Tabatha A. Yeatts

Author

POETRY FRIDAY

What is Poetry Friday? Poems and poetic ideas, suggestions, and morsels for students, teachers, and language lovers of all ages. To receive weekly notices when Poetry Friday is updated, send an email to tabatha@tabathayeatts.com with "Poetry Friday" as the subject.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

These beautiful five-line poems are so evocative. It's easy to imagine pictures and backgrounds that would go well with them. The first ones are by Izumi Shikibu, who was born around the year 974. (The second poem was translated by Jane Hirshfield...I don't know who translated the first one.)

By Izumi Shikibu

Sleeplessly
I watch over
the spring night­
but no amount of guarding
is enough to make it stay.

~~~~

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's a modern five-line poem...

By Harry Yeatts, Jr.

haloed gray-ball moon,
glowing almost-yellow streetlight,
dew-sparkled spider web --
three points in a triangle
seen from just so

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Laura Purdie Salas this week.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This week, we're visiting with author Diane Mayr. Diane regularly posts "Haiku Stickies" (haiku on post-it notes) and haiga (illustrated haiku) on her blog, Random Noodling. In addition to giving permission to post some of her previously published work, she gave us an unpublished haiga to share with you today. Thanks, Diane!





Diane is an occasional contributor to Haiku News. All the news that will fit into three short lines! (Actually, they do accept other poetic forms, like tanka, so I guess you could have five lines...) If you'd like to write for them, learn more here.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living
~Epitaph on the memorial to T.S. Eliot.

This week, we're visiting poets' graves. OK, so today's topic might seem a little...dark. But it's not really. It's about history, remembrance, honoring our forepoets, and even having fun.

How can poets' graves have anything to do with fun? Listen to Tennessee poet laureate Maggi Vaughn talk, among other things, about visiting Thoreau's grave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


You can tell from the logo of The Dead Poets Society that they have a sense of humor. Their motto says, "We Dig Dead Poets....You Dig?" They are in the middle of their "Dead Poets Grand Tour 2010: 6,ooo miles...22 States...34 Daze."

You can follow along on the blog here and, if you're in the U.S., you can see if the Dead Poets Bash in your state has happened yet. (They note on their blog that Abraham Lincoln has the largest tomb of any American poet, and they'd like to be told if you can think of any that are larger.) They also have videos of poems being read at poets' graves.

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Westminster Abbey has a famous Poets' Corner, where some poets are buried, and others have monuments or plaques (but are buried elsewhere).


Bottom photo by WolfieWolf

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More links:

The American Poet's Corner, inspired by Westminster Abbey's: Cathedral of Saint John the Divine Poet's Corner. Poetry.org says, "In 1976, poet Muriel Rukeyser founded The Poetry Wall in the ambulatory of the Cathedral as a place where poems will always be accepted. Rukeyser explained "the whole idea is openness, a free giving and accepting of poetry. Poets meet so many rejections in their work. This is the place where poems will always be accepted. They can be signed or unsigned and in all languages." Poems can be sent to: The Muriel Rukeyser Poetry Wall, The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025."
Poets' Graves, a UK-based site.
Want to see the grave for someone in particular?
Find a Grave might help.
The Dead Poets perform poetry as music. (They claim that every poem by Emily Dickinson can be sung to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas. Hmmm...)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, a poem...

At A Poet's Grave
Francis Ledwidge

When I leave down this pipe my friend
And sleep with flowers I loved, apart,
My songs shall rise in wilding things
Whose roots are in my heart.

And here where that sweet poet sleeps
I hear the songs he left unsung,
