TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Mon, October 03, 2016 14:07:29
cold held us;
street corner of directions
ran against the startling cold,
face upturned and cradling stars,
heart in the dark nowhere.
time streamed down my bitter cheeks,
forced a turn of mind
the statue of your beauty,
in wrapt attention:
woman of scarves and anticipation
by her bicycle.
so utterly alone you stood,
all directions except my own,
in that moment turned on yours,
the warmth of neck and hair.
on the street we took away,
long as two minds meeting,
felt the words we had no need share,
Were turned on this love's corner.
Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, October 03, 2016 14:02:59
the embrace on the corner you will recognize
going away somewhere. It’s always so.
live between two truths
a neon light trembling in
empty hall. My heart collects
and more people, since they’re not here anymore.
always so. One fourth of our waking hours
spent in blinking. We forget
even before we lose them –
calligraphy notebook, for instance.
ever new. The bus
is always warm.
words are carried over
oblique buckets to an ordinary summer fire.
same will happen all over again tomorrow—
face, before it vanishes from the photo,
lose the wrinkles. When someone goes away
that’s been done comes back.
Nikolai Madzirov from Macedonia b. 1973
TS Death & LossPosted by G. Thompson Wed, March 30, 2016 21:34:34
On the Death of a Young Boy by Drowning
We sing our nightingale tunes
In the echoes of a darkness that eclipses all night
Each alone & yet identical in the song of our delivery
What defiant beauty in this seizing
Of lost chances & last hopes
What magnificent artifice
In our evasion of oblivion
We never know
Where we came from
Nor where we shall go
Sent in a body
We never chose
But then make our own
Like a house inherited
Built of moments and
And others' dreams
Or as a treasure found
Under an upturned stone
In the ring of mourners singing
In the voices that spiral upward
Like smoke into the gaping ears of heaven
In the eye of a small flame glistening
There is a prayer signalling silence
That outstares our long-starred fates
Our world is just a window in a jet plane
bound for heaven
Our day is a porthole on the ferry
crossing the Styx
Our true friends weave the spiders
to catch our egos in search of
Our lovers become the shadows
cast by ourselves onto them
Our life is a blip on the radar
of the navigator God
for Eleanor’s Soul
leaf spins through the sun
on the water
turns then flows away
TS InscapePosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 01, 2016 22:04:26
to the Limfjord
over the long slow hills
Jutland and its weather-torn
of blunted morraines
bridge over Aggersund appears
mouth with metal teeth
into the Limfjord
northern inland sea that once
unsalted lake a maze
febrile land and water
coughing off narrow spits
low foam rarely amounting
waves of real neighbour seas
in that winter’s evening hour
the light behind
clouds breaks free:
light now upon the face of the sea
the face of the sea is mine alone
its light on me
Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 01, 2016 21:01:29
Lawrence was a great descriptive writer who wrote about love and nature in a way nobody has done either before or since. His poetry is rather like intensive prose, as if he was whispering in your ear or talking over a cafe table. He does not play with language, or rejoice in language, but his story-poems have an exactness of description and a hypnotic quality that I really love. So hope you enjoy this short selection of some of his best, including the last poem he ever wrote - "The Ship of Death". The only thing comparable to its content and purpose is "The Tibetan Book of the Dead".
A snake came to
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the
great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough
He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall
in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied
down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat
upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the
tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long
Someone was before me at my
And I, like a second comer, waiting.
lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me
vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked
tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning
bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna
The voice of my education said to me
He must be
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the
gold are venomous.
And voices in me said, If you were a
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him
But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he
had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels
of this earth?
Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him?
Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to
feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.
And yet those
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!
truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door
of the secret earth.
He drank enough
And lifted his head,
dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a
forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.
And as he put his
head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up,
snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of
horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly
drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.
looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.
I think it did
not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind
convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with
And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how
paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the
voices of my accursed human education.
And I thought of the
And I wished he would come back, my snake.
seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in
Now due to be crowned again.
And so, I
missed my chance with one of the lords
And I have
something to expiate:
Why does the thin grey
Floating up from the forgotten
Cigarette between my
Why does it trouble me?
Ah, you will
When I carried my mother downstairs,
A few times
only, at the beginning
Of her soft-foot malady,
find, for a reprimand
To my gaiety, a few long grey hairs
the breast of my coat; and one by one
I let them float up the dark
The Mystic Blue
Out of the
darkness, fretted sometimes in its sleeping,
Jets of sparks in
fountains of blue come leaping
To sight, revealing a secret,
numberless secrets keeping.
