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 -

Poems Read On My 70th Birthday In Order of Date

Tommys 70th Birthday PoemsPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, July 16, 2018 03:58:34
They Have Cut the Wheat

They have cut the wheat I lay in.

We lay there tucked close by wheat and thunder.

Today the rains will crumble

The summer soils which bore the grain.

They have burnt the willow I sat on.

We sat there haunched to steal the sun

But autumn fires have spread

From burning stalks – we had to run.

They have cleared the copse I loved in.

We loved in greying skies with bodies burning.

The sharpest blades have turned

The leaves to darker soils.

They have filled the towns with people.

I never noticed them before.

Winter's filled their cups with flesh,

The flesh which tendered every grain.

17 years old

Promenade des Anglais

Bare-foot delights

stroke my tinsel hair

and whisper all day long

on sun-warmed pebbles

The singer raises coarse thoughts

to the opal blue med-sky

in a rhyme

without reason

And we all listen


The brown skin pulls me down

& asks me

play me

“Baby in Black?”

(My strange smelling gypsy love

it is you

I long for

but you are not

in black)

The guitar is passed

hand to hand

around the circle

to mine

My thoughts are much too sacred

to share so

I hum

“Babeee's in Black!”

she pleads

Those young firm breasts

I'll never fondle

except in my dreams

The French

stacattoes past my mind

The Deutschlander

Hans ze aktor

En plus, en plus

Russian Nureyev

never speaks

just leans

o'er the railing

jealous of our


of our


I´m tired of foreign languages

even my own

bouncing around

my head

Night pulls its sensual body

over our small bright lights

& finds us harboured

on the port's walls

Everday we are begging

like lost children

for more

bandana necked &

promenaded hats

for lilly-rich ladies

in Paris mode

Soon the

our cold stone bed

will wrap us

in its own white warmth

and the sea

will swing and call

in the moments of our dreams

1965 Nice


Great Poetry EuropeanPosted by Graham Thompson Thu, July 12, 2018 06:13:58

Winter Solstice

The midwinter sun fell so low

that you could see

under all the gates of the world

The sawmill over the valley drew to a halt

like the tearing of

the brittle wallpaper in a childhood room

I entered the pine forest

like a person I have known

and could just as easily forget

A falling raindrop lit up the dark

and burnt a hole in the pine-needle carpet

sounding like a footfall in the sacristy

just before a baptism


love affairs, over so long ago:

sometimes you meet them in the street

sometimes you meets them in dreams,

when you meet them in the street, it looks like a dream

when you meet them in a dream, it looks like the streets

streets, where half the houses stand empty

because you don't remember whose faces appear

in the dark behind the window-panes

Power Cut


under me

over me

around me


railway lines


between points

at the ready

trains stand still

people stand still

the blood stands still

will we make it?

trapped in metal

death lurks in the switches

can we get it going

with a move of the hand?

does it want in that case

to get back at us

as a complete


of broken connections

Since Yesterday

I have become old since yesterday

and my room will no longer

let me go. The worn furniture

and things we collected together

in common, torment me suddenly

like razor-blades. Little hooks

poisoned by September's light

simply bind me tighter

if I turn after you

or try to free myself

When a person dies

When a person dies

their surroundings remain:

The mountains in the distance

the houses of the district

and the road, as on a Sunday,

that goes over a wooden bridge

just before it leads out of town.

And the spring sunshine

peeping out in the afternoon

reaches a shelf with books

and magazines, which no doubt

were once new.

It's not strange at all.

But all the same, it has

often surprised me.

When we leave one another

When we leave one another, at the same time we leave

all of the places we've been together:

That deserted suburb with the houses blackened by smoke

where we lived for a month, nocturnal cities

whose name we have forgotten, or stinking Asiatic hotels

where we now and then woke in the mid-day heat

with a feeling of having slept a thousand and one years.

And all those small hard to reach mountain chapels

along the way between Athens and Delphi

where the oil-lamps burn through the summer nights

these we leave at the same time we leave one another.

All translated from the Danish by Tommy Stroller & Anna Birkbøll Jensen February 2018

Henrik Norbrandt was born in 1945 and is one of the best of modern Danish poets, with a very European, and even Mediterranean outlook in his poems, totally different from other Scandinavian writers. He spent most of his life since the late 1960s in the south of Europe, and Turkey - a country he fell in love with early in his career and made his home until very recently. He has written a great travel book on his journeys in Turkey, which as far as I know has not been translated into English, but it should be as it compares well with the great travel writing of people such as Chatwin, and certainly Durell or Theroux. But it is more down to earth, closer to the people, and his descriptions of nature rivals D.H. Lawrence in poetic detail.

His poetry is always highly personal, unlike most of the British tradition, he lets you see the world, especially the Turkish and Greek world, through his own eyes. It is again very un-English and Mediterranean in its unashamed romanticism, but there is always an underlying Danish coolness and irony. I hesitate to speak of forbears, but it can be said that he is close to both the American beat poets, and at the same time Eliot and Auden. Eliot in that he uses poetry to hold the world at a certain ironic distance, Auden because he too is concerned with human morality, particularly in relation to his love affairs, of which he has had many. He is also influenced by the Swedish writer Gunnar Ekelöf, but I think his strongest influence goes back to the Greek and Latin-based language poets, such as Cavafy, Machado, Kantzanzakis and Seferis. From them he gets that very personal feeling in his poetry, even when he is describing landscape and travels. Thus he is a true hybrid of Northern and Southern European poetry, and should be much more widely recognised. He is unfortunate in that he writes in mostly Danish, and also Turkish, two languages almost untranslatable to other European languages. However, luckily for me, his language is not complex, nor is it full of difficult metaphors, Dylanesque (Thomas,not Bob) sound poetry or imagery - it is closest in style to the direct speech of Lawrence's poetry, and never as flowery as the Latins. So it is not too difficult to translate.

Because of illness Norbrandt returned to Denmark quite recently, but has written in various newspapers that it was because of poor health, and he finds Denmark of the post-millenium to be utterly different from his childhood, and even more alien to his spirit. The poems above are all taken from his 1998 "Drømmebroen" collection, which roughly translates as "Dream bridges". This is because they are often stream of consciousness productions with an underlying dreamlike quality. But they are also as real and acute in their perceptions as a Wordsworth. Enjoy! Perhaps more Danish poetry will be coming to yet another blog of Great Poetry, mostly from poets unrecognised in the English-speaking world.


Tommy Strollers Poetry GeneralPosted by G. Thompson Tue, July 10, 2018 04:35:42

Some music makes you shake

Some music makes you rock and roll

Some music wakes up your soul

Some music makes you cry

Some music makes you wanna die

Only the music-master knows the tunes to play

When your'e either up or down

In love or relieved

To be broken hearted, free and outta town.

Music is for the highway, the church and the

Lonely apartment just down the block

It's always there when you need it

Radioed, stereoed, or spottified

Its always there when you unlock

Your head and get turned on or tuned out.

You can still get your glass of music

At every bar and passing cafe.

That time you hear your favourite singer

Blasting out from a passing car stereo

You know that heaven is literally

Just down the road.

Who Knows?

TS EcologyPosted by G. Thompson Tue, July 10, 2018 04:31:59

the name of the hounds of heaven

when they howl March's coming

& strip the last leaves of oak?

how the sea grows warmer

cleaned & transparent from winter's keep

when early suns tend further east?

what moves the caterpillar

from his wingless sleep & bids him

return to the blossoms & spreading buds?

how the cherry ripens

in the heart of the bud

& is put out for the wandering gazer?

where the lark springs from

to throw that sky-born voice

clear from its tall & lucid tower of air?

why the sparrows' twittering grows louder

as they clamour in gable ends

& every bush?

why men long seaward

when April shows its skirts & frolics

under the bows of newly launched skiffs?

who women long for

when sheets lie heavy on itching skin

& imagination runs further than husbandmen?

why sailors keep watch

on Orion's higher rising

in its spinning merry-go round of April nights?

who finally keeps the candles burning

in Rembrandt's dark study

on the far side of our tears?

Tommy Stroller, April 2018

The Springs of Love

TS LovePosted by G. Thompson Tue, July 10, 2018 04:24:53

The springs of love are strange

some are pure but others

sullied, muddied and poisoned

by influences unbenign

but gold is found in dirty streams

crystals of amethyst and quartz

in base and granite rocks

the force of sin and degradation

can heat our tainted love

to moments of even greater perfection:

the man on the cross-

roads of so many lives

Somnambule Ballad

Great Poetry EuropeanPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, May 01, 2018 21:15:32
Green, how much I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship upon the sea.
And the horse in the mountain.
With the shadow on her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, hair of green,
and eyes of cold silver.
Green, how much I want you, green.
Beneath the gypsy moon,
all things look at her
but she cannot see them.

Green, how much I want you green.
Great stars of white frost
come with the fish of darkness
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs the wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the mountain, a filching cat,
bristles its aloes.

But who will come and from where?
She lingers on her balcony,
green flesh, hair of green,
dreaming of the bitter sea.

Friends I want to change
my horse for your house,
my saddle for your mirror,
my knife for your blanket.

Friend, I come bleeding,
from the passes of Cabra.
If I could, young man,
this pact would be sealed.
But I am no more I,
nor is my house now my house.
Friend I want to die
decently in my bed
of iron, if possible,
with sheets of fine holland.
Do you not see the wound I have
from my breast to my throat?
Your white shirt bears
three hundred dark roses.
Your pungent blood oozes
around your sash.
But I am no more I,
nor is my house now my house.
Let me climb at least
up to the high balustrades:
let me come! Let me come!
Up to the high balustrades.
Balustrades of the moon
where the water resounds.

Now two friends go up
towards the high balustrades.
Leaving a trail of blood,
leaving a trail of tears.
Small lanternes of tin
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
were piercing the dawn.

Green, how much I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends went up.
The long wind was leaving
in the mouth a strange taste
of gall, mint and sweet basil.
Friend! Where is she, tell me,
where is your bitter girl?
How often she waited for you!
How often did she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!

