Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Rookie Donald Shorrock (12/10/2005 8:17:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies
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    Hi, Is anyone here familiar with AE Housman or Laurence Housman, its just that i have a letter dated feb 20th 1933.
    Unsure wether i can post a link to it but here goes.
    http: //cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ViewItem&category=29223&item=8362772679
    The letter seems to concern a book called 'selected poems ', but for the life of me i cannot find any reference to it. Can anyone shed any light on the letter.

    Thanks in advance

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    • Rookie Michael Shepherd (12/11/2005 5:25:00 AM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

      AE Houseman was a celebrated poet of 'between the wars', his 'Shropshire Lad' being his best-known. In fact, he qualifies for 'typical British poet'inour discussions. His brother, also a poet but less ... more

    • Rookie Joseph Daly (12/10/2005 8:24:00 PM) Post reply

      Yeah, Donald it's still available, I think you mean the Selection published by Faber & Faber. You shouldn't have any trouble getting hold of a copy. It will be well worth the effort.

  • Rookie Joseph Daly (12/10/2005 6:43:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    Following on from Declan's comment about early Irish poetry here is an example. It is called 'The Land of Cokaygne', written, perhaps by monks around the fourteenth century, it is one of the earliest pieces of irish poetry. The original is in the British museum.

    A few of the Middle English items, like Cockaygne and a drinking song making fun of local clerics and tradesmen, were clearly for amusement. Most of the Middle English content is verse, sermons and lyrics designed for the instruction of the laity.

    The Land of Cokaygne is not an isolated poem; its fictional and parodic otherworld belongs to a tradition of poems dealing with an imaginary paradise where leisure rules and food is readily available. The three main traditions are:

    1. Classical: going back to Lucian's True History, a Greek work of the second century AD, that describes a comical paradise full of food, drink, and loose women.

    2. Christian: descriptions of both Heaven and the the garden of Eden (from which Adam and Eve were expelled, and which was seen as a real, though remote, place on earth) . Believed visited by Alexander the Great, it often was placed far to the East (though Dante in his Divine Comedy locates it in the Antipodes, at the tip of the mountain of Purgatory) .

    3. Goliardic: one Latin poem of the twelfth century (Carmina Burana 222) is spoken by an abbas Cucaniensis, an 'abbot of Cockaygne' who presides over drinking and gambling, and the descriptions of the two abbeys in Cockaygne, which invert the usual norms of religious life.

    To some extent, the ideal of an imaginary country (paradise) like Cockaygne, was later developed by Thomas Moore in his 'Utopia', though Moore was less interested in the nihalistic pretentions and was more concerned with a perfect social order. For the writers of this verse (perhaps it should be plural) Cockaygne was their ideal society.

    This is the earliest translation into English by Dunn & Byrnes:

