Happy World Poetry Day!

Let's celebrate!  question  Add a poem, original or a favourite, below: 

little things? 
The little moments? 
They aren't little. 

- JKL 

You can't go wrong with Billy Collins.

The Country

I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time—

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

Aren't you a day early on this one?  It is March 21, I thought (hello down there down under!).

mfpark said:
Aren't you a day early on this one?  It is March 21, I thought (hello down there down under!).

 Joanne is always from the future (about 15 hours ahead) here on MOL.

MOL tradition! - since I can spread over the dateline, why not stretch to most of the week? cheese

(It's very very early 21st here)

nohero said:

mfpark said:
Aren't you a day early on this one?  It is March 21, I thought (hello down there down under!).
 Joanne is always from the future (about 15 hours ahead) here on MOL.

 I know, that is why I said hello down under.

One of my favorites to add a day early:

One Art


The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

This is, for me, one of the most brilliant poems I have ever read.  I love formal structures in poetry when they are really well done, and she nails this villanelle.  The repetition of "art of losing", "master" and "disaster" lend a lilting elegiac sense of remembering distant losses that no longer hurt as much in the present.  In this she fashioned the villanelle almost like a pantoum (where the last words of various lines are repeated from stanza to stanza), which makes this villanelle particularly brilliant from a technical perspective,

Bishop starts off so low key, losing keys, a lost hour here or there.  Then the poem easily and colloquially moves on to bigger losses--names, watches--and then it starts to get a lot bigger--three houses, two cities, realms, continents!  Only to come crashing down in the final quatrain where the loss of her long-time partner to suicide hits home as the ultimate and worst loss of all.  Yet, even here she is coy, trying to downplay this as just another of those familiar losses, except in the end she has to admit it is a disaster.

The masterful use of downbeat tone, repeating words and sounds, and barely suppressed pain of loss all in a tight six stanzas amazes me every time I read it (which is quite often).

The Search for a Rhyme for Orange Ends on a Sour Note

There’s no juice like an orange’s
And its ilk —
So sweet, never tinges
Unless you’ve had milk



It little profits that an idle king, 

By this still hearth, among these barren crags, 

Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole 

Unequal laws unto a savage race, 

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd 

Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those 

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when 

Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades 

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; 

For always roaming with a hungry heart 

Much have I seen and known; cities of men 

And manners, climates, councils, governments, 

Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; 

And drunk delight of battle with my peers, 

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. 

I am a part of all that I have met; 

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' 

Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades 

For ever and forever when I move. 

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 

To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! 

As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life 

Were all too little, and of one to me 

Little remains: but every hour is saved 

From that eternal silence, something more, 

A bringer of new things; and vile it were 

For some three suns to store and hoard myself, 

And this gray spirit yearning in desire 

To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 

         This is my son, mine own Telemachus, 

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,— 

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil 

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild 

A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees 

Subdue them to the useful and the good. 

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere 

Of common duties, decent not to fail 

In offices of tenderness, and pay 

Meet adoration to my household gods, 

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. 

         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: 

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, 

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me— 

That ever with a frolic welcome took 

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed 

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; 

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; 

Death closes all: but something ere the end, 

Some work of noble note, may yet be done, 

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. 

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: 

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 

'T is not too late to seek a newer world. 

Push off, and sitting well in order smite 

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 

Of all the western stars, until I die. 

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: 

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. 

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' 

We are not now that strength which in old days 

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; 

One equal temper of heroic hearts, 

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. be on the watch. there are ways out. there is light somewhere. it may not be much light but it beats the darkness. be on the watch. the gods will offer you chances. know them. take them. you can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes. and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you.

-- by Charles Bukowski

I've been downhearted baby 
Ever since the day we met 
I said I've been downhearted baby 
Ever since the day we met 
Our love is nothing but the blues, woman
Baby, how blue can you get? 

