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The Rattle Bag: The B poems 
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Good job, froglipz! Formatting is important, especially for e.e.cummings.
Thanks, Giselle for taking on the C's. I'm away again in a two weeks for ten days, but if I'm back in time for the D's I'll take them.

Brian O'Linn has great rhythm.



Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:40 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Well, there's 28 "C" poems so this will take a while, probably into August. I liked the ee cummings poem, I like most of his writing. He captures meaning in novel ways and often, as in this poem, I think, hints that what is missing might be more important to the meaning than what is there.



Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:18 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
froglipz wrote:
Thanks giselle, although it was fun to do, it will be fun to watch also.

Buffalo Bill's

Code:
Buffalo Bill's
        defunct
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                        stallion
        and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                         Jesus
        he was a handsome man
                             and what i want to know is
        how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death
e e cummings


I hope the formatting holds... I think I figured out a way...

yes! That did it! Use the code instead of quote or just c/p ing it and you can hold the formatting of the poems that just refuse to be left justified...

All those times when I lamented the format not holding for me with the Top 500 poems...but you've gone and figured it out. Congrats! Of course, figuring it out is absolutely necessary for e e cummings' poems.



Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:54 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Penelope wrote:
Quote:
frog wrote:

I hope the formatting holds... I think I figured out a way...

yes! That did it! Use the code instead of quote or just c/p ing it and you can hold the formatting of the poems that just refuse to be left justified...



That's a poem in itself - that little piece of writing, frog. :D

Thanks giselle for taking on the C's.

Just brilliant, frog! I have been trying to figure that little puzzle out for some time. And also, a thank you to giselle from me too. I'll pick up the D's, unless D-Will would like too. :lol:



Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:17 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Yes that was quite skilled use of 'code' to get that ee cummings to come out right, may need that skill as we go on.

And Saffron, I think realiz offered to do the D's already, but don't worry, there are 22 letters after D!! :shock:



Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:30 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
thanks, It just would have broke my heart to render ee cummings in left justify again....


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Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:04 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Code:
i have found what you are like
        the rain,

                (Who feathers frightened fields
        with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

        easily the pale club of the wind
        and swirled justly souls of flower strike

        the air in utterable coolness

        deeds of green thrilling light
                                      with thinned

        newfragile yellows

                          lurch and.press

        -in the woods
                     which
                          stutter
                                 and

                                    sing

        And the coolness of your smile is
        stirringofbirds between my arms;but
        i should rather than anything
        have(almost when hugeness will shut
        quietly)almost,
                                  your kiss
ee cummings


I wanted to give this a try....
Good poem, too.



Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:57 am
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Wow, great poem, I had never read that one before...


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Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:37 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
OK the next two look like they will have to be typed in manually. The next one, The Buffalo Skinners is an old folk song, and I can find no less than thirty versions of it, none of them are the same, the one after is not anywhere on the internet (until now, that is) so I will have to tend to them after work tomorrow. For today I will go a little out of order and do the third one, which is also long so it should be enough for us to chew on until tomorrow late evening...

The Burglar Of Babylon

On the fair green hills of Rio
There grows a fearful stain:
The poor who come to Rio
And can't go home again.

On the hills a million people,
A million sparrows, nest,
Like a confused migration
That's had to light and rest,

Building its nests, or houses,
Out of nothing at all, or air.
You'd think a breath would end them,
They perch so lightly there.

But they cling and spread like lichen,
And people come and come.
There's one hill called the Chicken,
And one called Catacomb;

There's the hill of Kerosene,
And the hill of Skeleton,
The hill of Astonishment,
And the hill of Babylon.

Micuçú was a burglar and killer,
An enemy of society.
He had escaped three times
From the worst penitentiary.

They don't know how many he murdered
(Though they say he never raped),
And he wounded two policemen
This last time he escaped.

They said, "He'll go to his auntie,
Who raised him like a son.
She has a little drink shop
On the hill of Babylon."

He did go straight to his auntie,
And he drank a final beer.
He told her, "The soldiers are coming,
And I've got to disappear."

"Ninety years they gave me.
Who wants to live that long?
I'll settle for ninety hours,
On the hill of Babylon.

"Don't tell anyone you saw me.
I'll run as long as I can.
You were good to me, and I love you,
But I'm a doomed man."

Going out, he met a mulata
Carrying water on her head.
"If you say you saw me, daughter,
You're as good as dead."

There are caves up there, and hideouts,
And an old fort, falling down.
They used to watch for Frenchmen
From the hill of Babylon.

