Thursday, April 26, 2012

Check Your Pockets

It's Poem in Your Pocket Day. What do you have in there?

I don't have anything yet but here are some that are under consideration:

A Pig's-Eye View of Literature 
by Dorothy Parker

The Lives and Times of John Keats,
Percy Bysshe Shelley, and
George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron

Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of Lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn't impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats. 

(a tiny excerpt from) Little Gidding
by T. S. Eliot 

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

 (from) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss

"All I need is a reindeer..."
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...?
No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
He loaded some bags
And some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max. 

by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

This next one would be a funny one to memorize.

by Billy Collins
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart. 

That's enough for me to ponder for now. Even though there are so many more out there to be discovered. Or re-discovered.

What's in your pocket?

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't find this book - I had to Google it to get it right (oh, the shame)...

    I had 2 books by this team - the one I can find was a third birthday gift from my great(and-also-awesome)aunt. In 1959.

    Some of my books from that era have a note I learned to make from my mother's childhood books: "This book is clean. Keep it so." My enthusiastic scribbling of this annotation suggests that a) I missed the point, and b) my mom was a co-conspirator.

    I could go on (as you know...) - here's the heart of the matter:

    Keep A Poem In Your Pocket
    By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

    Keep a poem in your pocket
    And a picture in your head
    And you'll never feel lonely
    At night when you're in bed.

    The little poem will sing to you
    The little picture bring to you
    A dozen dreams to dance to you
    At night when you're in bed.

    So - -
    Keep a picture in your pocket
    And a poem in your head
    And you'll never feel lonely
    At night when you're in bed.