The Poetry Thread

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This is for cutting and pasting lines from any poem, anything between 1 and 10 lines, no more please. The idea, as i see it, is nevermind that things will be out of context, you can enjoy/appreciate any excerpt, well-used language will always have some sort of an effect. Comment, if you want, or let the excerpt do the work. If it's all short extracts we can dip in and out.
If anyone wants to use it to discuss the selections/the author's output, feel free.

pete s, Wednesday, 31 December 2003 06:25 (eighteen years ago) link

This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
This, from no venal or ungrateful Muse.

To Mr Jervas
A. Pope

pete s, Wednesday, 31 December 2003 06:28 (eighteen years ago) link

But if this be not happiness,-who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.

Edward Thomas

pete s, Friday, 2 January 2004 00:33 (eighteen years ago) link

...In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.

Philip Larkin "Faith Healing"

jed (jed_e_3), Friday, 2 January 2004 00:37 (eighteen years ago) link

how much do you like larkin, colin?

cozen¡ (Cozen), Friday, 2 January 2004 02:52 (eighteen years ago) link


We went there for the dance: a ritual
of touch and distance, webs of courtesy
and guesswork; shifts
from sunlight into shade;
and when the patients came downstairs
to join us, smiling, utterly polite,
in new-pressed clothes, like cousins twice-removed,
they had the look of people glimpsed in mirrors,
subtle as ghosts, yet real, with the vague
good-humour of the lost.


'The Asylum Dance', John Burnside.

cozen¡ (Cozen), Friday, 2 January 2004 02:58 (eighteen years ago) link

oh, love, why do we argue like this?
i am tired of all your pious talk.
also, i am tired of all the dead.
they refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.

a curse against elegies - anne sexton

lauren (laurenp), Friday, 2 January 2004 05:40 (eighteen years ago) link

It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

At the Fishhouses - Elizabeth Bishop

bnw (bnw), Friday, 2 January 2004 06:30 (eighteen years ago) link

I think with Alexander that the act
Of eating, with another act or two,
Makes us feel our mortality in fact
Redoubled. When a roast and a ragout
And fish and soup, by some side dishes backed,
Can give us either pain or pleasure, who
Would pique himself on intellects, whose use
Depends so much upon the gastric juice?

Don Juan

pete s, Friday, 2 January 2004 14:53 (eighteen years ago) link

He holds her as tightly
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it.

Misery and Splendor - Robert Hass

byronnw (bnw), Sunday, 4 January 2004 08:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm,
Sing Goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

Ancient Music
Ezra Pound

pete s, Tuesday, 6 January 2004 00:51 (eighteen years ago) link

(Apologies for breaking the ten line rule--just this once--but i had to print the whole of this poem cos i think it encapsulates all our this time of the season..)

pete s, Tuesday, 6 January 2004 00:54 (eighteen years ago) link

i'm not sure how much i like him David. Im not sure how much i like any poetry other than Elliot.

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't know nearly enough about poetry; thank you Pete and everyone for the thread!

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 04:38 (eighteen years ago) link

I am Henri, mouth full of soda crackers.
I live in Toulouse, which is a piece of cardboard.
Summers the mayors paint it blue, we fish in it.
Winters we skate on it. Children are always
drowing or falling through the cracks. Parents are distraught
but get over it. It's easy to replace a child.
Like my parents' child, Henri.

Mark Levine, "Work Song"


Matthew K (mtk), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 18:35 (eighteen years ago) link

oh jed :(

i love larkin so much.

and elliot not so much.

and john burnside a whole whack more.

and don paterson the most.

in fact, i'm going to break the 10 line rule too ('cos i think it is a stupid, if sensible, rule):

'Addenda' by Don Paterson


1            The Gellyburn is six feet under;
2            they sunk a pipe between its banks,
3            tricked it in and turfed it over.
4            We heard it rush from stank to stank,
5            Ardler Wood to the Caird Estate.

6            Scott said when you crossed the river
7            you saw sparks; if you ran at it
8        something snagged on the line of water.