When winds are fluttering the flowers
And summer-bells are rung.

Friday, April 30, 2010

First, I have to tell you about a neat poetry-creating form called Newspaper Blackouts. You take a newspaper article and a Sharpie or black crayon and black out everything that you DON'T want in your poem. (OK, first you might want to go through and put little dots next to the words you want to save.) Sounds like fun to me. There's a video about the Blackout Poet here. Thanks to A Year of Reading for sharing info about these kinds of poems.

Now, on to our poem. It's a beauty:

When I Was
by Mario Milosevic

When I was a bear
I filled the world.
My paws were wide,
and I walked large.
I ate all summer
and slept all winter,
dreaming of the time
when I was a dragonfly
and I wove the world.
Darting through air,
skimming over grass,
hovering on water,
my compound eyes
embroidering my dreams of the time
when I was a turtle
and I carried the world.
Walking slowly with the weight,
squat body on four thick legs,
hard shell holding me in,
keeping my dreams of the time
when I was a salmon
and I fed the world.
Sleek skin sliding down river throats,
pink flesh nourishing my cousins.
I swam upstream,
where death took me
and I swallowed my dreams of the time
when I was a tree
and I held the world.
Roots gripping soil,
branches embracing sky,
my vision
encompassing dreams of the time
when I was a raven
and I sang the world.
Single note struck from my throat,
pushed into air,
the sound a call to listen
to the unseen
and honor my dreams of the time
when I was a bear;
when I was a dragonfly;
when I was a turtle, a salmon, a tree;
when I was a raven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted with permission of the poet. This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at Great Kid Books.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our two poems for today cover a similar theme, albeit very differently.

Slam poet Gayle Danley is a treat. (I would say her work is for middle school and up, btw.)

Gayle's 5 Steps to Slam
By Gayle Danley

Step 1: Begin with a life experience, good or bad. Take that event and write it down.
Step 2: Read it aloud.
Step 3: Trim it down. Take away the excess — everything that is not "heart."
Step 4: Repeat step two. Be sure not to trim too much.
Step 5: "Add the flavor." Let yourself go. Incorporate your personality.

Gayle spoke at this year's National Association for Poetry Therapy conference.

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Meadowlark Mending Song
by Margaret Hasse

What hurt you today
was taken out of your heart
by the meadowlark
who slipped the silver needle
of her song
in and out of the grey day
and mended what was torn.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A wee bit of musical history for you this fine mornin':

Who was Rose Mooney? Miss Mooney was an Irish harper who lived from 1740-1798 or so. Nearly all the Irish harpers at that time were men, and many of them were blind, since the harp was considered a good profession for blind youth to enter.

Rose Mooney attended the now legendary gathering of harpers in Belfast in 1792, where Edward Bunting began writing down the traditional Irish harp tunes. Harpers, who had once been the resident musicians for Irish nobles, had been so reduced in number over the course of the 1700s that it had become urgent to make a record of the songs before the old harpers died out.

When they were promoting the Belfast Festival, the organizers said that they were "soliticious to preserve from oblivion, the few fragments which have been permitted to remain as Monuments of the refined Taste and Genius of their ancestors."

One last note -- Rose Mooney won third place in the 1792 Belfast Festival and took home a 6-guinea prize.

Blind Rose Mooney
by Tabatha Yeatts

Blind Rose Mooney
laid her fingers on her harp
and a hundred galloping Irish ponies
raced out,
prancing for all they were worth,
dappled coats
under dappled sun.

Old Rose
could pull a song out of the strings
the way the moon
pulls stars out of the dark,
keeping herself company
with light she could see by.

Wild Rose
would pull up a chair with
the harping men
and toss out a song
even their dexterous fingers
couldn't catch,
a bouncing melody
that flickered around the room,
finally landing
in old blind Rosie's
Irish smile.

