National Poetry Day
October 4, 2001 11:45 AM   Subscribe

National Poetry Day in the UK. Always a good reminder to go and have a look at that small selection of anthologies I've got on my shelf and see how the meanings of some of my favourite works have changed now what I've got another year of experiences. What is your favourite poem?
posted by feelinglistless (21 comments total)
Spring And Fall
to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wll weep know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins
posted by feelinglistless at 11:51 AM on October 4, 2001

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

--Philip Larkin, High Windows, Faber, London, 1974.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:10 PM on October 4, 2001

We are the music-makers,  
  And we are the dreamers of dreams,  
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,  
  And sitting by desolate streams;  
World-losers and world-forsakers,          
  On whom the pale moon gleams:  
Yet we are the movers and shakers  
  Of the world for ever, it seems.  
With wonderful deathless ditties  
We build up the world's great cities,   
  And out of a fabulous story  
  We fashion an empire's glory:  
One man with a dream, at pleasure,  
  Shall go forth and conquer a crown;  
And three with a new song's measure   
  Can trample an empire down.  
We, in the ages lying  
  In the buried past of the earth,  
Built Nineveh with our sighing,  
  And Babel itself with our mirth;   
And o'erthrew them with prophesying  
  To the old of the new world's worth;  
For each age is a dream that is dying,  
  Or one that is coming to birth.  

Arthur O'Shaughnessy. 1844–1881
posted by ColdChef at 12:25 PM on October 4, 2001


And yet one arrives somehow,
finds himself loosening the hooks of
her dress
in a strange bedroom--
feels the autumn
dropping its silk and linen leaves
about her ankles.
The tawdry veined body emerges
twisted upon itself
like a winter wind . . .

William Carlos Williams
posted by Benway at 12:47 PM on October 4, 2001

Raines, "A Martian Sends a Postcard Home".
posted by newnameintown at 2:06 PM on October 4, 2001

Night Air
--C. Dale Young
posted by modge at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2001

Man, I thought this thread was going to be HUGE!

Sadly, it seems like it got buried. Shame...
posted by ColdChef at 3:16 PM on October 4, 2001

ecco a letter starting "dearest we"
unsigned:remarkably brief but covering
one complete miracle of nearest far

"i cordially invite me to become
noone except yourselves r s v p"

she cannot read or write,la moon. Employs
a very crazily how clownlike that
this quickly ghost scribbling from there to there

-name unless i'm mistaken chauvesouris-
whose gammar is atrocious;but so what

princess selene doesn't know a thing
who's much too busy being her beautiful yes.
The place is now

let us accept
(the time

forever,and you'll wear your silver shoes

e.e. cummings (reminds me of my friend Heidi)
posted by black8 at 3:25 PM on October 4, 2001

ColdChef: I was hoping it would be huge too but I think it began with the wrong question. My favorite poem depends on what day (or time of the day) you ask me. Just now a lot of favorite poems are those we've gone to these last weeks for shelter or consolation. At the risk of being accused of double-posting, I suggest somebody restart the thread---ask, who's your favorite poet & why? or ask, what's your favorite poetry site *on line*? That, I would hope, would be a huge thread.
posted by realjanetkagan at 3:27 PM on October 4, 2001

It's only been up three hours -- let's see what happens...
posted by feelinglistless at 4:08 PM on October 4, 2001

I'll just offer two lines, from Roethke's "In a Dark Time", that especially cheer me today:

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance?

posted by mattpfeff at 4:13 PM on October 4, 2001

much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

another william carlos williams... probably the only poem i've ever memorized... i probably have other favorites and ones i consider very much more superior, but this is the only one i could type from the top of my head.
posted by lotsofno at 5:32 PM on October 4, 2001

ah, just remembered another one:

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.

posted by lotsofno at 5:35 PM on October 4, 2001

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratúe.

—Pablo Neruda
posted by rushmc at 5:51 PM on October 4, 2001

Home is so Sad

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at what things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

Philip Larkin
posted by lucien at 6:01 PM on October 4, 2001

John Keats' Endymion or this stanza, from the poem M V I O P O T M O S, or The Fate of the Butterflie.

What more felicitie can fall to creature
Than to enioy delight with libertie,
And to be Lord of all the workes of Nature,
To raine in th' aire from th' earth to highest skie,
To feed on flowres, and weeds of glorious feature,
To take what euer thing doth please the eie?
Who rests not pleased with such happines,
Well worthie he to taste of wretchednes.

- Edmund Spenser, 1590
posted by bragadocchio at 10:16 PM on October 4, 2001

lots, you forgot the "so" (for WCW)!!! Beautiful poem, though, indeed.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:25 PM on October 4, 2001

as the poems go

as the poems go into the thousands you
realize that you've created very

it comes down to the rain, the sunlight,
the traffic, the nights and the days of the
years, the faces.

leaving this will be easier than living
typing one more line now as
a man plays a piano through the radio,
the best writers have said very
and the worst,
far too much.

- Charles Bukowski

- ps self link
posted by walrus at 3:50 AM on October 5, 2001

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

Meeting at Night, Robert Browning

Oh yes, and all his monologues. My Last Duchess, Porphyria's Lover etc
posted by Summer at 4:05 AM on October 5, 2001

Ho ho ho...

Deep in shallow waters

Relieving myself in the Mediterranean
it occurs to me that some of my wee
has become part of the wider sea
which triggers thoughts of individuals
who think they're really big
when really they are piddley.

John Hegley
posted by Summer at 4:12 AM on October 5, 2001

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ...

Allen Ginsberg

Yeah, and it goes on for a bit after that, but this opening part is actually my favorite.
posted by bob bisquick at 6:07 AM on October 5, 2001

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