A Favorite Poem
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Author:  DWill [ Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  A Favorite Poem

We have "Poem of the Moment" for those who have latched onto a poem that fits their current mood. This thread is for sharing a poem that you might go to repeatedly at any time, and is therefore a favorite. I don't suppose any of us have one favorite poem, but probably a number of them. Just copy or paste in your poem, then talk to us about it. Why do you find it special?; any occasion or event in your life that gives it such a status? Sound okay?


Author:  Penelope [ Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sounds like what poetry should be about DWill.

I will do this on a regular basis. Probably 'ad nauseum' but I hope not.

Author:  Saffron [ Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

The poem I turn most often to, at least for the past 5 or so years, is Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. It hangs in my cubical at work.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

Author:  Penelope [ Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:01 am ]
Post subject: 

Saffron - thank you. It is truley a sublime poem and I had never heard it. I will treasure it and keep it.

My favourite line is the first:-

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

Because, I used to be like this. I'm not I wish I had come across your poem some years ago.

Now, I believe I am only here for the entertainment!!!!!

Which I suppose is why I am so very fond of 'humorous' verse.....but that doesn't mean I can't be serious sometimes. Thank you again.

Author:  DWill [ Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yes, Saffron , let me add my thanks for posting that poem and doing with it just the kind of thing I was hoping for. We're going to see a lot of great and diverse stuff, I'm sure, and lots of ways that people have of responding. For me, I'm happy enough just to see the words "deep trees," because I never would have thought of them that way and yet how perfect.


Author:  DWill [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

This is not such a hard task because the poem has to be only a favorite. I'll choose Robt. Frost, one of his that's always had a strong pull on me. It's in blank verse , which I tend to like a little better than his rhymed verse.


Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
ONCE, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

I've realized that I have some difficulty explaining why this poem speaks to me. I've always been after something; I don't, like the speaker in the poem, know exactly what it is I'm looking for, and a fair amount of the time I don't even have the proper angle for looking. But every now and then a penetration occurs and I might think that I am seeing something deeper, but only fleetingly. This may happen in some not-quite-conscious state, rarely in normal consciousness. Like the speaker, I'm probably more appreciative of the opportunity given me to cut through the film than the specific identity of whatever I've seen. I like this quasi-mysticism from the plain-speaking New Englander. There is some similarity here to his great poem, "Birches."

The line I'd chose as the "center " of the poem for me: "What was that whiteness?"


Author:  Saffron [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

I'd say the Frost poem captures very well, what I know of you and like.

ps That was a fun little bit of thread jumping!

Author:  DWill [ Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  God's Grandeur

Now, our hosts wouldn't necessarily approve of this sonnet by the Jesuit priest Gerard Manly Hopkins. But I don't offer it to advance religion, needless to say. It is a great example of verbal fireworks, and, yes, of passionate devotion. (Check out also "The Windhover" and "Spring and Fall," among others.)


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs

Author:  Indigo [ Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here's just one, that has been a favorite for a very long time, and captures what I most love about poetry (the pure, sweet, simple celebration of everyday life).

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Sorry for the long absence, folks--I had a killers final week at school and then spent most of my summer in London, so I am just recently returned to a life with spare time.

Author:  DWill [ Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Welcome back, Indigo. Condolences, of course, about the killer finals, but not about the trip to London, sorry!

Author:  Indigo [ Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:50 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks, DWill. :)

Author:  DWill [ Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've been wanting to post this one, and actually I think it could go on the verbal firepower thread, too. Like any literature, poetry is also good for letting us in on feelings or notions that are not our own, that may be in fact foreign to us until the poet takes us in. "Sailing to Byzantium" is like that for me. I am getting on in years, but I don't feel like an aged man. I certainly have never wished to remove myself from nature and enter the timeless world of art. But I identify with these feelings when I read the poem. Beyond that, I think that here Yeats is at the top of his form. He shows a Shakespeare-like ability to compress language and bend it to his will. It has the bold, famous declarative opening sentence, and it never lets up from there. It was a tough choice between this and his "The Circus Animals' Desertion."

Sailing to Byzantium

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Author:  Jeremy [ Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

One of my favorites is Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"

Ode on Melancholy
by John Keats

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Imprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty -Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine:
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

The thing I love about this poem is that it reminds us of the transitory nature of life and the illusiveness of happiness. It also lets us know that it is ok (even preferable) to embrace melancholy and not avoid it. This is because the more fully one experiences melancholy, the more intensley one can enjoy the next shortlived moment of happiness that comes along.

Author:  Saffron [ Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Jeremy wrote:
The thing I love about this poem is that it reminds us of the transitory nature of life and the elusiveness of happiness. It also lets us know that it is ok (even preferable) to embrace melancholy and not avoid it. This is because the more fully one experiences melancholy, the more intensely one can enjoy the next shortlived moment of happiness that comes along.

I agree completely. I would even venture a step further along this path. Emotional life is a so much more than just melancholy and joy. The more fully we allow ourselves to experience (I do not mean act on or act out) each of the subtle and varied emotions that we pass through in a day, the richer and more nuanced life becomes.

It is important to recognize that all emotion is fleeting, melancholy as well as joy. And I wouldn't say that melancholy is necessarily longer lived than joy. I think we spend a lot of energy seeking it and fixate on trying to be happy, that all too often miss when we are.

Author:  Grim [ Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:42 pm ]
Post subject:  The Road Not Taken

I have alway really respected this poem by Robert Frost, to me it is about choosing value in life, and accepting that you cannot live through every option. It also tells that following conventional wisdom is not the only option. The author does not tell weather the difference has been for the better or not, I like to think that it has been for the better.

In light of this poem I always try to find the road less travelled.

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20

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