Over the face of the cistern
the gypsy girl swayed.
Green flesh, hair of green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of the moon
suspends her above the water.
The night became as intimate
a sa a little square.
Drunken civil guards
were knocking at the door.
Green, how much I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.

Frederico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)

The question remains: is this a vision of his violent death?

Talking with Lorca

TS Political PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, May 01, 2018 20:37:38

I was not yet in life

When they came for you at 4 in the morning

That dreaming hour when

All poets dredge their muddied minds

For pearls, or the lucky ones

Sing non-stop like an Orpheus

Newly risen from hell’s earth

Or the dreadful ones – like you -

who can see clearly their own death

They came for you at 4 in the morning

Those young raw and drunken falangists

Barely out of their shorts

And who knows where educated?

Extremadura, Burgos, and dry Murcia perhaps

And educated how?

Certainly not in the poems of Machado

Nor with Picasso’s perspective

Of the tour de face

Yes they came at exactly 4 in the morning

Bearing ancient rusty rifles

Which had travelled much further

Then any of those feckless clueless young innocents -

Perhaps from Galicia, Morocco or Pamplona -

And certainly those barrels had been trained

On Catalans, Basques, Asturians

Before reaching Lorca’s firing line

They say it was an orange grove

Before the fruit had been picked

But it was way past the harvest

So they lay rotting and fermenting

On the ground where Lorca

And his nameless companions too

Would soon be providing food

For a million flies

An army

Not big enough to swallow his spirit

But enough to quarry his sap

Yes the bullets took them when their only crime

Was to be socialists and Andalusian

So Lorca never leapt

Like a slippery dolphin

In the fight with his cowardly enemies

Nor bathed in their blood

Instead - they were bathed in his

And though to the end

He still thirsted for the Green

And his eyes flickered

To those fading Green visions

The wind caressed his spirit

Inside the Green

Before he could taste it

Before he could smell it

Before he could feel it

Before he could sail in it

Before he could love it

In the arms of the woman

Who was never to be the next

The wind carried his spirit to us

That little wind that in-spired us

And all who bathed in the GREEN

In all who made Lorca

Not their destination

But a true way-station

With a candle inside becoming carol

On that final path to green glory

And on that toros poster

Crossed by Lorca's words:

"And the bull alone with high heart

At five in the afternoon"

And today your body still lies lost

Pitched under a giant stone

Or under those holy olive branches

Waving now to no-one.

Lorca! Your cause

Was not in war

Nor was it in vain:

Though prematurely dead

Your spirit pitches up today

Not only in this 70 year old

Desiccated fruit:

The young are freed

By your poetry they

Follow on your path

And bear your truth

And the shots still ring in their ears

Tommy Stroller, Spring 2018

Front Lawn

Great PoetryPosted by G. Thompson Tue, March 27, 2018 12:17:10
The snow was falling
over my penknife
There was a movie
in the fireplace
The apples were wrapped
in 8 year-old blond hair
Starving and dirty
the janitor's daughter never
turned up in November
to pee from her sweet crack
on the gravel
I'll go back one day
when my cast is off
Elm leaves are falling
over my bow and arrow
Candy is going bad
and Boy Scout calendars
are on fire
My old mother
sits in her Cadillac
laughing in her Danube laugh
as I tell her that we own
all the worms in our lawn
Rust rust rust
in the engines of love and time

Leonard Cohen from Flowers for Hitler (1964)

Cohen needs no introduction, but it is his music he is more famous for than his poetry, but his early poems are absolutely brilliant, though extremely personal. Notice the way he casually captures the details of his old family home and childhood by just small hints and images. The end of this poem I take to be a classic 60s blast against materialism and capitalism - but judge for yourself.

More background can be found on Wikipædia:

There they quote his influences as being Whitman, Lorca, Yeats and Henry Miller. All important, but really he was a unique voice from the beginning. Like me he had a family festooned with religious preachers (in his case rabbis, in mine evangelical protestant sermonizers), and this shows in many of his poems - he is deeply concerned with the fading and near extinction (in truly spiritual terms) of major religions, and his poetry and songs are imbued with the influences of both his upbringing (as a strict Jewish boy) and the Catholic community that surrounded him. He searched all his life for a new religion but never found one to suit him. Zen-Buddhism came close but he could never give up coffee, cigarettes and women in order to seriously become a monk. In any case, his famous relationship with the abbot of the Californian zen monastery he attended for 3 years (1994-7) led to him becoming the master's first assistant, but I think the master saw Cohen as HIS master!

I recommend all the early poetry - best found in Selected Poetry - & his last collection - Book of Longing (2006), even if the latter are less crafted poems then his earlier. The best novel I feel is Beautiful Losers, a great portrayal of a very unMeToo male in the freedom loving 60's. But it is better than Miller's autobiographical self-glorification of his own penis, much, much better. Cohen not only loved women, he deeply respected them and always set them above himself. That is why 80% of his adoring fans WERE women! Leonard Cohen (1934 - 2016) RIP

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