A poem that I read today by Mac

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Macavity
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A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Macavity » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:37 am


Aspens - Edward Thomas



All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy, and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.

Out of the blacksmith's cavern comes the ringing
Of hammer, shoe, and anvil; out of the inn
The clink, the hum, the roar, the random singing—
The sounds that for these fifty years have been.

The whisper of the aspens is not drowned,
And over lightless pane and footless road,
Empty as sky, with every other sound
Not ceasing, calls their ghosts from their abode,

A silent smithy, a silent inn, nor fails
In the bare moonlight or the thick-furred gloom,
In tempest or the night of nightingales,
To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room.

And it would be the same were no house near.
Over all sorts of weather, men, and times,
Aspens must shake their leaves and men may hear
But need not listen, more than to my rhymes.

Whatever wind blows, while they and I have leaves
We cannot other than an aspen be
That ceaselessly, unreasonably grieves,
Or so men think who like a different tree.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57408/aspens-56d23ae7a41b0
Last edited by Macavity on Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Perry
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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Perry » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:36 am

You've turned me on to a poet I didn't know about. I've been reading his poems since I saw this post, and he's a very sensitive poet. You've also made me very sad, because this poor fellow died in World War I, just as my favorite poet Wilfred Owen did. The Great War was such a horrible mass slaughter of humanity -- so many good people died. Robert Frost was a mentor to Thomas, and that somehow makes me sad too, though for other reasons.

Posting this poem also made me feel bad about myself, because I don't think I will ever write with such sensitivity and delicacy. The nuances available in nature just fly over my head. (If my response to Thomas is a little self-involved, I apologize.)

On the positive side, I have a new poet to love, and for that I thank you.

====================

I'm coming back to say that I have read the poem a few more times now. It took a while for the nuances to all become apparent. It's a wonderful poem because of those subtle nuances and the gentle rhymes. Thomas finds depths in his subjects that I would never see.

Here is a page which has a short analysis of the poem:

[url]https://interestingliterature.com/2018/11/19/a-short-analysis-of-edward-thomas-aspens/[/url]
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Leaf

Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Leaf » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:25 pm

Hi mac,

Thanks for posting this poem. I really enjoyed reading it, and I enjoyed reading Perry's response too :)

What I like most about the poem is its sounds. It's very rich in various noises, coming from the aspens, the smithy, the inn, and the nightingales. I particularly appreciate the 'random singing', as this is something I do every day :lol:

I must admit to getting a bit lost in stanzas 3 and 4. I always have a bit of a problem with poetry in which the first word of every line begins with a capital letter, but often I can get round this by copying the text into a Word doc and changing it so that it becomes more readable for me. I've just tried this with 'Aspens' and I'm still struggling. Well, I'm not at my sharpest at this time of day, so I'll try again tomorrow.

I like the rhymes, including what to my ears is a slant rhyme, 'inn' and 'been'. I find it interesting that Edward Thomas hears 'grieving' in the leaves and in his poems, especially as I've been enlightened about his participation in the Great War via Perry's comment. I wonder whether Thomas had in mind a particular type of 'different tree' :?:

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by David » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:38 pm

Nice one, Mac. I have been through the Collected Poems - not that many, sadly - a couple of times, and I thought I didn't remember this one. Until I got to the last line. I remembered that.

Cheers

David

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by barrett » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:20 pm

Lovely poem, Mac. I must admit that I haven't read a great deal of his. I know he has several in The Rattle Bag which I really like but I think they're probably the only ones I know.

This couplet of his has always stuck in my head:

Out in the dark, over the snow
the fallow fawns invisible go.

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:51 am

This is the edition I have (which is helpfully annotated):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Annotated-Collected-Poems-Edward-Thomas/dp/1852247460/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1563515552&sr=1-2

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Perry » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:23 am

Leaf, I agree that stanzas 3 and 4 are a little vague. I wonder if he is saying that the blacksmith's shop and the inn are now silent because of the war.

I'm embarrassed at my self-centered response to learning about Thomas. I've been taking stock of myself as a poet lately, and I don't think I'm quite as good as I thought I was.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:15 am

I wonder if he is saying that the blacksmith's shop and the inn are now silent because of the war.
I feel that is a valid reading Perry and, as the commentary mentions on this poem, the continuing emptying of villages because of modernity.

A reading of the poem by his widow:

https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/aspens

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Perry » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:29 am

I need to find my speakers so I can hear sound on my computer. I would love to hear Thomas' widow read that poem.

Leaf, I forgot to say to you that I agree about capitalization. Capitalizing every line of poetry is traditional. I did that for the first 40 years of writing, and then gave it up just within the last decade. In fact, I have a WordPerfect file that I keep all my favorite poems in (written by other authors), and sometimes I adjust the capitalization of poems to make them more readable.

Mac, why don't you put this poem in the Poems That You Love thread? (Just a suggestion.)
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Perry » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:36 am

Here is another poem by Thomas.

Adlestrop

Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Edward Thomas


The unusual syntax and delicacy of his writing comes across in this poem. You can see those qualities in the third stanza.

Here is a delightful analysis of this poem from the same site I referenced before:
https://interestingliterature.com/2015/10/20/a-short-analysis-of-adlestrop-by-edward-thomas/
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:53 am

Mac, why don't you put this poem in the Poems That You Love thread? (Just a suggestion.)
My original intention was merely to post a poem I read each day - the thread, pleasingly, has gone in another direction.

best

mac

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Perry » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:37 pm

My apologies. I didn't realize that you meant this to be a more-or-less private thread, like my "Perry's Opinions" thread. You should have branded the thread by calling it, say, Mac's Favorite Poems or Mac's Daily Find. You can still do that, of course.

