Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Song of a Man Who Has Come Through" by D.H. Lawrence


Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.

By D.H. Lawrence


For more about the poet and writer, David Herbert Lawrence, see:


Although in our more cool, dispassionate, cynical modern era, we would be inclined not to pepper our poems with exclamation marks, I like the passion Lawrence displays in this poem. It seems to me that he is writing about that indefinable quality involved in the act of creation which various people have described as "being in the zone" or "in the flow".

As any creative person will tell you, the act of writing a poem or painting a picture or writing a song is often hard slog, searching for inspiration, but fashioning it from your sweat and toil. But every once in a while, we get lucky, we get blessed and something, some unseen force seems to flow through us and fashions the work. It is almost like we become a vessel, a conduit for some creative force at play in the world.

I think Lawrence was talking about endeavouring to make himself as open as he possibly could be for that unseen creative force to flow through him in order to create the best possible creative work that was humanly possible for him to create.

But you, my friend, might read something entirely different into this poem and that is the beauty of words and poetry - open for you to bring your life and heart to bear upon the work.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the Tuesday Poets and my Blog readers


I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and a safe, fun holiday break.

I'll leave you all with the title poem of my recent published poetry collection and let's hope in 2015 we can do more to heal our planet and live more in harmony with our fellow creatures and with Mother Nature.



GREEN GECKO DREAMING

I was here before you and after
the Big Heat
I will be here after you.
While you have lived,
I have struggled to live.
Some of you have been my guardians,
some have been my enemies,
but your ferocious machines will fall silent
and the insects will return.
Even my enemies will ride the sky again
as the smudges of your smoke
are wiped clear to blue.
Your footprints will wash away
and your domination become a folk tale,
ghost stories told to frighten our children.
We have kept the faith
and, through the ages,
our stories have kept our hopes alive.

In our Dreaming,
you vanish
and Gondwana is once more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Art of Disappearing by Naomi Shihab Nye


When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

by Naomi Shihab Nye



For more about the poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, see:


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Ecstasy," by Hayden Carruth


For years it was in sex and I thought
this was the most of it
so brief
a moment
or two of transport out of oneself
or
in music which lasted longer and filled me
with the exquisite wrenching agony
of the blues
and now it is equally
transitory and obscure as I sit in my broken
chair that the cats have shredded
by the stove on a winter night with wind and
snow
howling outside and I imagine
the whole world at peace
at peace
and everyone comfortable and warm
the great pain assuaged
a moment
of the most shining and singular sensual gratification.

Published in Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey (Copper Canyon Press).




For more about the poet, Hayden Carruth, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayden_Carruth

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "My Life" by Billy Collins


Sometimes I see it as a straight line
drawn with a pencil and a ruler
transecting the circle of the world

or as a finger piercing
a smoke ring, casual, inquisitive

but then the sun will come out
or the phone will ring
and I will cease to wonder

if it is one thing,
a large ball of air and memory,
or many things,
a string of small farming towns,
a dark road winding through them.

Let us say it is a field
I have been hoeing every day,
hoeing and singing,
then going to sleep in one of its furrows,

or now that it is more than half over,
a partially open door,
rain dripping from eaves.

Like yours, it could be anything,
a nest with one egg,
a hallway that leads to a thousand rooms ---
whatever happens to float into view
when I close my eyes 

or look out a window
for more than a few minutes,
so that some days I think
it must be everything and nothing at once.

But this morning, sitting up in bed,
wearing my black sweater and my glasses,
the curtains drawn and the windows up,

I am a lake, my poem is an empty boat,
and my life is the breeze that blows
through the whole scene

stirring everything it touches ---
the surface of the water, the limp sail,
even the heavy, leafy trees along the shore.

by Billy Collins

I love this poem because it addresses a grand theme through the minutiae of our lives and the world around us. On its surface, it seems so simple, but the images build up into an accretion of a life well-lived and well-considered.

Socrates, the Greek philosopher who lived in Athens from 469 BC - 399 BC is quoted in Plato's Dialogues, Apology as saying "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Perhaps the life unexamined leads to people brutally and senselessly killing innocent people or perhaps it leads to polluting the planet for personal greed and acquisition, but I will leave that for others to debate.

We are only here for a short time and so I think it behoves us to lead the best life we can, loving others as much as we can, nurturing our children to be creative, productive and decent citizens of this planet and looking for beauty and wonder in this amazing natural world we inhabit.

Billy Collins achieves what I often aspire to do as a poet. He elevates the seemingly mundane and everyday into things of great beauty and wisdom. Billy Collins has been a Poet Laureate of the United States of America and has sometimes been referred to as "a poet of the vernacular".



For more on Billy Collins:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "I am full up" by Chris Gallavin


I am full
up with thinking
saturated by rocks
that fell leaving
only small holes
trapped for air to live.

They came upon me
last night, when
I dreamed so hard
I woke without remembering,
but I could feel
where they had been,
            where they had walked,
                     built their houses,
                           left their rubbish.

So now I am left
full of tumbled down palaces
a mountainside of schist coloured scree
with only small places
for air to lie quietly in wait
for the new construction to begin.