    The Land of Cokaygne

    Far in the sea to the west of Spain
    There is a land that we call Cokaygne;
    Under God's heaven no other land
    Such wealth and goodness has in hand
    Though paradise be merry and bright,
    Cokaygne is yet a fairer sight.
    For what is there in paradise
    But grass and flowers and green rice?
    Though there be joy and great delight,
    There is no food for the appetite;
    There is no hall, nor room, nor bench,
    Nothing but water man's thirst to quench.
    There are only two people there,
    Elijah and Enoch with him.
    Tediously are they able to lead their lives
    In a place where no other people dwell!
    In Cokayne there is food and drink
    Without care, anxiety and labor.
    The food is excellent, the drink is splendid,
    At dinner, snack time, and supper.
    I say in truth, without doubt,
    There is no land on earth its equal.
    Indeed, there is no land under heaven
    Which has so much joy and bliss.
    Many a pleasing sight is there;
    It is always day, there is no night.
    There is no conflict or strife;
    There is no death, but life forever;
    There is no lack of food or clothing;
    There no woman is angry at no man;
    There is no snake, wolf, or fox;
    No horse, cow or ox;
    There is no sheep, no swine, no goat;
    There is no dirt, God knows,
    Nor horse-breeding farm nor stud farm.
    The land is full of other goods.
    There is no fly nor flea, nor louse,
    In clothing, village, bed or house.
    There is no thunder, no hail,
    There is no vile worm nor snail,
    And no storm, rain nor wind.
    There no man nor woman is blind,
    But all is play, joy and mirth;
    Well is it for him who can be there!
    There are rivers great and fine
    Of oil, milk, honey and wine;
    Water there serves no purpose
    Except to be looked at and to wash with.
    There is all manner of fruit;
    All is amusement and delight.
    A very lovely abbey is there
    Of gray and white monks.
    There are private rooms and large halls;
    The walls are all of pies,
    Of meat, of fish, and rich food,
    The most pleasing that a person can eat.
    All the shingles are cakes made of flour,
    On the church, the cloister, and the hall.
    The pegs are fat sausages,
    Rich food fit for princes and kings.
    One cannot eat enough of them,
    And can eat justifiably, without blame.
    Everything is shared by young and old,
    By the proud and fierce, meek and bold.
    There the cloister is lovely and full of light,
    Spacious and long, of pleasant sight.
    All the pillars of that cloister
    Are made out of crystal,
    With their base and capital
    Of green jasper and red coral.
    In the cloister garden there is a tree
    Very pleasant to see.
    The root is ginger and galingale;
    The shoots are all setwall.
    The flowers are choice maces,
    The bark is cinnamon of sweet odor,
    The fruit are cloves of fine taste.
    There is no lack of cubebs.
    There are roses of red color
    And lilies pleasant to see.
    They never wither by day or night;
    This has to be a sweet sight!
    There are four springs in the abbey,
    Of ointment and healing potion,
    Of balm and spiced, sweet wine,
    Always flowing to true profit,
    They drench all the soil there,
    Precious stones and gold.
    There is sapphire and pearl,
    Carbuncle and aster,
    Emerald, ligure, and prasine,
    Beryl, onyx, topaz,
    Amethyst and chrysolite,
    Chalcedony and hepatite.
    There are many and plentiful birds:
    Song thrush, thrush, nightingale,
    Lark and golden oriole
    And other birds without number
    Which never, in keeping with their power, stop
    Singing merrily day and night.
    I'll cause you to know still more:
    The geese roasted on the spit
    Fly to that abbey, God knows,
    And cry out: 'Geese, all hot, all hot! '
    They bring along plenty of garlic,
    The best prepared that one can see.
    The larks - this is well known -
    Land in a person's mouth,
    Having been very well prepared in the stewpot,
    Powdered with cloves and cinnamon.
    Nothing is said about drink,
    Just take plenty, with no trouble.
    When the monks go to Mass
    All the windows which are of glass
    Turn into bright crystal
    To give the monks more light.
    When the Mass has been said
    And the books put away,
    The crystal turns [back] into glass,
    The state in which it was before.
    Each day the young monks
    Go out to play after dinner.
    There is no hawk or bird so swift
    That flies better through the air
    Than the monks, high spirited,
    With their sleeves and their hoods.
    When the abbot sees them fly,
    He considers it a great joy;
    But nevertheless, all the same,
    He commands them to land for evensong.
    The monks do not land,
    But fly further, in a rush.
    When the abbot sees for himself
    That his monks fly away from him,
    He takes a maiden of the company
    And turns up her white behind
    And beats the small drums with his hand
    To make the monks alight on land.
    When his monks see [him do] that,
    They fly down to the maid
    And go all around the wench
    And pat all her white behind
    And then, after their labor,
    Go meekly home to drink
    and go to their collation,
    A very lovely procession!
    There is another abbey nearby,
    In truth, a lovely, large nunnery,
    Up a river of sweet milk,
    Where there is a great quantity of silk.
    When the summer day is hot,
    The young nuns take a boat
    And betake themselves onto that river,
    With both oars and rudder.
    When they are far from the abbey,
    They take off their clothes in order to play
    And they leap down into the water
    And skillfully set about swimming.
    The young monks, who see them,
    They get themselves up and hasten out
    And come to the nuns quickly,
    And each monk takes one for himself,
    And they quickly carry off their prey
    To the great gray abbey
    And teach the nuns a prayer
    With 'raised leg' up and down.
    The monk who wants to be a good stallion
    And who knows how to wear his cowl properly,
    He shall have, without objection,
    Twelve wives each year,
    All through right and not through privilege,
    To amuse himself with.
    And the monk who sleeps best
    And gives his body entirely over to rest,
    For him there is hope, God knows,
    To quickly become father Abbot.
    Whoever wants to come to that land
    Must do a very great penance:
    Seven years in swine's dung
    He must wade, well may you understand,
    All the way up to his chin,
    So he can deserve this land.
    Gentlemen good and courteous,
    May you never depart from this world
    Until you hazard your luck
    And try that penance,
    So that you can see that land
    And never more return from it.
    Let us pray God that it may be so,
    Amen, pur Seint Charitée.

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    • Rookie Michael Shepherd (12/11/2005 5:38:00 AM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

      I guess that set the pattern for cocaine abuse... From the opening lines, I suspect it's a take-off of Anglo-Saxon poems of around the 8-9th century (?) such as The Pearl and The Phoenix, which I b ... more

    • Rookie Declan McHenry (12/10/2005 7:21:00 PM) Post reply

      That's almost an epic tale. Here's a shorter anonymous 9th century work I dug up. It's not a bad translation. One of the interesting facets is the three descriptives in the third line. In the original ... more

    • Rookie Michael Voorhis (12/10/2005 7:08:00 PM) Post reply

      Man, someone had some time on their hands. But I like it

  • Rookie allan james saywell (12/10/2005 5:55:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    well the war is over so i shall go and have a dip in the beautiful clean water
    (salt water) of the most beautiful country in the world, then i shall indulge myself of an awe inspiring view of the tweed river then when i look right i see the tall buildings of surfers paradise and yes it is a wonderful country
    an ethnic country full of free people people with freedom of speech

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    • Rookie Herbert Nehrlich1 (12/10/2005 8:14:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      Sherrie, something about the local conditions: We have Maray eels, stone fis, jellyfish, small sharks. big ones, loggerhead turtles...... They all love jewellery. Best H(jr)

  • Rookie allan james saywell (12/10/2005 5:04:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    that coffee was good how is everyone anyone want to talk about poetry

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  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (12/10/2005 4:45:00 PM) Post reply

    Allan, while you're obsessed with petty insults and snide childishness directed at - by now - just about every member of this site individually, there's a war going on in Iraq which could easily spread further, and even Australia has come under fire from AQ. Can you wonder that there is a part of every poet which finds war incomprehensible and painful, and seeks its essence in poetry, in the hope of experiencing some personal resolution?

  • Rookie Ben Cassel (12/10/2005 3:52:00 PM) Post reply | Read 4 replies

    The two finest war songs, in my opinion, were both written by an Australian named Eric Bogle. They are 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' and 'No Man's Land (The Green Fields of France) .' The lyrics to both should be easily located on line. One of the finest poetic statements on war came from Randall Jarrell, a good old Southern lad from North Carolina:

    The Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner

    From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
    And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
    Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
    I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
    When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

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    • Rookie Richard George (12/11/2005 5:43:00 AM) Post reply

      One of the most moving anti-war records ever recorded, if you can find it, is 'Balaklava' by Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine. For the Crimean war read Vietnam and the current shenanigans - hideously ... more

    • Rookie Jerry Hughes (12/10/2005 6:08:00 PM) Post reply

      Don't want to sound like a smart-arse pedant Ben, I think you'll find Eric Bogal is a Scotmans, who migrated here some years ago. Nevertheless, The Band Played Waltzing Matilda is a song of such sadne ... more

    • Rookie Poetry Hound (12/10/2005 5:29:00 PM) Post reply

      One that I like is 'In California During the Gulf War' by Denise Levertov.

