Showing posts with label 19th century poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 19th century poetry. Show all posts

Happy 4th Birthday, Rhia! (A Little YouTube and Rimbaud)

We have clearance, Clarence. Roger, Roger.

Rhia at the controls

VOWELS, by Arthur Rimbaud, 1854-1891

A Black, E white, I red, O blue, U green: vowels,
I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins:
A, black velvety jacket of brilliant flies
Which buzz around cruel smells, gulfs of shadow

E, whiteness of vapors and of tents,
Lances of proud glaciers, white kings,
shivers of cow-parsley;
I, purples, spat blood, smile of beautiful lips
In anger or in the raptures of penitence;

U, waves, divine shudderings of viridian seas,
The peace of pastures dotted with animals, the peace
of the furrows
Which alchemy prints on broad studious foreheads;

O, sublime Trumpet full of strange piercing sounds,
Silences crossed by Worlds and by Angels:
- O the Omega, the violet ray of Her Eyes.

Happy Birthday!



Strapped in and ready to go.
Strapped in and ready to go

VOYELLES (Arthur Rimbaud, original French)

A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu : voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes :
A, noir corset velu des mouches iclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

Golfes d'ombre ; E, candeur des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons
d'ombelles ;
I, pourpres, sang crachi, rire des lhvres belles
Dans la colhre ou les ivresses pinitentes ;

U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
Paix des pbtis semis d'animaux, paix des rides
Que l'alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux ;

O, suprjme Clairon plein des strideurs itranges,
Silence traversis des Mondes et des Anges:
- O l'Omiga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux!


"Don't Worry, Be Happy" (Bobby McFerrin)
Cute and Funny Animals


Have a happy birthday, Sweetie!

I'm thinking of you on this very special day.

Four years ago, Grandpa and I were in Macedonia, awaiting your birth and wishing we could have been there to be present for your grand entrance into the world.

Always reach high!

Up and away

See you at your birthday party!

Love, Grandma Jennifer and Grandpa Jerry

P.S. You're never too young for great poetry.


Photo credits: From sigmeyer's myspace page.

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass (Emily Dickinson)

Emily Dickinson, circa 1850

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him,--did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun,--
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

A bird came down the walk (Emily Dickinson)


A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,--
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, plashless, as they swim.

Thanksgiving Day (Lydia Maria Child)

Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood--
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

The First Thanksgiving

Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood--
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one."

Over the river, and through the wood--
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
--This poem originally appeared in Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 in 1844.

About Lydia Maria Child


Classic Poetry: The Wind In A Frolic (William Howitt, 1792 - 1879)

William Howitt, 18 December 1792 – 3 March 1879) author from Heanor Derbyshire

The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap, galloping chase!
I’ll make a commotion in every place!”
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Creaking the signs, and scattering down
The shutters, and whisking, with merciless squalls,
Old women’s bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a much lustier shout
As the apples and oranges tumbled about;
And urchins, that stand with their thievish eyes
Forever on watch, ran off each with a prize.

Hurricane Ike, NASA, September 9, 2008

Then away to the fields it went blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming.
It plucked by their tails the grave matronly cows,
And tossed the colts’ manes all about their brows,
Till offended at such a familiar salute,
They all turned their backs and stood silently mute.


Dire warnings about Hurricane Ike (9/11)


So on it went, capering and playing its pranks;
Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks;
Puffing the birds, as they sat on a spray,
Or the travelers grave on the king’s highway.
It was not too nice to bustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.
’Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor’s wig, and the gentleman’s cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gayly, “Now,
You sturdy old oaks, I’ll make you bow!”
And it made them bow without more ado,
Or it cracked their great branches through and through.

Then it rushed like a monster o’er cottage and farm,
Striking their inmates with sudden alarm;
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
There were dames with kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps.
The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;
There was rearing of ladders, and logs laying on,
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.
But the wind had passed on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain,
For it tossed him, and twirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool and his shoe in the mud.

For all our friends who have faced the ire of Hurricane Ike: be well.

Hurricane Ike on September 12, 2008, Photo Courtesy of NASA


Classic Poetry: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Christina Rossetti, 1830 - 1894)

Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing through.


The trees bow down their heads to Gustav



Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads

The wind is passing by.


Fictional Representation of Ike



For those who have suffered through Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and any other hurricanes.