1            It was Scott who found the one loose knot
2            from the thousand dead eyes in the fence,
3            and inside, the tiny silver lochan
4            with lilies, green rushes, and four swans.
5            A true artist, he set his pitch:

6            uncorking the little show for tuppence
7            he'd count a minute on his watch
8            while a boy set his eye to the light.


1            One week he was early, and turned up
2            at the Foot Clinic in Kemback Street
3            to see a little girl parade
4            before the Indian doctor, stripped
5            down to just her underthings.

6            Now he dreams about her every night
7            working through his stretches: The Mermaid;
8            The Swan; The Tightrope-Walker; Wings


1            They leave the party, arm in arm
2            to a smore so thick, her voice comes
3            to him as if from a small room;
4            their footprints in the creaking snow
5            the love-pact they affirm and reaffirm.

6            Open for fags, the blazing kiosk
7            crowns old Jock in asterisks.
8            He is a saint, and Scott tells him so.


david. (Cozen), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 21:07 (eighteen years ago) link

i like "smore"

go to the front of the class!

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 21:16 (eighteen years ago) link

i'm gunna start another thread and just post the whole of paterson's 'nil nil', i swear. instead of clogging this one up.

david. (Cozen), Tuesday, 6 January 2004 21:19 (eighteen years ago) link

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

("The Snow Man" - Wallace Stevens)

David R. (popshots75`), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 02:45 (eighteen years ago) link

He held radical light
as music in his skull: music
turned, as
over ridges immanences of evening light
rise, turned
back over the furrows of his brain
into the dark, shuddered,
shot out again
in long swaying swirls of sound:

("He Held Radical Light" [1st stanza] - A. R. Ammons)

David R. (popshots75`), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 02:48 (eighteen years ago) link

I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals....
they are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied....not one is demented with the
mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived
thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

("Leaves of Grass" - Walt Whitman)

o. nate (onate), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 03:54 (eighteen years ago) link

(That Hass segement I posted should be heard in it's entirety.)

Early germ
warfare. The dead
hurled this way look like wheels
in the sky. Look: there goes
Larry the Shoemaker, barefoot, over the wall,
and Mary Sausage Stuffer, see how she flies,
and the Hatter twins, both at once, soar
over the parapet, little Tommy's elbow bent
as if in a salute,
and his sister, Mathilde, she follows him,
arms outstretched, through the air,
just as she did
on earth.

Plague Victims Catapulted Over Walls Into Besieged City - Thomas Lux

bnw (bnw), Wednesday, 7 January 2004 05:39 (eighteen years ago) link

At night, sometimes, when I cannot sleep
I go to the atelier door
And smell the earth of the garden.

It exhales softly,
Especially now, approaching springtime,
When tendrils of green are plaited

Across the humus, desperately frail
In their passage against
The dark, unredeemed parcels of earth.

A Chosen Light
John Montague

pete s, Friday, 9 January 2004 11:24 (eighteen years ago) link

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

The Windhover
Gerard Manley Hopkins

(sallying), Friday, 9 January 2004 23:05 (eighteen years ago) link

The livid lightnings flashed in the clouds;
The leaden thunders crashed.
A worshipper raised his arm.
"Hearken! hearken! The voice of God!"

"Not so," said a man.
"The voice of God whispers in the heart
So softly
That the soul pauses,
Making no noise,
And strives for these melodies,
Distant, sighing, like faintest breath,
And all the being is still to hear."

( Stephen Crane )

scott seward (scott seward), Monday, 12 January 2004 17:23 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
(this was on poetry daily recently)

The Merman

For Nico

The ripples on your wall:
fake sea-lights the soft sunlight makes.

You sleep under water.
Learn to love the counterfeit

and in the mess of shalts and shoulds and musts
find what you want.

Don't forget: I once stood loving
what was not here.

J. T. Barbarese

bnw (bnw), Saturday, 14 February 2004 00:14 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
ideally should be read in conjunction with the rest of her phenomenal (-ly sad, frightening, beautiful) book "bunny" - this is by selima hill:


And when the lodger, on the second day,
asks her if she knows the word cock

she looks ahead and simply starts walking,
steadying the word like an egg.

cozen (Cozen), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 19:48 (eighteen years ago) link

X, viii

Paula wants to marry me
but I gave her the cold shoulder:
she's way too old. I'd have given
it a thought if she were older.

Martial (trans. William Matthews)

Donald, Wednesday, 17 March 2004 21:31 (eighteen years ago) link

I just had to say this: this is a fantastic thread. I am searching the shelves of memory for something worthy of it.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 23:06 (eighteen years ago) link

I can't stop reading that selima hill poem.


'like an egg'!

cozen (Cozen), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 23:42 (eighteen years ago) link

Killing Time


But stop driving it around
in a van. Stop biting
your nails and sweating,
and for God's sake stop
saying not to be afraid.

Just get it over with.

—Ron Koertge

Come on poetrylovers step up with some more lines

donald, Thursday, 18 March 2004 22:48 (eighteen years ago) link

Today I bought me a brand new Larkin collected - after decades of getting by with shabby second hand copies, mostly as a result of this thread - (I am enjoying - if that's the word- it very much). I will post a brain-bending bit of poetry to this thread tomorrow, and that's a promise (threat).

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Thursday, 18 March 2004 23:03 (eighteen years ago) link

have you read that selima hill collection, jerry?

also: what about: i. oswald's 'dart' ii. stevens' 'harmonium' and iii. molloy's 'hare soup'? anyone?

cozen (Cozen), Thursday, 18 March 2004 23:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Because finally the personal
is all that matters,
we spend years describing stones,
chairs, abandoned farmhouses—
until we're ready. Always
it's a matter of precision,
what it feels like
to kiss someone or to walk
out the door. How good it was
to practice on stones
which were things we could love
without weeping over.

excerpt of 'Essay On The Personal'
Stephen Dunn

bnw (bnw), Friday, 19 March 2004 00:28 (eighteen years ago) link

Edwin Morgan, "The Death of Marilyn Monroe"

1          What innocence? Whose guilt? What eyes? Whose breast?
2          Crumpled orphan, nembutal bed,
3          white hearse, Los Angeles,
4          OiMaggio! Los Angeles! Miller! Los Angeles! America!
5          That Death should seem the only protector---
6          That all arms should have faded, and the great cameras and lights
7             become an inquisition and a torment---
8          That the many acquaintances, the autograph-hunters, the
9             inflexible directors, the drive-in admirers should become
10           a blur of incomprehension and pain---
11        That lonely Uncertainty should limp up, grinning, with
12           bewildering barbiturates, and watch her undress and lie
13           down and in her anguish
14        call for him! call for him to strengthen her with what could
15        only dissolve her! A method
16        of dying, we are shaken, we see it. Strasberg!
17        Los Angeles! Olivier! Los Angeles! Others die
18        and yet by this death we are a little shaken, we feel it,
19        America.
20        Let no one say communication is a cantword.
21        They had to lift her hand from the bedside telephone.
22        But what she had not been able to say
23        Perhaps she had said. 'All I had was my life.
24        I have no regrets, because if I made
25        any mistakes, I was responsible.
26        There is now---and there is the future.
27        What has happened is behind. So
28        it follows you around? So what?'---This
29        to a friend, ten days before.
30        And so she was responsible.
31        And if she was not responsible, not wholly responsible, Los Angeles?
32           Los Angeles? Will it follow you around? Will the slow
33           white hearse of the child of America follow you around?

cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 00:33 (eighteen years ago) link

Michael Longley, "Terezín"

No room has ever been as silent as the room
Where hundreds of violins are hung in unison.

cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think

from "The Wasteland", T.S. Eliot

weather1ngda1eson (Brian), Friday, 19 March 2004 10:44 (eighteen years ago) link

Y'all sent me looking for my Larkin. It's snowing as I type this:


On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon --
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

donald, Friday, 19 March 2004 14:08 (eighteen years ago) link

Yay for spring!

Maria D., Friday, 19 March 2004 14:38 (eighteen years ago) link

ILB mindmeld - I read that very poem over my omelette yesterday lunchtime, Don!

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Friday, 19 March 2004 14:56 (eighteen years ago) link

Someone should have shown you - little jester,
Little teaser, blue-veined charm-
er, laughing-eyed, lionised, sylvan-princessly
Sinner - to what point you would come:
How, the three hundredth in a queue,
You'd stand at the prison gate
And with your hot tears
Burn through the New-Year ice.
How many lives are ending there! Yet it's
Mute, even the prison-poplar's
Tongue's in its cheek as it's swaying.

-Anna Akhmatova
from "Requiem" (1957)

marisa (marisa), Friday, 19 March 2004 15:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Our lives are Swiss,—
So still, so cool,
  Till, some odd afternoon,
The Alps neglect their curtains,
  And we look farther on.

Italy stands the other side,
  While, like a guard between,
The solemn Alps,
The siren Alps,
  Forever intervene!

[Emily Dickinson]

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 20 March 2004 00:58 (eighteen years ago) link

W.B. Yeats
"When You Are Old"

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Saturday, 20 March 2004 07:56 (eighteen years ago) link

II. The Pretty Lady

She hated bleak and wintry things alone.
All that was warm and quick, she loved too well-
A light, a flame, a heart against her own;
It is forever bitter cold, in Hell.

Vl. The Actress

Her name, cut clear upon this marble cross,
Shines, as it shone when she was still on earth;
While tenderly the mild, agreeable moss
Obscures the figures of her date of birth.

from "Tombstones in the Starlight" by Dorothy Parker

weather1ngda1eson (Brian), Saturday, 20 March 2004 10:05 (eighteen years ago) link

The Shampoo

The still explosions on the rocks,
the lichens, grow
by spreading gray, concentric shocks.
They have arranged
to meet the rings around the moon, although
within our memories they have not changed.

And since the heavens will attend
as long on us,
you've been, dear friend,
precipitate and pragmatical:
and look what happens. For Time is
nothing if not amenable.

The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
--Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.

[Elizabeth Bishop. I shamelessly nicked the last verse of this for a song of mine a few years ago. I will be paying you royalties in eternity, Liz.]

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Saturday, 20 March 2004 11:34 (eighteen years ago) link

that hass poem upthread is phenomenal. I downloaded a whole bunch of his collections from lion and goin to spend the day gorging.

cozen (Cozen), Saturday, 20 March 2004 11:46 (eighteen years ago) link

I woke up this morning with 'TOO NICE' scrawled in inch-high letters on the back of my right hand and on my left hand is written "trousers at half mast" & "ice-cream vans, outside schools". I think the left hand is the beginning of my determination to become a peot and I think the right is just strange.

cozen (Cozen), Saturday, 20 March 2004 12:00 (eighteen years ago) link

another word, discovered in the shower, scrawled on the underside of my left forearm: "massé".

I am in love with the LION poetry database.

cozen (Cozen), Saturday, 20 March 2004 14:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Is the LION just for librarians? Of which I am not. And where is the hass upthread? Robert hass will be answering questions posed to him online on Monday at Loved the Dickenson, Bishop and Dunn. And Lux!

donald, Saturday, 20 March 2004 18:30 (eighteen years ago) link

The Gateway

Now the heart sings with all its thousand voices
To hear this city of cells, my body, sing.
The tree through the stiff clay at long last forces
Its thin strong roots and taps the secret spring.

And the sweet waters without intermission
Climb to the tips of its green tenement;
The breasts have borne the grace of their possession,
The lips have felt the pressure of content.

Here I come home: in this expected country
They know my name and speak it with delight.
I am the dream and you my gates of entry,
The means by which I waken into light.

--- AD Hope

Archel (Archel), Monday, 1 November 2004 14:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually I meant to post this, more seasonal, one, but I like the above too.

Winter Love

Let us have winter loving that the heart
May be in peace and ready to partake
Of the slow pleasure spring would wish to hurry
Or that in summer harshly would awake,
And let us fall apart, O gladly weary,
The white skin shaken like a white snowflake.

-Elizabeth Jennings

Archel (Archel), Monday, 1 November 2004 14:07 (seventeen years ago) link

Does anybody care for this "verse w/ line breaks" movement that has taken over much of contemporary poetry (American, at least)? I have to say when I see something that looks like this, I am instantly repelled. I read the first couple stanzas, liked them, and then could feel the poem wandering off. That feeling + the length + the fact I can see names of characters and dialogue makes me not want to read it AT ALL. Am I just lazy?

bnw (bnw), Monday, 1 November 2004 17:23 (seventeen years ago) link

Do you mean *prose* with line breaks?