If it's okay, I'll be posting a few more poems by this author -- but I can put them on another thread, if you like.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: A poem that I read today

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 19, 2019 2:52 pm

No apologies needed Perry. Nothing 'private' was intended and, like I said, I've enjoyed the discussion.

best

mac

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Re: A poem that I read today by mac

Post by Macavity » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:27 am

The poems I post on this thread are not 'fav' poems, necessarily, but poems I have read that day (I may include ones I don't like).
To avoid copyright issues, they are 'historical' poems. This one I like.

Shake Hands by A.E. Houseman

Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over;
I only vex you the more I try.
All's wrong that ever I've done or said,
And nought to help it in this dull head:
Shake hands, here's luck, good-bye.

But if you come to a road where danger
Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share,
Be good to the lad that loves you true
And the soul that was born to die for you,
And whistle and I'll be there.

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Perry » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am

I like this poem. It's a gem. I have it posted on my web site.

If I had written it, however, I would have added a comma, as follows:

And whistle, and I'll be there.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

Leaf

Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Leaf » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:19 pm

Hi mac,

I think I recognise this one. It must've turned up in a 'Comment & Appreciation' class during my A-level Eng. Lit. Those classes were a lot of fun :)

I like it too. I enjoy finding out a bit of background to poems, so I did a little googling. I read that it was 'inspired by Housman’s own hopeless affection for Moses Jackson, an athlete whom Housman met when they were both studying at Oxford in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Jackson later married and emigrated to Canada, but Housman remained loyal, nurturing an impossible love for Jackson until the day Jackson died in 1923. After that, Housman didn’t write any further poems: his muse had gone' (https://interestingliterature.com/2018/03/06/a-short-analysis-of-a-e-housmans-shake-hands-we-shall-never-be-friends-alls-over/). Interesting Literature compares the poem with a sonnet by Drayton, which I've just read too. I'm intrigued by communication between poems, whether or not this is intended.

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Antcliff » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:52 am

Thanks, Mac. On Edward Thomas, I also always liked...


TALL NETTLES

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by k-j » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:19 pm

That Housman poem is also one of my favourites, Mac. I recently read Housman Country: Into the Heart of England by Peter Parker. It's a terrific Housman companion which includes the full text of A Shropshire Lad as an appendix for ready reference. Rather than building one argument or thesis it comes at AEH from different angles: there's a short biography (really a redux of the various full-length ones), and then sections on his relationship with the English landscape, English music (Housman really was a lyricist in the modern sense of the word), and his adoption by soldiers, before a short survey of his cultural influence today. The poems themselves are brilliantly referenced throughout. You get a strong sense of his atheism, his Greek fatalism, his ambiguous relationship with celebrity and the public, his perfectionism and especially his tortured personal life. A book that made me fall in love with Housman much more deeply than before and radically enhanced my understanding of some of his poems.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Macavity » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:39 am

You have a website Perry?
After that, Housman didn’t write any further poems: his muse had gone'
I didn't know that Leaf, but I know very little about Housman. This was a random poem I read and shared.

Yes Seth , another Thomas classic! His poems have a quiet ripple effect that stays with the reader.
I recently read Housman Country: Into the Heart of England by Peter Parker. It's a terrific Housman companion which includes the full text of A Shropshire Lad as an appendix for ready reference.
Sounds excellent k-j. Thank you for the recommendation.

all the best

mac

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Macavity » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:45 am

This is not a fav. poem, I'm not posting fav. poems, but it is a poem I read this morning from my edition of...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poetry-1900-2000-Library-Wales-Stephens/dp/1902638883

We Who Were Born by Eiluned Lewis

We who were born
In country places,
Far from cities
And shifting faces,
We have a birthright
No man can sell,
And a secret joy
No man can tell.

For we are kindred
To lordly things,
The wild duck's flight
And the white owl's wings;
To pike and salmon,
To bull and horse,
The curlew's cry
And the smell of gorse.

Pride of trees,
Swiftness of streams,
Magic of frost
Have shaped our dreams:
No baser vision
Their spirit fills
Who walk by right
On the naked hills.

Leaf

Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Leaf » Sun Jul 28, 2019 6:03 pm

Hi mac,

Thanks for sharing this poem. I like the true rhymes and particularly the 'lordly things' mentioned in S2. I'm pleased to see (and hear) a curlew. I've always liked their long beaks and generally pleasant demeanour :>)

Happy reading!

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Perry » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:10 am

Yes, Mac, I have a web site. I started it around 2000 but abandoned it a couple years later when I got into a new venture. It is an online poetry anthology. Now that my new venture isn't doing so well, I have been thinking about getting back to developing it. www.poemtree.com

It's an interesting thing about the web. Publishing a web site isn't like publishing a book. Once the book is published, you are done. But the expectation is that web sites will be updated forever. It's a lot of work.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by Macavity » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:09 am

One by Frost...

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be—
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

https://allpoetry.com/Neither-Out-Far-Nor-In-Deep

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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by JJWilliamson » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:08 pm

Just dropping in to say how much I've enjoyed reading this thread.

JJ
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Re: A poem that I read today by Mac

Post by 1lankest » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:29 pm

Echo that, JJ - thanks all, and mostly Mac.
That final Frost poem I knew not and I love it.

Luke

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