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Thread: Reading Poetry

  1. Reading Poetry

    I'm just going to do this. If nobody else wants to play and this turns into my own poetry LJ thread, then that's what it turns into!

    I try to keep a habit of reading at least one poem every morning before I check the news or social media. I believe ritual to be a healthy thing and I can't have religious folk monopolizing it, so that's mine. It's healthy. It demands slowness, care, and intimacy. It's good for your brain and maybe even for other things too.

    But just picking something at random from my shelf is impersonal. I'd like to bring other people into this ritual -- people that I know, even if I only internet know them. My idea for this thread is someone just sticking a poem in here whenever they feel like it. Other people can read it, think about it (poems have a way of popping back into your head throughout the day), and maybe say something about it or pose a question about it.

    It can be any poem: some song lyrics, something you wrote, something your friend wrote, something you saw etched into a bathroom stall at a gas station, or Chaucer.
    Last edited by A Robot Bit Me; 04 Oct 2016 at 02:19 AM.

  2. This is one of my favs from one of my favs:

    "To an Unborn Pauper Child," Thomas Hardy

    Breathe not, hid Heart: cease silently,
    And though thy birth-hour beckons thee,
    Sleep the long sleep:
    The Doomsters heap
    Travails and teens around us here,
    And Time-Wraiths turn our songsingings to fear.

    Hark, how the peoples surge and sigh,
    And laughters fail, and greetings die;
    Hopes dwindle; yea,
    Faiths waste away,
    Affections and enthusiasms numb:
    Thou canst not mend these things if thou dost come.

    Had I the ear of wombed souls
    Ere their terrestrial chart unrolls,
    And thou wert free
    To cease, or be,
    Then would I tell thee all I know,
    And put it to thee: Wilt thou take Life so?

    Vain vow! No hint of mine may hence
    To theeward fly: to thy locked sense
    Explain none can
    Life's pending plan:
    Thou wilt thy ignorant entry make
    Though skies spout fire and blood and nations quake.

    Fain would I, dear, find some shut plot
    Of earth's wide wold for thee, where not
    One tear, one qualm,
    Should break the calm.
    But I am weak as thou and bare;
    No man can change the common lot to rare.

    Must come and bide. And such are we --
    Unreasoning, sanguine, visionary --
    That I can hope
    Health, love, friends, scope
    In full for thee; can dream thou'lt find
    Joys seldom yet attained by humankind!

    (1901)

    First of all, "Had I the ear of wombed souls / Ere their terrestrial chart unrolls" is, for me, a jaw-dropper even if the rhythm is shaggy.

    The question for which I've never been able to arrive at a satisfying answer is: What's with the sudden concession in the last stanza?

    Because we're "unreasoning, sanguine, [and] visionary," I can wish for you all the things I just said actually kind of suck? How much (if any) of this blessing is sincere? The turn at the end is generally read as the speaker snapping out of his funk and sincerely wishing the child well, but it seems possible there's something more complicated going on here.
    Last edited by A Robot Bit Me; 04 Oct 2016 at 02:59 AM.

  3. #3
    There's only one difference between you and me.
    When I look at myself, all I can see.
    I'm just another lady without a baby.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fe 26 View Post
    No one uses sigs.

  4. #4
    "Ode to Spot," Lieutenant Commander Data

    Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
    An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature;
    Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
    Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses.

    I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
    A singular development of cat communications
    That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
    For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.

    A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
    You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
    And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
    It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

    O Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
    Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
    And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
    I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fe 26 View Post
    No one uses sigs.

  5. I googled it, watched it, and lol'd at just about every rhyme.

    I really need to watch more Star Trek.

  6. I guess this is fairly standard lit. class fare, but I'd never read it before a few years ago and it resonated with me fairly profoundly.

    Nobody heard him, the dead man,
    But still he lay moaning:
    I was much further out than you thought
    And not waving but drowning.

    Poor chap, he always loved larking
    And now he’s dead
    It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
    They said.

    Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
    (Still the dead one lay moaning)
    I was much too far out all my life
    And not waving but drowning.
    -Stevie Smith

  7. That's a great one. Did your anthology have the drawing?



    I feel like it complicates the poem because the figure isn't doing anything that might be taken for waving or drowning. There's no movement at all, and the facial expression isn't what the poem trains us to expect.

    There's also the question of if he/she is dead, how a dead person can moan, etc, and, if this is a poem about projection (projecting happiness on to sadness), then what do we do with the more implicit projection: projecting life on to death if the speaker is dead, or death on to life if they're not?

  8. It did not, sadly.

    That was a very frustrating class. The professor hated the online setting but felt it okay to take a paycheck for "teaching" it despite never interacting with the class.
    The wheels really fell off the bus when the 20 of us had to read Harrison Bergeron and 18 of us read it literally.
    Oh, and when My Papa's Waltz was deconstructed into a tale of an abusive, alcoholic father.
    These millennials, what an insightful group!

  9. I never saw that in My Papa's Waltz. I never read it as a dark poem.

  10. Well, here it is!

    "My Papa's Waltz," Theodore Roethke

    The whiskey on your breath
    Could make a small boy dizzy;
    But I hung on like death:
    Such waltzing was not easy.

    We romped until the pans
    Slid from the kitchen shelf;
    My mother's countenance
    Could not unfrown itself.

    The hand that held my wrist
    Was battered on one knuckle;
    At every step you missed
    My right ear scraped a buckle.

    You beat time on my head
    With a palm caked hard by dirt,
    Then waltzed me off to bed
    Still clinging to your shirt.

    (1942)

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