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The Poets

January 30, 2012



January 25, 2012

Happy Burns Day!

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796), happy date of birth, lad …

I wanted to find a poem of his that I hadn’t previously read, and, coming across a few, I really enjoyed the following (hope you do too) …


*****

Love in the Guise of Friendship

Talk not of love, it gives me pain,
For love has been my foe;
He bound me in an iron chain,
And plung'd me deep in woe.

But friendship's pure and lasting joys,
My heart was form'd to prove;
There, welcome win and wear the prize,
But never talk of love.

Your friendship much can make me blest,
O why that bliss destroy?
Why urge the only, one request
You know I will deny?

Your thought, if Love must harbour there,
Conceal it in that thought;
Nor cause it in that thought;
Nor cause me from my bosom tear
The very friend I sought.

January 23, 2012

Another Walcott Poem- Blues

WARNING: Another poem of Walcott's that stuck with me was one where he describes himself getting jumped by some racist kids- some of the language is a little sharp, and some of the imagery used to describe the assault a bit dreadful, so be warned … still, it’s a powerful piece.


Blues

Those five or six young guys
lunched on the stoop
that oven-hot summer night
whistled me over. Nice
and friendly. So, I stop.
MacDougal or Christopher
Street in chains of light.

A summer festival. Or some
saint’s. I wasn’t too far from
home, but not too bright
for a nigger, and not too dark.
I figured we were all
one, wop, nigger, jew,
besides, this wasn’t Central Park.
I’m coming on too strong? You figure
right! They beat this yellow nigger
black and blue.

Yeah. During all this, scared
on case one used a knife,
I hung my olive-green, just-bought
sports coat on a fire plug.
I did nothing. They fought
each other, really. Life
gives them a few kicks,
that’s all. The spades, the spicks.

My face smashed in, my bloddy mug
pouring, my olive-branch jacket saved
from cuts and tears,
I crawled four flights upstairs.
Sprawled in the gutter, I
remember a few watchers waved
loudly, and one kid’s mother shouting
like “Jackie” or “Terry,”
“now that’s enough!”
It’s nothing really.
They don’t get enough love.

You know they wouldn’t kill
you. Just playing rough,
like young Americans will.
Still it taught me something
about love. If it’s so tough,
forget it.

Happy B-Day, DW

I dig, dig, dig this poet! Derek Walcott, a contemporary poet of ours (born 23 January 1930), was of the first poets I read who touched deeply on race and the struggle of ethnic identity. I did a commentary on a poem of his a couple years ago titled, A Far Cry from Africa- a poem riddled with utter intensity, one that contemplates the hideous act of genocide, and to date my favorite of his. I’ll leave a link below if you think you can handle the read- seriously, brace yourself …

Happy birthday, DW …

January 19, 2012

Poe(t)

Seriously though, how coincidental and funny is it that, if you simply add a T to Poe's name, you have the word Poet? Weird …

Poe's Hymn

It is said that Poe was drawn to the inside of a Jesuit church by the pristine ringing of a bell. Inquiring into the significance of it, he was told by them that it was in commemoration of the annunciation by Gabriel to Mary of her son to be, and of her willingness and obedience to it (i.e. her ‘be it unto me as you say’ statement). The poem below, I am told, was inspired by this experience.

Hymn

At morn- at noon- at twilight dim-
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe- in good and ill-
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my Future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine!

January 17, 2012

NOE

Nap of the Earth

The threat was real enough to shun
And so, when OBL was done
The dragonflies with speed were out
Though left behind was one

They hugg’d and napp’d the moonlit earth
Like deep-blue desert winds with mirth
And low along the waypoint’s route
Return’d the ones of worth

-jwm



Of the Poem (Parameters and a Brief Note):

Stanza:
Quatrain, Rubaiyat (two total)
Meter: Per stanza, lines 1 through 3 are tetrameter, the 4th a trimeter.
Rhyme Scheme: aaba ccbc (heavily influenced by the
Rubaiyat model)

Note:
Napping the earth is a low level flying technique utilized by pilots to elude radar or ground detection. The pilot, especially helicopter pilots, will take their craft as low as they can to the earth’s surface and will move evasively along and through the terrain.

