Category Archives: Recap

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Thanks to everyone who participated in a super session on Shakespeare, celebrating the Bard’s 451st birthday, on Thursday, April 23.

On May 28, we’re keeping to our agenda of discussing A.E. Housman. Please check the SCHEDULE PAGE for a list of his poems to be featured. Meanwhile, here’s a small seasonal sample:

cherry_treeLoveliest of trees, the cherry now

By A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

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W.H. Auden to be repeated

Auden-4Thanks to everyone who contributed to a absorbing session on W.H. Auden yesterday, and special thanks to Anne Fletcher for leading the assemblage. The topic proved to be so engrossing that we agreed to repeat it later in the year, but with our preferred format of everyone bringing their own favourite Auden poem to read and study. Date to be advised.

Time expired before we completely covered the subject matter, so attached is a PDF of the complete presentation for your perusal: Auden

In the next session on February 26, we will cover Canadian poets. Choose your favourite poet and/or poems and then post your choice in the “Leave a Comment” box below, or on the CONTACT US page, or email me directly.

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A Pertinent, if Prolix, Postscript to Poems about Animals


Pansies: Lawrence’s Search for the Animal Other in Humans

by Andrew Keese (Texas Tech University)

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Does Poetry Matter?

Thanks to all who participated in a fabulous session on “Poems about Animals” yesterday. The topic triggered some truly interesting, challenging discussions and gave us insights into some extraordinary poems. Thanks also to Susan Koppersmith for bringing the following newsworthy article from the New York Times to our attention.

David_BiespielDavid Biespiel’s most recent book of poems is “Charming Gardeners.” His anthology “Poems of the American South” is due out next month in the Everyman’s Library series.

I write this by campfire light in the back country of British Columbia, cut off from the digital world and miles from the nearest town.

Every society we’ve ever known has had poetry, and should the day come that poetry suddenly disappears in the morning, someone, somewhere, will reinvent it by evening.

Since ancient times, as long as we’ve had language, poetry has ritualized human life. It has dramatized and informed us with metaphors and figures of feeling and thought, mysteries and politics, birth and death, and all the occasions we experience between womb and tomb.

Read the complete article

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A Blessing

BlessingThanks to everyone who contributed to a wonderful session on ekphrasis on Thursday, June 26th. On July 24, we will be celebrating poems about animals, and again we will employ the sure-fire format of everyone bringing their own choice to read and discuss. Please post your selection in the “Leave a comment” box below, or on the CONTACT US page.

Below is a personal favourite of mine:

A Blessing

By James Wright

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

And the eyes of those two Indian ponies

Darken with kindness.

They have come gladly out of the willows

To welcome my friend and me.

We step over the barbed wire into the pasture

Where they have been grazing all day, alone.

They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   

That we have come.

They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.

There is no loneliness like theirs.   

At home once more,

They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   

I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,

For she has walked over to me   

And nuzzled my left hand.   

She is black and white,

Her mane falls wild on her forehead,

And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear

That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.

Suddenly I realize

That if I stepped out of my body I would break

Into blossom.

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Notable Oak Bay home on the move

Oak_BayAbundant thanks to Susan and Josie for their fascinating presentation on P.K. Page yesterday. The great Canadian poet has several new fans.

Thanks also to Tony Whitney for this link – a very suitable addendum – from the Victoria News:

Today (April 29), P.K. Page’s Oak Bay home will be uprooted, placed on a barge and shipped down the Georgia Strait to Chemainus, its new home.

Read the complete article

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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Dreaming Our Language

Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to Thursday’s delightful summer “free-for-all.” The format is obviously a popular success and warrants repeating. Graeme Hughes was pleased to post the following essay in the comments box on the Schedule page. The essay is rich with Graeme’s insight and erudition and therefore deserves more prominence on the blog. Read it below. I would urge everyone to make similar contributions. Remember this is the Roundhouse Poetry Circle blog, not Bruce Burnett’s personal blog (which, if interested, you can find at We need more gems mined from the wealth of intelligence and learning within our great group of members. You can post submissions in a “Comments” box, on the “Contact Us” page, or, if the submissions are large you can email them directly to me ( as a MS Word or PDF file.

Graeme’s Essay:

DreamingDreaming Our Language

In this day of twitting and texting I think more and more about language — English, because that is the one I think in.

Anything written or spoken is seeking a reader or listener — as any tweeter or texter recognizes. The best literature and poetry ask the reader and listener to participate by imaginatively reconstructing the meaning. The question to which I will return becomes what is the content thus communicated?

Words do more than let us communicate, of course. As any thinker knows, putting thought and feeling into words reduces the inchoate to the specific, the murky to a greater clarity. It also extends our reach in the sense Karen Armstrong points to: we use words when we want to make something happen outside ourselves…as when we affirm or declare, give an order or make a request. Yet the use of words in prayer seems inadequate in our attempt to communicate with Transcendence — which is why some say that real prayer is silent.

Read the complete essay: Dreaming_Our_Language

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Not Quite Done with Donne

John Donne

John Donne

As an postscript to Geoff’s excellent presentation on John Donne last Thursday, he is kindly furnishing us all with the attached brief biography of the great Metaphysical poet: John Donne brief-bio.

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Larkin Revisited

I’ve had a few requests for copies of the Philip Larkin presentation. Here it is as a link to a MS Word file: PHILIP LARKIN

Unfortunately I cannot add audio files to the blog without incurring the expense of upgrading the website’s memory, so I’ve added the text of the two readings to the document. Many of Philip Larkin’s readings are available on YouTube.

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