Tag: Poetry

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Greetings, Ricochet! It just got a little warmer ’round here. Check out the latest from @el-colonel’s pen…If you begin to shiver, it might not be the weather. Enjoy!  More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Thanksgiving for Small Children

 

We have one. We’re thankful he’s adorable. He should be thankful he’s adorable, too:

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Last Friday ere Thanksgiving

 

‘Twas the week ere Thanksgiving, and all through the shop,
Assemblers are frenzied, the rush jobs don’t stop.
But the phones are all silent, there’s not even a whop,
Of a desk phone a’ringing or email incoming,
So I’m cleaning my desk of the year’s paperwork gloaming.

And it’s Friday, at the end of a busy week’s labors,
With sun shining brightly on the roofs of the neighbors,
And we all wait impatiently for five o’clock’s savior,
That homeward we may wend us to home fires burning
And pre-holliday’s prep work, with kitchens a stirring.

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Ah, poetry. For some of us, the temptation to express our visions and desires, sacred or profane, in more than prose is irresistible. At times, we cannibalize others’ poems for the purpose – a gal like me might prefer ol’ W.B. Yeats; a guy like Slick Willie, Whitman. Other times, only our own words will […]

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The first snow of November, as the light begins to fail. “One must have a mind of winter / To regard the frost and the boughs / Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; // And have been cold a long time…” If I told the tale of how I became so fond of this poem, […]

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In June, I posted on using music to “Retell[] a Poem – the Sacred in the Secular“. Then, I took you behind the scenes, into what the process of setting a poem to music looks like, in the middle of things, while the draft is still incomplete. Now that the draft is completed, in honor […]

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I have also seen this poem anthologized under the title “Belfast Linen” and/or ascribed to “Traditional” or “A linen workers’ ballard.”   More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Beautiful Dark Things – Desire from Nature

 

Earlier, @iwe wrote on desire and creativity as a holy act, on how humans are called, not to pagan imitation of nature, but to make things entirely new. And yet, for many of us, learning to imitate nature seems a necessary part of artistic discipline. Most conservatives are unlikely to be impressed, to put it mildly, by painters and sketchers without good observational-drawing skills. Music and literature, too, benefit from observant imitation of the natural world. Neither the sound of the sea nor the sight of the Milky Way could be imitated exactly in a song or poem, of course, but an artist may find that the only reason a work of his exists is because he attempted to record these natural features faithfully.

Matsuo Basho wrote a haiku sandwiching an island between the turbulent sea and the River of Heaven – the Milky Way. Music for that haiku might spring from hearing, over and over, the relentless beat of waves in your head, from the desire to imitate that sound, the desire to imitate, sonically, the frosty light of so many stars, to imitate nature’s creation of a beautiful dark thing:

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Having a son (the oldest of four) who is a surfer, whose daughter (the oldest of our four grandchildren) is just starting, at age six, to surf — they live in Carmel Valley, near Monterrey— I dedicated this to them:   More

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Yesterday, a fine piece on Lawrence of Arabia occasioned a number of comments, which somehow eventuated in a brief discussion of the relative merits of poetry and thermodynamics. This prompted me to weigh in with the following, for whatever it may be worth:   More

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By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Retelling a Poem – the Sacred in the Secular

 

The long shadow Easter casts on our culture is light in darkness rather than darkness in light. The poem off to the right here is lit by that shadow. So much of the poem’s language reduces humanity to mere biology – our ghosts are merely the bioluminescence of the worms feeding off our corpses, rebirth is perhaps nothing more than dirty fertilization, whether of plants or of people – but all is framed to subvert that reduction. The poem shows a light beyond nature and nature’s endless cycling, light from a dawn that remains fixed for all time: the Easter dawn. Really, it’s impossible to put what the poem is saying into words any better than the words of the poem itself. Not all restatement is verbal, though.

Setting a poem for singers will literally restate the words, as they are sung. But the music written for the words is, even when the words are removed, its own retelling. Plenty of us are amateur poets, but not all of us write poems worth saying. Fortunately for amateur poets with some training in music, our own play-acting as poets can help us retell other, much better, poets’ poems in musical form. The following is one such half-finished retelling, which, being half-finished, with sketchiness and seams still evident, gives a behind-the-scenes look at how it’s done:

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Poem: On the Death of a Child

 

My youngest son Jacob graduated from the 6th grade yesterday. He is 12 years old and, though that is still very young, I’m coming to the dreadful realization that it won’t be much longer till my house is empty of children. I will be scooted to the periphery of their lives—important and loved, yes, but no longer the central figure. No longer the one who manages, cooks, prods, chauffeurs, teaches, cheerleads, listens, and disciplines. The impending doom is leaving me a little unsettled.

Jacob’s teacher, Mrs. D., is dealing with a more terrible separation. In April, her oldest son took his own life. The spare details that initially reached us were heart-breaking: a recorded phone message from the school district informed parents that the elementary school and nearby junior high were on lock-out because of a body discovered in the common field between the two schools. The death occurred hours before school started and the young man was found by the junior high principal. No other faculty or students had seen anything. It wasn’t until later in the day that we learned who he was.

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On the contrary, a love poem gives individual expression to the joy of private life. Result and expression of personally-held values, love defies the tyrant; the more pure and steadfast the love, the stronger the motivation for defiance. Thus private life becomes possible – as indeed civil society itself.   More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Cole Porter and Ella Fitzgerald

 

My post yesterday was to say something worthwhile about Ella on her centenary. I tried to show her moderating effect on Cole Porter’s music. Let me summarize my remarks without repetition: Ella has power, but she has sweetness as well, and no one ever got a heart attack from her music. Her phrasing and diction have the wonderful power of removing from Porter’s wit his least attractive characteristic, his fickleness. Her command of the music allows the wit to shine but removes most of the sting. Her mood is not as ironic as his; instead, there is something better even than his self-deprecatory humor about his fickle love — she can console even as she pleases. This is a rare achievement and there is little more that I can do than signal it.

I will return to my theme, and give it a name. Ella Americanized Porter. I have joked here before that my contemplated book on Porter has a title already — Love We’d Prefer Immoral — and I will write about Cole Porter again. But Ella is the exception to that attitude. I want to talk to you again about her moderating effect as a singer, but in a surprising way: Not by a soft lyrical attitude, as before — but by jazz. I’ll talk to you about a number with much more swing to it, “It’s All Right with Me.”

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Ambassadorial Wisdom

 

James Day Hodgson (1915-2012) was a politician and diplomat who served during the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, first as Secretary of Labor (1970-73) and later as Ambassador to Japan (1974-77). Many years after his retirement, Hodgson published a book titled American Senryu, a collection of senryū poetry written by Hodgson himself. Here is one of my favorite poems (in italics) from that book, including a bit of commentary by the author:

The exciting thought
That beauty is possible
Sustains us all.

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Okay – it is my turn to provide today’s group writing. I had a really neat one planned, but reality grabbed me by the throat. It is the 25th and I have not even started it. So, let me use this as an escape. I used to post Rudyard Kipling’s poetry regularly until “improvements” made it […]

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