  
Chris Gallavin



Reprinted with the permission of the Poet.

I don't know Canterbury poet, Chris Gallavin, personally, but a mutual friend sent me this poem and I enjoyed it so much that I contacted Chris through his Facebook page and asked him if I could reproduce it here.

I do know Chris is a heavy hitter in the local law arena, being Dean and Head of the School of Law at Canterbury University.

He does urge Marlborough students to pursue their passion which cannot be a bad thing to do. "Follow your bliss" as Joseph Campbell urged.

And apparently radio hosts sometimes call for his expert opinion on points of law where they relate to current affairs.

I can't tell you anything about where Chris publishes his poetry, but he does post some of his work on:


Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Poem in October" by Dylan Thomas


It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood  
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall  
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.

      My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name  
      Above the farms and the white horses
                  And I rose  
            In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                  And the gates
      Of the town closed as the town awoke.

      A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling  
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
                  Summery
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly  
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened  
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me.

      Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail  
      With its horns through mist and the castle  
                  Brown as owls
            But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales  
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.  
            There could I marvel
                  My birthday
      Away but the weather turned around.

      It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky  
      Streamed again a wonder of summer
                  With apples
            Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother  
            Through the parables
                  Of sun light
      And the legends of the green chapels

      And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.  
      These were the woods the river and sea
                  Where a boy
            In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy  
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
            And the mystery
                  Sang alive
      Still in the water and singingbirds.

      And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true  
      Joy of the long dead child sang burning
                  In the sun.
            It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon  
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.  
            O may my heart’s truth
                  Still be sung
      On this high hill in a year’s turning.


by Dylan Thomas


Last Labour Day Monday here in New Zealand coincided with the birthday of Dylan Marlais Thomas who was born on October 27, 1914, in Uplands, Swansea, Wales.

So, since he was born in the month of October, this seemed an appropriate poem to post, although we've just squeaked into November now.

Dylan Thomas. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty. Tinting by Dan Murrell
For more information about Dylan Thomas, see here:



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Ode to a Nightingale' by John Keats


MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,      
  But being too happy in thine happiness,
    That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
          In some melodious plot
  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
    Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
  Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
  Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
  Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
          And purple-stainèd mouth;
  That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
  What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
          And leaden-eyed despairs;
  Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
  Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
  Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
  And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
    Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays
          But here there is no light,
  Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
  Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
  Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
    Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
          And mid-May's eldest child,
  The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
    The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
  I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
  To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
          In such an ecstasy!
  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
    To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
  No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
  In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
  Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
          The same that ofttimes hath
  Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
  To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
  As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
    Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
          In the next valley-glades:
  Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
    Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?


by John Keats

This poem is still as lovely as when I first encountered it in my fifth-form (Year 11 in the modern school parlance) English class.


Photo Credit: Poetry Foundation UK

For more information about John Keats, see:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Keats



Actor Ben Whishaw doing his best John Keats impression



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Poem: " The Children's Hour" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
   That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
   Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
   To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
   A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
   They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
   O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
   They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
   Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
   In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
   Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
   Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
   And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
   In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
   Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away!


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


In the early 1980s, there was a New Zealand band called Children's Hour, but apparently they didn't take their name from this poem.



Longfellow is probably fairly well known to most English students in English-speaking countries, but for more on this poet, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Wadsworth_Longfellow

You have to be a jolly famous poet to feature on a Postage Stamp:


I aspire to be on a Postage Stamp someday, but with the decline of snail mail, will anyone still be licking the backs of poets in ten years time?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Braided River" (In memory of Norris Hickey)


Love and family
are the twin tributaries that flowed into your heart
like a braided river.
Somewhat of a paradox, a sociable man
who often preferred to be alone
on some braided river,
basking in the peace of the wilderness,
hearing only the song of the birds
and the gentle whirr of the fly line,
its nylon whipping to that spot
where you hoped the fish would rise.
Patience comes more easily in
peaceful surroundings,
but not so easy waiting for the blessing
of grandchildren.
Like awaiting the trout and salmon,
your patience was rewarded
when the spawning started.
Five blessings eventually
and you always said what a lucky man you were.
What you would have been too modest to say
was that we were all lucky too.
For you filled all our lives with your love,
your boxing tales
and your big, generous heart.

POET'S NOTE: My father-in-law, Norris Hickey, died on Saturday 27 September 2014, after a protracted battle with prostate cancer. He was fortunate in that he died in his home where he had brought up his family for the past 40 years and his beloved wife and his much-loved four daughters were around his bedside when he breathed his last breath. RIP Norris.

Norris Hickey in 1998 at the Wedding of his second daughter
Photo Credit: Bronwyn Evans

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "We Two On The Still Strand" by Christian Matras


It was in a world of fair-weather fog
the islands out there had gone
and soft small waves came back and forth to shore,
they hardly wanted to break.
We two alone on the foreshore
waded quietly out
and began to play with the cool wavelets quietly, 
yes, with the whole unspoiled world
that God had made in the first days. 