The
Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden took place in the dark early hours of the morning. The risk levels for the soldiers piloting the helicopters was extremely, extremely high- especially napping the earth at rapid speeds to get safely back to Bagram Airbase. That is the glimpse taken by this poem. I know- it’s different, but I hope you like it …

January 09, 2012

Ode to Sleep

Thomas Warton, born on this day in 1728, was an English poet-laureate and professor of poetry. What I like about him, apart from his poetic style, is that he was a studier of the history and historical origins of poetry. I haven’t known him as well as other 18th century poets, but what I’ve read of his seems very typical to that period (one of my favorite periods in poetry’s history).

If you haven’t, you should check out a poem or two of his today, good stuff. Happy b-day, big guy!

Here, take a taste of one of his poems (the imagery of the last stanza … wow):


Ode to Sleep

On this my pensive pillow, gentle Sleep!
Descend, in all thy downy plumage drest:
Wipe with thy wing these eyes that wake to weep,
And place thy crown of poppies on my breast.

O steep my senses in oblivion's balm,
And sooth my throbbing pulse with lenient hand;
This tempest of my boiling blood becalm!
Despair grows mild at thy supreme command.

Yet ah! in vain, familiar with the gloom,
And sadly toiling through the tedious night,
I seek sweet slumber, while that virgin bloom,
For ever hovering, haunts my wretched sight.

Nor would the dawning day my sorrows charm:
Black midnight and the blaze of noon alike
To me appear, while with uplifted arm
Death stands prepar'd, but still delays, to strike.

Thomas Warton*

Thomas Warton (1728 - 1790)

English poet-laureate and historian of poetry, the younger son of Thomas Warton, was born at Basingstoke on the 9th of January 1728. He was still more precocious as a poet than his brother -- translated one of Martial's epigrams at nine, and wrote The Pleasures of Melancholy at seventeen -- and he showed exactly the same bent, Milton and Spenser being his favorite poets, though he "did not fail to cultivate his mind with the soft thrillings of the tragic muse" of Shakespeare.

In a poem written in 1745 he shows the delight in Gothic churches and ruined castles which inspired so much of his subsequent work in romantic revival. Most of Warton's poetry, humorous and serious -- and the humorous mock-heroic was better within his powers than serious verse -- was written before the age of twenty-three, when he took his M.A. degree and became a fellow of his college (Trinity, Oxford). He did not altogether abandon verse; his sonnets, especially, which are the best of his poems, were written later. But his main energies were given to omnivorous poetical reading and criticism. He was the first to turn to literary account the medieval treasures of the Bodleian Library. It was through him, in fact, that the medieval spirit which always lingered in Oxford first began to stir after its long inaction, and to claim an influence in the modern world. Warton, like his brother, entered the church, and held one after another, various livings, but he did not marry. He gave little attention to his clerical duties, and Oxford always remained his home. In 1749 he published an heroic poem in praise of Oxford, The Triumph of Isis. He was a very easy and convivial as well as a very learned don, with a taste for pothouses and crowds as well as dim aisles and romances in manuscript and black letter. The first proof that he gave of his extraordinarily wide scholarship was in his Observations on the Poetry of Spenser (1754). Three years later he was appointed professor of poetry, and held the office for ten years, sending round, according to the story, at the beginning of term to inquire whether anybody wished him to lecture. The first volume of his monumental work, The History of English Poetry, appeared twenty years later, in 1774, the second volume in 1778, and the third in 1781. A work of such enormous labor and research could proceed but slowly, and it was no wonder that Warton flagged in the execution of it, and stopped to refresh himself with annotating (1785) the minor poems of Milton, pouring out in this delightful work the accumulated suggestions of forty years.

