what is your favourite poem?

and why?

Kipling IF 

Basically the ONLY one that isnt boring

Allen Ginsburg, A Supermarket in California

Just because

I don't have one favourite but the brevity with which Larkin conveys huge feelings always astonishes me when I re-read

The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock. It captures the feelings of anxiety and isolation one can feel in society expertly and is lyrically beautiful along the way.

Also Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts by Bob Dylan. Makes me smile for 6 straight minutes. 

The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot.

Gentile or Jew. Consider Phlebas...

lindaradlett12 Oct 21 14:28

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I don't have one favourite but the brevity with which Larkin conveys huge feelings always astonishes me when I re-read

 

Love him - this one is my favourite:

 

Vers de Société

BY PHILIP LARKIN

My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps

To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps   

You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.   

Day comes to an end.

The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.   

And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid—

 

Funny how hard it is to be alone.

I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,   

Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted   

Over to catch the drivel of some bitch   

Who’s read nothing but Which;

Just think of all the spare time that has flown

 

Straight into nothingness by being filled   

With forks and faces, rather than repaid   

Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,   

And looking out to see the moon thinned   

To an air-sharpened blade.

A life, and yet how sternly it’s instilled

 

All solitude is selfish. No one now

Believes the hermit with his gown and dish   

Talking to God (who’s gone too); the big wish   

Is to have people nice to you, which means   

Doing it back somehow.

Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines

 

Playing at goodness, like going to church?

Something that bores us, something we don’t do well   

(Asking that ass about his fool research)   

But try to feel, because, however crudely,   

It shows us what should be?

Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,

 

Only the young can be alone freely.

The time is shorter now for company,

And sitting by a lamp more often brings

Not peace, but other things.

Beyond the light stand failure and remorse   

Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course—

Spike Milligan, The Ning Nang Nong

Dr Seuss, The Sneeches

 

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
 The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
 And coloured, by her daughter -
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
 Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
 That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,
 Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
 To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

Linda

I agree with Larkin's exquisite economy.  It may not be my favourite - the tone is darker than is good for the soul - but here is his finest example

 

As Bad as a Mile

Watching the shied core

Striking the basket, skidding across the floor,

Shows less and less of luck, and more and more

 

Of failure spreading back up the arm

Earlier and earlier, the unraised hand calm,

The apple unbitten in the palm.

Reminds me of the new contentment I found when I got sober.

 

The Orange - Wendy Cope: simpleliving

It's so specific, I don't want to out myself. 

Als je goed

om je heen kijkt

zie je dat alles 

gekleurd is

K.Schippers

 

Translated:

If you carefully

look around

you will see that

everything has colour

Threeepwood12 Oct 21 14:30

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Also Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts by Bob Dylan. Makes me smile for 6 straight minutes. 
 

 

heh.

Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”

Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limits”

Heine’s “Der Scheidende”

Goethe’s “An vollen Buschelzweigen”

Baudelaire’s “La Chevelure”

The Whitsun Weddings

 

Perceiving Chatto darkly through the mirror of the third.

 

Just enough time to settle hats and say "I nearly died" .

 

Two great lines

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts is a good song, but I always thought it was rushed, ran too fast.

Hurricane by Dylan is a similar song, but slower and better paced. And it had the superb violin lines running all through it.

Sir Henry newbolts vitai lampada and William ernest henleys invictus. Both poems to drink brandy to and stare into the middle distance whilst feeding the ducks in the park stoically

I love Larkin and always did.

Though rereading them again on here in middle age is strangely unnerving.

An arrow shower sent of of sight

Somewhere becoming rain

Sorry forgot this one:

 

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Not my favourite, but the poem that reminds me that poets do something alchemical with words: it makes my stomach lurch every time - James Joyce, A Flower for my Daughter

Frail the white rose and frail are
Her hands that gave
Whose soul is sere and paler
Than time’s wan wave.
Rosefrail and fair–yet frailest
A wonder wild
In gentle eyes thou veilest,
My blueveined child.

 

Not to mention Ecce Puer

"Oh father forsaken, forgive your son".

 

Betjemen's stuff always feels a bit trite, tea-and-biscuits, to me.  He is such a slave to a simple rhythm and smartypants rhymes that it reads and sounds like a very good Year 9 effort. 

 

Agreed he is the Harold Pinter of poetry, but sums up Slough perfectly. 

