Author Topic: Poems thread  (Read 69355 times)

Offline Lazybird

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Poems thread
« on: Jun 11, 2006, 09:42:26 PM »
We haven't had a poetry thread for ages.  So I thought I'd start one. Feel free to add any poem you like. :)

This is by Nina Cassian and was translated from Romanian by Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant.

PART OF A BIRD

Even now my breastbone's aching
when I remember how I was running
because the smell of the petunias invaded everything.
Ah, God, how warm it was around
my legs, bare, long and free
and evening fell over the sea,
over a crowd, gathered there, and over
the strange deserted pavilion
where we played and I
didn't even think about my ugly head
and other children hadn't noticed it either
because we were all running too fast instead
so the transparent eagle of evening wouldn't get us
and the hum of adults from the street
and the sea, the sea, which threatened (protected?)
that fine del primo tempo

It was forever summer, a light summer
a summer of water and sandals, immune
to that alcohol, soon to be called Love,
- and in the deserted pavilion (in vain you'd look for it,
it's either been removed with two fingers
from its ring of earth by War, or by some
useful work, or else forgotten)
we were playing childhood, but, in fact,
I can't remember anyone, I don't think
there was another child apart from me,
because, see, I can only remember
a lonely flight into mystery
staged by the gestures of the sea, I remember
only the happiness, oh God, of leaning,
with bare arms and legs on warm stones,
of sloping ground, with grass,
of the innocent air of evening.

Flowers smelled dizzily in that place,
where, a little above, men and women,
who definitely smelled of tobacco,
hot barbecue and beer, I
was running, unaware of my ugly head,
breaking, in fact, the soft head from the flower
and kissing it on the lips
while the sea also smelled more strongly
than now, it was wilder, its seaweed
darker, and cursed the rocks
even more in the way it whipped them.
It wasn't far from home
to that place, I could run there
and back and no-one would miss me,
in four steps and eight jumps I was there,
but, first, I stole from fences
feathers from peacocks left between slats,
most beautiful feathers I've not seen since
with the immense blue green eye
and with golden eyelashes so long
that I was holding a whole bird in my hands
not part of one
and I was tearing at feathers
stuck between slats
tearing at something from the mystery
of those fiendish courtyards
and then I was running toward that deserted pavilion
from the edge of the sea
and I was running round it and through it
through derelict rooms
where mad martins battered themselves against walls,
with the ceiling bursting outside and in, as if within me.

I wore a short sleeveless dress
the colour of sand when sun runs out of strength
and in the autumn I should have gone to school,
and the performance of the sea kept breaking my rib cage
to make me more roomy, that's why
my heart was beating and even now the cage in my chest hurts
at the memory of that beat of the sea
while attempting to enter me
especially at evening when flowers fade
without losing their colour completely,
staying pink with tea, violet with milk,
losing only their stems in the darkness,
floating, beheaded, at a certain height
above the grass which had also vanished.
This is a tremendous memory,
absolutely unforgettable.
the feeling of a light, unchained body.
invulnerable, perfect, my head
just a natural extension of it,
supervising only its speed and orientation.
Yet I never hurt myself,
I can't remember ever having fallen that summer.
I was light, extremely healthy,
inspired, and if I wasn't flying
it was only because I preferred to run on earth
and not for any other reason.

And after that
What was I saying? Ah, yes, I had long bare legs
and bare slender arms
and in the deserted pavilion there was this strange coolness
as if an invisible sea had breezed through it.

And after that...
-Where was I? Ah, yes, the flowers full of night...
like sacred smoke
and my lonely flight
through gentle and benevolent mysteries...

And after that?

« Last Edit: Aug 01, 2006, 11:52:43 AM by Lazybird »
I was in fact one of the two highest earning koalas in Sydney at that time.

