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Poem on your mind 
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Dear Penelope, DWill, and Giselle,
thank you for your comments. I'm happy that you liked the poem.
To be honest, I wasn't sure if people would find it interesting, because it has maybe unusual imagery and diction. So you can imagine my happiness and surprise when I saw your posts.
It seems that good literature and poetry can find its readers all around the world:)
And, yes, it's true, Charles Simic did an excellent translation.

All the best,
Milan



Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:59 am
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
tomrose: Your name is Milan? Milan Kundera, is a great writer. I loved 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', both the book and the film. Although. my husband was somewhat surprised when he watched the film on video with me!!! :lol:

Yes, Eastern European language and perception differs a little.....but that is what makes it interesting.


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:47 am
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Penelope wrote:
tomrose: Your name is Milan? Milan Kundera, is a great writer. I loved 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', both the book and the film. Although. my husband was somewhat surprised when he watched the film on video with me!!! :lol:

Yes, Eastern European language and perception differs a little.....but that is what makes it interesting.


Yes, My name is Milan. And tomrosemasters is from Thomas Rose-Masters, my friend whose book will be published soon.
There is a topic in the Fiction Book Forum, in regards to his novel The Birdman Cycle. You can find the blurb and the cover there. Feel free to comment :)

Milan Kundera, a great writer. I especially liked his novel The Joke, but of course The Unbearable Lightness is the classic.
And, as we are mentioning Eastern European languages, I remembered Wisława Szymborska, Polish poet. She is really great.



Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:42 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Lot's Wife

They say I looked back out of curiosity.
But I could have had other reasons.
I looked back mourning my silver bowl.
Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap.
So I wouldn't have to keep staring at the righteous nape
of my husband Lot's neck.
From the sudden conviction that if I dropped dead
he wouldn't so much as hesitate.
From the disobedience of the meek.
Checking for pursuers.
Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind.
Our two daughters were already vanishing over the hilltop.
I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.
I looked back setting my bundle down.
I looked back not knowing where to set my foot.
Serpents appeared on my path,
spiders, field mice, baby vultures.
They were neither good nor evil now--every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.
I looked back in desolation.
In shame because we had stolen away.
Wanting to cry out, to go home.
Or only when a sudden gust of wind
unbound my hair and lifted up my robe.
It seemed to me that they were watching from the walls of Sodom
and bursting into thunderous laughter again and again.
I looked back in anger.
To savor their terrible fate.
I looked back for all the reasons given above.
I looked back involuntarily.
It was only a rock that turned underfoot, growling at me.
It was a sudden crack that stopped me in my tracks.
A hamster on its hind paws tottered on the edge.
It was then we both glanced back.
No, no. I ran on,
I crept, I flew upward
until darkness fell from the heavens
and with it scorching gravel and dead birds.
I couldn't breathe and spun around and around.
Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing.
It's not inconceivable that my eyes were open.
It's possible I fell facing the city.

Wislawa Szymborska

P. S. This is the poem that I studied and analyzed with my students when we did the Bible. I wanted to show them how contemporary literature uses motifs and themes from the Bible, etc.



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Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:44 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
It is fascinating to speculate on these bizarre Bible stories. I always thought that Lot's wife had a raw deal. She would probably look back with longing rather than curiosity, I think, since it was her home.

This poem is more haunting than beautiful. Hard to speculate on a persons' motives for doing something so normal. After all, we don't always understand our own motives for doing some things.

Here is another on the same theme, which is also very haunting:-

Lot's Wife

by Anna Akhmatova
translated by Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz

And the just man trailed God's shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
"It's not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed."

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.


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Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


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Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:25 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Penelope wrote:
It is fascinating to speculate on these bizarre Bible stories. I always thought that Lot's wife had a raw deal. She would probably look back with longing rather than curiosity, I think, since it was her home.

And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said: 'Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be swept away.' Genesis 17

No kidding, Penny, I guess poor old Lot’s wife was being made into a rather unfortunate example of disobedience but this seems really unjust. Reading Genesis makes me wonder if she deserved her fate. The ‘he’ in Genesis 17 is an angel, not God, so it's not really orders from the very top, at least not directly. And the idea of ‘escape for your life’ easily flows to ‘look not behind thee’, perhaps because looking back will slow you down or because you might not like what you see, not necessarily because you miss your place. There are 4 ‘orders’ in Gen 17 of which ‘look not behind thee’ appears to be the least consequential. So I agree with the poem's logic, there are many reasons to look back. In any case, there is no mention in Genesis of any sanction for looking back that I can see, so I guess she was rather surprised when she started turning into a pillar of salt. Maybe he could have afflicted her with something nasty but not fatal, like a bad case of warts. Actually, I would have thought the Lord was too busy smoting and burning and destroying Sodom and Gomorrah to bother with a quick glance back by Lot’s wife, but I guess not.

I enjoy reading poetry and fiction from cultures and languages other than my own. It brings freshness, different perspective, values and thought patterns, so thanks Milan for posting these Serbian poems and please post more!

And I say bring on Milan Kundera in the Fiction thread. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a great book IMO and I’d be interested in reading it on BT or another Kundera. I looked through the list of books that have been done on BT and I didn’t see Lightness of Being, although the list is long and the print tiny and in order that they were read not alphabetical, so I may have missed it.



Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
So glad to see there is a very nice discussion of the two Lot's Wife poems. I am tired and spent from my word day, but promise to have a better look at both poems tomorrow.



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Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:01 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
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And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said: 'Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be swept away.' Genesis 17

There are 4 ‘orders’ in Gen 17 of which ‘look not behind thee’ appears to be the least consequential.


I used to get so indignant with the 'God' of the OT. Like when they were carrying the Ark of the Covenant and God had told them they musn't touch it with their hands. This poor man just put his hand up to steady it over some rocky ground and he 'went up in a puff of blue smoke' or something. They claimed it was God's punishment for disobedience, but, if it was radio-active, as has been claimed, that would not be a punishment, just a result and a reason for the order. I do find the OT fascinating, and I have always wondered at 'The Lost Ark' and what it symbolises, also the Elohim, who seem to be a female group, and the Shekina Cloud? It is intriguing is it not?


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

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Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:50 am
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Penny: I've only read bits and pieces of the Old Testament but I think it is an intriguing story. I wonder how much is the gospel truth (whatever that means!) and how much was added for dramatic effect? Maybe they figured, well, this is the basic story and its ok but we better throw in something to grab people's attention and make them remember ... or moreso .. teach them a LESSON that they will remember!!! ... so Lot's wife turns to a pillar of salt and the dude goes up in a puff of smoke ... slightly more dramatic than Lot's wife looks back and then carries on her merry way or the guy touches the Ark and nothing happens ... and all that smoting and punishment and burning, really not far off today's action films - drama, action, suspense, horror, violence, even sex (well, not sure about this last one in the OT but I've heard rumours) .. anyway, it has all the makings of a gripping read and I think it was meant to be that way.

And speaking of 'smote', I didn't realize that 'smote' is the past tense of 'smite' and 'smitten'. Funny how we might think that God 'smotes' the evil doers but not 'smites' them so much ... but it was 'smites' way back then, in the present tense. And odd as well that 'smitten' has multiple meanings and these days the most common use is that one might be 'smitten by another' but unlike smites and smotes, it doesn't involve a violent thumping ... although it might involve an emotional thumping! Guess that brings us back to smotes, when one was smitten in the past and now one is just, well, smoted? I think there is a poem in there somewhere.



Last edited by giselle on Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:34 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Saffron wrote:
So glad to see there is a very nice discussion of the two Lot's Wife poems. I am tired and spent from my word day, but promise to have a better look at both poems tomorrow.
Look forward to your comment Saffron :D



Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:37 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
giselle wrote:
Saffron wrote:
So glad to see there is a very nice discussion of the two Lot's Wife poems. I am tired and spent from my word day, but promise to have a better look at both poems tomorrow.
Look forward to your comment Saffron :D

Thanks for the encouragement! My impressions after my first read through are colored by what I know of the general representation of women as more negative than positive in the OT. Here's my take:
All the reasons given in the poem as possible explanations of why Lot's wife might have turned are mundane human creature kinds of concerns (eating, comfort, sex, birth and children) - the concerns that have been traditionally associated with women because of their biology and their role in society. In the OT bodily concerns such as those associated with women are linked to the idea of sin and moral weakness. What I am struck by is the contrast between the OT story that clearly is making the statement that women are weak and immoral and the strength or maybe a kind of wisdom Szymborska gives to the of voice of Lot's wife in the poem. I think the 4th and 3rd lines up from the bottom --

I couldn't breathe and spun around and around.
Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing.


hint at her wisdom. Things are not always as they seem to be. It is not easy to know another person's motives, especially because there are often many motives for a single act.

