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 A Place for Poetry

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PostSubject: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:35 am

Seathrún's reference to Dan Eggs goaded me into thinking about poetry and its place in the world.

There was a time when poetry featured regularly on the pages of newspapers, nestled into corners - now it's hardly ever seen. The New Yorker publishes a number of poems every week but I'd argue that our exposure to the fruits of perhaps the greatest of the muses is less now than it has ever been. And we're not the better for that.

While I can remember lots of poetry from primary school in both English (The sea has a laugh, the cliff wears a frown/for the the laugh of the sea is wearing him down) and Irish (Bhí brionlglóidin aisteach ag Páidín aréir/chuaigh sé ag seoladh i gcorrán na ré) it was really the rhythms and the rhymes that made them memorable rather than any sense that I was reading an intricately crafted and multi-layered work of art.

I got into the habit (weird I know) of walking and learning poetry when I was in Leaving Cert. I had an awful English teacher who wrote blackboards full of notes and hardly spoke to us, never set homework, never asked for an opinion and never ventured one that we might engage with. We even learned our essays off by heart "Happiness is a state of mind. It means different things to different people." Ugghh.

Those were dark days for a reader as I was.

So I'd take off with Soundings in my pocket and try to learn the poems by heart - Yeats, Kavanagh, Kinsella, Herbert and Donne. The Good Morrowbecame my favourite poem and while as an adult I can see the kitschiness of it, there is something magnetic about the music of the words. And I like how the imagery of discovery is so much of its time. Like all poetry it needs to be read aloud.

Other poems replace it from time to time; The Roofwalker by Adrienne Rich is a great poem and the best poem in the English language often vies for supremacy but Donne brings me back to a too-big man's navy sportsjacket that I customised with red cuffs to distract from the rolled-up sleeves (but with pockets the perfect size for poetry books) and long walks down picturesque winding lanes that on reflection were no place for a girl on her own.

Where poetry was once a medium for the common man to keep in touch with his heritage it is now anything but. I, for one, think that is a little tragic.

What do the rest of you think?
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:44 am

I think poetry is part and parcel of us. At the moment it is mainly hiding in lyric form. If you go to a concert you will hear a whole generation sometimes blissfully singing along with every word of a song that means something personal and collective to them, start to finish.
My daughter writes down and knows the words of hundreds of songs as do her friends - the internet has helped this.
The only poem I have ever posted here was Ned Flynn's lyric.

Hope you are getting some better sleep now: another tip is looking at gardening books in bed - a few pages of David Austin's roses will usually get me off no matter what kind of a day it was.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:58 am

Kate P wrote:
Seathrún's reference to Dan Eggs goaded me into thinking about poetry and its place in the world.

....

Where poetry was once a medium for the common man to keep in touch with his heritage it is now anything but. I, for one, think that is a little tragic.

What do the rest of you think?

Where do you start? Is poetry today just utter shite, most of it? If this thread keeps going I could subject some contemporary poets to an awful pasting... some of it in my view is just a waste of paper and I wonder how it gets into print at all.

I agree with you on Seathrún's link - the poem has rhythm, rhyme and lore and stays in your attention for a while unlike other spew from the likes of Theo Dorgan or even Paul Durcan. Disagree with me if you like. Why isn't poetry musical and communicative in a general sense? Perhaps popular music serves this purpose now and poetry has been banished to an ivory tower populated by Dave McSavage and the Rationally Disenfranchised.

It's interesting that you link to Eliot who was one of the poets who possibly killed poetry with tuneless modernism. I think some people don't seem to see that that phase has passed. Eliot was deeply religious and Beckett felt that poetry aspired to the condition of prayer (Beckett himself was atheist). Maybe because a lot of us have thrown out religion we have also thrown out that lovely Victorian innocence and celebration of nature that still forms a wide definition of poetry for us?

Back to craft I say

Eliot's Marina (one I like a lot of his)
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:12 pm

A little Phillip Larkin ditty. Dark but effective


Philip Larkin -
This Be The Verse


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:20 pm

Heres a link to one of Dan Eggs' poems -
Sweet Stella of Stranocum
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:48 pm

SeathrúnCeitinn wrote:
A little Phillip Larkin ditty. Dark but effective


Philip Larkin -
This Be The Verse


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

One of the few I know off by heart!
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:03 pm

I quite like the work of Ogden Nash:


To My Valentine


More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That's how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
That's how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That's how you're love by me.

Ogden Nash
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:07 pm

Here's another classic Ogden Nash poem, it highlights the lunacy of progressive taxation excellently:

One From One Leaves Two


Higgledy piggledy, my black hen,
She lays eggs for gentlemen.
Gentlemen come every day
To count what my black hen doth lay.
If perchance she lays too many,
They fine my hen a pretty penny;
If perchance she fails to lay,
The gentlemen a bonus pay.

Mumbledy pumbledy, my red cow,
She’s cooperating now.
At first she didn’t understand
That milk production must be planned;
She didn’t understand at first
She either had to plan or burst,
But now the government reports
She’s giving pints instead of quarts.

Fiddle de dee, my next-door neighbors,
They are giggling at their labors.
First they plant the tiny seed,
Then they water, then they weed,
Then they hoe and prune and lop,
They they raise a record crop,
Then they laugh their sides asunder,
And plow the whole caboodle under.

