remains a powerful selection of academic courses for undergraduates. A total of 21 classes in poetry were offered by the English department last fall, among them three writing courses. One of the offerings is the only course required of every English major, the durable English 125, “Major English Poets.” Some 200 students a semester consume this intense dose of Chaucer, Spenser, Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, and Keats. If there is anything in common among the hundreds of students who for at least three decades have graduated from Yale with a degree in English, it’s that they all probably can still recite the first 18 lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Other poetry courses within the English department include in-depth studies of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Stevens, Dickinson, Eliot, renaissance poetry, lyric poetry, and romantic poetry. These are taught by faculty members who in many cases are highly regarded not only as scholars, but also as writers. “This is one of the few places I know where the craft of poetry and the study of it aren’t divorced,” says Isaac Cates, who is working on a doctoral thesis about nature poetry. “The same people who are teaching you Spenser or Keats or Stevens teach you how poetry is written. You can learn a lot from Hart Crane or Robert Frost by working with the professors here.”

This link between study and practice is no accident. Says Hollander: “Yale has been avant-garde in the past 20 years in tying the teaching of writing to the study of literature. How many people who take an advanced class in poetry will become poets? Not many. How many will end up much more sophisticated readers because of it? All of them. If you can look at a short poem and write about what is there, it’s an introduction not only to literature but to how to read something closely and carefully, no matter what it is.”

Hollander and Hammer, as well as Harold Bloom, author of the recent Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, among other books, are part of a scholarly tradition that goes back at least three generations at Yale and includes some of the most enduring names in the discipline. The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, author, and critic Robert Penn Warren taught for 18 years in two stints at Yale between 1950 and 1973. With Cleanth Brooks, Warren helped establish the New Criticism, which in its dedication to textual analysis has long been the standard way that American schools teach students to approach literature.

Some people at Yale, most vocal among them Paolo Valesio, chair of the Italian department, are calling for the establishment of a Yale international poetry center that would bring together the University’s resources in the field, boosting Yale’s capabilities and reputation in the scholarship and writing of poetry. For now, though, they’ll have to settle for incremental changes. Not the least of them is the opportunity for students of English this year to pursue a creative writing track, which can be done in poetry.

The academic offerings in poetry extend well beyond the English department, though. Classes in the subject are offered in the departments of French, Classics, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, German, East Asian Languages and Literatures, and Near East Languages and Civilizations. A student can survey the major Greek classics, contemplate gender in the Chinese poetic tradition, or explore the complexities of the Maghreb poetry of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

There are also opportunities for students to read their own works, on and off campus. Kamran Javadizadeh '99, whose paper on the poet Elizabeth Bishop won last year’s Wrexham Prize for the best senior essay in the humanities, recently read his poetry at a State Street bookstore.

Further bolstering the poetry climate at Yale are publications such as the Yale Literary Magazine, the venerable undergraduate journal to which aspiring Yale poets can submit their work for publication, and, at the professional level, the Yale Review. The Review is edited by J.D. McClatchy, who has written or edited more than 20 books of or about poetry. McClatchy also teaches a spring-semester poetry class at Yale and is the editor of an audiocassette series called The Voice of the Poet. The series, published by Random House, packages recordings of major poets reading their work with a booklet that contains the text of the poems and an analysis by McClatchy. In observance of Yale’s Tercentennial, McClatchy is also compiling Bright Pages, an anthology of Yale writers from 1701 to 2001; many of those included will be poets.

Meanwhile, every year since 1919 Yale University Press has sponsored an annual contest called the Yale Series of Younger Poets, in which it publishes promising writers’ first collections of poetry. The contest is open to any writer under 40 whose work has never been published in book form. In a process that has been called “strip-mining for gems,” Yale students help the Press and its sponsoring editor, Nick Raposo, cull through as many as 700 manuscripts a year. These are whittled down to about 20, which are then sent to a well-known poet acting as judge. Among the writers “discovered” through the series are W. S. Merwin (the current Yale Younger Poets judge), George Bradley, Muriel Rukeyser, Ashbery, Hollander, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Carolyn Forche, and Adrienne Rich. The last Yale graduate to win was Craig Arnold '89, who took the prize in 1998.

Two other important resources in Yale’s poetry environment are the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Historical Sound Recordings Collection. Among the most treasured holdings of the sound archive are two cylinder recordings of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” and a recording from 1888 of Robert Browning reading “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.” The Beinecke also holds major collections of the papers of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Vincent Benet, Hilda Doolittle, Barbara Guest, and Langston Hughes, as well as many of his contemporaries in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s.

Whether or not Yale undergraduates ever pen a line of verse after graduation, the institutional culture that supports those with an interest in the subject seems likely to have an enduring impact. Greg Tigani ’00, who is fulfilling all of his requirements for an English major with poetry classes but who has no intention of ever writing or teaching the subject, likes the way the form injects an artistic sensibility into even the most mundane aspects of life. “Poetry brings you a sense of beauty and a sense of significance,” argues Tigani, an editor of the Yale Lit. “You read it, you hear it, you ponder it. It’s a different way of thinking that’s removed from the everyday world. The way I read a poem is the way I look at the corner of a building on my way to work and see how it’s hit by a certain kind of light. I take time to wonder what it means—and what it means that I even noticed.” the end

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by John F » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:30 pm

I read Hollander's obituary in the NY Times. I know some of his poetry from when I was working on the Norton Anthology of Modern poetry, and enjoy it.
John Francis

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:44 am

Thanks for posting, John!