I am still puzzling the last 2 lines. Are we not to piety her? The possibility that her eyes were open - does that imply volition? Falling toward the city, does that imply she belongs with the city?



Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:17 pm
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
To you my beloved friend…..

In gratitude:

for a place to live

(in freedom from want)

to thrive

(not merely survive)

to grow

(by being open to change)

to learn

(by listening)

to wonder

(at and with every aspect of life)

to serve

(in loving silence)

Give thanks

for

warm clothing

running water

electricity

freedom

laughter

family

friendships

books to read

food to eat

art to see

music to hear

spiritual abundance.

Because of these things and more

I dedicate this day to love

To being love

To sharing love

To giving love

To being in love with life.

One thing more dear heart,

I dedicate this day to you.

For all the lives we have shared

For all the living and loving

we have yet to share.

I love you my beloved friend.

I love you simply

because you are you.

I dedicate this day.

I dedicate this day to you.

I dedicate this day with love

by my friend Bethe.... love the poem's she writes



Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:01 am
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Quote:
giselle:

Penny: I've only read bits and pieces of the Old Testament but I think it is an intriguing story.


I know the Old Testament quite well, although I hesitate to call it a story. It is certainly a Jewish History of sorts, Lawbook, Poetry. It is certainly not meant to be regarded as literal truth, since, if the authors had imagined we might take it literally, they wouldn't have put certain incredible bits in like Ballam's Ass talking to him.

I suspect that the stories are based on true events and people but very much embroidered and altered to fit various politics at various times. I once heard a theologian of some standing pronounce that King Solomon is a historical King, but that he seems to have been a bit of a nit, rather than wise, as alleged in scripture. Some of the OT is excruciatingly boring.....you read reams and reams of names, who begat whom....but then you will suddenly come upon a little gem of prose that makes your spine tingle. I like the King James translation because the language is poetical and easier to memorise, I find.

As Saffron says, it is very patriarcal. Women are seen as goods and chattels and given to their husbands by their fathers but none-the-less, they are portrayed as being strong characters. I think it was Rebecca (might have been Rachel) who sat in her tent on the golden idols and sacred objects and when the enemy came into the tent to confiscate them, she said she couldn't get up because it was that time of the month. In the apocrypha there is a book called 'Judith and the Dragon'....but we protestants aren't allowed that one, although it is part of the Douai, Roman Catholic version of the Bible.

As for sexy. Song of Solomon is very erotic poetry indeed. It is supposed to be a conversation between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Queen of Sheba is depicted on the carved wall panelling of Chartres Cathedral: she is very obviously a beautiful black woman running off with what appears to be the ark of the covenant, taking it back to her home, to Abysinia, where she gave birth to Solomon's son. I must own that I have been twice to Chartres Cathedral, but I've never found this panel yet.

Still, it is interesting that there is a tribe of Jews in Ethiopia (Abysinia) who are black skinned, and who only hold the oldest rituals and festivals of the Jews, none of the more recently introduced ones.

readnsurf - that is a lovely, lovely poem and the lines:-

For all the lives we have shared

For all the living and loving


sounds rather as though the the writer is of Eastern philosophy.

I love the idea of our meeting one another in different guises through many lives.....It is what I choose to believe, because it makes the whole caboodle much more interesting. :D


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Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Well said Penelope... Sometimes poem are the best way to express your feelings.....



Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:19 am
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Post Re: Poem on your mind
Quote:
readnsurf wrote:

Sometimes poem are the best way to express your feelings.....


Well, you can say a lot in a very few words with poetry. My favourite succinct line is TS Eliot'sI have measured out my life in coffee spoons from the Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock.

What are other favourite lines which evoke a big feeling in a few words?


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Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:37 pm
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