Great Poetry Circle

Great Poetry Circle

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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.

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

You turned your head

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Wed, March 21, 2018 22:58:47

You turned your head

and tossed your hair

though it fell again across your face

As your half-questioning look

tilted your head

and your dark eyes smiled

in perfect knowledge

the small wavetops dissolved

from sight and hearing

The pebble felt warm

as it was pressed into my palm

my arm slowly lowered

my eyes too

Do you remember? laughed your lips

but the shocking waves

stole your glance

and my memory

awoke no meaning

the present became long past

and the future spoke alone

for Barbara

You constantly made up to me

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 20, 2018 10:36:44

You constantly made up to me

In mascara, liner and rouge

Though I never asked for that at all

Nor ever made the first move

Then I was the partner left unseen

When you sals'ed thru the night

I was the secret that danced between

Your breasts and other men

My love you took the tram to Moscow

That got sidelined in my heart

You wanted to dance one last dance for me

On life's perfect seamless strand

It was a day you gave back to me

But really it meant the end

Then you tried to skate away from me

But fell and broke your wrist

You mailed me an X ray of the bone

That still treasonably hurts

Now you skate on kitchen floors

With home and babe and man

You never answer the phone to me

You've found another's wings

So when the time comes to count

All those ballroom heroines

I'll put you high above everyone

Though I'll have to unclip your wings

I can't remember the lines I said

When as friends we finally did part

But all I know is that breasts your size

Should never be let out alone

Hey angel, this utopia is upside down!

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 20, 2018 10:23:27

“ … and (s)he was the devil of my dreams, the handsomest angel.”

Antonio Machado

Hey angel, why do your visits

come so often? Were you once

more human & voluptuous,

instead of ice thin & boney,

like my incarnate lover?

Are your wings of wider span

now you need to defeat

my gravity?

& who is escaping from whom?

Hey angel, the first time

you left me, you were parked

on a slab of stone, not in paradise

but the morgue – did you

fly up to heaven

all on your own?

Then you haunted me

constantly in muddy lanes

& briared paths

between sunrise & dawn

and in the soon-to-be-harvested

wheat-fields of my youth.

Were you taken in your nest

like the sliced & quartered rats

I found when they

came to take the grain?

Later, when I'd lost you,

I thought it was

forever, you flew in

from Lisbon

or some other port of whores.

You came back to tempt me, seduce

or pre-empt me – but I

knew your game right from the start.

You might have given me

the clap, but not the bee-sting kiss

of a Hecubus from hell

pretending to be heaven.

In Flanders fields I found you

blindly strolling through the graves

that ten feet below

tugged at your heels, but stop

you never did

except to undo this kid

who had single-mindedly

failed to win the war.

We slept between the graves,

made love between the folds

of the dead, we consumed

one another in passion's fire;

but there were no phoenixes,

only sadly failed intentions

as I escaped

out of your coffin door.

Hey angel

I thought I was free of you

in the far north of my freedom

a place where angels can catch


in their extremities,

but you found me

you came knocking

at my balcony window door

as I paused from my words

on the page. Of course,

they were of you, only you,

as you reached again

into my fiery coal-black heart.

You came to wrench me

from the page to the precipice,

you came to tear me

from my fate

ringed by circles arctic

and of stories old.

You dragged me to the balcony's

rough ledge,

then it was push & pull:

your push to make you thrill

at the dizzy heights below,

and at my fall,

my pull to draw me back

to the stage;

for it is an act, a play,

a whole production on the road

I'll never live to see:

it's our common desire

to join beyond the grave

at the crossroads

where all the angels

met the witch

(of the north?).

Written in a bar on the Avd. Antonio Macho, Playa del Balamadena, Andalucia, March, 2018

Vanilla – a mixed metaphor

TS LovePosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 20, 2018 10:00:43

The candles in this stranger's house

reek of vanilla – a scent

that takes me back unerringly,

compulsively, to,

not the love of my life,

but loving that once seemed

unquenchable – it was her soap

and from it her skin

that gave off a perfume

which preceded her every entry

to my presence

by seconds:

Vanilla! It's origin

no mystery: those long

sensuous dark pods

the hidden fragrance of their insides

a life history

of pollination by hand -

a strange kind of sex

at its foundation

leading to another

more personal history

of childhood custards

seaside ice-creams

motherly cheeks and apple pies.


wreaking of life, sex and even the death

captive in its unlit interior

exteriorised in my love's

every tender move

this love haunts me now

from some distant place

I can no longer reach

but only smell

and here retell

again and again

our injured history and

miraculous intercourse

almost preternatural in its origin

a passion now belonging to

its own relational geology

an ice-age erratic left

forlorn, isolated

on some foreign strand:

how many times

will it lead me astray,

this lone signpost

to a pre-historic love

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