~~~~~~~~

The National Museum of Ireland owns Rose Mooney's harp, but it is not in very good condition and is not on display. Even so, students of Scoil na gCláirseach (Summer School of Early Irish harp) study it each year, and try to imagine how she played it.

If you'd like to learn more, you might want to check out harper Gráinne Yeats' book, The Harp of Ireland: The Belfast Harpers’ Festival, 1792, and the Saving of Ireland’s Harp Music by Edward Bunting.

The Chieftains honored Edward Bunting's work with a CD tribute, recorded with the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is hosted by the inimitable Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another video this week...I think Maggie Smith is the bomb:

Morality
by Matthew Arnold

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides;
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
But tasks in hours of insight will'd
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.

With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern.

~~~~~~~~

You know who else I could hear recite poems every day and twice on Sundays? Alan Rickman. But what I'm sharing today for any other Rickmaniacs is the Family Guy version of Alan Rickman's Answering Machine. Just for fun!

A link to info about Rickman reciting poems on film.

You can find more poetry at Paper Tigers, where they are hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Poetry Month!


Poem House Pittsburgh photo by Dave White

I'd like to share this video about Chinese poet Huang Xiang with you. Huang Xiang was a City of Asylum poet in Pittsburgh. I think he put it well when he said, "I am crushed diamond/A sun resides in every tiny piece."

The current City of Asylum-Pittsburgh poet is Khet Mar. It's a tremendous program, which you can support here.

There's also Ithaca City of Asylum, and the International Cities of Refuge Network.

March 26, 2010

This week our spotlight is on Dr. Alphabet himself, Dave Morice. Where do I start with this guy? He's done it all, and then some. I mean, he's written poetry marathons, played poetry poker, co-authored (with 500 contributors) a novel composed of 2,000 fortune cookie fortunes collaged together, and written a sci-fi fantasy novel which is a "word-order palindrome in which the words in the first half reverse their order to make the second half." And that's just for starters!

Mr. Morice is nothing if not generous, which you can see from these poetry tokens he created which are "Good for One Poem." (Recipients could either keep the tokens or turn them in for a poem, which he would make up on the spot.)

He's also drawn Poetry Comics, like these:

When we were discussing activities for National Poetry Month, he said, "Writing a poem a day is a very good idea. Another thing teachers could do with their classes is to write (on a calendar) a poem at the rate of one word per day. The students can suggest words, and then vote on which one should be used that day. Then they have a whole new day to wonder about what the next word will be. It calls attention to how words connect. If the first word is THE, then the second word could be many things, but it couldn't be IS, for instance." If you try this, let us know how it turns out!

He has a new release coming out -- a children's epic poem about a leprechaun named Scratch O'Flattery. The intro/invocation to the Muse goes like this:

I sing, O Muse, of a story I know
Of a Leprechaun boy just three inches low.
Grant me the words, O Gods of Green;
Sharpen my memory ever so keen.
Help me recall that tale of old,
Of Wars that were fought over Leprechaun gold,
Of a Leprechaun seeking to find a lost ring,
Who gained for himself the title of “King”
And found in the end a wife to match;
So to tell the whole story I’ll start from scratch!
Scratch O’Flattery lived in Dorn,
The Leprechaun town in which he was born.

~~~~~~~~

Mr. Morice is a fixture in Iowa City, IA, which was named one of UNESCO's Cities of Literature, along with Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia. I haven't been to Melbourne yet, but Iowa City and Edinburgh seem like perfect choices for Cities of Literature to me. Edinburgh ran a Poetry Postcard/Carry a Poem program this year, which included postcards like this:

By the way, there are also UNESCO Cities of Music (Seville, Glasgow, Bologna, and Ghent), Crafts and Folk Art (Aswan, Kanazawa, and Santa Fe), and Gastronomy (Popayan and Chengdu), among other things.

March 19, 2010

Not sure who the human author of this is...

The End of the Raven
By Edgar Allen Poe's Cat

On a night quite unenchanting, when the rain was downward slanting,
I awakened to the ranting of the man I catch mice for.
Tipsy and a bit unshaven, in a tone I found quite craven,
Poe was talking to a Raven perched above the chamber door.
"Raven's very tasty," thought I, as I tiptoed o'er the floor,
      "There is nothing I like more."

Soft upon the rug I treaded, calm and careful as I headed
Towards his roost atop that dreaded bust of Pallas I deplore.
While the bard and birdie chattered, I made sure that nothing clattered,
For his house is crammed with trinkets, curios and weird decor--
      Bric-a-brac and junk galore.

Still the Raven never fluttered, standing stock-still as he uttered,
In a voice that shrieked and sputtered, his two-cents' worth--"Nevermore."
While this dirge the birdbrain kept up, oh, so silently I crept up,
Then I crouched and quickly leapt up, pouncing on the feathered bore.
Soon he was a heap of plumage, and a little blood and gore--
      Only this and not much more.

