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Archive for August, 2007

Today’s poem of the day, entered by Michelle. 

The Wintered Soul Among Wisteria
Originally published in SP Quill Magazine as the Word Wizard Challenge Winner

One need not read her horoscope to know
this woman’s fate, and though wisteria
cascades sweet blooms of lavender like snow
outside her door, it’s still Siberia
pervading the dimensions of her mind,
for not one fickle thought or patch of moss
can thrive where bleakest shadows are enshrined.
No bittersweet, no dewdrops… only loss
surrounds her heart. She tries to reminisce,
but like a barren continent grown cold,
she can’t perceive one particle of bliss.
She’s clasping grief and cannot be consoled!
Wisteria’s perfume is in the breeze,
but in her soul remains a winter’s freeze.

© Andrea Dietrich, SP Quill Magazine
Spring 2006, Volume 10

And the why:

Clearly this poem is about the death of a loved one and the grief it leaves behind for the survivor. Her struggles to continue everyday life are well documented in this piece.

Everyone feels like they’re in Siberia struggling to find their footing in a world of chaos when someone close to them dies.

‘She tries to reminisce,
but like a barren continent grown cold,
she can’t perceive one particle of bliss.’

I think everyone can relate to the previous line because your heart grows cold after such a loss. Does anyone really recover from losing a loved one? I think we just try to find a way to receive the world without those enshrined shadows and take each day as it comes.

-Michelle

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Many thanks to those people who are sending in poetry they love and expressing why they love it. From the intellectual to the emotional or anything in between, I’m just looking for sincerity. In other words, don’t be daunted if you aren’t Susan Sontag.

To enter, click on the hand in the post below.

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Blight

Give me truths,
For I am weary of the surfaces,
And die of inanition. If I knew
Only the herbs and simples of the wood,
Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain, and pimpernel,
Blue-vetch, and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras,
Milkweeds, and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sundew,
And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods
Draw untold juices from the common earth,
Untold, unknown, and I could surely spell
Their fragrance, and their chemistry apply
By sweet affinities to human flesh,
Driving the foe and stablishing the friend,—
O that were much, and I could be a part
Of the round day, related to the sun,
And planted world, and full executor
Of their imperfect functions.
But these young scholars who invade our hills,
Bold as the engineer who fells the wood,
And travelling often in the cut he makes,
Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not,
And all their botany is Latin names.
The old men studied magic in the flower,
And human fortunes in astronomy,
And an omnipotence in chemistry,
Preferring things to names, for these were men,
Were unitarians of the united world,
And wheresoever their clear eyebeams fell,
They caught the footsteps of the SAME. Our eyes
Are armed, but we are strangers to the stars,
And strangers to the mystic beast and bird,
And strangers to the plant and to the mine;
The injured elements say, Not in us;
And night and day, ocean and continent,
Fire, plant, and mineral say, Not in us,
And haughtily return us stare for stare.
For we invade them impiously for gain,
We devastate them unreligiously,
And coldly ask their pottage, not their love,
Therefore they shove us from them, yield to us
Only what to our griping toil is due;
But the sweet affluence of love and song,
The rich results of the divine consents
Of man and earth, of world beloved and lover,
The nectar and ambrosia are withheld;
And in the midst of spoils and slaves, we thieves
And pirates of the universe, shut out
Daily to a more thin and outward rind,
Turn pale and starve. Therefore to our sick eyes,
The stunted trees look sick, the summer short,
Clouds shade the sun, which will not tan our hay.
And nothing thrives to reach its natural term,
And life, shorn of its venerable length,
Even at its greatest space, is a defeat,
And dies in anger that it was a dupe,
And, in its highest noon and wantonness,
Is early frugal like a beggar’s child:
With most unhandsome calculation taught,
Even in the hot pursuit of the best aims
And prizes of ambition, checks its hand,
Like Alpine cataracts, frozen as they leaped,
Chilled with a miserly comparison
Of the toy’s purchase with the length of life.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Our first reader submission. Many thanks to Erez and his very erudite explanation of why he chose this poem. Enjoy!

To participate in the Send me a poem/I’ll send you a book celebration,
click here.

Lucifer
(Originally published in The American Poetry Review)

Two A.M. and we’re on Lucifer, arguing, drinking,
one of us a Believer. I say if that beautiful
light-named angel, once most loved to God,
fell, he must have kept falling into insight–
scattering his illumination, plummeting, coming apart
into a broken new deity, one that divides
as the woman’s face in darkness,
the man’s face in quick rip-slashes of light.
Starry dark: down and down She falls into her empty glass,
the night sky lights up with all He refuses to let go.

-Carol Muske

Erez’s Why:

Here’s the why we love the poem, and in tangent, why Poets and Writers also put her on their summer issue cover:

Can analysis be worthwhile? Well, here’s my take. Muske is a big fan of the 3D’s. Death, Desire, and Domesticity. If she could, she’d be Satan’s lover in this poem and die a second death for him. Perhaps even Lucifer’s counterpart in the poem, Starry dark, does die a second type of love-requiting death to foreground the limited version we have of His first, as I’ll attempt to show. She gives us the uncut version, if you will, for Believers only. Non-Believers need not read on.