Archel (Archel), Monday, 1 November 2004 17:31 (seventeen years ago) link

If yes, then no I don't much like it - the words should be CHOSEN and should do some WORK, dammit - but then there is some poetry which appears to be prosey in that way but on closer reading isn't at all.

If no, then I'm not sure I understand the question.

Archel (Archel), Monday, 1 November 2004 17:35 (seventeen years ago) link

Er i meant prose with line breaks, obv. Too much coffee. There was a really vicious article on webdelsol a couple years ago condemning a lot of contemporary poetry for this offense. Pretty much every tool of poetry is cast aside: rhyme, meter, fragments, etc. And the only thing making these "poems" is that they have line breaks, and not even those are really utilized to any effect. I guess I don't really understand the aesthetics of this approach.

(interesting tidbit/bragging: I talked to Dorraine Laux a bit about that article when I met her.)

bnw (bnw), Monday, 1 November 2004 18:08 (seventeen years ago) link

(hate to stall out this thread on my negativity so...)

Public Address (excerpt)

The screen goes blank, all that was

etched there in light--a flashbulb's
thumbprint in the back of the skull.
Sometimes we only die, sometimes
champagne corks fly from our wounds.

The coldest day of the year and still
there's flowering. The lovers' bodies,
once long grass, strike and strike each other.
How else control fire but to make your own? A dye

must be squeezed from the poisonous berries,
the sand melted translucent. each work
an evasion, secret, clue, the subject always
missing just as the dream is never

inside the sleeper but rises above like
a sweet scum above boiling milk, the body
like a dead body but warm, inviting,
arousable. Who has not looked down the throat

of an orchid into color that can't be seen
like the cosmic black humming behind
noon blue? We want only to be admitted.
We want only to be left out.

Dean Young

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 04:39 (seventeen years ago) link

The poetry journal doodah that I edit had a fairly strict policy for years of no poems with any sort of linebreaks. That policy got softened at one point but I somewhat regret that. Anyway, I don't understand why have the poems on this thread have line breaks -- many of them I think would be better without. (There's only one line break in that last poem that I think adds anything by having a line break.) (Although of course that poem has much more interesting rhythm than the poem you linked to.)

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 05:03 (seventeen years ago) link

I think there's definitely a place for line breaks - why have a page at all if you can't make use of its space around the poem - but they need at least as much thinking about as everything else.

When I've got my editor hat on, nothing sets the alarm bells off so quickly as randomly placed line breaks, put in just because the 'poet' is dimly convinced that poetry has line breaks.

(Then again, with some of the dodgy things that email can do to formatting, it's often anyone's guess where the line breaks are intended to be, if anywhere.)

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 10:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Incidentally (I still feel like an arse mentioning it on this thread, but where else?) my book has got some reviews lately and I was particularly pleased with this impenetrable comment: 'writes mainly on the explosions and uncertainties when edging in and through and out of intimacies'. Nice-sounding gibberish always a good sign in reviews, I think.

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 17:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Well done, Archel.

That sentence sounds not wholly grammatical, yet still sufficiently suggestive.

the bluefox, Tuesday, 2 November 2004 17:44 (seventeen years ago) link

Anyway, I don't understand why have the poems on this thread have line breaks -- many of them I think would be better without.

I think what I'm talking about are those "prose w/ line breaks" pieces that seem to use breaks in such a way that disregard them as being a pause or an emphasis on the line's effect as an independent part of a larger whole.

I'd agee that ultra-conventional breaks are probably nothing to pat yourself on the back for either. They're worth experimenting with.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 18:54 (seventeen years ago) link

Did I really write "have the poems"? I meant "half". Dear God.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 2 November 2004 23:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Apologies for exceeding the ten-lines rule, but I couldn't decide which bits of this to quote.


It would later be said of our era
that even the boring parts were interesting,
& vice versa.

Without the least trace of irony,
officials christened space shuttles
after doomed & sunken
cities of yore.

