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November Poems

 
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 04:53 pm
Jjorge, I liked it too... and he did teach the Bible as literature. I thought it was an allusion to "in the Beginning was the Word" at first. But I'd noted the "cobver" mistake & was mulling over which ale is blue. There was that "aha" moment where I decided I'd check back to see what else might be iffy.

I wish I had it in a book and the Bentley family probably wishes I had bought that book, too. Wink It is sometimes difficult to get your hands on a specific poetry book, though. You ever notice how small the poetry section is in the average book store?
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 08:09 pm
Oh, so many great poems here. Smile

Just a thought, but might it be "slow wash of the world in the beginning?"

Here's one from Linda Pastan. I'll try to remember it when I'm trying to find someone to shovel the snow.

Austerity

If I had to live
my life again,
I would work only
in black and white.

I remember Degas's words
as the snow continues
to fall, blanking out
the green earth,
bleaching the sky,
until only the black
shadows of buildings
are left and the wet trunks
of trees, darkened
with cold.
This is the death
of color. Winter
is slamming the door
on the heart and soon
nothing will remain
but beauty ---
the austere line
of charcoal moving
across white paper,
of bootprints engraved
upon new snow.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 09:42 pm
Hi Aggie,
Well that's the thought... either word or world. Kind of a conundrum, huh?

Nice poem. Did Degas really say that? I liked those images -- "the austere line of charcoal moving across a white page" is probably my favorite, and "bleaching the sky"... and "bootprints engraving the snow."

It also reminded me of a favorite family "tease" -- the story of how when we were children, the world was all in black and white. For a short time they really believed us, I think.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 12:04 am
Piffka: I've not been able to find the Degas quote on Google, but a review of Pastan's "The Last Uncle" (her 11th collection )in the Radcliffe Quarterly by Ruth Prince reads:

"Perhaps the poems in which Pastan comes closest to a sense of resolution are those that rely on nature for their inspiration. In "Austerity," the narrator recalls Degas's statement that "If I had to live/ my life again,/ I would work only/in black and white." Watching snow cover a landscape, Pastan muses, "This is the death/of color. Winter/is slamming its door/on the heart. . . ." And yet, in the barest elements of life, Pastan is still able to find consolation in beauty. As she writes, "Soon/nothing will remain/but beauty--/the austere line/of charcoal moving/across white paper,/of bootprints engraved/upon new snow."

http://www.radcliffe.edu/about/news/quarterly/200303/books3.html
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 09:06 am
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 09:35 am
Well, sounds like Degas said it. Interesting. That book of poetry sounds wonderful -- The Last Uncle. We have an uncle like that, cherished by my generation as the last remnant of childhood.

Jjorge -- I was thinking the same...

Here's Theodore Roethke, the beginning of the longer poem, The Far Field.

I
I dream of journeys repeatedly:
Of flying like a bat deep into a narrowing tunnel
Of driving alone, without luggage, out a long peninsula,
The road lined with snow-laden second growth,
A fine dry snow ticking the windshield,
Alternate snow and sleet, no on-coming traffic,
And no lights behind, in the blurred side-mirror,
The road changing from glazed tarface to a rubble of stone,
Ending at last in a hopeless sand-rut,
Where the car stalls,
Churning in a snowdrift
Until the headlights darken.
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 11:13 am
I'm glad you like Linda Pastan's poetry, Piffka and Jjorge. You may recall that Bree introduced me to the poetry of both Pastan and Elizabeth Spires on another poetry thread here. "The Last Uncle" is a delightful book, as are "Now the Green Blade Rises (my favorite) and "Worldling" by Elizabeth Spires. You cannot go wrong with any of these books. Smile

December by Linda Pastan

The white dove of winter
sheds its first
fine feathers;
they melt

as they touch
the warm ground
like notes
of a once familiar

music, the earth
shivers and
turns towards
the solstice.
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 02:17 pm
Raggedyaggie

'December' is another nice one.



If I may digress a bit on the topic of Pastan, the poem below was one of the first of hers I had seen (posted by bree I think).

Recently I was speaking with one of my sisters who is still very sad at the death of our Mom in August.
My sister told me she had an unerased message on her answering machine that was left by Mom a month or so before her death.
In the message Mom thanked Bonnie for coming to see her.
B. still plays the message to hear mothers voice, and, of course, it both comforts and pains her.
Today I sent her the Pastan poem below. She will like it, although it will certainly make her cry.


'The Answering Machine'


I call and hear your voice
on the answering machine
weeks after your death,
a fledgling ghost still longing
for human messages.

Shall I leave one, telling
how the fabric of our lives
has been ripped before
but that this sudden tear will not
be mended soon or easily?

In your emptying house, others
roll up rugs, pack books,
drink coffee at your antique table,
and listen to messages left
on a machine haunted

by the timbre of your voice,
more palpable than photographs
or fingerprints. On this first day
of this first fall without you,
ashamed and resisting

but compelled, I dial again
the number I know by heart,
thankful in a diminished world
for the accidental mercy of machines,
then listen and hang up.
-Linda Pastan
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 02:23 pm
Pif,


I love Roethke's poems. I had not seen that one before.

If memory serves me, he taught at UW, did he not?
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 02:40 pm
Here's another spooky poem of the Approximate Autumn:

Atavism

I was always afraid of Somes's Pond:
Not the little pond, by which the willow stands,
Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands
In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond.
There, where the frost makes all the birches burn
Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines
Like a polished shell between black spruce and pines,
Some strange thing tracks us, turning where we turn.

