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Sasha's poetry corner
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12101
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make him do the IELTS as a candidate !
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can do anything you want - just don't call me late for Thanksgiving dinner Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, fellow USAians (umm, except for all you Native Americans, of course. Not much for you guys to be thankful for)

Regards,
John
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12101
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I send greetings to all my Gringo and Confederate friends.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

Hope you enjoyed your dinner in a suitably thankful demeanour. Now, back to your punishment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2_NpHUiIdc
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Winter Evening

Sable clouds by tempest driven,
Snowflakes whirling in the gales,
Hark--it sounds like grim wolves howling,
Hark--now like a child it wails!
Creeping through the rustling straw thatch,
Rattling on the mortared walls,
Like some weary wanderer knocking--
On the lowly pane it falls.

Fearsome darkness fills the kitchen,
Drear and lonely our retreat,
Speak a word and break the silence,
Dearest little Mother, sweet!
Has the moaning of the tempest
Closed thine eyelids wearily?
Has the spinning wheel's soft whirring
Hummed a cradle song to thee?

Sweetheart of my youthful Springtime,
Thou true-souled companion dear--
Let us drink! Away with sadness!
Wine will fill our hearts with cheer.
Sing the song how free and careless
Birds live in a distant land--
Sing the song of maids at morning
Meeting by the brook's clear strand!

Sable clouds by tempest driven,
Snowflakes whirling in the gales,
Hark--it sounds like grim wolves howling,
Hark--now like a child it wails!
Sweetheart of my youthful Springtime,
Thou true-souled companion dear,
Let us drink! Away with sadness!
Wine will fill our hearts with cheer!

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For any poor EFLers who may be losing heart...


The following poem about Robert the Bruce and the Spider is from To Read & to Tell, edited by Norah Montgomery (Arco Publishing Co., Inc. New York, 1964):

When Bruce, King of Scotland, was getting the worst
Of the war he was waging with Edward the First;
When most of his friends had been captured or slain,
And the sky of Scotland looked very like rain;

When he spent his days hiding in bushes and trees,
Getting thorns in his fingers and cuts on his knees,
And when nothing could lighten the gloom he was feeling -
He lay in a cave and looked at the ceiling.

He stared at the ceiling with thoughts that were black,
Till a spidery spider came out of a crack,
A spidery spider all bulging with thread,
Which she started to spin on the beam overhead.

She spun the web once, but the spider-thread broke;
She spun the thread twice - Bruce's interest awoke;
She spun the web three times with pluck unavailing;
She spun the thread four times but still went on failing.

She spun the web five times - "My goodness!" cried Bruce,
"Yon spidery spider must see it's no use!
O Spidery, spider, it's plan as a pike
We two are as like as two peas are alike!"

She spun the web six times - "How now!" cried the Scot,
"Don't you know when you're beaten?" The spider did not.
But calmly proceeded, as patient as ever,
To start on an obstinate seventh endeavor.

She hung and she swung and she swayed in the air,
While Bruce for the Spider could not help but stare -
Then he whooped with delight and he sprang to his feet,
For from one beam to another the web hung complete!

With hope he was filled and with courage he burned.
"O spider!" he said, "What a lesson I've learned!
Dear Scotland! Of English invaders I'll rid it!"
Then Bruce sallied forth and at Bannockburn did it.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK - time for the dreaded annual Christmas poem:

The Meaning of Christmas

Beneath the colored lights and noise,
The shopping frenzy and the ads,
The TVs’ touting “must have” toys,
The crowds, the Musak, this year’s fads,
Beneath all that, unsullied still,
By all the shrill commercial lures,
The Christmas prayer of goodwill,
Of peace and piety endures.

And even though it often seems
That Santa has replaced the Child,
That elves and reindeer reign supreme,
That Christmas Day has been defiled,
Within each soul, so deep and true,
The meaning of the season lives.
And every year we learn anew
How blessed is the one who gives.

Yet what we search for in the mall,
And what we place under our trees
Has no importance, none at all
The things themselves are not what please.
Instead it is because they show
The love that presents represent.
Receiving them, we come to know
How much our being there has meant.

