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Understanding Poetry - 2

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try to interpret this, and see spoilers for the context in which it was written

 

Why did you vanish

into empty sky?

Even the fragile snow,

when it falls,

falls in this world.

 

-Izumi Shikibu

 

 

 

you sure you are ready?

 

 

written on the death of her daughter, who was cremated.

 

 

 

 

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Guest Fufu Xiawoun
Why did you vanish

into empty sky?

Even the fragile snow,

when it falls,

falls in this world.

 

-Izumi Shikibu

 

fragile snow = soft/pure(from the white colour), so if something as soft and pure has still a place on this earth, then how comes something as innocent as his daughter has to leave?

 

comparing ashes (which literally vanish) to snow falling (it leaves its mark, a few memories, everyone notices it), maybe tryna say that his daugthers daughters death should have had more of an impact than it did, maybe her life should have lasted longer, or maybe the mourning period should have lasted longer, or more people should've/could've noticed her gone coz she was worth more than that compared to memories of snow which could last longer (like here in London, everyone remembers which month it snowed and how many days it snowed, but no one remembers the number of old people or homeless people who died in that cold)

 

Theres something about comparing the snow falling on the ground.. compared her to being in the sky. I don't know how to word it, but it stands out.

 

Alright now you tell me, what's it about? I'm tempted to google, but i'll wait for you to write it out. This feels like basic elementary stuff, tell me other interpretations please.

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Guest Fufu Xiawoun

I don't understand what the volunteers are meant to do.

 

You picked the first half, I got the middle bit, someone else can take the last part, write down your interpreations, and wait for Writeous to say how our interpretations match up to his intended message. It doesn't really matter if we get it right or not, it's fun exploring the different ideas people get from the same line.

 

*snip*

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*snip*

 

Anyways, there is no further official explanation on that poem. I think mentioning of fragile snow, falling to earth is appealing to emotions directly. There is no rational meaning behind it. She is asking if snow can fall to earth, why can't her child come back to earth. Although there is no comparison between the snow and the child, it draws powerful images in the mind. That is how good poetry is. Strong emotions are elicited without effort. You can't but empathize with the poet in her loss. If she tried to describe her pain any more, that would have been a waste of words - like most of so-called poetry today. And for me, most importantly, the poem conveys large amount of emotion with very little information. A characteristic rare in so-called poems you find on youtube nowadays. also you will notice, there are only two sentences, and those two sentences are self contained. The poet doesn't need to refer to random political events to provoke emotions in the reader.

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Guest Fufu Xiawoun

*snip*

 

Anyways, there is no further official explanation on that poem. I think mentioning of fragile snow, falling to earth is appealing to emotions directly. There is no rational meaning behind it. She is asking if snow can fall to earth, why can't her child come back to earth. Although there is no comparison between the snow and the child, it draws powerful images in the mind. That is how good poetry is. Strong emotions are elicited without effort. You can't but empathize with the poet in her loss. If she tried to describe her pain any more, that would have been a waste of words - like most of so-called poetry today. And for me, most importantly, the poem conveys large amount of emotion with very little information. A characteristic rare in so-called poems you find on youtube nowadays. also you will notice, there are only two sentences, and those two sentences are self contained. The poet doesn't need to refer to random political events to provoke emotions in the reader.

 

I don't see poetry as something that has to follow a set agenda, or a reach a certain to level to be identified as one, for me it's just ones persons way of expressing themselves/their opinion/feelings through whatever language devices they can. For me, it's about trying to understand where the person is coming from rather than comparing it other poetry and figuring out what's better. For example, there's a song by a famous hiphop group here and the main guy has written that piece about his dad dieing - the lyrical content isn't really that impressive, but that doesn't mean he felt any less pain than the person who lost his daughter. I see poetry as trying to understand a person through whatever methods they can express themselves, it doesn't matter so much if the quality of the English is as good as others. Being able to translate your thoughts and feelings into words is a real art, I don't think people should have their efforts belittled just because it doesn't match up to your view of what poetry is. Obviously hiphop and actual poetry has no real comparison, considering the language and grace one has that the other lacks, but sometimes you have to see past that to try and understand the person.

