Seamus Heaney

May 9, 2007

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(1939-)

Writes masterfully in meter and rhyme and is reticent and indirect
Paradoxes of work can be understood in the context of his historical situation as an Irish Catholic who grew up in the predominantly Protestant North of Ireland under Brithis rule
Is a political poet, but refuses slogans, journalistic reportage and ploitical pieties
Voice of conscience and remorse
Wrote elegies for people who were killed in the violence of Northern Ireland

Quotations:

Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound/ When the spade winks into gravelly groud:/ My father, digging. I look down
Till his strainging rump among the flowerbeds/ Bends low, comes up twenty years away/ Stooping in rhythm through potato drills/ Where he was digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap/ Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge/ Through living roots awaken in my head./ But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests./ I’ll dig with it.

-Digging

I can feel the tug/ of the halter at the nape/ of her neck, the wind/ on her naked front.
It blows her nipples/ to amber beads,/ it shakes the frail rigging/ of her ribs.
I can see her drowned/ body in the bog,/ the weighing stone,/ the floating rods and boughs.
Under which at first/ she was a barked sapling/ that is dug up/ oak-bone, brain-firkin:
her shaved head/ like a stubble of black corn,/ her blindfold a soiled bandage,/ her noose a ring
to store/ the memories of love./ Little adulteress,/ before the punished you
you were flaxen-haired,/ undernourished, and your tar-black face was beautiful./ My poor scapegoat,
I almost love you/ but would have cast, I know,/ the stones of silence./ I am the artful voyeur
of your brain’s exposed/ and darkened combs,/ your muscles webbing/ and all your numbered bones:
I who have stood dumb/ when your betraying sisters,/ cauled in tar,/ wept by the railings,
who would connive/ in civilized outrage/ yet understand the exact/ and tribal, intimate revenge.

-Punishment (in whole)

My father worked with a horse-plough,/ His shoulders globed like a full sail strung/ Between the shafts and the furrow./ The horses strained at his clicking tongue.
An expert. He would set the wing/ And fit the bright steel-pointed sock./ The sod rolled over without breaking./ At the headrig, with a single pluck
Of reins, the sweating team turned round/ And back into the land. His eye/ Narrowed and angled at the ground,/ Mapping the furrow exactly.
I stumbled in his hobnailed wake,/ Fell sometimes on the polished sod;/ Sometimes he rode me on his back/ Dipping and rising on his plod.
I wanted to grow up and plough,/ To close one eye, stiffen my arm./ All I ever did was follow/ In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,/ Yapping always. But today/ It is my father who keeps stumbling/ Behind me, and will not go away.

-Follower (in whole)

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Derek Walcott

May 9, 2007

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(1930-)

The preeminent Caribbean poet writing in English
Born on Saint Lucia, one of the four Windward Islands
Background is racially and culturally mixed
Tries to embrace all his cultural influences
Asks how the postcolonial poet can both grieve the agonizing harm of Brithis colonialism and appreciate the empire’s literary gift
Has adapted various literary archetypes and forms
Has a great passion for metaphor
Currently paints and writes on the Northwest coast of Saint Lucia

Quotations:

A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt/ Of Africa. Kikuyu, quick as flies,/ Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt./ Corpses are scattered through a paradise.

The violence of beast on beast is read/ As natural law, but upright man/ Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.

I who am poisoned with the blood of both,/ Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?/ I who have cursed/ The drunken officer of British rule, how choose/ Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?/ Betray them both, or give back what they give?/ How can I face such slaughter and be cool?/ How can I turn from Africa and live?

-A Far Cry From Africa

Below bent breadfruit trees/ in the flat, coloured city, class
escalated into structures still,/ merchant, middleman, magistrate, knight. To go downhill/ from here was to ascend.
The middle passage never guessed its end./ This is the hight of poverty/ for the desperate and black;
climbing, we could look back/ with widening memory/ on the hot, corrugated-iron sea/ whose horrors we all
shared.

