The problem with being young is that you haven’t enough experience or knowledge to appreciate things. They also don’t tell you the really juicy stuff that heightens your appreciation.
So I never liked Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias.” Some dead bugger with a silly name using fancy language to talk about some old broken statue. Big ol’ yawn.
But since then, I’ve learned a lot about the Romantics. I found out that Shelley was a really interesting guy who even wrote a tract called “The Necessity of Atheism,” and to hell with the consequences. I’ve learned a lot about lost civilizations, developed a passion for the ancient world, and perhaps most importantly, come to appreciate the fact that all things must die.
I read the poem again after learning all that. And now I can see its power.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
I sincerely hope my heart sister NP won’t mind me filching her latest, because it made me LOL, and it deserves to be my Poem o’ the Day.
to doI have a list ofthings to do today
of tasks needing completionerrands needing runchores needing accomplished
but as the morningdragson
I find myselfstrayingfrom what needs to be donein order to
update my list ofthings to do today
so I am organizedand know exactly what it isI’m not doing
instead of writing articlesI list the articles I need to writeand make notes about research to be done
instead of running errandsI rearrange the order of errandsfor the most efficient gas use
instead of completing choresI take an inventory of cleaning productsin case I need to run to the store first
at the end of the day,my list will be complete
and it will bea damn good-looking list
Be sure to drop by her place and let her know what you’re carrying for Poem in Your Pocket day. As soon as I’ve figured it out, I’ll let you know.
A lot of people ask what poetry is. What makes a poem? Is it rhyme, rhythm, something else? Two poets, one Chinese and one Spanish, attempt an answer.Dream and Poetry
It’s all ordinary experience,
All ordinary images.
By chance they emerge in a dream,
Turning out infinite new patterns.
It’s all ordinary feelings,
All ordinary words.
By chance they encounter a poet,
Turning out infinite new verses.
Once intoxicated, one learns the strength of wine,
Once smitten, one learns the power of love:
You cannot write my poems
Just as I cannot dream your dreams.
Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer seems to laugh at the very question:
- ¿Qué es poesía?, dices mientras clavas
- en mi pupila tu pupila azul.
- ¡Qué es poesía! ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?
- Poesía eres tú.
(What is poetry? you say while you pierce
my eyes with your blue eyes.
What is poetry! And you ask me this?
Poetry is you.)
Poems of a political prisoner today, my darlings. Seemed appropriate, considering the subject of the previous post.
Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet spent over a decade in prison for his communist views. His poetry captures his experiences perfectly, and gives us a glimpse of what political dissidents must endure.
POEMS FOR PIRAYE (9 TO 10 O’CLOCK POEMS)
Our son is sick
his father in prison
your heavy head
fallen in your tired palms
the laughter drained from your golden eyes.
will surely carry people
on to sunnier days
our son will get well
his father out of prison
your golden eyes
will fill with laughter once more…
is the world’s fate.
AFTER RELEASE FROM PRISON
Where are you?
awake or sleeping-
to being in your own home.
This is just one more of the stupefactions
of spending thirteen years in a prison.
Who’s lying at your side?
Not loneliness, but your wife,
in the peaceful sleep of an angel.
Pregnancy looks good on a woman.
What time is it?
That means you’re safe until evening.
Because it’s the practice of police
Never to raid homes in broad daylight.
Music, my friends, is poetry. Some of it’s really bad poetry, but poetry it remains.
Of course, most song lyrics don’t stand so well without the music that accompanies them. But there are some bands you can simply sit back and read. For me, Emperor’s like that. For instance, just go read Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. Okay, yeah, it’s seriously dark, but it’s still beautiful.
But my favorite, absolute favorite, comes from the album IX Equilibrium. The third verse of “Nonus Aequilibrium” melts me every time. I always associate it with two of my most beloved characters, for obvious reasons. And “Of Blindness and Subsequent Seers” just kicks major arse.
Poetry is what you make of it. Even when it’s from a kick-arse black metal album.
For I speak of purity
I am unconquerable
In my worship
I am invincible
On my crusade
However hard the strikes may be
However deep the wounds
This blood immortal
Bleeds for thee
In every breath I hear
The silent whisper of your name
In every harmony
In every thought
You make my water into wine
I am ever thine
Blessed was I with the consecration
To indomitable dedication
Two bound as one
In a trinity
Where I comprise
Infinite forms of unity
In unity reborn
To a state
Where all past burdens
No longer shall be worn
I pledge to perfection
No compromise can touch my woe
Nor questions reach my faith
In the name of
I am thine
IX times IX…
Of Blindness & Subsequent Seers
Ever behind me
Rise a shadow
Taller than I
Yet, with a certain resemblance
How many times
Do I have to contemplate my own reflection
And say; I have been blind?
I have been blind
Yet, I saw the search and dreams
Of my rejection
Walking behind me
I am bound to have been granted
The gift of better sight
But my anxiety
Built one more brick
To choose the wrong step
Vaguely I remember
The blurred eyes
Of someone small
These strangers often come as blind
A troubled mind
I left behind
Yet, was it I
Or my shadow
Walking in the past?
I think most of us know Carmina Burana in one form or another. There’s Carl Orff’s glorious classical music based on it, o’ course. Vampire: the Masquerade was terribly fond of quoting it. And Therion covered Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” bringing us full circle.
