Poetry I love   Leave a comment

Reflections on Ice-breaking

(Ogden Nash)

Candy

Is dandy

But liquor

Is quicker

___________________________

Perfect Day

(Felix Dennis)

Today was one of the best days of my life.

Nothing of any importance occurred –

I cut my finger on a paperknife

And marvelled at a busy hummingbird

Plucking out wet moss by a waterfall;

Broke bread with friends and shared a glass of wine;

Wrote this poem; swam; made love. That’s all.

Why should it be some days erect a shrine,

A cairn, a white stone day, in memory?

Is it, as Buddhists claim, a lack of need,

Or want – or simple serendipity –

The perfect flowering of one small seed?

      The wise will say our frames are none too pure:

      How many perfect days could we endure?

_____________________________________________________________

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief

(Gerard Manly Hopkins)

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,

More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief

woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing –

Then lull, then leave off. Fury has shrieked “No lingering!

Let me be fell: force I must be brief”.

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small

Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,

Wretch, under a comfort serves  in a whirlwind: all

Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

_____________________________________________________________

Temptation

(Nina Cassian)

Call yourself alive? Look, I promise you

that for the first time you’ll feel your pores opening

like fish mouths, and you’ll actually be able to hear

your blood surging through all those lanes,

and you’ll feel light gliding across the cornea

like the train of a dress. For the first time

you’ll be aware of gravity

like a thorn in your heel,

and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings.

Call yourself alive? I promise you

you’ll be deafened by dust falling on the furniture,

you’ll feel your eyebrows turning to two gashes,

and every memory you have –  will begin

at Genesis

(Translated from Romanian – Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant)

______________________________________________________________

You

(Dennis O’Driscoll)

Be yourself: show your flyblown eyes

to the world, given no cause for concern,

wash the paunchy body whose means you

live within, suffer the illnesses

that are, your prerogative alone –

the prognosis refers to nobody but you;

you it is who gets up every morning

in your skin, you who chews your dinner

with your mercury-filled teeth, gaining

garlic breath or weight, you dreading,

you hoping, you regretting, you interloping.

The earth has squeezed you in, found you space;

any loss of face you feel is solely yours –

you with the same old daily moods, debts,

intuitions, food fads, pet hates, Achilles’ heels.

You carry on as best you can the task of being,

whole-time, you; you in wake and you in dream,

at all hours, weekly, monthly, yearly, life,

full of yourself as a tallow candle  is of fat,

wallowing in self-denial, self-esteem.

______________________________________________________________

This be the verse

(Philip Larkin)

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

____________________________________________________________

Wherever I hang

(Grace Nichols)

I leave me people, me land, me home
For reasons I not too sure
I forsake de sun
And de humming-bird splendour
Had big rats in de floorboard
So I pick up me new-world-self
And come to this place call England
At first I feeling like I in a dream –
De misty greyness
I touching the walls to see if they real
They solid to de seam
And de people pouring from de underground system
Like beans
And when I look up to de sky
I see Lord Nelson high – too high to lie.

And is so I sending home photos of myself
Among de pigeons and de snow
And is so I warding off de cold
And is so, little by little
I begin to change my calypso ways
Never visiting nobody
Before giving them clear warning
And waiting me turn in queue
Now, after all this time
I get accustom to de English life
But I still miss back-home side
To tell you de truth
I don’t know really where I belaang
Yes, divided to de ocean
Divided to de bone
Wherever I hang me knickers – that’s my home.

_______________________________________________________________

Be Not Too Hard

(Christopher Logue)

Be not too hard, for life is short
And nothing is given to man;
Be not too hard when he is sold and bought
F orhe must manage as best he can;
Be not too hard when he gladly dies
Defencing things he does not own;
Be not too hard when he tells lies
And if his heart is sometimes like a stone
Be not too hard – for soon he dies,
Often no wiser than he began;
Be not too hard for life is short
And nothing is given to man.