Afterwards,/ the ceremony, the careful photograph/ moved out of range before the patient tombs,
we dare a laugh,/ ritual, desperate words,/ born like these children from habitual wombs,
from lives fixed in the unalterable groove/ of grinding poverty. I stand out on a balcony/ and watch the sun pave its flat, golden path
across the roofs, the aerials, cranes, the tops/ of fruit trees crawling downard to the city./ Something inside is laid wide like a wound,
some open passage that has cleft the brain,/ some deep, amnesiac blow. We left/ somewhere a life we never found,
customs and gods that are not born again,/ some crib, some grille of light/ clanged shut on us in bondage, and withheld
us from that world below us and beyond,/ and in its swaddling cerements we’re still bound.

-Laventille

Laventille is a hillside slum outside Port of Spain

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?/ Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,/ in that grey vault. The sea. The sea/ has locked them up. The sea is History.

Sir, it islocked in them sea-sands/ out there past the reef’s moiling shelf,/ where the men-o’-war floated down;
strop on these goggles, I’ll guide you there myself./ It’s all subtle and submarine,/ through colonnades of coral,
past the gothic windows of sea-fans/ to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyes,/ blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;
and these groined caves with barnacles/ pitted like stone/ are our cathedrals,
and the furnace before the hurricanes:/ Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills/ into marl and cornmeanl,
and that was Lamentations-/ that was just Lamentations,/ it was not History;

Then came the white sisters clapping/ to the waves’ progress, / and that was Emancipation-
jubilation, O jubilation-/ vanishing swiftly/ as the sea’s lace dries in the sun,
but that was not History,/ that was only faith,/ and then each rock broke into its own nation;
then came the synod of flies,/ then came the secretarial heron,/ then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,
fireflies with bright ideas/ and bats like jetting ambassadors/ and the mantis, like khaki police,
and the furred caterpillars of judges/ examining each case closely,/ and then in the dark ears of ferns
and in the salt chuckle of rocks/ with their sea pools, there was the sound/ like a rumor without any echo
of Hisotry, really beginning.

-The Sea Is History

 


John Ashberry

May 9, 2007

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(1927-)

Norton says: “Perhaps no postwar writer has influenced so many different kinds of poets, whether identified with formalism or antiformalism, with enoconfessionalism or the avant-garde.”
Writes in seemingly antithetical modes, from fragmentary free verse and prose poetry to traditional verse forms
In his poetry the self is elusive, multiple and fractitious; the so-called real world is forever mutating and slipping away
Is fond of unexpected juxtapositions, sentence fragments or run on’s, and allusions to contemporary jargon
Ashbery said:

“Most of my poems are about the experience of experience.”

Quotations:

Barely tolerated, living on the margin/ IN our technological society, we were always having to be rescued/ On the brink of destrucion, like heroines in Orlando Furioso/ Before it was time to start all over again./ There would be thunder in the bushes, a rustling of coils,/ And Angelica, in the Ingres painting, was considering/ The colorful but small monster near her toe, as though wondering whether forgetting/ The whole thing might now, in the end, be the only solution. / And then There always came a time when/ Happy Hooligan in his rusted green automoblie/ Came plowing down the course, just to make sure everything was O.K.,/ Only by that time we were in another chapter and confused/ About how to receive this latest piece of information./ Was it information? Weren’t we rather acting this out/ For someone else’s benefit, thoughts in a mind/ With room enough and to spare for our little problems (so they began to seem),/ Our daily quandary about food and the rent and bills to be paid?/ To reduce all this to a small variant,/ To step free at last, minuscule on the gigantic plateau-/ This was our ambition: to be small and clear and free.