 

*snip*

 

When you said 'Strong emotions are elicited without effort' - that's a real talent, if that what you want to appreciate than fair enough, but not everyones on that level, so their efforts shouldn't be undermined. Thank you for explaining the poem R-z.

 

 

 

*snip*

I should not have waited.

It would have been better

To have slept and dreamed,

Than to have watched night pass,

And this slow moon sink.

I don’t know this one! I’ll tell you the first few ideas I got. Overall theme seems to be loss, regret, nostalgia even?

‘to have slept and dreamed’ = something the poet didn’t achieve, maybe something they left and replaced with something new which then didn’t work out, loss of time, something misunderstood, or maybe the poet was misunderstood.

‘dreamed’ - maybe the poet should’ve given themselves a chance?

“Than to have watched night pass,

And this slow moon sink”

I wouldn’t necessarily associate bad feelings with watching the night pass, but this one seems to have a negative undertone.. especially with words like ‘slow’ and then ‘sink’.

What does the moon represent?

Is the passing of the night symbolic for the passing of the poet itself through time?

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ah! this is good. I need to ponder on this.

 

Threshold by Rabindranath Tagore

I was not aware of the moment

when I first crossed the threshold of this life.

 

What was the power that made me open out into this vast mystery

like a bud in the forest at midnight!

 

When in the morning I looked upon the light

I felt in a moment that I was no stranger in this world,

that the inscrutable without name and form

had taken me in its arms in the form of my own mother.

 

Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to me.

And because I love this life,

I know I shall love death as well.

 

The child cries out

when from the right breast the mother takes it away,

in the very next moment to find in the left one its consolation.

 

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Is the passing of the night symbolic for the passing of the poet itself through time?

maybe. your interpretation is as good as mine.

Here is mine:

 

To me this sounds like a complaint by a lover who is tired and hurt waiting for his or her lover.

 

I should not have waited.

It would have been better

To have slept and dreamed,

Than to have watched night pass,

And this slow moon sink.

 

 

The poet have obviously waited the entire night and is now feeling betrayed. In her anger, she exclaims "I should have not waited. It would have been better if I just went to sleep!". The slowly sinking moon could be a reflection of her slowly sinking mood and hope.

 

Again this poem draws vivid pictures in mind. It is as if we are watching the night pass by and moon is sinking. And underneath her anger, we clearly see her sadness - and we empathize - with a smile.

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Guest Fufu Xiawoun

maybe. your interpretation is as good as mine.

Here is mine:

 

To me this sounds like a complaint by a lover who is tired and hurt waiting for his or her lover.

 

I should not have waited.

It would have been better

To have slept and dreamed,

Than to have watched night pass,

And this slow moon sink.

 

 

The poet have obviously waited the entire night and is now feeling betrayed. In her anger, she exclaims "I should have not waited. It would have been better if I just went to sleep!". The slowly sinking moon could be a reference to her slowly sinking mood and hope.

 

Again this poem draws vivid pictures in mind. It is as if we are watching the night pass by and moon is sinking. And underneath her anger, we clearly see her sadness - and we empathize - with a smile.

 

I didn't have the courage to write that it could be about a woman who waited for her lover, sometimes you say something in simple words and it doesn't do much, but when you say it through poetry like that it adds more weight to her emotions. I mean the basic gist of this poem is still as emo as a girl crying over a break up on a facebook status, but it's the language she's used that's dignified her emotions as poetry.

 

Hmm... this poems sad. Actually - it just made me think, a random fb status won't have such an impact on me like this poem did! hmm...slowly slowly fufu gets your point.

Post more r-z! and thank you for your own interpretations.

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Jean Sprackland - Hands

 

 

She peels cod fillets off the slab,

dips them in batter, drops them

one by one into the storm of hot fat.

I watch her scrubbed hands,

elegant at the work,

 

and think of the hands of the midwife

stroking wet hair from my face as I sobbed and cursed,

calling me sweetheart and wheeling in more gas,

hauling out at last my slippery fish of a son.

He was all silence and milky blue. She took him away

and brought him back breathing,

wrapped in a white sheet. By then

I loved her like my own mother.

 

I stand here speechless in the steam and banter,

as she makes hospital corners of my hot paper parcel.

