poetry


Random quote of the day:

“In the beginning was the myth. God, in his search for self-expression, invested the souls of Hindus, Greeks, and Germans with poetic shapes and continues to invest each child’s soul with poetry every day.”

—Hermann Hesse, Peter Camenzind (tr. Michael Roloff)

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Random quote of the day:

“Never write a poem about anything that ought to have a poem written about it.”

—Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I think ‘finding your voice’ is a false concept. It leads you to believe that it’s out there somewhere, like it’s behind the sofa cushions. I think your voice is always inside of you, and you find it by releasing things into your work that you have inside. I grew by allowing aspects of myself that I had previously excluded into my poetry.”

—Billy Collins, The Paris Review, Fall 2001, No. 159

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Eighty years ago on this day, William Butler Yeats transitioned from the earthly realm to wherever mystic poets go when they die. He was in the south of France at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour in Roquebrune Cap Martin, kept company by both his wife George and his last mistress, Edith Shackleton Heald. His friends had taken up a collection to help him move there.

Yeats completed Cuchulain Comforted in the last fifteen days of his life, a poem Seamus Heaney referred to as “one of the greatest ever death-bed utterances.” He completed his last play, The Death of Cuchulain, just before New Years’ day. And he handed over the manuscript of two poems, Are You Content? and The Spirit Medium to his mistress as he lay dying.

He asked George to bury him at the local cemetery in Roquebrune and expressed a wish that after a year’s time she arrange to have him dug up and his body moved to Sligo. Unfortunately, due to an unfortunate combination of misconstrued burial instructions and the beginning of World War II, the poet’s wishes were not carried out as planned. Somehow, he wound up in a pauper’s grave with many other bodies. Because he wore a leather truss for a hernia, they thought they might be able to identify his body, and so in 1948 the attempt was made. And this is where things get even more muddled. An English gentleman, Alfred Hollis, who wore a surgical steel corset for his spine died two weeks after Yeats and was interred in the same plot. A body wearing a medical device was exhumed by French authorities. This body was conveyed with great honor to Galway harbor. Friends and family measured and examined the bones and insisted it was Yeats. But who is in Yeats’ tomb? To this day some say an Englishman resides in it—but both the Yeats and Hollis families found the whole thing so painful they decided to leave things as they were.

I would refer you to this fine article from The Irish Times, written on the 75th anniversary of Yeats’ death and from which I gleaned this information—and so much more. A great read.

You can read the entire Cuchulain Comforted here.

They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,
Though all was done in common as before;
They had changed their throats and had the throats of birds.

 

Random quote of the day:

“What else is a poem made of? Well, yes, ghosts.
But ghosts are only what accidents give birth to
once you have learned how to make accidents happen
purposefully enough to beget ghosts.”

—John Ciardi, “No White Bird Sings”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Some of ya’ll have seen these before, but today is the day for it.

 

Pixilated

Round and round like a crystal spinning,
my father’s stories stirred
the magic behind my eyes.
Pixilated—fairy-led—that’s what I was,
entranced by his wit,
a slave to my ears, learning
the proper way to tell a proper story.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

At seventeen, he lied about his age,
enlisted in the Army to fight the Kaiser:
World War I, the Big Show, the adventure,
to show the Evil Hun
Yankee what-for over there.

“Saw action at Saint Mihel
and at the Ardogne Forest.”

That’s the only story I have
of the charnel house he fought through—
from his discharge papers of 1919,
fresh from the convalescent hospital,
recovering from the poison gas he’d tasted.

If I can hardly comprehend
that flesh of my flesh lived through
that ancient, distant conflict,
looking at me, I imagine,
he couldn’t quite fathom himself
that more than forty years on from that time,
he’d been given new life.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

But he never spoke of that horror,
and when I queried of glorious battles,
as children like so much to do,
loquacious Dad broke into silence.
Shifting his eyes to the floor,
he’d mutter, “Enough, now.
You don’t want to hear about that.”

He’d turn the stories neatly
to French m’amselles, especially one
whose father had a cafe in Paris;
to the time he was a cook
on a fishing boat out of Juneau
and the walls of water inside a gale
nearly sent them to the bottom;
or to the lightning strike which took out the boy
sitting next to him on a fence watching baseball . . .

Years after he died I learned the truth
of 1918, that horrible year of mud and carnage
I’ll never truly understand,
though I’ve heard other men’s stories
of sacrificed youth at a bloody altar,
seen grainy black and white photos and films,
peering anxiously at each young Yank,
hoping to see, hoping not to see
the child who would become my father.

Round and round swirled liquid in amber,
the whisky spinning in my father’s bottle,
hot on his lips, straight, no glass, burning
through to that space of not remembering.
Pixilated—demon-led—that’s what he was,
wandering a dark and lonely forest, mute,
trapped by his Celtic blood and all the blood
he’d seen, slave to memories which had no story.

PJ Thompson

 

And happy birthday, Auntie Maxine.

Maxine

Spring went screaming through the hills—
orange yellow green white purple—
dying to be noticed, all along the road
as we drove away from your sickbed.

“Life gives us clichés,” I said.
But the harsh comfort of spring remained.

The dark sky broke apart, the sun
muscled through, burning on the hills,
forcing on us the heartbreak of blue sky.

I want to believe you are in that sky.
I do believe you are in that sky,
or laughing in the hills you loved,
bare toes trailing clouds of wildflowers.

PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“all the things we are
taught, all the loves we chase, all the deaths we
die, all the lives we live,
they are never quite right…”

—Charles Bukowski, “Cut While Shaving”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?”

—Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions, LXVI (tr. William O’Daly)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”

—Theodore Roethke, Notebooks 1949-50

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn.”

—Stanley Kunitz, “The Testing-Tree”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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