Nearly all of us
constructed dashboard altars
upon which we lavished
particular & minute devotions
as we cruised past scenes
that seemed to represent disaster’s aftermath
but almost always resolved
into simple sequences of yard sales—
derelict undergarments & mattresses
exposed on sullenly tilting lawns—
each just another item on the ever-growing
list of events not to be taken

For their arcane significance,
we pondered signs such as these:




Though the varieties of available lip-gloss shades
& the total number of famous people in history
were exponentially increasing
so that it became ever more difficult
to distinguish plum from maroon
or the living from the dead,
it still took approximately
the same six years
for a single exhaled breath
to become evenly mixed with the atmosphere.

For none of us was it ever clear
whether that rumbling sound we kept hearing
was static or heartfelt applause.

Everyone was professionally lonely,
yet we ceased not our shining.

Many aspired to but did not actually achieve
the office of Notary Public.

This was not considered a tragedy.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Saturday, 6 November 2004 20:46 (seventeen years ago) link

one from poetery daily today, I like the 8th line especially.


In your field of vision, there is a place where no image is fixed,
where injury carved its cave of nothing,
gathered blackness around a splinter's wooden slip.
One eye, you say, scans the world.
The other examines the self's invisible wanting.
In that equation, I believe myself to be
the point connecting one destination to another,
somewhere you paused to draw lines to the next warm station.
I emit no light, no heat
but gather, in cupped hands, what fell to the ground
when limbs were shaken by your grasping wind.

Mark Wunderlich

bnw (bnw), Sunday, 7 November 2004 16:43 (seventeen years ago) link

So I'm introducing some poets tonight at a reading. Does anyone have any suggestions as for how I should introduce them?

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 7 November 2004 18:00 (seventeen years ago) link


bnw (bnw), Sunday, 7 November 2004 19:04 (seventeen years ago) link

whoops i spelled your name wrong, 'twas a noble attempt

bnw (bnw), Sunday, 7 November 2004 19:05 (seventeen years ago) link

It looks right to me. But I think I've already done acrostics. I've also done anagrams.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 7 November 2004 19:56 (seventeen years ago) link

Because the days are getting shorter (and my tutor set an essay on him, due tomorrow morning!)...

From too much hope of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

-- A. C. Swinburne

sceefy, Tuesday, 9 November 2004 22:26 (seventeen years ago) link

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

--- Thomas Hood

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 16 November 2004 10:15 (seventeen years ago) link

So he heard about the election results, eh?

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 16 November 2004 22:04 (seventeen years ago) link

A scholar named Wang
Laughed at my poems.
The accents are wrong,
He said,
Too many beats;
The meter is poor,
The wording impulsive.

I laugh at his poems,
As he laughs at mine.
They read like
The words of a blind man
Describing the sun.

Fred (Fred), Saturday, 20 November 2004 22:25 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
Is it time to revive this thread?

I wanted to add Sean O'Brien to it, last night, but I don't know how to make the lines all go together.

the pomefox, Thursday, 23 December 2004 11:10 (seventeen years ago) link

BBC2 viewers may like to know that there is a poetry programme, Essential Poems for Christmas on tonight at 7.30.

(Excuse the repitition, I am providing a public service.)

Puddin'Head Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 23 December 2004 12:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Never think nobody cares

For that thundery corridor

Painting its Forth into Scotland and back,

For the drizzly grind of the coal-train

Or even the Metro, that amateur transport,

Sparking and chattering every verse-end.

from Sean O'Brien, 'The Eavesdroppers'

the pomefox, Thursday, 23 December 2004 13:53 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
We have a new baby in the family-- one week old. His name is Keenan, which, I understand means "little ancient one." For him this bit from W.S. Merwin:

Where darkness is
Once there was a mirror
And I therein was King.

Where is everyone?

pepektheassassin (pepektheassassin), Saturday, 29 January 2005 17:29 (seventeen years ago) link

They're over here: Poetry Thread, part two: A Game Of Chess

Happy baby!

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 29 January 2005 19:14 (seventeen years ago) link

nine months pass...
Some people live all their lives without knowing which path is right.

They are buffeted by this wind and that,
never really knowing where they are going.

They think they have no choice over their destiny,
but we know the path and we follow it without question.

Remember, there is sacrifice involved in any kind of life,
even those that choose the safe way must sacrifice the thrill.

The point is if you know what you want,
you must be prepared to sacrifice everything to get it.

Those that realise this are the fortunate ones.

- Thomas Schumacher ‘The Fortunate Ones’

c7n (Cozen), Saturday, 29 October 2005 11:11 (sixteen years ago) link

OpTiMo HoGmAnAy MiX 2oo1

c7n (Cozen), Saturday, 29 October 2005 11:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Should I lock this thread and link to the other? Or what?

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 03:38 (sixteen years ago) link

The angst of the moderator.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 03:51 (sixteen years ago) link

That would probably be for the best.

Matt (Matt), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 11:22 (sixteen years ago) link

I think you should, to practice your thread-locking technique. Then you can Poxy Fule things up with the best of them.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 13:22 (sixteen years ago) link

OK. Poetry Thread, part two: A Game Of Chess

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 18:06 (sixteen years ago) link

four years pass...

"she my love by london gentled as by space the spinning world"

i read this poem this morning and thought: how startling, how beautiful, and then I discovered that the only google result for it is... me, on this thread.

lords of hyrule (c sharp major), Sunday, 21 March 2010 10:08 (twelve years ago) link

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry
by Howard Nemerov

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

INSUFFICIENT FUN (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 20:31 (twelve years ago) link

five months pass...

While out today I bought a book of poems from a charity store because it was a book of Kenneth Rexroth translations out of the Chinese, and Rexroth has previously torn my brain to giddy shreds

I had heard Rexroth was a polyglot and a skilled translator, but I did not know I'd be reduced to tears on the train home

His first 35 translations are of Tu Fu's work, an 8th-century poet whom he claims is alongside Catullus and Baudelaire as the greatest non-epic and non-dramatic poet in history

One of the poems, just one, was too long for a single page. I did not know this and upon the end of the page thought the poem done - it had reached a moment of such wisdom that I shudderingly re-read the tract and felt something settle over me

There turned out to be nine more lines.


The lives of many men are
Shorter than the years since we have
Seen each other. Aldebaran
And Antares move as we have.
And now, what night is this? We sit
Here together in the candle
Light. How much longer will our prime
Last? Our temples are already
Grey. I visit my old friends.
Half of them have become ghosts.
Fear and sorrow choke me and burn
My bowels. I never dreamed I would
Come this way, after twenty years,
A wayfarer to your parlor.
When we parted years ago,
You were unmarried. Now you have
A row of boys and girls, who smile
And ask me about my travels.
How have I reached this time and place?
Before I can come to the end
Of an endless tale, the children
Have brought out the wine. We go
Out in the night and cut young
Onions in the rainy darkness.
We eat them with hot, steaming,
Yellow millet. You say, "It is
Sad, meeting each other again."

acoleuthic, Friday, 17 September 2010 20:16 (twelve years ago) link

We drink ten toasts rapidly from
The rhinoceros horn cups.
Ten cups, and still we are not drunk.
We still love each other as
We did when we were schoolboys.
Tomorrow morning mountain peaks
Will come between us, and with them
The endless, oblivious
Business of the world.

Tu Fu

acoleuthic, Friday, 17 September 2010 20:16 (twelve years ago) link

three years pass...

This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold
What while we, while we slumbered.
O then, weary then why
When the thing we freely fórfeit is kept with fonder a care,
Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept
Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder
A care kept.—Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where.—
Yonder.—What high as that! We follow, now we follow.—Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,


BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Friday, 25 July 2014 21:54 (eight years ago) link

six years pass...

Simon Armitage writes a poem on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Patriarchs – An Elegy

The weather in the window this morning
is snow, unseasonal singular flakes,
a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion
to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up
for a whole generation – that crew whose survival
was always the stuff of minor miracle,
who came ashore in orange-crate coracles,
fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea
with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.

Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans
across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets,
regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were
was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business.
Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became
both inner core and outer case
in a family heirloom of nesting dolls.
Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand
in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders.

They were sons of a zodiac out of sync
with the solar year, but turned their minds
to the day’s big science and heavy questions.
To study their hands at rest was to picture maps
showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes
of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions.
Last of the great avuncular magicians
they kept their best tricks for the grand finale:
Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.