 

 

The prevalent theme in this poem pertains to childbirth and the psychical pain involved, something many women can relate to. In the former part of the first stanza, Sprackland observes how a caterer ‘peels cod fillets off [...] batter’. This employs a style that is highly reminiscent of prosaic writing, despite the fluidity of conventional line breaks. One may notice remnants of the sonnet form implemented due to the inclusion of a couplet in the last stanza – ‘I stand here [...] parcel’.

 

The poem’s title alludes to its potent use of symbolism. In this case, the speaker uses the caterer’s ‘scrubbed’ hands and compares them to the hands of her midwife, to trigger memories of giving birth. She describes the ordeal of childbirth by analogising cod fish with a ‘slippery fish of a son’ - as if having a baby is akin to the practice of fishermen. Emotions are displayed through concrete verbs such as sobbing and cursing and it is also interesting to note the comparisons and connotations made with phrases such as ‘hospital corners’ – a phrase usually associated with the healthcare sector.

 

The speaker’s tone may be initially nonchalant and devoid of much emotion, considering the unbreakable bond of mother and child. However, this may be understood as the speaker looking back at it all – given the painful nature of childbirth, the observatory syntax of the piece supports the speaker’s choice of tone. As the childbirth stanza is primarily written in the past tense, it is ambiguous as to whether the child is still alive or not considering the memory is triggered by association. (249)

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America

 

Allen Ginsberg

America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.

America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.

I can't stand my own mind.

America when will we end the human war?

Go **** yourself with your atom bomb

I don't feel good don't bother me.

I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.

America when will you be angelic?

When will you take off your clothes?

When will you look at yourself through the grave?

When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?

America why are your libraries full of tears?

America when will you send your eggs to India?

I'm sick of your insane demands.

When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?

America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.

Your machinery is too much for me.

You made me want to be a saint.

There must be some other way to settle this argument.

Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.

Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?

I'm trying to come to the point.

I refuse to give up my obsession.

America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.

America the plum blossoms are falling.

I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for

murder.

America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.

America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.

I smoke marijuana every chance I get.

I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.

When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.

My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.

You should have seen me reading Marx.

My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.

I won't say the Lord's Prayer.

I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.

America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over

from Russia.

I'm addressing you.

Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?

I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.

I read it every week.

Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.

I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.

It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie

producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.

It occurs to me that I am America.

I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.

I haven't got a chinaman's chance.

I'd better consider my national resources.

My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals

an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and

twentyfivethousand mental institutions.

I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in

my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.

I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.

My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?

I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his

automobiles more so they're all different sexes

America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe

America free Tom Mooney

America save the Spanish Loyalists

America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die

America I am the Scottsboro boys.

America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they

sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the

speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the

workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party

was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother

Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have

been a spy.

America you don're really want to go to war.

America it's them bad Russians.

Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.

The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take

our cars from out our garages.

Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader's Digest. her wants our

auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.

That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.

Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.

America this is quite serious.

America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.

America is this correct?

I'd better get right down to the job.

It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts

factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.

America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

 

 

At first glance, Ginsberg certainly stretches the definition of ‘open form’. He writes in short, concise utterances that penetrate the reader’s mind with conviction. As the poem progresses, it becomes even less conventional, with un-patterned lines of stanzas and blocks of texts indented, perhaps reflecting the subtext of the poem’s themes. It begins with depressing outlook in the first two lines - ‘America I’ve given [...] 1956’. The word ‘America’ is consistently repeated throughout, furthering the instability of the speaker’s state and mirroring the cultural and perceived political poverty of the 50s.

 

He descends into a one-sided exchange into his country, personifying America, giving it human (or some may argue, demonising) qualities. This is further characterised by its aggressive opposition to Communism, Marxism and is especially evident in confrontational questions such as ‘When will you take off your clothes?’ The speaker’s intent is purposefully garbled as he (or she) occasionally makes false starts –‘I’m trying [...] obsession’ - and explains how it’s trying to come to the point, reflecting an erratic, unclear character.

 

The polemical voice echoes a burning questioning of the ideologies of patriotism and nationalism. They are probed throughout the text –references are made to historical events such as Hiroshima (‘go **** yourself with your atom bomb’) amongst a gathering of thoughts, all focused upon a frustration towards America, which reflects Ginsberg’s anarchist writing. An interesting point is the variety of voice – at times, it appears that there is more than one speaker in the poem. For example, the line ‘My national resources consist of [...] institutions’ could be America speaking for ‘herself’, or just the original speaker employing extreme irony. (245)

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Louis MacNeice - Bagpipe Music

 

It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,

All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.

Their knickers are made of crêpe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,

Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison.

 

John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,

Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,

Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whiskey,

Kept its bones for dumb-bells to use when he was fifty.

 

It's no go the Yogi-Man, it's no go Blavatsky,

All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.

 

Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,

Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.

It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,

All we want is a Dunlop tyre and the devil mend the puncture.

 

The Laird o' Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,

Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.

Mrs Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,

Said to the midwife 'Take it away; I'm through with overproduction'.

 

It's no go the gossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh,

All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.

 

Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,

Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.

His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,

Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.

 

It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,

All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.

 

It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,

It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,

It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,

Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

 

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;

Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.

The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,

But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

 

 

This poem’s form is officially the ballad, though there are variations to the line numbers per stanza – three stanzas contain two lines. Given the title of the poem and how the metre is so lively, one can visualise the bagpipes playing as MacNeice harnesses the form to contain this rhythmic musical resonance. The repetition which is typical in the ballad form is slightly tweaked to become half-refrains beginning with ‘It’s no go’. This helps reinforce the piece’s liveliness while emphasising the sombre socio-political commentary so ingeniously implemented in its execution.

 

The context of the poem’s historical backdrops gives it an air of preservation, set in the speaker’s hometown in Ireland (‘Ceilideh’ – Gaelic for social gathering) during the years of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Unlike Ginsberg’s confrontational tone, the speaker here chooses a less confrontational and witty voice, eager to satirise the then-current political context by demonstrating the community’s sentiments – in particular, a bizarre and ironic perception of community members such as Willie Murray who ‘cut his thumb and couldn’t count the damage’ and Mrs. Carmichael’s refusal to have mother another baby.

 

‘All we want’ provides concrete examples of the speaker mocking simplistic needs (despite the desperate situation of the Depression), such as ‘bank balance [...] taxi’ and a ‘packet of fags’ contrasted with refusals to possibly study and understand traditionalist sciences, such as Blavatsky mysticism and Sikhism (Yogi-man). The refrains mentioned earlier may reflect a culminating theme of public laziness in activism and general apathy, voiced by MacNeice’s retorts of ‘sit on your arse [...] pension.’ Overall, the ambiguity of the situations presented through simile and metaphor helps amplify the piece’s ambience and argument. (250)

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At the Bomb Testing Site

BY WILLIAM E. STAFFORD

 

At noon in the desert a panting lizard

waited for history, its elbows tense,

watching the curve of a particular road

as if something might happen.

 

It was looking at something farther off

than people could see, an important scene

acted in stone for little selves

at the flute end of consequences.

 

There was just a continent without much on it

under a sky that never cared less.

Ready for a change, the elbows waited.

The hands gripped hard on the desert.

 

William Stafford, “At the Bomb Testing Site” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

 

Images of the Nevada National Security Site should emerge in the reader’s mind as the poem’s title gives an impression of an ominous situation. Considering the heavily political aspect of the subject matter, Stafford avoids satirising or being polemic on the issue through his ‘quiet protest’ of war and the machinations that revolve it. He sheds political leanings to focus upon the relationship between man’s technological advancements and (at its expense) nature.

 

The central subject is a desert lizard, which helps emphasise the theme of nuclear bomb testing by deconstructing the issue down to a primitive setting. There is focus on the usage of particular words to convey intensity (such as ‘panting’) in a setting where living things must survive under extreme weather (‘at noon in the desert’). Subtle lexical attributions of human qualities to the lizard, such as ‘hands’ and ‘elbows’ instead of mere feet helps establish a parallel between humans and animals, perhaps symbolising a sentiment of no differentiation between the human and animal victim of war.

 

The lizard’s abilities of perception are superseded to that of human beings, as Stafford writes ‘It was looking for something farther off’ – an unconventional feat given how low the lizard is on the desert ground. As the poem progresses, the depiction of the resulting explosion could not be any less concrete – it could be useful to note the ordinary, nondescript phrases such as ‘something’ and ‘an important scene’ may be used to describe the bombing as a jarring contrast between the diminution of the nuclear weapon and the importance of the life it potentially takes. (247)

 

(Just some examples of critical analysis/commentary work we had to do for poetry class last year...)

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I am not a fan of poetry because in high school I was forced 'interpret' some crap that even when interpreted was pointless. Then I read a dude got a Nobel Prize for one of those mundane poems. /facepalm *lost faith in humanity* etc.,

 

However, some poems I do like, such as this one:

 

 

 

 

 

Now these three roisterers, whereof I tell,

Long before prime was rung by any bell,

Were sitting in a tavern for to drink;

And as they sat they heard a small bell clink

Before a corpse being carried to his grave;

Whereat one of them called unto his knave:

"Go run," said he, "and ask them civilly

What corpse it is that's just now passing by,

And see that you report the man's name well."

"Sir," said the boy, "it needs not that they tell.

I learned it, ere you came here, full two hours;

He was, by gad, an old comrade of yours;

And he was slain, all suddenly, last night,

When drunk, as he sat on his bench upright;

An unseen thief, called Death, came stalking by,

Who hereabouts makes all the people die,

And with his spear he clove his heart in two

And went his way and made no more ado.

He's slain a thousand with this pestilence;

And, master, ere you come in his presence,

It seems to me to be right necessary

To be forewarned of such an adversary:

Be ready to meet him for evermore.

My mother taught me this, I say no more."

"By holy Mary," said the innkeeper,

"The boy speaks truth, for Death has slain, this year,

A mile or more hence, in a large village,

Both man and woman, child and hind and page.

I think his habitation must be there;

To be advised of him great wisdom 'twere,

Before he did a man some dishonour."

"Yea, by God's arms!" exclaimed this roisterer,

"Is it such peril, then, this Death to meet?

I'll seek him in the road and in the street,

As I now vow to God's own noble bones!

Hear, comrades, we're of one mind, as each owns;

Let each of us hold up his hand to other

And each of us become the other's brother,

And we three will go slay this traitor Death;

He shall be slain who's stopped so many a breath,

By God's great dignity, ere it be night."

Together did these three their pledges plight

To live and die, each of them for the other,

As if he were his very own blood brother.

And up they started, drunken, in this rage,

And forth they went, and towards that village

Whereof the innkeeper had told before.

And so, with many a grisly oath, they swore

And Jesus' blessed body once more rent-

"Death shall be dead if we find where he went."

When they had gone not fully half a mile,

Just as they would have trodden over a stile,

An old man, and a poor, with them did meet.

This ancient man full meekly them did greet,

And said thus: "Now, lords, God keep you and see!'

The one that was most insolent of these three

Replied to him: "What? Churl of evil grace,

Why are you all wrapped up, except your face?

Why do you live so long in so great age?"

This ancient man looked upon his visage

And thus replied: "Because I cannot find

A man, nay, though I walked from here to Ind,

Either in town or country who'll engage

To give his youth in barter for my age;

And therefore must I keep my old age still,

As long a time as it shall be God's will.

Not even Death, alas! my life will take;

Thus restless I my wretched way must make,

And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,

I knock with my staff early, aye, and late,

And cry: 'O my dear mother, let me in!

Lo, how I'm wasted, flesh and blood and skin!

Alas! When shall my bones come to their rest?

Mother, with you fain would I change my chest,

That in my chamber so long time has been,

Aye! For a haircloth rag to wrap me in!'

But yet to me she will not show that grace,

And thus all pale and withered is my face.

"But, sirs, in you it is no courtesy

To speak to an old man despitefully,

Unless in word he trespass or in deed.

In holy writ you may, yourselves, well read

'Before an old man, hoar upon the head,

You should arise.' Which I advise you read,

Nor to an old man any injury do

More than you would that men should do to you

In age, if you so long time shall abide;

And God be with you, whether you walk or ride.

I must pass on now where I have to go."

"Nay, ancient churl, by God it sha'n't be so,"

Cried out this other hazarder, anon;

"You sha'n't depart so easily, by Saint John!

You spoke just now of that same traitor Death,

Who in this country stops our good friends' breath.

Hear my true word, since you are his own spy,

Tell where he is or you shall rue it, aye

By God and by the holy Sacrament!

Indeed you must be, with this Death, intent

To slay all us young people, you false thief."

