Monthly Archives: March 2016

Fugue

by Robyn Sarah

Women are on their way
to the new country. The men watch
from high office windows
while the women go.
They do not get very far
in a day. You can still see them
from high office windows.

Women are on their way
to the new country. They are taking
it all with them: rugs,
pianos, children. Or they are leaving
it all behind them: cats,
plants, children.
They do not get very far in a day.

Some women travel alone
to the new country. Some
with a child, or children.
Some go in pairs or groups
or in pairs with a child
or children. Some in a group with
cats, plants, children.

They do not get very far in a day.
They must stop to bake bread on the road
to the new country, and to share
bread with other women. Children
outgrow their clothes and shed them
for smaller children. The women too
shed clothes, put on each other’s

cats, plants, children, and at full moon
no one remembers the way to the new country
where there will be room for everyone and
it will be summer and children will
shed their clothes and the loaves will
rise without yeast and women will have come
so far that no one can see them, even from

high office windows.

fugue.jpgRobyn Sarah is a Canadian poet and short story writer. Raised in Montreal, Quebec, she was educated at McGill University and the Conservatoire de musique du Québec. Wikipedia.

 

Fugue” is Bill Ellis’s chosen “Travel” poem for the March 31 session. Please bring you own selection for reading and discussion.

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Easter 1916

by William Butler Yeats
Easter_1916I

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

II

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse.
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vain-glorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

III

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter, seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute change.
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim;
And a horse plashes within it
Where long-legged moor-hens dive
And hens to moor-cocks call.
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

IV

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death.
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse —
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

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Vocabulary

by R.S. Thomas

Ruminations, illuminations!
Vocabulary, sing for me
in your cage of time,
restless on the bone’s perch.

You are dust: then a bird
with new feathers, but always
beating at the mind’s bars.
A new Noah, I despatch

you to alight awhile
on steel branches: then call
you home, looking for the metallic
gleam of a new poem in your bill.
Vocabulary

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Sorrows of a Polygamist

By Mark Ford

Sorrows-of-a-PolygamistTed Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate
William Collins, 662 pp, £30.00, October 2015
ISBN 978 0 00 811822 8

So much in the life and work of Ted Hughes was weird and transgressive that even now, 18 years after his death, it is hard to feel confident that his actions and beliefs and literary achievement can be judiciously and authoritatively assessed. For a start, he wrote and published at such a rate: Jonathan Bate’s bibliographic tally of Hughes’s books runs to more than seventy items, while the various Hughes archives contain nearly a hundred thousand pages of manuscript material. The vast Collected Poems edited by Paul Keegan and published in 2003 presents a poet who insistently ‘o’erflows the measure’, to borrow a phrase from Antony and Cleopatra, veering, rather like Shakespeare’s Antony, between the sublime and the bathetic, the uncannily sure-footed and the hysterically overblown. Is early, nature-fixated Hughes best, red in tooth and claw, or the minatory spinner of parables in Crow of 1970, or should the palm go to the bestselling Birthday Letters, in which Hughes told his side of ‘the most tragic literary love story of our time’, to borrow the headline on the 17 January 1998 front page of the Times, which paid £25,000 for the privilege of breaking news of the book to the world? All that Hughes enthusiasts can really agree about is the wisdom of drawing a veil over royal poems such as ‘The Song of the Honey Bee’, written for the short-lived marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, or ‘A Masque for Three Voices’, composed in honour of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. Yet even at his worst, as in these lines from the survey of 20th-century history he includes in his tribute to the Queen Mum, one can’t help marvelling at the sheer unlikeliness of what he’s up to:

Einstein bent the Universe
To make war obsolete.
Ford swore his wished-for wheels would rush
The century off its feet.
The Soviet Butcher Bird announced
The new age with a tweet.

The butcherbird is in fact native to Australia, but that doesn’t stop Hughes punning on its name in his off-kilter search for a way of introducing the massacres that followed the Russian Revolution.

Read the complete review

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50 Years of Ariel

ArielSylvia Plath’s posthumous classic, then and now.

Listen to the podcast from the Poetry Foundation:

50 Years of Ariel

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Folk Tale

by R. S. Thomas

Folk_Tale

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