Poetry Corner

Or this:

An Irish Airman Forsees His Death
by William Butler Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

Love the Owen and the Yeats, Sandman.

For some reason this one has always traveled with me since I first read it when I was about 12…

Seamus Heaney

The Early Purges

I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Don Taggart pitched them, ‘the scraggy wee shits’,
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,

Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in.

‘Sure isn’t it better for them now?’ Dan said.
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead.

Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains
Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung

Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows
Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens’ necks.

Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown,
I just shrug, ‘Bloody pups’. It makes sense:

‘Prevention of cruelty’ talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down.

Also, the Thought Fox…Hughes.

Oh yes indeedy!

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox

‘Out, out–’
by Robert Frost

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap–
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all–
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart–
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off–
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then–the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little–less–nothing!–and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Ab la dolchor del temps novel, by Guillem IX (1071-1127)
translated by Paul Blackburn, who I consider one of the twentieth century’s greatest translators of poetry into English, along with Ezra Pound, Jerome Rothenberg, and Stephen Mitchell.

In the new season
when the woods burgeon
and birds
sing out the first stave of new song,
time then that a man take the softest joy of her
who is most to his liking.

                      But from where my joy springs
                      no message comes:

the heart will not sleep or laugh, nor dare I go out
till I know the truth, if she will have me or not.

                      Our love is like top
                      branches that creak
                      on the hawthorn at night,
                      stiff from ice
                      or shaking from rain. And tomorrow 
                                                                        the sun

spreads its living warmth through the branches and through
the green leaves on the tree.

the softness of that morning we put away anger,
when she gave me her love, her ring
as sign,
remembering the softness,
I pray to God I live to put my hands
under her cloak, remembering that.

And I
care not for the talk
that aims to part
my lady from me;
for I know how talk runs rife and gossip spreads
from empty rancid mouths that, soured
make mock of love.
No matter. We are the ones, we have
some bread, a knife. [/code]

I used to play the krumhorn, though it took me a while before I could make it sound like something other than a goose being strangled. :laughing:

Here’s another that reveals my past as a medievalist. These are excerpts from Tant ai longamen cercat, by Peire Vidal, though in this case Blackburn made more of an “inspired by” version than a translation of the original Provencal.

The beginning is as beautiful an evocation of grace as I know.

Long I looked for what I did not need, then
I unclenched my hand
and there, that sunlight lay on it,
how I do not know.
It came at my bidding lightly and
lightly I took as I desired
but now
the granted and given and grown-in-use
I have lost by blundering, misused,
have not gained it
and my friends laugh…

My love without frontier
still she finds fault!
and knowing well what she does
seeks how to give me hurt.
I find no love in her
nor a loving heart
nor any warm decision or tender gain.
I cry mercy and mercy does not come,
I cry mercy and dare turn nowhere else…[/code]

Maybe we should have a poetry club and sit around in turtlenecks and read aloud poems while Sandman beats on his bongo.
Glad you like the thread. Poetry can be so personal and wonderful to share, but it’s also interesting to analyse.
I doubt anyone here’s a scholar on verse, so don’t feel shy about saying what you like about the poems youre posting and what you find alluring about the verse or the imagery. :slight_smile:

Here’s a fun metre poem from Amy Lowell.

A Tale of Starvation
from Sword Blades

There once was a man whom the gods didn’t love,
And a disagreeable man was he.
He loathed his neighbours, and his neighbours hated him,
And he cursed eternally.

He damned the sun, and he damned the stars,
And he blasted the winds in the sky.
He sent to Hell every green, growing thing,
And he raved at the birds as they fly.

His oaths were many, and his range was wide,
He swore in fancy ways;
But his meaning was plain: that no created thing
Was other than a hurt to his gaze.

He dwelt all alone, underneath a leaning hill,
And windows toward the hill there were none,
And on the other side they were white-washed thick,
To keep out every spark of the sun.

When he went to market he walked all the way
Blaspheming at the path he trod.
He cursed at those he bought of, and swore at those he sold to,
By all the names he knew of God.

