Poem of the Day Project: “A Pact by Ezra Pound”

I can’t believe it, but this is the last day of poetry month. I’ve had such a great time putting these posts together, and I’m really glad that this project has attracted a bunch of new readers to the blog. At first I was really worried about finding poems in the public domain that I truly wanted to share, but I’m already working on a list for next year.

Anyway, today’s choice is a nice little call back to Whitman.

Robert Rauschenberg

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman –

I have detested you long enough.

I come to you as a grown child

Who has had a pig-headed father;

I am old enough now to make friends.

It was you that broke the new wood

Now is a time for carving.

We have one say and one root –

Let there be commerce between us.

As far as I can tell from Google Image Search Mr. Pound never looked normal in a photograph

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

Advertisements

Poem of the Day Project” “Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams”

I love William Carlos Williams, not only because his parents named him William Williams, but because like Wallace Stevens he worked in a decidedly non-poetic profession (he was a pediatrician and family practice doctor) but wrote some of the most vibrant poetry of his time. Like this one:

Woman from Back by Auguste Rodin

If I when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen

are sleeping

and the sun is a flame-white disc

in silken mists

above shining trees, —

if I in my north room

dance naked, grotesquely

before my mirror

waving my shirt round my head

and singing softly to myself:

“I am lonely, lonely.

I was born to be lonely.

I am best so!”

If I admire my arms, my face

my shoulders, flanks, buttocks

against the yellow drawn shades, —

 

who shall say I am not

the happy genius of my household?

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

 

Poem of the Day Project: “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock by Wallace Stevens”

Wallace Stevens has always been one of those poets who’s back story I’ve found more interesting than his work (he was an insurance agent in Connecticut his whole life and also an incredibly influential writer.) But this poem jumped off the page at me.

Illustrated by Lilli Carré – click the image to connect to her blog

 

The houses are haunted

By white night-gowns.

None are green,

Or purple with green rings,

Or green with yellow rings,

Or yellow with blue rings.

None of them are strange,

With socks of lace

And beaded ceintures.

People are not going

To dream of baboons and periwinkles.

Only, here and there, an old sailor,

Drunk and asleep in his boots,

Catches tigers

In red weather.

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

Poem of the Day Project: “The Song of Songs 2:14-17”

One last Sunday post from the Bible (can you believe April’s almost over?) The Song of Songs is a really intriguing and beautiful section of the Bible, that I first discovered in an English class even though I’ve been going to church my whole life. It’s definitely poetry though.

 

Lover

My dove in the clefts of the rock,

     in the hiding places on the mountainside,

Show me your face,

     let me hear your voice;

for your voice is sweet,

     and your face is lovely.

Catch for us the foxes,

     the little foxes

that ruin the vineyards,

     our vineyards that are in bloom.

Beloved

My lover is mine and I am his;

     he browses among the lilies.

Until the day breaks

     and the shadows flee,

turn, my lover,

     and be like a gazelle

or like a young stag

     on the rugged hills.

From the New International Version

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

Poem of the Day Project: “Rain by Edward Thomas”

I have to admit I’d never heard of Edward Thomas before I started this project, but given the weather report for this weekend, I thought this might be an appropriate choice.

 

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain

On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me

Remembering again that I shall die

And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks

For washing me cleaner that I have been

Since I was born into this solitude.

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:

But here I pray that none whom once I loved

Is dying to-night or lying still awake

Solitary, listening to the rain,

Either in pain or thus in sympathy

Helpless among the living and the dead,

Like a cold water among broken reeds,

Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,

Like me who have no love which this wild rain

Has not dissolved except the love of death,

If love it be for what is perfect and

Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

He looks exactly like a poet that writes about rain

 

 

 

Poem of the Day Project: “An Irish Airman Forsees His Death by WB Yeats”

I have a really cheery poem for your Friday morning. (And by that I mean the bleakest bit of Yeats I could find…)

I know that I shall meet my fate

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate,

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

Music for My Long Weekend

I know, it’s annoying to brag about a couple of days off, but I am so excited that my friend is coming into town and we have no plans except seeing people and walking around. Here’s some music I’ll be humming as we do.

Things We Lost in the Fire – Bastille

Me and You – Jake Bugg

California Stars – Wilco & Billy Bragg

Girls – The 1975

Dark Side –Kelly Clarkson

Ivory Road – King Charles

You Know Me – Air Traffic Controller

Drive All Night – Glen Hansard and Eddie Vedder

How did I not know they were friends? They are two of my favorite male voices in the world…

Hot Venom – Miniature Tigers

Pompeii – Bear’s Den

But really I’ll pretty much plan to just be laughing my ass of with this girl!!

 

Hanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem of the Day Project: “Chicago by Carl Sandburg”

Carl Sandburg’s house is in my neighborhood and he used to be a choir member at my church. These are my two favorite facts about Ravenswood. I know that everyone knows this poem if they know anything about Chicago literature, but my friend Hanna is flying out to visit tonight and I’m feeling some hometown pride.

 

                               Hog Butcher for the World,

                               Tool Maker, stacker of Wheat,  

                               Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; 

                               Stormy, husky, brawling,

                               City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen you

     painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen

     the gunman kill and go free to kill again

And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: on the faces of women

     and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.

And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my

     city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them: 

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be

     alive and coarse and strong and cunning.  

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall

     bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted

     against the wilderness,

                               Bareheaded,

                               Shoveling,  

                               Wrecking

                               Planning,

                               Building, breaking, rebuilding,

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,

Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,

Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,

     Ribs the heart of the people,

                        Laughing!

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked,

     sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

     Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)

Five Star Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

“Maybe I will tell you some time when I can tell and you want to hear.” “I’ll want to hear,” Samuel said. “I eat stories like grapes.”

There are a lot of books on my “to-read shelf” that I feel like I have to read, like it’s somehow a crime that I got through 15 years of formal English education without reading The Grapes of Wrath. It can be hard for me to pick those books up. (I ended up listening to the audio book of Grapes, and I appreciated it.) And appreciation was all I was really expecting from East of Eden. I knew that Steinbeck was a master of bleak, beautiful, if slightly preachy, books about struggling people, what I didn’t know is that he could write a gripping story.

The summary of East of Eden, the intertwining histories of two families who come together in turn of the century Salinas Valley, California, does not do it’s narrative power justice. This is an epic, spanning generations and sweeping themes. But it’s also, fun, there is a great drama that I don’t want to spoil one second of, except to say that the villain in this book might be the most twisted and compelling character I’ve ever met on the page. For that matter, every character from the hilarious and brilliant servant Lee to the local brothel’s thug, seem like real people who despite their flaws (and they all have a lot of flaws) I would love to meet at least one.

The book does have moments of Steinbeckian sermonizing about the land and the nature of humanity, but they didn’t bother me as much as they did in the other books of his I’ve read. Again I think this is because I was so attached to the characters that it felt like even the grand speeches about America and land and war and hope were giving me some insight into these mysterious people he had brought together.

This one invaded my head; I was washing my dishes last night and found myself thinking about what would have happened to Abra after the book ended. I can’t wait to see the movie now (I’ve already been warned that it’s very different, but James Dean…)

 

“Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mile among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands.”

 

Poem of the Day Project: “Mending Wall by Robert Frost”

Ah, New England passive aggression in springtime. How I miss thee…

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it

And sills the upper boulders in the sun,

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under the pine, I tell him.

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there,

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought f it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Mr. Frost looks almost jolly here

 

(Disclaimer: I’m basing my poem choices on those I understand to be in the public domain. If I’ve made a mistake – which is very possible – and you own the copyright to a poem I have posted please e-mail me at igetabitobsessive@gmail.com and I will take the post down immediately.)