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Sasha's poetry corner
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the_otter



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 134

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thistles

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasped fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.

Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.

Ted Hughes

I think a lot of the particular character and feeling of the English language comes from its mix of Germanic and Latin/Greek elements, and few people have had more command of that aural gap than Hughes. As I read this poem, I think I can hear his heavy, Yorkshire voice reading it with me.

It's a poem that I'd love to go through with students; unfortunately, I'm doing Business English right now, and I don't think I'd have the most receptive audience.


Last edited by the_otter on Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, the otter!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting poem about language, by a sadly, recently deceased poet and translator.


The Frost is All Over

To kill a language is to kill a people.
The Aztecs knew far better: they took over
their victims' language, kept them carving
obsidian beauties; weeded their religion
of danerous gentleness, and winged them blood-flowers
(that's a different way to kill a people)
The Normans brought and grew, but Honor Croome
could never make her Kerrymen verse English:
Traherne was in the music of his tears.

We have no glint or caution who we are:
our patriots dream wolfhounds in their portraits,
our vendors pose in hunting-garb, the nightmare
forelock tugging madly at some leash.
The Vikings never hurt us, xenophilia
means bland servility, we insult
ourselves and Europe with artificial trees,
and coins as gelt of beauty now
as, from the start, of power.

Like Flemish words on horseback, tongue survives
in turns of speech the telly must correct;
our music bows and scrapes on the world's platforms,
each cat-gut wears a rigorous bow-tie.
The frost, we tell them, is all over, and they love
our brogue so much they give us guns to kill
ourselves, our language, and all the other gooks.

Bobrowski would have understood, he found
some old, surviving words of a murdered language,
and told a few friends; but he knew how to mourn,
a rare talent, a need not many grant.

To call a language dead before it dies
means to bury it alive; some tongues do die
from hours or days inside the coffin, and when
the fearful killers dig it up they find
the tongue, like Suarez, bitten to its own bone.
Others explodes in the church, and stain the bishop,
whose priest could speak no Gaaelic to his 'flock'
but knew how to sink a splendid tawny goblet
as deep as any master of the hunt.

Is Carleton where the tenderness must hide?
Or would they have the Gaelic words, like insects,
crawl up the legs of horses, and each bite,
or startle, be proclaimed a heritage?
Are those whoe rule us, like their eager voters,
ghosts yearning for flesh? Ghosts are cruel,
and ghosts of suicides more cruel still:
To kill a language is to kill one's self.

Pearse Hutchinson 1927-2012


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/obituaries/2012/0121/1224310573999.html
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SWEENEY AMONG THE NIGHTINGALES


PENECK Sweeney spreads his knees
Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
The zebra stripes along his jaw
Swelling to maculate giraffe.

The circles of the stormy moon
Slide westward toward the River Plate,
Death and the Raven drift above
And Sweeney guards the horned gate.

Gloomy Orion and the Dog
Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;
The person in the Spanish cape
Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees

Slips and pulls the table cloth
Overturns a coffee-cup,
Reorganized upon the floor
She yawns and draws a stocking up;

The silent man in mocha brown
Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;
The waiter brings in oranges
Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;

The silent vertebrate in brown
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;
Rachel née Rabinovitch
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;

She and the lady in the cape
Are suspect, thought to be in league;
Therefore the man with heavy eyes
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,

Leaves the room and reappears
Outside the window, leaning in,
Branches of wistaria
Circumscribe a golden grin;

The host with someone indistinct
Converses at the door apart,
The nightingales are singing near
The Convent of the Sacred Heart,

And sang within the bloody wood
When Agamemnon cried aloud,
And let their liquid droppings fall
To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.


T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12756
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Among School Children

W.B. Yeats

I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and histories,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way - the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.

II

I dream of a Ledaean body, bent
Above a sinking fire. a tale that she
Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event
That changed some childish day to tragedy -
Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent
Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,
Or else, to alter Plato's parable,
Into the yolk and white of the one shell.

III

And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t'other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age -
For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage -
And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.

IV

Her present image floats into the mind -
Did Quattrocento finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
Had pretty plumage once - enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.

V

What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her Son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?

VI

Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things;
Solider Aristotle played the taws
Upon the bottom of a king of kings;
World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
What a star sang and careless Muses heard:
Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.

VII

Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts - O Presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolise -
O self-born mockers of man's enterprise;

VIII

Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?


One of my favorites.

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

Yes, I can see that W.B. is one of your favourite poets, and that is as it should be.


Feeling as under the weather as I am, I too cannot help but post these Yeats lines, summing up my weakened condition as they do, sniff sniff... : (

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


I have a theory that Yeats was secretly a Russian, by the way. Far too much soul, and prescience of Russian history from him not to be.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More Yeats related poetry, because I am under the weather myself....



In Memory of W. B. Yeats


I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

II

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.


III

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.


W. H. Auden
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12756
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

That's at the top of my list. I love that poem - in fact, way back when I was at university (in the 70s) I chose it as my presentation (memorized, of course), for a presentation in class.

I sometimes wonder, though, if Auden really meant this line:

"For poetry makes nothing happen . . ."

because I disagree.

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

I too disagree in the broadest sense, but I think that Auden is referring specifically to poetry changing anything in 'mad Ireland', the old sow that eats her farrow. He might have a point there all right.

'Tis a great poem, though, no matter how you look at it. How did you do with it at uni?


All the best

Sasha
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12756
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

Well, I managed to recall it all - but I came damn close to crying when I started Part II.

Poetry made THAT happen, anyway.

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

You have Russian soul. Of the Celtic variety, it is true. Perhaps even deeper for that?


Best wishes

S
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poetry war!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/31/carol-ann-duffy-oxford-professory-poetry
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12756
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

Professor Hill is a stuffed-shirt and a snob. Unfortunately, I mostly agree with him, so I guess that makes me mostly one, too. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

Nothing wrong with being a snob. Except it gets you carted east to re-education camps.

However, I agree with your sentiments entirely.

S
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9567
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:57 am    Post subject: and just for St Patrick's day... Reply with quote

The Emigrant Irish


Like oil lamps, we put them out the back —

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:
Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.


Eavan Boland
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