Below him was the ocean.
It reached far up the sky,
Flat as a wall, and on it
Were freighters passing by,

Or climbing the wall, and climbing
Till each looked like a fly,
And then fell over and vanished;
And he knew he was going to die.

He could hear the goats baa-baa-ing.
He could hear the babies cry;
Fluttering kites strained upward;
And he knew he was going to die.

A buzzard flapped so near him
He could see its naked neck.
He waved his arms and shouted,
"Not yet, my son, not yet!"

An Army helicopter
Came nosing around and in.
He could see two men inside it,
but they never spotted him.

The soldiers were all over,
On all sides of the hill,
And right against the skyline
A row of them, small and still.

Children peeked out of windows,
And men in the drink shop swore,
And spat a little cachaça
At the light cracks in the floor.

But the soldiers were nervous, even
with tommy guns in hand,
And one of them, in a panic,
Shot the officer in command.

He hit him in three places;
The other shots went wild.
The soldier had hysterics
And sobbed like a little child.

The dying man said, "Finish
The job we came here for."
he committed his soul to God
And his sons to the Governor.

They ran and got a priest,
And he died in hope of Heaven
--A man from Pernambuco,
The youngest of eleven.

They wanted to stop the search,
but the Army said, "No, go on,"
So the soldiers swarmed again
Up the hill of Babylon.

Rich people in apartments
Watched through binoculars
As long as the daylight lasted.
And all night, under the stars,

Micuçú hid in the grasses
Or sat in a little tree,
Listening for sounds, and staring
At the lighthouse out at sea.

And the lighthouse stared back at him,
til finally it was dawn.
He was soaked with dew, and hungry,
On the hill of Babylon.

The yellow sun was ugly,
Like a raw egg on a plate--
Slick from the sea. He cursed it,
For he knew it sealed his fate.

He saw the long white beaches
And people going to swim,
With towels and beach umbrellas,
But the soldiers were after him.

Far, far below, the people
Were little colored spots,
And the heads of those in swimming
Were floating coconuts.

He heard the peanut vendor
Go peep-peep on his whistle,
And the man that sells umbrellas
Swinging his watchman's rattle.

Women with market baskets
Stood on the corners and talked,
Then went on their way to market,
Gazing up as they walked.

The rich with their binoculars
Were back again, and many
Were standing on the rooftops,
Among TV antennae.

It was early, eight or eight-thirty.
He saw a soldier climb,
Looking right at him. He fired,
And missed for the last time.

He could hear the soldier panting,
Though he never got very near.
Micuçú dashed for shelter.
But he got it, behind the ear.

He heard the babies crying
Far, far away in his head,
And the mongrels barking and barking.
Then Micuçú was dead.

He had a Taurus revolver,
And just the clothes he had on,
With two contos in the pockets,
On the hill of Babylon.

The police and the populace
Heaved a sigh of relief,
But behind the counter his auntie
Wiped her eyes in grief.

"We have always been respected.
My shop is honest and clean.
I loved him, but from a baby
Micuçú was mean.

"We have always been respected.
His sister has a job.
Both of us gave him money.
Why did he have to rob?

"I raised him to be honest,
Even here, in Babylon slum."
The customers had another,
Looking serious and glum.

But one of them said to another,
When he got outside the door,
"He wasn't much of a burglar,
He got caught six times--or more."

This morning the little soldiers
are on Babylon hill again;
Their gun barrels and helmets
Shine in a gentle rain.

Micuçú is buried already.
They're after another two,
But they say they aren't as dangerous
As the poor Micuçú.


On the green hills of Rio
There grows a fearful stain:
The poor who come to Rio
And can't go home again.

There's the hill of Kerosene,
And the hill of the Skeleton,
The hill of Astonishment,
And the hill of Babylon.
Elizabeth Bishop


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Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:00 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Here is an informative link that may help with appreciation of this poem. I hope to be back soon with time to comment. :)
http://www.cercles.com/n12/nesme.pdf


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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Just gotta say, I do so enjoy e.e. cummings.



Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:38 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Saffron, I gotta say, me too, I never tire of ee cummings. He certainly has a way of putting things.

So Micucu, the Burglar of Babylon, the making of a folk hero or a sad ballad of a common criminal who got what he deserved in the end? The ballad seems so appropriate as a means to create folk heroes or to celebrate them. I really like a good ballad set to song, especially a good Bob Dylan ballad.



Last edited by giselle on Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:48 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Quote:
So Micucu, the Burglar of Babylon, the making of a folk hero or a sad ballad of a common criminal who got what he deserved in the end?


