Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NPM: Poets in Dialogue

(John Constable)

National Poetry Month fatigue is setting in pretty heavy (on this end, anyway), but we persevere!

You still have another day to compose a Western Haiku for a chance to win a cheap old out of print and ultra-rare Magic: the Gathering Card and/or a slightly-used copy of Final Fantasy III DS. If neither of those float your fancy, either can be exchanged for one (1) Moon Pie and one (1) bottle of Oronamin C.

Tonight we will be looking at a few different pieces by a few different people. I should stress that I did not pick these out myself. All of them come from the chapter of the Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry titled "Poets in Dialogue," and were compiled by Jay Parini. Read them in order, keeping the dates and authors in mind. The thread shouldn't be too hard to spot.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe (1564 - 1593)

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant poises,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love. (1589)

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
By Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 - 1618)

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complain of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love. (1600)

Raleigh Was Right
By William Carlos Williams (1883 - 1963)

We cannot go to the country
for the country will bring us no peace
What can the small violets tell us
that grow on furry stems in
the long grass among lance shaped leaves?

Though you praise us
and call to mind the poets
who sung of our loveliness
it was long ago!
long ago! when country people
would plow and sow with
flowering minds and pockets at ease——
if ever this were true.

Not now. Love itself is a flower
with roots in a parched ground.
Empty pockets make empty heads.
Cure it if you can but
do not believe that we can live
today in the country
for the country will bring us no peace. (1944)

Williams Was Wrong
By Greg Delanty (1958 - )

Now I find peace in everything around me;
in the modest campion and the shoals of light
leaping across the swaying sea
and the gulls gliding out of sight.
The tops of wave-confettied rocks
slide into water and turn into seals.
They move to the lively reel
of the cove's clapping dance hall,
rising blithe yelps above the sea's music.
The ocean draws in and out like an accordion
and unseen lithe fingers play the strings
of joy on what the moment brings.
The seals close and part and close again.
Their awkward fins have turned to wings. (2004)

Time for a National Poetry Month extra credit assignment!

I was at a diner with a friend last night and enjoying a delicious bowl of oatmeal when our friend Carol and her fiancee John suddenly appeared. It was my first time meeting John, and I was pleased to find out that he was into poetry and especially partial to William Carlos Williams. We did get into a small disagreement regarding his poem about the plums, however. I have always been of the opinion that it was an honest note by a loving husband with poor control of his impulses and appetites. John said that this reading is incorrect: that the note is a passive-aggressive "fuck you" from one half of a discontented married couple to the other. ("Why would he bother leaving her a note? Wouldn't she just notice they were missing and draw her own conclusion? And why would he tell her how delicious they were if not to rub it in her face?")

Read, decide its meaning for yourself, and comment!

This Is Just To Say
By William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

(Hmm. Funny how John and I both read into it as a husband's note to his wife, even though the text itself explicitly suggests nothing. WCW was a family man, so the assumption probably isn't groundless, but...)

1 comment:

  1. Reagrding the final poem: It's interesting. Had I not already had the context of your disagreement I think my initial reaction would have had the intent being along the lines of "Whoops! I goofed!"

    When you mention what your new friend saw in it I can see what he was getting at. There's just something about the way it's worded. However I think I'll side with that it was a sheepish apology. Also I think it was the husband who wrote it as well.