The Poets

January 29, 2010

Quote: Dylan Thomas

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.

Note: This quote is selected from Thomas' poem The Hand that Signed the Paper
(behind this link is a small article pertaining to that work).

January 24, 2010

What Will Your Verse Be

Dead Poet's Society is a great movie (and I thought so long before my own introduction to poetry's beauty).

In retrospect, there are scenes within this movie that have moved me to a deeper sensitivity to creativity's expression, and it is for this reason that my heart leaps in my chest when I come across a soul moved by the arts (whether it be music, painting, writing, photography, whatever).

This blog's introductory quote is taken from that movie and remains indelibly scribed on my heart.

In the movie, and immediately after the scene where that quote takes place, Robin Williams' character continues with another profound and inspirational quote from Walt Whitman:

To make video fullscreen click the expanding arrows in the media player.

January 21, 2010

Said the Crow

My curses gazed upon the foe
Who perched on wires by the tree:
"Just who is it you seek, Old Crow,
The neighbor boy, or is it me?"

Said the Crow:

"I seek for water and for bread,
And seek for murders in the sky-
But never for a neighbor dead,
Or that a neighbor's neighbor die."

Of the Poem:

Sometimes a crow's a crow, as sometimes a cigar's a cigar.

The poem above came from an experience I had earlier this week. I accompanied two friends for a walk across the street when suddenly there was dark black crow directly before us plucking at a puddle of water. An onslaught of superstitious images filled my head to the point that an eeriness sat on the entire scene (my friends felt it too).

Now I hardly consider myself a superstitious person, but truth be told, I've always perceived the presence or suggestion of Death where these birds would rove. Moreover, and on account of this, I've caught myself shunning them, shooing them, cursing them, staring swords at them ... I think I even tried to throw something at one of them once!

Superstitious? I wouldn't go that far, but I will acknowledge that like most of us I've grown up in a culture riddled with superstitious ideologies, and that these have become so interwoven into our social awareness that it's almost impossible to come out unscathed by it (e.g. my examples above).

Notwithstanding, the above poem is essentially a reminder to myself that this is so, that that bird we saw plodding about the water wasn't the embodiment of Death or Destruction or Bad Omen, but was rather ... well ... a bird.

Now we may attach symbols to these creatures that represent otherworldly aspects, and even mythologize or poeticize about them, but the truth is we ought to be focused on the meaning behind the symbol rather than the subject through whom that meaning seemingly symbolically manifests.

Side Note:

In the second line of the second stanza the phrase "murders in the sky" appears. This sounds exceedingly dark, and was intended to. But the truth is it's not dark at all. The word 'murder' is a collective noun that basically means the same thing as 'flock' (hence the phrase murder of crows). When in line two of stanza two the crow says he seeks "murders in the sky" he's essentially saying he seeks the company of other crows- a social inclination.

January 20, 2010

Love Divine- by SGK

I have a friend who produces music and writes songs. A few days ago he recited a stanza from a poem he had written some time ago. After having explained its context, and reciting it a couple more times, I had to ask him if I could post it. Anyhow, here it is, it's called ...

Love Divine

You were my woman-
that funny smile was mine-
but you made it all so clear
when you finally picked up the line:
in an unspoken voice your heart said goodbye
and with preservation for your feelings,
and no concern for mine,
I say farewell, my good friend,
and goodbye to a love divine.

-skg Registered & Protected

January 18, 2010

Remembering a Life- by Nordette Adams

Remembering A Life

I remember him in the misted vision of toddler years
and again in girlhood, the booming voice on TV,
someone grown-ups talked about, eyelids flapped wide.
Elders huddled 'round the screen enraptured,
in fear for him, in awe.

I remember him.
His words swept the land, singing our passion.
Dogs growled in streets. Men in sheets.
Police battering my people. (Water, a weapon.)
Yet my people would rejoice... And mourn.

I remember him, a fearsome warrior crying peace,
a man--blemished by clay, the stain of sin as
any other, calling on the Rock--
Death's sickle on his coat tails,
yet he spied glory.

Shall we walk again and remember him,
not as the Madison Aveners do,
but in solitude and hope
with acts of courage and compassion,
with lives of greater scope
carving fresh paths of righteousness?

I remember.

-Nordette Adams

January 13, 2010

Carefully: by Jessica Doss

Negative thoughts lead to negative actions then can't be erased.... Trying to move carefully yet at a faster pace... Hiding from the truth cuz secure in the lie... There's no chance at failure when you don't even try... Shackled in the sky by our own understanding... To paralyzed to take off by fear of the landing... Fear keeps you safe from great life experience... The awareness learned might be worth the risk if you're really feelin it.. Subject to personal perception but lacking the self reflection... Questions ever puzzled down the right path with indirect directions... Unwrapped barely naked longing for internal embrace... So blinded by fear that your comfort I can't seem to take... Slowing towards the end quickly yet powerless to stop... Guess the question will be answered are these feelings we caught...

Of the Poem (Brief Summary & Thanks):

The poem above was submitted by a friend of mine, Jessica Doss. In it is found a tension that consumes the speaker, a tension between stagnation as a result of fear, and a latent but new hope that looks upon the possibility of a great life experience.

The poem employs to a great extent the use of cognitive terminologies: thoughts, understanding, awareness learned, perception, reflection, etc. This indicates a contemplative aspect of the poem that the poet wishes to relay. The opening line immediately discloses the poem's creed: all action comes from thought, and, after having come, is then indelibly marked onto the soul.