This is what you wanted to hear, so why/ Did you think of listening to something else? We are all talkers/ It is true, but underneath the talk lies/ The moving and not wanting to be moved, the loose/ Meaning, untidy and simple like a threshing floor.
These were some hazards of the course,/ Yet though we knew the course was hazards and nothing else/ It was still a shock when, almost a quarter of a century later,/ The clarity of the rules dawned on you for the first time./ They were the players, and we who had struggled at the game/ Were merely spectators, though subject to its vicissitudes/ And moving with it out of the tearful stadium, borne on shouldrs, at last./ Night after night this message returns, repeated/ In the flickering bulbs of the sky, raised past us, taken away from us,/ Yet ours over and over until the end that is past truth,/ The being of our sentences, in the climate that fostered them,/ Not ours to won, like a book, but to be with, and sometimes/ To be without, alone and desperate./ But the fantasy makes it ours, a kind of fence-sitting/ Raised to the level of an esthetic ideal. These were moments, years,/ Solid with reality, faces, namable events, kisses, heroic acts,/ But like the friendly beginningof a geometrical progression/ Not too reassuring, as though meaning could be cast aside some day/ When it had been outgrown. Better, you said, to stay cowering/ Like this in the early lessons, since the promise of learning/ Is a delusion, and I agreed, adding that/ Tomorrow would alter the sense of what had already been learned,/ That the learning process is extended in this way, so that from this standpoint/ Non eof us ever graduates from college,/ For time is an emulsion, and probably thinking not to grow up/ Is the brightest kind of maturity for us, right now at any rate,/ And you see, both of us were right, though nothing/ Has somehow come to nothing, the avatars/ Of our conforming to the rules and living/ Around the home have made- well, in a sense, ‘good citizens’ of us,/ Brushing the teeth and all that, and learning to accept/ The charity of the hard moments as they are doled out,/ For this is action, this not being sure, this careless/ Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,/ Making ready to forget, and always coming back/ To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.

-Soonest Mended

Title is from the proverb “Least said, soonest mended”

The first of the undecoded messages read: ‘Popeye sits in thunder,/ Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,/ From livid curtain’s hue, a tangram emerges: a country.”/ Meanwhile the Sea Hag was relaxing on a green couch: “How pleasant/ To spend one’s vacation en la casa de Popeye,” she scratched/ Her cleft chin’s solitary hair. She remembered spinach

But Olive was already out of earshot. Now the apartment/ Succumbed to a strange new hush. “Actually it’s quite pleasant/ Here,” thought the Sea Hag. “If this is all we need fear from spinach/ Then I don’t mind so much. Perhaps we could invite Alice the Good over’ -she scratched/ One dug pensively- “but Winpy is such a country/ Bumpkin, always burping like that.” Minute at first, the thunder
Soon filled the apartment. It was domestic thunder,/ The color of spinach. Popeye chuckled and scratched/ His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country.

-Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

Play on the title of the painting “Farm Implements and Vegetables in a Landscape” by Jacob van Ruysdael
Formally a Sestina: See definition Here


Lucille Clifton

May 9, 2007

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(1936-)

Born Thelma Lucille Sayles
Married Fred Clifton
Has written frankly about being an incest survivor
Raised six children
Has two ancestors of great significance to her: great-great-grandmother Caroline, a west-central African girl kidnapped by slave traders and great-grandmother Lucille, the first woman legally hanged in “Virginia for murdering the white father of her only son
Celebrates African American culture, especially black womanhood
Protests the injustices inflicted by the larger culture
Intensely personal and yet collectivist: bridges the gap between “confessional poetry” and “identity poetry”

Quotations

i am accused of tending to the past/ as if i made it,/ as if i sculpted it/ with my own hands. i did not./ this past was waiting for me/ when i came,/ a monstrous unnamed baby,/ and i with my mother’s itch/ took it to breast/ and named it/ History./ she is more human now,/ learning language everyday,/ remembering faces, names and dates./ when she is strong enough to travel/ on her own, beware, she will.

-[i am accused of tending to the past] (in whole)

among the rocks/ at walnut grove/ your silence drumming/ in my bones,/ tell me your names.
nobody mentioned slaves/ and yet the curious tools/ shine with your fingerprints./ nobody mentioned slaves/ but somebody did this work/ who had no guide, no stone,/ who moulders under rock.
tell me your names,/ tell me your bashful names/ and i will testify.
the inventory lists ten slaves/ but only men were recognized.
among the rocks/ at walnut grove/ some of these honored dead/ were dark/ some of these dark/ were slaves/ some of these slaves/ were women/ some of them did this/ honored work./ tell me your names/ foremothers, brothers,/ tell me your dishonored names./ here lies/ here lies/ here lies/ here lies/ hear

-at the cemetery, walnut grove plantation, south carolina, 1989 (in whole)

you   uterus/ you have been patient/ as a sock/ while i have slippered into you/ my dead and living children/ now/ they want to cut you out/ stocking i will not need/ where i am going/ where am i going/ old girl/ without you/ uterus/ my bloody print/ my estrogen kitchen/ my black bag of desire/ where can i go/ barefoot/ without you/ where can you go/ without me

-poem to my uterus (in whole)

well girl, goodbye,/ after thrity-eight years./ thirty-eight years and you/ never arrived/ splendid in your red dress/ without trouble for me/ somewhere, somehow.
now it is done,/ and i feel just like/ the grandmothers who,/ after the hussy has gone,/ sit holding her photograph/ and sighing,
wasn’t she/ beautiful? wasn’t she beautiful?

