e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the category “Poetry”

Favourite weeds

The good weather we’ve had lately means my garden is still rich with flowers and foliage, most of them self-seeded – many are pretty even if they are weeds.

Last year’s favourite weeds were sunflowers; we had several of them of different sizes and styles.

sunflower

This year they went somewhere else and I now have different favourites. One is a giant clover with a pale mauve  flower and decorative leaves.

Another is a lush green thingy growing like the clappers. I’m hoping it’ll flower so I can see what it is.

very green

I had a browse on the web to see if there are any poems about weeds.

There are a lot, many of them drawing rather obvious lessons and few extolling the beauty of these adventurous plants.

However, I really like this simple little one by a poet called Boruch.

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The poetry of heatwaves

Cooling down in the heatwaveAs our over-hot weather goes on I had a look on the web for poems about heatwaves. There seem to be an amazing number of them, although google often produces the same thing in different contexts.

One of the first I came across was John Stammers’ Like a Heatwave Burning:

It was the hottest summer on record;
we flew into rages at the drop of a pin.
The heat made cacti of us all.

I love that line about cacti. There are plenty of things that make me feel cactus-like, not only in the heat. There are several more verses all as entertaining (link above).

Ted Hughes also had something to say in Heatwave which starts:

Between Westminster and sunstruck St Paul’s
The desert has entered the flea’s belly.

So far I’ve not come across any subject that doesn’t have at least one poem of its own.

May Day and its poetry

Today is 1st May and it has been celebrated for centuries as a special day. As May Day it started as a pagan festival and still includes maypoles and festivities. As Labour Day it celebrates the world’s workers (and in many places gives them a day off).

There is no shortage of May Day poems. One that I remember being introduced to in my teens is Robert Herrick’s Corinna’s Going A-Maying, which starts with encouragement to get up and get going.

It has several verses so I quote the first one only. The whole poem can be found on The Poetry Foundation.

Get up, get up for shame, the Blooming Morne
Upon her wings presents the god unshorne.
  See how Aurora throwes her faire
  Fresh-quilted colours through the aire:
  Get up, sweet-Slug-a-bed, and see
  The Dew-bespangling Herbe and Tree.
Each Flower has wept, and bow’d toward the East,
Above an houre since; yet you not drest,
   Nay! not so much as out of bed?
   When all the Birds have Mattens seyd,
    And sung their thankful Hymnes: ’tis sin,
    Nay, profanation to keep in,
When as a thousand Virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the Lark, to fetch in May.
Poetry about Labour Day is harder to find. In the US the day is celebrated in September so has come to be associated with the end of Summer. An example of a poem about both Labour Day and Summer’s end is on Poems for Free. But we are at the beginning of Summer and, although I found plenty of poems about labouring I couldn’t find any specific to the day. Probably there are some in other languages as Labour Day is an international celebration.
The picture is a traditional maypole, probably somewhere in England.
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Poetry Book Society choice

Kingdomland cover artA few days ago I received the Poetry Book Society Spring choice – Rachael Allen‘s Kingdomland.

I haven’t had time to fully read, let alone digest, all the poems, but the ones I’ve looked at so far are very impressive.

The language is robust with strong stresses and wild, sometimes uncomfortable, images: would you

… just lie down
my ribs opened up in the old town square
and let the pigs root through my chest.

However, I do like the idea of having a

… purple name.

I’m looking forward to the poems I haven’t reached yet.

 

Nine Muses Poetry

upland scenery

One of my poems is published today by Nine Muses Poetry. I rarely write poems about the countryside, but a few months ago I felt the urge to put down my feelings after a day’s walk.

Of course I’m thrilled to see my work there, but I’m particularly captivated by the pictures on this site. Even if you’re not into poetry, it’s worth a visit.

Past beauty

Green wave

Carpe Diem, as usual, has a fascinating challenge based on unknown haiku poets. Some of them are not completely unknown, but details of their lives seem to be sparse.

The topic this time is ‘beautiful wave’ taken from a haiku by Heiro Yaezakura (1879-1945).

My take on this subject is:

This water, foaming
on the sand, moments gone was
a beautiful wave.

 

Picture from Clifford Weinmann

Short poems – the triolet

How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Not memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?

The poem above is a triolet, written by Thomas Hardy who was one of the stars of melancholy. I don’t think the very subtle change of meaning in the repetition of the first line is essential, but it expands the poem.

The rules are simple: the first couplet is repeated at the end and the first line is also the fourth; there are only two rhymes. For more information on its history etc try poets.org.

I was first introduced to the form in a poem by Susan McLean in the May edition of Snakeskin Poetry, an online magazine with a wide ranging content of both modern and traditional styles. (To find her humorous poem Crushed use the link above then click on Snakeskin Archive and then on Snakeskin 250).

I thought it would make a change from writing haiku and tanka. I found it took a while to get into the flow of the style but it was fun to try.

grey day photo

Shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles;
backwards is another dark-lit way.
The shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
shakes hands with twilight, makes the sunrise pay,
as at our sour assembly in these cold-lit miles.
This shortest day – peevish, groaning, grey –
don’t turn your back on my shivering smiles.

 

 

Poetry Book Society Choice: Venus as a Bear

My Poetry Book Society choice for this summer has arrived. Its title is a challenge to start with – do bears and Venus have any relationship?cover art

The book has been widely reviewed and with good reason. I haven’t had time to read it thoroughly yet, but, as one expects from Vahni Capildeo, the poems I have read make me think.

For instance, very few poets deal with the subject of pets. Capildeo doesn’t cover the cuteness or amusingness of domestic creatures, but what it means to be a pet and the deep relationship between two species. Many other poems deal with animals and plants in their natural or semi-natural state. Then there are the places: the roads, the seas, the foreign, the homes.

This is a wide-ranging collection and I’ll be reading it for some time.

Whales and Poetry

Whale swims

Browsing around the other day I came across a poem about whales by D H Lawrence. Entitled Whales Weep Not it is about their love life.

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, …

Reading it made me wonder if others have written poems about whales.

Hawaii has a welcoming celebration for the migrating humpbacks and this includes poetry, but none of the poems are quoted on the website.

The orcas get a whole site for their poems. But this is made up for on Hello Poetry which covers all whales.

I also found a number of short doggerels, as if the hugeness and majesty of whales are more manageable in small, simple pieces.

 

The picture comes from flickr.

Poem for April Fools Day

Sunrise over buildings

The sun rises
on April Fools Day to shine,
for one morning, on Truth.

 

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