Poetry Thread 2
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Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2


Norman MacCaig

Everywhere she dies. Everywhere I go she dies.
No sunrise, no city square, no lurking beautiful mountain
but has her death in it.
The silence of her dying sounds through
the carousel of language, it's a web
on which laughter stitches itself. How can my hand
clasp another's when between them
is that thick death, that intolerable distance?

She grieves for my grief. Dying, she tells me
that bird dives from the sun, that fish
leaps into it. No crocus is carved more gently
than the way her dying
shapes my mind. – But I hear, too,
the other words,
black words that make the sound
of soundlessness, that name the nowhere
she is continuously going into.

Ever since she died
she can't stop dying. She makes me
her elegy. I am a walking masterpiece,
a true fiction
of the ugliness of death.
I am her sad music.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

A Call

‘Hold on,’ she said, ‘I’ll just run out and get him.

The weather here’s so good, he took the chance

To do a bit of weeding.’

So I saw him

Down on his hands and knees beside the leek rig,

Touching, inspecting, separating one

Stalk from the other, gently pulling up

Everything not tapered, frail and leafless,

Pleased to feel each little weed-root break,

But rueful also…

Then found myself listening to

The amplified grave ticking of hall clocks

Where the phone lay unattended in a calm

Of mirror glass and sunstruck pendulums…

And found myself then thinking: if it were nowadays,

This is how Death would summon Everyman.

Next thing he spoke and I nearly said I loved him.

Seamus Heaney

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

That Was the Summer

by Kit Wright

That was the summer as I recall,
the man next door and I began
to call each other Sir,
in a kind of roguish formality or
mock-combative collusion. Why,
I cannot say, but keep it up
we somehow did for some little time;
for as long, you might almost say, as it took.
"Are you all right, sir?" "Quite all right, sir.
You all right, sir?" "Sir, I'm well."
Nor did we fail to operate
attendant quasi-theatrical business:
the stiff half-turn; the ritual bow;
the planted stare of profound regard,
as we met on our doorsteps, housekeys poised …
or bellowed across the howling High Road
as though in loyal defence of a principle
both were prepared to die for, soon.
But the ending seemed as inexplicable
as the beginning: the disappearance,
ambulance sirens, police, old pressmen
hogging the bar at the Horse and Artichoke,
cats gone skinny, the haunted dog.
And of course I know no more than anyone
else as I walk these streets at midnight,
hoping to coax from neon or starlight
a final reflexive Sir, I'm well.

• From Ode to Didcot Power Station (Bloodaxe, £9.95). To order a copy for £7.46 with free UK p&p go to or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.

Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.

In time the curtain-edges will grow light.

Till then I see what’s really always there:

Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,

Making all thought impossible but how

And where and when I shall myself die.

Arid interrogation: yet the dread

Of dying, and being dead,

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse

—The good not done, the love not given, time

Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because

An only life can take so long to climb

Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;

But at the total emptiness for ever,

The sure extinction that we travel to

And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,

Not to be anywhere,

And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid

No trick dispels. Religion used to try,

That vast moth-eaten musical brocade

Created to pretend we never die,

And specious stuff that says No rational being

Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing

That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,

No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,

Nothing to love or link with,

The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,

A small unfocused blur, a standing chill

That slows each impulse down to indecision.

Most things may never happen: this one will,

And realisation of it rages out

In furnace-fear when we are caught without

People or drink. Courage is no good:

It means not scaring others. Being brave

Lets no one off the grave.

Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.

It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,

Have always known, know that we can’t escape,

Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.

Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring

In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring

Intricate rented world begins to rouse.

The sky is white as clay, with no sun.

Work has to be done.

Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

A rather wonderful contribution from Des:

Peter Quince at the Clavier


Wallace Stevens


Just as my fingers on these keys

Make music, so the self-same sounds

On my spirit make a music, too.

Music is feeling, then, not sound;

And thus it is that what I feel,

Here in this room, desiring you,

Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,

Is music. It is like the strain

Waked in the elders by Susanna;

Of a green evening, clear and warm,

She bathed in her still garden, while

The red-eyed elders, watching, felt

The basses of their beings throb

In witching chords, and their thin blood

Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna.


In the green water, clear and warm,

Susanna lay.

She searched

The touch of springs,

And found

Concealed imaginings.

She sighed,

For so much melody.

Upon the bank, she stood

In the cool

Of spent emotions.

She felt, among the leaves,

The dew

Of old devotions.

She walked upon the grass,

Still quavering.

The winds were like her maids,

On timid feet,

Fetching her woven scarves,

Yet wavering.

A breath upon her hand

Muted the night.

She turned —

A cymbal crashed,

And roaring horns.


Soon, with a noise like tambourines,

Came her attendant Byzantines.

They wondered why Susanna cried

Against the elders by her side;

And as they whispered, the refrain

Was like a willow swept by rain.

Anon, their lamps' uplifted flame

Revealed Susanna and her shame.

And then, the simpering Byzantines

Fled, with a noise like tambourines.


Beauty is momentary in the mind —

The fitful tracing of a portal;

But in the flesh it is immortal.

The body dies; the body's beauty lives.

So evenings die, in their green going,

A wave, interminably flowing.

So gardens die, their meek breath scenting

The cowl of winter, done repenting.

So maidens die, to the auroral

Celebration of a maiden's choral.

Susanna's music touched the bawdy strings

Of those white elders; but, escaping,

Left only Death's ironic scraping.

Now, in its immortality, it plays

On the clear viol of her memory,

And makes a constant sacrament of praise.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat May 09, 2015 8:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

I Shall not Care


Sara Teasdale

When I am dead and over me bright April

Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,

Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted,

I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful

When rain bends down the bough,

And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted

Than you are now.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Thu May 28, 2015 12:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

After Love

THERE is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea --
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.

Sarah Teasdale

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

It Is Here
(for A)

Harold Pinter

What sound was that?

I turn away, into the shaking room.

What was that sound that came in on the dark?
What is this maze of light it leaves us in?
What is this stance we take,
to turn away and then turn back?
What did we hear?

It was the breath we took when we first met.

Listen. It is here.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

The Ruined Maid
Thomas Hardy

"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!

Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?

And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?" —

"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.

— "You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,

Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;

And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!" —

"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.

— "At home in the barton you said thee' and thou,'

And thik oon,' and theäs oon,' and t'other'; but now

Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!" —

"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

— "Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak

But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,

And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!" —

"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.

— "You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,

And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem

To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!" —

"True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.

— "I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,

And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!" —

"My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,

Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

Country Girl
George Mackay Brown

I make seven circles, my love
For your good breaking.
I make the gray circle of bread
And the circle of ale
And I drive the butter round in a golden ring
And I dance when you fiddle
And I turn my face with the turning sun till your
feet come in from the field.
My lamp throws a circle of light,
Then you lie for an hour in the hot unbroken
circle of my arms.

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

Has no one else got a poem theywould like to post?

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

To 'Eyes' Fascination'

Mellow, mellow at the sun's foot floats the purple mist;
The genial warmth dismisses my light fur.
Tired by the breath of heaven,
Drunk with the breath of flowers,
I dream at noontide with head on hands.

This lazy Spring is like the water of a pond in Springtime -
Wrinkled by sorrow like a strip of crape.
Gently, gently, dragging and dragging,
The East Wind, strengthless,
Tries to make a ripple, but gives up.

Fan Ch'eng - Ta

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2


Adrienne Rich

You show me the poems of some woman
my age, or younger
translated from your language

Certain words occur: enemy, oven, sorrow
enough to let me know
she's a woman of my time


with Love, our subject:
we've trained it like ivy to our walls
baked it like bread in our ovens
worn it like lead on our ankles
watched it through binoculars as if
it were a helicopter
bringing food to our famine
or the satellite
of a hostile power

I begin to see that woman
doing things: stirring rice
ironing a skirt
typing a manuscript till dawn

trying to make a call
from a phonebooth

The phone rings unanswered
in a man's bedroom
she hears him telling someone else
Never mind. She'll get tired.
hears him telling her story to her sister
who becomes her enemy
and will in her own time
light her own way to sorrow

ignorant of the fact this way of grief
is shared, unnecessary
and political

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

Two litle treats for you all:

Rhyme, Rock and Revolution - a history of performance poetry BBC 4 10 pm

Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death - short film BBC 2 Wednesday 12.15 am

Author:  Marion Arnott [ Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poetry Thread 2

And more tonight:

Return to Betjemanland BBC 4 1.30 am
Secret Life of Books: The Faerie Queene BBC 4 2.30 am

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