Not sure I read enough (any) poetry to have a favourite but I heard this again last week by John Cooper Clarke. I always liked it and it reminds me of Britain 2021

 

The bloody cops are bloody keen
To bloody keep it bloody clean
The bloody chief's a bloody swine
Who bloody draws a bloody line
At bloody fun and bloody games
The bloody kids he bloody blames
Are nowehere to be bloody found
Anywhere in chicken town

The bloody scene is bloody sad
The bloody news is bloody bad
The bloody weed is bloody turf
The bloody speed is bloody surf
The bloody folks are bloody daft
Don't make me bloody laugh
It bloody hurts to look around
Everywhere in chicken town
The bloody train is bloody late
You bloody wait you bloody wait
You're bloody lost and bloody found
Stuck in fooking chicken town

The bloody view is bloody vile
For bloody miles and bloody miles
The bloody babies bloody cry
The bloody flowers bloody die
The bloody food is bloody muck
The bloody drains are bloody fooked
The colour scheme is bloody brown
Everywhere in chicken town

The bloody pubs are bloody dull
The bloody clubs are bloody full
Of bloody girls and bloody guys
With bloody murder in their eyes
A bloody bloke is bloody stabbed
Waiting for a bloody cab
You bloody stay at bloody home
The bloody neighbors bloody moan
Keep the bloody racket down
This is bloody chicken town

The bloody pies are bloody old
The bloody chips are bloody cold
The bloody beer is bloody flat
The bloody flats have bloody rats
The bloody clocks are bloody wrong
The bloody days are bloody long
It bloody gets you bloody down
Evidently chicken town
The bloody train is bloody late
You bloody wait you bloody wait
You're bloody lost and bloody found
Stuck in fooking chicken town

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

As a good reminder of hubris.

Also:

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

 

 

Ozymandias 

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

 

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Interesting there are so many fans of the modernist period here. Some TS Eliot and even a lesser know morsel by Joyce!

Along a similar theme, for me it’s The River Song by Ezra Pound.

Either that or the poem at the end of Alice in Wonderland.

I sent that poem, The Orange, to a friend once when he was feeling tepid and he texted me to say he’d just started crying on the tube.

I texted him to say ‘I hope next time I see you in the pub you don’t try and drunkenly bumrape me, you gay’

On Evidently Chickentown, have you seen the film Strumpet?  Mrs Taser’s friend Genna G was the lead actress, who was also in a band called Un-Cut, who did a great album called The Un-Calculated Sum.

Anyway, here’s Christopher Ecclestone doing the poem. 
 

https://youtu.be/NgDd06D5p5U

The ning nang nong.

String.

King John's Christmas.

The King's breakfast.

This has always been a favourite

 

Dream Song 29

BY JOHN BERRYMAN

There sat down, once, a thing on Henry’s heart   

so heavy, if he had a hundred years

& more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time   

Henry could not make good.

Starts again always in Henry’s ears

the little cough somewhere, an odour, a chime.

 

And there is another thing he has in mind   

like a grave Sienese face a thousand years

would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of. Ghastly,   

with open eyes, he attends, blind.

All the bells say: too late. This is not for tears;   

thinking.

 

But never did Henry, as he thought he did,

end anyone and hacks her body up

and hide the pieces, where they may be found.

He knows: he went over everyone, & nobody’s missing.   

Often he reckons, in the dawn, them up.

Nobody is ever missing.

Wallace Stevens - Sunday Morning

Larkin - Church Going

Donne - A Valediction Forbidding Mourning 

Nutting by Wordsworth. Or I Carry Your Heart by e e cummings. Or Mrs Midas by Carol Ann Duffy from her World’s Wife collection. Any of that collection actually…

 

I can’t say why some poetry clings like dandelion seeds. Some just do…

Seamus Heaney - BlackBerry Picking 

 

Late August, given heavy rain and sun

For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot

Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.

You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet

Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it

Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for

Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger

Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots

Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.

Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills

We trekked and picked until the cans were full,

Until the tinkling bottom had been covered

With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned

Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered

With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

 

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.

But when the bath was filled we found a fur,

A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.

The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush

The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.

I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair

That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.

Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

 

 

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

...it makes me wonder if I will ever discover faith again.

It makes you blind, it does you in
It makes you think you're pretty tough
It makes you prone to crime and sin
It makes you say things off the cuff

It's very small and made of glass
And grossly over-advertised
It turns a genius into an ass
And makes a fool think he is wise

It could make you regret your birth
Or turn cartwheels in your best suit
It costs a lot more than it's worth
And yet there is no substitute

They keep it on a higher shelf
The older and more pure it grows
It has no color in itself
But it can make you see rainbows

You can find it on the Bowery
Or you can find it at Elaine's
It makes your words more flowery
It makes the sun shine, makes it rain

You just get out what they put in
And they never put in enough
Love is like a bottle of gin
But a bottle of gin is not like love

Desolation Row is good. So is Love Minus Zero/No Limit

 

My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.

