Category Archives: Poetry

A Bit of Poetry

     I have written a villanelle. In case you are not familiar with that form, it is a nineteen-line poem with only two rhymes.  One of the most famous ones is “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas.

     Tell me what you think.

No cloud was in the sky.
The sun beat down too strong.
The riverbed was dry.

Each one let out a sigh
Or sang a desperate song.
No cloud was in the sky.

We thought that we might die,
But quitting would be wrong.
The riverbed was dry.

With hope we looked on high.
A cloud might drift along.
No cloud was in the sky.

We prayed and asked God why.
We waited for so long.
The riverbed was dry.

One day a cloud came nigh
Thus ended our sad song:
“No cloud was in the sky.
The riverbed was dry.”

Gwendolyn Brooks

     Because it is Black History Month, I want to post tributes to black poets.  I’ll start with Gwendolyn Brooks.  I discovered her in grade school, but I cannot remember which poems I read then. 

     Her poem “We Real Cool”  is often found in high school literature anthologies, and I thought it was amazing.  It reminded me of jazz music, and it was much more interesting than most of the traditional poetry that I had heard or read before that time.  I took the last line as a caution for myself.

We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool.  We
Left school.  We
Lurk late.  We
Strike straight.  We
Sing sin.  We
Thin gin.  We
Jazz June.  We
die soon.

Brooks wrote this interesting tribute to Robert Frost, one of my very favorite poets.  I enjoy reading poems about poets.  Since poets are in the minority and on the fringe, it is good for them to stick together and to comment on each other, I think.

Of Robert Frost
by Gwendolyn Brooks
There is a little lightning in his eyes.
Iron at the mouth.
His brows ride neither too far up nor down.
He is splendid.  With a place to stand.
Some glowing in the common blood.
Some specialness within.

I love sonnets, especially modern adaptations of the sonnet form, such as the poem following. It haunts me. I read it and re-read it, because there is so much here than the mere words.

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

by Gwendolyn Brooks
I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

A Libertarian Christmas Poem

I don’t plan to do lots of linking to my other blog, but I am quite proud of this post at My Own Pie.

Please tell me if you love it or hate it or feel something in between.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Drawn by Renaissance Guy using MS Paint

Drawn by Renaissance Guy using MS Paint

    Magical Snow

It’s not that I like
Having snow in my shoe
Or having my lips
Turn two shades of blue!

It’s the snow’s magic
That I really enjoy–
The great fun I had
As a bedazzled boy.

 

It’s the snowball thrown
At the annoying kid
And staying upright
During a daring skid.

 

It’s the dapper man
With the long carrot nose
And the fort where we
Played as snug Eskimos.

 

It’s sledding downhill,
Going too fast by twice.
It’s examing
Tiny crystals of ice.

 

Snow is a nuisance,
Yet its magic remains.
Its mystic power
To enchant never wanes.

 

by Renaissance Guy

My Reading of Blake’s “The Little Black Boy”

     Helen Losse has a provocative blog entry about the poem “The Little Black Boy” by WIlliam Blake.  She asks whether there is racism in the poem, and then some other commenters and I chimed in.  Here’s my interpretation of the poem:

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Centrality of the Sun

     The sun is the primary symbol of the poem, as well as the key to understanding it.  The important irony of the poem turns on the effect of the sun on human beings.  In the poem the sun represents God, and its beams of light represent God’s love.

Continue reading

A Poem for My Sister

Too Soon
(For My Sister,  Who Died at Age 33)

I have an urge to say aloud,
“You went too soon,” but then I think,
What would that mean and who’s to say
What too soon is?

Well, it was way too soon for me.
I still cannot believe you’re gone.
The world should have you in it still;
It needs your love.

It was too soon for Mom and Dad,
Why should their child die first, when she
Should be the one to comfort them
In their old age?

And for your teen-aged daughter, too,
It was too soon; girls need their moms,
Although they fight them tooth and nail.
It’s just that way.

Girls cry one moment, then they laugh,
And then they cry again, but who
Is going to hear her laugh and cry,
Now that you’re gone?
 
And did you die too soon for God?
Ah, here is where theology
Must really work, or else it is
No good at all.
 
It seems there is a plan in which
Your death occurred just when it should.
God could have kept you well or else
Have healed you, no?
 
And for that matter, you might not
Have come into this dreary world
At all, and yet you did and died
Too soon for us.
 
For us, but not for you, oh no!
In fact, I envy you, because
You’re with the Lord, you’re with your son,
And all is well.
 
Yes, all is perfect for you there.
I wonder what that’s really like.
No tears are there, so you must know
We’ll be all right.
 
Somehow the ones you left behind
Will be all right.  I don’t know how.
It was too soon–much, much too soon–
For all of us.
 
But it was just in time for you,
And just in time for God, it seems.
And this I know:  that something good
Has come from it.

Your death has made me want to love
The way you loved.  I feel a need
To honor you by being kind,
As you were kind.
 
Yes, I believe that God chose you
To show us love and tell us that
We all should love, and I commit
To do just that.

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     Please do not copy the poem above without permission or claim it as your own work.

Favorite Poets V

e e cummings

     I have always been intrigued by the poems of e e cummings.  I enjoy the unconventional, which his poems certainly are, even now.  Many of them are only intelligible by studying them very carefully.  Others are not necessarily intelligible in the normal sense, but give only impressions and suggestions–but very strong ones.

     When I was in high school and college, I wanted my instructors to teach me more about cummings.  Most of them were unwilling, and I think it is because they neither appreciated nor understood his work.  I had to go to the library and learn about him and his poetry on my own.  I’m gald that I did.  I already felt that there was something significant and beautiful there, and I was right.

     Please give cummings’ poetry a chance.  He has a lot to say about life and death and love, just as all great poets have had a lot to say on those subjects.  Mostly his poems capture glimpses of the beauty and sublimity of the world around us.

 

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything

     For further reading:

Biography at Poets.org with links to some poems

Biograrphy at Poetry Foundation with links to some poems

Wikipedia article

 Tons of resources at Modern American Poetry

 

Favorite Poets IV

Robert Frost

     I appreciate the poetry of Robert Frost very much.  It often evokes memories of my New England childhood.  It is very witty and insightful.  He makes me think to myself, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”  Sometimes he makes me think, “Yes, I have noticed the same thing myself but could not have expressed it so well.”

     Frost’s works are generally traditional and conventional in form, but they are very modern in content. 

  

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

 

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

The leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day,

Nothing gold can stay.

Favorite Poets III

Langston Hughes

 

 

     I don’t agree with his political views, but I admire the poetry of Langston Hughes.  I have always enjoyed the rhythms of his poems and the deep longing for freedom and equality that he expressed in them.

 

 

 

 Dream Variations

To fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,

To whirl and to dance

Till the white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening

Beneath a tall tree

While night comes on gently,

     Dark like me–

That is my dream!

 

To fling my arms wide

In the face of the sun,

Dance!  Whirl!  Whirl!

Till the quick day is done.

Rest at pale evening. . .

A tall, slim tree. . .

Night come tenderly

     Black like me.

Favorite Poets II

 Walt Whitman

 

     Walt Whitman is among my favorite poets.  I don’t agree with his worldview, which is much too pantheistic for my taste.  Nevertheless, I like his cadences and his passion.  Many of his themes resonate with me, such as liberty and equality.  His style is reminiscent of the Bible in many ways.  Here is one of my favorite poems by Whitman:

    

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his

     as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work,

     or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat,

     the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench,

     the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning,

     or at noon intermission or at sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,

     or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day–at night

     the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.