"Oooo!" my pickled poet cried out, "Pussycat, it's time I dried out!
Never sat I in my hideout talking to a bird before;
How I've wallowed in self-pity, while my gallant, valiant kitty
Put an end to that damned ditty"--then I heard him start to snore.
Back atop the door I clambered, eyed that statue I abhor,
      Jumped--and smashed it on the floor.

~~~~~~~~

A link to the text of Edgar Allan Poe's original Raven
Also, have you heard of the Pi (3.14 etc etc) Raven by Mike Keith?

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Without
by Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

Without plunging, a waterfall is only a river
  Praise the falling, the walling, the surprise of water standing on end

Without sinking, a sunset is only blinding light
  Praise the creeping of night and its battle for sky control

Without night falling, the moon just hangs, a pale, cold rock
  Praise the backdrop of black, the reflected white glow of sun

Without wintering, summer overstays like holiday houseguests
  Praise the sharp freshness of ice, the clean slate before spring

Without dying, life is a treadmill
  Praise deadlines and pressure, and the shortness to make time matter

Without ending, the story is unfinished
  Praise the anticipation, the fear, the delight of The End

~~~~~~~~

I love the poetry pockets that Laura Shovan talks about on her blog -- the bulletin board they made is awesome! She says: "Write the poems on a square of white paper. Then give each child a blue "pocket" to decorate. Post the pockets with the poems loose inside. Kids and parents love lifting the poems out to read."

Poetry Friday is at Becky's Book Reviews today.

Friday, March 5, 2010

At a Window
by Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amy Souza founded Art Sparks -- an artist provides a work which is the "spark" for a writer's new creation and vice versa.

Gabriel Shanks privided the photo Canal and Mott* to G.L. Morrison, who wrote:

...Possibilities chase us up the street like rain
forcing us to take shelter in storefront windows
and kiosks full of everything we never knew
to need. Buy nothing and still it will all come
home with you...

* you'll need to scroll down to see it

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Friday, February 26, 2010

My daughter (age 8) was inspired by the national PTA arts program Reflections to make a family poetry event with the theme "Beauty is..." (the 2009-2010 Reflections theme). We each wrote poems, and my daughter gave out certificates of participation and merit, etc., that she'd made herself. Here's the poem I wrote for the occasion:

The Slobbering Eek Meets the Globbering Zeek

It so happened that the Slobbering Eek
Was pursued by a Globbering Zeek.
He liked the size of her eyes,
Small, bloodshot, and wise,
The floppy swirl of her neck,
Her nose like a shipwreck,
Crashing into her slobbering lips.

With all of his globbering heart
And the rest of his pus-covered parts,
He devoted himself to woo
With complete and total ado-
No one could have tried harder to recruit her
Than this cross-eyed, bow-legged suitor.

The zeek brought her flowers
For hours and hours,
Until she finally said,
"STOP!
It's not that I don't like that you are cutie-ful,
But you only love me because I'm beautiful."

~~~~~~~~

Her brother wrote this acrostic:

Beauty is madness, that's what I always say
E: Please, just add a 'm' before the 'e' and you'll get all beauty is
All the beauty in the world, scrunched up in one person
U agree that I'm being modest, right?
Thank
You very much.

~~~~~~~~

The next Reflections theme is "Together we can." Maybe I should start writing a little something about that...
Today's Poetry Friday round-up is at Check It Out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

This poem from E-mails from Scheherazad by Mohja Kahf has fantastic imagery. In fact, I love pretty much everything about it.

Khidr's Riddle
by Mohja Kahf

It is a tiny hearing aid.
You will be able
to detect the sound
of grass growing, the thunder
of a thousand blades raised
under your foot.

It is a vial of eyedrops.
You will discern the epic
unfolding in every mote
of matter, the poem being written
and unwritten in every face.
Civilizations rise and fall,
whole species speak sagas
in that stone you kicked this morning.

It is a medicine.
Take it to perceive
worlds under the world, realities
cupped inside the belly
of reality.