Sometimes the darkness trapped
within a wheel
Runs into speed like a dream, the blue of the
Showing the rocking darkness now a-reel.
And out of
the invisible, streams of bright blue drops
Rain from the showery
heavens, and bright blue crops
Surge from the under-dark to their
And all the manifold blue and joyous eyes,
rainbow arching over in the skies,
New sparks of wonder opening
All these pure things come foam and spray of the
Of Darkness abundant, which shaken mysteriously,
into dazzle of living, as dolphins that leap from the sea
midnight shake it to fire, so the secret of death we see.
The Ship of Death
Now it is
autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards
The apples falling like great drops of dew
bruise themselves an exit from themselves.
And it is time to
go, to bid farewell
to one's own self, and find an exit
the fallen self.
Have you built your ship of
death, O have you?
O build your ship of death, for you will need
The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.
is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can't you smell it?
in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking,
wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.
And can a man his own quietus* make
With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make
bruise or break of exit for his life;
but is that a quietus, O
tell me, is it quietus?
Surely not so! for how could murder,
ever a quietus make?
O let us
talk of quiet that we know,
that we can know, the deep and lovely
of a strong heart at peace!
How can we this, our
own quietus, make?
the ship of death, for you must take
the longest journey, to
And die the death, the long and painful death
lies between the old self and the new.
Already our bodies are
fallen, bruised, badly bruised,
already our souls are oozing
through the exit
of the cruel bruise.
Already the dark
and endless ocean of the end
is washing in through the breaches
of our wounds,
Already the flood is upon us.
your ship of death, your little ark
and furnish it with food,
with little cakes, and wine
for the dark flight down oblivion.
Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul
her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.
dying, we are dying, we are all of us dying
and nothing will stay
the death-flood rising within us
and soon it will rise on the
world, on the outside world.
We are dying, we are dying,
piecemeal our bodies are dying
and our strength leaves us,
our soul cowers naked in the dark rain over the flood,
in the last branches of the tree of our life.
are dying, we are dying, so all we can do
is now to be willing to
die, and to build the ship
of death to carry the soul on the
A little ship, with oars and food
little dishes, and all accoutrements
fitting and ready for the
Now launch the small ship, now as the body
and life departs, launch out, the fragile soul
fragile ship of courage, the ark of faith
with its store of food
and little cooking pans
and change of clothes,
flood's black waste
upon the waters of the end
upon the sea
of death, where still we sail
darkly, for we cannot steer, and
have no port.
There is no port, there is nowhere to go
the deepening blackness darkening still
blacker upon the
soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness at one with darkness, up and
and sideways utterly dark, so there is no direction any more
and the little ship is there; yet she is gone.
She is not
seen, for there is nothing to see her by.
She is gone! gone! and
somewhere she is there.
everything is gone, the body is gone
completely under, gone,
The upper darkness is heavy as the lower,
them the little ship
It is the end, it is
And yet out
of eternity a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.
Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume
A little higher?
Ah wait, wait, for there's the dawn
the cruel dawn of coming
back to life
out of oblivion
Wait, wait, the little ship
drifting, beneath the deathly ashy grey
of a flood-dawn.
Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow
and strangely, O
chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.
A flush of rose, and the
whole thing starts again.
subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and
And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing
the pink flood,
and the frail soul steps out, into the house
filling the heart with peace.
Swings the heart
renewed with peace
even of oblivion.
Oh build your ship
of death. Oh build it!
for you will need it.
For the voyage
of oblivion awaits you.
* quietus: release from life, poetic death
** bodkin: a large sewing needle or hairpin
Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, February 15, 2016 22:59:05Essenin
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 SignatoriesTo 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,
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
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:
http://www.archipelago.org/vol2-3/seifert6.htm - The Lost Paradise, which starts in the famous Jewish Cemetry in Prague.
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
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.
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
We are like strangers living here
As if from distant planets flung
Falling separately to little farms
Where contact tentatively
Cross fields & border hedges
The outstretched arms
Reach blindly for the tips
Of fingers searching back
Kick the dust:
Stub-toed and obvious
The iron and the rust
Black faces in the sun
Run to meet me;
Sour eyed, respectfully I turn
see no blood
On the trees, they are green
And I am hungry.
Sometimes, this dust, into my
Head. The people excite me,
They belong without ties;
Or "hope you have a nice trip".
They simply turn away
And are gone before you've even
Maybe one day I will
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.
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
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.