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The Poets

June 30, 2011

When I Depart


What last dear sight will with me leave
What image at my death
What touch, what taste, what sound will cleave
To me with my last breath

Will I smell loam some summer day
Before I take my leave
Or will I lay aside this clay
On some cold winter’s eve

Will twilight cut through autumn skies
When darkness blots my day
Will spring toss blossoms, roses rise
When I am called away

Perhaps the dark will chase the light
Of yonder azure skies
Or mighty hang the sun there bright
When last I close my eyes

Think not that these have weighed on me
These thoughts are ever light
But still, I ask, what will I see
When in the throes of night

-jwm


Of the Poem (Backgound, Parameters, and a Side Note):

Background:

Dreadful though it may seem, the fact is we will all experience dying one day.

Often, even as a kid, I would wonder what exactly I would undergo my last day here- what sounds there would be, what tastes or smells, what I would hear or see. I used to wonder if I’d draw my last breath in the winter or some other season; if it would be day or night; if friends and other loved ones would be around, or if I’d be alone.

For some reason these questions emerged in my mind recently and I thought I’d put them to verse … hence the poem. Please, let me know how you like it.

Parameters:

Stanza: The poem consists of five quatrains structured very much so in the form of a ballad.

Meter: The first and third line of each stanza revolve around a tetrameter (i.e. 8 syllables per line), and the second and fourth are trimeters (i.e. 6 syllables per line).

Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme, per stanza, is abab*

Side Note:

Notice that the end-rhyme of the first line of each stanza constitutes the end-rhyme of the second line of the following stanza (e.g. the word ‘leave’ of line one is repeated in line six). I did this intentionally, just for the heck of it. * So, technically, the rhyme scheme is: abab caca dcdc eded fefe

June 27, 2011

Frank O'Hara

It’s Frank O'Hara's birthday today (1926 - 1966). This guy was initially associated with the Beat poets, but later became one of the prominent figures of the New York School. I’ve read only a hand full of his works, but well pleased with what I read. Here’s a taste along with a link to some of his works …


Song

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

mud clambers up the trellis of my nerves
must lovers of Eros end up with Venus
muss es sein? es muss nicht sein, I tell you

how I hate disease, it's like worrying
that comes true
and it simply must not be able to happen

in a world where you are possible
my love
nothing can go wrong for us, tell me



Link: http://www.frankohara.org/writing.html



June 21, 2011

—Patience—



One morning last week I came across a poem one of my Facebook friends wrote- it was incredible! So short, so seemingly simple, yet so astonishingly deep and detailed. I had to ask her if I could post it here- she thankfully said yes.

The poem is called —Patience—, the poet is Deanna Elaine. Thanks for the gorgeous write, Deanna.


—Patience—

Eagle waits, unseen.
Scurry below, oblivious.
Reaper, Biding time.

June 14, 2011

Yeats- When You are Old




It was recently the birthdate of one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats. Now, I posted a 'happy birthday' to him on Facebook, but nothing here. After this a friend of mine introduced me to a poem of his that I hadn't read yet- and I loved it (he's such a good writer).

So, to make a long story longer, I thought I'd post that work here and say, once again, "happy birthdate Yeats, and thanks for the excellent poetry."


When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.



Of the Poem (Poetic Parameters):

Stanza: Italian quatrain
Meter: Pentameter
Rhyme Scheme: abba (per stanza)

June 07, 2011

We Real Cool




We Real Cool
THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.



Of the Poem:

I first read this poem about a year ago- it was written by Gwendolyn Brooks in 1959 and published the next year. It’s about the loose and potentially reckless lifestyle of a group of boys that Gwendolyn apparently knew.

The poem speaks of these teens hangin’ late at a pool hall drinkin’ gin and shootin’ stick. They’ve long dropped out of school and are most likely up to no good (‘we sing sin’).

The driving point of the poem is no doubt the last
enjambed line: we die soon … that is, there’s a looming consequence that attends the lifestyle these teens have appropriated. This seems to be a warning from Brooks.

The poem, being deceptively simple, is riddled with amazing structure and poetic devices:


-the stanzas are
couplets
-the end-rhymes fall on the second to the last word
-each stanza is enjambed (i.e. the first line continues into the following line)
-and there are
alliterations everywhere (e.g. lurk late, sing sin, jazz June)

There are other aspects that have me curious- for example: ‘strike straight’ in line 4 could also indicate fighting rather than just playing pool; ‘sing sin’ in line 6 is an excellent metaphor for vulgar language.

Anyhow, thought I’d share. Happy date of birth Mrs. Brooks …

Gwendolyn Brooks*


Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000)

Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917 and raised in Chicago. She is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including Children Coming Home (The David Co., 1991); Blacks (1987); To Disembark (1981); The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986); Riot (1969); In the Mecca (1968); The Bean Eaters (1960); Annie Allen (1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize; and A Street in Bronzeville (1945).

She also wrote numerous other books including a novel, Maud Martha (1953), and Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972), and edited Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology (1971).

In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois, and from 1985-86 she was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lived in Chicago until her death on December 3, 2000.

Biography from Poets.org

As of April 9th, 2010