Archive for the 'poetry' Category

Poetry: The Owl and the Pussycat

February 28, 2008

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’


Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon. [Edward Lear. via]


Poetry: The Four Quartets

December 12, 2007

T. S. Eliot is one of those love-him-or-hate-him guys. I’ll have a special place in my heart for The Four Quartets thanks to a wonderful junior-year seminar…hopefully you like him too.

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody’s funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about… [The Four Quartets, No. 2 ‘East Coker’, III]

It is entirely possible that Eliot was a lunatic. But if so, he is a lunatic whose writings are wonderful to revel in.

Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes

October 24, 2007

I’m on a Billy Collins kick lately, so here’s an excerpt of one of my favorite Collins poems :

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer’s dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet.
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

(More: Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes, by Billy Collins)

Always carry a pencil

October 17, 2007

Via Kahunna, an essay called Always Carry A Pencil:

An adept reader “phrases” a book as Ella Fitzgerald “phrases” Cole Porter, here leaning into the words and holding them back, there partnering them as Kafka partnered Goethe in February 1912: “I read sentences of Goethe’s as though my whole body were running down the stresses.”

I could never sell my textbooks back to the campus bookstore because I’d “defiled” them with pen and pencil marks. (And my handwriting is nothing to be proud of.) I love getting a used book in the mail and finding somebody’s already written their comments in the margin, even if–and this is often the case–they’re just parroting their teacher’s words during a lecture. Note-taking in the margin is this wonderful thing far different from taking notes on a piece of paper. Papers get lost or separated from their context. Marginalia is always there. I’ll always remember what I was thinking or the connections I made when rereading old favorites, because the notes are right there in front of me. By writing what I think–by interacting with the text–the book becomes mine.

Also from Always Carry A Pencil, an excerpt from Billy Collins’ Marginalia:

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive –
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” –
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Not Dead Yet

July 17, 2007

I feel like I could go for a walk!

Life has been hectic. Good, but hectic. I have a lot of things planned for this blog and it’s a shame I haven’t been able to get them posted. Stay tuned.

For now, here’s a gorgeous poem I found through a fellow Erie blogger:

Hard Times

  I am tired.
So very tired
of making it all fit.

It wears you down,
into a rounded rock
in a dull dumb landscape,
where once was
an exhilarating mountain range,
lush and forested.

Everything, or something like it,
has happened before –
and why bother anyway?

Just to walk away
from the flowers, grass, the seagulls and people,
the tiptoeing, fence-walking cat
in front of that hazy tall-trunked forest
across the grey wide river
as it meets the Tasman tides.

A lovely break at Port Waikato!
with the heat, noise, active flea or two,
and mosquitoes at night –
but most of all
with grief,
my companion with no name,
because grief does not
say anything.

Iain Trousdell