It is a warning.
Your nerves will tentacle
across the globe. Rivers
will delta into your bloodstream.
The burbling liquids of Mars
will boil your medulla oblongata
and the rocks of Saturn's rings
will ice the base of your spine.

Joys, innumerable joys,
like the coming back of children
grown and bearing children,
each bearing baskets of harvest
berries, will fall into your lap.

It is a bucket into the well
of the world's soul.
Be careful. You will also
drink the pain of those you hate
and hear the last pleas
of the mad and butchered of the earth.

The wall of your back will crumble
under the weight of our heritage
of cruelty to each other.
The dam of your mercy will burst.
Consider: Will the flood ensuing drown
or irrigate, at last, the small field,
you have been hoeing
in your heart?

~~~~~~~~

Posted with permission of the poet.
Poetry Friday links are located at Irene Latham's site this week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poet Janet Wong is the author of many books, including You Have To Write ("an encouraging book...for all young readers who worry when they're told to write something"), Twist: Yoga Poems, and Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams.

Today, we're reading The Ones They Loved The Most from Night Garden.

The Ones They Loved The Most
By Janet Wong

My mother says
the spirits of the dead
visit
in dreams,
seeking out
the ones they loved
the most.
When you are chosen,
remember to pull
at the air around you
when you wake,
pull and gulp it down,
swallow hard,
and those sweet memories
will stick
like cotton candy.

~~~~~~~~

Posted with permission of the poet.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poetic potpourri today. Last week for Poetry Friday, Diane Mayr had Erasure Poetry, inspired by the Poetry Foundation podcast about it. Erasure poetry is when you take a work (of fiction or poetry or something else) and remove parts of it to create something new. I remember doing that with Beloved by Toni Morrison when I was in school. Consider giving it a try -- it's fun!

Here is a video that does something similar, taking bits and pieces of dialogue to make a song:

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Next, Jan Haag -- wow. His goal was to write a poem in all the different forms used in English (and some used in other languages) and, as far as I can tell, he got at least as far as 326! Impressive. Here's his Sicilian Sestet I:

SICILIAN SESTET I

The roads run straight into the lake. Down deep,
five feet or more beneath the water, salt
shifts, filling its subtle grades, blue-green. Leap
away, avoid the coming tide, foam, malt,
the doom that inch by inch, silent, will seep
through any fissure, shatter each small fault.

~~~~~~~~

Lastly, I like Robert Bly's poetry translations. I have his Winged Energy of Delight, which contains this:

You Are The Wind
by Olav Hauge
translated by Robert Bly

I am a boat
without wind.
You were the wind.
Was that the direction I wanted to go?
Who cares about directions
with a wind like that!

~~~~~~~~

Another great poem translated by Robert Bly is Rumi's Eating Poetry (it's the third one down).

Update: I learned after I posted this about some controversies regarding Bly and his translations, so I thought I would post a few links. I didn't find a good explanation of the problem with Bly (I heard that Dana Gioia wrote about him, but I didn't find it.) The problems I heard about were that Bly didn't speak the languages he was translating and that he wasn't good at translating anyway. The examples that I saw did make a good case for other translators doing a more evocative and precise job, but I just saw a few samples and it doesn't seem fair to write off his entire body of work from those.

At any rate, here are a couple of links:
Robert Bly's 8 stages for translations.
Robert Bly translates Peer Gynt

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 25th was Robbie Burns' birthday.


Statue of Robert Burns in Dumfries town centre. Taken by Ron Waller.

Here's a bit of a poem and some belated links about the Scottish poet, whose birthday has been celebrated with annual dinners for over two hundred years.

From Tam o'Shanter

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You sieze the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white--then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm.--
Nae man can tether time or tide...

Links:

The complete songs of Robert Burns
Robert Burns supper recipes
kids' activities
The Story of Robert Burns
Robert Burns movie in the works, with Gerard Butler as Burns.
A nice surreal version of Burns by Calum Colvin

Friday, January 22, 2010

Poems by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) today. Amor Mundi reminds me of E.A. Poe, because it sends a shiver down my spine. Rossetti knows creepy.