The poem’s ‘one of us a Believer’ is Muske, I believe. The non-Believers are akin to the Republicans who watch Inconvenient Truth and still do not have sufficient evidence to act. Starry dark (hereon in Starry) is Muske’s doppelganger, a Believer who does have sufficient truth to act.

The poem ends with Starry’s reciprocal fall, and something of what Muske has called, “the imagination’s alchemizing of what we think of as ‘fact.’” The poem elides the initial argument it presents, truth v. biography (Lucifer’s), also an ongoing conversation the poet has broached in her two collections, ‘Sparrow’ and ‘Life after Death.’ These book titles point to what I consider to be the throughline of this poem as well: Falling and all its connotations. By changing the handed down narrative of the Devil’s fate, Muske presents the reader with both Lucifer’s newborn diety and his original–it’s a two-for-one. Starry and Satan are so to speak, dead and/or alive, since the latter’s old soul is spared by the former’s action anew.

It is almost as if something akin to the chaos theory of quantum physics holds to the poetics here: the outcome of Lucifer’s death is changed (the future act alters the past) by the fact of it having been witnessed. Someone–call her Starry, call her a Believer–observes Lucifer’s fall in the poem and like Democrats watching Inconvenient Truth, is “given and not given sufficient evidence” to believe in the Hellish fate of the world.

She, Starry, actually takes on His, Lucifer’s, form once He has passed on, so that both outcomes can coexist–His and Hers, Hers and His–truth and biography. He is absolved after Death, and She can still live with ‘all that He refuses to let go.’ She, is the one who through her own action foregoes the original version of the truth of His fall (the damning fate of his soul) and makes up a new one with Her ’starring’ as the lead role in His own biography.

Muske takes the traditionally accepted narrative of Lucifer’s fall as a limited version of the story. His passing on, His ‘falling into insight’ as Muske says, is made possible by Starry’s choice to go on with her own reciprocal living in darkness, content to be occluded from his truth, even the original version of his death. His fall from grace (read Death) is in effect subverted by hers being transcendent and of this give-and-take/my darkness for your light type of reciprocity.

There is a little bit of Hegel’s Lord/Bondsman domestic relationship going on here. And Muske has broken it wide open. Maybe, given the celestial ramifications of their souls, there’s even a four-for-one deal in the works. 4 x 1.

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I Sit and Look Out

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,
neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband–I see the treacherous seducer
of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be
hid–I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny–I see martyrs and
prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea–I observe the sailors casting lots who
shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon
laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these–All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look
out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

-Walt Whitman

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The contest closed Monday, August 20, 2007. Thanks to all those who entered!

at-bean-exchange.jpgWe’re so close, I can feel it.

In a couple days, this site will reach the 3,000 3,500 visitors mark, which is such a lovely thought I get a little choked up. It means that people, lots of people, are still reading poetry and I am honored that many of the poems that I chose, the poems that forgotten high school teachers, unforgettable

logo.jpg

professors, or good, lonely hours have passed into my blood…mean something to you as well.4×1.jpg

To celebrate this auspicious occasion and on behalf of Inconnue Press, I would like to offer a free copy of 4×1, a book of poetry by Ranier Maria Rilke, Tristan Tzara, Jean-Pierre Duprey, and Habib Tengour, to anyone who sends me a poem they love and and tells me why they love it, via the comment section of this page.

I will post the poem and comment…unless the poem is not within the public domain, in which case I will post the first few lines of it and try to find a place to link to online where it is copyrighted.

For privacy reasons, don’t include your address…I will contact you for that later. And no, this is not a way to collect info for marketing (we aren’t even big enough for that to be effective).

 

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I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
  enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
  enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

-by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

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Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Psalm
for the flutes

Trust the flutes in their lament between a woman and a man
Whatever they say sounds like laughing…

-Judith Hall

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THE CAP AND BELLS

THE jester walked in the garden:
The garden had fallen still;
He bade his soul rise upward
And stand on her window-sill.

It rose in a straight blue garment,
When owls began to call:
It had grown wise-tongued by thinking
Of a quiet and light footfall;

But the young queen would not listen;
She rose in her pale night-gown;
She drew in the heavy casement
And pushed the latches down.

He bade his heart go to her,
When the owls called out no more;
In a red and quivering garment
It sang to her through the door.

It had grown sweet-tongued by dreaming
Of a flutter of flower-like hair;
But she took up her fan from the table
And waved it off on the air.

‘I have cap and bells,’ he pondered,
‘I will send them to her and die’;
And when the morning whitened
He left them where she went by.

She laid them upon her bosom,
Under a cloud of her hair,
And her red lips sang them a love-song
Till stars grew out of the air.

She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.

They set up a noise like crickets,
A chattering wise and sweet,
And her hair was a folded flower
And the quiet of love in her feet.

-William Butler Yeats

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