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

IcedNote
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by IcedNote » Wed May 07, 2014 7:50 pm

Oh, look...this thread still exists. ;)

Here's a poet I recently came across, Karen Whalley. I'm really enjoying her book "The Rented Violin." Here's one from it:
Yellow From a Distance

We have almost reached the pond;
You have left your glasses at home on the table
And squint across the field
To the unfolding skunk cabbage.
Farsighted or near, I can't remember which
But you say it is only yellow you see,
Which from a distance could be daffodils.
But they are different shapes, the bell and the candle,
And I describe to you how they float
On the marsh, like a harbor of lanterns,
Because I want you to see them as I do,
A thousand tiny sails, each distinct,
Each one among the others, each drifting.

To you, the world's a blur, and I recall another walk
When the cherry trees had lifted their pink awnings
And you couldn't see the trees themselves,
Only the row of cloudy blossoms passing overhead—
Happy for that much. I think sometimes
You leave them off,
Not because you love my voice
As we pass each yard with its scrubby patch of flowers,
Or how I tell the shades of blue,
But because the earth is beautiful,
And beauty is a form of suffering.
http://www.versedaily.org/yellowdistance.shtml

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

Felix
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by Felix » Thu May 08, 2014 3:56 am

Hurrah! I have managed despite my diabolic new computer, but it was difficult - easy with my old XP computer Here is the poem by a favourite German Jewsih poetess, Else Lasker-Schueler. I have not yet learned to apply the umlaut.

A TIBETAN CARPET

Your soul that's sewn in love and mine,
Threads in Carpet-Tibet-land entwine.
 
Colours in love, ray within ray,
Stars courting each other across the sky.
 
Our feet rest on such weaving rare,
Thousands-on-thousand-of-stitches-far.
 
On musk-plant-throne, sweet Lama's son
How long do your lips kiss my lips
And cheek the cheek, as brightly-buttoned seasons run?

Translated by Felix de Villiers.

Else Lasker escaped from Nazi Germany in the nick of time, jumped on a train to Switzerland and was there arrested for vagrancy until Thomas Mann and his family realised - admirers of her poetry - realised where she was and got her out of jail. The poem clearly has a touch of surrealism in it and I have found that this appeals more to continentals than to Anglo-Saxons. I would have added another poem or two, but, my goodness, the problems.

This should be the blog on which I have published a quite large number of her poems:

poetrytranslated.blogspot.it

Tarantella
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by Tarantella » Thu May 08, 2014 5:02 am

It's a very evocative and sensual little poem isn't it, my talented and multi-lingual friend!!

Your previous link didn't work, so here it is again:

http://poetrytranslated.blogspot.it/

jbuck919
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 08, 2014 2:26 pm

Felix wrote:Hurrah! I have managed despite my diabolic new computer, but it was difficult - easy with my old XP computer Here is the poem by a favourite German Jewsih poetess, Else Lasker-Schueler. I have not yet learned to apply the umlaut.
Good news.

It was years before I could type an umlaut or any non-English diactritic into CMG, and I also relied on the expedient of the following "e." (The Alt+code trick does not work.) If you are using Windows, there is an addition which permits you to do this, which I installed several years ago after John F told us how. It is not obvious or easily searched out (I just tried to do so), and I couldn't do it again without help, but he's a nice guy, and if he does not respond to this, you might send him a PM asking him how to do it. In the meantime, be glad that Schoenberg actually spelled his name that way after he moved to the US. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Felix
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:40 am

Dante

Post by Felix » Fri May 09, 2014 10:54 am

Thanks jBuck, I'll get back to this problem of the umlaut. On my old Windows XP I had German as one of my languages and wrote all the names I use often. In fact I had all the umlauts there so I could copy them when necessary. I wrote in German., which was automatically corrected but most of the umlauts there disappeared when I got the new computer and if I go searching about I tend to lose this letter. I'll have to call back my technician again. During his long sessions with me, we went through such struggles that my head was spinning. he suggested we should deal with one problem at a time and next time it will be just this:how can I write to CMG and do other researches without losing my letter. This time I copied the poem below in advance..

It's another translation of mine.I had several translations of Dante into English and German and none of them satisfied me because the lacked the poet's almost childlike vividness, so i thought I'd have a go myself. This is the first of two segments I translated. Naturally, I don't agree with Dante, that suicides should go to hell, but what matters here is the poetry

From Dante’s Inferno.

Pier delle Vigne (an extract)

(This is the circle of hell the suicides go to)

The wood was filled with cries of pain,
But not a soul in sight that wept;
So I stopped in sheer bewilderment.

I suspected he believed that I believed (He = Virgil)
The voices cried between the trees
Of people out of sight that hid.

So my master said: “If you break
A twig off one tree-trunk,
The thoughts you have will go a-limp.”

I stretched my hand and broke
Some leaves from one such hedge;
The trunk cried out: “Why do you rend me?”

Then it was filled with brown blood flecks
And cried again: “Why do you tear me?
Are you devoid of all compassion?

We that were men are now but rinds:
Your hand should surely be more gentle,
And had we been the souls of serpents.”

And as green branches, set on fire
From one end to the other, drip
And shriek at every flutter of the wind;

Thus from the broken splint there oozed
Both words and blood. I let my hand that held it
Fall, and stood like a man beset with fears.

Transsated by me,
Felix

SONNET CLV
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Re: Favourite poetry

Post by SONNET CLV » Fri May 09, 2014 9:27 pm

The opening verse of a poem titled "Just Think!" by Canadian poet Robert Service has haunted me since I first read it at about age nine in the pages of the novel The Mucker by Edgar Rice Burroughs:


Just think! some night the stars will gleam
Upon a cold, grey stone,
And trace a name with silver beam,
And lo! ’twill be your own.

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