Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Memorable Moments in Poetry

The Sun will be in the segment of the zodiac known as Pisces for a few more days, Pisces and poetry go together like pizza and pepperoni! So...a few minutes pondering on poems. There's already a post on memorable movie moments; taking that format into poetry land, I've culled a few moments embedded in my own memory - sufficiently so that I didn't have to look them up before typing (though I did check later, for accuracy.)

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk....

From Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats.
(I could've sworn the first line had "head" instead of "heart" though! Maybe that's because I sometimes say these lines to myself when I have a pesky headache.)

And still they gazed
And still the wonder grew
That one small head
Could carry all he knew

From The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

From Four Quartets, #4 Little Gidding by
T.S. Eliot

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

From The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

And I shall spend my pension
on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals,
and say we've no money for butter.

From When I Am Old by Jenny Joseph

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

From Remember, by Christina Rossetti

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......

From If by Rudyard Kipling

The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

From Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Any especially memorable poetry moments for readers passing by?


mike said...

Today being an Irish special, I nominate C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde, but only due to my limited exposure of Irish poets...you have Yeats in your post.

C.S. Lewis, "On Being Human"
"... The nourishing of life, and how it flourishes On death, and why, they utterly know; but not The hill-born, earthy spring, the dark cold bilberries. The ripe peach from the southern wall still hot Full-bellied tankards foamy-topped, the delicate Half-lyric lamb, a new loaf's billowy curves, Nor porridge, nor the tingling taste of oranges.

An angel has no nerves.

Far richer they! I know the senses' witchery Guards us like air, from heavens too big to see; Imminent death to man that barb'd sublimity And dazzling edge of beauty unsheathed would be. Yet here, within this tiny, charmed interior, This parlour of the brain, their Maker shares With living men some secrets in a privacy Forever ours, not theirs."

Oscar Wilde, "Apologia"
"... Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where some steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God's hair.

Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.

But surely it is something to have been
The best beloved for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.

Ay! though the gorged asp of passion feed
On my boy's heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!"

Anonymous said...

... I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline

- Lana Turner has collapsed!, Frank O’Hara

... You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo ...

- Daddy, Sylvia Plath

... Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold ...

- On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, John Keats

... I will not eat them here or there
I do not like then anywhere!
You do not like green eggs and ham?
I do not like them Sam-I-Am.

- Green eggs and ham, Doctor Seuss

... Farewell sweet earth and northern sky,
for ever blest, since here did lie
and here with lissome limbs did run
beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun,
Lúthien Tinúviel

more fair then mortal tongue can tell.
Though all to ruin fell the world
and were dissolved and backwards hurled
unmade into the old abyss,
yet were its making good, for this---
the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea---
that Lúthien for a time should be."

- Beren's Song, J.R.R. Tolkien

... "He's sick!" wailed all the hipsters,
and the Squares, too, sang out "Sick!"
But a nod from Daddy Casey, and the cats got off that kick.
They dug the way he sizzled, like his gaskets were of wax;
They were hip that Casey wouldn't let the ball get by his ax.
The cool look's gone from Casey's chops, his eyes are all popped up;
He stomps his big ax on the plate, he really is hopped up.
And now the pitcher cops the ball, and now it comes on fast,
And now the joint is jumping with the sound of Casey's blast ...

- Cool Casey, Mad Magazine (after Ernest Thayer)


Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for those. Yes I forgot to mention the Irish connection to poetry today (St. Pat's). Oliver Goldsmith was Irish-born too, as well as W.B. Yeats from among my culled lot. :-)

Your mention of C.S. Lewis' "tingling taste of oranges" sent me scurrying around the net trying to recall a poem I liked, though hadn't memorised - it mentioned oranges....Took me while, but here it is, by Louis MacNeice also Irish, (who compiled a good volume about "Astrology" too, it has been mentioned among my posts here and there.

The "orange" poem - actually turns out it was a tangerine - is this:

by Louis MacNeice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink rose against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes --
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands--
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

What a great line:
The drunkenness of things being various.

Twilight said...

Anon/Kidd ~ Hmmm - some interesting contributions, many thanks! They're mostly new to me, fodder for future investigations. :-) I especially like the style of the first one by Frank O'Hara...the surprise in the last line.

Reminded me, a bit, of Billy Collins' style - this is my favourite of Collins:

Walking Across The Atlantic

I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach
before stepping onto the first wave.

Soon I am walking across the Atlantic
thinking about Spain,
checking for whales, waterspouts.
I feel the water holding up my shifting weight.
Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the fish below,
the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing.

Anonymous said...

- What will your verse be?

- come on outa that and give us a dance!

- silence the pianos, and with muffled drum ...


Twilight said...