And when we give, it is a part
Of ourselves that we want to share.
Each gift is sent forth from the heart
To show how very much we care.
At Christmas time we bring to mind
What we should know throughout the year,
That we belong to humankind
And we must hold each other dear.
____________________________

May you all have a Joyous and Blessed Christmas

Regards,
John
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12101
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must confess that I have rarely used poetry as a teaching tool. I have used the lyrics of songs though.

I recollect one occasion when I sang "Frankie and Johnie", to the amazement of my class of Bulgarian High School students. My version was a copy of Jimmie Rodgers. It went down well !

After that we did regular sessions where they would take turns to present the lyrics of a song in English.

But, they said, Poetry was not cool !


Last edited by scot47 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jessiemiles



Joined: 07 Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Location: Home

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used this poem by Shel Silverstein in a lesson on the 1st conditional a couple of times. I put students in groups to read the poem first and give out a few discussion questions. Once they've had a chance to read through, we read it as a class. Either in class or for homework, depending on time, I ask students to answer the whatifs using the proper conditional.

Whatif

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
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Jessiemiles



Joined: 07 Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Location: Home

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful advanced conversation class a few summers ago and the students asked me to bring my favorite poem. It's impossible for me to choose one, but this is what I shared with them.


As I Walked Out One Evening

by W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and others in my classes. When discussing Frost's "On Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," I like to ask if anyone can tell me what month and day it is in the poem.

I often have students get it right: December 21st.

My little horse must think it *beep*
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

Poetry and humor are, I think, probably the two hardest areas for learners of a foreign language to "get" - so much figurative language, so many allusions.

Dear Jessiemiles,

One of my favorites, too - along with his "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" and
"September 1, 1939."

Regards,
John
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Jessiemiles



Joined: 07 Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Location: Home

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:
Poetry and humor are, I think, probably the two hardest areas for learners of a foreign language to "get" - so much figurative language, so many allusions.


I absolutely agree Johnslat.

johnslat wrote:

One of my favorites, too - along with his "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" and
"September 1, 1939."


And I think we both have really great taste Wink
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Christmas Poem


The air—fierce frost and pine-boughs.
We’ll cram ourselves in thick clothes,
stumbling in drifts till we’re weary—
better a reindeer than a dromedary.

In the North if faith does not fail
God appears as the warden of a jail
where the kicks in our ribs were rough
but what you hear is “They didn’t get enough.”

In the South the white stuff’s a rare sight,
they love Christ who was also in flight,
desert-born, sand and straw his welcome,
he died, so they say, far from home.

So today, commemorate with wine and bread,
a life with just the sky’s roof overhead
because up there a man escapes
the arresting earth—plus there’s more space.

J Brodsky
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12101
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Sair Finger

You've hurt your finger? Puir wee man!
Your pinkie? Deary me!
Noo, juist you haud it that wey till
I get my specs and see!
My, so it is - and there's the skelf!
Noo, dinna greet nae mair.
See there - my needle's gotten't out!
I'm sure that wasna sair?

And noo, to make it hale the morn,
Put on a wee bit saw,
And tie a Bonnie hankie roun't
Noo, there na - rin awa'!

Your finger sair ana'? Ye rogue,
You're only lettin' on.
Weel, weel, then - see noo, there ye are,
Row'd up the same as John!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Requiem

Not under foreign skies
Nor under foreign wings protected -
I shared all this with my own people
There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961]

INSTEAD OF A PREFACE

During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I
spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in
Leningrad. One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me,
her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in
her life heard my name. Jolted out of the torpor
characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear
(everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe
this?' And I answered - 'I can.' It was then that
something like a smile slid across what had previously
been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957. Leningrad]

DEDICATION

Mountains fall before this grief,
A mighty river stops its flow,
But prison doors stay firmly bolted
Shutting off the convict burrows
And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone,
Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this,
We are everywhere the same, listening
To the scrape and turn of hateful keys
And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass,
Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed,
We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun,
Lower every day; the Neva, mistier:
But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict. Immediately a flood of tears,
Followed by a total isolation,
As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or,
Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out,
But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends,
Captives of my two satanic years?
What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard?
What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon?
I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940]

INTRODUCTION
[PRELUDE]

It happened like this when only the dead
Were smiling, glad of their release,
That Leningrad hung around its prisons
Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang
Short songs of farewell
To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering,
As they, in regiments, walked along -
Stars of death stood over us
As innocent Russia squirmed
Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres
Of the black marias.

