Monday, August 17, 2015

poems for August 10

Fern Hill, by Dylan Thomas
Summer Rain by Amy Lowell
To Hayden Carruth by Wendell Berry
The Cows at Night by Hayden Carruth
A Man Learns to Fly by Peter Connors
Giving and Getting by Tony Hoagland
I have a Time Machine by Brenda Shaughnessy
The Vacation by Wendell Berry

Who could not love Fern Hill? Six stanzas of sheer delight some consider an exercise in capturable syllabics. The lilt of it, the alliterations, the weaving of song and nature with the delight of the rhythms coupled with sounds and unusual associations create a breezy memory of childhood. Imagine being perched in apple boughs by a "lilting house", feeling "lordly" in this childhood of climbing above a kingdom filled with barley and daisies "down rivers of windfall light". The blithe tone rolls green, golden, and time into motion together.
Time is responsible for "hail and climb" for "play and to be... golden"; time allows (in all his tuneful turning) flying and we are, of couse, in the mercy of his means as the poem goes from joy to a sadness. Likewise, the singing which predominates, from freely lilting in the house with tuneful chimneys, to being in chains. Such progression works a metamorphic magic on the color green as well, which has a springlike freshness to it, "young and carefree" associated with happy, to the energetic "whinnying green stable". The alliterations, chains of words that resist any hurry, my wishes raced through the house high hay (the words cannot race) "lamb white days"

9 line stanzas, comma-ended lines, giving breath, and the lovely enjambed line where the wind of "h"in "hay" sweeps through: hay/fields as high as a house. The first two stanzas contain one sentence; the next two, two stanzas, and the fifth ambles into the final stanza without stopping. Flow, repetitions, assonance, alliterative consonance, rhythms and lovely spins on commonplace, such as "all the day long" as "all the sun" and "all the moon" ...
How would you be happy? As "happy as grass as green" has a blithe belief in innate and unshakeable joy. And in spite of the chains, the singing continues, like the sea.

Summer Rain : as one astute person remarked, 5 lines of sound/ 5 of color.
the house encloses... and writer enclosed by words of lover...

Wendell Berry's poem to Hayden: I love the line "vour great dignity of being necessary"--
it mirrors a conviction that each of us, no matter the difficulties we face which can bring us down, each matters. And for a poet, who did not make it to fame and recognition, to have a friend testify to his courage to create... the point is to begin again and again... authentically... as opposed to being dead -- for those are the choices.

Although we discussed the Cows at Night before, it seemed fitting to bring it up again,
in tribute to Hayden Carruth's ability to weave a spell. Judith reminded us of this quote by him: "The discipline must precede the rejection of discipline."

Peter Connors: prose poetry, this poem chosen for poets walk. Original -- the flying image includes the "ornithology of family" -- and many saw similarity with the Dylan Thomas childhood. The thickness of the first paragraph, representative of all the father taught him... followed by two short sentences, the father's death. Such visual arrangement heightens the impact-- the haunting of the final command in the father's note: "Help me to fly".

The Hoagland starts with a dying scene, memories, the balance of giving/receiving. Discussion included our power of choice, how to put it into action, not balancing in thoughts; how do we deal with the negative shadow? How do we remember the dead? One person brought up the cemetery at Le Caen -- the way the Americans buried their dead differently from the Germans.
Let us remember the wrong we have done... not just remembering the dead.

Shaugnessy's poem came from a summer issue of the New Yorker.

Comments: rehearsing Hamlet. Self-conscious and boring.
Poem loses energy...
examples not convincing.
anxious to get to the future. Things coming at you so hard from the past.

another poem exposing how we’re not living in the moment. eating both ends of the banana without getting to the middle. Jerome + afternoon of the faun. always looking in the mirror,
never engaging with the audience. Susan Sontag on Photography. Looking at world for the perfect photograph. Billy Collins...
push and pull in poetic line... Welsh... I’m willing to tell you/ wanting / waiting...

Judith recommends "The Crowning Privilege: Collected Essays On Poetry"
by Robert Graves

We ended on the sad vacancy of a man unable to connect with his life. The Vacation -- in which he would never participate...

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