Yossarian

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #1 on: Jun 12, 2006, 12:31:52 AM »
I actually just posted this link in the creative writing section earlier. This is quite cool- I'd never seen hypertext poetry before.


http://www.hphoward.demon.co.uk/flash/gallery.html


And these are more serious, and some are rather dark, but lots of wonderful stuff-


http://www.hphoward.demon.co.uk/poetry/petehype.htm

Normal Now,

The Rainbow Factory,

and Portrait Of The Artist

are all quite barbed, but very worth looking at.


Queen

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #2 on: Jun 12, 2006, 03:15:25 AM »
Oh Lazybird, that is wonderful! I love Nina Cassian, & after reading that poem I'm quite sniffly now.   :-[ :D
All my books are on the other side of the world, so it's wonderful to come across some poerty this way.

Offline Lazybird

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #3 on: Jun 12, 2006, 02:00:13 PM »
Ah, PQ, I feel for you missing your books. I'll post more poems up here. Any requests?

@Yossarian, thanks for the link, I'd never have found that or even really thought about finding poetry on the interweb.  :D 
I was in fact one of the two highest earning koalas in Sydney at that time.

Offline Lazybird

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #4 on: Jun 12, 2006, 02:12:59 PM »
Here's another:

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
I was in fact one of the two highest earning koalas in Sydney at that time.

Queen

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #5 on: Jun 12, 2006, 04:58:50 PM »
I actually just posted this link in the creative writing section earlier. This is quite cool- I'd never seen hypertext poetry before.


http://www.hphoward.demon.co.uk/flash/gallery.html


And these are more serious, and some are rather dark, but lots of wonderful stuff-


http://www.hphoward.demon.co.uk/poetry/petehype.htm

Normal Now,

The Rainbow Factory,

and Portrait Of The Artist

are all quite barbed, but very worth looking at.



Yossarian, these are brilliant!! I didnt have Flash before but onw I ave, & suddenly I can see (and hear!  I loved the Rude Poem  :-[
<-------  shallow)
Brilliant.

@Lazybird - thank you  :D

I do make up for my missing library by buying alarming numbers of books in Spanish, but of course they don't replace the other ones ones. If When I win the lottery, I'll have to buy two of everything & establish two, er, establishments, one in London & one in Buenos Aires. Until such time, however... 

Well, one can never have enough of Nina Cassian. Gwyneth Roberts, if you have (she's the current Welsh poet laureate, or State Bard or something  ;) , writes in Welsh & in English) & women poets generally who do those tingly & beautiful things with language that tickle some sort of word-related clitoris I seem to have. (Isnt there a Nina Cassian poem about the clitoris in the throat?)




Yossarian

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #6 on: Jun 12, 2006, 09:33:18 PM »
Yes, aren't they? The 'timid' poem and the 'embarassed' poem are too cute :D

PQ- have you come across Zoe Brigley's poetry at all? I've no idea whether or not she's brought out a collection yet..And I've only heard (or read, I can't remember-) a little of her poetry- obviously, in English, but remember it being rather special. She's Welsh, and does a lot of her writing in Welsh- is definitely worth looking out for. I did just google to see if I can find any, but just found mainly her reviews and academic writing.

And LB, thank you for posting that Cassian poem. Just had a chance to read through it properly- the breathlessness of it is lovely.

Queen

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #7 on: Jun 12, 2006, 11:58:27 PM »
@Yossarian: re Zoe Brighley, I ixquicked her & found one of her poems online, which didnt really do that much for me, but one poem is probably not enough to go by. She sounds interesting, there arent that many poeple writing in two languages (esp poets) so will look out for her :)


I found a poem by one of my favourite writers online  :D  it's the Prologue to Bernardine Evaristo's "The Emperor's Babe", a novel in blank verse  :o about the life of Zuleika in Roman London. I love that book.



Amo Amas Amat
from "The Emperor's Babe"

Who do you love? Who do you love?
When the man you married goes off

for months on end, quelling rebellions
at the frontiers, or playing hot-shot senator in Rome;

his flashy villa on the Palatine Hill, home
to another woman, I hear,

one who has borne him offspring.
My days are spent roaming this house,

its vast mosaic walls full of the scenes on Olympus,
for my husband loves melodrama.