For his heart was soured in his weary old hide,
And his hopes had curdled in his breast.
His friend had been untrue, and his love had thrown him over
For the chinking money-bags she liked best.

The rats had devoured the contents of his grain-bin,
The deer had trampled on his corn,
His brook had shrivelled in a summer drought,
And his sheep had died unshorn.

His hens wouldn’t lay, and his cow broke loose,
And his old horse perished of a colic.
In the loft his wheat-bags were nibbled into holes
By little, glutton mice on a frolic.

So he slowly lost all he ever had,
And the blood in his body dried.
Shrunken and mean he still lived on,
And cursed that future which had lied.

One day he was digging, a spade or two,
As his aching back could lift,
When he saw something glisten at the bottom of the trench,
And to get it out he made great shift.

So he dug, and he delved, with care and pain,
And the veins in his forehead stood taut.
At the end of an hour, when every bone cracked,
He gathered up what he had sought.

A dim old vase of crusted glass,
Prismed while it lay buried deep.
Shifting reds and greens, like a pigeon’s neck,
At the touch of the sun began to leap.

It was dull in the tree-shade, but glowing in the light;
Flashing like an opal-stone,
Carved into a flagon; and the colours glanced and ran,
Where at first there had seemed to be none.

It had handles on each side to bear it up,
And a belly for the gurgling wine.
Its neck was slender, and its mouth was wide,
And its lip was curled and fine.

The old man saw it in the sun’s bright stare
And the colours started up through the crust,
And he who had cursed at the yellow sun
Held the flask to it and wiped away the dust.

And he bore the flask to the brightest spot,
Where the shadow of the hill fell clear;
And he turned the flask, and he looked at the flask,
And the sun shone without his sneer.

Then he carried it home, and put it on a shelf,
But it was only grey in the gloom.
So he fetched a pail, and a bit of cloth,
And he went outside with a broom.

And he washed his windows just to let the sun
Lie upon his new-found vase;
And when evening came, he moved it down
And put it on a table near the place

Where a candle fluttered in a draught from the door.
The old man forgot to swear,
Watching its shadow grown a mammoth size,
Dancing in the kitchen there.

He forgot to revile the sun next morning
When he found his vase afire in its light.
And he carried it out of the house that day,
And kept it close beside him until night.

And so it happened from day to day.
The old man fed his life
On the beauty of his vase, on its perfect shape.
And his soul forgot its former strife.

And the village-folk came and begged to see
The flagon which was dug from the ground.
And the old man never thought of an oath, in his joy
At showing what he had found.

One day the master of the village school
Passed him as he stooped at toil,
Hoeing for a bean-row, and at his side
Was the vase, on the turned-up soil.

“My friend,” said the schoolmaster, pompous and kind,
"That’s a valuable thing you have there,
But it might get broken out of doors,
It should meet with the utmost care.

What are you doing with it out here?"
“Why, Sir,” said the poor old man,
“I like to have it about, do you see?
To be with it all I can.”

“You will smash it,” said the schoolmaster, sternly right,
“Mark my words and see!”
And he walked away, while the old man looked
At his treasure despondingly.

Then he smiled to himself, for it was his!
He had toiled for it, and now he cared.
Yes! loved its shape, and its subtle, swift hues,
Which his own hard work had bared.

He would carry it round with him everywhere,
As it gave him joy to do.
A fragile vase should not stand in a bean-row!
Who would dare to say so? Who?

Then his heart was rested, and his fears gave way,
And he bent to his hoe again. . . .
A clod rolled down, and his foot slipped back,
And he lurched with a cry of pain.

For the blade of the hoe crashed into glass,
And the vase fell to iridescent sherds.
The old man’s body heaved with slow, dry sobs.
He did not curse, he had no words.

He gathered the fragments, one by one,
And his fingers were cut and torn.
Then he made a hole in the very place
Whence the beautiful vase had been borne.

He covered the hole, and he patted it down,
Then he hobbled to his house and shut the door.
He tore up his coat and nailed it at the windows
That no beam of light should cross the floor.