-to my last period (in whole)


Michael S. Harper

May 9, 2007

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(1938-)

Born in Brooklyn, New York but went to the west coast for much of his education
Is a professor at Brown Univesity
Secretly listened to jazz recordings as an adolescent
Work takes the view that life is at best a melancholy business
Mourns the deaths of two infant sons in a series of tormented elegies
Pursued premedical studies before being deterred by racism
Forces scientific culture and black oral culture

Quotaitons:

I place these numbed wrists to the pane/ watching white uniforms whisk over/ him in the tube-kept/ prison/ fear what they will do in experiement/ watch my gloved stickshifting gasolined hands/ breathe boxcar-information-please infirmary tubes/ distrusting white-pink mending paperthin/ silkened end hairs, distrusting tubes/ shrunk in his trunk-skincapped/ shaven head, in thighs/ distrusting-white-hands-picking-baboon-light/ on his own son who will not make his second night/ of this wardstrewn intensive airpocket/ where his father’s asthmatic/ hymns of night-train, train done gone/ his mother can only know that he has flown/ up into essential calm unseen corridor/ going boxscarred home, mamaborn, sweetsonchild/ mama-son-don-gone/ me telling her ‘nother/ train tonight, no music, no breathstroked/ heartbeat in my infinite distrust of them:
and of my distrusting self/ white-doctor-who-breathed-for-him-all-night/ say it for two sons gone,/ say nightmare, say it loud/ panebreaking heartmadness:/ nightmare begins responsibility.

-Nightmare Begins Responsilibity (in whole)


Tony Harrison

May 9, 2007

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(1937-)

Born in Leeds, England to a working class family
Poems embody the tension of the classically educated son and his humble origins
His triumph has been to bring the sensual power, vigor, wit and immediacy of working-class Yorkshire speech into an exciting amalgam with literary English
Writes poetry, plays, and translated opera libretti

Quotations:

I
Baked the day she suddenly dropped dead/ we chew it slowly that last apple pie.
Shocked into sleeplessness you’re scared of bed./ We never could talk much, and now don’t try.
You’re like book ends, the pair of you, she’d say,/ Hog that grate, say nothing, sit, sleep, stare . . .
The ‘scholar’ me, you, worn out on poor pay,/ only our silence made us seem a pair.

II
The sone’s too full. The wording must be terse./ There’s scarcely room to carve the FLORENCE on it-
Come on, it’s not as if we’re wanting verse./ It’s not as if we’re wanting a whole sonnet!
After tumblers of neat Johnny Walker/ (I think that both of us we’re on our third)/ you said you’d always been a clumsy talker/ and couldn’t find another, shorter word/ for ‘beloved’ or for ‘wife’ in the inscription,/ but not too clumsy that you can’t still cut:
You’re supposed to be the bright boy at description/ and you can’t tell them what the fuck to put!
I’ve got to find the right words on my own.
I’ve got the envelope that he’d been scrawling,/ mis-spelt, mawkish, stylistically appalling/ but I can’t squeeze more love into their stone.

-Book Ends

When the chilled dough of his flesh went in an oven/ not unlike those he fuelled all his life,/ I thought of his cataracts ablaze with Heaven/ and radiant with the sight of his dead wife,/ light streaming from his mouth to shape her name,/ ‘not Florence and not Flo but always Florrie’./ I thought how his cold tongue burst into flame/ but only literally, which makes me sorry,/ sorry for his sake there’s no Heaven to reach./ I get it all from Earth my daily bread/ but he hungered for release from mortal speech/ that kept him down, the tongue that weighed like lead.
The baker’s man that no one will see rise/ and England made to feel like some dull oaf/ is smoke, enough to sting one person’s eyes/ and ash (not unlike flour) for one small loaf.

-Marked with D. (in whole)


Michael Palmer

May 9, 2007

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(1943-)

Born to a middle-class Italian American family in New York City
Spent most of his life in the San Francisco area
Writes poems that are fragmentary, self-reflective, and nonsequential
Questions the fiction of a unitary self that confesses its inner experience in a poem
Believes a poem is a verbal artifact that spotlights its own words: continually reminds us of the materiality of language

Quotations:

Write this. We have burned all their villages
Write this. We have burned all the villages and the people in them
Write this. We have adopted their customs and their manner of dress
Write this. A word may be shaped like a bed, a basket of tears or an X

Let go of me for I have died and am in a novel and was a lyric poet, certainly, who attracted crowds to mountaintops. For a nickel I will appear from this box. For a dollar I will have text with you and answer three questions.
First question. We entered the forest, followed its winding paths, and emerged blind
Second question. My townhouse, of the Jugendstil, lies by Darmstadt
Third question. He knows he will wake from this dream, conducted in the mother-tongue
Third question. He knows his breathing organs are manipulated by God, so that he is compelled to scream
Third question. I will converse with no one on those days of the week with end in y

silence, pinhole of light

A word is beside itself. Here the poem is called What Speaking Means to say/ though I have no memory of my name
Here the poem is called Theory of the Real, its name is Let’s Call This, and its name is called A Wooden Stick. It goes yes-yes, no-no. It goes one and one
I have been writing a book, not in my native language, about violins and smoke, lines and dots, free to speak and become the things we speak, pages which sit up, look around and row resolutely toward the setting sun
Pages torn from their spines and added to the pyre, so that they will resemble thought.

What last. Lapwing. Tesseract. X perhaps for X. The villages are known as These Letters- humid, sunless. The writing occurs on their walls.

-Sun

Resists the linear flow of narrative
Recalls phrases and musical cadences from Eliot’s Waste Land


Mark Doty

May 8, 2007

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(1953-)

Married early, but divorced and met his partner Wally Roberts, who died from AIDS in 1994
Work displays something of the drag queen’s pleasure in ravishing texture and spectacle, but also employs something of the mortician’s cold  grim inevitabilities of loss and death
Works in the tradition of Americanautobiographicalpoetry that extends from Whitman to Bishop and Lowell
Believes that a poem should be

“a verbal earthly paradise, a timeless world of pure play, which gives us delight precisely because of its contrast to our historical existence with all its insolvable problems and inescapable suffering.”

Quotations:

Downtown anywhere and between the roil/ of bathhouse steam- up there the linens of joy/ and shame must be laundered again and again,

where desire’s unpoliced, or nearly so)/ someone’s posted a xeroxedheadshot/ of Jesus: permed, blonde, blurred at the eges
as though photographedthrough a greasy lens,/ and inked beside him, in marker strokes:/ HOMO WILL NO INHERIT, Repent & be saved.
I’ll tell you what I’ll inherit: the margins/ which have always been mine, downtown after hours/ when there’s nothing left to buy,
the dreaming shops turnedin on themselves,/ seamless, intent on the perfection  of display,/ the bodegas and offices lined up, impenetrable:
edges no one wants, no one’s watching. Though/ the borders of this  shadow-zone  (mirror and dream/ of the shattered streets around it) are chartered
by the police, and they are required,/ some nights, to redefine them. But not now, at twilight,/ permission’s descending hour, early winter darkness
pillared by smoldering plumes. The public city’s/ ledgered and locked, but the secret city’s boundless;/ from which do these tumbling tours arise?
I’ll tell you what I’ll inherit: steam,/ and the blinding symmetry of some towering man,/ fifteen minutes of forgetfulness incarnate.

the flesh and the word. And I’ll tell you,/ you who can’t wait to abandon your body,/ what you want me to, maybe something
like you’ve imagined, a dirty story:/ Years ago, in the baths,/ a man walked into the steam,
the gorgeous deep indigo of him gleaming,/ solid tight flanks, the intricately ridged abdomen-/ and after he invited me to his room,
nudging his key toward me,/ as if perhaps I spoke another tongue/ and required the plainest  of gestures,
after we’d been, you understand,/ worshipping a while in his church,/ he said to me, I’m going to punish your mough.
I can’t tell you what that did to me./ My shame was redeemed then;/ I won’t need to burn in the afterlife.
It wasn’t that he hurt me,/ more than that: the spirit’s transactions/ are enacted now, here- no one needs
your eternity. This failing city’s/ radiant as any we’ll ever know,/ paved with oily rainbow, charred gates
jeweled with tags, swoops of letters/ over letters, indecipherable as anything/ written by desire. I’m not ashamed
to love Babylon’s scrawl. How could I be?/ It’s written on my face as much as on/ these walls. This city’s inescapable,
gorgeous, and on fire. I have my kingdom.

