Tag Archives: poetry

Eternal Lives

I can’t not mention Shakespeare this week. This Saturday will be the 400th anniversary of his death.

 

So its sonnet 18 that comes to mind. Yes, he’s using May and not April, but still, 400 years is getting on eternal lines. It’s not Beowulf, let alone Gilgamesh, but it’s nothing to sneeze at!

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You Are Spring

I’ve been remiss in posting for National Poetry Month, but wanted to share a Gwendolyn Brooks poem that was recently introduced to me.

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A Faery’s Song

John Waterhouse

John Waterhouse

I know they’re different stories-so far as I know La Belle Dame sans Merci has an Arthurian feel but isn’t based on a particular tale, while Aengus is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Irish mythology-but these two pieces strike me as a matched set.

(I’m not fond of Keats’ stock character, but I’m a bit enamored of the Pre-Raphaelite art it inspired. Though the combination of military haircuts, multi-era armor and gauzy gowns sometimes crack me up a little bit too.)

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A phrase remains

silver beech

Two poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay today.

The first is playful, it sounds like a chant you might make running through the woods, or when making magic wands.

The second is a stark contrast despite the similar sense of enumeration. It holds the sadness and determination I normally think of when her name pops up. (The first poem of hers I ever read was Conscientious Objector, so that set the tone.)

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Child of the wandering sea

The Chambered Nautilus

 

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

 

 

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sails the unshadowed main,—

The venturous bark that flings

On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings

In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,

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Some Untidy Spot

Landscape with fall of Icarus

Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

 

About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

 

 

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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I shall do nothing but look at the sky

Roman Wall Blues

W.H. Auden

 

Over the heather the wet wind blows,

I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

 

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,

I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.

 

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,

My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.

 

Aulus goes hanging around her place,

I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.

 

Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;

There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.

 

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;

I want my girl and I want my pay.

 

When I’m a veteran with only one eye

I shall do nothing but look at the sky.

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