The major oaks in the wood start tuning up
and skies to come will deliver their tributes.
But for now, a cold April’s closing moments
parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon
snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.

the pinefox, Saturday, 17 April 2021 10:53 (one year ago) link

I think there's a rather uncertain mix of the specific and the general here. If this is for the Duke, then why is it so general and generational? But if it's so general, why include the line about 'a zodiac out of sync', apparently specifically referring to his Greek origins and not applicable to other patriarchs?


On such an occasion
to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up
for a whole generation

-- seems to pick up the tone of parts of the FOUR QUARTETS, and of Auden who was contemporary with them. I'm unsure that 'pipe up' fits well here, even though Armitage is probably trying to imply a hint of a bagpiper playing in tribute.

the pinefox, Saturday, 17 April 2021 10:56 (one year ago) link

Trash poem for a trash human

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Thursday, 22 April 2021 01:06 (one year ago) link

instead of trying to eulogize Philip, he wisely chose to skate away immediately into generalities about WWII. for me the poem never really rises above the imagery of wartime propaganda films or lends vitality to the people or events it purports to capture. ceremonial poems are hard.

sharpening the contraindications (Aimless), Thursday, 22 April 2021 02:01 (one year ago) link

I don't actually think so! I think it's hard to write a ceremonial poem about a person who was a malevolent racist with a noted passion for younger women.

It's simply tiresome how these old British hack poets refuse to deal with actual history, instead writing again and again about "the genius" of a generation and the trauma of the bombing of London. Give me a break.

I've read and witnessed any number of poems written for ceremonial occasions that were excellent. Hell, I read one by a student the other day that was written for a funeral of a cat that was more interesting than this crap.

it's like edging for your mind (the table is the table), Thursday, 22 April 2021 12:07 (one year ago) link

I am sure it was an excellent cat and an even better public figurehead

imago, Thursday, 22 April 2021 12:12 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Amber Sparks
Hi Covid here
I have eaten
the years
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for other shit
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so full of days

dow, Saturday, 18 December 2021 20:26 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

Good interview here with Louise Gluck, where she talks a bit about Ashbery:

SH: How did you know (your book) was done? The book is quite short, but that brevity feels important to the effect of it.

LG: Well, for a long time it wasn’t; it was just skimpy and a little mannered. But during this period, I finally came to understand the poetry of John Ashbery, whose work had eluded me the whole of my life, though I was moved by him as a person. He was a radiant presence, kind of angelic, but the poems just exhausted me. They seemed interminable—in fact, some of them still do—but those that don’t were like nothing I’d ever read. What changed him for me was Karin Roffman’s book [The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life]. It made Ashbery available to me, but it was also in itself remarkable. Did I tell you the story about reading the book and writing her a letter?

SH: No, I just remember talking to you when you were in the middle of reading it, I think a few years ago. It sounded like it fixed something for you at the time.

LG: It did. So I wrote her a letter of ardent appreciation. And then I thought, “I have to write Ashbery.” But when you’re writing to someone you revere, you want to commend yourself to the person; your ego gets involved. Also, I couldn’t say, you know, “I never liked your work, but now I really see how extraordinary it is, though I certainly came to it a little late.” In any case, the letter was hard to write. It was the beginning of the semester at Yale; it was my first night in New Haven for that year. And I thought, “I absolutely have to write this letter. I have to do it. I have to do it this week. As soon as I get home, I have to.” And then I had an e-mail in the very early morning from Frank (Bidart), who said Ashbery had died. And I never wrote my letter. I mean, I’m sure he had other things on his mind. But I would have liked… I would have liked to put some flowers at his feet. I think his work showed me something. But the book I was trying to write came in the most tortured little drips—I thought of it as rusty water coming out of the tap. And then Covid happened, and I thought, “Well, that’s it for writing,” you know.

deep luminous trombone (Eazy), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 01:47 (eight months ago) link

Gluck is quite literally one of the worst poets alive.

we need outrage! we need dicks!! (the table is the table), Wednesday, 19 January 2022 14:38 (eight months ago) link

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