    • Rookie Joseph Daly (12/10/2005 4:48:00 PM) Post reply

      Yes, WW1 certainly did bring out some of ... more

  • Rookie Joseph Daly (12/10/2005 12:26:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    With all this maudlin stuff about war I thought that it might be a good thing to read a piece by the nineteenth century lyricist Patrick Joseph McCall. Rather than being defeatist about war - and God knows, the Irish have faced enough defeats - McCall chose to celebrate an Irish victory. The words, I feel, display a joyful arrogance: If we can do it once; we can do it again.

    If anyone wishes to hear this might I suggest you try to get to hear the version by Planxty. Failing that I understand that this is one of Declan Mc Henry’s favourite songs. With enough pressure, he might like to record his own version of it and we could ask him to e-mail it as an mp3.

    The song tells the story of the Battle of Glenmalure, one of the victories of the Irish over the English at the end of the sixteenth century in the Desmond Rebellions.

    Against expectations Feach MacHugh O’Byrne defeated Lord Grey Wilton at Glenmalure in the Wicklow Mountains, South of Dublin. Using his stronghold on Ballincor Mountain as operating base O’Byrne launched a campaign against the English and it is said that the tune of this song was already played by then.
    The campaign ended with the capture and the subsequently beheading of O’Bryne in 1597 during the Nine Years War. (Info from Triskel site)

    Follow me up to Carlow

    Lift Mac Cahir Og your face,
    Brooding o´er the old disgrace,
    That black Fitzwilliam stormed your place
    And drove you to the Fern
    Grey said victory was sure,
    Soon the firebrand he´d secure
    Until he met at Glenmalure,
    Feach Mac Hugh O´Byrne

    See the swords of Glen Imayle,
    Flashing o´er the English Pale
    See all the children of the Gael,
    Beneath O´Byrne´s banners
    Rooster of the fighting stock,
    Would you let a Saxon cock
    Crow out upon an Irish rock,
    Fly up and teach him manners

    Curse and swear Lord Kildare
    Feach will do what Feach will dare
    Now Fitzwilliam, have a care
    Fallen is your star low
    Up with halbert, out with sword
    On we go for by the Lord
    Feach Mac Hugh has given his word
    Follow me up to Carlow

    From Tassagart to Clonmore,
    Flows a stream of Saxon gore
    Och, great is Rory Oge O´More,
    At sending loons to Hades
    White is sick and Lane is fled,
    Now for black Fitzwilliam´s head
    We´ll send it over, dripping red,
    To Liza and the ladies

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    • Rookie Declan McHenry (12/10/2005 3:41:00 PM) Post reply

      Of course though, this is a nineteenth century work and written in English for an English speaking audience. There are native Irish poems going back to the 6th Century AD. The verse techniques are fas ... more

    • Rookie Allan James Saywell (12/10/2005 3:05:00 PM) Post reply

      at sending loons to hades' we have a lot of loons at poem hunter yes i like this poem denis joe

    • Rookie Declan McHenry (12/10/2005 2:01:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      Denis Joe, yes it is a favourite but it'll take a few pints for me to loosen up my vocal cords. It is a particularly bloodthirsty little number and a great one for a crowd singalong. It is lost witho ... more

  • Rookie - 150 Points Poetry Hound (12/10/2005 10:30:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    New arrival Ian Blake has posted some good poems.

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    • Rookie - 150 Points Joseph Daly (12/10/2005 11:52:00 AM) Post reply

      Couldn't agree more, Hound. His work is excellent and he had the good sense not to put a load of his work on at once.

  • Rookie Allan James Saywell (12/10/2005 8:23:00 AM) Post reply

    i'me going to bed now everybody, good night england, i be pissed now

  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (12/10/2005 2:28:00 AM) Post reply | Read 6 replies

    i am very particular about the pen i use when i'm writing. most post offices and banks have shitty pens; PILOT produces some of the finest pens around. anybody else out there as particular about their writing instruments or am i drunk?

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