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 -
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Coming to the Limfjord

TS InscapePosted by Graham Thompson Tue, March 01, 2016 22:04:26

Coming to the Limfjord


Coming over the long slow hills

Of Jutland and its weather-torn

Landscape of blunted morraines

And trilling darkforest

The bridge over Aggersund appears

A mouth with metal teeth

Gaping into the Limfjord

That northern inland sea that once

Was unsalted lake a maze

Of febrile land and water

Islets coughing off narrow spits

The low foam rarely amounting

To waves of real neighbour seas

And in that winter’s evening hour

Suddenly the light behind

Imprisoning clouds breaks free:

The light now upon the face of the sea

And the face of the sea is mine alone

And its light on me





The Best Poems of D.H. Lawrence

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".




The Snake



A snake came to my water-trough
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
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before
me.

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 mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Silently.

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He 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 little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

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
And 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 voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
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,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And 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 black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And 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 gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

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 albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.




Sorrow

Why does the thin grey strand
Floating up from the forgotten
Cigarette between my fingers,
Why does it trouble me?

Ah, you will understand;
When I carried my mother downstairs,
A few times only, at the beginning
Of her soft-foot malady,

I should find, for a reprimand
To my gaiety, a few long grey hairs
On the breast of my coat; and one by one
I let them float up the dark chimney.




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 steel
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 ladder-tops.

And all the manifold blue and joyous eyes,
The rainbow arching over in the skies,
New sparks of wonder opening in surprise.

All these pure things come foam and spray of the sea
Of Darkness abundant, which shaken mysteriously,
Breaks into dazzle of living, as dolphins that leap from the sea
Of midnight shake it to fire, so the secret of death we see.





The Ship of Death

I

Now it is autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards oblivion.

The apples falling like great drops of dew
to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.

And it is time to go, to bid farewell
to one's own self, and find an exit
from the fallen self.

II

Have you built your ship of death, O have you?
O build your ship of death, for you will need it.

The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.

And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can't you smell it?
And in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.

III

And can a man his own quietus* make
with a bare bodkin?

With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make
a 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, even self-murder
ever a quietus make?

IV

O let us talk of quiet that we know,
that we can know, the deep and lovely quiet
of a strong heart at peace!

How can we this, our own quietus, make?


V

Build then the ship of death, for you must take
the longest journey, to oblivion.

And die the death, the long and painful death
that 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.

Oh build your ship of death, your little ark
and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine
for the dark flight down oblivion.

VI

Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul
has her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.

We are 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,
and our soul cowers naked in the dark rain over the flood,
cowering in the last branches of the tree of our life.

VII

We 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 longest journey.

A little ship, with oars and food
and little dishes, and all accoutrements
fitting and ready for the departing soul.

Now launch the small ship, now as the body dies
and life departs, launch out, the fragile soul
in the fragile ship of courage, the ark of faith
with its store of food and little cooking pans
and change of clothes,
upon the 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
only the deepening blackness darkening still
blacker upon the soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness at one with darkness, up and down
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 yet
somewhere she is there.
Nowhere!


VIII

And everything is gone, the body is gone
completely under, gone, entirely gone.
The upper darkness is heavy as the lower,
between them the little ship
is gone

It is the end, it is oblivion.


IX

And yet out of eternity a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
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.


X

The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
and the frail soul steps out, into the house again
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




Being A Poet

Great PoetryPosted by Graham Thompson Mon, February 15, 2016 22:59:05
Essenin
(1924-1925)


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:

http://www.archipelago.org/vol2-3/seifert6.htm - 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

Eventually

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

Packed.

Maybe one day I will

Follow them.

But no,

It never floods

Enough.



Change

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.


Underways

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


Chemistry

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


Stowed

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

INVERSNAID


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.




GOD'S GRANDEUR


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

Spectre


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.



Untitled

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

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.


Eyes

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 Poetry GeneralPosted 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



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