I

You were taken away at dawn. I followed you
As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God. . .
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold
sweat
On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather

To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1)
Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
[1935. Autumn. Moscow]

II

Silent flows the river Don
A yellow moon looks quietly on
Swanking about, with cap askew
It sees through the window a shadow of you
Gravely ill, all alone
The moon sees a woman lying at home
Her son is in jail, her husband is dead
Say a prayer for her instead.

III

It isn't me, someone else is suffering. I couldn't.
Not like this. Everything that has happened,
Cover it with a black cloth,
Then let the torches be removed. . .
Night.

IV

Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling,
The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2)
If only you could have foreseen
What life would do with you -
That you would stand, parcel in hand,
Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in
line,
Burning the new year's ice
With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways
With not a sound - how many innocent
Blameless lives are being taken away. . .
[1938]

V

For seventeen months I have been screaming,
Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers
For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever -
I can no longer distinguish
Who is an animal, who a person, and how long
The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers,
The chinking of the thurible,
Tracks from somewhere into nowhere
And, staring me in the face
And threatening me with swift annihilation,
An enormous star.
[1939]

VI

Weeks fly lightly by. Even so,
I cannot understand what has arisen,
How, my son, into your prison
White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn,
Eyes that focus like a hawk,
And, upon your cross, the talk
Is again of death.
[1939. Spring]

VII
THE VERDICT

The word landed with a stony thud
Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared,
I will manage with the rest.

I have a lot of work to do today;
I need to slaughter memory,
Turn my living soul to stone
Then teach myself to live again. . .

But how. The hot summer rustles
Like a carnival outside my window;
I have long had this premonition
Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939. Summer. Fontannyi Dom (4)]

VIII
TO DEATH

You will come anyway - so why not now?
I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door
For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish. Burst in
Like a shell of noxious gas. Creep up on me
Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation,
Or, with a simple tale prepared by you
(And known by all to the point of nausea), take me
Before the commander of the blue caps and let me
glimpse
The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore. The river Yenisey
Swirls on. The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes
Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939. Fontannyi Dom]

IX

Madness with its wings
Has covered half my soul
It feeds me fiery wine
And lures me into the abyss.

That's when I understood
While listening to my alien delirium
That I must hand the victory
To it.

However much I nag
However much I beg
It will not let me take
One single thing away:

Not my son's frightening eyes -
A suffering set in stone,
Or prison visiting hours
Or days that end in storms

Nor the sweet coolness of a hand
The anxious shade of lime trees
Nor the light distant sound
Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940. Fontannyi Dom]

X
CRUCIFIXION

Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.

1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour,
The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!'
But to his mother, 'Weep not for me. . .'
[1940. Fontannyi Dom]

2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept,
The favourite disciple turned to stone,
But there, where the mother stood silent,
Not one person dared to look.
[1943. Tashkent]

EPILOGUE

1.
I have learned how faces fall,
How terror can escape from lowered eyes,
How suffering can etch cruel pages
Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair
Can suddenly turn white. I've learned to recognise
The fading smiles upon submissive lips,
The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself
But all of you who stood there with me
Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat
Under a towering, completely blind red wall.

2.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you:
The one who resisted the long drag to the open window;
The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar
soil beneath her feet;
The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied,

'I arrive here as if I've come home!'
I'd like to name you all by name, but the list
Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So,
I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble
words
I overheard you use. Everywhere, forever and always,
I will never forget one single thing. Even in new
grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth
Through which one hundred million people scream;
That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead
On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country
Decides to raise a memorial to me,
I give my consent to this festivity
But only on this condition - do not build it
By the sea where I was born,
I have severed my last ties with the sea;
Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump
Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me;
Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours
And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear
That I will forget the Black Marias,
Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman
Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears
From my immovable bronze eyelids
And let the prison dove coo in the distance
While ships sail quietly along the river.


Anna Akhmatova
[March 1940. Fontannyi Dom]


FOOTNOTES

1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion
against Peter the Great in 1698. Most were either
executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St
Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the
Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the
shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
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