Posts tagged poetry

A new Pocket Poets edition collects the significant poetry and the one surviving play of the novelist James Joyce. Here are two from his Pomes Penyeach, a small volume written while he was composing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.


Watching the Needle Boats at San Sabba I heard their young hearts cryingLoveward above the glancing oarAnd heard the prairie grasses sighing:No more, return no more! O hearts, O sighing grasses,Vainly your loveblown bannerets mourn!No more will the wild wind that passesReturn, no more return. Bahnhofstrasse The eyes that mock me sign the wayWhereto I pass at eve of day, Grey way whose violet signals areThe trysting and the twining star. Ah star of evil! star of pain!Highhearted youth comes not again Nor old heart’s wisdom yet to knowThe signs that mock me as I go.



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A new Pocket Poets edition collects the significant poetry and the one surviving play of the novelist James Joyce. Here are two from his Pomes Penyeach, a small volume written while he was composing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Watching the Needle Boats at San Sabba
 
I heard their young hearts crying
Loveward above the glancing oar
And heard the prairie grasses sighing:
No more, return no more!
 
O hearts, O sighing grasses,
Vainly your loveblown bannerets mourn!
No more will the wild wind that passes
Return, no more return.
 
Bahnhofstrasse
 
The eyes that mock me sign the way
Whereto I pass at eve of day,
 
Grey way whose violet signals are
The trysting and the twining star.
 
Ah star of evil! star of pain!
Highhearted youth comes not again
 
Nor old heart’s wisdom yet to know
The signs that mock me as I go.

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From Mary Jo Salter’s Nothing by Design, a book in which the search for peace and understanding – both personal and public – is bracing, sometimes sobering, yet essentially uplifting because the journey toward truth is an expansion made possible by the poems themselves.


String of Pearls The pearls my mother gave me as a briderotted inside.Well, not the pearls, but the string.One day I was puttingthem on, about thirty years on,and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…I’m still not sure I found them all. As it happened, I kept a white seashellon my vanity table. It could serve as a cupwhere, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,I’d save them, a many-sisterhaven in one oyster.A female’s born with all her eggs,unfolds her legs, then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –is old news as the lastcrinkle-foil-wrapped sweetin the grass of the Easter basket.True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classedmyself as a has-been? In the cloisterof the ovary, when released by an extra dose of estrogen,my chances for love dwindled, one by one.But am I done?

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From Mary Jo Salter’s Nothing by Design, a book in which the search for peace and understanding – both personal and public – is bracing, sometimes sobering, yet essentially uplifting because the journey toward truth is an expansion made possible by the poems themselves.

String of Pearls
 
The pearls my mother gave me as a bride
rotted inside.
Well, not the pearls, but the string.
One day I was putting
them on, about thirty years on,
and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…
I’m still not sure I found them all.
 
As it happened, I kept a white seashell
on my vanity table. It could serve as a cup
where, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,
I’d save them, a many-sister
haven in one oyster.
A female’s born with all her eggs,
unfolds her legs,
 
then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –
is old news as the last
crinkle-foil-wrapped sweet
in the grass of the Easter basket.
True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classed
myself as a has-been? In the cloister
of the ovary, when
 
released by an extra dose of estrogen,
my chances for love dwindled, one by one.
But am I done?


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In the course of David Young’s poems, we meet literary greats such as Basho, Osip Mandelstam, and Henry Vaughan, but also some political figures who’ve captured our imagination: Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chairman Mao, even Adlai Stevenson, whose fate the poet ponders while cleaning fish, in a poem set at a Maine resort in the summer of 1956. Poetic portraits of our leaders, whether in their moment or drawn much later, often become provocative portraits in our collective consciousness. 


Woodrow Wilson I pull on the tight clothes and go walking rectitude misting around my figure carrying the book of shadows a low moon crosses the powerstations the refineries and in the needle mountains there are lakes so cold and clear that the dead who sit on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders to see the eclipse begin the dime-sized shadow sliding across the sun the insects settling around the bears in their yokes the antelopes acting out all their desires old lady who smothers her young in her iron robes you have wrung my thin neck a thousand times and taken my pinchnose glasses but I come back again with the gliding Indians settlers who have forgiven all their tools the shabby buffaloes wild sheep wapiti the inland sea that looks at the sky all day with only a widgeon’s wake to disturb it the V dividing away from itself all night under trembling constellations

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In the course of David Young’s poems, we meet literary greats such as Basho, Osip Mandelstam, and Henry Vaughan, but also some political figures who’ve captured our imagination: Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chairman Mao, even Adlai Stevenson, whose fate the poet ponders while cleaning fish, in a poem set at a Maine resort in the summer of 1956. Poetic portraits of our leaders, whether in their moment or drawn much later, often become provocative portraits in our collective consciousness. 

Woodrow Wilson

I pull on the tight clothes and go walking
rectitude misting around my figure
carrying the book of shadows a low moon
crosses the powerstations the refineries
and in the needle mountains there are lakes
so cold and clear that the dead who sit
on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests
look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders
to see the eclipse begin the dime-sized shadow
sliding across the sun the insects settling
around the bears in their yokes the antelopes
acting out all their desires old lady
who smothers her young in her iron robes
you have wrung my thin neck a thousand times
and taken my pinchnose glasses but
I come back again with the gliding Indians
settlers who have forgiven all their tools
the shabby buffaloes wild sheep wapiti
the inland sea that looks at the sky all day
with only a widgeon’s wake to disturb it
the V dividing away from itself
all night under trembling constellations

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The story told below feels as though it happened yesterday, though Marie Ponsot, the author of six collections of poetry, is not only a daughter and a mother herself but also a grandmother and great-grandmother many times over.

As Is Objects new to this place, I receive you. It was I who sent for each of you. The house of my mother is empty. I have emptied it of all her things. The house of my mother is sold with All its trees and their usual tall music. I have sold it to the stranger, The architect with three young children. Things of the house of my mother, You are many. My house is Poor compared to yours and hers. My poor house welcomes you. Come to rest here. Be at home. Please Do not be frantic do not Fly whistling up out of your places. You, floor - and wall-coverings, be Faithful in flatness; lie still; Try. By light or by dark There is no going back. You, crystal bowls, electrical appliances, Velvet chair and walnut chair, You know your uses; I wish you well. My mother instructed me in your behalf. I have made room for you. Most of you Knew me as a child; you can tell We need not be afraid of each other. And you, old hopes of the house of my mother, Farewell.

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The story told below feels as though it happened yesterday, though Marie Ponsot, the author of six collections of poetry, is not only a daughter and a mother herself but also a grandmother and great-grandmother many times over.

As Is

Objects new to this place, I receive you.
It was I who sent for each of you.
The house of my mother is empty.
I have emptied it of all her things.
The house of my mother is sold with
All its trees and their usual tall music.
I have sold it to the stranger,
The architect with three young children.

Things of the house of my mother,
You are many. My house is
Poor compared to yours and hers.
My poor house welcomes you.
Come to rest here. Be at home. Please
Do not be frantic do not
Fly whistling up out of your places.
You, floor - and wall-coverings, be
Faithful in flatness; lie still;
Try. By light or by dark
There is no going back.
You, crystal bowls, electrical appliances,
Velvet chair and walnut chair,
You know your uses; I wish you well.
My mother instructed me in your behalf.
I have made room for you. Most of you
Knew me as a child; you can tell
We need not be afraid of each other.

And you, old hopes of the house of my mother,
Farewell.

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The volume New Addresses, a late collection by Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), contains addresses to many things in his life – “To Friendship,” “To My Twenties,” “To My Heart At the Close Of Day,” “To Marijuana,” “To World War Two,” “To Some Abstract Paintings.”  For today, “To Some Buckets.” (Enjoy the printable broadside of this poem by clicking here, and watch for other broadsides throughout the month.)

To Some Buckets Waiting to fill you, buckets, One morning it was afternoon Then evening, all the same except One time when I filled you And carried you to the apartment In which a dog was sitting I forget its name. He drank thirstily And well I brought you To other places too with always A strain, hurting my arms For you are heavy you Are heavy with water filled Whether it was on Leyte That I carried you To fellow soldiers Or up to the blankets, from the sea, To some who were too hot. It makes For giddiness to Concentrate on you Concentric buckets – senseless – You lend your sides to the soul.

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The volume New Addresses, a late collection by Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), contains addresses to many things in his life – “To Friendship,” “To My Twenties,” “To My Heart At the Close Of Day,” “To Marijuana,” “To World War Two,” “To Some Abstract Paintings.”  For today, “To Some Buckets.” (Enjoy the printable broadside of this poem by clicking here, and watch for other broadsides throughout the month.)

To Some Buckets

Waiting to fill you, buckets,
One morning it was afternoon
Then evening, all the same except
One time when I filled you
And carried you to the apartment
In which a dog was sitting
I forget its name. He drank thirstily
And well I brought you
To other places too with always
A strain, hurting my arms
For you are heavy you
Are heavy with water filled
Whether it was on Leyte
That I carried you
To fellow soldiers
Or up to the blankets, from the sea,
To some who were too hot. It makes
For giddiness to
Concentrate on you
Concentric buckets – senseless –
You lend your sides to the soul.

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Today we send our warmest wishes to Mark Strand on his 80th birthday. A longtime Knopf poet, he is a former U. S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, among many other honors. This prose poem, a Strandian parable, reminds us of the qualities he has brought to our poetry over the decades: playfulness and wit, clarity and simplicity of style, a deep engagement with the infinite and the infinitely beautiful, wherever they may lead.

The Buried Melancholy of the Poet One summer when he was still young he stood at the window and wondered where they had gone, those women who sat by the ocean, watching, waiting for something that would never arrive, the wind light against their skin, sending loose strands of hair across their lips. From what season had they fallen, from what idea of grace had they strayed? It was long since he had seen them in their lonely splendor, heavy in their idleness, enacting the sad story of hope abandoned. This was the summer he wandered out into the miraculous night, into the sea of dark, as if for the first time, to shed his own light, but what he shed was the dark, what he found was the night.

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Today we send our warmest wishes to Mark Strand on his 80th birthday. A longtime Knopf poet, he is a former U. S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, among many other honors. This prose poem, a Strandian parable, reminds us of the qualities he has brought to our poetry over the decades: playfulness and wit, clarity and simplicity of style, a deep engagement with the infinite and the infinitely beautiful, wherever they may lead.

The Buried Melancholy of the Poet
 
One summer when he was still young he stood at the window and wondered where they had gone, those women who sat by the ocean, watching, waiting for something that would never arrive, the wind light against their skin, sending loose strands of hair across their lips. From what season had they fallen, from what idea of grace had they strayed? It was long since he had seen them in their lonely splendor, heavy in their idleness, enacting the sad story of hope abandoned. This was the summer he wandered out into the miraculous night, into the sea of dark, as if for the first time, to shed his own light, but what he shed was the dark, what he found was the night.

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Following the groundbreaking To the End of the Land, a capacious and at times terrifying novel about war and its effects on ordinary life, the Israeli author David Grossman has written a slim, incandescent fable of grieving parents searching for the children they have lost. Falling Out of Time, spoken by its characters in both verse and prose, reads almost like a play, in which the characters enact their story of loss and reconciliation with loss. Led by a protagonist called Walking Man, who is joined by others from his village – the Midwife, the Net Mender, the Elderly Math Teacher, even the Duke – the group makes a journey toward understanding. As they walk, they speak of things they have kept silent about before now, offering insights from their individual experiences of their children’s strong presence in absence. (Translation from the Hebrew is by Jessica Cohen.)


WALKING MAN:A ray reaches out from meinto me, touchescracks and niches,tenses:Where are you?On which of all the roadswill you reveal yourself,in which of my orbs be divined?A soccer game?Making sauce for a steak?Doing your homework,head in hand?Skipping pebblesacross the water?I have known for a long time:it is youwho decideshow to appear in meand when. You,not I, who chooseshow to speakto me. But your vocabulary,my son — I sense it —diminishes asthe years go by.Or at least does notevolve: soccer,steak, homework, pebbles.You had so much more(all your life, my precious, a vast array),yet you seem to insist,entrench yourselfin diminishment:steak, ball, pebbles, homework,another two or threesmall moments to which you turn,return.Dawn on a riverbed, up north,the story I read to you there,the alcove in the strange grayrock in which you nested,curled.You wereso small,and the blue of your eyes,and the sun, and the minnowsthat leaped in the water as though they, too,wished to hear the story, and the laughterwe laughed together.Just that, just those, againand again,those memories, andthe othersgradually fade …Tell me, are you purposelyrobbing meof solace?And then I think, Perhapsthis is how you slowly habituateme to the ebbingof pain? Perhaps,with remarkable tenderness,with your persistentwisdom,you are preparing meslowlyfor it —I mean,for the separation?



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Following the groundbreaking To the End of the Land, a capacious and at times terrifying novel about war and its effects on ordinary life, the Israeli author David Grossman has written a slim, incandescent fable of grieving parents searching for the children they have lost. Falling Out of Time, spoken by its characters in both verse and prose, reads almost like a play, in which the characters enact their story of loss and reconciliation with loss. Led by a protagonist called Walking Man, who is joined by others from his village – the Midwife, the Net Mender, the Elderly Math Teacher, even the Duke – the group makes a journey toward understanding. As they walk, they speak of things they have kept silent about before now, offering insights from their individual experiences of their children’s strong presence in absence. (Translation from the Hebrew is by Jessica Cohen.)

WALKING MAN:
A ray reaches out from me
into me, touches
cracks and niches,
tenses:
Where are you?
On which of all the roads
will you reveal yourself,
in which of my orbs be divined?

A soccer game?
Making sauce for a steak?
Doing your homework,
head in hand?
Skipping pebbles
across the water?

