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*Poem of the day thread

Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by RubyToogood, Aug 4, 2002.

  1. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    Poem of the day thread

    Kind of similar to the Poetry Please thread, but not...

    One poem only per day, if it's a long one give a link (but bear in mind that people won't want to read pages and pages). No song lyrics or stuff you've written yourself (we can have other threads for those). Please do a search with the first line of your poem before you post it in case it's already been posted on the Poetry Please thread or elsewhere. Any more rules we should have? I think discussion should be permitted.

    Anyone want to start?

    Just to clarify that I mean one poem on this thread in total per day, not one poem per person, so that we can just check in and read the day's poem and feel pleasantly highbrow.
     
  2. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    Oh well, just found this one by browsing through the site vanityvehicle posted to, so you've all lost your chance for today :p


    Diving into the Wreck
    Adrienne Rich



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First having read the book of myths,
    and loaded the camera,
    and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
    I put on
    the body-armor of black rubber
    the absurd flippers
    the grave and awkward mask.
    I am having to do this
    not like Cousteau with his
    assiduous team
    aboard the sun-flooded schooner
    but here alone.

    There is a ladder.
    The ladder is always there
    hanging innocently
    close to the side of the schooner.
    We know what it is for,
    we who have used it.
    Otherwise
    it is a piece of maritime floss
    some sundry equipment.

    I go down.
    Rung after rung and still
    the oxygen immerses me
    the blue light
    the clear atoms
    of our human air.
    I go down.
    My flippers cripple me,
    I crawl like an insect down the ladder
    and there is no one
    to tell me when the ocean
    will begin.

    First the air is blue and then
    it is bluer and then green and then
    black I am blacking out and yet
    my mask is powerful
    it pumps my blood with power
    the sea is another story
    the sea is not a question of power
    I have to learn alone
    to turn my body without force
    in the deep element.

    And now: it is easy to forget
    what I came for
    among so many who have always
    lived here
    swaying their crenellated fans
    between the reefs
    and besides
    you breathe differently down here.

    I came to explore the wreck.
    The words are purposes.
    The words are maps.
    I came to see the damage that was done
    and the treasures that prevail.
    I stroke the beam of my lamp
    slowly along the flank
    of something more permanent
    than fish or weed

    the thing I came for:
    the wreck and not the story of the wreck
    the thing itself and not the myth
    the drowned face always staring
    toward the sun
    the evidence of damage
    worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
    the ribs of the disaster
    curving their assertion
    among the tentative haunters.

    This is the place.
    And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
    streams black, the merman in his armored body.
    We circle silently
    about the wreck
    we dive into the hold.
    I am she: I am he

    whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
    whose breasts still bear the stress
    whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
    obscurely inside barrels
    half-wedged and left to rot
    we are the half-destroyed instruments
    that once held to a course
    the water-eaten log
    the fouled compass

    We are, I am, you are
    by cowardice or courage
    the one who find our way
    back to this scene
    carrying a knife, a camera
    a book of myths
    in which
    our names do not appear.


    From Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich.
     
  3. moon

    moon Happy Happy Jo Wonderland

    Aww, I just spent ages searching for one, can we not have 2 to compare and contrast? :p

    A Rock, A River, A Tree
    Hosts to species long since departed,
    Marked the mastodon,
    The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
    Of their sojourn here
    On our planet floor,
    Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
    Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

    But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
    Come, you may stand upon my
    Back and face your distant destiny,
    But seek no haven in my shadow.
    I will give you no hiding place down here.

    You, created only a little lower than
    The angels, have crouched too long in
    The bruising darkness
    Have lain too long
    Face down in ignorance.
    Your mouths spilling words

    Armed for slaughter.
    The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand upon me,
    But do not hide your face.

    Across the wall of the world,
    A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
    Come, rest here by my side.

    Each of you, a bordered country,
    Delicate and strangely made proud,
    Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
    Your armed struggles for profit
    Have left collars of waste upon
    My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

    Yet today I call you to my riverside,
    If you will study war no more. Come,
    Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
    The Creator gave to me when I and the
    Tree and the rock were one.
    Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
    Brow and when you yet knew you still
    Knew nothing.
    The River sang and sings on.


    There is a true yearning to respond to
    The singing River and the wise Rock.
    So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
    The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
    The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
    The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
    The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
    The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
    They hear. They all hear
    The speaking of the Tree.

    They hear the first and last of every Tree
    Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
    Plant yourself beside the River.

    Each of you, descendant of some passed
    On traveller, has been paid for.
    You, who gave me my first name, you,
    Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
    Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
    Forced on bloody feet,
    Left me to the employment of
    Other seekers -- desperate for gain,
    Starving for gold.

    You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
    You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
    Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
    Praying for a dream.
    Here, root yourselves beside me.
    I am that Tree planted by the River,
    Which will not be moved.

    I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
    I am yours -- your passages have been paid.
    Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
    For this bright morning dawning for you.
    History, despite its wrenching pain
    Cannot be unlived, but if faced
    With courage, need not be lived again.

    Lift up your eyes upon
    This day breaking for you.
    Give birth again
    To the dream.

    Women, children, men,
    Take it into the palms of your hands,
    Mold it into the shape of your most
    Private need. Sculpt it into
    The image of your most public self.
    Lift up your hearts
    Each new hour holds new chances
    For a new beginning.
    Do not be wedded forever
    To fear, yoked eternally
    To brutishness.

    The horizon leans forward,
    Offering you space to place new steps of change.
    Here, on the pulse of this fine day
    You may have the courage
    To look up and out and upon me, the
    Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
    No less to Midas than the mendicant.
    No less to you now than the mastodon then.

    Here, on the pulse of this new day
    You may have the grace to look up and out
    And into your sister's eyes, and into
    Your brother's face, your country
    And say simply
    Very simply
    With hope --
    Good morning.

    Maya Angelou's On the Pulse of Morning
     
  4. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    Oi! Oh bugger, this isn't going to work unless I threaten to delete any poems but the first one, is it? If people have got other poems they want to post they can save them for another day, innit?

    The point of making it one a day is partly to make it easier to digest, but I also just think that just reading one poem makes it stand out more, makes it more special sort of fing.

    Right, after this I WILL delete any second or third or fourth poems after the first one of the day, no matter how good. People can put them back up another time.
     
  5. moon

    moon Happy Happy Jo Wonderland

    Sorry boss:p :cool:
    Its just that I got really excited about that poem and realised that part of it has been used in a record, not sure which one, does anyone else know?

    'Each new hour holds new chances
    For a new beginning.....Offering you space to place new steps of change''

    I think it was The Orb.
     
  6. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    Well, I've got to live up to my new member status ;) Nice poem anyway! I bet it would sound great if she read it.

    This bit rings bells for me too:

    At first I thought she might be quoting someone else, but actually I think this was quoted by someone in the UN referring to Bosnia.
     
  7. nosos

    nosos Well-Known Member

    Gerontion - T.S. Eliot

    Thou hast nor youth nor age
    But as it were an after dinner sleep
    Dreaming of both.


    Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
    Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
    I was neither at the hot gates
    Nor fought in the warm rain
    Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
    Bitten by flies, fought.
    My house is a decayed house,
    And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
    Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
    Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
    The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
    Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
    The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
    Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

    I an old man,
    A dull head among windy spaces.

    Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign":
    The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
    Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
    Came Christ the tiger

    In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering Judas,
    To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
    Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
    With caressing hands, at Limoges
    Who walked all night in the next room;
    By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
    By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
    Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp
    Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles
    Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
    An old man in a draughty house
    Under a windy knob.

    After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
    History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
    And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
    Guides us by vanities. Think now
    She gives when our attention is distracted
    And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
    That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
    What's not believed in, or if still believed,
    In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
    Into weak hands, what's thought can be dispensed with
    Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
    Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
    Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
    Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
    These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

    The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
    We have not reached conclusion, when I
    Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
    I have not made this show purposelessly
    And it is not by any concitation
    Of the backward devils.
    I would meet you upon this honestly.
    I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
    To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
    I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
    Since what is kept must be adulterated?
    I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
    How should I use it for your closer contact?

    These with a thousand small deliberations
    Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
    Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
    With pungent sauces, multiply variety
    In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
    Suspend its operations, will the weevil
    Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
    Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
    In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
    Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
    White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
    And an old man driven by the Trades
    To a sleepy corner.

    Tenants of the house,
    Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
     
  8. vanityvehicle

    vanityvehicle larrikin

    [argh, deleted! Sorry mate, I did say... I've saved the text in case you hadn't so you can put it up another day.

    Rubes x]
     
  9. bruise

    bruise takeasread:imo/ime/wtf?

    Everyone's put up really long poems. No fair. I love the choices, though. This could end up as an anthology...
     
  10. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    INCIDENT IN A SALOON BAR

    Not because he was in any way remarkable
    In dress, physique, or conjunction of facial parts
    Did the rest of the customers feel such embarrassment
    And curious fear in their superstitious hearts.

    That all of them, to some degree, were so afflicted
    Was evident from the way their lips grew tight,
    And from the intensity with which they did not stare at him,
    Though each could have stated his colouring and height.

    Not because he was conspicuously intoxicated
    Or publishing uncouth sounds or venereal signs
    Did his presence so patently offend those stiff gentlemen
    Who, guardsmen of propriety, presented him their spines.

    Not because he was so quiet and unremarkable
    That they suspected that he might be spying
    Did they feel this hostility towards the lonely fellow
    But simply because he was quite quietly, crying.


    Vernon Scannell
     
  11. ats

    ats Well-Known Member

    I like that last poem, though I'm not sure I've got major thoughts about it.

    If this thread is mean to be about talking about individual poems, perhaps people who post them up should say something about why they value them, to kick the discussion off.

    (Trouble is, that poetry can sometimes take time to sink in. Working out why you like something isn't always an easy process. Are we allowed to come back to poems once the day has gone?)
     
  12. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    I don't see why not, ats.
     
  13. Jock_MacGrim

    Jock_MacGrim Curmudgeon R.I.P.

    Sorry old bean, it's one poem a day. I've saved your poem for you, just in case you can't find it again! (Though I'm sure you can!) :)
     
    Pickman's model likes this.
  14. han

    han brixton hill hobbit

    It looks like if you want your chosen poem to be the poem of the day, you're going to have to rush to the 'puter at 12.00am on the dot! ;)
     
  15. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    He he
     
  16. Anna Key

    Anna Key Banned Banned

    Reply to Ats:

    <Name dropping section>

    Vernon Scannell was a drinking partner of my dad's when I was eight. They're about the same age and, at that time, loved their booze. They drank in a pub called the Rose and Crown in Trent (a village on the Dorset/Somerset border). I'd be parked on the grass verge with a coke and a packet of crisps. The ones with salt wrapped in blue paper.

    My main memory is of Scannell's enormous hands. He's a large man and professional boxer turned poet. He was one of the last fairground boxers in Britain. His job was to strut about the ring at country fairs and fight any beered-up lout who challenged for the purse. His hands (to an eight year old) looked like five pound hammers.

    <End of name dropping>

    I like his poems because they embody a left wing, fighting, British patriotism. He fought in WW2 and I think went mad with battle fatigue and possibly AWOL. He spent time in military prison.

    He's a sort of left wing, working class, big hearted, Robert Graves. He also writes beautifully about love, children and drunks. His love poems sometimes draw the analogy between love and boxing - he claims love hurts more than any punch in the boxing ring.

    I like the quoted poem because it attacks British saloon bar culture: the culture that says "emotions bad!" It also pokes fun at cruel male culture. Those "stiff gentlemen" those "guardsmen of propriety" threatened by a weeping man and refusing to comfort the "lonely fellow."

    He also writes well on WW1:

    Where fractured tree-trunks stand
    And shells, exploding, open sudden fans
    Of smoke and earth.
    Blind murders scythe
    The deathscape where the iron brambles writhe...

    (Complete poem at http://www.aftermathww1.com/scannell.asp)
     
  17. twinkle

    twinkle tobacco flower

    Miss Drake Proceeds to Supper

    No novice
    In those elaborate rituals
    Which allay the malice
    Of knotted table and crooked chair,
    The new woman in the ward
    Wears purple, steps carefully
    Among her secret combinations of eggshells
    And breakable hummingbirds,
    Footing sallow as a mouse
    Between the cabbage-roses
    Which are slowly opening their furred petals
    To devour and drag her down
    Into the carpet's design.

    With bid-quick eyed cocked askew
    She can see in the nick of time
    How perilous needles grain the floorboards
    And outwit their brambled plan;
    Now through her ambushed air,
    Adazzle with bright shards
    Of broken glass,
    She edges with wary breath,
    Fending off jag and tooth,
    Until, turning sideways,
    She lifts one webbed foot after the other
    Into the still, sultry weather
    Of the patients' dining room.

    sylvia plath

    i've spent more time studying plath's poetry than probably anyone else's put together and having written my dissertation comparing her biographers i've learnt a lot about her life.

    while i don't think this poem is her best, or even particularly poignant perhaps, in terms of a reflection of her life or mind, i like it today.
    it was written when plath was actually staying in a psychiatric hospital and refers to a true person who she watched walk down the corridor. a momentary episode that maybe only lasted a few seconds but i can picture it clearly and it makes me smile.

    i can empathise with that subconscious madness too - just picking out random things from everyday existance and turning them into something else. :)
     
  18. vanityvehicle

    vanityvehicle larrikin

    That's a great poem twinkle - I've never delved beyond the Sylvia Plath 'classics' but I think that's fantastic. I love
    and the stumbling rythm of
    It's got that very 1950s/1960s spiky feel to it (I suppose the imagery is all about spikiness, so that's always going to be the case) - it reminds me of post-war avant-garde sculpture, all those sharp black iron forms, although with a sense of hope in it which those tend to lack.

    Jeez, I've started waffling now.

    [Rubes - I failed to understand your rules properly. But at midnight G'n'T I'll be rushing to my keyboard...]
     
  19. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    :) @ vv

    Nice one twinklev... I like that because it makes something beautiful out of what might be seen as a rather depressing scene..
     
  20. vanityvehicle

    vanityvehicle larrikin

    Check the time on that!

    CORRESPONDANCES

    La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
    Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
    L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
    Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

    Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
    Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
    Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
    Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

    Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
    Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
    - Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
    Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
    Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens
    Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

    Charles Baudelaire

    From Poetes, an excellent French poetry site.

    I decided to go for something a little less misanthropic than 'Au Lecteur' (my original choice), although that is a classic and worth the reading.

    My poor translation follows below. Just use it to help you get round the French - with Baudelaire the sound of the words is often as important as the meaning:

    Correspondances

    Nature is a temple whose living pillars
    Sometimes allow confused chatter to escape;
    People pass by while crossing forests of symbols
    Which they watch with a familiar gaze.

    Like the long echoes which lose themselves far off
    In a deep and gloomy unity,
    Vast as the night and as clarity,
    Perfumes, colours and sounds echo back.

    Perfumes fresh as the skin of children,
    Soft as oboes, green as meadows
    - And others, corrupted, rich and triumphant
    With the breadth of infinite things:
    Amber, musk, styrax and incense
    Which sing the reverie of the spirit and its senses.

    OK, why do I like it? Well, the synaesthesetic imagery - the intense description of sense, mixing colours, sounds and textures - is fantastic. I was well into Baudelaire as a teenager and the opulence of the verse is overwhelming. But one of the things I like most is that it's all structured like a gourmet meal. He hits you with richness before drawing back with a freshness that cuts through the intensity. He actually seems to work the synaesthetic alchemy on the reader: for me the poem is more than just words, I can almost smell it and taste it and see its colours - and I don't have synaesthesia.

    [note to Mrs M - sorry if you've just been translating 'Au Lecteur' - you can at least pick out my mistakes in this translation]

    PS topic for debate - what to do about gender in translation? I've translated 'L'homme' as 'people', which I think remains true to the original without the exclusive masculinity of Baudelaire's word. But am I sacrificing the poetry for the sake of my 'political' ideas?
     
  21. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    <Mrs M scurries off to unearth the Harrap>
     
  22. Blind Lemon Magpie

    Blind Lemon Magpie Chief Mrs Magpie funder

    Translating a poem is something I've never thought of undertaking, so you're one up on me already, but I would have translated 'l'homme' as 'man' irrespective of any political considerations, merely because it is the right translation for the context and register of the poem. Whether or not oboe is the right rendition of hautbois, it sounds a bit funny . Mrs Magpie (the nearest thing to an early music specialist we have in the house, and a former bassoonist) reckons that oboe and hautbois are not quite the same either.

    It's good that we are not being restricted to English poems, but nice to see a translation for those that don't speak other languages.....Mrs M is considering Der Panther by Rilke with a translation.....although her German is not good she reads it aloud to me reasonably well......(I'm a pronounciation pedant!)
     
  23. ats

    ats Well-Known Member



    That should be 'pronunciation pedant'.
     
  24. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    Blind Lemon is likely to tease me mercilessly about this!

    Ha! Dictated by BLM but typed by Mrs M cos this home set-up ain't blind friendly yet and also keyboard here laid out slightly different from his work one so if himself types at home it's utter gibberish!
     
  25. vanityvehicle

    vanityvehicle larrikin

    I think in contemporary French speech hautbois is oboe, but you're right - apart from anything, oboes are more reedy and plaintive than 'doux'. A cor anglais would maybe be a better approximation but I couldn't bear to write the phrase 'cors anglaises'. ;)
     
  26. RubyToogood

    RubyToogood can't remember what goes here

    W.B. Yeats, 1899

    Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven


    HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
     
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  27. soulrebel

    soulrebel thought criminal

    :rolleyes:

    MAKE THE PIE HIGHER
    > by George W. Bush
    >
    > I think we all agree, the past is over.
    > This is still a dangerous world.
    > It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
    > and potential mental losses.
    > > >
    > Rarely is the question asked
    > Is our children learning?
    > Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
    > How many hands have I shaked?
    > > >
    > They misunderestimate me.
    > I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
    > I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
    > Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.
    > > >
    > Put food on your family!
    > Knock down the tollbooth!
    > Vulcanize society!
    > Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!
    > > >

    :rolleyes:
     
  28. vanityvehicle

    vanityvehicle larrikin

    Ah that's one of my fave pomes, Rubes. The collection it's from, The Wind Among the Reeds, is one of my all-time favourite books of poetry, and it was all written as a sort of love-letter to Maud Gonne, his unrequited love. One of the tragic things about Yeats is that he was still writing poetry about her thirty years after this - after he had been repeatedly rejected by her, then rejected by her daughter Iseult (those fin-de-siecle Irish revolutionary types, eh?), and married someone else. Who he appeared never to wholly have fallen for - sometime I'll post up the extremely long 'Gift of Haroun al-Rashid' which he wrote in 1923ish in apparent attempt to reconcile himself to his marriage, which he seems to have enjoyed but regarded as 'second best'.

    Anyway, love the odd use of repeating words to carry the rhyme. I think there's actually a tinge of the Baudelaire influence above in this, since he was certainly regarding himself as a Symbolist at this time and the incantatory sound, fixed on certain images - cloths, light, feet, dreams - is quite similar to the synaesthetic effect Baudelaire was trying to achieve in 'Correspondances'. I suppose there's also the fact that the rhyme-scheme of alternate lines ending in the same word follows the visual pattern of fabric - so that the poem itself imitates the 'embroidered cloths'; in fact, it's poems themselves which he has laid at her feet. The whole project was a desperate attempt, nearly a decade after first meeting her, to persuade her to fall in love with her (why do poets, who are so smart in lots of ways, seem to believe you can persuade someone to fall in love?), and this poem came close to the end of the book. He's begging her to read the poems, take them in, and agree to love him; not to scorn the gift, 'because you tread on my dreams'. After this came 'He remembers his past greatness when part of the constellations of heaven', a more negative perspective on the situation, and 'The fiddler of Dooney', a folkish upbeat sendoff unrelated to his miserable love life. Poor bugger.
     
  29. Donna Ferentes

    Donna Ferentes jubliado

    Poem for today

    Engineers' Corner
    by Wendy Cope

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Why isn't there an Engineers' Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we've always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint ... How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?

    -- advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council



    We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints --
    That's why so many poets end up rich,
    While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
    Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

    Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
    Has got it made. It's always been the way,
    For everybody knows that we need poems
    And everybody reads them every day.

    Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering --
    You're sure to need another job as well;
    You'll have to plan your projects in the evenings
    Instead of going out. It must be hell.

    While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
    You'll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
    With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
    With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

    No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
    And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
    There's far too much encouragement for poets --
    That's why this country's going down the drain.
     
  30. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    Reiner Maria Rilke

    Der Panther

    Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
    so müde geworden, dass er nichts mehr hält.
    Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
    und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

    Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
    der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
    ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
    in der betäubt ein grosser Wille steht.

    Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
    sich lautlos auf--. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
    geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille--
    und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.



    THE PANTHER

    His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
    has grown so weary that it cannot hold
    anything else. It seems to him there are
    a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

    As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
    the movement of his powerful soft strides
    is like a ritual dance around a center
    in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

    Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
    lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
    rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
    plunges into the heart and is gone.

    (translated by Stephen Mitchell)
     

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