Amor Mundi
By Christina Rossetti

“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
  On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
  We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.”

So they two went together in glowing August weather,
  The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right;
And dear she was to dote on, her swift feet seemed to float on
  The air like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight.

“Oh what is that in heaven where gray cloud-flakes are seven,
  Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt?”
“Oh that’s a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous,
  An undeciphered solemn signal of help or hurt.”

“Oh what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly,
  Their scent comes rich and sickly?”­“A scaled and hooded worm.”
“Oh what’s that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?”
  “Oh that’s a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.”

“Turn again, O my sweetest,­turn again, false and fleetest:
  This beaten way thou beatest I fear is hell’s own track.”
“Nay, too steep for hill-mounting; nay, too late for cost-counting:
  This downhill path is easy, but there’s no turning back.”


Oh, what's that in the hollow...?
by Edward Robert Hughes, circa 1895

~~~~~~~~

I thought about Robert Frost when I read these poems, thinking that Frost liked taking the harder path (the one less traveled) and that Rossetti liked the harder one as well (the one up-hill). But then I reread The Road Not Taken and noticed that the road less traveled wasn't harder. We tend to think of it that way because that makes it meaningful for us. Huh.

Up-Hill
by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
  Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
  From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
  A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
  You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
  Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when 'ust in sight?
  They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
  Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
  Yea, beds for all who come.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A couple of children's books of poetry. They aren't new, but they were new to me. John Updike's A Child's Calendar has poems for every month. I love his descriptions of nature in particular. J. Patrick Lewis' book, below, has poems to go with famous monuments, such as the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty. I liked how his poems "echoed" the buildings in some way.

From A Child's Calendar
Poems by John Updike
Illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman

January

The days are short,
  The sun a spark
Hung thin between
  The dark and dark.

...

The river is
  A frozen place
Held still beneath
  The trees' black lace.

~~~~~~~~


photo by Benh Lieu Song

From Monumental Verses
by J. Patrick Lewis

Arc de Triomphe
Date: Built 1806-1836

Triumphal Roman arcs
Were magic doors
For ancient soldiers who,
Surviving wars,
Resumed their lives
As ordinary men
By merely passing through
Them once again...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Have you heard the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice? They were very much in love, but Eurydice stepped on a poisonous snake and came to a sad end. Orpheus, a magnificent musician, played songs about his loss that were so sweet, so poignant, that he was given a chance to bring Eurydice back from the Underworld.


by Auguste Rodin

Orpheus was forbidden to look back at Eurydice while he led her out of the Underworld -- if he turned to look, she would be lost to him forever. Would you have looked?
Orpheus couldn't help himself. He did not live much longer after losing Eurydice the second time, and Zeus laid his lyre among the stars.


Lyra, the constellation of the lyre. The brightest star is Vega, which is the second brightest star of the northern hemisphere.

Many poets and artists have been inspired by these tragic lovers. For instance, Rainier Maria Rilke wrote Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes. (translated from German by Stephen Cohn, 1997):

…[Orpheus] had to tell himself: They follow still.
He spoke the words aloud and heard them fade.
How soundlessly they moved! The silence gnawed
At him. Although he knew one backward glance
Must utterly destroy the whole design
So nearly now achieved, he ached, he longed
At last to halt, to turn and look behind
And in the distance see those other two
Who followed but who stayed so strangely mute:
The God of distant journeys, God of Messages,
Whose eyes were bright beneath the dusty hood,
His slender baton held in front of him
And at his feet the ever-beating wings;
Beside him, held at his left hand, walked she.

~~~~~~~~

I read about Sue Hubbard's Eurydice recently -- it was a poem written specifically to be read at the Waterloo underpass in England.

Apparently, Eurydice was well-loved by travellers and passers-by, but it was painted over. There is a campaign to bring it back.

It's a lovely poem. I hope this story has a happy ending.

First Friday of 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

I discovered this poem on Liz Garton Scanlon's blog. It reminds me of this quote by Walt Whitman:

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments.


by TAY

Where Everything Is Music
by Jelaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

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