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A Favorite Poem 
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I'll match that Keats with a Frost and I'm sure Bereft is a replay as well.

Bereft

Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and day was past.
Somber clouds in the west were massed.
Out in the porch's sagging floor,
leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.



Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:43 pm
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Ah! You got me, Saffron. Now I have to post this one:

My November Guest

My sorrow when she's here with me
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be.
She loves the bare, the withered tree,
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list.
She's glad the birds have gone away.
She's glad her simple, worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy skies,
These beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these
And pesters me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare, November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Robert Frost.

(This is typed from memory, so it may have some inaccuracies, but this is how I remember it. I may even be missing a stanza. If I am and someone knows the stanza, it's always interesting to see what my mind has "lost.")


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-- Chuang-Tzu (c. 200 B.C.E.)
as quoted by Robert A. Burton


Fri Nov 14, 2008 12:57 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
(This is typed from memory, so it may have some inaccuracies, but this is how I remember it. I may even be missing a stanza. If I am and someone knows the stanza, it's always interesting to see what my mind has "lost.")


GR9: I am quite impressed that you typed the poem from memory. I'll give someone else a chance to report if you've missed a line or two, but I feel like we are playing at a game of tag-your-it!

Saffron



Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:13 pm
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Saffron wrote:
Quote:
I feel like we are playing at a game of tag-your-it!



Now I want to write you a poem about playing tag-you're-it. When/if I get it finished, I will post it on the "Original Poetry" thread and dedicate it to you. :smile:


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-- Chuang-Tzu (c. 200 B.C.E.)
as quoted by Robert A. Burton


Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:01 pm
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Saffron,
I read the thread from the bottom up, and after reading GR9's post of the great Frost poem, was thinking of posting "Bereft," and wondering if I already had (segue to the Montaigne essay!). Then I saw that you'd thought of it, beat me to it. I don't mind losing.
Will



Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:03 pm
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GR9,
Well, you used a few commas where my edition has semicolons; you have "pester" in place of "vex." You came close to getting it perfect! Do you have many others in the memory banks? I have a store of them, too, but except for the shortest, they require some regular maintenance.
DWill



Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:10 pm
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Thanks for looking it up for me, DWill. I am so lazy. But I am grateful, which causes others to forgive me, more often than not. I have a few things in my memory. It's wierd what they are and where the memory breaks down. Frequently I can't quite remember my own poems that I have actually written and re-written, and you would think one would remember how they go after that. Then there are others I haven't even read very many times that just stick.

Many of T.S. Eliot's Practical Cats poems, zillions of nursery rhymes, the stray Bible verse, lots of raving maniacal nonsense. Once I tried to memorize the entire "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll and I got pretty far, too. And I did memorize this long poem we had on an LP, back when they had 78 RPM records about "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" by Paul Ducas (sp?) which used to crack my mother up because I recited it imitating the British accent and crafty manner of the narrator who read it on the album:

So. He's gone, the wise, old wizard.
And for once alone I find me.
And I feel it in my gizzard
I can make his spirits mind me.
Each look, each word he muttered,
I marked. With much ado,
With spirits nicely buttered,
I'll make magic, too!
Wander, wander, faster, faster,
Fetch your master
Water gushing from the fountain!
Let it thunder down the bath in torrents rushing!
Now come, old broom.
Stop acting surly.
Wrap the ragged ragmops round you.
You've served him late and early.
To my bidding now I've bound you.
With two legs for prancing,
A head, and arms galore,
Quick! Some necromancing!
Make that bucket pour.
Wander, wander, faster, faster....

I will spare you the entire thing. But I do think I still have most of it, prancing in pretentious and overly animated tones through my head like "Carlos Among the Candles."

Once in a rare while I have something really good like a Shakespeare sonnet or soliloquy, Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Spring and Fall to a Young Child," Dylan Thomas' "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," or "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," or an Emily Dickinson poem or two. Usually it's just a lot of sounds that might as well be "Fox in Socks," which I do love to read aloud, fast because of how it feels in your mouth. Just like a wonderful caramel dessert. Or chanting really fast bhajans, "Shiva-sharavanabhava-subramanyam, Guru-sharavanabhava-subramanyam...."

