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One of my favorites:
I Know a Man
As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I
sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what
can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,
drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.
Have to think of one for the hawk theme...
“I feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly...because it must make them miserable.” - Rauschenberg
More Hawks.. they seem to bring out the exciting best in poets...
From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak's black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.
The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.
Look!Look!he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics.His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense.The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.
If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.
Robert Penn Warren
You can't even have a poetry thread without controversy.
from Northern Elegies
I, like a river,
Have been turned aside by this harsh age.
i am a substitute. My life has flowed
Into another channel
And I do not recognize my shores.
O, how many fine sights I have missed,
How many curtains have risen without me
And fallen too. How many of my friends
I have not met even once in my life,
How many city skylines
Could have drawn tears from my eyes,
I who know only the one city
And by touch, in my sleep, I could find it...
And how many poems have I not written,
Whose secret chorus swirls around my head
And possibly some day
Will stifle me...
I know the beginnings and the ends of things,
And life after the end, and something
It isn't necessary to remember now.
And another woman has usurped
The place that ought to have been mine,
And bears my rightful name,
Leaving me with a nickname, with which I've done,
I like to think, all that was possible.
But I, alas won't lie in my own grave.
But sometimes a madcap air in spring,
Or a combination of words in a chance book,
Or somebody's smile, suddenly
Draws me into that non-existent life.
In such a year would such have taken place,
Something else in another: travelling, seeing,
Thinking, remembering, entering a new love
Like entering a mirror, with a dull sense
Of treason, and a wrinkle that only yesterday
But if, from that life, I could step aside,
And see my life such as it is, today,
Then at last I'd know what envy means...
Anna Akhmatova (trans. DM Thomas)
on my lunch hour
someones casual posting
of anna's verse
even my envy is usurped by some russian chanteuse
singing my sad song
thanks a bunch
oh hell might as well finish my salad and go back to filing
anna's said it all
I read the Bell Jar when I was an early teenager, and soaked up all her poetry. But I also remember a dark winter's day at school when the English Literature lesson consisted of listening to Ted Hughes' short prose story the Rain Horse on the radio, an always-remembered experience. I now like very much his integration with the natural world in his writing. I'd like to put out here his poem about horses, and if anyone has any horse poems bring them out! I don't think it's perfect, I wish he hadnt put quite such a straightforwardly Wordsworthian echo right at the end, but still it's such a vivid evocation of time of day, weather, light..and something else. After the Hughes, I put the ending of Christopher Logues extraordinary War Music, where animals speak for the only time in the Iliad:
The Horses Ted Hughes
I climbed through woods in the hour-before-dawn dark.
Evil air, a frost-making stillness,
Not a leaf, not a bird -
A world cast in frost. I came out above the wood
Where my breath left tortuous statues in the iron light.
But the valleys were draining the darkness
Till the moorline - blackening dregs of the brightening grey -
Halved the sky ahead. And I saw the horses:
Huge in the dense grey - ten together -
Megalith-still. They breathed, making no move,
with draped manes and tilted hind-hooves,
Making no sound.
I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head.
Grey silent fragments
Of a grey silent world.
I listened in emptiness on the moor-ridge.
The curlew's tear turned its edge on the silence.
Slowly detail leafed from the darkness. Then the sun
Orange, red, red erupted
Silently, and splitting to its core tore and flung cloud,
Shook the gulf open, showed blue,
And the big planets hanging -
Stumbling in the fever of a dream, down towards
The dark woods, from the kindling tops,
And came to the horses.
There, still they stood,
But now steaming and glistening under the flow of light,
Their draped stone manes, their tilted hind-hooves
Stirring under a thaw while all around them
The frost showed its fires. But still they made no sound.
Not one snorted or stamped,
Their hung heads patient as the horizons,
High over valleys in the red levelling rays -
In din of crowded streets, going among the years, the faces,
May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place
Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing the curlews,
Hearing the horizons endure.
From Christopher Logue's War Music (a version of part of the Iliad)
The chariot's basket dips. The whip
Fires in between the horses' ears.
And as in dreams, or at Cape Kennedy, they rise,
Slowly it seems, their chests like royals, yet
Behind them in a double plume the sand curls up,
Is barely dented by their flying hooves,
And wheels that barely touch the world,
And the wind slams shut behind them,
'Fast as you are,' Achilles says,
'When twilight makes the armistice,
take care you don't leave me behind
As you left my Patroclus.'
And as it ran the white horse turned its tall face back
This time we will, this time we can, but this time cannot last.
And when we leave you, not for dead, but dead,
God will not call us negligent as you have done.'
And Achilles, shaken, says:
'I know i will not make old bones.'
And laid his scourge against their racing flanks.
Someone has left a spear stuck in the sand.
EARLY POETRY EXPERIENCES
Can anyone remember an important early poetic experience? 'Do you remember where you were when you first read that..?'
I was in the less than Arcadian environs of Gravesend Public Library at age 13 when my life was changed forever by plucking down the Penguin Anthology of Chinese Literature and reading the 8th Century Li Po's :
You ask me why I live on this green mountain:
My heart serene
on flowing waters
far far away
another earth, another sky
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