Monday, April 18, 2011

The Live & The Dead Nettle

It's still poetry month, you guys. I have no anchor this time but plenty still to share.

Clemo has recently shared something by Ogden Nash, by Spike Milligan and by Nipsey Russell. Go check those out.

Gert tossed a nice Frost into the wind.

Chili mentioned a specific poem by Paul Monette, Love Alone. I couldn't find the text of that online but at the beginning of some fan fiction inspired by his book of the same name I found this lovely piece of Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Love can not fill the thickening blood with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

Carmencita suggested I check out Robert Service's work and this one, The Three Bares, is a hoot.

I have refrained thus far from linking repeatedly to the T. S. Eliot poem that calls to me every year. Probably many times of the year. It is Little Gidding and you can see the whole text here. This year, though, just in case you can't bring yourself to click (CLICK!) I give you this tiny excerpt:
"There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives—unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory:
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern."
I mean, wow, right? That dude really knew what he was talking about, don't you think? Sure, he might have been a huge downer at parties but I wish that he and Dorothy Parker could have sat in the corner of a Christmas party some time, next to me, telling my about life, love, the universe and everything. 

Not least, though, is Pony Express' contribution. She said right off the bat, "Lewis Carroll!" and immediately began to quote the Jabberwocky. I'm not reprinting that here. Go click, though, it's fun, and even better if two of your friends break into it as a duet at the brunch table. I will instead give you the text that was used as lyrics to a song I sang in high school:
You Are Old Father William
by Lewis Carroll

'You are old, Father William', the young man said,
   'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
   Do you think, at your age, it is right?'

'In my youth', Father William replied to his son,
   'I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
   Why, I do it again and again.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'as I mentioned before,
   And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
   Pray, what is the reason of that?'

'In my youth', said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
   'I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
   Allow me to sell you a couple?'

'You are old', said the youth, 'and your jaws are too weak
   For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
   Pray, how did you manage to do it?'

'In my youth', said his father, 'I took to the law,
   And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
   Has lasted the rest of my life.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'one would hardly suppose
   That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
   What made you so awfully clever?'

'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
   Said his father, 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
   Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs!'

OK, now you go. What other poems do you love?


  1. I can still hear everyone's voices from theatre school every time I read "Little Giddling"- they echo in my head even after (gasp!) 16 years. It IS a great poem... though my favourite line comes closer to the end of it.

    Thanks for sharing all the poetry- it's been fun to read!

  2. Anonymous11:09 PM

    My faorite from David Whyte , Sweet Darkness , The House of Belonging 2010.

    The last half is this :

    You must learn one thing.
    The world was made to be free in.

    Give up all other worlds
    except the one to which you belong.

    Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
    confinement of your aloneness
    to learn

    anything or anyone
    that does not bring you alive

    is too small for you.

  3. I love a poem I read in Yankee Magazine years ago...I forgot the poet's name and most of them poem, but it was about a breeze blowing in a window, the curtain, a dresser and his wife. Wish I could remember more!

    Here's one from Richard Brautigan:

    He'd sell an rat's @$$hole
    to a blind man
    for a wedding ring.