Another reading might be that of a tragedy fueled by poverty and injustice.

I found Axel Nesme's essay persuasive on a number of points. (See the link in my reply, above.) Nesme urges that one of the integral steps to reading the poem (beyond reader response) may be to see the establishment of separate points of view.

In this case, we can identify a narrator, an audience (including the rich people of Rio watching through their binoculars) Micuçu, himself, and the reader. According to Nesme, Bishop's goal is to align the reader's view with her own--or to cause us to "see as she sees."

One of her techniques is to establish disparate views, and then to merge them into one.

Nesme argues that the idea of Micuçu as a murderer is undercut by the line "They don't know how many he murdered / (Though they say he never raped)." If you can't actually quantify these supposed acts, maybe the number is zero. I would add that the poet weighs in by entitling the work the Burglar--rather than the murderer--of Babylon.

So, the label of "killer" is brought into doubt. Was he ever found gulity of murder? Or is this just something "they" attribute--perhaps even project onto--him. If a reader isn't prepared to embrace the falibility of legal systems, and the tendency to criminalize the poor, this may not be as evident, but it is entirely in keeping with Bishop's politics.

Farther on we are told that "he wasn't much of a burglar." The nonfatal injuries that he caused in the process of escape could be seen as accidental, or--depending on how one's ideology leans--even self-defensive. The cumulative effect may leave Micuçu somewhat short of Jean Valjean but pulls him away from the likes of Jack the Ripper. He's a bit of a rough character, but perhaps not beyond the bounds of human compassion.

In any event, Bishop is sympathetic to her subject, further humanizing him as a loving family member. He achieves a level of nobility in his preference for brief liberty, albeit at the price of death, over long years of imprisonment. His awareness of his doom, his meditations on the hill, his game rebuke of the buzzard are all elements that can allow the reader to root for Micuçu, in spite of the official state view of him.

I won't belabor this response with too much detail, but there is a sinuous satirical refrain running through these stanzas which mocks church, state and social class (both the voyeuristic rich and the failed consciousness of some poor). Bishop wants us to feel the plight of the poor, and the broken nature of the social contract. That Micuçu looks out for the military police pursuing him from the same hillside used in the past to watch for the invading French, alludes to the theme of class warfare.

All deaths in the narrative occur at the hands of the military, and we see that the soldiers are out again, the next day, hunting more--and even "less dangerous"--quarry.

I appreciated Nesme's essay for pointing out how Bishop moves from the distance of simile to the integration of metaphor in her effort for unification of view, and for apprising me of the fact that Micuçu means snake, which fuels Bishop's inversion of the traditional symbolic use of that creature as the free but doomed refugee "hid in the grasses / or sat in a little tree." I also appreciated his insight into Bishop's application of Lacan's psycho-linguistic philosophies. These layers aren't entirely necessary to an appreciation of the poem, but I found them agreeable, all the same.

I do enjoy language that reaches off the page and "does things" to the reader. Although our audacious editors are rascals in asserting that being selected for this anthology (by their own rarified hands) is the only commendation these poems require, I'm guessing they like that, too.

On the other hand, I wonder if the poem is effective with readers who are not already open to Bishop's point of view.

Both Heaney and Hughes are cut from close cloth, in the matter of poetic style. Both grew under the influence of Philip Hobsbaum and favor a descriptive poetic aesthetic (indeed, Heaney's worst critics consider him "merely descriptive.") Bishop's ballad is an effective (slightly embellished) retelling of a situation she personally observed, which fits the bill. Heaney is on record as approving of her ability to keep her artistic efforts from interfereing with the "hard realities" of her subjects.

There are plentiful portions of artistry and hard reality in The Burglar of Babylon. The "fearful stain" on "the green hills of Rio" strikes me at once as the attitude of the wealthier residents toward the poor, an indictment of the then-prevailing social ideology, and the blood oozing from Micuçu's head.

I enjoyed this poem, which was new to me, though I don't know that it would make a list of my all-time favorites. But then, I suppose that would depend on how thick a book I was compiling. :wink:


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Truth as I doe say,
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--The Marriage Of Sir Gawain


Last edited by DireCari on Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
I just had an anxious couple of days.....but now I've got a new grandson......

I'm a trifle distracted....but I'll be back soon. :wink:


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Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:53 pm
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Post Re: The Rattle Bag: The B poems
Wow, thanks DireCari for both the link to the essay and your own essay on The Burglar of Babylon. It is interesting how Elizabeth Bishop tries to win us over to her own point of view.


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