Abracadabra, thus we learn
The more you create, the less you earn.
The less you earn, the more you’re given,
The less you lead, the more you’re driven,
The more destroyed, the more they feed,
The more you pay, the more they need,
The more you earn, the less you keep,
And now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to take
If the tax-collector hasn’t got it before I wake.

Ogden Nash
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:07 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
I quite like the work of Ogden Nash:


To My Valentine


More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That's how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
That's how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That's how you're love by me.

Ogden Nash

Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
Thats a great last line. Fine choice
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:14 pm

On a less humorous note, but still quite a good poem imo is another of Larkin's:

At Grass


The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and mane;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again

Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances sufficed
To fable them : faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -

Silks at the start : against the sky
Numbers and parasols : outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.

Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries -
All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they

Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,
And not a fieldglass sees them home,
Or curious stop-watch prophesies :
Only the grooms, and the groom's boy,
With bridles in the evening come.

Philip Larkin
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:23 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
On a less humorous note, but still quite a good poem imo is another of Larkin's:

At Grass


The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and mane;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again

Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances sufficed
To fable them : faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -

Silks at the start : against the sky
Numbers and parasols : outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.

Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries -
All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they

Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,
And not a fieldglass sees them home,
Or curious stop-watch prophesies :
Only the grooms, and the groom's boy,
With bridles in the evening come.

Philip Larkin

Makes me feel nostalgic for the days when there was only horse-racing and cricket on the box in the summer afternoons. And I fing hate horse racing. You're waiting on some rte squeak to run through the gaa results on a Sunday and just as they are about to get to the game your listening out for they fk off to Leopardstown. I'm composed now.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:42 pm

Another country idyll as delicately portrayed by Larkin:

Cut Grass


Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

Philip Larkin
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:46 pm

Alchemy
Sara Teasdale

I lift my heart as spring lifts up
A yellow daisy to the rain;
My heart will be a lovely cup
Altho' it holds but pain.


For I shall learn from flower and leaf
That color every drop they hold,
To change the lifeless wine of grief
To living gold.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:49 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
Another country idyll as delicately portrayed by Larkin:

Cut Grass


Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

Philip Larkin

Why are such beautiful poems so often so gut-wrenchingly cruel?
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:51 pm

SeathrúnCeitinn wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
Another country idyll as delicately portrayed by Larkin:

Cut Grass


Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

Philip Larkin

Why are such beautiful poems so often so gut-wrenchingly cruel?

I don't know myself, perhaps it's just the way of things.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:52 pm

Here is a pick-me-up?

Inversnaid

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

-- Gerard Manley Hopkins
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:59 pm

To re-dress the gender balance, I think this poem is particularly heart-warming:

This Moment

Eavan Boland

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:36 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
To re-dress the gender balance, I think this poem is particularly heart-warming:

This Moment

Eavan Boland

A neighbourhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

Hmmm. Can't agree here. bi-bi-bitt tooo sweeeet

Attack yourself with John Cooper Clarke

Psycle Sluts Parts I & II
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:25 pm

That's probably the best of what Boland has to offer. It does capture a moment.

Having said that I hate her stuff with a passion. She's written a book about the bind of being a woman and a writer and a housewife. SPARE ME!!! It drives me bonkers. She is the token female Irish poet on the new LC course and I'd cheerfully strangle her self-important, self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-referential, self-annoying poetic neck. Grrrr.
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:42 pm

Kate P wrote:
That's probably the best of what Boland has to offer. It does capture a moment.

Having said that I hate her stuff with a passion. She's written a book about the bind of being a woman and a writer and a housewife. SPARE ME!!! It drives me bonkers. She is the token female Irish poet on the new LC course and I'd cheerfully strangle her self-important, self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-referential, self-annoying poetic neck. Grrrr.

Well said. This I like
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:35 pm

What about this woman's efforts, Kate P?

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers


Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Adrienne Rich
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:16 am

I like Rich - one of the poems I linked earlier is by her. This one is not high on my list of favourites by her - it's a bit obvious and rhymy for me. And a bit overtly feminist which is never becoming. My favourite poem by her is Roofwalker but I like this one too




A Valediction Forbidding Mourning


My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the failure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus that said:
my bleeding is under control

A red plant in a cemetary of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.

Adrienne Rich

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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:30 am

Kate P wrote:
I like Rich - one of the poems I linked earlier is by her. This one is not high on my list of favourites by her - it's a bit obvious and rhymy for me. And a bit overtly feminist which is never becoming. My favourite poem by her is Roofwalker but I like this one too




A Valediction Forbidding Mourning


My swirling wants. Your frozen lips.
The grammar turned and attacked me.
Themes, written under duress.
Emptiness of the notations.

They gave me a drug that slowed the healing of wounds.

I want you to see this before I leave:
the experience of repetition as death
the failure of criticism to locate the pain
the poster in the bus that said:
my bleeding is under control

A red plant in a cemetary of plastic wreaths.

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.

To do something very common, in my own way.

Adrienne Rich


Much grittier and brass tacks
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:53 am

Kate P wrote:
I like Rich - one of the poems I linked earlier is by her. This one is not high on my list of favourites by her - it's a bit obvious and rhymy for me. And a bit overtly feminist which is never becoming. My favourite poem by her is Roofwalker but I like this one too

I must admit, I preferred the first one - the second has some misfires, although still good. I wouldn't call the first one feminist, either.

Do any of you write poetry?
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PostSubject: Re: A Place for Poetry   Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:59 am

ibis wrote:


Do any of you write poetry?

I did here.
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