A humourous reminder from The New Yorker that we will feature poetry from the Tang Dynasty on November 23

A humourous reminder from The New YorkerDownload (from Sharon): POETRY OF THE T’ANG

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Today’s Birthday, Sharon Olds

Sharon-OldsBorn in San Francisco on November 19, 1942, Sharon Olds earned a BA at Stanford University and a PhD at Columbia University.
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Her first collection of poems, Satan Says (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Olds’s following collection, The Dead & the Living (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), received the Lamont Poetry Selection in 1983 and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
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Her other collections include Stag’s Leap (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize; One Secret Thing (Random House, 2008); Strike Sparks: Selected Poems(Alfred A. Knopf, 2004); The Unswept Room (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002); Blood, Tin, Straw (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999); The Gold Cell(Alfred A. Knopf, 1997); The Wellspring (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995); and The Father (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992); which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Point Pelee

By Stephen Rybicki

Point PeleeDuring the Fall, monarchs

Descend upon Pelee

Like the laughter of children

Among the gardens of Eden

On a journey south to Mexico

With hundreds of miles to go

A layover stop for them—

They blow in with the wind

And drop like a quilt

Of orange and black patches

Covering the entire island to

Flutter in the weeds and trees

As if the north air were speaking—

The trick is to get in close

To one, backlit by the sun

On a leaf, to see how singular

And delicate each wing is

A skeleton in transparency

Which composes the colony—

And consider how life

Began eons ago with milkweed

Scattered across the countryside

The sky falling, and the sun

Coming down to rest on this island.
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Stephen Rybicki is a poet and reference librarian at Macomb Community College, and lives in Romeo, Michigan.

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The Roman de la Rose

The Romance of the RoseThe Roman de la Rose is the work of two authors. Begun by Guillaume de Lorris around 1230 and continued by Jean de Meun approximately forty years later, the Rose is probably the most influential work written in the Old French vernacular. In the centuries following its composition, major poets like Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Eustache Deschamps, and Francois Villon continued to write in a tradition dominated by the work which, in some manuscripts, extends to 21,750 lines. In the early 15th century, the Rose was still capable of sparking heated literary debate in France. Other national literatures felt the effect of the Rose as well. The English poets John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer and the Italian poets Dante and Petrarch were astute readers of the work.
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The Roman de la Rose is an allegorical love poem which takes the form of a dream vision. The 25-year-old narrator recounts a dream he had approximately five years previously, which has since come to pass. In his dream he journeyed to a walled garden in which he viewed rosebushes in the Fountain of Narcissus. When he went to select his own special blossom, the God of Love shot him with several arrows, leaving him forever enamored of one particular flower. His efforts to obtain the Rose met with little success. A stolen kiss alerted the guardians of the Rose, who then enclosed it behind still stronger fortifications. At the point where Guillaume de Lorris’ poem breaks off, the protagonist, confronted with this new obstacle to the realization of his love, is left lamenting his fate. Jean de Meun concludes the narrative with a bawdy account of the plucking of the Rose, achieved through deception, which is very unlike Guillaume’s idealized conception of the love quest.
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Read the complete History and Summary of the Text  of The Roman de la Rose  by Lori J. Walters
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Read the full text of The Roman de la Rose (in English).
Download PDF version: the_romance_of_the_rose_illuminated__manuscripts

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Watch Helena Phillips-Robins (Cambridge University Library) discuss  the history of The Roman de la Rose.
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A reminder that we will celebrate the use of the rose as a poetic symbol or metaphor on January 25, 2018. Please bring your own illustration of this for reading and discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly.

 

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Sonnet LIV

William Shakespeare

Sonnet LIVO! how much more doth beauty beauteous seem

By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem

For that sweet odour, which doth in it live.

The canker blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the roses,

Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly

When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:

But, for their virtue only is their show,

They live unwoo’d, and unrespected fade;

Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:

  And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,

  When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.
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Read “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” for an analysis of this poem.
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A reminder that we will celebrate the use of the rose as a poetic symbol or metaphor on January 25, 2018. Please bring your own illustration of this for reading and discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly.

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Small Song: Mozart

By Jan Zwicky

Small song MozartWashing dishes after supper,
listening to the radio,
hands raised, mid-air,
the soap suds dripping …
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What are you –
that in entering
undoes us? and undoing,

makes us whole.
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We will be reading and discussing the poetry of Jan Zwicky and Lorna Crozier on February 22 and reading and discussing poetry inspired by music on June 28.

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The Rose

by Sara Teasdale

The Rose- TeasdaleBeneath my chamber window

Pierrot was singing, singing;

I heard his lute the whole night thru

Until the east was red.

Alas, alas Pierrot,

I had no rose for flinging

Save one that drank my tears for dew

Before its leaves were dead.
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I found it in the darkness,

I kissed it once and threw it,

The petals scattered over him,

His song was turned to joy;

And he will never know–

Alas, the one who knew it!

The rose was plucked when dusk was dim

Beside a laughing boy.
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A reminder that we will celebrate the use of the rose as a poetic symbol or metaphor on January 25, 2018. Please bring your own illustration of this for reading and discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly.

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THE CAMPERDOWN ELM

Marianne Moore

THE CAMPERDOWN ELMI think, in connection with this weeping elm,

of “Kindred Spirits” at the edge of a rockledge

   overlooking a stream:

Thanatopsis-invoking tree-loving Bryant

conversing with Thomas Cole

in Asher Durand’s painting of them

under the filigree of an elm overhead.
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No doubt they had seen other trees — lindens,

maples and sycamores, oaks and the Paris

street-tree, the horse-chestnut; but imagine

their rapture, had they come on the Camperdown elm’s

massiveness and “the intricate pattern of its branches,”

arching high, curving low, in its mist of fine twigs.

The Bartlett tree-cavity specialist saw it

and thrust his arm the whole length of the hollowness

of its torso and there were six small cavities also.
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Props are needed and tree-food. It is still leafing;

still there. Mortal though. We must save it. It is

   our crowning curio.
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Read the story of the Camperdown Elm tree and the poet who saved it

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The Return

Lorna Crozier
The Return
The Return

From The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea by Lorna Crozier. Photographs by Ian McAllister

We will be reading and discussing the poetry of Jan Zwicky and Lorna Crozier on February 22

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Canoe [a poem for Remembrance Day]

by Keith Douglas (1940)

CanoeWell, I am thinking this may be my last

summer, but cannot lose even a part

of pleasure in the old-fashioned art

of idleness. I cannot stand aghast
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at whatever doom hovers in the background:

while grass and buildings and the somnolent river,

who know they are allowed to last forever,

exchange between them the whole subdued sound
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of this hot time. What sudden fearful fate

can deter my shade wandering next year

from a return? Whistle and I will hear

and come again another evening, when this boat
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travels with you alone toward Iffley:

as you lie looking up for thunder again,

this cool touch does not betoken rain;

it is my spirit that kisses your mouth lightly.
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Listen to Clive James read and comment on “Canoe” by Keith Douglas

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