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07-01-2010, 13:25   #1
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A Poem a day keeps the melancholy away

OK, here are the basic rules:

One poem per day. Whoever is up after midnight will get first dibs.

Everyone else should give their thoughts on that poem.

The poem can be about whatever you like; it can be mystical, melancholy, humourous, witty, even a dirty limerick if you like.

Ideally the poem would be from someone we'd all be familiar with, but something new would be nice every so often.

Here's an easy one for starters

Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth

Earth has not anything to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty:

This City now doth like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

And all that mighty heart is lying still!
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08-01-2010, 01:08   #2
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I cannot admit to being the greatest Wordsworth fan. Wonderful to read out, but for myself, I find them very hard to relate to. I had a course in college on wordsworth and the sublime and detested him more once it had finished. I'm possibly a little too introspective when it comes to my taste in poetry though which is deeply unfashionable. I expose my own prejudices by shunning the dead, white guys. Here is my offering though...a copy and paste job, very sorry but I can't feel my hands in the cold anymore.

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by Adrienne Rich
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.
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08-01-2010, 08:36   #3
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Good poem there by A Rich.

D. H. Lawrence

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
i o And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

Taormina, 1923
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08-01-2010, 12:47   #4
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Buck65, I have not read that before but it's great. One question though- "What would Freud say?"
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08-01-2010, 12:50   #5
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Good question!
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11-01-2010, 23:20   #6
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I just saw "Tom Crean" the stage show there. And its snowing. So heres a poem by Derek Mahon about the suicide of crippled Lawrence Oates, who gave his life so that the other 3 men of his South Pole expedition might make it back to the home camp alive, unburdened by his injury. He walked out of the tent into the cold in the middle of the night.

‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
The others nod, pretending not to know.
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

He leaves them reading and begins to climb,
Goading his ghost into the howling snow;
He is just going outside and may be some time.

The tent recedes beneath its crust of rime
And frostbite is replaced by vertigo:
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

Need we consider it some sort of crime,
This numb self-sacrifice of the weakest? No,
He is just going outside and may be some time

In fact, for ever. Solitary enzyme,
Though the night yield no glimmer there will glow,
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.
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11-01-2010, 23:25   #7
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Thats a powerful poem!
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11-01-2010, 23:27   #8
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Originally Posted by diddlybit View Post
Buck65, I have not read that before but it's great. One question though- "What would Freud say?"
Now I have to read it again!

Great thread OP
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11-01-2010, 23:35   #9
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The back story to Antarctica is interesting. By the time of the scene the poem describes 4 of the 5 British men who had reached the South Pole were left. Oates had gotten a serious injury to one of his legs and had to be carried on sleigh by the others. They wouldn't leave him behind even though he was slowing them up. So in the middle of the night he got up and left the tent. He probably died within an hour.

The other 3 continued their trek towards the camp where the rest of the crew were based. The camp and the South Pole were something like 900 miles apart. They got within a paltry 11 miles of the camp before getting stuck in a blizzard and freezing to death. Their bodies were only found a few months later after the winter had ended.

The whole Tom Crean story is worth consideration! The book comes recommended, as does the one man monologue stage show which is playing at the Everyman Theatre Cork at the moment.
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12-01-2010, 00:00   #10
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You will all know this one; but I don’t care I decided to put it up anyway. I love this poem I love it because it’s a testament to the human sprit.
Henley suffered from tuberculosis for almost his whole life. He wrote this poem while lying in his hospital bed after having part of his leg removed.
The day I heard this poem I went and learnt it off by heart. I’m a boring individual and I often learn pieces of literature, poetry etc off by heart, however, I repeat this to myself more then anything else.
Invictus is the Latin word for unconquerable
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley.

I’ve often put this link up on boards and I’m going to put it up again, simply because I believe you deserve to have something nice to listen to while you reading.

Last edited by enry; 12-01-2010 at 00:11.
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12-01-2010, 22:23   #11
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That poem is beautiful. I'm afraid I'm running out of superlatives here! I find that I'm incapable of breaking a poem down line by line; I actually feel you lose the overall sentiment. Although I only dabble and don't read poetry with any great insight or seriousness, I think poetry amounts to a 'feeling' of sorts. Its semi mystic. Its not literature at all I don't think, its a way of conveying the inexpressible with words. Hence it should have an emotional, not an analytical response. Though I may be wrong! Invictus makes me think of themes, and allows me to empathise, but at the end of the day it is the emotional response that leaves the greatest resonance with the reader.

And here's my poem for the day:

Canal Bank Walk by Patrick Kavanagh

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal

Pouring redemption for me, that I do

The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,

Grow with nature again as before I grew.

The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third

Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,

And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word

Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.

O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web

Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,

Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib

To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech

For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven

From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

P.S- Any chance we can have this stickied?
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12-01-2010, 23:34   #12
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Originally Posted by Denerick View Post
P.S- Any chance we can have this stickied?
What does Patrick Kavanagh mean in this line I wonder?

Back in school our teacher liked us to line-by-line dissect poems. I think this has had a negative effect on me personally as I'm now nervous of reading poetry lest I don't understand everything the poet is saying.

Of the very limited amount of poems I have read I know that some had to be scrutinized before they made sense though.

As regards the sticking, iI say leave it for the moment. If this thread is deserving of being stuck, then it (ironically) should be able to keep on the front page itself, imo. Which Im hoping it will.
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13-01-2010, 13:44   #13
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13-01-2010, 19:48   #14
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I like Kavanaghs work, I can just picture him sitting on the bench by the canal.
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14-01-2010, 18:11   #15
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I love this poem by Rimbaud, especially the last two lines.

The Louse Catchers

When the child's brow, red with raging turmoil,
Implores the white swarm of shadowy dreams,
Close to the bed come two tall sisters,
With gossamer fingers, silvery-nailed.
They seat him by a window opened wide,
Where blue air bathes a web of tangled blossom,
And in his heavy hair on which the dew drips down,
Run their dread fingers, delicate, bewitching.
He hears the flick
Of their black lashes; through his grey langour
The regal nails and soft electric fingers
Crackle to death the scores of tiny lice.
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