Great Poetry Circle

Great Poetry Circle

About the Poetry Blog

Selection of Great Poetry and some from Tommy Stroller - choose your category - and see my other sites -

Being A Poet

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, February 15, 2016 22:59:05

To Be A Poet

To be a poet — is the same

As when by truth of life

You scar your own tender flesh,

And with the blood of feelings

Caress the souls of others.

To be a poet — to sing freedom,

As you know it best

The song of the nightingale doesn't hurt him -

His song is always the same.

Canary mimicking someone's voice -

Pitiful and silly bauble

The world needs real songs — so sing like only you can

Even if you sound like a frog.

Mohammed has overdone it in the Quran

When he forbade strong drink

That is why the poet will not stop

Drinking wine before he goes to the torture

And when a poet goes to his lover,

And finds her lying with another

He, kept by life-sustaining liquid,

Won't send a knife into her heart.

But, burning up with jealous recklessness,

Will whistle on the way back home

"So what, so I will die a vagabond,

On this earth such fate is also known."

Essenin the great Russian poet, married for a short time to the famous American dancer Isadora Duncan, never wrote a line for or against the communist revolution, which he lived through. Like all very serious romantic poets he committed suicide (reason not clear - the inhumanity of the times or the inhumanity of the woman who rejected him at the time). But unlike most romantic poets he attacked the nightingale for having the same song every time (though, of course, it doesn't!) and being like a canary (which it patently isn't). But his poetic images are so convincing we can always forgive his inaccurate reading of reality.
Maybe he was a punk romantic, or an early Rebel without a Cause.

Jaroslav Seifert
Czechia 1901 - 1986
Nobel Prize for Literature 1984
One of the Charter 77 Signatories

To Be a Poet

Life taught me long ago
that music and poetry
are the most beautiful things on earth
that life can give us.
Except for love, of course.

In an old textbook
published by the Imperial Printing House
in the year of Vrchlický's death
I looked up the section on poetics
and poetic ornament.

Then I placed a rose in a tumbler,
lit a candle
and started to write my first verses.

Flare up, flame of words,
and soar,
even if my fingers get burned!

A startling metaphor is worth more
than a ring on one's finger.
But not even Puchmajer's Rhyming Dictionary
was any use to me.

In vain I snatched for ideas
and fiercely closed my eyes
in order to hear that first magic line.
But in the dark, instead of words,
I saw a woman's smile and
wind-blown hair.

That has been my destiny.
And I've been staggering towards it breathlessly
all my life.

An honest poet, Seifert frankly admitted he loved women more than poetry, and maybe, unlike Rilke who felt the reverse, his lack of dedication made him a middling poet. But his documentation of life in poetry is some of the best writing in the Czech language (say the Czechs), and at least the Swedes recognized this too. See also: - The Lost Paradise, which starts in the famous Jewish Cemetry in Prague.

The Panther

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, January 18, 2016 13:34:02

Pacing past these bars has made

his gaze so weary, now nothing holds him

outside this countless passing

and beyond them there is no other world.

His lithe strong steps in steady rhythm

rotate in ever smaller circles,

as if held by a centre his numbed will

cannot free itself from.

Only sometimes does the shutter

on his pupils slide open, and an image

darts inside and down some long hidden nerve-way

to finally flutter then die in his heart.

R.M. RILKE 1910

Tr. TommyStroller

This is just my own poetic interpretation and does not claim to be an accurate translation

Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe

so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.

Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe

und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,

der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,

ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,

in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille

sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,

geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—

und hirt im Herzen auf zu sein.

Rilke is one of my favourite poets because his poetry is so exact and yet so deep. This poem, one of his most famous, was inspired by the sculptor Rodin telling him he should go to the Paris Zoo and minutely observe the animals there. It was in the collection called New Poetry that was a new direction for the poet, most of whose works were heavily metaphysical and philosophical before this.

Something That The Wind Blew In

TS InscapePosted by Graham Thompson Sat, January 09, 2016 19:15:40

Star on the Mast

A star sails into harbour

On the yule-tree

On the mast

Of the old tug

Longing for repair

The Light Is Going

The light is going

way over the copse,

it shrinks from the ploughed

gullies and blackbird runs

between the hawthorn,

gilding still the leftover

harvest straw, the elm tops

threading the November dusk

with stripped and lonely lifelines.

Old man, old woman,

two lightning blasted trunks

await their final rest,

like an old couple

in God's golden funeral parlour.

Only the old railway

holds a claim on tomorrow;

all else is nature's slow sleep,

turning its nose into the cold

pillow of night

and the longer stillness,

which is ours for the watching

Something That The Wind Blew In

Something that the wind blew in

Through that midnight banging door

Sets my heart to wandering

Wraps my thought in fur

Vacant lots on city streets

Lonely pines on moors

Telephones ringing in empty flats

Minds that talk with walls

Yesterday’s unfinished washing up

Beachballs left in dunes

Jigsaws and wine almost spilt

Coffins in front rooms

Connections between bus and train

Timetables and accounts

All add up to the same

Nothing was destined to meet

It was by chance we came this way

Chance when we shall leave

The only certainty’s in our reason

Or spells cast in the dark

Little Farms

We are like strangers living here

As if from distant planets flung

Falling separately to little farms

Where contact tentatively

Is made


Cross fields & border hedges

The outstretched arms

Reach blindly for the tips

Of fingers searching back

It Floods

Kick the dust:

Stub-toed and obvious

The iron and the rust

Pokes me.

Black faces in the sun

Run to meet me;

Sour eyed, respectfully I turn

Away. I

see no blood

On the trees, they are green

And I am hungry.

It floods,

Sometimes, this dust, into my

Head. The people excite me,

They belong without ties;

No goodbyes

Or "hope you have a nice trip".

They simply turn away

And are gone before you've even


Maybe one day I will

Follow them.

But no,

It never floods



A gold diamond reflection

Has been robbed of its brilliance,

For today, early and scuffling,

The lights have changed. The almost

Orange plays no more its gaudy theme.

The waters ripple under much cruel

And crude description.

The cold saliva brushes past the days

And catches my tongue between

Two definitions. But sharper

Are my thoughts, not hurried

In uncomfortable salt of sweat,

But freezing harder onto

This prime-evil life.


A dance of criss-crossing curves:

Branches in the wood

Dead elms leer out of the eaten bark

Myriad paths of beetles mark their underways

Faces of frogs and children in the leaves

Interwoven in the light wind

Parting and joining through the lowering sun

Old couples go mad in the children's playground

Roundly edit the merry go round

And make a last exit from the swings of heaven

The gold flash of the

Dead soldier's helmet

We are all legionnaires in the woods

Of subtle and self-mystifying desires

We are all young old dead

In receipt of life's greed


The chemistry of the moon

Is still alive and living through

This grey matter, the ghost shiver,

The twitching dog dance,

The unweavable play of feet,

The welcome combusting engine roar

Of car come home,

The fucking combined bodied suck

Of lovers' domes,

The poet's tongue.

Paris Wakes

Under Helen's dark eyes

we are all slaves of the love promise

crystalized in that low-cut glance

and I was stabbed by the moonlight

flashes through dead branches

knives hurtled into night's

soon forsaken black sleep

the words of dead lovers

in the extinct river lights

a city telegraph

for yearning eyes and ears

over the sighs of bridges

the enemies of sleep still walk

but me I retrace moon-steps

into my lost one's arms

and Paris wakes

in the sewers' puke

and waves of new sun`s ashes

brushing cold skin air

Paris wakes

but Helen is not there


Do these words have a place

On the page before they are stowed?

Do they already have a mast in your mind?

For is not all that is done

A voyage of ports

Wherein place is sorted in time.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Wed, January 06, 2016 20:33:18


THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,

His rollrock highroad roaring down,

In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam

Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth

Turns and twindles over the broth

Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,

It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew

Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,

Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,

And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Pied Beauty

GLORY be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.


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;

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;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Spectre & Other Luvpoems

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Mon, December 28, 2015 17:01:10


Let it pass;

Let it pass over you

Like the curtain of night

Drawn by invisible hands.

Let it come;

Let it come to swallow you

Like the lips of the sea

Close over your whiteskin flesh.

Let me assure you:

You are the light in my saucer sky,

The succulent source of my wishbone seas

That ebb towards procreation.

For the tides will leave us landlocked

On the desolate sands,

When the bright dayblood dispels the nightwitching,

And our seashells will lie hollow to the sun.


We know the way so well

Every path, hill and curve

Of this country is like

A mnemonic for bitter love.

As the future

Has run out of fashions

And metaphors

We will make do

With the map of these bodies

And explore them

Indefinitely well


Remember me when you are old

For age will be the lesson

Of your completion

In things you do not savour now

But will only pause to miss when so long gone

Including this.