"Now, sirs," said he, "if you're so keen, in brief,

To find out Death, turn up this crooked way,

For in that grove I left him, by my fay,

Under a tree, and there he will abide;

Nor for your boasts will he a moment hide.

See you that oak? Right there you shall him find.

God save you, Who redeemed all humankind,

And mend your ways!"- thus said this ancient man.

And every one of these three roisterers ran

Till he came to that tree; and there they found,

Of florins of fine gold, new-minted, round,

Well-nigh eight bushels full, or so they thought.

No longer, then, after this Death they sought,

But each of them so glad was of that sight,

Because the florins were so fair and bright,

That down they all sat by this precious hoard.

The worst of them was first to speak a word.

"Brothers," said he, "take heed to what I say;

My wits are keen, although I mock and play.

This treasure here Fortune to us has given

That mirth and jollity our lives may liven,

And easily as it's come, so will we spend.

Eh! By God's precious dignity! Who'd pretend,

Today, that we should have so fair a grace?

But might this gold be carried from this place

Home to my house, or if you will, to yours-

For well we know that all this gold is ours-

Then were we all in high felicity.

But certainly by day this may not be;

For men would say that we were robbers strong,

And we'd, for our own treasure, hang ere long.

This treasure must be carried home by night

All prudently and slyly, out of sight.

So I propose that cuts among us all

Be drawn, and let's see where the cut will fall;

And he that gets the short cut, blithe of heart

Shall run to town at once, and to the mart,

And fetch us bread and wine here, privately.

And two of us shall guard, right cunningly,

This treasure well; and if he does not tarry,

When it is night we'll all the treasure carry

Where, by agreement, we may think it best."

That one of them the cuts brought in his fist

And bade them draw to see where it might fall;

And it fell on the youngest of them all;

And so, forth toward the town he went anon.

And just as soon as he had turned and gone,

That one of them spoke thus unto the other:

"You know well that you are my own sworn brother,

So to your profit I will speak anon.

You know well how our comrade is just gone;

And here is gold, and that in great plenty,

That's to be parted here among us three.

Nevertheless, if I can shape it so

That it be parted only by us two,

Shall I not do a turn that is friendly?"

The other said: "Well, now, how can that be?

He knows well that the gold is with us two.

What shall we say to him? What shall we do?"

"Shall it be secret?" asked the first rogue, then,

"And I will tell you in eight words, or ten,

What we must do, and how bring it about."

"Agreed," replied the other, "Never doubt,

That, on my word, I nothing will betray."

"Now," said the first, "we're two, and I dare say

The two of us are stronger than is one.

Watch when he sits, and soon as that is done

Arise and make as if with him to play;

And I will thrust him through the two sides, yea,

The while you romp with him as in a game,

And with your dagger see you do the same;

And then shall all this gold divided be,

My right dear friend, just between you and me;

Then may we both our every wish fulfill

And play at dice all at our own sweet will."

And thus agreed were these two rogues, that day,

To slay the third, as you have heard me say.

This youngest rogue who'd gone into the town,

Often in fancy rolled he up and down

The beauty of those florins new and bright.

"O Lord," thought he, "if so be that I might

Have all this treasure to myself alone,

There is no man who lives beneath the throne

Of God that should be then so merry as I."

And at the last the Fiend, our enemy,

Put in his thought that he should poison buy

With which he might kill both his fellows; aye,

The Devil found him in such wicked state,

He had full leave his grief to consummate;

For it was utterly the man's intent

To kill them both and never to repent.

And on he strode, no longer would he tarry,

Into the town, to an apothecary,

And prayed of him that he'd prepare and sell

Some poison for his rats, and some as well

For a polecat that in his yard had lain,

The which, he said, his capons there had slain,

And fain he was to rid him, if he might,

Of vermin that thus damaged him by night.

The apothecary said: "And you shall have

A thing of which, so God my spirit save,

In all this world there is no live creature

That's eaten or has drunk of this mixture

As much as equals but a grain of wheat,

That shall not sudden death thereafter meet;

Yea, die he shall, and in a shorter while

Than you require to walk but one short mile;

This poison is so violent and strong."

This wicked man the poison took along

With him boxed up, and then he straightway ran

Into the street adjoining, to a man,

And of him borrowed generous bottles three;

And into two his poison then poured he;

The third one he kept clean for his own drink.