Alice Pleasance Liddell (1852-1934): The Real Alice in Wonderland and "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)

1862 Photograph of seven-year-old Alice Pleasance Liddell (by Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll)

Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson), author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, created Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to entertain Alice and her sisters on a boat ride down the Thames. According to Wikipedia:

Alice Pleasance Liddell with her sisters (circa 1859)

On July 4, 1862, in a rowing boat travelling on The Isis from Folly Bridge, Oxford to Godstow for a picnic outing, 10-year-old Alice asked Charles Dodgson (More commonly known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and her sisters, Edith (age 8) and Lorina (age 13), with a story. As the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, named Alice, and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole. The story was not unlike those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, but this time Alice asked Mr. Dodgson to write it down for her. He promised to do so but did not get around to the task for some months. He eventually presented Alice with the manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.

In the meantime, Dodgson had decided to rewrite the story as a possible commercial venture. Probably with a view to canvassing his opinion, Dodgson sent the manuscript of Under Ground to a friend, the author George MacDonald, in the spring of 1863 [1]. The MacDonald children read the story and loved it, and this response probably persuaded Dodgson to seek a publisher. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by John Tenniel, was published in 1865, under the pen name Lewis Carroll. A second "Alice" book, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, followed in 1871. In 1886, a facsimile of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the original manuscript that Dodgson had given Alice, was published.
Carroll wrote an acrostic poem, which appeared in the back of Through the Looking-Glass, about Alice and that fateful trip down the Thames. The first letter in each line spells out "Alice Pleasance Liddell":
A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.


Alice Pleasance Liddell as a young woman (Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron)

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?

Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves in her older years.

Dreamchild (1985 film)

brechtbug says,

A scene from the Dennis Potter written 1985 film "Dreamchild" based on the book "Alice at 80". Alice Liddell Hargreaves is 80 years old and having flashbacks/hallucinations of her time spent with Reverend Charles Dodgson. The Mad Hatter & March Hare (Jim Henson puppets) are chatting with Coral Browne as elderly Alice & Amelia Shankley young Alice. Elements of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are combined in this Lewis Carroll inspired film.


The Four Parts: Song + Story. Reality + Inference (Monday Love)

T.S. Eliot--Photo from Wikipedia


On the forum, Jepson said:

I read in one of the blogs an argument about performance poetry. One person argued that there is no such thing. They argued that performance poetry is a cheap tactic needed because the poetry is so bad. I don't think it has to be that way. I think if you start with well written poetry on paper then it will make everything else easier. I think we need to breathe some life back into poetry, and that needs to start before we ever go knocking on the publisher's door.

Poetry has become stuffy. It's mutated into this thing we tote around in university textbooks so that academics can browbeat it all day long. We might as well be selling long division. We need to motivate, uplift, piss off, and inspire our audience. It needs to move beyond the 'poets who love poets' club and start a grassroots movement of new readers.

You find an audience who wants to read/hear your work and there won't be any need to enter publishing 'contests.' The publishers will come to you.

Monday Love's response to Jepson:

I think you are speaking to the heart of the matter. The young Philip Sidney was a rock star before there was such a thing.

I hate to blame TS Eliot, because there's many people to blame, and TS Eliot couldn't help it that he wrote a great poem (Prufrock) and then grew old, but...Eliot with his 'difficulty' agenda and his reading/speaking fame which coincided with his old age did a lot of damage to poetry as an exciting art for the young.

Fame has to be carefully crafted before it 'explodes.' The conditions have to be right. The manufacture of Poetry Fame has been handled very badly in the last couple hundred years. It hasn't really been handled at all. Poetry needs cunning Managers.

I've been listening to the 'Poetry Speaks' series of CDs of famous poets reading their work, introduced by Charles Osgood. Anyway, what one notices is the voices are those of old men who sound like frogs or business executives. This is mostly due to the fact that poets don't acquire the fame to get themselves recorded until they are old, and recording technology was just beginning as poets born in the 19th century were getting old.

Of course old men and women should write and read their poetry. Don't get me wrong. But let's be frank about what it takes to get crowds lining up around the block to 'see' poetry. Old TS Eliot could get such crowds, though I think this was mostly at universities. TS Eliot's best stuff also was not 'difficult.' "Prufrock" and "Hollow Men" and a few others are anything but 'difficult.' Eliot had it, whatever it was, although he was a depressed person, beset with personal issues, and so he couldn't bring it very often, I suspect.

If we divide the world into four parts, we have song and story in the 'fiction' realm and info and inference in the 'reality' realm. The two sides of existence, fiction and reality, each have two distinct parts which are exact opposites of each other.

