May 11, 2006

Post title [Filed under: White, Steve]

Limerick (III)

There once was an X from place B
That satisfied predicate P
He or she did thing A
In an adjective way
Resulting in circumstance C

Maybe my brain is not functioning entirely properly, being three days from freedom, but I found this poem to be rather fun. There’s some more good generic stuff at Mr. White’s website.

March 24, 2006

Life, to be sure [Filed under: Houseman, A.E.]

Jon pointed me years ago to this nearly perfect poem by A.E. Houseman:

Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.

I have been reflecting on this very deep poem and, last night, composed an essay of sorts:

Life is nothing much to lose. Who says this? Who could say such a thing? The voice of the poem couldn’t be the young man who was the living first person referred to in the first line. The one who lies and the one who did not choose to live. That man believes that life is something much to lose. The voice speaking the lines must be very old. Either old in the old familiar way of years– old enough to be ready to let life go without going to pieces – or old as the universe, so that the extinguishing of life really seems like nothing.

Can one learn to not hate death? Can one come to say that life is nothing much to lose since ‘life’ is what is left of life, not what has been lived? A young man sees the worth of living in the potential of living. Who will I marry? What will my kids be like? What shape will my career take? How will I gain notoriety? What will I learn? What experiences will I live through? What hills will I climb? The life left for a man entering his prime is surely something indeed to lose – from his own perspective at least. Can one live enough to change this perspective?

(Read more…)

January 21, 2006

Kisses [Filed under: Hunt, Leigh]

Jenny Kissed Me

Jenny kissed me when we met,
  Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
  Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
  Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I’m growing old, but add—
  Jenny kissed me!

Dearest Cynara, I have broken faith; come what may, life is beautiful today.

January 20, 2006

Lexicographic [Filed under: MacNeice, Louis]

I had the greatest lexicographic moment of my life when I looked up the word ‘cromlech’ after reading this poem.

The Cromlech

From trivia of froth and pollen
White tufts in the rabbit warren
And every minute like a thicket
Nicked and dropped, nicked and dropped,
Extracters and abstracters ask
What emerges, what survives,
And once the stopper is unstopped
What was the essence in the flask
and what is Life apart from lives
And where, apart from fact, the value

To which we answer, being naive,
Wearing the world upon our sleeve,
That to dissect a given thing
Unravelling its complexity
Outrages its simplicity
For essence is not merely core
And each event implies the world,
A centre needs periphery.

This being so, at times at least
Granted the sympathetic pulse
And granted the perceiving eye
Each pregnant with a history,
Appearance and appearances –
In spite of the philosophers
With their jejune dichotomies –
Can be at times reality.

So Tom and Tessy holding hands
(Dare an abstraction steal a kiss?)
Cannot be generalized away,
Reduced by bleak analysis
To pointers demonstrating laws
Which drain the colour from the day;
Not mere effects of a crude cause
But of themselves significant,
To run-of-brain recalcitrant,
This that they are and do is This…

Tom is here, Tessy is here
At this point in a given year
With all this hour’s accessories,
A given glory – and to look
That gift-horse in the mouth will prove
Or disprove nothing of their love
Which is as sure intact a fact,
Though young and supple, as what stands
Obtuse and old, in time congealed,
Behind them as they mingle hands –
Self-contained, unexplained,
The cromlech in the clover field.

January 13, 2006

Boredom [Filed under: Collins, Billy.General Discussion]

The other day, I decided to try my hand at composing a more modern piece of poetry, but the results were dismal:

A Meta-Analysis of Free Verse in Free Verse
or
Ode on Itself

Imagine
    how beautiful
    this poem could have been
    had you but written it
Yourself

I was struck today, however, when I read a review of Billy Collins’ newest book in the NYT [registration may be required]. It turns out that Collins’ book begins with a poem that starts thusly:

from The Trouble with Poetry

I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you

I wrote my piece having Billy Collins particularly in mind, though I did not mean it to be an homage or an imitation, strictly speaking. I haven’t read the rest of the Collins poem, but just looking at the first stanza, I like mine better. [Some less than friendly discussion of the NYT review may be found at MetaFilter.]

Also, I tried to compose a pwoermd today:

VISUALEYES

…but it turns out someone beat me to it.

I think I’m giving up my career ambitions in poetry. I’ll stick to law school.