Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

To the New Year

January 1, 2015

By W. S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning
so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible



via the Poetry Foundation. Happy 2015, everyone. ♥

Spirits of the Dead

October 20, 2014

II

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.

 
From “Spirits of the Dead” by Edgar Allan Poe via The Poetry Foundation.

Nightrunning

July 4, 2014

Nightrunning

So much cold
even the moon can’t swallow it
or the harbour in its fishy dark. You
balance your breath like a bowl of dry
ice. It’s all a mistake, this body,
this job, this love. Somewhere inside
where the heart spins hard on its string
is an animal watching. It scratches
at night, perhaps a beak or a tusk,
is neither kind nor unkind, just restless.

So much rain
even the deepest hill can’t filter it
or the river with its open gills. You
carry your heart like a full dish of blood.
It’s all such a blessing, this body,
this job, this love. Somewhere inside
where the lungs stretch their intricate wings
is an animal watching. It wriggles
at night and shows its belly or its tender scales,
is neither kind nor unkind, just restless.

 

Tiffany Atkinson, via The Guardian.

Khaleesi Says

February 2, 2014

 

Khaleesi Says
Game of Thrones

In this story, she is fire born:
knee-deep in the shuddering world.

In this story, she knows no fear,
for what is fractured is a near-bitten star,
a false-bearing tree,
or a dishonest wind.

In this story, fear is a house gone dry.
Fear is not being a woman.

I’m no ordinary woman, she says.
My dreams come true.

And she says and she is
and I say, yesgive me that.

 

Follow
Game of Thrones

Follow where all is./Follow the transfused./Follow what is still and
what is still-attracting.

That light/That beauty/That love/That, that is massy-borne and
rising up, like a drifting star.

Like stars lift./Like lifting stars./Like the lifting of stars, I rose. I rise.

Rose. Rose. Like a thing beyond words: satiated.

Let lie in the ravage./Let lie in what is ravaged-wrought.

Why fear what hasn’t become?

I beckon, like light./Like a star, I will beckon./You will oblige./You
will lend the want. You will eclipse my blinding.

You will know nothing. Nothing. You will know nothing of what
has been dark.

 

Leah Umansky, “Khaleesi Says” and “Follow”, Poetry 203.4
(Jan., 2014): 314-15. I subscribed to Poetry late last year,
and it’s just about the greatest thing to discover in your
mailbox after a long day at work. ♥

A highly original woman

January 3, 2013

 

I remember the sky behind her was purple she
came towards me saying
Why are you alone in this huge blank garden
like a piece of electricity? Electricity?
Maybe she said cakes and tea true we were drinking gin it was long past
teatime but she was a highly original woman

 

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red, Vintage: New York, 1999: 58.

And you are you, none other

September 22, 2012

 

Not for these lovely blooms that prank your chambers did I come. Indeed,
I could have loved you better in the dark;
That is to say, in rooms less bright with roses, rooms more casual, less aware
Of History in the wings about to enter with benevolent air
On ponderous tiptoe, at the cue “Proceed.”
Not that I like the ash-trays over-crowded and the place in a mess,
Or the monastic cubicle too unctuously austere and stark,
But partly that these formal garlands for our Eighth Street Aphrodite are a bit too Greek,
And partly that to make the poor walls rich with our un-aided loveliness
Would have been more chic.

Yet here I am, having told you of my quarrel with the taxi-driver over a line of Milton, and you laugh; and you are you, none other.
Your laughter pelts my skin with small delicious blows.
But I am perverse: I wish you had not scrubbed—with pumice, I suppose—
The tobacco stains from your beautiful fingers. And I wish I did not feel like your mother.

 

Oh, Edna. You’re a dependable trick.

“Rendezvous”, in Hunstman, What Quarry? (1939). via brklynGirl.

September 17, 2012

“Late August”, Margaret Atwood.

via Fox on the Run

Chronic by D A Powell

May 18, 2012


were lifted over the valley, its steepling dustdevils
the redwinged blackbirds convened
vibrant arc their swift, their dive against the filmy, the finite air

the profession of absence, of being absented, a lifting skyward
then gone
the moment of flight: another resignation from the sweep of earth

jackrabbit, swallowtail, harlequin duck: believe in this refuge
vivid tips of oleander
white and red perimeters where no perimeter should be


               here is another in my long list of asides:
why have I never had a clock that actually gained time?
that apparatus, which measures out the minutes, is our own image
                         forever losing

and so the delicate, unfixed condition of love, the treacherous body
the unsettling state of creation and how we have damaged—
isn’t one a suitable lens through which to see another:
               filter the body, filter the mind, filter the resilient land


and by resilient I mean which holds
              which tolerates the inconstant lover, the pitiful treatment
the experiment, the untried & untrue, the last stab at wellness

choose your own adventure: drug failure or organ failure
cataclysmic climate change
or something akin to what’s killing bees—colony collapse

more like us than we’d allow, this wondrous swatch of rough


why do I need to say the toads and moor and clouds—
in a spring of misunderstanding, I took the cricket’s sound

and delight I took in the sex of every season, the tumble on moss
the loud company of musicians, the shy young bookseller
anonymous voices that beckoned to ramble
             to be picked from the crepuscule at the forest’s edge

until the nocturnal animals crept forth
             their eyes like the lamps in store windows
                          forgotten, vaguely firing a desire for home

hence, the body’s burden, its resolute campaign:  trudge on

and if the war does not shake us from our quietude, nothing will

I carry the same baffled heart I have always carried
             a bit more battered than before, a bit less joy
for I see the difficult charge of living in this declining sphere


by the open air, I swore out my list of pleasures:
sprig of lilac, scent of pine
the sparrows bathing in the drainage ditch, their song

the lusty thoughts in spring as the yellow violets bloom
              and the cherry forms its first full buds
the tonic cords along the legs and arms of youth
              and youth passing into maturity, ripening its flesh
growing softer, less unattainable, ruddy and spotted plum


daily, I mistake—there was a medication I forgot to take
there was a man who gave himself, decently, to me & I refused him

in a protracted stillness, I saw that heron I didn’t wish to disturb
was clearly a white sack caught in the redbud’s limbs

I did not comprehend desire as a deadly force until—
              daylight, don’t leave me now, I haven’t done with you—
                            nor that, in this late hour, we still cannot make peace


if I, inconsequential being that I am, forsake all others
how many others correspondingly forsake this world


               light, light: do not go
I sing you this song and I will sing another as well


D.A. Powell, “Chronic” from Chronic, Graywolf Press, 2009/here.

I have to tell you

April 16, 2012


I have to tell you,
there are times when
the sun strikes me
like a gong,
and I remember everything,
even your ears.

 

Dorothea Grossman, “I have to tell you”, Poetry (March, 2010)/here.

Love Songs in Age

February 21, 2012

 

She kept her songs, they took so little space,
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
And coloured by her daughter–
So they had waited, till in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness, sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentioned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings, London: Faber, 1973: 12.

 

So, I had decided not to like Larkin, because all the poems I’d ever known of his had been read to me and mostly forgotten, except for his one about Mr Bleaney, which I’d had read to me several times very poorly and so was forced to remember. That all changed when I was going through mum’s bookcases the other day, was accosted by a silm, winsome little edition of his Whitsun Weddings, and found myself forced to admit that his poems are beautiful. They are smooth and firm and deliberate, yet he works them into things of such conversational subtlety that it seems as though his thoughts are unfolding so freely and perfectly. Perhaps just as there are poems made to be read and held before audiences (the sensory and dramatic grandeur of Paradise Lost comes to mind), there are also poems made to be read, curled up by yourself, in a happy or compassionate intimacy (I’m thinking now of Milton’s sonnets on blindness or his wife). Larkin’s beauty only came to me in privacy.

Anyway. Crudely underthought generalisations aside, Larkin is a total dude, and there might be a lot of him to come over the next little while. Such as this, from “For Sidney Bechet“, which sent me into conniptions of ecstasy when I got to it last night:

On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes.