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The Rattle Bag: The A Poems 
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Now here is one I really do like, and an unusual subject. Retired Racehorses?

At Grass

The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and main;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again

Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances sufficed
To fable them: faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -

Silks at the start: against the sky
Numbers and parasols: outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.

Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries -
All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they

Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,
And not a fieldglass sees them home,
Or curious stop-watch prophesies:
Only the grooms, and the grooms boy,
With bridles in the evening come.

Philip Larkin


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Wed May 25, 2011 4:10 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Very peaceful.... could be a picture of old age period could it not?

..."and not a fieldglass sees them home..." is so sweetly poetic


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Wed May 25, 2011 5:45 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
And just before that,

"they
Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,"

Larkin is so easy to listen to.



Thu May 26, 2011 6:39 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Quote:
DWill wrote:

"they
Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,"

Larkin is so easy to listen to.


I know!! Larkin's experience of retirement must be like mine!! 'Cos I think it's great!!

DAWN! So really nice to have you back....stick around...won't you?? Please. xx


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

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Thu May 26, 2011 6:45 am
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Quote:
I know!! Larkin's experience of retirement must be like mine!!


Good to hear this. So many people look foreward to retirement, but often it does not turn out to be what they'd hoped for. This poem does paint a beautiful picture of the retired life, very appealing, but as I read it I thought about the opposite feeling. The horses, old and forgotten, lonely, missing the excitement, the rush, the attention, of the earlier years, like the lonely retiree missing the feeling of being needed and wanted and useful, of being young and powerful and part of the masses.

The final line seems a reminder that the past cannot be escaped completely:
With bridles in the evening come.



Thu May 26, 2011 11:23 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
There are a lot of factors which go to make up a happy retirement. I still go and help out at the bookstore, at least once a week. Also, being able to help out with the care of our grandchildren, is helpful in making us still feel part of the scene.

So I still feel part of the world, but I think I have learnt to prioritise and not to let the world intrude more than absolutetly necessary.

Maybe the 'bridle bearer' becomes welcome when the World appears so 'unbridled' to those of us from a previous generation.

Here is a powerful one:-

At the Bomb Testing Site
By William E. Stafford 1914–1993


At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.

It was looking at something farther off
than people could see, an important scene
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.

There was just a continent without much on it
under a sky that never cared less.
Ready for a change, the elbows waited.
The hands gripped hard on the desert.


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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


Thu May 26, 2011 1:59 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
This is an excerpt from a play by W B Yeats. I've put a link at the end in case you wanted to read the whole work.

At the grey round of the hill

At the grey round of the hill
Music of a lost kingdom
Runs, runs and is suddenly still.
The winds out of Clare-Galway
Carry it: suddenly it is still.

I have heard in the night air
A wandering airy music;
And moidered in that snare
A man is lost of a sudden,
In that sweet wandering snare.

What finger first began
Music of a lost kingdom.
They dreamed that laughed in the sun.
Dry bones that dream are bitter,
They dream and darken our sun.

Those crazy fingers play
A wandering airy music;
Our luck is withered away,
And wheat in the wheat-ear withered,
And the wind blows it away.

II

My heart ran wild when it heard
The curlew cry before dawn
And the eddying cat-headed bird;
But now the night is gone.
I have heard from far below
The strong March birds a-crow,
Stretch neck and clap the wing,
Red cocks, and crow.


[The end]
William Butler Yeats's play: The Dreaming Of The Bones

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/54285/


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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 27, 2011 3:36 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Hello, hello. I really have not abandoned the poetry forum. I've been absent due to many family commitments over the past two weeks - my daughter's return from 5 months in New Zealand, my mother's 73rd b-day, youngest daughter's senior prom, and on and on. I'm back. It will take me a few days to get up to speed, fortunately, I have a nice long holiday weekend to catch up.



Fri May 27, 2011 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Welcome back Saffron, enjoy your holiday weekend and no worries about catching up, just jump back in anywhere :)


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


Fri May 27, 2011 9:24 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul.

The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.

The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever's fright.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.

The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.

The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.

He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.

The gnat that sings his summer's song
Poison gets from slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy's foot.

The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist's jealousy.

The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

This is caught by females bright,
And return'd to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.

The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar's rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.

The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.

One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.

He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.

He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour's iron brace.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street
Shall weave old England's winding-sheet.

The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
Dance before dead England's hearse.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.


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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


Sat May 28, 2011 12:28 pm
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I think he should have stopped at the first stanza.....


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Sat May 28, 2011 9:54 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
I have to agree with you frog. Have you tried reading it from the end back to the beginning? It's just as awful!! :(


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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 29, 2011 4:47 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
giselle wrote:
Going back to the HYAM PLUTZIK poem, I found the following quote from Wiki:

"British poets Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn included some of his poems in their 1963 anthology Five American Poets. Hughes wrote that “Hyam Plutzik’s poems have haunted me for twenty-five years” with their “point-blank, wholehearted simplicity of voice. … The best of his work seems to me marvelously achieved, a sacred book.”

To me this is a poem about war or the effects of war on people. The trenches, the whiff of musk over the fields, the hope of a morning star. Wiki also mentioned that Plutzik was of Russian Jewish family and served in the US army during WWII. I have heard that those who fought in the trenches never forgot the smell.

Yes, this makes sense. I really liked this poem. If this one is any indication, I can see how the poetry of Plutzik could haunt someone.

realiz wrote:
cummings is great, but, I don't think this is one of his best. This one almost has a Dr Suess feel to it, or maybe I have children's poems on my mind because of An Animal Alphabet, which I thought was particularly bad, though I am sure with good illustration and an enthusiastic reading could be enjoyed by young children, but on its own, I am at a loss at why it was included.

The Hugh MacDiarmid one, I'm not sure about. I'll have to read the A E Houseman poem and then go back and have a second look.


I wanted to comment on both of these poems. Frist, the Cummings. It is one of my favorite poems. I think the turned around sentences, that in an odd way manage to make sense in our minds as we read the poem, captures the complex and often contradictory nature of a town, i.e. the same quality can have both a positive and a negative aspect.

As for the MacDiarmid: I buy the sentiment, but is the poem successful? I'm not so sure.

giselle wrote:
Regarding An Animal Alphabet I must say that on first blush it reads like a children's poem but I sometimes wonder what the poet is saying behind the words (if anything). To me, An Animal Alphabet reads like a teasing description of a small town or village with its local characters who may behave, for example, like:

"The Bountiful Beetle,
who always carried a Green Umbrella when it didn't rain,
and left it at home when it did.

Reading the poem I see a whole village of people fitting the descriptions of these various animals and all their various foibles. Maybe this poem is like Alice in Wonderland, a kids story on the surface, but deeper meanings that interest adults below the surface. Or maybe its a kids poem and there are no other meanings.

Reading this poem didn't do much for me, but I really like the idea you suggest as a portrait of a village.



Sun May 29, 2011 5:57 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
Penelope wrote:
Sorry about the ear-worm....here's another one:-

It goes to the tune of 'Gentle Gifts' - I think that is an Amish song:

Now, I'm not a Christian, but this one melds with the pagan so beautifully:

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth......

This tune reminds me of the Irish Stage Musical - 'River Dance'.


Penny, this is a traditional Irish song and it was in River Dance. And I would guess that it does have pagan roots.



Sun May 29, 2011 6:32 am
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Post Re: Re: The Rattle Bag: The A Poems
realiz wrote:
I found this poem flowed a little easier reading here without the staggered lines, though it might lose something of the feeling of things not quite lining up anymore in those aging years of life. I love the picture of this very old man suddenly having a moment of physical clarity as he performs a movement that his muscles have long forgotten. I love the reaction of 'my mother'. Bravo.

This poem made me smile. It was my surprise in the "Bravo" by the invalid mother that brought the smile, nice touch by old William Carlos Williams. I have always liked his poetry. Often they are like little quick sketches of life. Question for you, realiz, what made you think the dancer was old?



Sun May 29, 2011 6:40 am
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