And then of course the inadvertently memorized prose passages beginning with things like, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..." or "If we are painstaking in this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through..." or "Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize that we know only a little...." etc., etc. What kinds of things stick in your memory?


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"Where can I find a man who has forgotten the words so that I can talk with him?"
-- Chuang-Tzu (c. 200 B.C.E.)
as quoted by Robert A. Burton


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Sun Nov 16, 2008 5:27 pm
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For a long time I had the first stanza to this poem written down not realizing where it came from. I love the picture that this poem produces in my mind.



The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of th purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love,

-- Christopher Marlowe



Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:01 pm
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Realiz: I really like the first stanza of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love and what a first line!

Come live with me and be my love


Isn't that what every girl wants to hear?



Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:02 pm
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Last edited by DWill on Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:53 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
What kinds of things stick in your memory?

That was a delightful tour through your memory banks. I have a lot of stuff that sticks in my memory. It must be taking up a lot of the "bytes" available to me, because I find that, in a day-to-day, practical sense, I am somewhat deficient in memory. "The Hunting of the Snark," or a small part of it, sticks in my mind, too.
THE BAKER'S TALE.

They roused him with muffins--they roused him with ice--
They roused him with mustard and cress--
They roused him with jam and judicious advice--
They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried "Silence! Not even a shriek!"
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called "Ho!" told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

"My father and mother were honest, though poor--"
"Skip all that!" cried the Bellman in haste.
"If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark--
We have hardly a minute to waste!"

"I skip forty years," said the Baker, in tears,
"And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

"A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell--"
"Oh, skip your dear uncle!" the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

"He remarked to me then," said that mildest of men,
" 'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means--you may serve it with greens,
And it's handy for striking a light.

" 'You may seek it with thimbles--and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap--' "

("That's exactly the method," the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
"That's exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!")

" 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'

"It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

"It is this, it is this--" "We have had that before!"
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied "Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

"I engage with the Snark--every night after dark--
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

"But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away--
And the notion I cannot endure!"

But I'm not claiming to have memorized all of this. However, the next one, from Shakespeare's sonnets, is pretty well inscribed. It's my favorite of the sonnets , and appropriate for the time of year:

SONNET 73
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Finally, the appearance of snow reminded me of the lines I know from the last paragraphs of James Joyce's marvellous short story, "The Dead."

The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover's eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

Sorry to abuse the privilege of quoting!



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Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:16 pm
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Wow, DWill!

How much of that was from your memory? I did not cheat (she said primly). And I assure you that I could bore you all for pages, from memory, if only I did not fear so gravely that I would be banned from the site. (My imagination goes to people taking planes across the country to Eugene in order to tar and feather me and run me out of booktalk.org on a rail. If only I were so important. Sigh. But no, alas; I am merely a self-absorbed person with a long-term memory for rhythmic and resonant trivia good enough to gain me the dubious status of a prim non-cheater. Oh to be a rail-worthy scoundrel. It's so much more exciting.)

In short, I don't see how you abused anything. That was a lovely and poetic section from Joyce which I haven't read and now must read. Being in love with death and in the face of death and in spite of death is always good for just the kind of luxurious wallow in the old emotions I adore. It used to cause me real pain. Now I just own the fact that I love it and do it recreationally at least once a month, usually more. I think we should have a string or thread or whatever spun fiber product these comments are about what poems, songs, or books make you cry. (I almost digressed to list some but I stopped myself).

I want to recommend to anybody who hasn't read it an entire favorite book of poetry by Adrienne Rich called, "An Atlas of the Difficult World." It is what real, grownup poetry should be, in my view. The whole book is so wonderful and so beautifully balanced and connected that I shudder to quote a section from it, but just watch; I will anyway, apologizing for not being able to preserve the spacing around some of the lines:

Quote:
The spider's decision is made, her path cast, candle-wick to
wicker handle to candle,
in the air, under the lamp, she comes swimming toward me
(have I been sitting here so long?) she will use everything,
nothing comes without labor, she is working so
hard I know
nothing all winter can enter this house or this web, not all labor
ends in sweetness.
But how do I know what she needs? Maybe simply
to spin herself a house within a house, on her own terms
in cold, in silence.


Read the rest of the book if you haven't! She looks at so many of the political, historical, social, just plain real life things that are painful or challenging, but then there is a sense of how she can live within it, being content to make a house within a house as best she can and with awareness and respect for each other's right to space and expression, to struggle and its record.

As an alternative to "Come live with me and be my love," it is a kind of ,"Well, here we are, in all our different spaces; and here are places where we encounter one another; how shall we commemorate and experience them consciously and with respect?" Less romantic, almost certainly not "what every girl wants to hear," but so very much just the Way It Is.

(I could of course have expressed the joy and delight I felt at meeting a fellow-appreciator of "The Hunting of the Snark," and laughing over the quoted section, but no, that would have been too much fun, too light, and it is November outside today. I am a closet laugher, though).


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-- Chuang-Tzu (c. 200 B.C.E.)
as quoted by Robert A. Burton


Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:22 pm
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Quote:
I want to recommend to anybody who hasn't read it an entire favorite book of poetry by Adrienne Rich called, "An Atlas of the Difficult World." It is what real, grownup poetry should be, in my view


I think I'm almost grown up, or working on it anyways, so perhaps I'll pick this one up work on it.



Quote:
As an alternative to "Come live with me and be my love," it is a kind of ,"Well, here we are, in all our different spaces; and here are places where we encounter one another; how shall we commemorate and experience them consciously and with respect?"


Yes, certainly a lot less romantic. How about a start like this for a poem:


How shall we commemorate
Our encounter, respectfully


Dwill and GR9,
I'm hugely impressed by your memories. I have never been able to quote anything by memory.



Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:30 pm
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[quote="realiz"]For a long time I had the first stanza to this poem written down not realizing where it came from. I love the picture that this poem produces in my mind.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

I love the picture that this poem creates in my mind too. It is compelling, romantic and natural. It is a 400 year old love letter and proposal. The poem is so well structured. I really like the way he makes all manner of things from locally available materials, although this may just mean that he is short on cash.. Still its much more romantic than promising stuff from some 16 century Walmart.

I'm not sure about this alternate interpretation that is so singularly unromantic although it does make logical sense. Maybe my mind is too dazzled by the poems romantiscm. One suggestion for the alternate ... Maybe celebrate could be used in place of commemorate .. ? I find commemorate to be too backward looking and gloomy sounding. And maybe celebrate would capture at least a modicum of romantiscm, sort of.

But despite all that the shepherd has to offer it seems his proposal is doomed to fail as the Nymph rejects him in the sequel poem. He can't deliver on the immortality that she wants, being a humble shepherd. Or if he is creative, maybe he can .. perhaps he can argue that his love is immortal and that all that he does for her he does with immortal love so he has met her condition? I know its a stretch and she's going to end up with decay anyway, but I'm just trying to help him out.


The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
by Sir Walter Ralegh


If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every Shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move,
To live with thee, and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When Rivers rage and Rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb,
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields,
To wayward winter reckoning yields,
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten:
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds,
The Coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee, and be thy love.



Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:16 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
How much of that was from your memory?

Oh, it was just the Shakespeare 73. The rest was by way of fragments remembered, which sent me to the whole texts. No, I am not Homer, but I do love to keep a stable of 30-40 lyric poems or passages in mind to entertain myself in odd moments. I think it would be neat to be like one of the characters in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, committing a book to memory. I would certainly choose a poet, though.

Quote:
Being in love with death and in the face of death and in spite of death is always good for just the kind of luxurious wallow in the old emotions I adore. It used to cause me real pain. Now I just own the fact that I love it and do it recreationally at least once a month, usually more.

The prime luxurious wallow must be Keats' "And for many a time/I have been half in love with easeful death/Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme/To take into the air my quiet breath;/Now more than ever seems it rich to die,/To cease upon the midnight with no pain,/While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad in such an ecstasy!" That one can make me cry, too.

Thank you for recommnending the Adrienne Rich book. It does seem, that out of all types of books, a book of poems can make the biggest difference.

DWill[/i]



Thu Nov 20, 2008 7:00 am
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