Poetics and Poetry Discussion
(5/9/2005 6:14:00 PM)
I typed this from his book so excuse minor errors...
(5/9/2005 6:13:00 PM)
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Here is a poem of utter genius.... one of my favourite poets and a personal mentor.... now deceased, eaten by a vicious affliction..
The Retreat of Ita Cagney
for Liam Brady
Their barbarism did not assuage the grief:
their polished boots, their Sunday clothes,
the drone of hoarse melodeons.
The smoke was like the edge of blue scythes.
The downpour smell of overcoats
made the kitchen cry for air;
snuff lashed the nose like nettles
and the toothless praising of the dead
spun on like unoiled bellows.
She could not understand her grief:
the women who had washed his corpse
were now more intimate with him
than she had ever been.
She put a square of silk upon her head
and hidden in the collars of her coat
she felt her way along the whitewashed walls.
The road became a dim knkife.
She had no plan
but instinct neighed around her
like a pulling horse.
Moulded to a wedge of jet
by the wet night, her black hair
showed one grey rib, like a fine
steel filing on a forge floor.
One deep line cut be silent
days of hate in the expanse
of sallow skin above her brows,
dipped down to a tragic slant.
Her eyebrows wre thin penlines
Finely drawn on parchment sheets,
Hair after mimiscule hair
A linear nasterpiece.
Triangles of minute gold
Broke her open blue of eyes
That had looked on bespoke love
Seeing only to despise.
Her long nose was almost bone
making her face too severe:
the tight and rose-edged nostrils
never belled into a flare.
A fine gold down above the
upper lip did not maintain
its prettiness not lower’s swell
make it less a graph on pain.
Chin and jawline delicate,
neither weak not skeletal:
bone in definite stern mould,
small and strong like a fox-skull.
Her throat showed no signs of age.
No sinews reinforced flesh
or gathered in clenched fistfuls
to pull skin to a lined mesh.
The rest was shapeless, in black woollen dress.
Door opened halving darkness bronze
and half an outlines man
filled half the bronze.
Lamplight whipped upright into gold
the hairs along his nose,
flowed coils of honey
around his head.
In the centre of his throat
clipped on his blue-striped shirt
a stud briefly pierced a thorn of light.
The male smell of the kitchen
engulfed her face,
odours of lost gristle
and grease along the wall:
her headscarf laughed a challenge,
its crimson wrinkles crackling.
He knuckled up the wooden latch
and closed the door for many years.
Great ceremony later causes pain:
next year in hatred and in grief, the vain
white dress, the bulging priest, the frantic dance,
the vowing and the sickening wished, land
like careful hammers on a broken hand.
But in this house no scared text was read.
He offered her some food: they went to bed,
his arm and side a helmet for her head.
This was no furtive country coupling: this
was the ultimate hello, kiss and kiss
exchanged and bodies introduced. Their skin –
to choose so late a moment to begin,
while shamefaced chalice, pyx, ciborium
clanged their giltwrapped anger in the room.
The swollen leather creaks
like lost birds
and the edges of her shawl
fringe down into the dark
while glaciers of oilskins drip around her
and musical traces and chafing of harness
and tedious drumming of hooves on the gravel
make her labour pains become
the direct rebuke and pummel of the town.
Withdrawing from her pain
to the nightmare warmth
beneath her shawl
the secret meeting in the dark
becomes a public spectacle
and baleful sextons turn their heads
and sullen shadows mutter hate
and snarl and debate
and shout vague threats of hell.
The crossroads blink their headlamp warning
and break into a rainbow on the shining tar:
the new skill turns in its warm pain,
the new skull pushes towards its morning.
O my small and warm creature
with your gold hair and your skin
that smells of milk and apples,
I must always lock you in
where nothing much can happen.
But you will hate these few rooms,
for a dove is bound to come
with leaves and outdoor perfumes:
already the talons drum
a beckoning through the slates,
bring form the people words
and messages of hate.
Soon the wingbeats of this bird
will whisper down in their dive.
I dread the coming of this dove
for its beak will be a knife
and if you leave armed with my love
they will tell you what you lack.
The will make you wear my life
like a hump upon your back.
…. each footprint being green in the wet grass
in search of mushrooms like white moons of lime,
each hazel ooze of cowdung through the toes,
being warm, and slipping like a floor of silk …
but all the windows are in mourning here:
the giant eye gleams like a mucous hill.
She pictured cowslips, then his farmer’s face,
and waited in a patient discontent.
A heel of mud fell from his garden boots
embossed with nails and whit-hilt shoots of grass,
a hive of hayseeds in the woollen grooves
of meadow coats fell golden on the floor,
and apples with medallions of rust
englobed a thickening cider on the shelf:
and holly on the varnished frames bent in
and curved its cat-sharp fingernails of green.
The rooms became resplendent with these signs.
I will put purple crêpe and crimson crêpe
and white crêpe on the shelf
and watch the candles cry
O salutaris hostia.
I will light the oil-lamp till it burns
like a scarlet apple
and was the candlegrease
upon the ledges interweave
to ropes of ivory.
