stoutfellow: (Winter)
If memory serves, Andre Gide (I'm almost certain it was him) wrote a piece - poem, essay, short story, I don't recall - in which a (dying?) man reflects on the good things of life. I have heard of it, but have not read it, and would like to. Does what I've said, skimpy though it is, ring a bell with anyone?
stoutfellow: (Winter)
For those who are tempted to despair by the events of the last month - and the prospect of worse to come in the next couple of years - here is A Brief for the Defense.

Hat-tip to Abi Sutherland at Making Light.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
There is a movie entitled "Reuben, Reuben". There is also a movie entitled "Rachel, Rachel". Alas, they are not genderflipped versions of each other.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
One of the books I'm currently reading on my Kindle is the first volume of Child's collection of English and Scottish ballads; this volume is devoted to ballads with supernatural aspects.

The folk song that Simon and Garfunkel adapted in "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is puzzling. The singer asks the listener - who is en route to Scarborough Fair - to ask a certain person there to perform a variety of impossible tasks - sewing a shirt with no needlework, plowing an acre of ground without the usual implements, and so on. It's never really bothered me; the song is a beautiful one, and the other half ("Canticle") is shivery. But, reading Child, I think I've figured it out.

At least two of the ballads (presumably related) in the collection feature a young woman in conversation with an elf knight. She hints at marriage; he tells her that of course he'll marry her, provided that she sew him a shirt in the manner described. Her response? Sure, I'll do that - if you do this other thing first - the "other thing" being the plowing. In other words, it's not a matter of one lover making multiple impossible demands, but of a pair crossing wits (and parting in unfriendly wise). That makes much more sense. Presumably the folk song is a descendant of one of these, or some related ballad.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Ursula Vernon (whom I adore) attributes the following quote to Nesbit. (She doesn't source it, so I can't verify, and Google is useless.)
”There are two great powers on our side, the power of love and the power of mathematics. Those two are stronger than anything in the world.”
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Since it's National Poetry Month, I thought I'd offer up a bit. This is from "Stones in the Road", a song written and sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The song is about her childhood; in this verse, the year is 1968.
When I was ten, my father held me
On his shoulder above the crowd
To see a train all draped in mourning
Passing slowly through our town.
The widow knelt with all her children
At the sacred burial ground
The TV glowed, that long hot summer,
With all the cities burning down.
I was ten that year too. I remember, more than I want to.

Origins

Jan. 6th, 2012 10:16 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Some time back I commented on the Kenny Rogers / Whitney Duncan duet "My World Is Over", which I love. Over on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog, they're discussing poetry, and someone just brought up - and quoted in full - W. H. Auden's "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone". It seems obvious that the songwriter (Rogers, I assume) knew the Auden poem. The lyrics aren't a close match, but they're close enough.

Auden:
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Rogers:
So sweep away the sand and dry the ocean,
And just pack the moon and stars up in a cardboard box
And stop the clocks from chiming
Block the sun from shining
And paint the sky a deeper shade of blue
'Cause my world's over without you

(Auden's poem also, as the title suggests, makes mention of stopping clocks.)

F.P.A.

Apr. 25th, 2011 05:49 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, it's still National Poetry Month, so I will present you with a bit of doggerel, due to Franklin Pierce Adams and singable to the tune of "Vive la Compagnie". It's been earworming me for the past hour.
These are the saddest of possible words:
Tinker to Evers to Chance.
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double -
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
Tinker to Evers to Chance.

(And don't talk to me about the Padres. Just don't.)
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Since it's National Poetry Month, I thought I'd bring out one of my old favorites. Yes, it's one of the standards, but I love the imagery and the mouth-feel. (It's also one of the few poems I've recited in public.)

Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life;
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet will we make him run.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke

Best Witchcraft is Geometry
To the magician's mind -
His ordinary acts are feats
To thinking of mankind.
- Emily Dickinson

(Not quite the same sentiment, but - almost - mirror kin.)
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
All Quiet Along the Potomac To-Night
"All quiet along the Potomac," they say,
"Except here and there a stray picket
Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro,
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
'Tis nothing - a private or two now and then
Will not count in the news of the battle;
Not an officer lost, only one of the men
Moaning out all alone the death rattle."

All quiet along the Potomac to-night,
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
And the light of their watch-fires are gleaming.
A tremulous sigh, as the gentle night wind
Through the forest leaves softly is creeping,
While the stars up above, with their glittering eyes,
Keep guard, for the army is sleeping.

There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread,
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two on the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain.
His musket falls slack - his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
And their mother - "may Heaven defend her."

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling;
And gathers his gun closer up to his breast,
As if to keep down the heart's swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
And his footstep is lagging and weary,
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary.

Hark! was it the night wind that rustles the leaves?
Was it the moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looked like a rifle! "Ha! Mary, good-bye!"
And his lifeblood is ebbing and splashing.
"All quiet along the Potomac tonight,"
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,
The picket's off duty forever.
(Ethel Lynn Beers, 1861)

I Am Goya

May. 12th, 2010 06:16 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
While subcataloging my library, I ran across this powerful poem by Andrei Voznesensky. The translation is by Stanley Kunitz.
I Am Goya

I am Goya
of the bare field, by the enemy's beak gouged
till the craters of my eyes gape
I am grief

I am the tongue
of war, the embers of cities
on the snows of the year 1941
I am hunger

I am the gullet
of a woman hanged whose body like a bell
tolled over a blank square
I am Goya

O grapes of wrath!
I have hurled westward
the ashes of the uninvited guest!
and hammered stars into the unforgetting sky - like nails
I am Goya
stoutfellow: (Ben)
I missed National Poetry Month. Nonetheless, for some reason, I feel like posting this, which is one of my favorite poems.

"To His Coy Mistress", Andrew Marvell
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

        But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

        Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
stoutfellow: (Ben)
arrived today. Herewith, a poem, and one of the reasons I remembered the book with such love:
Flappity, Floppity, Flip!
The Mouse on the Möbius Strip.
The Strip revolved,
The Mouse dissolved,
In a chronodimensional skip.

Poetry

Apr. 26th, 2008 07:45 pm
stoutfellow: (Ben)
Mark Kleiman makes a very good point: poetry has never stopped mattering, and it never will.

Laziness

May. 28th, 2007 12:23 pm
stoutfellow: (Murphy)
I meant to do quite a bit this long weekend.

You know how that song ends, don't you?

I do have a couple of LJ posts - one on over-powered heroes, one on Skowronek - percolating, but they haven't gelled yet.

Lest the weekend go by without anything of substance, though, here's a poem by Thomas Campbell (1777-1844); it's not quite a Memorial Day poem, but it still seems apropos to me.

The Soldier's Dream )

Fufu

May. 1st, 2007 09:30 am
stoutfellow: (Ben)
For your delectation: The Fúfumál. (Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] sivi_volk.)
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
With National Poetry Month drawing to a close, I thought I'd post one of my favorite passages from T. S. Eliot, the final stanza of "Little Gidding".
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Lye Soap

Apr. 22nd, 2007 03:20 pm
stoutfellow: (Ben)
While I was washing the dishes this afternoon, an old song from my Scouting days came to mind, and, well, it's National Poetry Month. Doggerel counts, doesn't it?

Grandma's Lye Soap )

Gentian

Apr. 6th, 2007 07:55 pm
stoutfellow: (Ben)
In honor of National Poetry Month, I present this gem, by the divine Emily:
God made a little Gentian -
It tried - to be a Rose -
And failed - and all the Summer laughed -
But just before the Snows

There rose a Purple Creature -
That ravished all the Hill -
And Summer hid her Forehead -
And Mockery - was still -

The Frosts were her condition -
The Tyrian would not come
Until the North - invoke it -
Creator - Shall I - bloom?

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