Poems & Poets

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Lessons Found in Unlikely Places – Emily Dickinson 1350

Emily dickinson

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Tired after a long day’s work, I sought a quick distraction before shutting down.  Emily Dickinson came to the rescue.  Here is her short, yet powerful untitled poem 1350

Luck is not chance —
It’s Toil —
Fortune’s expensive smile
Is earned —
The Father of the Mine
Is that old-fashioned Coin
We spurned —

I find it extremely interesting that someone who lived in such extreme isolation can speak so perfectly of  hard work and ambition.  Thank you Emily.  I will make my own fortune, my own luck.

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Introspection in America – Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man

In today’s world where we are bombarded by mind-numbing reality shows, more online interactions than real-world, and an overall increase in social awkwardness, it is becoming more and more obvious that we’re too concerned with the lives of others instead of our own.  I’m going to assume that anyone reading this may at least be a little more introspective than the general population, so it will be interesting to hear your thoughts.

I grew up in a somewhat sheltered world – class of 151, same group of friends throughout high school, captain of this, involved in that… yada yada yada.  I never really paid attention to current events. I definitely didn’t know what was going on outside of my town and most times not what was going on within. Thank goodness it was before the Facebook phenomenon or who knows how I would have turned out.

Several life events, marked by some emotional scarring, were monumental in changing my view of the world. However, outside of that, I fully think there’s one element that helped me the most and tends to separate people; I took more than just an entry-level English Lit class.

What other classes involve such in-depth character analysis and require a person to ask the ultimate question – Why?  You don’t see many business classes reviewing the lifestyle of or reasons why Rod Blagojevich thought he could get away with selling a Senate seat.  Analysis into a character’s motivations can become habitual is easily transferred into real life situations.

During my two years of various Literature classes, all elective and not even enough to qualify as a minor, I learned to ask myself ‘why’ which in turn allowed me to have a better understanding, not only why others may do what they do, but eventually to turn it internal and ask why I do some of the things I do.  Getting to know myself has been more enlightening than you can imagine.

To be fair, it hasn’t been easy.  I found myself making excuses, both for myself and for those who influenced me early in life.  And many of the truths were hard to absorb.  But I’m very happy to have started down that path of discovery, a path that will likely take me on a lifelong journey.

I challenge you to do the same

 

An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope (a snippet)

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

Thomas Hardy Describes My Morning

Readers,

It seems as though everyone I know has been sick recently and I woke up a little under the weather myself.  Sinus headaches are the worst, especially when you wake up with one.  Here’s a poem from Thomas Hardy dedicated to all those who have struggled with something similar.

A Wasted Illness

Through vaults of pain,
Enribbed and wrought with groins of ghastliness,
I passed, and garish spectres moved my brain
To dire distress.

And hammerings,
And quakes, and shoots, and stifling hotness, blent
With webby waxing things and waning things
As on I went.

“Where lies the end
To this foul way?” I asked with weakening breath.
Thereon ahead I saw a door extend –
The door to death.

It loomed more clear:
“At last!” I cried. “The all-delivering door!”
And then, I knew not how, it grew less near
Than theretofore.

And back slid I
Along the galleries by which I came,
And tediously the day returned, and sky,
And life–the same.

And all was well:
Old circumstance resumed its former show,
And on my head the dews of comfort fell
As ere my woe.

I roam anew,
Scarce conscious of my late distress … And yet
Those backward steps through pain I cannot view
Without regret.

For that dire train
Of waxing shapes and waning, passed before,
And those grim aisles, must be traversed again
To reach that door.

On Change – Supporting Quotes from Shaw, Longfellow, and St. Augustine

So far, 2011 has brought plenty of change, both for myself and for those close to me.  Changes in families, jobs, and locations already and it’s still only March.  Some people prompted the change, some had no choice.

Many people embrace change whole-heartedly; some welcome it while others actively seek it out.  Some are scared of change and put it off even though they are fairly certain that they would be happier afterwards.  For others though, they struggle against change with every ounce of their being.