     -- Christian Matras (translated from the Faroese by George Johnston)


To find out more about this poet:





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower" by Taha Muhammad Ali


In his life
he neither wrote nor read.
In his life he
didn’t cut down a single tree,
didn’t slit the throat
of a single calf.
In his life he did not speak
of the New York Times
behind its back,
didn’t raise
his voice to a soul
except in his saying:
“Come in, please,
by God, you can’t refuse.”

Nevertheless—
his case is hopeless,
his situation
desperate.
His God-given rights are a grain of salt
tossed into the sea.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
about his enemies
my client knows not a thing.
And I can assure you,
were he to encounter
the entire crew
of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,
he’d serve them eggs
sunny-side up,
and labneh
fresh from the bag.



by Taha Muhammad Ali 
(translated from the Arabic by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin)

Photo Credit: Nina Subin

For more about this poet, see:


If we take the time to study the modern history of the Middle East and not just see the region in terms of a simplistic Arab versus Jew dualism, we can see that colonial powers have meddled with the Middle Eastern countries and territories for reasons of power, influence, military posturing and exploitation of the area's resources, such as oil.

If you would like to have more in-depth knowledge of this Western interference, I highly recommend reading Robert Fisk's collection of columns for The Independent which is called Age of the Warrior:




http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-age-of-the-warrior-by-robert-fisk-832693.html

I think this poem by Taha Muhammad Ali accurately portrays the plight of the average Palestinian, indeed the plight of many poor Arab people throughout the Arab region who have no thoughts of Jihad because they are too busy just getting by with the details of everyday life. This might seem like sacrilege to George W. Bush and Tony Blair, but the majority of Muslim Arabs, I suspect, want much the same as any citizen of this planet, to give their children better food, better housing, better education and generally better lives than they themselves have had.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

NEW ZEALAND ELECTION DAY POEM: "Looking Backwards" by Kendrick Smithyman


The first Labour Government was in office.
A fait accompli, without consulting us
Mother went into time payment, again we had
a radio. We were in touch,
                                         broadcasts from the House,
Eb and Zeb, Fred and Maggie, Father's good ear pressed
to the Speaker (this was better than Hansard)
and Gordon Hutter. Sense of purpose -
everything being built all over,
they hadn't yet started quite to fall apart?
On the horizon a shimmering like a pearl.

Au fond du temple saint:
soon I was getting into opera, would rather
had been girls but girls were difficult.
Even so after Evensong I ratted on Maury,
left him with both choirgirls on his hands,
scuttling home to hear the latest tenor,
Jussi Björling.
                      Mother closed her eyes, Father leaned
against E lucevan le stelle, to La donna è mobile.
How right. "As good as Caruso, or better,
when I heard him in Philadelphia."
"Like Melba," Mum declared, "you don't know
whether to laugh or cry." We'd missed
Uncle Scrim.

                         Along skies westward stars were
shining, a flickering like not so distant gunfire.


     -- Kendrick Smithyman


Photo Credit: www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz

For more on this often underrated New Zealand poet, see:



Friday, September 19, 2014

BUGGER!!!


As you are all probably aware, the NO vote won and poor old Scotland is still tied to England...and so, for that matter, are our Gaelic cousins in Wales and Northern Ireland.

People (often English people and conservative Scots) were so horrified at the thought of an Independent Scotland, but how is it any different from an Independent France or Germany or Spain?

I'm disappointed, but that's democracy, I guess. You win some, you lose some.

Let's try again soon, Scotland! Don't give up, Glasgow, you wanted to go free and clear, but the rest of the country weren't with you this time.


Go Scottish Independence!!! - "It was a' for our Rightful King" by wee Robbie Burns


It was a' for our rightful king
         That we left fair Scotland's strand;
It was a' for our rightful king
         We e'er saw Irish land,
                My dear,
         We e'er saw Irish land.

Now a' is done that men can do,
         And a' is done in vain!
My love, and native land, fareweel!
         For I maun cross the main,
                My dear,
         For I maun cross the main.

He turn'd him right and round about,
         Upon the Irish shore,
He gave his bridle-reins a shake,
         With, Adieu for evermore,
                My dear!
         And adieu for evermore!

The soldier frae the war returns,
         And the merchant frae the main.
But I hae parted frae my love,
         Never to meet again,
                My dear,
         Never to meet again.

When day is gone and night is come,
         And a' folk bound to sleep,
I think on him that's far awa
         The lee-lang night, and weep,
                My dear,
         The lee-lang night, and weep.

by Robert Burns (unofficial Poet Laureate of Scotland)


I think wee Robbie will weep with joy in Heaven if the YES vote is successful today.


As a proud descendant of Scots on my paternal side, I hope all the English scaremongers are crestfallen today and that Scotland finally throws off the English yoke! When the Sassenachs were throwing my ancestors off their land, they never dreamed that one day we would rise up and throw them off! Emperor Hadrian built a wall because he couldn't conquer the fierce Picts and Gaels. May Scottish pride be restored by the YES vote today!

Shame, Bob Geldof, shame! Today Scotland, tomorrow a free, independent, united Ireland.

Raise the true flag of Scotland high!