Poems That You Love

How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?
CalebMurdock
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Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Wed May 14, 2014 8:05 am

I recently left another forum where they had a thread where members could post their favorite poems from other authors. I am starting a similar thread here. In another part of this forum, the ramifications regarding copryrights have already been discussed, and I think the general consensus is that no one will mind.

Feel free to post favorite poems, or poems that have heavily influenced you. Discussion as to why a poem works (or doesn't work) is certainly welcome.

I'm starting out with a favorite poem from May Sarton. Sarton was a free-verse poet, yet towards the end of her life she wrote this wonderful poem in form. Being an older person myself, it has a lot of meaning to me. It makes me wonder why she didn't write in form more often.

A Handful of Thyme

“What are you doing
Now the end is not far?
Remembering? Ruing?”
“No rue, my dear.”

“Are you still seeding?”
“Now and then I do.”
“You are frail for weeding,
And the weeds grow.”

“Yes, the weeds flourish.
Too brief the hours
When I can still nourish
Poems or flowers.”

“The muses have died?”
“Not died. I must be
My own muse beside
My own mystery.

And the memories move
Without warning to break
Happiness, even love
For poetry’s sake.”

“But what will you keep
When you can’t even rhyme?”
“Sleep, my dear, sleep
And a handful of thyme.”

May Sarton

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Thu May 15, 2014 8:26 am

Here's another favorite of mine from the war poet Wilfred Owen. It's about a dead soldier (though I guess that's obvious). I think it's the most poignant poem I've ever read. Owen is one of my favorite poets.

Futility

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Wilfred Owen

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Thu May 15, 2014 3:54 pm

Not too keen on the first one, but agree about "Futility". I actually think Owen is underrated... he's the war poet everyone reads as kids in school (at least in the UK), but the general view seems to be that Sassoon and Rosenberg are more accomplished poets... I disagree, I think Owen is as good as them. I'm reading Edward Thomas at the moment and moving on to Ivor Gurney next, I think.
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Thu May 15, 2014 9:19 pm

k-j wrote:Not too keen on the first one, but agree about "Futility". I actually think Owen is underrated... he's the war poet everyone reads as kids in school (at least in the UK), but the general view seems to be that Sassoon and Rosenberg are more accomplished poets... I disagree, I think Owen is as good as them. I'm reading Edward Thomas at the moment and moving on to Ivor Gurney next, I think.
So what poem do YOU love? This thread is for everyone to post their favorite poems.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Thu May 15, 2014 10:26 pm

CalebMurdock wrote:
k-j wrote:Not too keen on the first one, but agree about "Futility". I actually think Owen is underrated... he's the war poet everyone reads as kids in school (at least in the UK), but the general view seems to be that Sassoon and Rosenberg are more accomplished poets... I disagree, I think Owen is as good as them. I'm reading Edward Thomas at the moment and moving on to Ivor Gurney next, I think.
So what poem do YOU love? This thread is for everyone to post their favorite poems.
But I'm going to use it to talk about poems other people post! Ha ha.
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Antcliff » Thu May 15, 2014 10:42 pm

k-j wrote:Not too keen on the first one, but agree about "Futility". I actually think Owen is underrated... he's the war poet everyone reads as kids in school (at least in the UK), but the general view seems to be that Sassoon and Rosenberg are more accomplished poets... I disagree, I think Owen is as good as them. I'm reading Edward Thomas at the moment and moving on to Ivor Gurney next, I think.
Interesting K-J. I had always assumed that Owen was the most highly regarded of the war poets....I mean of the war poets famous for the war poems, rather than for those before (Thomas) or after (Graves).

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Ros » Fri May 16, 2014 8:18 am

First poem is too twee for me. I've always admired Owen for his skill in half-rhymes.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Bee » Fri May 16, 2014 10:21 pm

Hi
Interesting poem choices, I must say I wasn't overly keen on the first one, I didn't really get it and it seemed a bit wordy but I remember doing Futility at school a fair while back and liking it then. I think it was the soft nature imagery that drew me in :)

One of my favourite poems is by James A. Emanuel. Words cannot even begin to describe how much I love this poem.

Emmett Till
I hear a whistling
Through the water.
Little Emmett
Won't be still.
He keeps floating
Round the darkness,
Edging through
The silent chill.
Tell me, please,
That bedtime story
Of the fairy
River Boy
Who swims forever,
Deep in treasures,
Necklaced in
A coral toy.
James A. Emanuel
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Sat May 17, 2014 10:27 am

"Emmet Till" is a delightful poem. Here is a poem by Dylan Thomas that I just adore:

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise nor wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

Dylan Thomas

I love this poem, but if I were critiquing it, I would tell Thomas to lighten up on the heavy cadence in the second stanza. It's too much of a good thing.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by ray miller » Sat May 17, 2014 11:36 am

A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford

Let them not forget us, the weak souls among the asphodels
Seferis, Mythistorema

for J. G. Farrell

Even now there are places where a thought might grow –
Peruvian mines, worked out and abandoned
To a slow clock of condensation,
An echo trapped for ever, and a flutter
Of wildflowers in the lift-shaft,
Indian compounds where the wind dances
And a door bangs with diminished confidence,
Lime crevices behind rippling rainbarrels,
Dog corners for bone burials;
And in a disused shed in Co. Wexford,

Deep in the grounds of a burnt-out hotel,
Among the bathtubs and the washbasins
A thousand mushrooms crowd to a keyhole.
This is the one star in their firmament
Or frames a star within a star.
What should they do there but desire?
So many days beyond the rhododendrons
With the world waltzing in its bowl of cloud,
They have learnt patience and silence
Listening to the rooks querulous in the high wood.

They have been waiting for us in a foetor
Of vegetable sweat since civil war days,
Since the gravel-crunching, interminable departure
Of the expropriated mycologist.
He never came back, and light since then
Is a keyhole rusting gently after rain.
Spiders have spun, flies dusted to mildew
And once a day, perhaps, they have heard something -
A trickle of masonry, a shout from the blue
Or a lorry changing gear at the end of the lane.

There have been deaths, the pale flesh flaking
Into the earth that nourished it;
And nightmares, born of these and the grim
Dominion of stale air and rank moisture.
Those nearest the door grow strong –
“Elbow room! Elbow room!”
The rest, dim in a twilight of crumbling
Utensils and broken flower-pots, groaning
For their deliverance, have been so long
Expectant that there is left only the posture.

A half century, without visitors, in the dark –

Poor preparation for the cracking lock
And creak of hinges. Magi, moonmen,
Powdery prisoners of the old regime,
Web-throated, stalked like triffids, racked by drought
And insomnia, only the ghost of a scream
At the flash-bulb firing squad we wake them with
Shows there is life yet in their feverish forms.
Grown beyond nature now, soft food for worms,
They lift frail heads in gravity and good faith.

They are begging us, you see, in their wordless way,
To do something, to speak on their behalf
Or at least not to close the door again.
Lost people of Treblinka and Pompeii!
“Save us, save us”, they seem to say,
“Let the god not abandon us
Who have come so far in darkness and in pain.
We too had our lives to live.
You with your light meter and relaxed itinerary,
Let not our naive labours have been in vain!”
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by David » Sat May 17, 2014 11:40 am

No, I'm not awfully keen on that May Sarton one myself, although - funnily enough, since you mentioned Thomas Hardy recently, Caleb - it is a bit like him in its tight rhyming. Not in spirit, though, I think.

Futility is wonderful, of course - one of his best. Like Seth, I have always thought that Owen was regarded as the best of the WW1 poems. He is to me, certainly, although I don't really know Rosenberg, and Gurney is pleasingly off the wall and awkward. (Re Gurney, I recommended this to Seth recently ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB0JC-OaZRU - it's very good.)

I quite like the Emmett Till poem. It's almost childlike (appropriately, I suppose), like something by RLS, but very effective. And haunting!

And I like Dylan, but this is not one of my favourites.

It's a good idea, this, though, Caleb. Interesting to read other people's favourites.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Sun May 18, 2014 5:17 am

Ray, who wrote "A Disused Shed"? It's a magnificent poem. It is absolutely essential that we identify the authors.

David, the May Sarton poem isn't getting much love, but I adore it. I especially love Owen. The juxtaposition of his grim subject (war) and his flowery style is one that works for me.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Sun May 18, 2014 5:43 am

Disused Shed is by Derek Mahon. A brilliant, brilliant poem, one of my favourites too. One of very few poems that grabbed me on first reading and stayed in my mind afterwards - even now, I think of it any time I see or hear of mushrooms, or oppressed people. Notice it's dedicated to J.G. Farrell, a great novelist - I've just read his Troubles, about an English major who winds up, after the war, in a ludicrous decaying pile in Ireland as the eponymous troubles approach their peak... A really great novel, laugh out loud on every page for the first half, and the sadness of it all is such that you almost blame yourself for the massive falling apart that inevitably occurs... I read Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur as a 17 year-old (my English teacher suggested it as a compare/contrast with Catch-22 - I've had two amazing English teachers, and they've made all the difference) but now I want to read it again, and then the final novel in the so-called Empire trilogy, The Singapore Grip.

Farrell could write - too bad he was drowned while fishing aged 44. Derek Mahon meanwhile, a great poet.
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Sun May 18, 2014 5:55 am

I was browsing through the collected Stevie Smith today - was showing my daughter Not Waving but Drowning - and came across this:

The Jungle Husband

Dearest Evelyn, I often think of you
Out with the guns in the jungle stew
Yesterday I hittapotamus
I put the measurements down for you but they got lost in the fuss
It's not a good thing to drink out here
You know, I've practically given it up dear.
Tomorrow I am going alone a long way
Into the jungle. It is all gray
But green on top
Only sometimes when a tree has fallen
The sun comes down plop, it is quite appalling.
You never want to go in a jungle pool
In the hot sun, it would be the act of a fool
Because it's always full of anacondas, Evelyn, not looking ill-fed
I'll say. So no more now, from your loving husband, Wilfred.

--------------

Anyone who denies that Stevie Smith was a genius, must die!

N.b. the reason I was acquainting her with NWBD was so she could read the poem by Ros in "Making Contact" which referenced it... a fine poem the title of which I have now unfortunately forgotten...
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Nash » Sun May 18, 2014 9:17 am

Good to see Stevie Smith getting a look in, k-j. I quite agree on her genius. Have you read any of her novels?

The excellent poem from Ros (was it called Drowning doesn't look like drowning) has become a companion piece to NWBD in my head, I find it difficult to think of one without the other.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Sun May 18, 2014 4:39 pm

Nash wrote:Good to see Stevie Smith getting a look in, k-j. I quite agree on her genius. Have you read any of her novels?
Only Novel on Yellow Paper, which I thought was pretty great, certainly as original as you'd expect. Must read the others sometime. How about you?
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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Ros » Sun May 18, 2014 4:44 pm

Nash wrote:Good to see Stevie Smith getting a look in, k-j. I quite agree on her genius. Have you read any of her novels?

The excellent poem from Ros (was it called Drowning doesn't look like drowning) has become a companion piece to NWBD in my head, I find it difficult to think of one without the other.
That's an amazing compliment, Nash. Thank you.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Nash » Sun May 18, 2014 5:54 pm

k-j wrote:
Nash wrote:Good to see Stevie Smith getting a look in, k-j. I quite agree on her genius. Have you read any of her novels?
Only Novel on Yellow Paper, which I thought was pretty great, certainly as original as you'd expect. Must read the others sometime. How about you?
No, I bought Novel on Yellow Paper a couple of years ago, got distracted by other books on the pile and it sort of slipped back onto the shelves unread. I've just transferred it back to the pile. I perhaps don't have the most sophisticated system for organising my reading matter.
Ros wrote:
Nash wrote:Good to see Stevie Smith getting a look in, k-j. I quite agree on her genius. Have you read any of her novels?

The excellent poem from Ros (was it called Drowning doesn't look like drowning) has become a companion piece to NWBD in my head, I find it difficult to think of one without the other.
That's an amazing compliment, Nash. Thank you.

Ros
Not at all, Ros. Very well deserved, they're both terrific poems.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by David » Sun May 18, 2014 6:28 pm

Damn, it looks as though I didn't acknowledge Ray's posting of the Mahon poem - which of course I didn't - but if you compare the times you'll see our posts pretty much crossed. It is, as k-j says, a magnificent poem. And great to see my favourite Stevie Smith poem here too.

Here's one of my own favourites, as I can't just cavil from the wings - Cock-Crow, by Edward Thomas:

Out of the wood of thoughts that grows by night
To be cut down by the sharp axe of light,--
Out of the night, two cocks together crow,
Cleaving the darkness with a silver blow:
And brought before my eyes twin trumpeters stand,
Heralds of splendor, one at either hand,
Each facing each as in a coat of arms:--
The milkers lace their boots up at the farms.

Nash

Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Nash » Mon May 19, 2014 3:03 pm

That opening couplet from Edward Thomas is an absolute stunner, David.

I think I've mentioned this one before, but it's still one of my favourites at the moment. It's by Helen MacDonald, she's a professional falconer as well as a writer and academic (along with various other strings to her bow).


~

TAXONOMY

Wren. Full song. No subsong. Call of alarm, spreketh & ought
damage the eyes with its form, small body, tail pricked up & beak like a hair

trailed through briars & at a distance scored with lime scent in the nose
like scrapings from a goldsmith’s cuttle, rock alum & fair butter well-temped

which script goes is unrecognised by this one, is pulled by the ear
in anger the line at fault is under and inwardly drear as a bridge in winter

reared up inotherwise to seal the eyes through darkness, the bridge speaks
it does not speak, the starlings speak that steal the speech of men, uc antea

a spark that meets the idea of itself, apparently fearless.
Ah cruelty. And I had not stopped to think upon it

& I had not extended it into the world for love for naught.


~

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Tue May 20, 2014 9:19 am

Alicia E. Stallings is possibly my favorite living poet, although there are a few others that come close.

Consolation for Tamar
[tab]on the occasion of her breaking[/tab]
[tab]an ancient pot
[/tab]

You know I am no archeologist, Tamar,
And that to me it is all one dust or another.
Still, it must mean something to survive the weather
Of the Ages—earthquake, flood, and war—

Only to shatter in your very hands.
Perhaps it was gravity, or maybe fated—
Although I wonder if it had not waited
Those years in drawers, aeons in distant lands,

And in your fingers' music, just a little
Was emboldened by your blood, and so forgot
That it was not a rosebud, but a pot,
And, trying to unfold for you, was brittle.

Alicia E. Stallings

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by Ros » Tue May 20, 2014 9:22 am

Yes, Stallings is one of the better New Formalists (if they still call themselves that?). I'm a fan of Rose Kelleher as well. Good one, Caleb.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by CalebMurdock » Tue May 20, 2014 10:29 pm

Ros wrote:Yes, Stallings is one of the better New Formalists (if they still call themselves that?). I'm a fan of Rose Kelleher as well. Good one, Caleb.

Ros
I have another very quirky poem of hers that I want to post, but I'll wait a bit.

I notice that in Consolation for Tamar, she uses the word "very" in "very hands". More than a decade ago, I posted a poem on Eratosphere that used "very" in that way (for nothing more than emphasis, I guess) and was told that it was a cliched use of the word. Yet when I read it in this poem, it seems just right. Sometimes I think that when we critique, we launch into a poem with all our critical faculties at full force, and in that way we don't give the poem a chance before we find flaws.

In the other thread, you turned me onto Collin's poem Introduction to Poetry. When I first read it, I accepted everything I read -- but then I got to "with rope" in the second-to-last stanza and thought to myself, why didn't he just leave those words out since they aren't needed for the meaning? So I guess that I don't abandon my critical faculties even when I'm not critiqueing.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by k-j » Thu May 22, 2014 9:00 pm

The Road to Kerity, by Charlotte Mew

Do you remember the two old people we passed on the road to Kerity,
Resting their sack, on the stones, by the drenched wayside,
Looking at us with their lightless eyes through the driving rain and then out again
To the rocks and the long white line of the tide:
Frozen ghosts that were children once, husband and wife, father and mother,
Looking at us with those frozen eyes --; have you ever seen anything quite
[tab][/tab][tab]so chilled or so old?[/tab]
[tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab]But we -- with our arms about each other,[/tab]
[tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab][/tab][tab]We did not feel the cold![/tab]
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Poems That You Love

Post by David » Sat May 24, 2014 11:24 am

Charlotte Mew! Way to be unorthodox, k-j, but I do like that.

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