janne_d: (antelope)
In any case, I haven't posted any poetry for ages and I was thinking about this one the other day:

'Toad' by Norman MacCaig )
janne_d: (loch moidart)
From [livejournal.com profile] monanotlisa: when you see this, post a poem in your journal.

Concerto for Double Bass

He is a drunk leaning companionably
Around a lamp post or doing up
With intermittent concentration
Another drunk's coat.

He is a polite but devoted Valentino,
Cheek to cheek, forgetting the next step.
He is feeling the pulse of the fat lady
Or cutting her in half.

But close your eyes and it is sunset
At the edge of the world. It is the language
Of dolphins, the growth of tree-roots,
The heart-beat slowing down.

-- John Fuller
janne_d: (tigerlily)
Roger McGough is well known for writing funny poems, but this one is moving instead and caught me by surprise when I read it because I had only ever come across him as a comic writer.

Defying Gravity

Gravity is one of the oldest tricks in the book. )
janne_d: (tigerlily)
And then I read some more and felt like posting another poem to make up for getting out of the habit of it lately.

The Queen of Sheba

Scotland, you have invoked her name
just once too often
in your Presbyterian living rooms.
She's heard, yea
even unto heathenish Arabia
your vixen's bark of poverty, come down
the family like a lang neb, a thrawn streak,
a wally dug you never liked
but can't get shot of.

She's had enough.  She's come. )
janne_d: (loch moidart)
At My Father's Grave

The sunlicht still on me, you row'd in clood,
We look upon each ither noo like hills
Across a valley. I'm nae mair your son.
It is my mind, nae son o' yours, that looks,
And the great darkness o' your death comes up
And equals it across the way.
A livin' man upon a deid man thinks
And ony sma'er thocht's impossible.

-- Hugh MacDiarmid

Not sure why this is the poem I want to post today, but it is. I like the Scots and the idea of hills looking at each other - and the last line is amazing.
janne_d: (loch moidart)
Does it sound a little morbid to say that some of my favourite poems are about death? It is a big topic in poetry after all - hard to avoid, given how many poets have written something on the matter. I like the idea of cares being over and done in this one.

Fear No More

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat,
To thee the reed is as the oak;
The sceptre, learning, physick must,
All follow this and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone.
Fear not slander, censure rash,
Thou hast finished joy and moan.
All lovers young, all lovers must,
Consign to thee and come to dust.

-- William Shakespeare
janne_d: (tigerlily)
Instrument and Agent

In my eye I've no apple; every object
Enters in there with hands in pockets.
I welcome them all, just as they are,
Every one equal, none a stranger.

Yet in the short journey they make
To my skull's back, each takes a look
From another, or a gesture, or
A special way of saying Sir.

So tree is partly girl; moon
And wit slide through the sky together;
And which is star - what's come a million
Miles or gone those inches further?

-- Norman MacCaig
janne_d: (loch moidart)
I'm sticking with a theme of Scottish poetry - I think this one is an extract from something longer and it's all a prophecy about Culloden, probably Scotland's most famous defeat. I like the imagery, but I also like the rhythm; it's another one of those that just carries you off at a gallop.

Lochiel's Warning

Lochiel, Lochiel! beware of the day
When the lowlands shall meet thee in battle array.
For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
And the clans of Culloden are scattered in fight.
They rally, they bleed, for their kingdom and crown;
Woe, woe to the riders that trample them down.
Proud Cumberland prances, insulting the slain,
And their hoof-beaten bosoms are trod to the plain.
But, hark, through the fast-flashing lightning of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
Tis thine, oh Glenullin, whose bride shall await,
Like a love-lighted watch-fire, all night at the gate.
A steed comes at morning: no rider is there;
But its bridle is red with the sign of despair.
Weep, Albin, to death and captivity led.
Oh weep, but thy tears cannot number the dead:
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave,
Culloden, that reeks with the blood of the brave.

-- Thomas Campbell

A note of historical interest: the Duke of Cumberland slept with his troops at the palace in my hometown on the way to Culloden and is widely believed to be responsible for burning the place down when he left.
janne_d: (Default)
Inspired by the fact I am off back home to Scotland for a week on Saturday, I thought I'd post a poem about the rather lovely Scottish landscape.

Scotland Small?