I have known for a long time:
it is you
who decides
how to appear in me
and when. You,
not I, who chooses
how to speak
to me. But your vocabulary,
my son — I sense it —
diminishes as
the years go by.
Or at least does not
evolve: soccer,
steak, homework, pebbles.

You had so much more
(all your life, my precious, a vast array),
yet you seem to insist,
entrench yourself
in diminishment:
steak, ball, pebbles, homework,
another two or three
small moments to which you turn,
return.
Dawn on a riverbed, up north,
the story I read to you there,
the alcove in the strange gray
rock in which you nested,
curled.
You were
so small,
and the blue of your eyes,
and the sun, and the minnows
that leaped in the water as though they, too,
wished to hear the story, and the laughter
we laughed together.
Just that, just those, again
and again,
those memories, and
the others
gradually fade …

Tell me, are you purposely
robbing me
of solace?

And then I think, Perhaps
this is how you slowly habituate
me to the ebbing
of pain? Perhaps,
with remarkable tenderness,
with your persistent
wisdom,
you are preparing me
slowly
for it —
I mean,
for the separation?

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This elegy for the great Billie Holiday, by Sonia Sanchez, appears in Jazz Poems, a vibrant Everyman’s Pocket Poets volume edited by Kevin Young.

For Our Lady yeh.            billie.                    if someone had loved u like u shud have been loved ain’t no tellen what kinds of songs                              u wud have swung gainst this country’s wite mind. or what kinds of lyrics                                            wud have pushed us from our blue / nites.                                      yeh.                 billie. if some blk / man                                         had reallee made u feel                         permanentlee warm. ain’t no tellen                               where the jazz of yo / songs                                     wud have led us.

This year we’re hosting a contest called “Portray Your Love of Poetry.” Submit your entry! 

This elegy for the great Billie Holiday, by Sonia Sanchez, appears in Jazz Poems, a vibrant Everyman’s Pocket Poets volume edited by Kevin Young.

For Our Lady

yeh.
           billie.                    if someone
had loved u like u
shud have been loved
ain’t no tellen what
kinds of songs
                             u wud have swung
gainst this country’s wite mind.
or what kinds of lyrics
                                           wud have pushed us from
our blue / nites.
                                     yeh.                 billie.
if some blk / man
                                        had reallee
made u feel
                        permanentlee warm.
ain’t no tellen
                              where the jazz of yo / songs
                                    wud have led us.

This year we’re hosting a contest called “Portray Your Love of Poetry.” Submit your entry! 

A window onto the childhood of Franz Wright, who turned sixty last year and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. This poem appears in F, his newest collection.
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Learning to Read   If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word so what. I looked them up. I had nowhere important to be.   My father was unavailable, and my mother looked like she was about to break, and not into blossom, each time I spoke.   My favorite was The Iliad. True, I had trouble pronouncing the names; but when was I going to pronounce them, and   to whom? My stepfather maybe? Number one, he could barely speak English —   two, he had sufficient cause to smirk or attack without prompting from me.   Loneliness boredom and fear my motivation fiercely fueled.   I get down on my knees and thank God for them.  Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke. Life has taught me to understand books.

A window onto the childhood of Franz Wright, who turned sixty last year and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. This poem appears in F, his newest collection.

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Learning to Read
 
If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word
so what. I looked them up.
I had nowhere important to be.
 
My father was unavailable, and my mother
looked like she was about to break,
and not into blossom, each time I spoke.
 
My favorite was The Iliad. True,
I had trouble pronouncing the names;
but when was I going to pronounce them, and
 
to whom?
My stepfather maybe?
Number one, he could barely speak English —
 
two, he had sufficient cause
to smirk or attack
without prompting from me.
 
Loneliness boredom and fear
my motivation
fiercely fueled.
 
I get down on my knees and thank God for them.
 
Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke.
Life has taught me
to understand books.

From the pen of former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin: A love poem as origin story.

Sight Once  a single cell  found that it was full of light  and for the first time there was seeing  when  I was a bird  I could see where the stars had turned  and I set out on my journey  high  in the head of a mountain goat  I could see across a valley  under the shining trees something moving  deep  in the green sea  I saw two sides of the water  and swam between them  I  look at you  in the first light of the morning for as long as I can


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From the pen of former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin: A love poem as origin story.

Sight

Once
a single cell
found that it was full of light
and for the first time there was seeing

when
I was a bird
I could see where the stars had turned
and I set out on my journey

high
in the head of a mountain goat
I could see across a valley
under the shining trees something moving

deep
in the green sea
I saw two sides of the water
and swam between them

I
look at you
in the first light of the morning
for as long as I can

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