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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Saturday, November 27, 2010

November 27 -- James Agee



James Rufus Agee November 27, 1909 – May 16, 1955


Tennessee-born Agee (pronounced AY-jee) was a poet, novelist, journalist, screenwriter and influential film critic. In 1958 he won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family.

In 1934, he published his only volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage.

Among his screenwriting credits in the 1950s: The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955).

Agee was plagued by personal problems (he married three times), drank heavily, and smoked constantly. He died of a heart attack on May 16, 1955, at the age of 45.



Poems:


Lyrics for Lillian Hellman’s Candide
by James Agee

Reason, Magic, Skill and Love,
Frankly, I think poorly of.
Flesh and Figment, Brain and Breath.
All are parodies of Death.

Death alone can't paint it true;
Only Death can say for sure;
Who but Death can sing to you?
Death my dearest, sparse and pure.

Life is but a sorrowing haze
Through which we grope; and our five senses,
Trammeling snares. In all our way
Artists put their subtle fences:

Telling us that Life is All;
Cheating us with hints of glory;
Charming us. We fail, we fall
Stupefied, and buy their story.



Permit Me Voyage
by James Agee

Take these who will as may be: I
Am careless now of what they fail:
My heart and mind discharted lie
And surely as the nerved nail

Appoints all quarters on the north
So now it designates him forth
My sovereign God my princely soul
Whereon my flesh is priestly stole:

Whence forth shall my heart and mind
To God through soul entirely bow,
Therein such strong increase to find
In truth as is my fate to know:

Small though that be great God I know
I know in this gigantic day
What God is ruined and I know
How labors with Godhead this day:

How from the porches of our sky
The crested glory is declined:
And hear with what translated cry
The stridden soul is overshined:

And how this world of wildness through
True poets shall walk who herald you:
Of whom God grant me of your grace
To be, that shall preserve this race.

Permit me voyage, Love, into your hands.



Sure On This Shining Night
by James Agee

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far
alone
Of shadows on the stars.


Composer Samuel Barber set "Sure On This Shining Night" to music.




--Cat

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11 -- let's not forget

Remembrance Day




Poets of World War 1

Germany declared war on France on August 3, 1914
England declared war on Germany August 4, 1914
Timeline of the Great War here


Laurence Binyon, English poet and dramatist, August 10, 1869 - March 10, 1943

In 1915, he temporarily left his job as art historian at the British Museum and, too old to enlist, volunteered as an orderly at a soldiers' hospital in France.


The Fourth Of August
by Laurence Binyon

Now in thy splendour go before us.
Spirit of England, ardent-eyed,
Enkindle this dear earth that bore us
In the hour of peril purified.

The cares we hugged drop out of vision,
Our hearts with deeper thought dilate,
We step from days of sour division
Into the grandeur of our fate.

For us the glorious dead have striven,
They battled that we might be free.
We to their living cause are given;
We arm for men that are to be.

Among the nations nobliest chartered,
England recalls her heritage.
In her is that which is not bartered,
Which force can neither quell nor cage.

For her immortal stars are burning
With her the hope that's never done,
The seed that's in the Spring's returning,
The very flower that seeks the sun.

She fights the force that feeds desire on
Dreams of a prey to seize and kill,
The barren creed of blood and iron,
Vampire of Europe's wasted will…

Endure, O Earth! and thou, awaken,
Purged by this dreadful winnowing—fan,
O wronged, untameable, unshaken
Soul of divinely suffering man.


[Written in 1914, the following poem has endured and taken on greater meaning as the years pass, notably the fourth stanza [in bold] known as Ode of Remembrance, which is used in many memorials the world over.]

For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.


Men of Verdun
by Laurence Binyon

There are five men in the moonlight
That by their shadows stand;
Three hobble humped on crutches,
And two lack each a hand.

Frogs somewhere near the roadside
Chorus their chant absorbed:
But a hush breathes out of the dream-light
That far in heaven is orbed.

It is gentle as sleep falling
And wide as thought can span,
The ancient peace and wonder
That brims in the heart of man.

Beyond the hills it shines now
On no peace but the dead,
On reek of trenches thunder-shocked,
Tense fury of wills in wrestle locked,
A chaos of crumbled red.


O World, be Nobler
by Laurence Binyon

O World, be nobler, for her sake!
If she but knew thee what thou art,
What wrongs are borne, what deeds are done
In thee, beneath thy daily sun,
Know'st thou not that her tender heart
For pain and very shame would break?
O World, be nobler, for her sake!



Charles Sorley, born in Scotland, May 19, 1895 - October 13, 1915, killed at the age of 20 in the Battle of Loos.


When You See Millions Of The Mouthless Dead
by Charles Sorley

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." The add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.


Such, Such Is Death
by Charles Sorley

Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.

And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvellous things know well the end not yet.

Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
"Come, what was your record when you drew breath?"
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.


To Germany
by Charles Sorley

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each others dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new won eyes each other's truer form and wonder.
Grown more loving kind and warm
We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm,
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.



Alan Seeger, American, June 22, 1888 - July 4, 1916

Living in Paris when war broke out, Seeger joined the French Foreign Legion in August, 1914, and fought for the allies. [The United States entered the war in 1917 ] Seeger was killed in action, at the age of 28.


I have a Rendezvous with Death
by Alan Seeger

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.


--Cat