The cloak and dagger dangles,
Madams light the candles.
In ceremonies of the horsemen,
Even the pawn must hold a grudge.
Statues made of match sticks,
Crumble into one another,
My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge.

The bridge at midnight trembles,
The country doctor rambles,
Bankers' nieces seek perfection,
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring.
The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she's like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

 

 

Ah, missed the why bit.

To His Coy Mistress because it’s filth.

Love Minus Zero/No Limit because it’s a brilliant example of Petrarchan reconciliation of opposites and meditation on the lady he loves (Sara here I think) which he appears to really mean (which is not always the case with Dylan). It’s also a weirdly near match to Desolation Row metrically (and when he was playing both on his tours around 2002/3 it was frequently difficult to tell from the musical intro and tune which he was playing).

Heine’s Der Scheidende because it’s a masterpiece of irony and self-ironisation, mordantly funny and bleakly insightful into the human condition.

Goethe’s An vollen Buschelzweigen because it’s both a beautiful evocation of nature and brilliantly pervy filth.

La Chevelure because it’s filth (hmmm, spotting a pattern here).

 

 

That’s not the only reason you can’t tell which song dylan is playing 

Heh. Well, sure, he messes around with them and reinvents them, Trevor. Not sure what else you mean by that. 

 

Hello Commuter, on your way to work, 

I’m going to call yours Captain Bird’s Eye, 

Because it looks like it’s wearing a polo neck and winking at me.

You’re welcome, I just named your penis. 

 

Hello Train Driver, who’s just nipped in for a piss, 

I’m going to call yours Mrs. Fernsby, 

My old geography teacher, 

Because you’re small and wrinkly 

And have a birthmark down the side of your shaft. 

You’re welcome, I just named your penis.

 

Hello Police Officer, who’s just been sent to the toilets

Because they’ve had reports of someone naming people’s penises.

You can’t arrest me for naming strangers’ cocks.

Oh, you can? I didn’t know that.

Oh great, now I’m electronically tagged again

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget,
For we are the people of England, that never has spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.

The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and dames.
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could say their names.
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went down;
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crown.
And the eyes of the King's Servants turned terribly every way,
And the gold of the King's Servants rose higher every day.
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had been quaint and kind,
Till there was no bed in a monk's house, nor food that man could find.
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the wall of the weak,
The King's Servants ate them all. And still we did not speak.

And the face of the King's Servants grew greater than the King:
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood round him in a ring.
The new grave lords closed round him, that had eaten the abbey's fruits,
And the men of the new religion, with their Bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale.

A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people's reign:
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and never scorned us again.
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
The strange fierce face of the Frenchman who knew for what he fought,
And the man who seemed to be more than man we strained against and broke;
And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.

Our path of glory ended; we never heard guns again.
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle; he was foolish, as if in pain.
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew,
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken at Waterloo.
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose spoil is in his house,
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouse:
We only know the last sad squires ride slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we.

They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

 

Remember me when I am gone away,

 Gone far away into the silent land;

+Horatius

+ 1 for Uncle Phil. An otherwise deeply unpleasant man tho. Ambulances for me. 

Kubla Khan

Also some of RS Thomas when he’s not trying so hard to be Welsh. 

Reluctance

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended
I have come by the highway home
And lo, it is ended

The leaves are all dead on the ground
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow
When others are sleeping

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still
No longer blown hither and thither
The last lone aster is gone
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither
The heart is still aching to seek
But the feet question "Whither"

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things
To yield with a grace to reason
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Yes, R S Thomas hits the spot and sticks with you. 

Here

I am a man now.
Pass your hand over my brow.
You can feel the place where the brains grow.

I am like a tree,
From my top boughs I can see
The footprints that led up to me.

There is blood in my veins
That has run clear of the stain
Contracted in so many loins.

Why, then, are my hands red
With the blood of so many dead?
Is this where I was misled?

Why are my hands this way
That they will not do as I say?
Does no God hear when I pray?

I have no where to go
The swift satellites show
The clock of my whole being is slow,

It is too late to start
For destinations not of the heart.
I must stay here with my hurt.

 

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