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Old 23rd Aug 2007, 15:10   #21
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My favourite living poet is Les Murray.
He has written poems that have moved me to tears, but this one is humorous, witty, and yet still tinged with melancholy.


I starred that night, I shone:
I was footwork and firework in one,

a rocket that wriggled up and shot
darkness with a parasol of brilliants
and a peewee descant on a flung bit;
I was blusters of glitter-bombs expanding
to mantle and aurora from a crown,
I was fou├ęttes, falls of blazing paint,
para-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,
loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,
a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:
that too was a butt of all right!

As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable.
Les Murray
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Old 26th Aug 2007, 22:23   #22
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I'm very fond of the chutzpah (I think that sums it up?) of this relatively unknown sonnet:

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn wtih pity, - let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.

Edna St Vincent Millay
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Old 28th Aug 2007, 18:07   #23
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Tennyson is somewhat out of fashion at the moment, but I've always identified with his version of Ulysees (well, apart from being old and male, obviously, and a king too of course. It's the yearning for travel through this world whose margin fades and to experience and find knowledge and the difficulty in finding rest, I think)... There are wonderful phrases in here that make me tingle to read, and think yes, that is perfectly put, that is exactly it:... for always roaming with a hungry heart... Life piled on life/were all too little... this grey spirit yearning in desire/To follow knowledge like a sinking star... tho much is taken, much abides... that which we are, we are and that wonderful final line. Anyway, I'll stop teasing pieces out of it now, and here is the complete thing,

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 honor'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 for ever 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 fulfill
This labor, 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 honor 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.
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Old 29th Aug 2007, 11:32   #24
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Default Re: Favourite Poems

Fabulous, isn't it? Mentioned in another thread as one of my faves, too. Those last six lines get me every time.
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Old 30th Aug 2007, 1:01   #25
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One from Robert service:-
Madame la marquise

Said Hongray de la Glaciere unto his proud Papa:
"I want to take a wife, mon Pere." The Marquis laughed: "Ha! Ha!
And whose, my son?" he slyly said; but Hongray with a frown
Cried: "Fi! Papa, I mean -- to wed. I want to settle down."
The Marquis de la Glaciere responded with a smile:
"You're young, my boy; I much prefer that you should wait awhile."
But Hongray sighed; "I cannot wait, for I am twenty-four;
and I have met my blessed fate: I worship, I adore.
Such beauty, grace and charm has she, I'm sure you will approve,
For if I live a century none other can I love."
"I have no doubt," the Marquis shrugged, "that she's a proper pet;
But has she got a decent dot, and is she of our set?"
"Her dot," said Hongray, "will suffice; her family you know.
The girl with whom I fain would splice is Mirabelle de Veau."

What made the Marquis start and stare, and clutch his perfumed beard?
Why did he stagger to a chair, and murmur: "As I feared"?
Dilated were his eyes with dread, and in a voice of woe
He wailed: "My son, you cannot wed with Mirabelle du Veau."
"Why not? my Parent," Hongray cried. "Her name's without a slur.
Why should you look so horrified that I should wed with her?"
The Marquis groaned: "Unhappy lad! Forget her if you can,
And see in your respected Dad a miserable man."
"What is the matter? I repeat," said Hongray growing hot.
"She's witty, pretty, rich and sweet. . .Then -- mille diables! -- what?"
The Marquis moaned: "Alas! that I your dreams of bliss should banish;
It happened in the days gone-by, when I was Don Juanish.
Her mother was your mother's friend, and we were much together.
Ah well! You know how such things end. (I blame it on the weather.)
We had a very sultry spell. One day, mon Dieu! I kissed her.
My son, you can't wed Mirabelle. She is . . . she is your sister."

So broken-hearted Hongray went and roamed the world around,
Till hunting in the Occident forgetfulness he found.
Then quite recovered, he returned to the paternal nest,
Until one day, with brow that burned, the Marquis he addressed:
"Felicitate me, Father mine; my brain is in a whirl;
For I have found the mate divine, the one, the perfect girl.
She's healthy, wealthy, witching, wise, with loveliness serene.
Ah! Proud am I to win a prize, half angel and half queen."
" 'Tis time to wed," the Marquis said. "You must be twenty-seven.
But who is she whose lot may be to make your life a heaven?"
"A friend of childhood," Hongray cried. "For whom regard you feel.
The maid I fain would make my bride is Raymonde de la Veal."