Awww - Robin Williams at his best - lovely clip, thank you!

I think I need a glass or two of something stronger than this English Breakfast Tea to properly understand Mr Higgins! :-)

Awwww - again! - Love that movie and that scene, and that poem, they never fail to bring tears, which this time plopped right into my tea!

Anonymous said...

Bank manager faints at the mayor's ball"...

The mayor was dancing with her golden chain
not dangling, but nestling on her ample bosom
when she turned to the bank manager and said:
“Come on outta that and give us a dance!”
He was a frightened man but he knew his duty
“We’ll make it a slow one,” she said and he trembled.
Three brandies later for the benefit of the bank and a safe branch,
his call came.
“Hold me tight,” she said, “I love a tight squeeze for the waltz,
and I’ve no time for this highfalutin stuff.”
The first citizen and the bank danced cheek-to-cheek,
every usurious fibre was tested
as she breathed on his bald head.
She joked occasionally as she laughed and missed a step.
“Oh, if I had you in my time on the kitchen floor,” she said
“I’d give you a one-two-three you’d never forget.”

The perspiration beaded his brow, his legs turned to jelly,
his eyes blurred as he sank to the floor.
“Dear Jesus, he’s fainted!” the first lady said.
“What lack of respect for the dignity of my office.
But then I’ve never trusted the banks.”
They picked him up and said he needed air
but, taking her handbag and walking away,
she coldly looked at ’em all and simply said,
with all the dignity of the office:
“It’s a poor thing at the mayor’s ball
when the Chain can’t waltz with safety
with those who for our own account
bought the little box we carry it in.
It isn’t air he needs, but a box.”
Blowing her nose, she laughed,
and the band played on at the mayor’s ball.

(...I Think?)

- Michael D. Higgins


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ Thanks for the translation. I enjoyed the read and the pictures the poem conjures up. :-)

I "Googled" Michael D. Higgins afterwards - I hadn't realised that he is THAT Michael Higgins - an illustrious figure in Ireland, President as well as poet, and with multiple other interests. Impressive!

DC said...

...so strange to find this post today....I've been writing poems the past week....I always dabbled but lately they have really rocketed.....interesting....here's 2...
"I met the young good morning,
my darkness, it made bright.
Together we were forming,
word-clouds engulfed in light.

Discussing our attachments,
with words direct and true.
We shared our re-enactments,
as stars they often do."

It's light seems never ending,
yet evening always comes.
Hold-tight the truth it's sending,
like cavalcades of drums."...

"It happened unexpectedly
I met the rain today.
We shared a smoke selectively
through language none can say.

It's beauty touched me to the core
a scent so fine and true.
And though I knew love not before
but after that, I knew."....I won't bore you with the others...a half dozen more...strange, but what I noticed more than anything was that the people around me....especially the last 2-3 days....have been my inspiration...maybe since I have natal moon in Aquarius (social)....that could be some sort of clue considering the Pisces thing too....which I am highly connected with (venus & merc in Pisces) as well as Sun only 2-3 degrees Aries :)..it's been a poetic week for me....really gratifying tho...Thanks for putting up with it Annie!

Twilight said...

DC~ Oh goody!! A real poet - thank you for sharing your lovely words here, I enjoyed your two pieces a lot. :-)

Yes, it must be the Pisces poetry god getting to us right now, either urging us to either read or write for him/her.

I have Jupiter in Pisces exactly to the degree semi-sextile my Aqua Sun, so I look on them as Siamese twinnies, alternately helping and annoying one another. Your Sun is close to my husband's - his b'day is coming up on 22nd (1 degree Aries). I haven't noticed any poetic inspirations from him recently though, in spite of his Merc and Saturn being in Pisces. ;-)

Putting up with it?? Tsk - I'm overjoyed to have you sharing it DC.

DC said...

Thanks Annie!! ...that means a lot coming from you :)
....if you like here's my FB...that is, if you do FB...if not it's ok too :)

DC said...

Were you afraid of the dark as a child?
I admit, I often was.
The dark seemed awful, cold and wild,
it frightened me because...

The things that made me safe weren't there,
the dark contained no light.
No depth, and often cold and bare,
with phantoms I might fight.

Now I see some around me now,
behaving in this way.
Not knowing who to trust, or how,
they know not night from day.

I want to help them understand,
that love, can cure their fear.
I'll guide you there, just take my hand,
your fear will disappear.

Twilight said...

DC ~ Oh - I do like this one - and its very meaningful end message.
:-) Thank you!

I don't "do" Facebook, though I have been known to access some parts of it, probably due to once signing up to join but almost immediately deciding it was a mistake and de-activating myself. I did try your link, but no that gate was closed. :-/