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The Rattle Bag: The A Poems 
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Hurrah! A proper poem:-

As I Walked Out One Evening
by W. H. Auden


As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.

'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.


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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


Fri May 20, 2011 2:57 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Oh, this is a great poem. I've read it through quite a few times today. Who speaks the truth?: The optimistic young lover who believes in the everlasting all-conquering power of love or the cynical old clocks (time) who foretell the future: the loss of love and passion in marriage, the real truths of the fairy-tale endings, the longings for more in life, and the eventual cheating heart of the lover.
The last verse I take to mean that the lovers, like all before them, will not listen, and should not listen. 'And the deep river ran on' is the continuity of life that defies time. Or maybe that is not quite right. Anyone else?



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Fri May 20, 2011 6:32 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
The next is an interesting poem, I think, but complicated. And so, I have attached rather a long commentary. Sorry it's so long!

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme
Gerard Manley Hopkins


As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Summary

The kingfisher, one of the most colorful birds in England, “catches fire” as the light brings its plumage to a bright radiance. Similarly, the iridescent wings of the dragonfly glint with a flame-like beauty. These two optical images are followed by three aural ones: the tinkling sound of pebbles tossed down wells, the plucking of strings on a musical instrument, and the ringing of bells as the “bow” swings like a pendulum to strike the metal side. Each of these objects does exactly what its nature dictates, in a kind of (unwilled) self-assertion. More generally, every “mortal thing” might be thought to do the same: to express that essence that dwells inside (“indoors”) of it. “Selves” (assumedly from the infinitive “to self,” or “to selve,”) is Hopkins’s coined verb for that self-enacting, and he elaborates upon this process in the lines that follow: to “self” is to go oneself, to speak and spell “myself,” to cry, “What I do is me: for that I came.”

The next stanza extends this concept from object to man. “Justices” (from the made-up infinitive “to justice”) becomes the verb for that which the just man does or enacts. He harbors a grace (bestowed by God) that reveals itself in all his “goings” or everyday activities. And he acts before God as the being that God sees him as, which is Christ, who is both man and God. Christ dwells everywhere—in bodies and in the expressions of human eyes. It is the beauty lent by Christ’s presence that makes “the features of men’s faces” lovely in God’s sight.
Form

The poem is an Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnet: 14 lines divided into an octave and a sestet. Hopkins’s variations on straight iambic pentameter enhance the ideas the poem expresses, and the poem provides one of the best examples of his dexterous use of musical effects. For example, examine the third line: “As tumbled over rim in roundy wells.” While the line is neat iambic pentameter, the iambs fall in such a way that they split the words “tumbled,” “over,” and “roundy.” This splitting (which Hopkins called “counterpoint”) effects a regular, quick, and broken feel, and re-creates beautifully the reverberations of stones plunking down a well. The pattern by which the consonants and vowels are repeated and varied replicates the subtle but discernible change in pitch as pebbles of different shapes and sizes strike the water below. Contrastingly, the even accents in the phrase “each tucked string tells” issue forth in plucking regularity and sonorousness. In the poem as a whole, the disproportionately large number of accented words complements the conceptual emphasis on the “thisness,” or individuality, of each thing.
Commentary

This poem offers perhaps the most direct illustration of Hopkins’s theory of “inscape.” The term is hard to define precisely—even Hopkins struggled to articulate it—and critics have carped at length over its exact meaning. Coined on the model of the word “landscape,” the term refers to the unifying designs by which the unique interior essences of a thing are held together. The word does not merely refer to what is particular and individual about an object, but posits a kind of inner order or pattern by which these individual essences form a kind of harmonious composition. Moreover, inscapes imply a creator; by paying close enough attention to observe inscapes, one might hope to be lifted to a closer contemplation of God. Hopkins often took the idea of inscape as a standard for the kind of order and beauty that poetry might hope to achieve. The rich density and careful patterning of his poems reflect, therefore, a theological belief in a world whose character is one of subtle and magnificent design.

As with many of Hopkins’s sonnets, this poem turns from a physical first part to a spiritual, moral, or theological second part. More specifically, the poem shifts its focus from being (the mere passive possession of essential, defining characteristics) to the more active notion of self-expression, and then to action itself. Hopkins first draws on the physical being of kingfishers, dragonflies, and stones: each aspect he describes is a part of the unchanging nature of the object. However, the sound of the bell moves us more into the realm of deliberate self-expression. Hopkins uses the word “tongue” to link the involuntary ringing to the conscious power of speech. The bell’s ringing is equivalent to a “fling[ing] out of its broad name,” because the sound is so unique to the bell that it defines the object the way a name defines a thing. All of the world’s objects possess and assert uniqueness in the way the bell does, Hopkins declares. And though the objects he has mentioned so far are all insensate or unconscious, he prepares us for the next stanza by extending the characteristic to “each mortal thing.” The use of “selves” as a verb is one of the most remarkable things about this poem; by making the noun “self” into an action word, Hopkins enacts his thematic shift from the idea of substance or essence to a phase of activity and purpose.

Now in the sestet Hopkins makes the promised extension from inanimate object to human being; yet the self-asserting that seemed such an inevitable process for the objects described in the octave takes on a different character when applied to man. The process is complicated for human beings, because human beings possess a moral capacity. Thus the enacting of the self cannot happen unconsciously or automatically; rather, it means becoming one’s highest self, or acting to the highest of one’s capacity. A man is not just, Hopkins asserts, until he behaves justly, or “justices.” Furthermore, the implication is that he is not fully a man unless he does so—that being just is part of the essence of man, insofar as the striving for moral perfection is part of his basic existence. Hopkins then extends this concept to the theological idea of God’s immanence in the world, and the Christian belief that Christ dwells within the hearts of men. It is by the grace of God that humans are what they are; more specifically, it was through divine grace that Christ came to redeem men from sin. Hopkins therefore asks that men “keep grace.” This phrase describes the humble acceptance of God’s grace that is the first gesture of Christian life. This acceptance will lend grace to their everyday comings and goings, and will allow man to act “in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is”—that is, to become one with Christ and so fulfill the purpose of his being. Through Christ, this daily activity can become truth, and the loveliness of bodies and faces can correspond to a loveliness of soul in a perfect Christian inscape.


_________________
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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Sat May 21, 2011 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
At first blush I like it, although I am not nearly done chewing it yet...


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Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you wish for peace, prepare for war.


Sat May 21, 2011 9:25 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I have to admit that I like this poem much, much more after having its meaning enlarged upon by the long commentary.

I got the drift of what he was saying....but was missing so much of its 'inwardness???'.


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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


Sun May 22, 2011 8:05 am
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Quote:
I have to admit that I like this poem much, much more after having its meaning enlarged upon by the long commentary.


I agree, Penelope, it made much more sense to me after reading the commentary, though I wished I'd read the poem a few more times before reading the commentary to try on my own to understand the meaning.



Sun May 22, 2011 2:12 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
As Much as You Can
by CP Cavafy


And if you can’t shape your life the way you want,
at least try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk.

Try not to degrade it by dragging it along,
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social events and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.

(From the Greek translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.)

I had to be a bit careful with this one. I copied one from the net and found it was a different translation and wasn't nearly so 'right'. Although why it took two of them to translate it makes me wonder.

I do like it....and its sentiments. And I'm sure DWill agrees with this philosophy.... :wink:


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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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Sun May 22, 2011 2:52 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I like it too, It says don't cheapen yourself by making yourself too common, it's like the old "familiarity breeds contempt"


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Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you wish for peace, prepare for war.


Sun May 22, 2011 11:24 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I think it is about spreading yourself lightly in the world and taking lots of time out for quiet reflection.

Sometimes we think we're only really alive if we are 'in amongst it', partying and so forth. But this poem is saying that the opposite is so.


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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 May 23, 2011 11:50 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
As the Team's Head- Brass

As the team's head-brass flashed out on the turn
The lovers disappeared into the wood.
I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm
That strewed the angle of the fallow, and
Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square
Of charlock. Every time the horses turned
Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned
Upon the handles to say or ask a word,
About the weather, next about the war.
Scraping the share he faced towards the wood,
And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed
Once more.

The blizzard felled the elm whose crest
I sat in, by a woodpecker's round hole,
The ploughman said. 'When will they take it away? '
'When the war's over.' So the talk began –
One minute and an interval of ten,
A minute more and the same interval.
'Have you been out? ' 'No.' 'And don't want to, perhaps? '
'If I could only come back again, I should.
I could spare an arm, I shouldn't want to lose
A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so,
I should want nothing more...Have many gone
From here? ' 'Yes.' 'Many lost? ' 'Yes, a good few.
Only two teams work on the farm this year.
One of my mates is dead. The second day
In France they killed him. It was back in March,
The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if
He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.'
'And I should not have sat here. Everything
Would have been different. For it would have been
Another world.' 'Ay, and a better, though
If we could see all all might seem good.' Then
The lovers came out of the wood again:
The horses started and for the last time
I watched the clods crumble and topple over
After the ploughshare and the stumbling team.

Edward Thomas


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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 May 23, 2011 1:28 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Although my teachers never assigned it, I can easily see this poem as an 8 or 9th grade assignment. It seems simple and straightforward, but the brighter students will find more to talk about, and even the hardest learners can find something in it to hopefully help them understand why we study poetry in school...


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Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you wish for peace, prepare for war.


Mon May 23, 2011 6:34 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Agree, Frogpliz. On the surface it could be viewed as a simple narrative of a man resting, watching the world, and chatting with a farmer, but a class could find many discussion topics: The tree, whose death provided the man with the resting place, which would not have been there had the war not happened. The 'matter of fact' honesty in the discussion of the war between two strangers. The lovers and their brief appearance at the beginning and end of the poem, what do they represent? The line: If we could see all all might seem good, does everything happen for a reason? or do good things eventually come out of bad?

The ending, with the stumbling horses ploughing on is the way the life can sometimes feel.



Tue May 24, 2011 10:36 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Thanks Frog and Liz. This next one is by Sir Walter Raleigh. I have been watching a history series on TV and I've 'gone off' him so I can't be unbiased about this poem. Sycophantic twit....imo. :(


As you came from the holy land


As you came from the holy land
Of Walsinghame,
Met you not with my true love
By the way as you came ?

How shall I know your true love,
That have met many one,
As I went to the holy land,
That have come, that have gone ?

She is neither white nor brown,
But as the heavens fair ;
There is none hath a form so divine
In the earth or the air.

Such a one did I meet, good sir,
Such an angel-like face,
Who like a queen, like a nymph, did appear,
By her gait, by her grace.

She hath left me here all alone,
All alone, as unknown,
Who sometimes did me lead with herself,
And me loved as her own.

What's the cause that she leaves you alone,
And a new way doth take,
Who loved you once as her own,
And her joy did you make ?

I have loved her all my youth,
But now old, as you see,
Love likes not the falling fruit
From the withered tree.

Know that Love is a careless child,
And forgets promise past ;
He is blind, he is deaf when he list,
And in faith never fast.

His desire is a dureless content,
And a trustless joy ;
He is won with a world of despair,
And is lost with a toy.

Of womankind such indeed is the love,
Or the word love abusèd,
Under which many childish desires
And conceits are excusèd.

But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.

Sir Walter Raleigh


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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


Tue May 24, 2011 2:47 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Sometimes it is better if you can read a poem without knowing anything about the author first.

I am uncertain of the meaning of the last couple verses. Does it mean that this kind love (He is blind, a trustless joy...) is the only kind you can expect from a woman (Of womankind) or is the only kind a man can have for a woman? Is true love is something else altogether, maybe God?, or does it mean if true love can be found that it will never die?



Tue May 24, 2011 3:34 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I might be wrong here, but I thought he had written it about Queen Elizabeth the first, the Virgin Queen. He was one of her favourites at one time and I thought the verse:

I have loved her all my youth,
But now old, as you see,
Love likes not the falling fruit
From the withered tree.

meant that she had stopped loving him as he had grown older and less attractive.

Of womankind such indeed is the love,
Or the word love abusèd,
Under which many childish desires
And conceits are excusèd.

But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.


I think in these two verses he might be saying that his love of his lady, 'the queen', excuses her childish whims and desires but he loves her with constancy.

I think he might have been trying to get back into her favour.


_________________
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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Tue May 24, 2011 5:42 pm
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