Monthly Archives: July 2018

In a Cardiff Arcade, 1952

Gillian Clark

One of those little shops too small

for the worlds they hold, where words

that sing you to sleep, stories

that stalk your dreams,

open like golden windows in a wall.

One small room leads to another,

the first bright-windowed on the street,

alluring, luminous. The other is dusk,

walled with pressed pages, old books

with leathery breath and freckled leaves.

What stays is not the book alone

but where you took it down,

how it felt in your hands,

how she wrapped it in brown paper,

how you carried it home,

how it holds wild seas

that knock the earth apart,

how words burn, freeze,

to break and heal your heart.


In a Cardiff Arcade, 1952

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Stolen WB Yeats letters identified at Princeton University

Collection taken in 1970s and returned by ‘anonymous’ was spotted by John Kelly


WB Yeats

A collection of unpublished letters written by WB Yeats that was stolen in the 1970s and returned “anonymously” has been identified at Princeton University.
John Kelly, who has spent decades tracking down thousands of Yeats’s letters, discovered the collection as he was concluding research for the latest volume of his work on the Irish poet and dramatist.
Kelly was browsing the catalogue of Princeton University Library, where he had pored over Yeats’s holdings some years earlier, when he spotted a file of 17 letters to the poet’s publisher he had not seen before.
He discovered from the librarian it had been stolen in the 1970s, disappearing without trace until it turned up recently, delivered anonymously in a brown package.

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Michael Longley


In lieu of my famous last words or

The doctor’s hushed diagnosis

Lifting like a draught from the door

My oracular pages, this

Will have fluttered on to the floor –

The first of my posthumous pieces.


As a sort of accompaniment

Drafted in different-coloured inks

Through several notebooks, this is meant

To read like a riddle from the Sphinx

And not my will and testament –

No matter what anybody thinks.


Two minuses become a plus

When, at the very close of play

And with the minimum of fuss,

I shall permit myself to say:

This is my Opus Posthumous –

An inspiration in its way.

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Outward from Hull

Grace Nichols

Outward from HullThe gulls of Hull

the train pulling out –

a metallic snake

along the estuary

leaving behind

the forceful ghost

of Wilberforce

the confluence

of the Hull and the Humber.

Brough, Selby, Doncaster.

How many times

have I sat this way

England, gazing out

at the leafless names

of trees; at cathedrals

I still haven’t seen –

Our inter-city boa

Pushing through

the deepening night –

the wet black roots

of the country.

Suddenly, for some

unearthly reason,

it falters, then stops –

an inexplicable

paralysis of rhythm –

the brooch of a small

town gleaming

in the distance –

the eels and eels

of branching tracks.
O England –

hedge-bound as Larkin

omnivorous as Shakespeare.

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All of These People

by Michael Longley

Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war

Is not so much peace as civilization? He knew

Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died

At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister,

And our ice-cream man who continuing requiem

Is the twenty-one flavours children have by heart.

Our cobbler mends shoes for everyone; our butcher

Blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey;

Our cornershop sells everything from bread to kindling.

Who can bring peace to people who are not civilized?

All of these people, alive or dead, are civilized.

All of These People

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Stanza Structure in The Fish and The Force


Stanza Structure in The Fish and The ForceMarianne Moore’s “The Fish” and Dylan Thomas’ “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” are complex and ambiguous poems that explore the paradoxical forces in a monistic universe where everything is intertwined. Time, nature and humanity are all connected and shown to have contradictory, twin faces: one of creation and one of destruction.  Focus will be given to Moore and Thomas’ use of stanza structure to emphasize and reflect their ideas. The stanza structure of “The Fish” and “The Force” are largely different with subtle similarities, but effectively convey the same message, themes and ideas.
The stanza structure in “The Fish” and “The Force” serves to strengthen their ideas through their respective stanza template. Each stanza can be seen to have a shared basic organization with other stanzas in the poem. Individual verses adhere to a structural blueprint, promoting similarities and reiterating themes. Discrepancies are thus accentuated, so that the evolution and development of ideas can be seen. The way the collective poem is built from individual stanzas, from the template to joining the stanzas to individual incongruities will hence reveal much about the intentions of the poet.
Briefly, some understanding of the general message of the poems is necessary to fully appreciate the efforts of the stanza structure. At their core, “The Fish” and “The Force” are about the creative and destructive duality found in the various machinations of a monist universe. Thomas refers to this concept as “The Force”, with explicit and implicit readings suggesting the force explored to be primarily nature, time and humanity. The title and opening lines of Thomas’ poem immediately supports this, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees / Is my destroyer.” The use of a diazeugma to open the poem with the repeated verb of “drive” emphasizes the similarities and close relationship between the narrator’s age and the flower, indicating a correlation between humanity, time and nature. The repeated pre-modifier “green” has connotations of growth and vitality, especially when coupled with “flower”, a synecdoche here for nature. However, fricative alliteration emphasizes that the force acts like a “fuse”: it is explosive and powerful. The extended metaphor results in a destructive detonation, “that blasts the roots of trees.” Interestingly, the two sentences on growth and destruction are separated by a semi-colon rather than a period, indicating the intimacy of the two aspects. The force drives the persona, but will also destroy him. Despite the force being the impetus, it is also inescapably the ultimate bane of what it creates.
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Final reminder about our traditional summer free-for-all this Thursday, July 26

reminder-2On July 26 we will enjoy our customary summer free-for-all when we will all bring our current favourite poem(s) to read and discuss. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections thus far.

Please note that for this meeting only, we will be meeting in Room A from 1-3pm.

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By Sappho

XIIIn a dream I spoke with the Cyprus-born,

  And said to her,

“Mother of beauty, mother of joy,

Why hast thou given to men
“This thing called love, like the ache of a wound

  In beauty’s side,

To burn and throb and be quelled for an hour

And never wholly depart?”
And the daughter of Cyprus said to me,

     “Child of the earth,

Behold, all things are born and attain,

But only as they desire,—
“The sun that is strong, the gods that are wise,

The loving heart,

Deeds and knowledge and beauty and joy,—

But before all else was desire.”

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Billy Collins

This poem is one of fifty brand new poems found in Billy Collins’ first new compilation of poems in twelve years, Aimless Love.

I was a little disappointed

in the apple I lifted from a bowl of fruit

and bit into on the way out the door,

fuzzy on the inside and lacking the snap of the ripe.
Yesterday it was probably perfect,

I figured, as I held it out before me,

soft red apple bearing my tooth marks,

as if I were contemplating the bust of Aristotle.
I considered all the people

who would be grateful to have this apple,

and others who might find it in their hearts

to kill me before slipping it into a pocket.
And I considered another slice

of the world’s population, too,

those who are shielded from anything

as offensive as a slightly imperfect apple.
Then I took a second bite, a big one,

and pitched what was left

over the tall hedges hoping to hit on the head

a murderer or one of the filthy rich out for a stroll.

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‘On Empson’ by Michael Wood

By Denis Donoghue

On Empson“William, you’re very boring.” Empson, in the middle of a poetry reading, ignored the heckler. “William, you are very boring,” she said again. It was his wife…

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