You'll say I dreamed it, being the true daughter
Of those who in old times endured this dread.
Look! Where the lily-stems are showing red
A silent paddle moves below the water,
A sliding shape has stirred them like a breath;
Tall plumes surmount a painted mask of death.

Elinor Wylie


Her feelings are so familiar to me -- I also had a horror of a certain lake near my childhood home. I was sure the water-weeds which stretched toward the hull of our little boat could pull me down into the cold greenish water.


Long Pond -- The pond beyond Somes Pond
http://www.acadiamagic.com/Images-SealHarbor/LongPond3.jpg

see: http://www.acadiamagic.com/Park.html
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 11:52 am
'Niagara'

Seen on a Night in November

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs,
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.
-Adelaide Crapsey
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 12:18 pm
Such a nice little poem for such a gigantic cataract! You know how I like the short poems!!

jjorge wrote:
Pif,


I love Roethke's poems. I had not seen that one before.

If memory serves me, he taught at UW, did he not?


Yup. He started their Creative Writing program, but died several years before I got there.

That poem is long and not posted very often. I'll add the last stanza here:

IV
The lost self changes,
Turning toward the sea,
A sea-shape turning around, --
An old man with his feet before the fire,
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.
A man faced with his own immensity
Wakes all the waves, all their loose wandering fire.
The murmur of the absolute, the why
Of being born falls on his naked ears.
His spirit moves like monumental wind
That gentles on a sunny blue plateau.
He is the end of things, the final man.

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree :
The pure serene of memory in one man, --
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.


Someone mentioned this poet and I found a poem that I thought might entice MsOlga to return.

Alley Cat Love Song
Dana Gioia

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.

The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!"
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.

I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They've one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you'll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 01:59 pm
Piffka wrote:


'...I have nothing but my flea collar on...'


'... she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!" ...'




Laughing I love it!
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 12:16 am
'November Graveyard'

The scene stands stubborn: skinflint trees
Hoard last year's leaves, won't mourn, wear sackcloth, or turn
To elegiac dryads, and dour grass
Guards the hard-hearted emerald of its grassiness
However the grandiloquent mind may scorn
Such poverty. No dead men's cries


Flower forget-me-nots between the stones
Paving this grave ground. Here's honest rot
To unpick the heart, pare bone
Free of the fictive vein. When one stark skeleton
Bulks real, all saints' tongues fall quiet:
Flies watch no resurrections in the sun.


At the essential landscape stare, stare
Till your eyes foist a vision dazzling on the wind:
Whatever lost ghosts flare,
Damned, howling in their shrouds across the moor
Rave on the leash of the starving mind
Which peoples the bare room, the blank, untenanted air.
-Sylvia Plath
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Raggedyaggie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 08:25 am
I love them all. My poetry notebook is bulging. Very Happy
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 10:36 pm
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 06:23 am
Piffka wrote:
...Someone mentioned this poet and I found a poem that I thought might entice MsOlga to return.

Alley Cat Love Song
Dana Gioia

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.

The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!"
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.

I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They've one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you'll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.


Surprised Hey, what's happened? Confused I posted my (delighted) response to this poem a few days ago, Piffka, but it's not here! I enjoyed it so much I even sent a copy to the Cat Room. This IS strange! (I couldn't have posted to an entirely different thread, could !? Embarrassed )
Anyway, it's a wonderful poem, Piffka. It makes me smile every time I read it. Obviously written by a cat lover! Very Happy
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 11:19 pm
Hi all,

Here's another Larkin poem:



'Past days of gales'

Past days of gales
When skies are colourless
The acorn falls,
Dies; so for this space
Autumn is motionless.

Because the sun
So hesitates in this decay,
I think we still could turn,
Speak to each other in a different way;
For ways of speaking die,

And yet the sun pardons our voices still,
And berries in the hedge
Through all the nights of rain have come to the full,
And death seems like long hills, a range
We ride each day , and never reach.
-Philip Larkin
(17 November 1945)
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Nov, 2004 11:45 pm
Those are nice, Jjorge. I like the Emily Dickinson a lot and Philip Larkin is alway full of great images. I think I like the Sylvia Plath poem the best... she's so deep!

I've been reading everything that Dana Gioia has online -- not so much, really. Nothing else that has that same humor as the Alley Cat Love Song. (Hi Olga -- glad you liked it... I thought I'd posted something here yesterday, too. Who knows where it's gone to!)

Anyway, here's another Gioia (JOY A -- is the preferred pronunciation, one of the websites says)

Planting a Sequoia

All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
Digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.

In Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth-
An olive or a fig tree-a sign that the earth has one more life to bear.
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock into my father's orchard,
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs,
A promise of new fruit in other autumns.

But today we kneel in the cold planting you, our native giant,
Defying the practical custom of our fathers,
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair, a piece of an infant's birth cord,
All that remains above earth of a first-born son,
A few stray atoms brought back to the elements.

We will give you what we can-our labor and our soil,
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail,
Nights scented with the ocean fog, days softened by the circuit of bees.
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,
A slender shoot against the sunset.

And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead,
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.

------
A sad poem... if I read it correctly, the tree was planted for the death of his son.
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Nov, 2004 12:27 am
Piffka wrote:


'...And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead,
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth.'



Very moving
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