Category Archives: poets we like and live with

three poems from An Invitation to Poetry


http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=5695

Maggie Dietz (Editor), Robert Pinsky (Editor, Boston University)

1200px-ElParqueJuliaDeBurgos

Willimantic, Connecticut


Ay, Ay, Ay de la Grifa Negra

by Julia De Burgos

Ay, ay, ay, that am kinky-haired and pure black
kinks in my hair, Kafir in my lips;
and my flat nose Mozambiques.Black of pure tint, I cry and laugh
the vibration of being a black statue;
a chunk of night, in which my white
teeth are lightning;
and to be a black vine
which entwines in the black
and curves the black nest
in which the raven lies.
Black chunk of black in which I sculpt myself,
ay, ay, ay, my statue is all black.

They tell me that my grandfather was the slave
for whom the master paid thirty coins.
Ay, ay, ay, that the slave was my grandfather
is my sadness, is my sadness.
If he had been the master
it would be my shame:
that in men, as in nations,
if being the slave is having no rights
being the master is having no conscience.

Ay, ay, ay wash the sins of the white King
in forgiveness black Queen.

Ay, ay, ay, the race escapes me
and buzzes and flies toward the white race,
to sink in its clear water;
or perhaps the white will be shadowed in the black.

Ay, ay, ay my black race flees
and with the white runs to become bronzed;
to be one for the future,
fraternity of America!

Julia de Burgos, “Ay, Ay, Ay, of the Kinky-Haired Negress,” tr. by Jack Agüeros from Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos. Copyright ©1996 by Jack Agüeros. Used by permission of Curbstone Press.

Dawn

by Octavio Paz

Cold rapid hands
draw back one by one
the bandages of dark
I open my eyes
still
I am living
at the center
of a wound still fresh

Translated from the Spanish by Charles Tomlinson


WITH HIS VENOM

by Sappho

 

With his venom

irrestible

and bittersweet

that loosener of limbs, Love

reptile-like

strikes me down

 

( trans from the Greek by Mary Barnard}


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two poems, ROWING & THE AUTHOR OF THE JESUS PAPERS SPEAKS by Anne Sexton


ROWING
A story, a story!
(Let it go. Let it come.)
I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
into this world.
First came the crib
with its glacial bars.
Then dolls
and the devotion to their plasctic mouths.
Then there was school,
the little straight rows of chairs,
blotting my name over and over,
but undersea all the time,
a stranger whose elbows wouldn’t work.
Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched-
though touch is all-
but I grew,
like a pig in a trenchcoat I grew,
and then there were many strange apparitions,
the nagging rain, the sun turning into poison
and all of that, saws working through my heart,
but I grew, I grew,
and God was there like an island I had not rowed to,
still ignorant of Him, my arms, and my legs worked,
and I grew, I grew,
I wore rubies and bought tomatoes
and now, in my middle age,
about nineteen in the head I’d say,
I am rowing, I am rowing
though the oarlocks stick and are rusty
and the sea blinks and rolls
like a worried eyeball,
but I am rowing, I am rowing,
though the wind pushes me back
and I know that that island will not be perfect,
it will have the flaws of life,
the absurdities of the dinner table,
but there will be a door
and I will open it
and I will get rid of the rat insdie me,
the gnawing pestilential rat.
God will take it with his two hands
and embrace it.

As the African says:
This is my tale which I have told,
if it be sweet, if it be not sweet,
take somewhere else and let some return to me.
This story ends with me still rowing.

– from The Awful Rowing Towards God 1975
( Her eighth collection of poetry is entitled The Awful Rowing Toward God.The title came from her meeting with a Roman Catholic priest who, unwilling to administer last rites, told her “God is in your typewriter.” This gave the poet the desire and willpower to continue living and writing. The Awful Rowing Toward God and The Death Notebooks are among her final works, and both center on the theme of dying

1928–1974
Anne Sexton

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Sexton#Death

Within 12 years of writing her first sonnet, she was among the honored poets in the U.S.: a Pulitzer Prize winner, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the first female member of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.[10][11]

On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton’s manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975 (Middlebrook 396). On returning home she put on her mother’s old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, ending her life by carbon monoxide poisoning.[12]

In an interview over a year before her death, she explained she had written the first drafts of The Awful Rowing Toward God in 20 days with “two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital.” She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death. She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery & Crematory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sexton is seen as the modern model of the confessional poet. Maxine Kumin described Sexton’s work: “She wrote openly about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, incest, adultery, and drug addiction at a time when the proprieties embraced none of these as proper topics for poetry.”[13]


THE AUTHOR OF THE JESUS PAPERS SPEAKS

In my dream
I milked a cow,
the terrible udder
like a great rubber lily
sweated in my fingers
and as I yanked,
waiting for the moon juice,
waiting for the white mother,
blood spurted from it
and covered me with shame.
Then God spoke to me and said:
People say only good things about Christmas.
If they want to say something bad,
they whisper.
So I went to the well and drew a baby
out of the hollow water.
Then God spoke to me and said:
Here. Take this gingerbread lady
and put her in your oven.
When the cow gives blood
and the Christ is born
we must all eat sacrifices.
We must all eat beautiful women.

