the Computer’s First Christmas Card

December 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

"Computer's First Christmas Card", Edwin Morgan

– Edwin Morgan

In which Molly and Jerry marry merrily, Barry hops with happy Harry, poor Jarry contracts what seems to be hepatitis, and the computer after lines of garbled greetings wishes us all a Merry Chrysanthemum.

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Separation

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

– W. S. Merwin

Love lost is not so much about feeling incomplete; rather, it is about learning to be complete in a new way, to weave one’s existence into new tapestries using old threads.

Napoleon

December 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

“What is the world, O soldiers?
    It is I;
I, this incessant snow,
  This northern sky;
Soldiers, this solitude
  Through which we go
    Is I.”

– Walter de la Mare

Though Napoleon won the Battle of Borodino outside of Moscow in what would be the bloodiest day of fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, he was forced to retreat due to the oncoming Russian winter and the lack of supplies in Moscow. By the time he returned to home soil, his army of 250,000 had dwindled to a quarter of its size, and the battle marked the beginning of Napoleon’s decline.

It remains ambiguous as to whether we hear Napoleon marching to Moscow or slinking away. The poem is either extremely ironic: a megalomaniac marching towards battle and not realizing his imminent downfall; or an apt personal reflection: Napoleon as the cause of the solitude, the thousands lost, the barren landscape through which the soldiers trudge.

Dance of the Macabre Mice

November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the land of turkeys in turkey weather
At the base of the statue, we go round and round.
What a beautiful history, beautiful surprise!
Monsieur is on horseback. The horse is covered with mice.

This dance has no name. It is a hungry dance.
We dance it out to the tip of Monsieur’s sword,
Reading the lordly language of the inscription,
Which is like zithers and tambourines combined:

The Founder of the State. Whoever founded
A state that was free, in the dead of winter, from mice?
What a beautiful tableau tinted and towering,
The arm of bronze outstretched against all evil!

– Wallace Stevens

An autumnal anecdote accounting an ambulatory adventure across ancient armaments augurs an auspicious ascendency: agile animals above anthropoid autocrats (America).

At a Forest Pool

November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here sad self-lovers saw in tragic error
Some lovely other or another sky;
In your reversing yet unlying mirror
  I saw I was I.

– John Hollander

This neat little poem plays off of the Narcissus myth while employing a literary trick, the palindrome, so appropriately as to almost rescue that particular form of wordplay from the realm of kitsch. A man, a plan: John Hollander!

the Secret Sits

November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

– Robert Frost

“The Secret Sits” is an unusual poem for Frost, being more elusive than usual; a metaphysical teaser, it reads like a passage from an ancient Eastern religious text.

Original Sin at the Water-Hole

November 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

"Original Sin at the Water Hole" - Morgan

– Edwin Morgan

The slippery snake insinuates itself in the sinewy lines and, in ouroboral fashion, begins and ends the poem. If we uncoil Morgan’s concrete creation we get this: a spontaneous obstreperous osmosis of hysterically snorting posses of sporting she-hippopotamuses spotting a little floating asp!; or, The Fall of Safari Animals. Morgan’s careful layout clusters similar letters together so that the poem looks like one tangled mess of a word, the repeating sounds tripping over each other. If we pay particular attention to the broken-off bits that book-end the poem, we get this summarization of sin:

asp
gasp!