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Poem of the moment 
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
I thought of this poem after we read the two Dickinson poems, which we labeled as "statement" poems and therefore not among ED's better ones. But the great thing about poetry is that it can do anything, even make statements. It's all in the handling. I like this William Stafford poem for the way it makes a statement. I once heard someone criticize the line "and the river there meant something" as vague, but to me it's just right. It's the "meant" that carries the weight; to specify the "something" would be artificial and unconvincing.

One other thing. Do you have a person in mind who is your image of what a poet is, someone you've seen read his/her work or have seen pictures of? William Stafford is that person for me. He came to Colo. State to a Northwest Poets conference in about 1973. I can't define what it was about him; he was a smallish man, kinda weather-beaten, softspoken and gentle. He writes a lot about the outdoors, like Gary Snyder. I wonder now whether he is still living.

At Cove on the Crooked River

At cove at our camp in the open canyon
it was the kind of place where you might look out
some evening and see trouble walking away.

And the river there meant something
always coming from snow and flashing around boulders
at shadow-fish lurking below the mesa.

We stood with wet towels over our heads for shade,
looking past the Indian picture rock and the kind of trees
that act out whatever has happened to them.

Oh civilization, I want to carve you like this,
decisively outward the way evening comes
over that kind of twist in the scenery

When people cramp into their station wagons
and roll up the windows and drive away.



Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:28 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
...and then I saw this Stafford poem again and had to post it, too.

Near

Talking along in this not quite prose way
we all know it is not quite prose we speak,
and it is time to notice this intolerable snow
innumerably touching, before we sink.

It is time to notice, I say, the freezing snow
hisitating toward us from others' grey heaven;
listen--it is falling not quite silently
and under it still you and I are walking.

Maybe there are trumpets in the houses we pass
and a redbird watching from an evergreen--
but nothing will happen until we pause
to flame what we know, before any signal's given.



Last edited by DWill on Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:37 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
I adore the phrase "flashing around boulders". Thank you for sharing. I'll have to give more thought to your "poet" question. You sould very lucky to have experienced this poet in person.


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Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:25 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
DWill wrote:
One other thing. Do you have a person in mind who is your image of what a poet is, someone you've seen read his/her work or have seen pictures of?


Sharon Olds. I saw her read at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival. She is a bit scattered and right on the mark in the same moment. She is appologetic on the podium and bold in her poetry.

Quote:
William Stafford is that person for me. He came to Colo. State to a Northwest Poets conference in about 1973.


I think you need to go to the 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival! It is October 7 - 10, 2010.



Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:13 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
Lucille Clifton died 2/13/2010


POEM
“oh antic God”

by Lucille Clifton
oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.

I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.

I can barely recall her song
the scent of her hands
though her wild hair scratches my dreams
at night. return to me, oh Lord of then
and now, my mother’s calling,
her young voice humming my name.



Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:14 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
Very beautiful, very melancholic, very haunting. Thanks, Saffron!


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Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:21 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
oblivion wrote:
Very beautiful, very melancholic, very haunting. Thanks, Saffron!

You are welcome. Lucille Clifton's poem gives me goosebumps when I read it. I miss my own father in a similar way. When it was time for us, my siblings & me, to come home he would whistle for us. He was a sax player, so it was just any whistle, it could be heard all over the neighborhood. I love to whistle, just because it reminds me of the nicest things about my dad.

A few hours after I posted the poem I found out my ex-father-in-law passed away. He was a complicated man to love or even like, but I know that he will be missed by his family.



Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:37 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
DWill wrote:
Near

Talking along in this not quite prose way
we all know it is not quite prose we speak,
and it is time to notice this intolerable snow
immumerably touching, before we sink.


Loved the William Stafford poems, especially the first. Is there a typo in the second poem? I bolded the word that is giving me trouble. William Stafford is not a poet I am familiar with, but now I think I should be. I like the opening lines of Near. I'm glad you posted the pair.



Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:48 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
Hey, I just found something that could be a gem of a find. While investigating more about William Stafford I came across the following:

A brand-new documentary film by Haydn Reiss, Every War Has Two Losers, is available now also. Above is the trailer. Based on the book of that name by William Stafford that was edited by Kim Stafford, Linda Hunt narrates and Peter Coyote provides the voice of William Stafford. To order and to learn more: http://www.everywar.com Graywolf Press recently published Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947, edited by Fred Marchant.

http://www.everywar.com/about.html



Sat Feb 20, 2010 8:57 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
Near

Talking along in this not quite prose way
we all know it is not quite prose we speak,
and it is time to notice this intolerable snow
immumerably touching, before we sink.


Loved the William Stafford poems, especially the first. Is there a typo in the second poem? I bolded the word that is giving me trouble. William Stafford is not a poet I am familiar with, but now I think I should be. I like the opening lines of Near. I'm glad you posted the pair.

Typo? Why you must be mistaken. Go back and read it. No, seriously, thanks for your sharp eyes. I don't have a moment just now to look into this link you posted above, but leave it to you to find that!



Last edited by DWill on Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:42 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
I stumbled across this poem and a comment by Robert Pinsky about its writer, Robert Hayden. Of course Pinsky knows what he is talking about but this time he is not obscure—Hayden did just what Pinsky said he did in this touching poem of only 95 words.

Here is “Sundays” and Pinsky's comment:

Certain poems were written about by many different people who wrote to the Favorite Poem Project. Perhaps the most striking instance was the large number of various, intense letters about this poem by Robert Hayden, the first African-American to hold the post that came to be called Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The poem does pack remarkable power into its 14 lines. The cogency of phrases like "the chronic angers of that house" seems related to the wide appeal that brought letters from people of so many different ages, professions, regions, ethnicities. Maybe the partial rhyme with "dress" adds to the phrase's power: Certainly the poem demonstrates how like vowel and consonant sounds in an "unrhymed" poem can have tremendous effect. And the cold, ordinary word "offices" at the very end of the poem is like an icicle that touches the heart.—Robert Pinsky

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?


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"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost


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DWill
Thu May 20, 2010 4:17 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
We did a lot of work in the yard and garden yesterday, including cutting the grass, which (surprise, surprise) reminded me of this poem by Philip Larkin:

Cut Grass



Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

I like the way Larkin uses rhyme and meter to take the edge off of the seriousness of the poem. The civilized, man-made destruction and the sterility of the world thus do not seem so horrific. But if you look closely, Larkin uses classical "death" images such as lilacs and clouds (and the first stanza is obvious).
The poem is permeated with white! And with death! But he distinguishes between sterile, man-made "white" and natural "white". I am fascinated by the way he writes a poem of death using such beautiful, such vibrant imagery.


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Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


Last edited by oblivion on Sun May 23, 2010 3:34 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Sun May 23, 2010 3:33 am
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
Hey, you're a very good selector. I'd like to see your Top 50. It's always good to see poems that we won't see in our Top 500 but are certainly good enough to be there. You're right, this is one of the whitest poems around. I have a quirky reaction of seeing the grass as defintiely being cut by reel mower or maybe even a hand tool (I'm reminded of "flail" when I read "frail"!) I just know that machine-cut grass doesn't lie on the ground as I picture Larkin's grass doing. So in that regard, I see not man-made destruction but participation in the natural process.

Another quirk: could Queen Anne's lace really bloom in June in England? It blooms around the end of July here. But how impertinent of me to question an Englishman about the Queen's lace!



Sun May 23, 2010 7:29 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
oblivion wrote:
We did a lot of work in the yard and garden yesterday, including cutting the grass, which (surprise, surprise) reminded me of this poem by Philip Larkin:
Cut Grass

Thanks, Oblivion, I learned a new word trying to figure this poem out. My new word: enjambement. I am still not so sure what to make of this poem. It does not so much seem like death, as a cycle or rather more like the way life depends on death for it's very life.



Sun May 23, 2010 7:48 pm
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Post Re: Poem of the moment
DWill wrote:
Hey, you're a very good selector. I'd like to see your Top 50.


I think this quote has the seed of a splendid idea. I think it would be great fun to have a thread that folks could post their top 10 favoirtes. Someone could count up to see if any poems were mentioned more than once or even twice. I'd really enjoy seeing what poems are favorites.



Sun May 23, 2010 7:51 pm
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