Thursday, December 1, 2011

Poems for St. Nicholas Day -- 5 carols selected by Duffy

Poems for December 6 –

The Bee Carol -- Carol Ann Duffy
Hark – by John Agard
Mumbai Kissmiss by Imtiaz Dharker
Slowed Down Blackbird by Alice Oswald
The Passion of the Holly (air: The Sans Day Carol* see links below) by Ian Duhig
+ links + stories!

Carols according to the 1928 edition of The Oxford Book of Carols, are 'simple, hilarious, popular and modern'. They are a kind of folk song where direct poetry and accessible music eagerly meet. The oldest of our carols date from the 15th century and 'give voice to the common emotions of healthy people in language that can be understood'. British Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy

The Bee Carol:
Rhyme, just enough, with slant rhymes, the bright ee sound of Eve, key, bee,
silver frieze/freeze -- both a way to preserve - and the tension of what is (and isn't or won't be) leave/believe; the short i sound in shivering winter, gift, cling, flightless, lengthens to the long silent hive...

Who would think of bees at Christmas in the cold... the queen protected by the faithful... like a ghazal, instead of a couplet, each quatrain ending with "winter cluster of the bees" (except the/ within the/ feed / bless the)
and a rethinking of "gift". Playful, yet poignant.

Hark -- with no exclamation point -- harkens on puns, rich alliteration and lilts with yuletide vocabulary -- mince pies turn into "don't mince" on pies, rhyming with "gourmandize" just as stock up, stockings and crack up, crackers and lithe "l"s link
telly, legless, feel, trolley.

Slowed Down Blackbird:
Amazing poem using the eye to key into capital letters, a bit like reading German with nouns benefiting from the majesty of uppercase, but more than that. Upper case makes for a line-break feel, midline, but stop/start; how do you understand "The Slow is settling Stillness is afloat"
The slow is settling stillness;
It makes you think about punctuation, the placement of words;
Rhyme through out but sneaky: wind/behind (eye rhyme) snuggled between hedge/edge
afloat/note; but no sandwich rhyme.
leaves/breathes/grieves: for the stanza starting with "awkward things"
slant rhyme of underfoot
Snow substitutes it's N for L, so some might think, "no" for "lo" in the Winter season... and the first line sounds like the beatles Blackbird.
Slowed down, by capital S: seven "Slow", one Slowy, and Slowed in the title;
two "Stillness" and "Storm" ; one sky; one Now as the final word.

The Passion of the Holly takes the "Sans Day Carol"
changes milk to bone; silk to gone.
The black as coal, links to miners, who give daylight their living to make,
sacrified more when the holly wore black.

singing from he grave; you can hear us b/c we are singing of love.
Not quite rhyme vs. the original.

The stories associated w/ the Carol, the strength of the singing, the maintenance of
Cornish and parts of Great Britain which speak other than Queen's English; the strength of one Manchester teacher who had her 8 year old charges sing for 20 minutes, for just a moment, allowing them to be children, even the bullies,
and to drop the mask necessary to survive fear, violence.

Fun day of sharing!

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