Scotland small? Our multiform, our infinite Scotland small?
Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliché corner
To a fool who cries 'Nothing but heather' where in September another
Sitting there and resting and gazing round
Sees not only the heather but blaeberries
With bright green leaves and leaves already turned scarlet
Hiding ripe blue berries; and amongst the sage-green leaves
Of the bog-myrtle the golden flowers of the tormentil shining;
And on the small bare places, where the little Blackface sheep
Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies;
And down in neglected peat-hags, not worked
Within living memory, sphagnum moss in pastel shades
Of yellow, green, and pink; sundew and butterwort
Waiting with wide-open sticky leaves for their tiny winged prey;
And nodding harebells vying in their colour
With the blue butterflies that poise themselves delicately upon them;
And stunted rowans with harsh dry leaves of glorious colour.
'Nothing but heather!' - How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!

-- Hugh MacDiarmid
janne_d: (phoenix)
I think Dylan Thomas is one of my favourite poets - I love how he puts words together. I like the villanelle stucture of this one.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night )
janne_d: (bat)
There aren't many poems that I can think of off-hand that are genuinely sinister, but this is one of them.

Stuffed )
janne_d: (Default)
There are some poems that I like just for the rhythm of the words - I can get carried off by them into the beat. As well as being one of those, this poem is about a Scottish burn that runs down into Loch Lomond (I have actually been to the location and seen it) so it makes me all nostalgic.

It is also the poem I analysed for my university-qualifying exams in English at school - we weren't allowed source texts in the exam hall, so we had to memorise every quote that we might want to use (I used to have about 2/3 of Romeo and Juliet off by heart because of this, though in totally random order). Inversnaid is a great poem for memorising because it has a beat to it and it rhymes, not to mention the descriptive language used fills up an essay rather nicely (I got an A, in case you were wondering).

Inversnaid )

In fact, I still have this off by heart - I typed that out without looking at the source and the only things I got wrong were a couple of hyphens where there shouldn't be and a comma instead of a semi-colon!
janne_d: (antelope)
I don't have a huge amount of poems written by that famous author A Nonymous but they tend to be the older ones. This one was written in the 13th century.

Taliesin was a Welsh poet, I believe, from about 700 years before that. In legends, he was a bard in King Arthur's court which adds a little extra charm to the poem now that I'm all obsessed with Merlin.

I Am Taliesin )
janne_d: (phoenix)
There are a lot of poems that I was aware of, or knew lines from, before I ever read the full version. Writers like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.G. Wodehouse and even Terry Pratchett use quotes and allusions and sometimes I'll read the source later on and get a nice little ring of recognition.

A lot of the time an association with some other text adds to the liking I have for a poem (though sadly for "The Blessed Damozel" by Rossetti, my prior association is Madeline Bassett and Gussy Fink-Nottle arguing over vegetarianism and while I'm sure the original poem is very lovely and romantic, I now can't take it at all seriously).

In the case of "Ozymandias", I knew a few lines of it years before I even realised it was a poem. A character in (I'm pretty sure) the Tripods trilogy by John Christopher quotes the famous declaration as part of his fake mad ramblings. The lines were memorable enough to stick and eventually I read the full poem and went "aha".

Ozymandias )
janne_d: (loch moidart)
WWI poetry is something that everyone I knew seemed to study at school. We didn't do a huge amount, but this poem was one that we did study in detail and it made quite an impression. I know the third verse off by heart because the imagery is so strong I just couldn't forget it.

Dulce et Decorum est )
janne_d: (naptime)
Continuing my personal poetry anthology with a poem by a pilot.

High Flight )
janne_d: (phoenix)
I've been inspired by the recent poetry meme that went around - you see, I have a lot of favourite poems. I used to get anthologies out of the library and copy out the poems I liked the most. A couple of years doing that, and I've got four and a half A5 notebooks to the tune of 291 poems (I counted earlier because I was curious).

Anyway, I was going to put them all on the PC as well, but I never got around to it. Now I'm thinking I'll post one or two a week here - should take a couple of years to get through them all.

I'm going to try and say something about why I like them and I'd love to know what other people think as well.

Invictus )

poetry meme

Feb. 4th, 2009 07:02 pm
janne_d: (antelope)
When you see this, post your favorite poem in your journal.

Gah, just one? I have lots of favourite poems. But the first one I thought of when I saw this was
And Death Shall Have No Dominion - Dylan Thomas )

Okay, I totally can't stop at one. I also immediately thought of
Batter my heart, three-personed God - John Donne )

There's a line in A Dorothy L Sayers book where Harriet and Peter talk about getting drunk on words in reference to Donne. I'm there with them (though not just with Donne).
janne_d: (phoenix)
Seems an unlikely mix, but [livejournal.com profile] hth_the_first has added Ronon, Rodney and sex and made it work in Ode.

And inspired me to reread one of the poems she references as it is very cool.

Prayer Before Birth - Louis MacNeice )

October 2012

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