Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by RubyToogood, Aug 4, 2002.
After I posted that I thought to tag you
Morning poem from Derek Mahon
A topical one from 1984 (thanks to the LRB twitter feed)
The Philosophical Phallus
Female desire aims to subdue, overcome and pacify the unbridled ambition of the phallus - Roger Scruton
The unbridled phallus of the philosopher
Was seen last week galloping across the South Downs,
Flame spurting from its flared nostril.
The phallus being a horse in which
Both mane and tail are bunched together at the back end,
This unharnessed piece of horseflesh was of necessity unable
To accompany with a display of shaken neck-hair
The tossing of its head,
But the tossing of its head was tremendous nevertheless,
Like that of Bucephalus, the steed of Alexander.
Where the lush grass curves up to the rim of the chalk cliffs
So that they drop away where you cannot see them
When looking from inland,
Such was the cyclorama against which ran rampant
The unbridled phallus of the philosopher,
Pulling lawn like an emerald treadmill incessantly beneath
The unravelling thunder of its hooves –
Accoutrements which a phallus does not normally possess
But perhaps in this case they were retractable
Like the undercarriage of some large, cigar-shaped aircraft –
The Starlifter, for example, or the C-5 Galaxy.
See where it comes across the Ontological Divide
Separating Men and Women!
The unbridled phallus in its frightening hauteur,
Gushing suds with each procreative snort –
Not the small, dog-skulled horse of the Greeks and the Etruscans,
But the horse of the Persians as noted by Herodotus,
Big, built thickly, hefty-headed,
Its two great globular hindquarters throbbing
Like the throats of rutting frogs.
The prancing pudendum curls its lip but says Yes to Life:
It is a yea-neigher.
Not only does it say ‘ha-ha!’ among the trumpets,
But in the landscaped gardens of fashionable country houses
It trumpets among the ha-has,
And the pulsing vein of its back is not afraid.
Though fleet-footed as an Arab it is stronger than a Clydesdale,
Shouldered like a Shire, bulk-bodied like a Suffolk –
A standing, foam-flanked reproach
To all those of us more appropriately represented
By the Shetland Pony,
Or that shrunken, shrivelled toy horse with the mule-tail
Equus przewalskii, Prejvalsky’s horse
From the Kobdo district of western Mongolia.
At nightfall the women of storm-swept lonely farms,
Or at casement windows of the grand houses aforesaid,
Or women anywhere who languish unfulfilled qua women,
Feel their Ontological Divide transformed to jelly
At the vibrant snuffle in the distance –
Long to subdue it, to overcome it, to pacify it,
Willing it homeward to its chosen stable,
Which will suffer its presence all the more exquisitely
For being neither deep nor wide enough wholly to contain
The unbridled ambition of the philosophical phallus
The ancient oak
Bore witness to us
Laughing beneath it
Bathed in summer haze
Now winters frosted moon
Dragging silver shadows
From the leafless tree
It stands now in solitude
Silhouetted against the black sky
As if grieving
For the love it once witnessed
Which is no more.
A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.
Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;
For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?
I've decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,
Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,
Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I've decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever
Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn't matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.
I've decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,
Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.
The glittering leaves of the rhododendrons
Balance and vibrate in the cool air;
While in the sky above them
White clouds chase each other.
"That the Earth is suspended..."
As scilla prinks out, purple, from half-thawed clods
and the cardinal flings his ribbon of song
in two high arcs, then trails the vibrato among the boughs
May unclenches. But not enough.
Buds grip fetal leaves. Each night
scatters frost. On sidewalks we tread on broken sky.
You are sick, and far away. The world is in flux
said Anaximander: worlds are born, appear,
and disappear. We perish, even the gods
fade. Spare me the industrial daffodils
poking through scraps of snow. The season will have
its hard birth, and we will be dragged
into light. For how many years
has that ill corroded your gut? Whirlwinds, typhoons
break out of the cloud, the tearing makes thunder, the crack
against black makes the flash. So natural
philosophy began. You watched glaciers slide
and crash at the tip of the earth, you floated on a rope
into ice crevasses to catch the gleam
and the groan. Ice sculpted the planet,
and sculpts it still: you hammered aluminum
into that shape. The stars are a wheel of fire
broken off from earth fire, surrounded by air.
We came from the unlimited, to it we return. So taught
Anaximander of Miletus, who thought we would be destroyed.
The posh mums are boxing in the square
by Wayne Holloway-Smith
roughing each other up in a nice way
This is not the world into which I was born
so I’m changing it
I’m sinking deep into the past and dressing my own mum
in their blue spandexes
svelte black stripes from hip to hem
and husbands with better dispositions toward kindness
or at least I’m giving her new lungs
I’m giving her a best friend with no problems and both of them pads
some gloves to go at each other with in a nice way
I’m making it a warm day for them but also
I’m making it rain
the two of them dapping it out in long shadows
I’m watching her from the trees grow
strength in her thighs my mum
grow strength in her glutes my mum
her back taught upright
and watching her grow no bad thing in her stomach no tumour
her feet do not hurt to touch my mum she is hopping
sinews are happening
wiry arms developing their full reach
no bad thing explodes
sweat and not gradual death I’m cheering
no thing in her stomach no alcohol
no cigarettes with their crotonaldehyde let my dad keep those
no removal of her womb
– and I’m cheering her on in better condition
cheering she is learning to fight for her own body
in spandex her new life
and though there is no beef between them
if her friend is gaining the upper hand
I will call out from the trees
and when she turns as turn she must
my mum in the nicest possible way
can slug her right in the gut
The dead are getting more restless each day.
They used to be easy
we’d put on stiff collars flowers
praised their names on long lists
shrines of the homeland
The corpses signed away for posterity
returned to formation
and marched to the beat of our old music.
But not anymore
They get all ironic
they ask questions.
It seems to me they’ve started to realise
they’re becoming the majority!
Laws are created to be followed
by the poor.
Laws are made by the rich
to bring some order to exploitation.
The poor are the only law abiders in history.
When the poor make laws
the rich will be no more.
In capitalism it’s a lie to say:
“Take care, you’re worth your weight in gold.”
Because in capitalism only the owners
of gold are worth their weight in gold.
In the construction of socialism
one no longer lies and it can be said:
“You’re worth more than gold, but
it’s necessary to take care of
the gold of social property,
Foreign exchange is important.”
Only in communism can it be said:
“You’re worth what you’re worth.
Gold has nothing to do with what you’re worth.”
In communism gold only has value
through the use workers and citizens
for example in dentistry
or in adorning the necks
or ears of girls.
In ancient Greece
Aristotle taught philosophy to his disciples
while they walked across a large courtyard.
Because of this his school was called “the peripatetic.”
are peripateticker than those Aristotelian peripatetics
because we apprehend the philosophy and poetry of the people
through the cities and mountains of our land
O foul descent! that I who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constraind
Into a Beast, and mixt with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the hight of Deitie aspir’d;
But what will not Ambition and Revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soard, obnoxious first or last exposed
To basest things.
The Council of the Gods, by Kit Wright
Lay no blame. Have pity.
Put your fingers in the wounds of the Committee.
They never reached your item.
Disputing Item One ad infinitum.
Lay no blame. Be tender.
The retrospective start of the agenda.
Was all they managed treating.
Consider, pray, the feeling of the meeting.
(They felt awful). Not surprising
They never came to matters not arising.
From Matters Arising:
Who took the chair when the standing committee last sat?
Who kept the minutes for hours and hours and hours?
Who tabled the motion,
Who motioned the table
The standing committee
Sat? Have pity.
Put your fingers in the wounds of the committee.
The gods have not been sleeping.
All night they sat, in grief and boredom, weeping.
the kraken wakes
alfred lord tennyson
below the thunders of the upper deep,
far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
his ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
the kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
about his shadowy sides: above him swell
huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
and far away into the sickly light,
from many a wondrous grot and secret cell
unnumbered and enormous polypi
winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.
there hath he lain for ages and will lie
battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
then once by men and angels to be seen,
in roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
Lies About Love
We are all liars, because
the truth of yesterday becomes a lie tomorrow,
whereas letters are fixed,
and we live by the letter of truth.
The love I feel for my friend, this year,
is different from the love I felt last year.
If it were not so, it would be a lie.
Yet we reiterate love! love! love!
as if it were a coin with a fixed value
instead of a flower that dies, and opens a different bud.
the one black stain
robert e howard
They carried him out on the barren sand
where the rebel captains died;
Where the grim gray rotting gibbets stand
as Magellan reared them on the strand,
And the gulls that haunt the lonesome land
wail to the lonely tide.
Drake faced them all like a lion at bay,
with his lion head upflung:
"Dare ye my word of law defy,
to say this traitor shall not die?"
And his captains dared not meet his eye
but each man held his tongue.
Solomon Kane stood forth alone,
grim man of sober face:
"Worthy of death he may well be,
but the trial ye held was mockery,
"Ye hid your spite in a travesty
where justice hid her face.
"More of the man had ye been, on deck
your sword to cleanly draw
"In forthright fury from its sheath
and openly cleave him to the teeth --
"Rather than slink and hide beneath
a hollow word of the law."
Hell rose in the eyes of Francis Drake.
"Puritan knave!" swore he.
"Headsman! Give him the axe instead!
He shall strike off yon traitor's head!"
Solomon folded his arms and said,
darkly and somberly:
"I am no slave for your butcher's work."
"Bind him with triple strands!"
Drake roared and the men obeyed,
Hesitantly, as if afraid,
But Kane moved not as they took his blade
and pinioned his iron hands.
They bent the doomed man over to his knees,
the man who was to die;
They saw his lips in a strange smile bend,
one last long look they saw him send,
At Drake his judge and his one time friend
who dared not meet his eye.
The axe flashed silver in the sun,
a red arch slashed the sand;
A voice cried out as the head fell clear,
and the watchers flinched in sudden fear,
Though 'twas but a sea bird wheeling near
above the lonely strand.
"This be every traitor's end!"
Drake cried, and yet again.
Slowly his captains turned and went
and the admiral's stare was elsewhere bent
Than where the cold scorn with anger blent
in the eyes of Solomon Kane.
Night fell on the crawling waves;
the admiral's door was closed;
Solomon lay in the stenching hold;
his irons clashed as the ship rolled.
And his guard, grown weary and overbold,
lay down his pipe and dozed.
He woke with a hand at his corded throat
that gripped him like a vise;
Trembling he yielded up the key,
and the somber Puritan stood free,
His cold eyes gleaming murderously
with the wrath that is slow to rise.
Unseen, to the admiral's door,
went Solomon Kane from the guard,
Through the night and silence of the ship,
the guard's keen dagger in his grip;
No man of the dull crew saw him slip
through the door unbarred.
Drake at the table sat alone,
his face sunk in his hands;
He looked up, as from sleeping --
but his eyes were blank with weeping
As if he saw not, creeping,
death's swiftly flowing sands.
He reached no hand for gun or blade
to halt the hand of Kane,
Nor even seemed to hear or see,
lost in black mists of memory,
Love turned to hate and treachery,
and bitter, cankering pain.
A moment Solomon Kane stood there,
the dagger poised before,
As a condor stoops above a bird,
and Francis Drake spoke not nor stirred
And Kane went forth without a word
and closed the cabin door.
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream
The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.
Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man—
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem'd
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask'd thee, 'Give me immortality.'
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men, who care not how they give.
But thy strong Hours indignant work'd their wills,
And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me,
And tho' they could not end me, left me maim'd
To dwell in presence of immortal youth,
Immortal age beside immortal youth,
And all I was, in ashes. Can thy love,
Thy beauty, make amends, tho' even now,
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide,
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears
To hear me? Let me go: take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?
A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew'd.
Thy cheek begins to redden thro' the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosen'd manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.
Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
In silence, then before thine answer given
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek.
Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
'The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.'
Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
In days far-off, and with what other eyes
I used to watch—if I be he that watch'd—
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings;
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood
Glow with the glow that slowly crimson'd all
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay,
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss'd
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
While Ilion like a mist rose into towers.
Yet hold me not for ever in thine East:
How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
Of happy men that have the power to die,
And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seëst all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.
I've just discovered the most wonderful poet
BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
TRANSLATED FROM THE POLISH BY CLARE CAVANAGH AND STANISLAW BARANCZAK
Despite the geologists’ knowledge and craft,
mocking magnets, graphs, and maps—
in a split second the dream
piles before us mountains as stony
as real life.
And since mountains, then valleys, plains
with perfect infrastructures.
Without engineers, contractors, workers,
bulldozers, diggers, or supplies—
raging highways, instant bridges,
thickly populated pop-up cities.
Without directors, megaphones, and cameramen—
crowds knowing exactly when to frighten us
and when to vanish.
Without architects deft in their craft,
without carpenters, bricklayers, concrete pourers—
on the path a sudden house just like a toy,
and in it vast halls that echo with our steps
and walls constructed out of solid air.
Not just the scale, it’s also the precision—
a specific watch, an entire fly,
on the table a cloth with cross-stitched flowers,
a bitten apple with teeth marks.
And we—unlike circus acrobats,
conjurers, wizards, and hypnotists—
can fly unfledged,
we light dark tunnels with our eyes,
we wax eloquent in unknown tongues,
talking not with just anyone, but with the dead.
And as a bonus, despite our own freedom,
the choices of our heart, our tastes,
we’re swept away
by amorous yearnings for—
and the alarm clock rings.
So what can they tell us, the writers of dream books,
the scholars of oneiric signs and omens,
the doctors with couches for analyses—
if anything fits,
and for one reason only,
that in our dreamings,
in their shadowings and gleamings,
in their multiplings, inconceivablings,
in their haphazardings and widescatterings
at times even a clear-cut meaning
may slip through.
Touch of the Mary Oliver's there, ShiftyBagLady - just lovely.
Separate names with a comma.