He sat down in front of the empty hearth,
And he neither ate nor drank.
In three days they found him, dead and cold,
And they said: “What a queer old crank!”

[quote]This comes from an eclectic volume called “Sword Blades and Poppy Seed” (1914) which contained many distinctive poems written in the usual forms, a score of pictorial pieces illustrating Miss Lowell


He was just mad.

But his poetry, ah…

The Study in Aesthetics

By Ezra Pound

THE VERY small children in patched clothing,
Being smitten with an unusual wisdom,
Stopped in their play as she passed them
And cried up from their cobbles:
Guarda! Ahi, guarda! ch

He went off into wacko land in the late 1930s and early 1940s, believing in Mussolini and embracing anti-semitism, which he later apologized for, calling it a “stupid, suburban prejudice.” During the war he even went so far as to make speeches on Italian radio against “President Jewsevelt” and the like. Hideous stuff. After the war he was locked up and could have faced treason charges and even execution. He wrote some of his most memorable poetry there in the camps. Eventually, he was sent to a mental hospital (St. Elizabeth’s, outside Washington, D.C.) as too nuts to stand trial. Pound scholars still argue about whether he was really crazy or this was just a lucky break that kept him from a worse fate. He was kept there for years before he was finally allowed to return to Italy.

Pound’s story is, I think, one of the great cautionary tales of our time: Even geniuses aren’t right about everything. He was undeniably brilliant. He had astonishing talent as a poet and as a teacher, especially in inspiring others. He battled long and hard against entrenched and outmoded ways of thinking about writing and literature. And, more often than not, he was right. But perhaps he grew too used to being right – and so no longer realized when he was following the wrong road.

Even so, there’s probably no one who had more influence over English poetry in the 20th century than he. An absolutely fascinating man as well.

Your mention of Amy Lowell reminded me that Pound once dubbed her “the hippopoetess.” Ouch!

Very nice poems, Cranky. Hard to believe they’re so many hundreds of years old. One of my favorite contemporary poets is Mark Strand. Here’s three of his (hard to stop at just three).

Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.


There is a girl you like so you tell her
your penis is big, but that you cannot get yourself
to use it. Its demands are ridiculous, you say,
even self-defeating, but to be honored, somehow,
briefly, inconspicuously in the dark.

When she closes her eyes in horror,
you take it all back. You tell her you’re almost
a girl yourself and can understand why she is shocked.
When she is about to walk away, you tell her
you have no penis, that you don’t

know what got into you. You get on your knees.
She suddenly bends down to kiss your shoulder and you know
you’re on the right track. You tell her you want
to bear children and that is why you seem confused.
You wrinkle your brow and curse the day you were born.

She tries to calm you, but you lose control.
You reach for her panties and beg forgiveness as you do.
She squirms and you howl like a wolf. Your craving
seems monumental. You know you will have her.
Taken by storm, she is the girl you will marry.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

More on Pound :

In the years before the outbreak of World War I, Pound moved from one short-lived literary movement to another, sometimes as a leader, sometimes as an appropriator of ideas originated by others. Imagism and vorticism especially felt the impact of his presence, energy, and personality. Intense, tightly focused, and borrowed from French experimentation at the close of the nineteenth century, imagism was supposed to spawn a new kind of European American poetry. In Pound’s manifestos for the movement, imagism held to three principles: (1) “Direct treatment of the ‘thing,’ whether subjective or objective”; (2) “To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation”; (3) “As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of the metronome.” When imagism came under the influence of Amy Lowell, Pound nicknamed the movement “Amygism,” resenting the fact that her tastes and hard work had eclipsed his own. With artist and writer Wyndham Lewis’s help, Pound became the center of vorticism, which set out to produce poetry characterized by greater intensity and vigor than the imagist verse in Lowell’s Poetry magazine. Both of these schools attracted their share of aspiring poets, but they remained smaller currents of modernism.