The Middle Ages weren’t quite the cultural black hole the Renaissance men wanted us to believe. Some extraordinary art came out of it, including poems and songs that have lost none of their power down through the centuries. Carmina Burana’s one of those that earned its survival. Besides, it was apparently written by clergy students who gave the Church ye olde Daily Show treatment. And like the Daily Show, their satire and fun concealed (barely) some vitally important themes. What’s not to love?
The incomparable Tony Kline did this translation. Therion’s cover follows. Enjoy!
like the Moon there
ceaselessly you’re varying,
how detestable a thing
life, that teases
and then eases,
powers of mind in play,
it melts like ice away.
your swift wheel you’re whirling,
veiled and shaded
on me too you’re pressing;
at your pleasure
my bare back there
wretch to you I bring.
turned now away from me,
ever in misery.
pluck the quivering heart-string;
since by ill fortune
strength is brought down,
all join with me in weeping!
My heart-sister NP threw a gauntlet today. It’s sitting there at my feet, gleaming through the veil of dust it raised:
One of the things I find myself thinking about when I’m stuck on a story is what else I could be writing. I know this is my brain procrastinating, but I’ve come up with some interesting characters, plots, and settings as a result.All this thinking has led me to a writing prompt, which I’ve altered slightly to fit NPM.Write a poem about what you should be writing and what you wish you were writing right now.
My Muse is off in southern climes with my inspiration, having a good debauch without me. All I’m left with is a new home I haven’t quite settled in to, a singularly unhelpful cat, and a DVR full of Hot Rocks. Poetry in my soul = 0.
And it’s not like I was a great poet to begin with.
Crap in a hat.
Pour a glass of liquid courage. Turn off the DVR and put on the music. Argue with Firefox over the fact I’d like it to play music. Win argument by using nuclear option.
Writer’s Block Blues
by Dana Hunter
Writing nothing much
Just laughing at politics
And smacking at fools.
Mind’s been too silent
Worlds are so hard to create
When you’re distracted.
Inspiration – ha!
It doesn’t come standard, no
(Well, not even on
One of those automobiles
I know – I own one.)
Just a memory of it
I remember awe.
Pulsing, pounding, hot
Volcanic eruptions of
I remember gray
skies like pounded silver, harsh seas
These things I would write:
Veils of rain in the Sian
Wine in the Southlands.
Poetry wars and
the meaning of unity
Torn apart, made whole.
Love, laughter, pain, joy
Great themes and the little things,
Myths, legends, made real.
Ignorance stops me
Doing them justice takes time
So I pause to learn.
Every day, my thoughts
center on my characters.
All I do, for them.
I want to return
Wade in the Silver Serpent
Bring a world to life.
It won’t be long now
before I know just enough
to return to them.
Then, do them justice:
The world, people and story
Those things I love most.
The things I should write
and the things I wish to write
Are one and the same.
Emily Dickinson was one of the first poets I ever appreciated, possibly because she’s succinct. After all of the complicated, flowery shite we got buried under in class, it was a relief to meet a poet able to make her point in a few powerful lines.
The woman had more insight into humanity than almost anyone else. Considering she was a shut-in before the age of the intertoobz, that’s pretty remarkable.
Here’s two of my favorites.“Faith” is a fine invention
“Faith” is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.
I took my Power in my Hand—
And went against the World—
‘Twas not so much as David—had—
But I—was twice as bold—
I aimed by Pebble—but Myself
Was all the one that fell—
Was it Goliath—was too large—
Or was myself—too small?
I’ll never forget the shock upon learning that my dad loves Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.” He’d never shown the slightest sign of appreciation for literature. The last time he’d read to me was when I was an infant. But there came a day when he spotted me with my American Lit textbook, asked what we were reading, and grabbed the book away when I showed him. My poor mother nearly had a heart attack when she came home and found my father doing a dramatic reading of a poem.
Now, “The Raven” is an awesome poem. But that memory of my taciturn dad getting so fired up makes it all the better. And now, it’s become a graphic novel – I can’t wait for this summer, when I get to spring this on him.
I can’t publish the comic, o’ course, but I can point you to a dramatic reading by Christopher Walken if you’d like a little spice with your American poetry.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door–
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door–
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”–
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my sour within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping something louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
‘Tis the wind and nothing more.
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he,
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then the ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if its soul in that one word he did outpour
Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered: “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Be that our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul has spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted–nevermore!
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Fuck, no. I got served nothing but that stupid sonnet for years. A note to educators: children don’t appreciate love poetry as much as you think they do. And yes, they remember what they read last year. And the year before that. And two years ago, yes. How could they forget when they keep having to read the same schlock every damned year?
Being served that same damned sonnet year after year after year in school just about soured me permanently on sonnets. I fucking hated sonnets. Then I ran across Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXXV.
That, my darlings, changed everything. This was meat and marrow, blood and bone. This was passion and drama. This was the human condition. Fuck flowers. Get thee behind me, stupid sappy love stuff. This is where the true power of the sonnet form gets unleashed:
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authórizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense—
Thy adverse party is thy advocate—
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence.
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an áccessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.