-Homo Will Not Inherit

Charged repudiation of homophobia, echoing Whitman

Cold April and the neighbor girl/ -our plumber’s daughter-/ comes up the west street
from the harbor carrying,/ in a nest she’s made/ of her pink parka,
a loon. It’s so sick,/ she says when I ask./ Foolish kid,
does she think she can keep/ this emissary of air?/ Is it trust or illness
that allows the head/ -sleek tulip- to bow/ on its bent stem
across her arm?/ Look at the steady,/ quiet eye. She is carrying
the bird back from indifference,/ from the coast/ of whatever rearrangement
the elements intend,/ and the loon allows her./ She is going to call
the Center for Coastal Studies,/ and will swaddle the bird/ in her petal-bright coat
until they come./ She cradles the wild form./ Stubborn girl.

-Coastal (in whole)


John Updike

March 21, 2007

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(1932-)

John Hoyer Updike
Born in Pennsylvania
Attended Harvard University on a full scholarship
Known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, having published 22 novels and more than a dozen short story collections as well as poetry, literary criticism and children’s books
Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems have appeared in The New Yorker since the 1950s
Works often explore sex, faith, and death, and their inter-relationships

Quotations:


The scum has come. / My cocoa’s cold. / The cup is numb, / And I grow old.
It seems an age / Since from the pot / It bubbled, beige / And burning hot-
Too hot to be / Too quickly quaffed. / Accordingly, / I found a draft
And in it placed / The boiling brew / And took a taste / Of toast or two.
Alas, time flies / And minutes chill; / My cocoa lies / Dull brown and still.
How wearisome! / In likelihood, / The scum, once come, / Is come for good.

-Lament, For Cocoa (in whole)

My child as yet unborn, the doctors nod, / Agreeing that your first month shall be March, / A time of year I know by heart and like / To talk about- I too was born in March.
March, like November a month largely unloved, / Parades before April, who steals all shows / With his harlequinade of things renewed. / Impatient for that pastel fool’s approach, / Our fathers taunted March, called him Hlyd-monath, / Though the month is mild, and a murmurer. / Indeed, after the Titan’s fall and shatter / Of February, March seems a silence. / The Romans, finding February’s ruins / At the feet of March, heard his wind as boasting / And hailed his guilt with a war-god’s name.
As above some street in a cobbled sea-town / From opposing walls two huge boards thrust / To advertise two inns, so do the signs / Of Pisces the Fish and Aries the Ram / Overhand March. Depending on the day, / Your fortunate gem shall be the bloodstone / Or the diamond, your lucky color crimson / Or silver gray. You shall prove affable, / Impulsive, lucky in your friends, or cross, / According to the counterpoint of stars. / So press your business ventures, wear cravats, / And swear not by the moon. If you plant wheat, / Do it at dawn. The same for barley. Let / The tide transplant kohlrabi, leeks, and beans. / Toward the month’s end, sow hardy annuals.
It was this month when Caesar fell, Stalin died, / And Beethoven. In this month snowflakes melt- / Those last dry crusts that huddle by the barn. / Now kites and crocuses are hoisted up. / Doors slap open. Dogs snuffle soggy leaves, / Rehearsing rusty repertoires of smells. / the color of March is the one that lies / On the shadow side of young tree trunks.
March is no land of extremes. Dull as life, / It offers small Flowers and minor
holidays. / Clouds stride sentry and hold our vision down. / By much the same token, agonized roots / Are hidden by earth. Much, much is opaque. / The thunder bluffs, wind cannot be gripped, / And kites and crocuses are what they are. / Still, child, it is far from a bad month, / For all its weight of compromise and hope. / As modest as a monk, March shall be there / When on that day without a yesterday / You, red and blind and blank, gulp the air.