The important and abiding contribution of these hectic prewar years was the restlessness they witnessed, a deep dissatisfaction with any art that continued languidly in old forms, anything that did not “make it new.” As the slaughter of millions along the Somme River, at Tannenberg, and at Verdun fostered a doubt that anything of the Belle

[quote]The first appearance of the word “fuck” was in a poem by William Dunbar, entitled Ane [or A] Brash of Wowing or In Secreit Place. The poem was composed in 1503, at the latest. Dunbar was Scottish, and the other early recorded uses of “fuck” are also from Scots. Read concludes that “either the word had little stigma in this resion and was merely a counterpart of Chaucer’s swive, or that the Scots were bolder in speech than their southern neighbors.” You be the judge. Apparently, this is about a romantic liason between a kitchen maid and a smooth-talking city boy.

Here are the first two stanzas of the poem:

In secreit place this hindir nycht
I hard ane bern say till a bricht:
My hunny, my houp, my hairt, my heill,
I haif bene lang your lufar leill
And can yow gett confort nane;
How lang will ye with denger deill?
Ye brek my hart, my bony ane.

His bony berd wes kemd and croppit
Bot all with kaill it was bedroppit
And he was townsyche, peirt and gukkit. He clappit fast, he kist, he chukkit
As with the glaikkis he were ourgane–
Yit be his feiris he wald haif fukkit:
Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.

urbanlegends.com/language/et … ences.html

Interesting Alien, but why the heck did those people whose website you link to look up the origin of the word in the Random House Dictionary of Slang??? I’ve always assumed one should go first to the OED, which is what I did many years ago. I xeroxed an entire page on “fuck” from the OED and handed it out to the students in my English class (instilling in them a great reverence for the OED). I don’t recall mention of that poem in the OED, but that was years ago. If I had access to the OED now I would look it up again.

Which of course he was wrong about. Under the influence of Fenollosa, he fell prey to the ideographic myth and indeed helped to spread it. For more about this, see “Fenollosa, Pound and the Chinese Character.”

Do you guys write your own poetry? or song lyrics?
post it on?


Scholar? Me? No way! I’m strictly a “I know what I like” poetry reader I’m afraid. Highbrow, lowbrow, its all one to me. Does it rock me? That’s the touchstone.

Here’s one I can’t read without a hitch in my throat – I’m a sentimental old fool.

Norland Wind.
By Violet Jacob

“Oh tell me fit was on yer road ye roarin Norland wind?
As ye come blawin frae the land that’s never frae ma mind.
Ma feet they traivel England but I’m deein for the North.”
“Ma man, I saw the siller tides rin up the Firth o Forth.”

“Aye wind, I ken them weel eneuch an fine they fa and rise,
And fain I’d feel the creepin mist on yonder shore that lies.
But tell me as ye pass them by fit saw ye on the way?”
“Ma man, I rocked the rovin gulls that sail abin the Tay.”

“Bit saw ye naethin leein wind afore ye come tae Fife?
For there’s muckle lyin 'yont the Tay that’s mair tae me nor life.”
“Ma man, I swept the Angus braes that ye hivna trod for years.”
“Oh wind, forgie a hameless loon that canna see for tears.”

“And far abin the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
A lang, lang skein o beatin wings wi their heids toward the sea,
And aye their cryin voices trailed ahint them on the air.”
“Oh wind, hae mercy, haud your wheesht for I daurna listen mair.”

[quote=“ax”]Do you guys write your own poetry? or song lyrics?
post it on?

I have more than a hundred in a Wellcome plastic bag, and that’s where they’re staying – they are terrible! :blush:

Well, I come from the middle of the US, so here’s one - in the spirit of Taiwan typhoons - from one of my favorites, Ted Roethke, a fellow midwesterner (Michigan). I left a book of his work at home in the US, a decision the cost of which Alien has now bitterly clarified for me. Otherwise, this topic might fill pretty quickly with his poems.

Theodore Roethke

Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
the lamp pole.

Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.


Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

A time to go home!–
And a child’s dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,–
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.


We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.

A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.

We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping–
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.

[quote=“ax”]Do you guys write your own poetry? or song lyrics?
post it on?