You're evil when I'm with you
And you are jealous when we're apart 
Yes, I said you're evil
You're so evil when I'm with you, baby 
And you are jealous when we're apart 
How blue can you get, baby?
The answer's is right here in my heart 

I gave you a brand-new Ford 
You said I want a Cadillac 
I bought you a ten dollar dinner 
You said thanks for the snack 
I let you live in my penthouse 
You said it was just a shack 
I gave you seven children 
And now you want to give them back 

Yes, I've been downhearted baby 
Ever since the day we met 
I said our love is nothing but the blues 
Baby, how blue can you get?

This is the poem with which I discovered Mary Oliver


The Journey  (Mary Oliver)

One day you finally knew

What you had to do, and began,

Though the voices around you

Kept shouting

Their bad advice—

Though the whole house

Began to tremble

And you felt the old tug

At your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

Each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

Though the wind pried you

With its stiff fingers

At the very foundations,

Though their melancholy

Was terrible.

It was already late

Enough, and a wild night,

And the road full of fallen

Branches and stones.

But little by little,

As you left their voices behind,

The stars began to burn

Through the sheets of clouds,

And there was a new voice

Which you slowly

Recognized as your own,

That kept you company

As you strode deeper and deeper

Into the world,

Determined to do

The only thing you could do—

Determined to save

The only life that you could save.

Should I change the category to VC, or keep this thread in Humour? I love the contributions, but they’re more profound and thought-provoking than I expected. (I guess it’s a sign of modern times)

In some ways, it seems as a society we don’t turn to poetry as often as we used to. One thing I treasure about MOL is how readily posters will share verse, whole poems or haiku, favourite songs - so many corners really are like long on-going conversations around a coffee- or tea-pot.

This appeared in this past Sunday’sTimes and I thought it comforting..,

 I dreamt of a corrigible nocuous youth,

Gainly, gruntled and kempt; 

A mayed and sidious fellow forsooth; 

Ordinate, effable, shevelled, ept, couth; 

A delible fellow I dreamt. 

Quoted by Willard R Espy in his book, The Game of Words (Bramhall House, New York).

(I had to search a while until I found this - I was actually looking for one of Espy's own works. Does anyone still possess one of his brilliant books?)

The World Narrowed To A Point - William Carlos Williams

Liquor and love

when the mind is dull

focus the wit

on a world of form

The eye awakes

perfumes are defined


ride the quick ear

Liquor and love

rescue the cloudy sense

banish its despair

give it a home.

The Tree in Pamela's Garden - Edwin Arlington Robinson

 Pamela was too gentle to deceive Her roses.

 "Let the men stay where they are,"

She said, "and if Apollo's avatar

 Be one of them, I shall not have to grieve.
" And so she made all Tilbury Town believe

She sighed a little more for the North Star

Than over men, and only in so far

 As she was in a garden was like Eve.

Her neighbors—doing all that neighbors can

To make romance of reticence meanwhile—
Seeing that she had never loved a man,

 Wished Pamela had a cat, or a small bird,

And only would have wondered at her smile

 Could they have seen that she had overheard.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

A.E. Housman, from A Shropshire Lad

We played king of the mountain out on the end

The world come charging up the hill, and we were women and men

Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away

We got our own roads to ride and chances we got to take

We stood side by side each one fighting for the other

And we said until we died we'd always be blood brothers

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away

Making a fool's joke out of the promises we make

And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray

We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do and bills to pay

And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover

With no one running by your side, my blood brother

On through the houses of the dead, past those fallen in their tracks

Always moving ahead and never looking back

Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight

If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I gained sight

I don't even know why, I don't know why I made this call

Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burning bright like some mystery uncovered

I'll keep moving through the dark with you in my heart, my blood brother

B. Springsteen

Luck by Langston Hughes

Sometimes, a crumb falls

From the tables of joy,

Sometimes a bone

 Is flung.

To some people

Love is given.

To others

Only heaven.

nohero - and any other Billy Collins fans -  Billy Collins will be at SOPAC on Friday, May 31. He is just delightful and saw him there last year.

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain


e.e. cummings

joanne said:
Let's celebrate!  question  Add a poem, original or a favourite, below: 
little things? 
The little moments? 
They aren't little. 

- JKL 

 And Poem in Your Pocket Day is 4/19.

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