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Pope in his grotto
It's clever, but is it art?
(This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.)
12th-Apr-2011 06:19 pm - April poetry month
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins
8th-Apr-2010 05:31 am - Hey dol! merry dol!
God, I seriously have the weirdest dreams. Last night, it was about the Council of Elrond. While the Council was deciding what to do with the Ring, the Auditors from Discworld showed up and decided to break up the Council (in some way that was never really explained) so that the Ring and everyone else would stay put in Rivendell and give up all this heroic-journeying nonsense. Tom Bombadil, who was there for some reason, had to call on a "higher power" (Iluvatar?) to stop the Auditors from ruining everything.

Yeah, I'm... having dreams about Tom Bombadil. >_> At least he didn't sing. But he was very huge and his boots were, indeed, yellow.

Say, it appears to be April Poetry Month. Have some Ogden Nash.Collapse )
4th-Apr-2009 03:41 pm - April Poetry Month
Devil: Temptation
by Stephen Crane

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it--
It was clay.

Now this is the strange part:
When the man went to the earth
And looked again,
Lo, there was the ball of gold.
Now this is the strange part:
It was a ball of gold.
Aye, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.
2nd-Apr-2009 06:17 pm - April Poetry Month
Sandman - Season of Mists
(untitled, from This Side of Paradise)
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The last light fades and drifts across the land--the low, long land, the sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down the long corridors of trees; pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour.

No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight my desire will see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.

(I read this novel last year, and had some criticisms it overall, but this I liked. It's a bit overwrought, intentionally I presume, but very pretty.)
1st-Apr-2009 04:21 pm - April Poetry Month
Marlowe: "bad revolting stars?"
April Poetry month. Stephen Crane themed this year, because I like him and because his poems are short. Later I may throw in some other poetry as well, if I'm not too lazy.

by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial
Who, squatting upon the ground
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
One Hundred Years of Solitude: Aureliano
In my Russian Lit book, we've reached the section on Tyutchev, which is quite short -- just a handful of poems. After reading the first poem I thought, my god, this is stunning. And after every other poem I thought the same thing. They were far too wonderful to be translations.

At first I said to myself, hell, these must be translated by Nabokov. But I quickly decided, no, that's awful -- as if Nabokov were the only person capable of translating Russian literature! Surely there are other translators with this kind of talent. There's no reason to imagine Nabokov is the only one.

But I flipped back to the front of the book where the translators are credited, and sure enough -- Nabokov.

God damn you, Nabokov.

Anyway, I notice that almost none of these translations seem to exist online, so I'm posting a few of them (a bit early for April Poetry Month, but whatever). Some of you, no doubt, have read these in Russian, and I have no idea how the translations actually compare to Tyutchev's originals, or whether Nabokov took preposterous liberties in order to make them work so well in English, but I'm impressed either way.

AppeasementCollapse )

The AbyssCollapse )

Silentium!Collapse )

Last LoveCollapse )

I need to find some Nabokov translations of Pushkin so that I'll stop thinking Tyutchev was a better poet. :/ The Pushkin poems in the book are nowhere near this good.

Unrelatedly, tomorrow there's an open lecture on Oscar Wilde in the Lang & Lit building. I may try to go, since I don't have classes. It's at 3:15, in room 316, on 3/17, which should be easy enough to remember...
Marlowe: "bad revolting stars?"
All right, well, having survived yet another Chemistry exam and yet another Russian exam, I'm back to have another go at April Poetry Month... and having, on a whim prompted by hamsterwoman, mocked the Millay poem I posted a few days ago, I now bring you another Millay poem, this one concerning Euclid, along with a humorous riposte-poem by Roger Zelazny, concerning Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (who developed non-Euclidean geometry). Always falling in with the Russians, that Zelazny, isn't he? ;)

So, for you lovers of mathematics -- behold, poems of geekery. Actually, the first is quite chastely magnificent, and the second, quite roguishly fun. Have a look. I, meanwhile, am off to sleep.

Euclid Alone Has Looked On Beauty BareCollapse )
And in reply:
Lobachevsky's EyesCollapse )
Since hamsterwoman has mentioned in reference to my recent death-admonishing poetry post, and since I've been intending to post it, here's an even more beautiful -- and much more terrible -- poem about death: Phillip Larkin's AubadeCollapse )

It feels a bit cheap even to try to comment on this poem; what is there possibly to add, or to say about it that isn't simply a reiteration of it in wordier, less-perfect terms?Collapse )
LotR: Theoden
Dirge Without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you...Collapse )
I don't remember when or how I first stumbled across Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Dirge Without Music," but it's one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read, and the sentiment behind it, or at least the light in which that sentiment is expressed, is one that I haven't quite seen anywhere else before.Collapse )
Sandman - Season of Mists
All right, so I failed to put up any poetry yesterday -- but I'll make up for it later, and in the meantime, here's that frightfully ambitious post I mentioned a couple of days ago. (I suppose it would be fair to say that his post sets up the context for all the rest of my Poetry Month posts, and, heck, probably for every other literature post I've ever made.)

Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism is a very long poem, so I won't produce the text here in full; but have a link, and with it my most ardent encouragement to read it through. It's amazing how precisely Pope, three hundred years dead, can still find out all the flaws and stupidities of literature and literary criticism -- and how much aspiring writers (and critical readers) of the present day can still learn from him. His poem is a bit like The Elements of Style in verse, only broader, wittier, and more subjective. I've read it a number of times, always with the same amaze and delight, and basked in every damnably clever line of it. Really, I cannot possibly overstate how much I adore this poem. Yes, I know, it's an essay -- on criticism, of all prosaic things -- but nonetheless, I tell you, it is fucking beautiful.

Behind the cut: some of my favorite parts of the poem, with commentary and, occasionally, squeeing.Collapse )

(...Whew. Can you believe this is the sort of thing I look forward to doing with my spare time? o_O)
Pope in his grotto
I do love this poem, but I have no energy to comment on it at the moment. Fortunately, unlike most of the other poems I enjoy, it doesn't really need much commenting on; hence my posting it now rather than something else. I'll make up for it with something very ambitious tomorrow (which, consequently, no one will read... but whatever).
The Eagle
Alfred, Lord Tennyson


He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Marlowe: "bad revolting stars?"
Do I have time for this? Heck no. But I'm doing it anyway.

So. Today's selection isn't actually a poem at all, but rather the last six stanzas from Magnyfycence, a morality play written by John Skelton sometime around 1515. Of course, morality plays, as a rule, are rather ridiculous, even if you leave Pierre Gringoire out of the question; but still there's something quaintly and naively charming about them, I find. The cast of incarnate human conditions in Magnyfycence include the ever-popular Lyberte, Felycyte, Poverte, Dyspare, Myschefe, and so on, along with a few more obscure characters such as Cyrcumspeccyon, Perseveraunce, Frantic Fansy Service (whatever that is), Crafty Conveyaunce (er?), Courtly Abusyon, and Counterfet Countenaunce.

...All right, yes, I have to admit, imagining a troupe of anachronistically French players lumbering about in pasteboard signs that say "Dyspare" and "Courtly Abusyon," while Pierre Gringoire runs around in his threadbare surcoat directing them importantly, is most of the fun of reading morality plays. But.

In any case, there are a few interesting moments in this particular morality play; or at least, I rather enjoy its medieval melodramatic proselytyzing, its archaisms, and its surprising modern moments. The meter and rhymes have survived improbably intact, too, which delights me for some reason. My favorite bit is the ending (well, rather, a part very closely preceding the ending; not the actual "Jhesus preserve you frome endlesse wo and shame, Amen" part o_O), and so this I present, transcribed for your convenience into legible English, because otherwise my keyboard's letter Y myght overtyre and nevere woryk agayne.

Suddenly thus fortune can both smile and frown: / Suddenly set up; and suddenly cast down.Collapse )

And here, because it really is more fun this way, is the original version, copy-pasted in all its inscrutable pre-dictionarian glory:

This treatyse deuysyd to make you dysporte / Shewyth nowe adayes howe the worlde comberyd isCollapse )

I'd say more about the play, and probably also about Pierre Gringoire, if I didn't have to be in class with my homework done within the hour, but for now, I guess I'll leave off here. Feel free to mock -- you can be sure that my Marlowe icon is, characteristically, doing likewise. ;)
Sandman: Morpheus and pigeons
If that's the word I'm after.
Piet Hein

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
  and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
  is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
  while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
  you suddenly know what you're hoping.
Oh, quite.

So. Attempting to participate in April Poetry Month just now, when I barely have enough extra minutes in the day to even look at LJ as it is, is possibly the stupidest idea I've ever had. But at least I'm off to a recantable start: if I fail to post any more poems for the whole rest of the month, I can always just say, "April Fools!"

As to the above, it is, I think, my favorite of Piet Hein's grooks, at least from the collection to which hamsterwoman introduced me (they're all brilliant -- go have a look). I must have died laughing the first time I read it, because oh, how frequently guilty I am of pretending to let chance have its way, and really doing exactly what I didn't know I intended to do all along. "Was that a fair flip?" "I think this coin is topheavy." "How about two out of three?"

A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, if in nothing else at least in the law of probability...
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