Tag Archives: Poetry

All Souls

May Sarton

All SoulsDid someone say that there would be an end,
An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning?
Such voices speak when sleep and waking blend,
The cold bleak voices of the early morning
When all the birds are dumb in dark November—
Remember and forget, forget, remember.
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After the false night, warm true voices, wake!
Voice of the dead that touches the cold living,
Through the pale sunlight once more gravely speak.
Tell me again, while the last leaves are falling:
“Dear child, what has been once so interwoven
Cannot be raveled, nor the gift ungiven.”
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Now the dead move through all of us still glowing,
Mother and child, lover and lover mated,
Are wound and bound together and enflowing.
What has been plaited cannot be unplaited—
Only the strands grow richer with each loss
And memory makes kings and queens of us.
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Dark into light, light into darkness, spin.
When all the birds have flown to some real haven,
We who find shelter in the warmth within,
Listen, and feel new-cherished, new-forgiven,
As the lost human voices speak through us and blend
Our complex love, our mourning without end.

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Gloire de Dijon

D.H. Lawrence

Gloire de DijonWhen she rises in the morning

I linger to watch her;

She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window

And the sunbeams catch her

Glistening white on the shoulders,

While down her sides the mellow

Golden shadow glows as

She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts

Sway like full-blown yellow

Gloire de Dijon roses.

She drips herself with water, and her shoulders

Glisten as silver, they crumple up

Like wet and falling roses, and I listen

For the sluicing of their rain-dishevelled petals.

In the window full of sunlight

Concentrates her golden shadow

Fold on fold, until it glows as

Mellow as the glory roses.
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On January 25 we will celebrate the use of the rose as a poetic symbol or metaphor. 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. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

 

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W.H. AUDEN WROTE POETRY FOR A BEAUTIFUL SHORT FILM ABOUT RUNNING

Runner Is A Classic, Unsung Piece Of Mid-century Filmmaking

By Nick Ripatrazone

auden-runningIn 1962, Canada’s National Film Board commissioned a first-time director to make an 11-minute, black-and-white movie about a 19-year-old distance runner who would later become an Olympian, and have legendary poet W.H. Auden—not Canadian, and not a runner—write a poem as narration. Runner has receded into the archives of film history, and that’s a shame. This is why you should care about this strange little film.
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Runner is the story of Bruce Kidd, a Toronto racer training for the Commonwealth games. I’ve never been one for inspirational videos, but I was hooked on Kidd’s story. Here was a teenager with an unorthodox running style: arms low, scooping the air in a movement newspapers called “dog-paddling.” But Runner is no average runner biopic: with a jumpy jazz soundtrack complemented by Auden’s poetic meditations on the beauty of running, the film is a reminder that running is natural, sleek, and in a word, cool.
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The film begins with a side shot of Kidd running along a pier. His metronomic strides on the boards cut through the other sounds: soft waves against the shore, tweeting birds, and the calm narration. Auden’s lyric script was read by Don Francks, a Canadian musician and actor who starred in shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
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Read the complete article, watch the video and listen to the Auden poem.

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A Little Budding Rose

by Emily Bronte

A Little Budding RoseIt was a little budding rose,

Round like a fairy globe,

And shyly did its leaves unclose

Hid in their mossy robe,

But sweet was the slight and spicy smell

It breathed from its heart invisible.
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The rose is blasted, withered, blighted,

Its root has felt a worm,

And like a heart beloved and slighted,

Failed, faded, shrunk its form.

Bud of beauty, bonnie flower,

I stole thee from thy natal bower.
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I was the worm that withered thee,

Thy tears of dew all fell for me;

Leaf and stalk and rose are gone,

Exile earth they died upon.

Yes, that last breath of balmy scent

With alien breezes sadly blent!
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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. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

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The Reminder

Thomas Hardy

The ReminderWhile I watch the Christmas blaze

Paint the room with ruddy rays,

Something makes my vision glide

To the frosty scene outside.
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There, to reach a rotting berry,

Toils a thrush, – constrained to very

Dregs of food by sharp distress,

Taking such with thankfulness.
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Why, O starving bird, when I

One day’s joy would justify,

And put misery out of view,

Do you make me notice you!

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The Sick Rose

William Blake

The Sick RoseO Rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm:
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Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.
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The “Sick Rose” is one of the poems to be featured when we celebrate the use of the rose as a poetic symbol or metaphor on January 25, 2018. Please bring your own illustration of this genre 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. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections to-date.

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“The White Rose of Paradise” From Dante’s Divine Comedy, “Paradiso”

The White Rose.jpg

O splendour of God! by means of which I saw

The lofty triumph of the realm veracious,

Give me the power to say how it I saw!

There is a light above, which visible

Makes the Creator unto every creature,

Who only in beholding Him has peace,

 And it expands itself in circular form

To such extent, that its circumference

Would be too large a girdle for the sun.

 The semblance of it is all made of rays

Reflected from the top of Primal Motion,

Which takes therefrom vitality and power.

 And as a hill in water at its base

Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty

When affluent most in verdure and in flowers,

 So, ranged aloft all round about the light,

Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand

All who above there have from us returned.

And if the lowest row collect within it

So great a light, how vast the amplitude

Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves!

My vision in the vastness and the height

Lost not itself, but comprehended all

The quantity and quality of that gladness.

There near and far nor add nor take away;

For there where God immediately doth govern,

The natural law in naught is relevant.

Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal

That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odour

Of praise unto the ever-vernal Sun,

As one who silent is and fain would speak,

Me Beatrice drew on, and said: “Behold

Of the white stoles how vast the convent is!

Behold how vast the circuit of our city!

Behold our seats so filled to overflowing,

That here henceforward are few people wanting!

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– Canto XXX, “Paradiso” by Dante, translated from Italian by Henry Longfellow
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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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Today’s Birthday: Nelly Sachs

Nelly SachsPoet Leonie Nelly Sachs was born in Berlin on December 10, 1891. On May 16, 1940 she and her mother boarded the last flight to Sweden, fleeing the Nazis. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966.

Read the complete bio for Nelly Sachs.
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The Crooked Line of Suffering
by Nelly Sachs

The crooked line of suffering
stumbling along the godfired
geometry of the universe
forever on the  trail of light leading to you
and dimmed  again in the falling sickness
impatient to reach the end –
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Die gekrümmte Linie des Leidens
nachtastend die göttlich entzündete 
Geometrie des Weltalls 
immer auf der Leuchtspur zu dir
und verdunkelt wieder in der Fallsucht 
dieser Ungeduld ans Ende zu kommen –    

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Dreaming

R. S. Thomas

Dreaming_RS-ThomasI lean over the fire; a smell

as of frost comes, sparks embroidering

the soot. It is a tapestry

of the past. How many men

have leaned, spat, dreamed

by a fire, remembering love,

youth, victory, happier

times, and the uselessness of remembering?
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There is a flower of bright flame

asleep in a log, one, many

of them. It is a garden

to sit by, for thought to wander

in seeking for the lost innocence

at the centre, where the tree

was planted for the naked

conscience to conceal itself under

from the voice calling.

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The 13th-century revolution that made modern poetry possible

The 13th-century revolution that made modern poetry possibleIn the 13th century, English poetry changed dramatically. There were no battles, no pamphleteering, or Ezra Pound-style polemics, and no warring factions. Yet by the end of the century, a poetic revolution had taken place. Modern readers and writers have long since forgotten what happened back then, but poetry today would not be the same without the 13th century.
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In the Middle Ages, three major languages were spoken and written in England: Latin, French, and English. English was the least prestigious but, like the others, it had a thriving literary tradition. Before c1200, there was only one way to write poetry in English, known today as alliterative verse. This is the form of poetry used in Beowulf, Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and approximately 300 other poems.
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The alliterative metre is a very strange metre, at least by modern measures. The more we learn about it, the stranger it seems. The number of stresses matters, but it isn’t consistent from verse to verse. The number of syllables matters, too, but it isn’t consistent, either. What’s more, the metre changed quite a bit from the earliest examples, in the 7th and 8th centuries, to the latest examples, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Here’s the ninth line of Beowulf, an anonymous heroic poem composed in the 8th, 9th, or 10th century:

Weox under wolcnum weorthmyndum thah (‘[He] grew under the skies, flourished [thah] in praises [weorthmyndum].’)
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