Author Topic: Poems thread  (Read 87821 times)


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #30 on: Jun 21, 2006, 03:30:40 PM »
You’re here, still (Noch bist du da)

Throw your fear
into the air

your time is over
heaven grows
under the grass
your dreams fall
into nowhere

the carnation smells sweetly
the thrush sings
still you may love
give words away
you are here, still

Be what you are
Give what you have

Rose Ausländer
Translated by Julia Samwer


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #31 on: Jun 24, 2006, 01:50:18 AM »
These are two by Judy Grahn, 1969, from a series called The Common Woman:

II.  Ella, in a square apron, along Highway 80.

She's a copperheaded waitress
tired and sharp worded, she hides
her bad brown tooth behind a wicked
smile, and flicks her ass
out of habit, to fend off the pass
that passes for affection.
She keeps her mind the way men
keep a knife - keen to strip the game
down to her size.  She has a thin spine,
swallows her eggs cold, and tells lies.
She slaps a wet rag at the truck drivers
if they should complain.  She understands
the necessity for pain, turns away
the smaller tips, out of pride, and
keeps a flask under the counter.  Once
she shot a lover who misused her child.
Before she got out of jail, the courts had pounced
and given the child away.  Like some isolated lake
her flat blue eyes take care of their own stark
bottoms.  Her hands are nervous, curled, ready to scrape.
The common woman is as common
as a rattlesnake.

VII.  Vera, from my childhood

Solemnly swearing, to swear as an oath to you
who have somehow gotten to be a pale old woman;
swearing, as if an oath could be wrapped around your shoulders
like a new coat:
For your 28 dollars a week, and the bastard boss
you never let yourself hate;
and the work, all the work you did at home
where you never got paid;
For your mouth that got thinner and thinner
until it disappeared as if you had choked on it,
watching the hard liquor break your fine husband down
into a dead joke.
For the strange mole, like a third eye
right in the middle of your forehead;
for your religion, which insisted that people
are beautiful golden birds, and must be preserved;
for your persistent nerve
and plain white talk -
the common woman is as common
as good bread
as common as when you couldn't go on
but did.
For all the world we didn't know we held in common
all along
the common woman is as common as the best of bread
and will rise
and will become strong - I swear it to you
I swear it to you on my own head
I swear it to you on my common woman's head.


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #32 on: Jun 24, 2006, 10:06:59 AM »
This was written late in Sappho's life and begins as a lament about growing old while watching the younger women of the colony. 

"You for the fragrant-bosomed Muses' lovely gifts,
Be zealous, girls, and the clear melodious lyre:
But my once tender body old age now
Has seized; my hair's turned white instead of dark."



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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #33 on: Jun 29, 2006, 02:38:16 AM »
Another Bishop- rather more melancholy then I'm feeling, but the sounds of this are so wonderful- almost like reading a piece of solid onomatopoeia.

 I Am in Need of Music
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Elizabeth Bishop
« Last Edit: Jun 29, 2006, 02:41:28 AM by Yossarian »

Madge Hooks

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #34 on: Jun 29, 2006, 08:20:09 AM »

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 know Sarah Maguire. :D

paper moon

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #35 on: Jun 30, 2006, 12:00:32 AM »
George Gray - Edgar Lee Masters, from the Spoon River Anthology.

I have studied many times
the marble which was chiseled for me -
a boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
but my life.
For love was offered to me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must life the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drift the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire -
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

I really like this. If I was going to live by a poem, it would probably be this one.


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #36 on: Jun 30, 2006, 01:38:17 AM »
Yeah, that's brilliant.


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #37 on: Jul 02, 2006, 09:30:00 PM »
Love that poem PM.  Thanks for sharing.  :)

Offline jasminegreentea

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #38 on: Jul 09, 2006, 12:26:29 PM »
I love this poem thread so much  :D  I have to add an old favourite...

The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I caught this morning morning's minion, kingdom of daylight's dauphin,
dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstacy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl
and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, - the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! and the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovlier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Offline jasminegreentea

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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #39 on: Jul 09, 2006, 12:43:03 PM »
Sorry can't resist... here's another Sylvia Plath one - love the images and the rhythm of this poem....


Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #40 on: Jul 31, 2006, 10:52:41 PM »
Before this falls over the edge...
SSG , I love "Ella, in a square apron..."! Wonderful, wonderful.
And PM, love yours too, that poem to live by: yes, definitely.

I´m by the sea at the moment, & saw the following by Jorge Lewis Borges in the maritime museum here today, the translation is mine, aologies, there must be a proper one but I can´t find it online...

The sea
Before dream (or terror) wove mythologies and histories of creation,
Before time was coined in days; the sea, the forever sea, already was and was alive.
Who is the sea? Who is that violent old being that gnaws at Earth's pillars,
that is one and many seas; is abyss and brilliance and chance and wind?
Those who look at it see it for the first time, always with that astonishment
that is a legacy of elementary things: a beautiful afternoon, the moon, the flames of a bonfire.
Who is the sea, who am I? I shall know the answer on the last day, after the final agony.
Jorge Luis Borges.
“The Other. The Same”.

El mar
Antes que el sueño (o el terror) tejiera mitologías y cosmogonías.
Antes que el tiempo se acuñara en días, el mar, el siempre mar, ya estaba y era. ¿Quién es el mar? ¿Quién es aquel violento y antiguo ser que roe los pilares de la tierra y es uno y muchos mares y abismo y resplandor y azar y viento?
Quien lo mira lo ve por primera vez, siempre con el asombro que las cosas
elementales dejan, las hermosas tardes, la luna, el fuego de una hoguera.
¿Quién es el mar, quién soy? Lo sabré el día ulterior que sucede a la agonía.

Jorge Luis Borges  “El otro. El mismo”.
« Last Edit: Aug 03, 2006, 01:33:43 AM by Penguin Queen back in Buenos Aires ~sigh~ »


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #41 on: Aug 02, 2006, 03:22:14 PM »
I love this poem thread so much  :D  I have to add an old favourite...

The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Ohhhh, thanks for putting that one in: it's one of the very very few poems I (used to) know by heart.  I love GMH.  :)


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #42 on: Aug 02, 2006, 06:38:53 PM »
The Borges was wonderful, thank you for that, PQ.

And these are a bit bleary-eyed, but always strike me as quite perfect, somehow.

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.


The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.

With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.


You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed's edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.


His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o'clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

T.S Eliot
« Last Edit: Aug 02, 2006, 08:58:12 PM by Yossarian »


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #43 on: Aug 04, 2006, 11:17:12 PM »
Lazybird, I love your choice of poems.  The Raymond Carver one is a favourite of mine, and I chose it for my dad. (Along with Spike Milligan's English Teeth and Blackbird.. :D :'()

This is by Julia Darling.  Julia was a writer and poet - she died of cancer in 2005, in her 40s.  She wrote this as part of a collection 'Sudden Collapses in Public Spaces'.  It breaks me in half.


Eventually, I was placed on a bed like a boat
in an empty room with sky filled windows,
with azure blue pillows, the leopard-like quilt.

It was English tea time, with the kind of light
that electrifies the ordinary. It had just stopped raining.
Beads of water on glass glittered like secrets.

In another room they were baking, mulling wine.
I was warm with cloves, melting butter, demerara,
and wearing your pyjamas.   My felt slippers

waited on the floor. Then the door opened
soundlessly, and I climbed out of bed.
It was like slipping onto the back of a horse,

and the room folded in, like a pop up story
then the house, and the Vale. Even the songs
and prayers tidied themselves into grooves

and the impossible hospital lay down its chimneys
its sluices, tired doctors, and waiting room chairs.
And I came here.       It was easy to leave.

« Last Edit: Aug 04, 2006, 11:22:07 PM by Ghost »


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Re: Poems thread
« Reply #44 on: Aug 05, 2006, 06:36:53 AM »
Thanks so much for that, ghost. I loved Julia Darling. She so shouldnt be dead.  :'(
She wrote a wonderful Women's Hour Drama about an old woman coming to terms with a brain tumour (probably autobiographically coloured  :-\); the lovely twist was that the woman had played in a women's football team in the war & kept flashing back to that, & using the memories of friends & team and being strong to help her in the present. Was wonderfully written, with much warmth & wit & empathy and oomph.

@Yossarian, I love your description of the TS Eliots & agree with you; they're exquisitely & quite perfectly written, but.... yes, bleary-eyed.