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  #111  
Old 06-12-2017, 07:16 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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It's great, isn't it?
The volume is remarkably thorough. It seems to include Lapland and Lapp. It also has Basque.

Cheers,
John
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  #112  
Old 06-13-2017, 02:44 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I've been doing some recommended reading since returning from Iowa: Anthony Hecht, James Wright, James Merrill, James Tate. Good stuff. I also picked up John Berryman's Collected Poems, 1937-1971. Here is "The Ball Poem":


What is the boy now, who has lost his ball.
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street,
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight.
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

John Berryman
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  #113  
Old 06-15-2017, 04:30 PM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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John, that is touching and at the same time chilling, given Berryman's biography. Even if it was a river and not a harbor. I love "the epistemology of loss", and the end recalled Whitman to me.

I assume it's supposed to be iambic pentameter? A bit rough to my ear, but I forgive him, for I love the poem.
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  #114  
Old 06-15-2017, 08:38 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I agree. It's one of my favorite Berryman poems, but the word chilling is apt, given his death. Plath of course can be chilling like that. The rhythm works for me, although the scansion is fluid: I guess he wrote what he heard. :-)

Cheers,
John
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  #115  
Old 06-16-2017, 01:43 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Here's a sonnet by James Wright called "Saint Judas":

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

James Wright
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  #116  
Old 06-22-2017, 01:30 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I was just thinking of Richard Wilbur and thought I'd post one of my favorites:

Richard Wilbur, "Cottage Street, 1953"

Framed in her phoenix fire-screen, Edna Ward
Bends to the tray of Canton, pouring tea
For frightened Mrs. Plath; then, turning toward
The pale, slumped daughter, and my wife, and me,

Asks if we would prefer it weak or strong.
Will we have milk or lemon, she enquires?
The visit seems already strained and long.
Each in his turn, we tell her our desires.

It is my office to exemplify
The published poet in his happiness,
Thus cheering Sylvia, who has wished to die;
But half-ashamed, and impotent to bless.

I am a stupid life-guard who has found,
Swept to his shallows by the tide, a girl
Who, far from shore, has been immensely drowned,
And stares through water now with eyes of pearl.

How large is her refusal; and how slight
The genteel chat whereby we recommend
Life, of a summer afternoon, despite
The brewing dusk which hints that it may end.

And Edna Ward shall die in fifteen years,
After her eight-and-eighty summers of
Such grace and courage as permit no tears,
The thin hand reaching out, the last word love.

Outliving Sylvia who, condemned to live,
Shall study for a decade, as she must,
To state at last her brilliant negative
In poems free and helpless and unjust.
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  #117  
Old 06-22-2017, 07:19 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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An Ox Looks at Man

They are more delicate even than shrubs and they run
and run from one side to the other, always forgetting
something. Surely they lack I don't know what
basic ingredient, though they present themselves
as noble or serious, at times. Oh, terribly serious,
even tragic. Poor things, one would say that they hear
neither the song of the air nor the secrets of hay;
likewise they seem not to see what is visible
and common to each of us, in space. And they are sad,
and in the wake of sadness they come to cruelty.
All their expression lives in their eyes--and loses itself
to a simple lowering of lids, to a shadow.
And since there is little of the mountain about them --
nothing in the hair or in the terribly fragile limbs
but coldness and secrecy -- it is impossible for them
to settle themselves into forms that are calm, lasting
and necessary. They have, perhaps, a kind
of melancholy grace (one minute) and with this they allow
themselves to forget the problems and translucent
inner emptiness that make them so poor and so lacking
when it comes to uttering silly and painful sounds:
desire, love, jealousy
(what do we know?) -- sounds that scatter and fall in the field
like troubled stones and burn the herbs and the water,
and after this it is hard to keep chewing away at our truth.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Translated by Mark Strand

***

I read this one periodically
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  #118  
Old 06-22-2017, 07:22 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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A Certain Slant of Sunlight
by Ted Berrigan

In Africa the wine is cheap, and it is
on St. Mark's Place too, beneath a white moon.
I'll go there tomorrow, dark bulk hooded
against what is hurled down at me in my no hat
which is weather; the tall pretty girl in the print dress
under the fur collar of her cloth coat will be standing
by the wire fence where the wild flowers grow not too tall
her eyes will be deep brown and her hair styled 1941 American
will be too; but
I'll be shattered by then
But now I'm not and can also picture white clouds
impossibly high in blue sky over small boy heartbroken
to be dressed in black knickers, black coat, white shirt,
buster-brown collar, flowing black bow-tie
her hand lightly fallen on his shoulder, faded sunlight falling
across the picture, mother & son, 33 & 7, First Communion Day, 1941--
I'll go out for a drink with one of my demons tonight
they are dry in Colorado 1980 spring snow.
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  #119  
Old 06-22-2017, 11:51 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Lovely - to me especially the ox poem, which I think is a brilliant concept, and splendidly executed. Thank you for posting these!

Cheers,
John
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  #120  
Old 06-23-2017, 12:11 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Here's another poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade.

Souvenir Of The Ancient World

Clara strolled in the garden with the children.
The sky was green over the grass,
the water was golden under the bridges,
other elements were blue and rose and orange,
a policeman smiled, bicycles passed,
a girl stepped onto the lawn to catch a bird,
the whole world--Germany, China--
all was quiet around Clara.

The children looked at the sky: it was not forbidden.
Mouth, nose, eyes were open. There was no danger.
What Clara feared were the flu, the heat, the insects.
Clara feared missing the eleven o'clock trolley:
She waited for letters slow to arrive,
She couldn't always wear a new dress. But she strolled in the garden,
in the morning!
They had gardens, they had mornings in those days!

Carlos Drummond de Andrade


My only regret is that Clara isn't a cat.

Last edited by John Isbell; 06-23-2017 at 05:26 AM. Reason: regret
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