For all that night he was resolved to swink

In carrying the florins from that place.

And when this roisterer, with evil grace,

Had filled with wine his mighty bottles three,

Then to his comrades forth again went he.

What is the need to tell about it more?

For just as they had planned his death before,

Just so they murdered him, and that anon.

And when the thing was done, then spoke the one:

"Now let us sit and drink and so be merry,

And afterward we will his body bury."

And as he spoke, one bottle of the three

He took wherein the poison chanced to be

And drank and gave his comrade drink also,

For which, and that anon, lay dead these two.

I feel quite sure that Doctor Avicena

Within the sections of his Canon never

Set down more certain signs of poisoning

Than showed these wretches two at their ending.

Thus ended these two homicides in woe;

Died thus the treacherous poisoner also.

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Jean Sprackland - Hands

 

 

She peels cod fillets off the slab,

dips them in batter, drops them

one by one into the storm of hot fat.

I watch her scrubbed hands,

elegant at the work,

 

and think of the hands of the midwife

stroking wet hair from my face as I sobbed and cursed,

calling me sweetheart and wheeling in more gas,

hauling out at last my slippery fish of a son.

He was all silence and milky blue. She took him away

and brought him back breathing,

wrapped in a white sheet. By then

I loved her like my own mother.

 

I stand here speechless in the steam and banter,

as she makes hospital corners of my hot paper parcel.

 

my turn...

 

the narrator is watching some one frying fish, and the chef's hands reminds her of herown midwife, who comforted her during childbirth, and when the baby was born without breathing, that midwife resuscitated the baby. This seem to have made the narrator developed a strong endearment towards the midwife. Ok, that's the story, but what's fascinating is the way she chooses the words. In poem in it self is nothing special, not bad either. But the choice of words...

 

hauling out at last my slippery fish of a son.

 

This mother is likening her own baby to a slippery fish? Ok we know new born babies are all wet and slippery and gross, but! slippery fish?! Ok, I understand she is in the presence of frying fish, but, slippery fish = baby?

 

[edit: maybe she is likening her not breathing baby, to a fish pulled to the land.]

 

Ok, back to reality:

I stand here speechless in the steam and banter,

as she makes hospital corners of my hot paper parcel.

 

The chef, seems to be now folding her parcel order (of fish?). Folding corners in the paper bag. Interesting way to say that those hands are reminding her of her ordeal at the hospital. Overall the whole message is very bland, just like English baked fish. But the choice of words is so weird, it makes you want to take another bite out of it. But then you wonder why you bothered.

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Life these days

can be so complex

we don't make the time

to stop and relfect

I know from first hand experience

one can go delerious

seriously it can be like that

But before I put my foot in my mouth

'cause that's what I'm about to start

talkin about

please let me confess before all the rest

that I'm afflicted

by this addicted like most in the US

It's tough to make a living when you're an artist

It's even tougher when you're socially conscious

Careerism, opportunism

can turn the politics into cartoonism

Let's not patronize or criticize

Let's open the door and look inside

Pull the file on the state of denial

 

Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury

[From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/d/disposable-heroes-of-hiphoprisy-lyrics/hypocrisy-is-the-greatest-luxury-lyrics.html ]

Raise the Double Standard

 

The bass, the treble

Don't make a rebel

Havin' your life together does

AMERICA

has an image of a young one

fast livin' not give an expletive

no respect for his

or the lives of those around him

Suicidal, homicidal or at very least

extremely unbridled

How convenient for those

who would like to destroy him

The problem has never been our political logic

but the way we enact it

We can imagine a perfect society

but can't maintain a decent relationship

The failure found in the luxuries

not in the hardships

 

Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury

Raise the Double Standard

 

 

ive always liked poetry in two forms or ways.

 

short/imagry- no message given but a shared emotional connection. Ginsberg and the stream of concious type writing appeals though the 'free form' is taken by anyone to mean 'no rules'. this belies the fact that it is exremely difficult to paint a picture on a huge canvas the way ginsberg did. i like japanese haiku, powerful and minimalist.

 

direct voice- thisis less to do with imagry than direct message. rap did this very well before everybody wanted to be a bad ass. the above is by 'Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy(sp). one of my fav's from early 90's bay area.

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