Friday, October 05, 2007

More poetry

Here are the poems that were named in the comments on yesterday's post. I'll gladly add more if you want to recommend any.
From Crinny:
This is Just to Say (by William Carlos Willams, 1962)

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

From 60goingon16:
The Song of Wandering Aengus (by W.B Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Hey Skipper suggests all of Brit's poems. If you want to read more than one, you can see his latest work here. I've enjoyed Brit's writing since he was able to hold a pencil, but then I am his mum! Here is one I particularly like:

Outside Wells Cathedral (by Andrew Graham Nixon, May '07))

Is it a coward’s comfort in the deep
boredom of the bells, summoning the sleep-
walkers of Wells to steep themselves
in England’s other lasting dream?
See them gather on the green,
Dressed up, oak-aged, and carefully staged
in what they imagine to be
a lost Edwardian scene.

Or does it signal a more militant intent?
To toll defiance against the well-meant,
Hell-bent dream of science: the concrete,
white heat, dayglo, and a misplaced faith
in lesser gods to cheat the true God
of the debt we owe by right.
(No shyness of that debt in here: the stones all shout it.
The church is built on bones: make none about it.)
And yet that dream of eternal light
creeps even here, in slow official lines,
in tombs lit by No Smoking signs,
in TV screens, and aisles as clean
as those in Marks and Sparks,
and carpeting in beige. So they ring in rage,
And rage against the dying of the dark.

The dwindling army, uniform in Sunday best,
Forms ranks for reveille on the day of rest –
One lesson the deserters took to heart
at least: Sunday’s a lie in (every day’s a feast).
The Sabbath is a fry-up hangover cure,
Football, shopping mall, hardware store –
Now in the collection box the loyal count the costof a loss of conviction, of going soft,and conceding half is fiction.
In the numbers game, this God’s just lost.

So Edwardian actors toll out for His wake,
Then man the shop and dole out tea and cake
and key fobs to the tourists who still keep
the corpus raised and the substance buried deep.
And the lesser gods, of lunacy and leisure,
Pile on clods and sods, and slag the lot
in a heap of dross and treasure.

Elaine's favourite is:

The Listeners (by Walter de la Mare)

'Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:-
'Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Here is erp's favourite:

If (By Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to,broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


  1. thank you for printing The Travellers in full. I have loved this poem since I was a child.

  2. I meant of course, The Listeners. Hey it's Monday. OK?????!


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