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Poetry thread

emwolf

Contributor
here's a fun one by the Monty Python gang:

Port Shoem by The Speverend Rooner

I’ve a Gouse and Harden in the country
An ace I call my plown,
A treat I can replace to
When I beed to knee alone.
Catterfly and butterpillar
Perch on beefy lough
And I listen to the dats and cogs
As they mark and they biaow.
Yes wature here is nunderful
There is no weed for nords,
While silling by my window flutter
Biny little tirds.
 

Owen Bawn

"Ask me about a fluffernutter"
For the day that's in it...

Lepanto
BY G. K. CHESTERTON
White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain—hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces—four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate ;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still—hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michael’s on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip’s in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John’s hunting, and his hounds have bayed—
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man’s house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings’ horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign—
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate’s sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!

Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)
 

oc_in_fw

Contributor
Normally I wouldn’t conflate lyrics and poetry, but I will make the exception here. There is something magical about this song (to me). I have seen post-Waters Pink Floyd live. I hope that, one day, he and Gilmour get over their beef.
Echoes

Overhead the albatross
Hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine
And no one showed us to the land
And no one knows the where's or why's
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb toward the light
Strangers passing in the street
By chance, two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can?
And no one calls us to move on
And no one forces down our eyes
No one speaks and no one tries
No one flies around the sun
Cloudless everyday
You fall upon my waking eyes
Inviting and inciting me to rise
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning
And no one sings me lullabies
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky
 
For the traditional straight razor shaver.

The Man from Ironbark

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,
He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.
He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,
Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop.
‘ ’Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I’ll be a man of mark,
I’ll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.’

The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,
He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar;
He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,
He laid the odds and kept a ‘tote’, whatever that may be,
And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered, ‘Here’s a lark!
Just watch me catch him all alive, this man from Ironbark.’

There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber’s wall.
Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;
To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,
‘I’ll make this bloomin’ yokel think his bloomin’ throat is cut.’
And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:
‘I s’pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.’

A grunt was all the reply he got; he shaved the bushman’s chin,
Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.
He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim’s throat;
Upon the newly-shaven skin it made a livid mark —
No doubt it fairly took him in — the man from Ironbark.

He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,
And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,
He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murd’rous foe:
‘You’ve done for me! you dog, I’m beat! one hit before I go!
‘I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!
‘But you’ll remember all your life the man from Ironbark.’

He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout
He landed on the barber’s jaw, and knocked the barber out.
He set to work with nail and tooth, he made the place a wreck;
He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.
And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,
And ‘Murder! Bloody Murder!’ yelled the man from Ironbark.

A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;
He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.
And when at last the barber spoke, and said ‘’Twas all in fun —
‘’Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.’
‘A joke!’ he cried, ‘By George, that’s fine; a lively sort of lark;
‘I’d like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.’

And now while round the shearing floor the list’ning shearers gape,
He tells the story o’er and o’er, and brags of his escape.
‘Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, By George, I’ve had enough,
‘One tried to cut my bloomin’ throat, but thank the Lord it’s tough.’
And whether he’s believed or no, there’s one thing to remark,
That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.
 
There was a man from tumblestead his hands were shaky and dirty his cut throat in his right his soap in his left...he tried once to have a shave with wiry hair on face...he scuttled up a lather of creamyness and found not a spot or trace...he placed his brush upon a shelf to keep it safe and sound...silly man he tripped over and cut his finger and bled all over the town...he grabbed a styptic and some alum and rubbed everywhere sore..silly old man from tumblestead he should of been more careful...made it up i was bored lol 😂 in a way it reminds me of me 😂
 
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JWCowboy

Probably not Al Bundy
Here's one for this election day eve by Langston Hughes, written in 1935 when the 33 year old poet was traveling by train from New York City to his mother's home in Ohio. She'd just been diagnosed with cancer. Esquire Magazine published it in July 1936, and Hughes included it in his collection A New Song in 1938. It was essentially forgotten about until a public reading of it in the 1990s by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Let America be America Again
By Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
 

JWCowboy

Probably not Al Bundy
Here's one from the Writer's Almanac this morning that I thought was nice enough to share...


Bridge
by Jim Harrison

Most of my life was spent
building a bridge out over the sea
though the sea was too wide.
I’m proud of the bridge
hanging in the pure sea air. Machado
came for a visit and we sat on the
end of the bridge, which was his idea.

Now that I’m old the work goes slowly.
Ever nearer death, I like it out here
high above the sea bundled
up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred-foot depth of the green troughs.
Sometimes the sea roars and howls like
the animal it is, a continent wide and alive.
What beauty in this the darkest music
over which you can hear the lightest music of human
behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.

So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above
the abyss. Tonight the moon will be in my lap.
This is my job, to study the universe
from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea, the faint
green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.


Jim Harrison, “Bridge” from Dead Man’s Float. Copyright © 2016 by Jim Harrison. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
"Choose Something Like a Star"--Frost

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud –
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.


Hated to see our poetry thread fall off. This one seems particularly apt given the Christmas season, the Jupiter-Saturn convergence or whatever it is called, and the references to "the mob" carrying "praise or blame too far."