Anne Sexton  from The Book of Folly 1972

the girls i knew in high school were all enamored with Sylvia. and i must admit i was some what smitten. but there was this teacher of English. she did not debate but rather exposed the rare woman genius the all too common crucifixion the dark stronger that the bright, the strength to take control in a time in a place where all is only waiting around food feeding on food attracted like horseflies to tenderness. the time was she said now and so the time was and so she said it was therefore it would be now and never any other time but. – pd lyons

Sweet Old World by Lucinda Williams


Paris by pd lyons

 

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arm
Didn’t you think you were worth anything
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Millions of us in love, promises made good
Your own flesh and blood
Looking for some truth, dancing with no shoes
The beat, the rhythm, the blues
The pounding of your heart’s drum together with another one
Didn’t you think anyone loved you
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world [Repeat: x4]

 

Written by Lucinda Williams • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Off The Book Shelf/ Poets We Should Know


IMG_1262So the other day I picked this little gem off the shelf and discovered Robert Louis Stevenson – the poet. I have had this book for a while now maybe 10 – 15 years bought it some where in America for .25 cents. It has only two poems by RLS; Requiem and The Vagabond. I think they both show just how ballsy a poet he was. Today as I was putting this blog together Shelly  posted on my face Book page about Tom Crean the Irish Sailor & Antarctic explorer. The inscription on Toms grave – Home is the sailor, home from sea. You can still drink at Toms Crean’s Pub ( he opened a pub once he retired from the sea) The last time I was there they pulled a very fine pint.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Louis_Stevenson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Crean_%28explorer%29 

 

THE GOLDEN TREASURY

of

Songs and Lyrics

selected from the best songs and lyrical

poems in the English language

and arranged with notes by

FRANCIS T PALGRAVE

London

MACMILLAN 7 CO LTD

new York St martin’s Press

1959

IMG_1263

 

IMG_1267

Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me;
“Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”

IMG_1268
IMG_1269
The Vagabond
Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river –
There’s the life for a man like me,
There’s the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field –
Warm the fireside haven –
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.

W. B. Yeats, poets we like and live with – Politics by W.B.


220px-William_Butler_Yeats

 

 

Yeats has always been a favorite of what I call true poets. Luckily he was not beaten out of me in any school. Never had a Yeats exam. Although in university where I learned to love Shakespeare by being taught how too  read him, I was also exposed to Yeats in a more formal setting. But Yeats had come to me long before – O human child, Wandering Angus, Byzantium…. always on my fathers bookshelves or on the Clancy brother records. And at that early time in my relation ship with my now dearest partner – you know when signs, coincidence and such were so import to see if we really matched – I definitely   noticed my old friend, Yeats upon her bookshelves and took it for a good omen.

So while looking up Byzantium, I found this little gem – the last poem. Considered by some to be the last written before his death. I had never read before or if I did it faded long ago into the country not fit for old me. No matter why or how I’ll happily take it. Always wonderful to find a gem even if it might be simply  misplaced – still feels new to me.

My daughter is “doing” Sailing to Byzantium for her Leaving Cert exam.  She was happy when  I told her I’d bet her 100.00 that even they wouldn’t be able to kill it for her.

See that’s the thing about true poets, they are very subversive. not because they are radical or violent of shocking though they can be – its because they are the archetypal  human voice that always speaks to those with ears to hear and even those who don’t have such ears? It sounds kinda good to them too.  So a little gem from ol me to whoever you. Enjoy –

 

Politics

By William Butler Yeats 

‘In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.’
THOMAS MANN.

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics,
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.
220px-William_Butler_Yeats

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/249168

W. B. Yeats, “Politics” from Last Poems (1938-1939). Copyright © 1939 by W. B. Yeats.  Reprinted by permission of Scribner (Simon & Schuster, Inc.).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_%28poem%29

“Politics” is a poem by Irish poet William Butler Yeats written on May 24, 1938. It was composed during the time of the Spanish Civil War as well as during the pre-war period of Adolf Hitler‘s Third Reich in Germany. The poem hints at the political situations of Rome (or Italy), Russia, and Spain, but ultimately discusses topics more relevant to private human interaction rather than public, or political situations

 

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