Song is brief and bounded, but its pleasure is indefinite. Story is long, and its pleasure is more definite. Story's popularity (think of novels and film) is based on the fact that the audience becomes immersed in the story of other human beings--the pleasure is based on an acute identification with another human reality. You watch a good play or movie and you are totally absorbed by character and what will happen to them and what they might do to each other. It is the replication of life which we enjoy, and we escape into its existence.

Song, on the other hand, or the poem, allows our minds to wander. Who has not experienced this at a poetry reading? You find yourself thinking of other things. Or sitting at a concert, listening to a piece of music? We free-associate as we listen to the music, whereas if you are watching a good play or film, you are fixated on the protagonist and watching his every move. Even a simple pop song begins a little concert within our own bodies, a sensual pleasure that is not grounded on exact information, but on indefinite feelings. A good play or movie has you interested in what is happening on the stage/screen. A song affects us differently.

So 'song' produces an indefinite pleasure, while 'story' produces a definite one. And songs are not 'difficult.' I was just listening to the current best-selling rock act, "The Black Keys:" their new album, "Attack and Release." It's new, the band is young, it's selling well, but it's just the blues! Their songs are not 'difficult.' Your mind is allowed to wander as you listen to it. Their songs do not demand you pay attention to every note. The chord changes are terribly obvious (it's the blues!) and the drums are obvious and the lyrics are dreamy and simple.

Let's now examine the other realm. In 'reality,' the info is like the 'song,' since it is brief and has definite attributes and a certain internal logic, but here a 'definite' thing is expressed--the information. "Here's how you fix a roof or bake bread." "Would you hand me that hammer, please?" This is how we convey information to each other: through clear, step-by-step, "information-songs." 'Story' is definite in the fiction realm, but indefinite in the reality realm, for here 'story' stands for all the random bits and sensations and speculations and gossip of which life is comprised. 'Story' is the free, random, immersion aspect of 'reality.' It is indefinite.

So Fiction = Song (brief, indefinite) + Story (long, definite). Reality = Info (brief, definite) + Inference (long, indefinite)

The poets erred with the 'difficult' poem. For as the mind strives to understand the 'difficult' poem, it cannot possibly enjoy the song-pleasure. The song-pleasure never forces the mind to think; on the contrary, it frees the mind and allows the senses to enjoy the song (poem). When I listen to Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens read their poetry aloud in these recordings, I don't find I enjoy it at all. Both men strive to be philosophical and thoughtful in their poems and to listen to them read is just a huge bore. And I like these two guys on the page.

But listening to them made me realize something.



Source: Publishers' Reading Fees: Pro or Con? (Make your comments there)

Thread: Uncle Lyle Responds

(The comment feature for this topic has been turned off and moved here. All comments have also been moved. To comment on the new forum, you will have to join the forum, which is fast, easy, and free.)

(Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 12:43 PM)


After Uncle revealed his favorite poems, I asked him to explain what it is about "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and the other poems that attracts him. He said,

Jennifer, You are giving me too much credit and I love it but I am not deserving all the commentary. As you know I was blessed with 3 boys and felt compelled to be a boy scout leader and felt the army training would make me able to offer some ideas to young boys to compete in the future. The poems you refer to are set in the wild wilderness and immediately survival comes to mind and living with nature. You could find a big gold deposit or silver but the real need is food so these poems tell me how to find, identify and eat roots etc. but most of all they paint a beautiful picture in my mind of harmony with nature catching fish and living off the land. Somehow today's concerts and protests ruin the beautiful mental picture. They also offer 2 options as to which path to take but you are aware that animals made the trails so you know there has to be food on both but evil in man has to try to imagine which path has a sucker to fleece [Bold admin emphasis].

You are in the right mode of thought as I do not know a single today poet.
What are your thoughts on Uncle Lyle's comment about imagining the path that "has a sucker to fleece"?

Monday, June 16, 2008, 2:33 PM

I asked Uncle Lyle two questions:

  1. Who are your favorite all-time poets?

  2. Who are your favorite poets writing and publishing today?

His response:

My favorite poets and I do not know many so you will get a narrow view. Frost and Poe.

"The Road not Taken" = Frost

"Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" = Frost

"A Dream Within a Dream" = Poe
Uncle Lyle didn't answer question #2, which I think is telling and offers a possible commentary on the state of modern poetry: that today's poets tend to write and publish for other poets and academia--and NOT for the literature students that sit in their classes or the general public.

Lyle also noted Poe's short story "The Pit and Pendulum" as a favorite.

So why do these two writers endure while many of their contemporaries have fallen along the wayside? Perhaps we can find clues within their own poems:


A Dream Within A Dream

Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?



Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.



The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



All three poems seem appeal to both academic and a general audience.

I wonder why that is?

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