Lots of folks seem to read this poem as a transparent suggestion by Frost that we maintain our ideals and aim high in our lives, and take comfort in and knowledge from lofty things, like this star. I hear the musical adaptation of this poem, undertaken with Frost's approval, that way. But to me, as for most of Frost, Frost is subtle and nuanced, multi-leveled, questioning, critical or subversive, even.

What does he mean by that last line? By that last word? Sort of like the infamous "The Road Not Taken," to me Frost may in fact be saying the opposite of what many take away from this poem. To me Frost is a challenging, difficult, complex, sophisticated poet. An intellectual dressed in New England famer's garb--although I think that disguise itself captures something essential about New England, especially about Vermont.

What do others think? What is this excellent poem actually suggesting/endorsing? What does it mean to "stay our minds on [a star] and be staid"? Is it a good think to be "staid"? (Great word play, BTW, whatever Frost is saying.)
 

JWCowboy

Probably not Al Bundy
I think your analysis of Frost is spot on @The Knize

His poetry is like a multifaceted gem. Saying he was a master of the form is a massive understatement.
 

JWCowboy

Probably not Al Bundy
Here's one I read back on New Year's day via Writer's Almanac that I thought was good enough to share as we head into 2021. I particularly love the classic Time is a River metaphor, she describes trying to hold on to the present as trying to grip a handful of water "from the swift, silent river slipping by"


New Year's
by Dana Gioia

Let other mornings honor the miraculous.
Eternity has festivals enough.
This is the feast of our mortality,
The most mundane and human holiday.

On other days we misinterpret time,
Pretending that we live the present moment.
But can this blur, this smudgy in-between,
This tiny fissure where the future drips

Into the past, this flyspeck we call now
Be our true habitat? The present is
The leaky palm of water that we skim
From the swift, silent river slipping by.

The new year always brings us what we want
Simply by bringing us along—to see
A calendar with every day uncrossed,
A field of snow without a single footprint.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I admit that I did not know Gioia. Very interesting guy. New Year's is very nicely done.

Here is a what I thought was a pretty good lecture on how Robert Frost was simply not as much of the American public tends to perceive him. This argues that he was "dark," which I might not have said. But this is pretty convincing. I agree a real master, operating on multiple levels. He is not the Norman Rockwell of letters!

Thanks for the positive comments on the Bukowski video. For the most part, I do not really know what to make of Bukowski. Not exactly a nice guy. But a man's man. And I am more familiar with his books than his verse. But in "Bluebird" his says he does not weep, and asks the reader if the reader does. Maybe not weep, but I sure choke up, and I bet that Bukowski did as well. A very visceral poem. So raw! And I do think that video does it justice.

Bukowski and Frost are a nice compare and contrast. Both are dark. Both are uplifting.

Thanks!
 

JWCowboy

Probably not Al Bundy
Bukowski and Frost are a nice compare and contrast. Both are dark. Both are uplifting.

Thanks!
Yes indeed, regarding Bukowski's Bluebird someone in the comments of the YouTube video summed it up succinctly saying it was a very poetic way of saying "but if I am happy, I can no longer be creative"

Speaking of happiness vs melancholy here's a famous one by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Solitude
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
"but if I am happy, I can no longer be creative"
I saw that comment, but that is not my reading of "Bluebird." I suppose the bluebird could be read as symbolic of sweet, happy emotions exclusively. I see it as more symbolic of delicate emotions of all types. But I see the problem of letting that bluebird "out" as it interfering with his persona of a hard core, absolutely masculine guy, which would not help his "sales" to his audience, which expects that tough guy persona. Also, of rendering Bukowski exposed and vulnerable, which would inhibit him from being out in the world, which he must be to earn a living the way he is doing. Perhaps it would also render him out of control of himself, which would have all sorts of negative effects. Clearly Bukowski is afraid of letting that bluebird out.

Of course, the irony is that Bukowski in this poem is letting out that bluebird and furthering his career as a poet by doing so.

I do not see Bukowski as so much melancholic, as angry, closed off, suppressed, detached, unfeeling, not revealing emotions. I think Bukowski is saying that the recognition and expression of emotions is essential to "happiness," but not the happiness that Wilcox is writing about, the laughter and celebration. But more a contentment, a connection and ease with the world. Bukowski says he does not cry and asks if we do. I think he does and he is saying that if we know what is good for us we cry, too.

I do think the Wilcox poem is a great compare and contrast. The opening two lines are classic. And I fear she is being literal. That she means to say that we only have friends when we are fun to be around, when we are laughing. Otherwise we are alone. And there is something to be said for having an upbeat world view and a sense of humor, which has many advantages, but one of them being being more attractive to other people, which Wilcox may be saying is superficial. But I personally do not buy that having and expressing a broad front of emotions that come to all humans is off-putting to other humans. For instance, does Bukowski revealing that he has a bluebird inside him, make one feel more or less intimately connected with him?

My two cents, anyway.

By the way, I see Frost as way more complex as to what he is really saying.
 
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