Another reminder that registration for the September 27, October 25 and November 22 sessions is now open. Please register online, in person or via telephone: (604) 713-1800. The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre has expressed concern about the abrupt and striking decline in registration and attendance at the Poetry Circle sessions. This places the existence of our group in jeopardy, making registration for the fall sessions critical. Let’s keep this exceptional troop alive!
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
Listen to James Mason read “My Last Duchess” by ROBERT BROWNING
An early reminder that we will be reading and discussing great narrative poetry of the Victorian era on September 27. Please bring your own favourite examples and, preferably, post them first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits
with a pebbly meaning
with a scent that does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire
its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity
I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth
–Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye
Please note that registration for the September 27, October 25 and November 22 sessions is now open at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. Please register online, in person or via telephone: (604) 713-1800.
With the sun shining and blossoms blooming, the Roundhouse team is excited to announce that the Spring/Summer Program Guide is hot off the press. You can now register for a variety of new programs and events as well as old favourites that inspire thought, reflection, and imagination.
Please take the time to register for the April-June Roundhouse Poetry Circle sessions. Thus far only one person has registered (me!).
Prior to our meeting on Thursday, October 26th, please take a few minutes to peruse the tentative schedule for 2018 on the SCHEDULE PAGE and make notes for suggested changes, additions and deletions. We can then have a short discussion to finalize the program.
Please also take the time to register at the Roundhouse Community Centre (in person, by phone or online) for the October and November sessions. So far, only five of us have registered.
DAVID YAFFE ON TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH AN ICON
When I was 15, I had a high school girlfriend who was a couple of years older than me—dog years in those days. She had a piano and a stereo in her room, and very tolerant parents. We were both music students at an arts high school in Dallas; she sang, I played piano. We had a ritual of lying on her bed together in pitch-darkness, taking in what we were hearing with everything we had—the Velvet Underground, Miles Davis. One day, she played me Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Years later Joni would tell me that when she made that album she was totally without defenses, as vulnerable as “a cellophane wrapper on a packet of cigarettes,” as she once put it. When one is 15, everything is new and raw. I was falling in love with a girl and falling in love with this music. Neither came to you. You had to come to them. I held on tight in those tender, cellophane years.
In time, I would learn that while Joni was famous for being tender in public she also had to be tough in private. By the time Blue was released in 1971, she had survived polio and a bad first marriage, and recently fended off a marriage proposal from Graham Nash, whom she had loved. I didn’t know about these things yet. But my need to know about this woman I heard on the record eventually brought me closer and closer.
Over the years, I would turn to Joni’s music, sometimes when I needed to hear her tell me, as she does in “Trouble Child,” that I really am inconsolably on my own: “So what are you going to do about it / You can’t live life and you can’t leave it.” Ouch. And yet, in that voice, in those chords, there was nevertheless an implicit promise that life would go on, and would be full of surprises. And in her music, as again and again she sought someone who could understand her, who could offer a counterbalance to her ramblings and yearnings, she would tell us not to listen for her but to listen for ourselves. She wanted us to have some sort of transference. It was not a delusion to listen for yourself. It was an injunction.
Excerpted from David Yaffe’s Reckless Daughter
Read the complete excerpt
David Yaffe was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1973. He is a professor of humanities at Syracuse University and a 2012 winner of the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The Nation, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, Slate, New York, The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, and Bookforum. He is the author of Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown and Fascinating Rhythm.
A selection of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics will be included in our study of “The Poetry in Popular Music” on October 26. Please bring your own favourite examples – whether on the original or expanded topic – and, preferably, post them first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly.
See the SCHEDULE PAGE for submissions to-date.
Poetry lovers, it’s time to register for our summer 2017 session (July 27). Registration is free, of course. You may register in person, via telephone (604-713-1800) or Register online.
Please take the time to do this, as our free room at the Roundhouse Community Centre depends upon their awareness that we are an active group. So far, only two of our members have registered for the summer session.
Poetry lovers, it’s time to register for our spring 2017 sessions (January 26, February 23 and March 23). Registration is free, of course. You may register in person (e.g. before or immediately after our meeting on January 26), via telephone (604-713-1800) or online at: https://ca.apm.activecommunities.com/vancouver/Activity_Search/roundhouse-poetry-circle/87155 (then follow the registration instructions).
Please take the time to do this, as our free room at the Roundhouse Community Centre depends upon their awareness that we are an active group.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. We’re all eagerly anticipating another year of great poetry at the Roundhouse.
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.
This is old song
That will not declare itself . . .
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Twenty men crossing a bridge
Into a village.
That will not declare itself
Yet is certain as meaning . . .
The boots of the men clump
On the boards of the bridge.
The first white wall of the village
Rises through fruit-trees.
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes.
The first white wall of the village . . .
The fruit-trees . . .
Read a brief analysis of this poem: On “Metaphors of a Magnifico.”
A mid-month reminder that we’ll be discussing the role of metaphor in poetry on November 24. Please bring your own favorite examples or illustrations and post them on the blog first via the “CONTACT US” page, or email them to me directly. So far, we only have three submissions – see the SCHEDULE PAGE. While there, please also peruse the tentative schedule for 2017 and be prepared to discuss changes, additions and/or deletions on November 24.
John Kerrigan’s examination of the many vows, oaths, promises, pledges and profanities contained in Shakespeare’s plays provides further rewarding reading
Given this year’s 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there was always going to be a slew of new publications; few, I suspect, will have as long-lasting an effect as John Kerrigan’s. His field of inquiry is both straightforward and complicated. It is almost retrospectively obvious that Shakespeare’s plays contain a great amount of vows, oaths, swearing both covenantual and vulgar, pledges, promises and imprecations. The same might be said for a great many playwrights’ works; but the depth of subtlety which Kerrigan finds in the handling of these specific rhetorical forms is compelling.
It comprises broad historical context —this was an age in which oaths of allegiance were politically demanded and theologians debated, sometimes clandestinely, the extent to which one might perjure oneself for a higher moral reason — and attentive readings of the plays. Although it deals with major texts, the concentration on less well known or infrequently staged plays is welcome: the forswearing of female company (and avowals of fidelity) in Love’s Labour’s Lost; the compacts of vengeance in Henry VI Part 2 and Titus Andronicus; the oaths and tokens in Troilus and Cressida and the forked-tongue allegiances in King John, Henry VIII and the unstaged Sir Thomas More.