Personally, I used to be one who hated change but, due to several life circumstances, have learned to adapt.  I’m a much happier person because of it.  Below are three quotes from a couple of well-known figures.  Regardless of the time period, great minds from any generation realized that change is inevitable.  We can only decide how we respond to it.

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are.  For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained.  Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.  ~Saint Augustine

Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
Tomorrow be today.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me.  The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Day 3 – Walt Whitman on Life (Preface to Leaves of Grass)

Walt Whitman's use of free verse became apprec...

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Readers,

Tonight, I’m a bit tired and because of this I’ve decided to let Walt Whitman take over Day 3.  Plus, just look at him… Wisdom flows from the tips of his crazy eyebrows.

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work.”    Walt Whitman

In one of his most noteable lines from the preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman throws out a challenge to break the mold.  Create your own path and embrace the differences in the world, especially those who may not fit into what society considers the norm.  Don’t settle for the answers you’re given, challenge yourself to find out more.  The more you understand life, understand yourself, the more beautiful life will be.

~ The Hatter

As I Look Forward to Spring – Emily Dickinson’s Poem 812

Emily Dickinson

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Readers,

If any of you have had an injury that kept you relatively immobile and generally stuck indoors, you’ll easily understand the following.  I’m two and a half weeks into what will likely be a six-week hiatus from normal life.  Not that it’s all been bad, but there’s definitely a pressure building, a need to escape… back to the real world beyond this house.

For today’s post, I’ve included a poem by Emily Dickinson which speaks of the scientifically unexplainable contentment that comes with Spring.  As the days grow longer and the daily temperatures rise, I’m struck by how creatively perfect this poem is.  One of the most pleasant aspects of my job is my morning drive in the Spring.  The wisps of fog rising across the open fields, a hint of daybreak shining across the horizon, it all provides for a flawless morning of reflection and gratitude for the gifts in my life.

Also, notice that she capitalizes the word ‘Light’ in the first line, giving it an almost god-like quality.  In doing so, she helps to increase the reverence justifiably felt for this most natural occurrence.

I truly can’t wait for Spring…

               812

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

               ~ Emily Dickinson

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and I look forward to your comments.

The Hatter

The Changlings by Rudyard Kipling

NSRW Rudyard Kipling

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Readers,

As I sit at home, handicapped by my broken ankle, it’s becoming easy to think of things that I wish I could do.  Reading stories of travel and adventure help a little.

In one of my old books of poetry I came across this one from Rudyard Kipling.  I found it intriguing even though it’s not the first time I’ve come across the concept.  When we allow ourselves to enjoy the moment, to get lost in the moment, there are no differences between us.  We’re only held back by how we define ourselves.

As always, I appreciate your comments.

The Hatter

The Changlings

Or ever the battered liners sank
  With their passengers to the dark,
I was head of a Walworth Bank,
  And you were a grocer’s clerk.

I was a dealer in stocks and shares,
  And you in butters and teas;
And we both abandoned our own affairs
  And took to the dreadful seas.

Wet and worry about our ways–
  Panic, onset and flight–
Had us in charge for a thousand days
  And thousand-year-long night.

We saw more than the nights could hide–
  More than the waves could keep–
And–certain faces over the side
  Which do not go from our sleep.

We were more tired than words can tell
  While the pied craft fled by,
And the swinging mounds of the Western swell
  Hoisted us Heavens-high…

Now there is nothing — not even our rank–
  To witness what we have been;
And I am returned to my Walworth Bank,
  And you to your margarine!

Hump Day Inspiration – Poetic Advice from Benjamin Franklin

Happy Hump Day Readers!

Benjamin Franklin

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The poem I found for inspiration today is by an author who I don’t normally look to for this genre.  However, the truth that lies within his humor is widely acclaimed. 

The short of it is this… Sometimes you need to do what makes you happy, no one else.  Let people judge, because you know what – they’d be judging you anyway!

Hope you enjoy…  Cheers!

            The Hatter

He Who’d Please All

Once on a Time it by Chance came to pass,
That a Man and his Son were leading an Ass.
Cries a Passenger, Neighbor, you’re shrewdly put to ‘t,
To lead an Ass empty, and trudge it on foot.
Nay, quoth the old Fellow, if Folk do so mind us
I’ll e’en climb the Ass, and Boy mount behind us:
But as they jogg’d on they were laugh’t and hisse’d,
What, two booby Lubbers on one sorry Beast!
This is such a Figure as never was known;
‘T is a sign that the Ass is none of your own.
Then down gets the Boy, and walks by the Side,
Till another cries, What, you old Fool must you ride?
When you see the poor Child that ‘s weakly and young
Forc’d thro’ thick and thin to trudge it along,
Then down gets the Father, and up gets the Son;
If this cannot please them we ne’er shall have done.
They had not gone far, but a Woman cries out,
O you young graceless Imp, you’ll be hang’d, no doubt!
Must you ride an Ass, and your Father that’s grey
E’en foot it, and pick out the best of his Way?
So now to please all they but one Trick lack,
And that was to carry the Ass a pick pack:
But when that was try’d, it appear’d such a Jest,
It occasioned more Laughter by half than the rest.
Thus he who ‘d please all, and their Good liking gain,
Shows a deal Good Nature, but labours in vain.

                                  ~ Benjamin Franklin c/o Poor Richard’s Almanac

A Broken Ankle – Hymn to Physical Pain by Rudyard Kipling

Readers,

In an unexpected and unfortunate event, I broke my ankle in two places last week.  The biggest lesson learned and learned quickly, pain pills are something to embrace in the early stages of recovery because Pain during recovery can be just as intense as Pain during injury. 

Between the frequent periods of narcotic sleep, and with the thrum of my heartbeat felt in the tips of my toes I tried and tried to remember the author of a poem about Pain I had read in my childhood.  After finally being cognizant of the world around me, I was able to pop open my laptop and finally found it.

For those of you who are willing, I’d love to hear your interpretation of the following poem or your own poetic interpretation of Pain.  You’ll note that I give Pain the honor of capitalization throughout this post; after five days together I can only consider Pain part of my immediate family.

 

Hymn to Physical Pain

DREAD Mother of forgetfulness
Who, when Thy reign begins,
Wipest away the soul’s distress
And memory of her sins.

The trusty Worm that diest not –
The steadfast Fire also,
By thy contrivance are forgot
In a completer woe.

Thine are the lidless eyes of night
That stare upon our tears,
Through certain hours which in our sight
Exceed a thousand years.

Thine is the thickness of the Dark
That presses in our pain,
As Thine the Dawn that bids us mark
Life’s grinning face again.

And when thy tender mercies cease
And life unvexed is due,
Instant upon the false release
The Worm and Fire renew.

Wherefore we praise Thee in the deep,
And on our beds we pray
For Thy return, that Thou may’st keep
The Pains of Hell at bay !

                   ~ Rudyard Kipling

A dark night calls for a classic poem by Bronte

Not in as much of a light-hearted mood tonight.  I often wonder at the tormented souls of writers, previous.  The daily toils and pressures I feel seem light in contrast. 

One of my favorites… begun with one of my favorite stanzas.

The Horrors of Sleep

Sleep brings no joy to me,
Remembrance never dies,
My soul is given to mystery,
And lives in sighs.

Sleep brings no rest to me;
The shadows of the dead
My wakening eyes may never see
Surround my bed.

Sleep bring no hope to me,
In soundest sleep they come,
And with their doleful imag’ry
Deepen the gloom.

Sleep brings no strength to me,
No power renewed to brave
I only sail a wilder sea,
A darker wave.

Sleep brings be friend to me
To soothe and aid to bear;
They all gaze on, how scornfully,
And I despair.

Sleep brings no wish to fret
My harassed heart beneath;
My only wish is to forget
In endless sleep of death.

                   ~ Emily Bronte

Sweet dreams,

The Hatter

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