They say his mistress is an actress,
a flaxen-fraulein type, from Germania Superior.

Oh everyone envied me, La Bella Negreeta!
born in the back of a shop on Gracechurch Street,

who got hitched to a Roman nobleman,
whose parents sailed out of Khartoum on a barge,

not a burnished throne, its poop of beaten gold
but packed with vomiting brats,

and cows releasing warm turds
onto their bare feet. Thus perfumed,

they made it to Londinium on a donkey,
with only a thin purse and a fat dream.

Dad wandered the streets looking for work,
but there was no room at the inn

so he set up shop on the kerb
and sold sweet cakes which Mum made.

(He's told me this story a mille times.)
Now he owns several shops, selling everything

from vino to shoes, veggies to tools,
and he employs all sorts to work in them,

a Syrian, Libyan, Jew, Persian,
hopefuls just off the olive barge from Gaul,

in fact anyone who'll work for pebbles.
When Felix came after me, Dad was in ecstace,

Father-in-law to Lucius Aurelius Felix, no less.
I was spotted at the baths of Cheapside,

just budding, and my fate was sealed,
to a man thrice my age, and thrice my girth -

all at sweet eleven, even then Dad
thought I was getting past it.

Then I was sent off to a snooty Roman bitch
called Clarissa for decorum classes,

learnt how to talk, eat and fart,
how to get my amo amas amat right, and ditch

my second generation plebby creole.

Zuleika accepta est.
Zuleika delicata est.
Zuleika bloody goody-two shoes est.

But I dreamt of creating mosaics,
of remaking my town with bright stones and glass.

But no! Numquam! It's not allowed.
Sure, Felix brings me presents, when he deigns

to come west. I've had Chinese silk, a marble
figurine from Turkey, gold earrings

shaped like dolphins and I have the deepest
fondness for my husband of course,

sort of, though he spills over me like dough
and I'm tempted to call Cook mid-coitus

to come trim his sides so that he fits me.
Then it's puff and Ciao Baby!

Solitudoh, solitudee, solitudargh!

Bullet_

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #8 on: Jun 13, 2006, 01:16:00 PM »
This is my favourite;

Love Letter

Not easy to state the change you made.
If I'm alive now, then I was dead,
Though, like a stone, unbothered by it,
Staying put according to habit.
You didn't just tow me an inch, no-
Nor leave me to set my small bald eye
Skyward again, without hope, of course,
Of apprehending blueness, or stars.

That wasn't it. I slept, say: a snake
Masked among black rocks as a black rock
In the white hiatus of winter-
Like my neighbors, taking no pleasure
In the million perfectly-chiseled
Cheeks alighting each moment to melt
My cheeks of basalt. They turned to tears,
Angels weeping over dull natures,

But didn't convince me. Those tears froze.
Each dead head had a visor of ice.
And I slept on like a bent finger.
The first thing I was was sheer air
And the locked drops rising in dew
Limpid as spirits. Many stones lay
Dense and expressionless round about.
I didn't know what to make of it.
I shone, mice-scaled, and unfolded
To pour myself out like a fluid
Among bird feet and the stems of plants.

I wasn't fooled. I knew you at once.
Tree and stone glittered, without shadows.
My finger-length grew lucent as glass.
I started to bud like a March twig:
An arm and a leg, and arm, a leg.
From stone to cloud, so I ascended.
Now I resemble a sort of god
Floating through the air in my soul-shift
Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.

   -- Sylvia Plath

Offline JJ

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #9 on: Jun 13, 2006, 09:57:08 PM »
Out  of work
Divorced
Usually pissed...
He aimed low in life...
And missed.

Roger McGough

[n.b. I know a few women like that too]
The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, They're in each other all along.