In 1785 he became Camden professor of history, and was made poet-laureate in the same year. Among his minor works were an edition of Theocritus, a selection of Latin and Greek inscriptions, the humorous Oxford Companion to the Guide and Guide to the Companion (1762); The Oxford Sausage (1764); an edition of Theocritus (1770); lives of Sir Thomas Pope and Ralph Bathurst, college benefactors; a History of the Antiquities of Kiddington Parish, of which he held the living (1781); and an Inquiry into the Authenticity of the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley (1782). His busy and convivial life was ended by a paralytic stroke in May 1790.

Warton's poems were first collected in 1777, and he was engaged at the time of his death on a corrected edition, which appeared in 1791, with a memoir by his friend and admirer, Richard Mant. They were edited in 1822 for the British Poets, by S. W. Singer.

The History of English Poetry from the close of the 11th to the Commencement of the 18th Century, to which are prefixed two Dissertations: I. On the Origin of Romantic Fiction in Europe; II. On the Introduction of Learning into England (1774-81) was only brought down to the close of the 16th century. It was criticized by J. Ritson in 1782 in A Familiar Letter to the Author. A new edition came out in 1824, with an elaborate introduction by the editor, Richard Price, who added to the text comments and emendations from Joseph Ritson, Francis Douce, George Ashby, Thomas Park and himself. Another edition of this, stated to be "further improved by the corrections and additions of several eminent antiquaries", appeared in 1840. In 1871 the book was subjected to a radical revision by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt. He cut out passages in which Warton had been led into gross errors by misreading his authorities or relying on false information, and supplied within brackets information on authors or works omitted. Warton's matter, which was somewhat scattered, although he worked on a chronological plan, was in some cases rearranged and the mass of profuse and often contradictory notes was cut down, although new information was added by the editor and_ his associates, Sir Frederick Madden, Thomas Wright, W. Aldis Wright, W. W. Skeat, Richard Morris and F. J. Furnivall. When all criticism has been allowed for the inaccuracies of Warton's work, and the unsatisfactory nature of his general plan, the fact remains that his book is still indispensable to the student of English poetry. Moreover, much that may seem commonplace in his criticism was entirely fresh and even revolutionary in his own day. Warton directed the attention of readers to early English literature, and, in view of the want of texts, rendered inestimable service by transcribing large extracts from early writers. Of the poets of the 16th century he was an extremely sympathetic critic and has not been superseded.

Biography from NNDB

January 06, 2012

Dedicated to KG

Triple Stage Darkness

I

First there comes a gentle flirt
That passes unaware
To darker chambers of the mind
And dwells without a care

II

Next there comes affinity
Where flesh conjoins to flesh
Like lapping waters of a lake
Whose scent of fish is fresh

III

Then there comes the sacred lie
That soul might touch with soul
But lust corrupts where loving lacks
And sin destroys the whole

-jwm

By far the most popular Lebanese poet ever, I first began to read Khalil Gibran as a kid without really knowing I was reading poetry (albeit, cryptic and didactic poetry). Most people I know are totally familiar with his main work, The Prophet- if you haven’t read this book I promise you you are missing out. It’s a must read.

Anyhow, he was born this day in 1883 and I wanted to give him props. Props KG ...


btw: the above link 'The Prophet' is his actual work online, I must must must read at least a subject ...

January 03, 2012

Weakness

My eyes cannot escape your shape;
Your beauty has me mesmerized-
Your gorgeous curves, the way you walk,
Your sexy lips, the way you talk …
The way your hair just dangles there-
I swear to you it mystifies!
And how your lips move when you speak-
O darling, how you make me weak.

-jwm


Poetic Parameters:

Stanza: Octet
Meter: Tetrameter (i.e. eight syllables per line)
Rhyme Scheme: x.x.a.a.x.x.b.b (where ‘x’ represents unrhymed lines)

As of April 9th, 2010