I have not insulted God:
I have insulted
crombie coats and lace mantillas,
Sunday best and church collections,
and they declare my life a sinful act:
not because it hurts
the God they say they love –
not because their sins are less –
but because my happiness
is not a public fact.
In rhythmic dance the neighbours move
outside my door, become dumb dolls
as venom breaks in strident fragments
on the glass; broken insults clatter
on the slates. The pack retreats,
the instruments of siege withdraw
and skulk into the foothills to regroup.
The houses nudge and mutter through the night
and wait intently for the keep to fall.
She guards her sleeping citizen
and paces the exhausting floor:
on speaking avenues of stone
she hears the infantry of eyes advance.
(5/9/2005 3:54:00 PM)
JC I fear this error is another of the relaxations of grammatical rule.. something which bothers me also.
Moreover, pretty soon 'ask' will become 'axe' and the whole 'ight ending will have disappeared altogether in preference of the 'ite ending.. night=nite etc.. It is a laziness that is fearfully creeping in all too quickly. Don't get me wrong - I am not a language snob and I do believe in stretching rules. Also I do believe that evolution will apply to language as well as anything else. I just lament the changes... as they are more dictated to us by business, media and such than the more knowledgeable schools of english.
(5/9/2005 3:14:00 PM)
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a perfectly valid word 'academician'...it's made me consider something which might make for a bit of fun. personally, I would have preferred the word 'academian' to 'academician'. However, my preferred word does not exist, Jefferson's does. It made me consider the word 'think'...it always seemed logical to me that the past participle should be 'thunk' (however inelegant) ...anybody else have words that don't exist that they believe should be words? I know I'm inviting in the 'rogue element' to abuse this enquiry, but for others, I considered it may be an interesting gambit.Replies for this message:
(5/9/2005 3:21:00 PM)
Wow.. I'd love to engage with this challenge, but I am 'blessed' with a rather unfortunate memory... I know and am itching to remember ones that have come up.. will have to rattle this old cage to see ... more
To read all of 3 replies click here
- ***** ***** (5/9/2005 3:21:00 PM) Post reply
(5/9/2005 2:59:00 PM)
I would suggest that that statistic is less about a particular nation and more about the global collection of poets.. with only 10 percent overall reading and commenting. I admit that I don't read enough, but am improving and it is informing my work. Irish people are given an english education which would make anyone stop speaking the language.. it's force-fed and regurgitated at will.. no wonder Irish people don't go back to literature.. for the most part. It gathers a lump of fear in the throat. If people are to read poetry then education systems need alteration to encourage people to interpret openly, not solely reiterate the PhD theses of past pupils.
With respect to Ms. Boland, being part of the educational establishment can blind many academics to that little nugget of truth.
(5/9/2005 1:45:00 PM)
I wrote this on the second day after the tsunami.. I am not offering it as part two, but it was about the moment of impact... It appears in 'Paint The Sky With Stars', an anthology from which all the proceeds will go to South East Asia..
Just following the thread, albeit sideways... :) Sx
Outstretched fingers flew by
in the muddy gloop.
Trees curled back, under strain
of two people, now bound
by a common blackness.
I don't know you, hold my hand.
Many vanishing seas counted
then wielded a fierce revenge
upon the earth,
knocked it off its perch.
The glass was shook and
dessicated humans floated
a myriad in the little ball.
Bloated they fell to the shore
as the raging floor of the ocean
sucked back a vomit.
Cracked shells, sun-seared
lay upon the settled sand,
flung and spun in the flood,
Arms straddled, calling up.
What did you hug
before the ocean pulled
its continental plug?
Wrapped into each other,
this tender horror scalpels
all the more, bodies
blistered and scored.
Babies sleeping, all
peaceful on a drunken shore.
Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler
(5/9/2005 9:14:00 AM)
re: JOY DIVISION
they really were a fantastic band. i got into New Order first and worked my way back. the grating, sub-par distorted production of Joy Division was initially hard to swallow compared to NO's slick electronics thanks in no small part to Stephen Hague. Ian's voice was almost comical to me.
but then i dug deeper. i listened to his lyrics. i learned more about him, i read all the liner notes i could find! and i grew to admire and respect Joy Division, and enjoy NO even more.
Dead Souls, Transmission, and She's Lost Control remain my faves...
(5/8/2005 7:22:00 PM)
Ian Curtis wasn't the best live performer and I prefer The Fall but Joy Division did some interesting work.
(5/8/2005 8:41:00 AM)
The Morrison poem I USED to like was (and I'm doing this from memory) :
The air outside burns my eyes.
I'll pull them out and
get rid of the burning.
(5/8/2005 7:50:00 AM)
Anthony and all - I've attempted a very quick demonstration of the way a poet might approach the content of the Morrison poem.. it's up as 'Man Raking Leaves'. Of course a poem set to music, however sparsely expressed, is still magic, so it's no comp - though I can envisage it as shooting script for the opening of one of those exquisite Japanese films with their fabulous plink-pause-twang soundtracks...