Offline Lazybird

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #10 on: Jun 14, 2006, 12:24:26 AM »
Thanks for all of these, how lovely to read these poems on here. Rex, I haven't read Plath for such a long time...one of my reasons for starting this thread is that you end up reading stuff other people feel passionately about and so you focus on a poem you would otherwise leaf past in some anthology or other.  So thank you. :)

PQ, I have meant to read that book for ages! What a fabulous extract and now I really will go and pay proper top dollar for it.

And for you, lovely PQ, here's that poem you mentioned (it is by Nina Cassian, you were right):

LICENTIOUSNESS

Letters fall from my words
as teeth might fall from my mouth.
Lisping? Stammering? Mumbling?
Or the last silence?
Please God take pity
on the roof of my mouth,
on my tongue,
on my glottis,
on the cllitoris in my throat
vibrating, sensitive, pulsating,
exploding in the orgasm of Romanian.

(translated by Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant)



 :-*
« Last Edit: Jun 14, 2006, 01:13:50 AM by Lazybird »
I was in fact one of the two highest earning koalas in Sydney at that time.

Offline Lazybird

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #11 on: Jun 14, 2006, 12:35:14 AM »
PERFECT TIMING

The night I fell in love with you I lost my watch:
stripping off at the sea's edge, it fell into the dark
as I swam out into a night thick with stars,
with fishermen calling from one lit boat to another
of their catches and harbours, leaving for the dawn.
Imagine it now, plunged deep in cool sand, still hidden
years later, grains ticking over it one by one ---
as your hands slide into me and I move to their pulse.

Sarah Maguire

I was in fact one of the two highest earning koalas in Sydney at that time.

Queen

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #12 on: Jun 14, 2006, 01:45:44 AM »
@Rex -- thanks for the Sylvia Plath, it is beautiful. I always tend to think of her as this dark, fierce poet & forget about this other side to her.


@ Lazybird   :-* and  :-[ and we really must meet properly when I'm back in London  :D

Love the Sarah Maguire, the ticking grains of sand and that last line.... ahhhhhh. Words.  :D



Bullet_

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #13 on: Jun 14, 2006, 11:15:17 AM »
Love letter always strikes a chord with me, here's another by Plath,

Mad Girl's Love Song

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

By Sylvia Plath

 

Yossarian

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #14 on: Jun 14, 2006, 03:05:20 PM »
That last Plath is beautiful  :) I really like a few of hers, but a lot of it I can just find too barbed and impenetrable- and sometimes that makes me forget how enchanting some of her images are.

And a couple of other poems:


Jazzonia by Langston Hughes
     
Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve's eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

Langston Hughes




Rondeau Redoublé by Sophie Hannah
     
I know the rules and hear myself agree
Not to invest beyond this one night stand.
I know your patter: in, out, like the sea.
The sharp north wind must blow away the sand.

Soon my supply will meet your last demand
And you will have no further use for me.
I will not swim against the tide, to land.
I know the rules. I hear myself agree.

I've kept a stash of hours, just two or three
To smuggle off your coast like contraband.
We will both manage (you more easily)
Not to invest beyond this one night stand.

To narrow-minded friends I will expand
On cheap not being the same as duty free.
I'll say this was exactly what I planned.
I know your pattern: in, out, like the sea.

It's not as if we were designed to be
Strolling along the beach front, hand in hand.
Things change, of natural necessity.
The sharp north wind must blow away the sand

And every storm to rage, however grand,
Will end in pain and shipwreck and debris
And each time there's a voice I have to strand
On a bare rock, hardened against its plea;
I know the rules.





John Keats : La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1820)

"O What can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

"O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

"I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew.
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too."

"I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

"I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

"I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery's song.

"She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild and manna-dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
'I love thee true.'

"She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh'd full sore;
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

"And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dream'd—ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.

"I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all:
They cried, 'La belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!'

"I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.

"And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing."