December 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
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.
December 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is I;
I, this incessant snow,
This northern sky;
Soldiers, this solitude
Through which we go
– 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.
November 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
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).
November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
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!
November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
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.
November 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
– 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: