October 7, 2005

Poeta Loquitur [Filed under: Collins, Billy.Frost, Robert.Thomas, Dylan]

I haven’t had a chance to listen to much yet, and what I have listened to hasn’t really inspired me to listen to much more, but I figure some of you might be interested: I found a link over at Salon to several downloadable CDs worth of Dylan Thomas reading his and others’ poetry, with introductions by Billy Collins. The article requires the visitor to have a Premium membership or a day-pass, which means essentially that you’ll have to watch an ad (requiring Flash). Small price to pay for so large a bounty. I don’t know how long the files will be available, so I suggest getting while the getting’s good. I have been told that “Track 6 on disc 5, ‘Chard Whitlow,’ was written by Henry Reed as a lampoon of T.S. Eliot. Reed won a parody contest with it in 1941.…Thomas recites it while impersonating Eliot. The poem is funny, but the audience is laughing because even they found Eliot to be ‘pompous, silly, overwrought, stilted’ and ‘affected.'”

When it rains, it pours (unless it doesn’t, as when it sprinkles or drizzles or spits or…). Here’s Robert Frost reading some of his own poetry.

January 18, 2004

Auden has an essay on Frost that I like. [Filed under: Auden, W.H..Frost, Robert]

Auden has an essay on Frost that I like. Here’s how it ends:

Hardy, Yeats, and Frost have all written epitaphs for themselves.

Hardy
I never cared for life, life cared for me.
And hence I owe it some fidelity…

Yeats
Cast a cold eye
On life and death.
Horseman, pass by.

Frost
I would have written of me on my stone
I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.

Of the three, Frost, surely, comes off best. Hardy seems to be stating the Pessimist’s Case rather than his own feelings. I never cared… Never? Now, Mr. Hardy, really! Yeats’ horseman is a stage prop; the passer-by is much more likely to be a motorist. But Frost convinces me that he is telling neither more nor less than the truth about himself. And, when it comes to wisdom, is not having a lover’s quarrel with life more worthy of Prospero than not caring or looking coldly?

I realize looking over this that it’s not clear that any of those are necessarily on any of the poets’ headstones. Still, I thought I’d mention it. If only because I like the essay.

November 24, 2003

In a Disused Graveyard [Filed under: Frost, Robert]

Its worth contrasting Auden’s cemetary with Frost’s graveyard:

In a Disused Graveyard

The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never anymore the dead.
The verses in it say and say:
“The ones who living come today
To read the stones and go away
Tomorrow dead will come to stay.”
So sure of death the marbles rhyme,
Yet can’t help marking all the time
How no one dead will seem to come.
What is it men are shrinking from?
It would be easy to be clever
And tell the stones: Men hate to die
And have stopped dying now forever.
I think they would believe the lie.

November 10, 2003

More Frosty Stars [Filed under: Brontë, Emily.Frost, Robert]

Fireflies in The Garden

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

Stars

Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored our Earth to joy,
Have you departed, every one,
And left a desert sky?

All through the night, your glorious eyes
Were gazing down in mine,
And, with a full heart’s thankful sighs,
I blessed that watch divine.

I was at peace, and drank your beams
As they were life to me;
And revelled in my changeful dreams,
Like petrel on the sea.

Thought followed thought, star followed star
Through boundless regions on;
While one sweet influence, near and far,
Thrilled through, and proved us one!

Why did the morning dawn to break
So great, so pure a spell;
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek,
Where your cool radiance fell?

Blood-red, he rose, and arrow-straight,
His fierce beams struck my brow;
The soul of nature sprang, elate,
But mine sank sad and low.

My lids closed down, yet through their veil
I saw him, blazinig, still,
And steep in gold the misty dale,
And flash upon the hill.

I turned me to the pillow, then,
To call back night, and see
Your words of solemn light, again,
Throb with my heart, and me!

It would not do—the pillow glowed,
And glowed both roof and floor;
And birds sang loudly in the wood,
And fresh winds shook the door;

The curtains waved, the wakened flies
Were murmuring round my room,
Imprisoned there, till I should rise,
And give them leave to roam.

O stars, and dreams, and gentle night;
O night and stars, return!
And hide me from the hostile light
That does not warm, but burn;

That drains the blood of suffering men;
Drinks tears, instead of dew;
Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
And only wake with you!

November 4, 2003

Stars [Filed under: Frost, Robert]

Commentary?

Stars

How countlessly they congregate
O’er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!—

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,—

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.