Remember us when you grow old

For we were young in loving then

And perfect in asymmetry

I - old in years

You - rolling in the profits of untramelled youth:

Dancing in limbs and fingers

Singing like a winsome flute or sadder violin.

Remember yourself when you fall old

And care for those things that time

Had no time to spare when you were young

And nurture memories of how it was

When wrinkles and dust did never seep

Into these corners of our lives

And trust was greater

Than any chasm yawning between generations.

Yes - it skewed us

Into opposing halves:

The divided paths that ended here -

Again as lonely spirits on this ledge.

The Night Forest

When the world was green
I was a hunter without gun
But once, just once, I saw
A brown fox looking
Carving her body out of the beckoning trees
And it was my shot

We knew this fox and I
The how and why
And so we at once agreed

But............ I wondered
Who would run and who would kill

The soft brown fur mistook my eyes
Hyena mouthed she smiled
Powder footed she stepped away
And the forest was deep
Without that silent body
It crept up and hit me round the neck

In Parting

In parting we lose not only the lover

But also a part of ourselves.

When undoing that first embrace

We signal the final move;

Untying the knot of our hands

Permits the final wave.

If you look in the eyes of the woman departing

They will mirror a glance from the grave.

You Tiptoed Away In The Night

Long ago
Your arms encircled the void
Inside me

In the still desert
That was my heart
You planted yellow roses
And watered them every day

My nose
- so bloodied from blindly
tearing around in my darkened room
bumping against furniture
and walls -
You rubbed so gently
and kissed away the pain

You loosened me from the rack
Of my deceits
and half untruths
Untied me from the table
of my flattened universe

You sat constant
in the sickroom of no hopes
When the doctors
Had given me up
as mad
and gone

In the void where once your arms encircled
In the desert of yellow roses
In the dark room of torn spaces
On the rack of my unprovoked lies
In the sickroom of my patient madness
There is now no-one

You tiptoed away in the night

And I?
Yes I have given you up to the stars
So you can maybe alter mine
Then hopefully your own

How Life Begins

Out of the blistering silence

Comes the fire of our words.

So cool the night against our loving ways,

Paths of burning thoughts raised

On black and bitten bodies.

Suns were born and die again

In the days that these monstrous seconds fill.


Like flags, waving through the night

Of sudden caresses:

A track forever traced by fingers

In these singular brains.

Kindred spirits dally one last moment,

Hanging up their bodies like

Overcoats on different hooks

In the stillness of the early morning hall.

Over The Sea

Over the sea of love's last looking

No sail comes to deliver you

Over the gales, the ribbed and beating clouds

The hormone night lights the blood´s short fuse

My heart is a bay for your safe anchor

My eye a mirror for those calmer days

I cannot walk the headlands of our forever

Without the tightening of memory's stays

Ahead of Time

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:25:39

When midnight's clear before you

The space between the sounds of night

Is full of shadows

Cast ahead of time,

So that words spoken, images

Floating, have their signposts -

The empty silvered glass

Waiting for the cool touch

Of the face of woman's noon.

The silent bed groaning

With future acts of love.

Breughel's hunters setting out time and again

Over the fireplace

On every new tomorrow.

The honeyed cries of owls

Heard again in these forests of printed words.

The dark itself between the lines

Revealed in double meanings,

But I all alone but for my breathing

Gather in this room, this faceless world,

This knowing darkness,

For the toll of future memory.

For Francesca

The Notes of the Genes

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:23:22

Bodies have histories

Eyes lie to one another

Even in mirrors

But history remains dug

Deep into every cell

Bodies strain to forget themselves

To join in dances too young for them

But the music of the song

Is in the piano notes of the genes

And we endlessly respond

Endlessly play the game,

And dance the dance,

Biology and memory conspiring

To deny themselves

Through each other

Furnace of Love

Tommy Strollers PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, December 22, 2015 17:20:51

A strange light trembled through you

All the blood and the chemistry of your body

Ignited a spark within me which

Now roars forth as a furnace of love

Melting everything down (trees birds highways seas

Poetry and life itself) into one great gift

For the YOU and I: the perfect knowing

That is mindless and free pressing only

Heart-thoughts in an afterglow

Which must last

Must never be consumed

Must die only with death itself

Though even then transformed into new lives

New loves new longings

Whispering between the boughs

Between the paths of circling gulls

Arcing forever from sea to sky to storm lit clouds

Falling as musky rain on a parched and alien land

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