The Marquis de la Glaciere collapsed upon the floor,
And all the words he uttered were: "Forgive me, I implore.
My sins are heavy on my head. Profound remorse I feel.
My son, you simply cannot wed with Raymonde de la Veal."
The Hongray spoke with voice that broke, and corrugated brow:
"Inform me, Sir, why you demur. What is the matter now?"
The Marquis wailed: "My wicked youth! Ah! how it gives me pain.
But let me tell the awful truth, my agony explain . . .
A cursed Casanova I; a finished flirt her mother;
And so alas! it came to pass we fell for one another.
Our live were blent in bliss and joy. The sequel you may gather:
You cannot wed Raymonde, my boy, because I am . . . her father."

Again, sore-stricken Hongray fled, and sought his grief to smother,
And as he writhed upon his bed to him there came his Mother.
The Marquise de la Glaciere was snowy-haired and frigid.
Her wintry features chiselled were, her manner stiff and rigid.
The pride of race was in her face, her bearing high and stately,
And sinking down by Hongray's side she spoke to him sedately:
"What ails you so, my precious child? What thongs of sorrow smite you?
Why are your eyes so wet and wild? Come, tell me, I invite you."
"Ah! if I told you, Mother dear," said Hongray with a shiver,
"another's honour would, I fear, be in the soup forever."
"Nay, trust," she begged, "my only boy, the fond Mama who bore you.
Perhaps I may your grief alloy. Please tell me, I implore you."

And so his story Hongray told, in accents choked and muffled.
The Marquise listened, calm and cold, her visage quite unruffled.
He told of Mirabelle du Veau, his agony revealing.
For Raymonde de la Veal his woe was quite beyond concealing.
And still she sat without a word, her look so high and haughty,
You'd ne'er have thought it was her lord who had behaved so naughty.
Then Hongray finished up: "For life my hopes are doomed to slaughter;
For if I choose another wife, she's sure to be his daughter.
The Marquise rose. "Cheer up," said she, "the last word is not spoken.
A Mother cannot sit and see her boy's heart rudely broken.r
So dry your tears and calm your fears; no longer need you tarry;
To-day your bride you may decide, to-morrow you may marry.
Yes, you may wed with Mirabelle, or Raymonde if you'd rathe
for I as well, the truth may tell - Papa is not you father.
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Old 31st Aug 2007, 23:00   #26
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Default Re: Favourite Poems

Madonna is back in the news. The Malawi welfare official overseeing Madonna's efforts to adopt an African toddler said he will make a long-awaited trip to the singer's London home next week to assess her suitability as an adoptive parent.

I recently found a poem by one of Malawi’s leading poets, Jack Mapanje. His first collection of poems, Of Chameleons and Gods, was published in the UK in 1981 and withdrawn from bookshops, libraries and all instutitions of learning in Malawi in June 1985. He was imprisoned without trial or charge by the Malawian government of Hastings Banda in 1987, and although many writers, linguists and human rights activists, including Harold Pinter, Wole Soyinka, Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky and others campaigned for his release, he was not freed until 1991.

His latest collection, Beasts Of Nalunga, has been shortlisted for the 2007 Forward Poetry Prize and includes the following poem

Can Of Beasts Madonna Opened

Why must adopting an orphan
open another can of beasts for our
Christian claimed states? Which
mum traversing another country’s
rolling mountains, craggy hills,
undulating terrain criss-crossed
by smiling lakes, laughing rivers,
tweeting streams, bubbling brooks,
until she encounters a whirlpool
of orphans; which mother moved
would not reach out for her purse
to buy tins of milk for the orphans
to survive, then want one to adopt
and save his life?

So, where does this can of
holier beasts originate, that must
vilify every little good done on
earth? And these culture-identity
crises we invent for this child, what
justice, what laws, what dignity
can mean beasts like you and me
truly restore, what’s wrong with
celebrity if she can rescue human
life besides? Why don’t we submit
honourably: the singer has beaten
us at our game, or do our learned
lawyers merely seek the crumbs
of her cake to share – whatever;
but what ironies, what jealousies
exposed, and what a brazen lot
of mindless beasts we must seem!

Do you remember the other
mum who left her breast-feeding
child in Nairobi to join the visiting
UN mission bound for Darfur, how
they landed in a vortex of emaciated
mothers and their skeletal children;
do you remember Sarah’s blue eyes
locked into Nansi’s brown eyes as
Nansi fed twins on dust-dry breasts;
how Sarah, tuned-in, left her UN
line, grabbed Nansi’s skinny twins,
pulled her blouse, and offered each
twin each of her full nipples to suckle
to their heart’s content? Don’t you
recall cameras from Sarah’s colleagues
clicking for the big issue back home,
and aghast, chiding: why don’t you
care about your own first, why must
you always offer your body to those
probable bearers of HIV/AIDS?

Stop wondering then
why adopting a child or offering full
breasts for gaunt twins to see another
day, is such a deadly sin; do not ask
why, for God’s sake, it must be cool
to hold back, why a piece of justice,
a speck of instinctive gesture, a dash
of unreserved love for the novel must
be maligned, or doled out like soup
to the blistered lips of the hungry, do
not bother to enquire why we must
all befriend a spaniel, even sponsor
a hound at The Dog’s Trust instead –
in this land that purports to be just!
Currently Reading: The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
14 13
12 11

Last edited by paddyjoe; 1st Sep 2007 at 23:23. Reason: spacing
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Old 1st Sep 2007, 0:15   #27
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Lament for the Makars
William Dunbar - circa 1500(ish)

I THAT in heill was and gladn├Ęss
Am trublit now with great sickness
And feblit with infirmitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Our plesance here is all vain glory,
This fals world is but transitory,
The flesh is bruckle, the Feynd is slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary,
Now dansand mirry, now like to die:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

No state in Erd here standis sicker;
As with the wynd wavis the wicker
So wannis this world's vanitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Unto the Death gois all Estatis,
Princis, Prelatis, and Potestatis,
Baith rich and poor of all degree:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the knichtis in to the field
Enarmit under helm and scheild;
Victor he is at all mellie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

That strong unmerciful tyrandTakis,
on the motheris breast sowkand,
The babe full of benignitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the campion in the stour,
The captain closit in the tour,
The lady in bour full of bewtie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He spairis no lord for his piscence,
Na clerk for his intelligence;
His awful straik may no man flee:—Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Art-magicianis and astrologgis,
Rethoris, logicianis, and theologgis,
Them helpis no conclusionis slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

In medecine the most practicianis,
Leechis, surrigianis, and physicianis,
Themself from Death may not supplee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

I see that makaris amang the lave
Playis here their padyanis, syne gois to grave;
Sparit is nocht their facultie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has done petuously devour
The noble Chaucer, of makaris flour,
The Monk of Bury, and Gower, all three:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

The good Sir Hew of Eglintoun,
Ettrick, Heriot, and Wintoun,
He has tane out of this cuntrie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

That scorpion fell has done infeck
Maister John Clerk, and James Afflek,
Fra ballat-making and tragedie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Holland and Barbour he has berevit;
Alas! that he not with us levit
Sir Mungo Lockart of the Lee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Clerk of Tranent eke he has tane,
That made the anteris of Gawaine;
Sir Gilbert Hay endit has he:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has Blind Harry and Sandy Traill
Slain with his schour of mortal hail,
Quhilk Patrick Johnstoun might nought flee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has reft Merseir his endite,
That did in luve so lively write,
So short, so quick, of sentence hie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He has tane Rowll of Aberdene,
And gentill Rowll of Corstorphine;
Two better fallowis did no man see:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

In Dunfermline he has tane Broun
With Maister Robert Henrysoun;
Sir John the Ross enbrast has he:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

And he has now tane, last of a,
Good gentil Stobo and Quintin Shaw,
Of quhom all wichtis hes pitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Good Maister Walter Kennedy
In point of Death lies verily;
Great ruth it were that so suld be:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Sen he has all my brether tane,
He will naught let me live alane;
Of force I man his next prey be:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Since for the Death remeid is none,
Best is that we for Death dispone,
After our death that live may we:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Last edited by Chookie; 1st Sep 2007 at 0:27.
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Old 1st Sep 2007, 9:29   #28
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I see that makaris amang the lave
Playis here their padyanis, syne gois to grave;
Could you translate this bit for us, Chookie? As a student at Durham in the 80's there was a English Dept. poetry sheet issued weekly, made up from the poetic contributions of students. The sheet was entitled Makaris, with the above couplet quoted as well, and I could never get my head round what it really meant.
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Old 1st Sep 2007, 19:29   #29
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"I see that poets amongst the rest
Play their games here, then go to their graves."

Pandyanis is an extremely archaic word - so archaic it is isn't in the D.O.S.T. (Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue).
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Old 1st Sep 2007, 19:45   #30
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Thanks - it makes sense now!
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