-March : A Birthday Poem for Elizabeth (in whole)

Sunflower, of flowers / the most lonely, / yardstick of hours, / long-term stander / in empty spaces, / shunner of bowers, / indolent bender / seldom, in only / the sharpest of showers: / tell us, why / is it your face is / a snarl of jet swirls / and gold arrows, a burning / old lion face high / in a cornflower sky, / yet by turning / your head, we find / you wear a girl’s / bonnet behind?

-Sunflower (in whole)

At verses she was not inept, / Her feet were neatly numbered. / She never cried, she softly wept, / She never slept, she slumbered.
She never ate and rarely dined, / Her tongue found sweetmeats sour. / She never guessed, but oft divined / The secrets of a flower.
A flower! Fragrant, pliant, clean, / More dear to her than crystal. / She knew what yearnings dozed between / The stamen and the pistil.
Dawn took her thither to the wood, / At even, home she hithered. / Ah, to the gentle Pan is good- / She never died, she withered.

-Poetess (in whole)

In the novel he marries Victoria but in the movie he dies.
-caption in Life

Fate lifts us up so she can hurl / Us down from heights of pride, / Viz.: in the book he got the girl / But in the movie, died. /
The author, seeing he was brave / And good, rewarded him, / Then, greedy, sold him as a slave / To savage M-G-M.
He perished on the screen, but thrives / In print, where serifs keep / Watch o’er the happier of his lives: Say, Does he wake, or sleep?

-In Memoriam (in whole)


Philip Larkin

March 13, 2007

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(1922-1985)

Attended Oxford University, depticts his miseries as a student in the novel Jill
Worked as a librarian
Published only a few small books of verse
Repelled critics looking for radical novelty in technique
Pins out of his disillusionment some of the most emotionally complex, rhythmically polished, and intricately rhymed poems of the second half of the twentieth century
Offered and turned down poet laureate position in England
Tone is that of a man who has lost opportunities, failed to get the lover he wanted and found life less than it might have been
Belonged to the group known as the Movement, a revolt against rhetorical excess and cosmic portentousness
Disliked high Modernists

Quotations:

Talking in bed ought to be easiest, / Lying together there goes back so far, / An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently. / Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest / Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon. / None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why / At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find / Words at once true and kind, / Or not untrue and not unkind.

-Talking in Bed (in whole)

When I see a couple of kids/ And guess he’s fucking her and she’s/ Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,/ I know this is paradise
Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives-/ Bonds and gestures pushed to one side/ Like an outdated combine harvester,/ And everyone young going down the long slide
To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if/ Anyone looked at me, forty years back,/ And thought,
That’ll be the life;/ No God any more, or sweating in the dark
About hell and that, or having to hide/ What you think of the priest. He/ And his lot will all go down the long slide/ Like free bloody birds. And immediately
Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:/ The sun-comprehending glass,/ And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows/ Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-High Windows (in whole)

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night./ Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare./ In time the curtain-edges will grow light./ Till then I see what’s really always there:/ Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,/ Making all thought impossible but how/ And where and when I shall myself die./ Arid interrogation: yet the dread/ of dying, and being dead,/ Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse/ -The good not done, the love not given, time/ Torn off unused- nor wretchedly because/ An only life can take so long to climb/ Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;/ But at the total emptiness for ever,/ The sure extinction that we travel to/ And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,/ Not to be anywhere,/ And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid/ No trick dispels, Religion used to try,/ That vast moth-eaten musical brocade/ Created to pretend we never die,/ And specious stuff that says No rational being/ Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing/ That this is what we fear- no sight, no sound,/ No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,/ Nothing to love or link with,/ The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it says just on the edge of vision,/ A small unfocused blur, a standing chill/ That slows each impulse down to indecision./ Most things may never happen: this one will,/ And realisation of it rages out/ In furnace-fear when we are caught without/ People or drink. Courage is no good:/ It means not scaring others. Being brave/ Let’s no one off the grave./ Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slwly light strengthens, and the room takes shape./ It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,/ Have always known, know that we can’t escape,/ Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go./ Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring/ In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring/ Intricate rented world beings to rouse./ The sky is white as clay, with no sun./ Work has to be done./ Postment like doctors go from house to house.

-Aubade (in whole)

Aubade is a song or poem announcing the dawn