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Seasonal Poetry 
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Post Seasonal Poetry
I'm not sure we need another thread, but I thought seasonal poetry could use a place of its own. We are just about at mid-winter, so a winter poem. The poet is by Ravi Shankar. He was one of the poets at the poetry festival I attend this past fall. He is a founding editor of Drunken Boat, an online journal of the arts. Drunken Boat is an interesting site. I'll post the link after the poem.

From December to February


The depth of cold, that bone and tooth of winter, stuns us

as the immensity of ice snaps and settles over the jagged

river, its current turned into a disorder of edges. Only

our senses converge as we stare in silence unable to ask


what holds us here with the wind biting our lips, our gloved

fingertips, numbing us with something sub-zero, a negative

count toward infinity. Last night, the knife points of stars

stopped us from walking into the warmth of a room. Instead,


we stood shivering as if waiting for the black water-taffeta

sky to be slit open, for the silver light to pour out, kindle

its color, and release us from so much space, from the vast

chill of separation, the force of isolation. Even the moon


denied its radiant cradle and suspended a steely scythe.

But we who were born in this season have learned the myths

of its severity, its impervious heart. We will walk

by the river and into the night together. After all, we were


once the infants suited for this frosted earth and frozen air.

We became the children who accepted the chilblains of their own

creations, their small arms feathered with soft flakes, their bodies

lying in an imitation of angels, as ours lie in another shape.



www.drunkenboat.com/



Last edited by Saffron on Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:09 am
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Those are some cold lines that Shankar wrote. I remember that some critic called these lines from Keats' "The Eve of St. Agnes" the coldest lines in literature.

ST. AGNES' Eve



Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:43 am
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DWill wrote:
Those are some cold lines that Shankar wrote. I remember that some critic called these lines from Keats' "The Eve of St. Agnes" the coldest lines in literature.


Just an aside: The Feast of St. Agnes is January 21! DWill, were you aware of the date when you chose the poem to post?



Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:59 am
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Of course not. Although it would be like me to be a day late.



Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:29 am
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I am jumping the gun a bit, but I need to think about something comforting -- being a child in the mud is about as good a thing as I can think of - Oh, how I loved to play in the mud, even as late as age 12. When I was a very small girl I lived at the end of dead end street. As our road emptied out onto a main road it took a deep dip. After a summer rain shower it would fill up to make a very nifty pool for those of us small enough to swim around like little minnows. You can see I lived in a very sleepy little place if small children could safely swim in an over-sized pothole in the road.

What a wonderful image: "when the world is puddle-wonderful"

in Just-
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

IN Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and
the

goat-footed

baloonMan whistles
far
and
wee



Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:33 pm
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Post A child's Calendar by John Updike
I wasn't quite sure where to post this. Seasonal Poetry seems to be the best fit. Of course, as is the way, since John Updike's death his works are much more visible. I had recently learned that he wrote poetry and yesterday came across a book of children's poetry by him -- A Child's Calendar. Over all it is a delight. Updike takes each month in its turn. The month I like least is February and the two best poems are March and April. Here is a sample of some of my favorite lines.

January

The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark


The sun is nervous
As a kite
That can't quite keep
Its own string tight.

--This is March, of course and here is the last stanza of March --

The mud smells happy
On our shoes.
We still wear mittens,
Which we lose.


And this is my favorite of all, April:

The blushing, girlish
World unfolds

Each flower, leaf,
And blade of turf--
Small love-notes sent
From air to earth.


If you have a young child in your life, I highly recommend this charming introduction to poetry. The simple rhythm and rhymes are sure to please little ears. The movement through a year is beautifully captured by Updike's images and the illustrations of Trina Schart Hyman.



Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:37 am
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I was in Washington DC this afternoon and notice there were pink buds about to pop on some of the cherry trees and a few white blossoms out in full (not sure what type of tree). In just a week it will be the Spring Equinox, March 20th.

Spring Pools
Robert Frost

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods---
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.

Another March/early spring poem is "First Praise" by William Carlos Williams. You can find a discussion of this poem on the Poem of the Moment thread.



Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:36 pm
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Another spring poem -- I love the opening line. It is an all time favorite of mine. The words seem out of order, but capture our attention immediately. The word perhaps with its meaning both maybe and possibly suggest two meanings at once -- that of a tentative exploratory sketch and that spring is possibility.

Spring is like a perhaps hand
by E. E. Cummings

III

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.



Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:12 pm
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Post 
This is my house to day!

Spring rain
by Matsuo Basho

Spring rain
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps' nest.



Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:42 am
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How can we let ourselves get this far into April without lamenting, "April is the cruellest month..." and putting a little context around it:

The Waste Land
by T. S. Eliot


"Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi
in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σιβυλλα
τι θελεις; respondebat illa: αποθανειν θελω."

For Ezra Pound
il miglior fabbro.



I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

End quote. After which we presumably resumed measuring out our lives with coffee spoons, but that's another poem.

It's generally printed in notes at the bottom of the page of T.S. Eliott collections that contain "The Wasteland" that the cruel April conceit comes from Chaucer, the beginning of The Canterbury Tales:

Whanne that April with his shoures sote
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote.

April does seem very sharp, not just because it begins with a capital "A," not just because it evokes the horns of the ram Aries, not even just because of the sudden bite that comes back into the air on days when it seemed to be warming up, but somehow pain accrues to it, a season of wakening to sensation and light and awareness after deep, dark hibernation. A housemate of mine committed suicide at around this time of year and I always think of him in April although it was decades ago. I think Chaucer and Eliott really have grasped the sharp root of the season: a time of death and resurrection is only free of pain if one has actually died; if you survive winter, warming back up hurts.


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-- Chuang-Tzu (c. 200 B.C.E.)
as quoted by Robert A. Burton


Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:35 pm
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One more post ought to do it.

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Just wanted to rewaken this lovely thread!!

I Meant To Do My Work Today

Richard Le Gallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand--
So what could I do but laugh and go?


and just one more:


April

Marcia Masters

It's lemonade; it's lemonade, its daisy,
It's a roller-skating scissor-grinding day;
It's gingham-waisted, chocolate flavored, lazy,
With the children flower-scattered at their play.

It's the sun like watermelon,
And the sidewalks overlaid
With a glaze of yellow yellow
Like a jar of marmalade.

It's the mower gently mowing,
And the stars, like startled glass,
While the mower keeps on going
Through a waterfall of grass.

Then the rich magenta evening
Like a sauce upon the walk.
And the porches softly swinging
With a hammockful of talk.

It's the hobo at the corner
With his lilac-sniffing gait
And the shy departing gait,
And the shy departing thunder
Of the fast departing skate.

It's lemonade, it's lemonade, it's April!
A water sprinkler, puddle winking time,
When a boy who peddles slowly, with a smile remote and holy,
Sells you April chocolate flavored for a dime.


_________________
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 Apr 10, 2009 9:54 am
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