_______________________________________________________________

Untitled (Consider the grass growing)

(Patrick Kavanagh)

Consider the grass growing

As it grew last year and the year before,

Cool about the ankles like summer rivers

When we walked on a May evening through the meadows

To watch the mare that was going [to] foal.

_______________________________________________________________

Prayer


(Carol Ann Duffy)

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer

utters itself. So, a woman will lift

her head from the sieve of her hands and stare

at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth

enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;

then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth

in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales

console the lodger looking out across

a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls

a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –

Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

_______________________________________________________________

The Journey

(Mary Oliver)

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

_________________________________________________________________

When I Am Among the Trees

(Mary Oliver)

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

 And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

____________________________

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

______________________________________________________________

Invictus

 

William Ernest Henley

 

OUT of the night that covers me,     

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   

I thank whatever gods may be          

For my unconquerable soul.             

                                                       

In the fell clutch of circumstance              

I have not winced nor cried aloud.   

Under the bludgeonings of chance    

My head is bloody, but unbowed.     

                                                       

Beyond this place of wrath and tears  

Looms but the Horror of the shade,    

And yet the menace of the years       

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   

                                                       

It matters not how strait the gate,     

How charged with punishments the scroll,   

I am the master of my fate:               

I am the captain of my soul.

______________________________________________________________

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

 

William Butler Yeates

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,

      And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,           

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

      And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;  

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,

      I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 

______________________________________________________________

Desiderata

Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

______________________________________________________________

A Silly Poem

Spike Milligan

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I’ll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

____________________________________________________________

On the Beach

Ramon Montaigne

Children playing on the beach,
Mad dogs running off the leash.
Babies eating small mudpies,
Poison puddles in disguise.

Surfers paddling out to sea.
Are there sharks? There well might be.
Children walking to and fro.
Are they wearing sunscreen? No.

Men who go without long pants or
Shirts are asking for skin cancer.
Naked women soon will be
Sent to chemotherapy.

Food left sitting in the sun,
Salmonella has begun.
Young girls talking to strange men
Who yesterday were in the pen.

The days get hotter,
Near the water
Here in Sodom.
Thank God for autumn.

_____________________________________________________________

Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Earnest, earthless, equal, attuneable, ‘ vaulty, voluminous, . . . stupendous

Evening strains to be time’s vást, ‘ womb-of-all, home-of-all, hearse-of-all night.

Her fond yellow hornlight wound to the west, ‘ her wild hollow hoarlight hung to the height

Waste; her earliest stars, earl-stars, ‘ stárs principal, overbend us,

Fíre-féaturing heaven. For earth ‘ her being as unbound, her dapple is at an end, as-

tray or aswarm, all throughther, in throngs; ‘ self ín self steepèd and páshed – quite

Disremembering, dísmémbering, ‘ áll now. Heart, you round me right

With: Óur évening is over us; óur night ‘ whélms, whélms, ánd will end us.

Only the beak-leaved boughs dragonish ‘ damask the tool-smooth bleak light; black,

Ever so black on it. Óur tale, O óur oracle! ‘ Lét life, wáned, ah lét life wind

Off hér once skéined stained véined varíety ‘ upon áll on twó spools; párt, pen, páck

Now her áll in twó flocks, twó folds – black, white; ‘ right, wrong; reckon but, reck but, mind

But thése two; wáre of a wórld where bút these ‘ twó tell, each off the óther; of a rack

Where, selfwrung, selfstrung, sheathe- and shelterless, ‘ thóughts agaínst thoughts ín groans grínd.

_________________________________________________________________

Memory of my Father

 

 

Patrick Kavanagh

 

Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.

That man I saw in Gardner Street
Stumbled on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half-eyed,
I might have been his son.

And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London,
He too set me the riddle.

Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me:
“I was once your father.”

 

Posted May 24, 2012 by mshambainlondon

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