Thanks for that one Edgar. I will have to read it several times to get a handle on it.
Wed 20 Jan, 2010 09:28 pm
Here is another look at Larkin, showing a different mood and a certain "awkward reverence."
I find this poem to be very moving for reasons I can't fully explain:
Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,
Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new -
Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?
Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone ?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,
A shape less recognisable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,
Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
Thu 21 Jan, 2010 06:32 pm
years of anger following
hours that float idly down --
drifts its weight
deeper and deeper for three days
or sixty years, eh? Then
the sun! a clutter of
yellow and blue flakes --
Hairy looking trees stand out
in long alleys
over a wild solitude.
The man turns and there --
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.
William Carlos Williams
Sat 23 Jan, 2010 06:42 pm
A Red Wheelbarrow
Rest and look at this goddamned wheelbarrow. Whatever
It is. Dogs and crocodiles, sunlamps. Not
For their significance.
For their significant. For being human
The signs escape you. You, who aren't very bright
Are a signal for them. Not,
I mean, the dogs and crocodiles, sunlamps. Not
Wed 27 Jan, 2010 10:15 pm
AUTOBIOGRAPHY (POLISH IT LIKE A PIECE OF SILVER)
I am standing in the cemetery at Byrds, Texas.
What did Judy say? "God-forsaken is beautiful, too."
A very old man who has cancer on his face and takes
care of the cemetery, is raking a grave in such a
manner as to almost (polish it like a piece of silver.
Hi folks! Here is another of my most favorite poems:
'Names of Horses'
All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.
In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in the meadow and hayfield,
the mowing machine
clacketing beside, while the sun walked high in the morning;
and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.
Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
of a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.
When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,
and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground make your monument.
For a hundred and fifty years, in the pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground--old toilers, soil makers:
O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.
Sat 30 Jan, 2010 10:28 pm
Drying Their Wings
What the Carpenter Said
The moon's a cottage with a door.
Some folks can see it plain.
Look, you may catch a glint of light,
A sparkle through the pane,
Showing the place is brighter still
Within, though bright without.
There, at a cosy open fire
Strange babes are grouped about.
The children of the wind and tide--
The urchins of the sky,
Drying their wings from storms and things
So they again can fly.
Sun 31 Jan, 2010 12:55 pm
I gave all you poetry contributers a thumbs up. I will be posting more later on. Thanks all who are participating.
Sun 31 Jan, 2010 02:29 pm
If we don't believe in heaven, who reads the letters we mail there
Children send most of them, kneeling by the bedpost
imagining the universe under the care of a father
who rumbles behind the newspaper
smelling of cigarettes and Old Spice.
To grow up is to lose one's God at sea
better to lose one than be one.
If you believe the world is perfect,
think of Keats dying young.
I never would have seen it if I hadn't believed it,
the saying goes. Somebody has to awaken us
to the time of day it is when the earth is empty
of any intention, or any human presence.
And yet it is noon, and here you are your blue headlands
and swords, your wave-moistened silences.
As if at the heart of things
there were a heart.
(from: 'Blue Lash' Milkweed Editions)
Fri 5 Feb, 2010 05:42 am
You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it--it's the
only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks
your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually
But on what?Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of
a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again,
drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave,
the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything
that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is
singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and
wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you:"It is time to be
drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be
continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Tue 9 Feb, 2010 07:12 am
(I still remember this one from high school)
Tunnelling through the night, the trains pass
in a splendour of power, with a sound like thunder
shaking the orchards, waking
the young from a dream, scattering like glass
the old mens' sleep, laying
a black trail over the still bloom of the orchards;
the trains go north with guns.
Strange primitive piece of flesh, the heart laid quiet
hearing their cry pierce through its thin-walled cave
recalls the forgotten tiger,
and leaps awake in its old panic riot;
and how shall mind be sober,
since blood's red thread still binds us fast in history?
Tiger, you walk through all our past and future,
troubling the children's sleep'; laying
a reeking trail across our dreams of orchards.
Racing on iron errands, the trains go by,
and over the white acres of our orchards
hurl their wild summoning cry, their animal cry….
the trains go north with guns.
Tue 9 Feb, 2010 07:26 am
(Last one. Also permanently embedded in my brain from high school. I had some wonderful English teachers! )
OZYMANDIAS of EGYPT
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
Tue 9 Feb, 2010 11:08 am
Haven't read this one in awhile. I'll have to flip through Paris Spleen again soon.
Thu 11 Feb, 2010 10:41 am
Don't know if this is quite a favorite, too early to tell, but I read it on the train this morning and, well, it's certainly filed away in the o' poetry rolodex inside my skull. By one of Chicago's very own.
After the Pyre
by Li-Young Lee
It turns out, what keeps you alive
as a child at mid-century
following your parents from burning
village to cities on fire to a country at war
with itself and anyone
who looks like you,
what allows you to pass through smoke,
through armed mobs singing the merits of a new regime, tooth for a tooth,
liberation by purification, and global
dissemination of the love of jealous gods,
coup d'etat, coup de grace, and the cooing of mothers
and doves and screaming men
and children caught in the pyre's updraft,
what keeps you safe even among your own,
the numb, the haunted, the maimed, the barely alive,
tricks you learned to become invisible,
escapes you perfected, playing dead, playing
stupid, playing blind, deaf, weak, strong,
playing girl, playing boy, playing native, foreign,
in love, out of love, playing crazy, sane, holy, debauched,
playing scared, playing brave, happy, sad, asleep, awake,
playing interested, playing bored, playing broken,
playing "Fine, I'm just fine," it turns out,
now that you're older
at the beginning of a new century,
what kept you alive
all those years keeps you from living.