When coupled with the negative predicates of the poem- failure, fear, naked, blinded, powerless- its contemplative nature takes on a sort of existential desperation, one that painfully desires change and reformation (a change and reformation that no doubt must occur at the aforementioned level of thought itself).

Before the poem concludes there's a reference to an obscure figure: your comfort I can't seem to take. The line prior to this speaks of a longing for internal embrace, so my personal conclusion is that the figure in the following line is God Himself (or some other spiritual import).

As always, it excites me when someone honors me with a chance to read their works, their poems. Where deliberate effort is put into a work- especially where these efforts pertain to aspects of human existence and the world within which we live- I take special care to acknowledge it.

So thank you, Jessica, for sharing your poem here.

January 08, 2010

Hannah Arendt on Poetry

Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it.

-Hannah Arendt

January 07, 2010

Thou Mortal Thread

O thou mortal thread of light-
Frail and flickering in the dark-
Fear not mortal winds that blow
And bend thy quaint and placid spark.
These may breathe a fatal air
And quit that quaking flame agleam;
They, however, cannot touch
Th' eternal essence of thy beam.
Revel therefore in this time-
Though mortal and a borrowed thing-
Revel, O thou sacred flame,
For in thee dwells immortal being.

Of the Poem (Notes):

Stanza: I initially intended three quatrains here, but because the subject ran together well and without blatant breaks they were combined into a whole.
Meter: Mixed; The first line (and the odd ones that follow) have a seven syllable count, whereas all the even lines are four metric feet (i.e. tetrameter) .
Rhyme Scheme: a.x.a.x. / b.x.b.x. / c.x.c.x. (where ‘x’ represents, as I’ve shown in earlier posts, unrhymed lines).

In the following words there are nine distinct syllables: The eternal life within thy beam. These words are line 8 in the above poem, but with this difference, that I changed the to th' so as to reduce the syllable count to eight.

What happens, and one sees this over and over in the world of poetry, is that th' binds itself to the word that immediately follows it. This is not to say that th' is 'silent', but rather that its sonorous angularity is diminished, and when this happens its independent vocalization becomes immediately dependent on the word that follows.

In short, th' binds itself in such a way to the word eternal that it's almost essentially one word (one word containing three rather than four syllables). I intentionally did this here because until this point I haven't been able to employ this technique in a poem. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity here to do this.

A great example of this would be Shakespeare's 147th sonnet , lines 1 through 4.

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please.

Had Shakespeare chosen the verses th' in line four it would have turned his pentameter into an eleven syllable count rather than ten. Hence, in the original sonnet, Th' is written to preserve the meter. This was my intention above.

With that said, I hope that if this is read by others, well, it's an enjoyable read.

January 03, 2010

My Self-Summary by Aaron Cole

On the very first day of this very new year, 2010, my neighbor shared a poem he recently wrote. To say the least, I was excited to check it out. To my astonishment, however, I came to find that he intentionally adhered to a chosen metrical foot, tetrameter.

Now I use the word ‘astonishment’ because, from my perspective at any rate, one seldom comes across a contemporary American who chooses measured verse verses free verse- much less a contemporary American who lives right next to you . That the poem had my complete attention goes without saying.

Here’s that poem below:

My Self-Summary

Listen Hear my soliloquy
as I try to Unravel these
false dichotomies existing
tween the outer and inner me
Not bi polar, but bi solar.
I stand in the crux of 2 suns.
One physical, and warms my flesh
And one spiritually guides the mesh
None the less both are part of me
war wages perpetually;
but separately agreed they make
me the man I have come to be.

Of the Poem:

A seemingly tension-ridden dualism runs through the poem that’s extremely obvious:

~false dichotomies
~the outer and inner
~bi solar (i.e. two suns)
~the crux of 2
~physical (flesh)/spiritually
~and latently, division (war wages) and unity (separately agreed)

I stand in the crux of 2 suns.
One physical, and warms my flesh
And one spiritually guides the mesh

These lines, lines 6,7 and 8, are highly reminiscent of Swedenborg’s doctrine of two suns (now as far as I’m aware, Aaron has never read Swedenborg, which makes the relation of the poem above with the quotes below rather interesting):

There are two suns by which all things were created from the Lord, the sun of the spiritual world and the sun of the natural world. All things were created from the Lord by the sun of the spiritual world, but not by the sun of the natural world; for the latter is far below the former, and in a middle distance. The spiritual world is above and the natural world beneath it; and the sun of the natural world was created to act as a medium or substitute.

The expanse of the centre of life is called the spiritual world, which subsists from its sun; and the expanse of the centre of nature is called the natural world, which subsists from its sun.

The tension of the dualism that’s apparent throughout the poem culminates in line 10:

war wages perpetually

But immediately thereafter the poet reconciles the tension through a sort of Heideggerian acceptance of the inevitable- which in this case would be the fact that the author must come to terms with the influence of these two seemingly opposing poles. This is apparent in the following lines that conclude the poem:

None the less both are part of me
war wages perpetually;
but separately agreed they make
me the man I have come to be

I’ll comment here as I did to him on Facebook:

“Absolutely astonishing display of poetic prowess, Aaron. No joke. The sheer fact that you chose to adhere to classical meter in the face of popular free verse reveals an authentic aspect that, as Plato would say, is seldom seen amongst men.”

… and I’ll add that not only am I honored that he’d share his work with me, but most especially honored that he’d grace me with the opportunity to post it here.

Thanks, Aaron. Great write.

I'd love to hear what others might think of his work. So please, leave a comment if you will.

As of April 9th, 2010