POESY

po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Nov. 28 - William Blake


William Blake (November 28, 1757–August 12, 1827) was an English poet, painter, and engraver. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, his works of poetry and art are today considered significant contributions in their fields. Often noted a the most spiritual writer of his time, he was fascinated by mysticism and influenced by the emerging Romantic movement. Though hostile to the church, he had affection for the New Testament of the Bible.

During the 1780s he associated with intellectual dissidents: philosophers, writers, scientists, feminists. Blake supported the American and, initially, the French revolutions. He abhorred slavery and believed in racial and sexual equality. Several of his poems and paintings express a notion of universal humanity.

~

How many of us as students learned the following:

The Tyger

Tyger Tyger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


~

I add this intriguing work, of which lines have often been quoted:


Auguries Of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipped and armed for fight
Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved
Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat,
Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song
Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of Envy's foot.
The poison of the honey-bee
Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands,
Throughout all these human lands;
Tools were made and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright
And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar
Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar's rags fluttering in air
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the labourer's hands
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands,
Or if protected from on high
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough
To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket's cry
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street
Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie
When we see not through the eye
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night,
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.



--William Blake



Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nov. 20 - Thomas Chatterton



English poet Thomas Chatterton (November 20, 1752 – August 24, 1770) committed suicide by drinking arsenic rather than die of starvation at the young age of 17.

This gifted, rebellious youth became known for his genius after his death and later became a hero to the romantic poets.

These were written when he was 17 or younger!

Picture of Autumn

When autumn, bleak and sun-burnt, do appear,
With his gold hand gilting the falling leaf,
Bringing up winter to fulfil the year,
Bearing upon his back the riped sheaf;
When all the hills with woody seed are white,
When levying fires, and lemes, do meet from far the sight:
When the fair apple, rudde as even sky,
Do bend the tree unto the fructile ground.
When juicy pears, and berries of black dye,
Do dance in air and call the eyne around;
Then, be the even foul, or even fair,
Methinks my hearte's joy is stained with some care.


The Copernican System

The Sun revolving on his axis turns,
And with creative fire intensely burns;
Impell'd by forcive air, our Earth supreme,
Rolls with the planets round the solar gleam.
First Mercury completes his transient year,
Glowing, refulgent, with reflected glare;
Bright Venus occupies a wider way,
The early harbinger of night and day;
More distant still our globe terraqueous turns,
Nor chills intense, nor fiercely heated burns;
Around her rolls the lunar orb of light,
Trailing her silver glories through the night:
On the Earth's orbit see the various signs,
Mark where the Sun our year completing shines;
First the bright Ram his languid ray improves;
Next glaring watry thro' the Bull he moves;
The am'rous Twins admit his genial ray;
Now burning thro' the Crab he takes his way;
The Lion flaming bears the solar power;
The Virgin faints beneath the sultry show'r,
Now the just Balance weighs his equal force,
The slimy Serpent swelters in his course;
The sabled Archer clouds his languid face;
The Goat, with tempests, urges on his race;
Now in the Wat'rer his faint beams appear,
And the cold Fishes end the circling year.
Beyond our globe the sanguine Mars displays
A strong reflection of primoeval rays;
Next belted Jupiter far distant gleams,
Scarcely enlighten'd with the solar beams,
With four unfix'd receptacles of light,
He tours majestic thro' the spacious height:
But farther yet the tardy Saturn lags,
And five attendant Luminaries drags,
Investing with a double ring his pace,
He circles thro' immensity of space.
These are thy wondrous works, first source of Good!
Now more admir'd in being understood.



The Romance Of The Knight

The pleasing sweets of spring and summer past,
The falling leaf flies in the sultry blast,
The fields resign their spangling orbs of gold,
The wrinkled grass its silver joys unfold,
Mantling the spreading moor in heavenly white,
Meeting from every hill the ravished sight.
The yellow flag uprears its spotted head,
Hanging regardant o'er its watery bed;
The worthy knight ascends his foaming steed,
Of size uncommon, and no common breed.
His sword of giant make hangs from his belt,
Whose piercing edge his daring foes had felt.
To seek for glory and renown he goes
To scatter death among his trembling foes;
Unnerved by fear, they trembled at his stroke;
So cutting blasts shake the tall mountain oak.


Down in a dark and solitary vale,
Where the curst screech-owl sings her fatal tale,
Where copse and brambles interwoven lie,
Where trees intwining arch the azure sky,
Thither the fate-marked champion bent his way,
By purling streams to lose the heat of day;
A sudden cry assaults his listening ear,
His soul's too noble to admit of fear.—
The cry re-echoes; with his bounding steed
He gropes the way from whence the cries proceed.
The arching trees above obscured the light,
Here 'twas all evening, there eternal night.
And now the rustling leaves and strengthened cry
Bespeaks the cause of the confusion nigh;
Through the thick brake th'astonished champion sees
A weeping damsel bending on her knees:
A ruffian knight would force her to the ground,
But still some small resisting strength she found.
(Women and cats, if you compulsion use,
The pleasure which they die for will refuse.)
The champion thus: "Desist, discourteous knight,
Why dost thou shamefully misuse thy might?"
With eye contemptuous thus the knight replies,
"Begone! whoever dares my fury dies!"
Down to the ground the champion's gauntlet flew,
"I dare thy fury, and I'll prove it too."


Like two fierce mountain-boars enraged they fly,
The prancing steeds make Echo rend the sky,
Like a fierce tempest is the bloody fight,
Dead from his lofty steed falls the proud ruffian knight.
The victor, sadly pleased, accosts the dame,
"I will convey you hence to whence you came."
With look of gratitude the fair replied—
"Content; I in your virtue may confide.
But," said the fair, as mournful she surveyed
The breathless corse upon the meadow laid,
"May all thy sins from heaven forgiveness find!
May not thy body's crimes affect thy mind!"


Notes
This is a modernized version by Chatterton From "The Romaunte of the Knyghte, by medival poet John de Burgham."


Cat

Friday, November 10, 2006

November 11 - Remembering

Remembrance Day originally commemorated the brave soldiers who fought and died in WWI. The Great War. The War to End All Wars.


Will there ever be a time of no war? Was there ever such a time?

I would like to honor all the young men and women who risk and give their lives for that shining ideal, that wish for peace, for a kinder, gentler world.

Perhaps in the next millennium...


Here are some works by poets of WWI, who sadly died in combat, much too young.


In Flanders Fields - by Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp officer, Dr. John McCrae [1872-1918]


In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, written May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


~


Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (March 18, 1893 - November 4, 1918). English poet and soldier, regarded by some as the leading poet of the First World War. He died one week before the end of the war.


Anthem For Doomed Youth
by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,--
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.



Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Note: Dulce et decorum est Pro Patria mori is from Horace. Owen wrote in a letter to his mother: "The famous Latin tag means of course It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. Sweet! and decorous!"

Written in 1917



Futility
by Wilfred Owen

Move him into the sun-
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds-
Woke once the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
-O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

Written in 1918.




The Next War
by Wilfred Owen

War's a joke for me and you,

While we know such dreams are true--Siegfried Sassoon

Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death;
Sat down an eaten with him, cool and bland, -
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath, -
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
He's spat at us with bullets and he's coughed
Shrapnel. We chorused when he sang aloft;
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against his powers.
We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death - for lives; not men - for flags.


written 1915



--Cat