Postcard by Margaret Atwood:
I’m thinking about you. What else can I say?
The palm trees on the reverse
are a delusion; so is the pink sand.
What we have are the usual
fractured coke bottles and the smell
of backed-up drains, too sweet,
like a mango on the verge
of rot, which we have also.
The air clear sweat, mosquitoes
& their tracks; birds, blue & elusive.
Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, it’s called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but never
forward. The roosters crow
for hours before dawn, and a prodded
child howls & howls
on the pocked road to school.
In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks. Each spring
there’s race of cripples, from the store
to the church. This is the sort of junk
I carry with me; and a clipping
about democracy from the local paper.
Outside the window
they’re building the damn hotel,
nail by nail, someone’s
crumbling dream. A universe that includes you
can’t be all bad, but
does it? At this distance
you’re a mirage, a glossy image
fixed in the posture
of the last time I saw you.
Turn you over, there’s the place
for the address. Wish you were
here. Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on
& on, a hollow cave
Red Earth and Pouring Rain
Magic of the Angels
Sacred Games, Burning Bright,
The End of the Gods.
Born Free, Going Solo,
All Creatures Great and Small.
A Time to Kill Men of Honour,
A Fraction of the Whole.
– a poem by my’shelf’
rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasped in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?”
“My son, ‘tis the mist rising over the plain.”
come, thou dear infant! Oh, come, thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold.”
father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?”
“Be calm, dearest child, ‘tis thy fancy deceives;
‘Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves.”
go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care;
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They’ll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep.”
father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?”
“My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
‘Tis the aged gray willows deceiving thy sight.”
love thee, I’m charmed by they beauty, dear boy!
And if thou’rt unwilling, then force I’ll employ.”
“My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Full sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last.”
father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child:
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.
I cannot divine what it meaneth,
This haunting nameless pain:
A tale of the bygone ages
Keeps brooding through my brain:
The faint air cools in the glooming,
And peaceful flows the Rhine,
The thirsty summits are drinking
The sunset’s flooding wine;
The loveliest maiden is sitting
High-throned in yon blue
Her golden jewels are shining,
She combs her golden hair;
She combs with a comb that is golden,
And sings a weird refrain
That steeps in a deadly enchantment
The list’ner’s ravished brain:
The doomed in his drifting shallop,
Is tranced with the sad sweet tone,
He sees not the yawning breakers,
He sees but the maid alone:
The pitiless billows engulf him!–
So perish sailor and bark;
And this, with her baleful singing,
Is the Lorelei’s gruesome work.
In my last post, I asked you to tell me about your favourite poems. Recently I’ve been going through a lot of “calls for submission” as a part of some work! I noticed many publishers mention that they only accept free verse or modern style and that do not accept poetry ‘with rhyming lines’, as if it were a terrible thing.
I have read a lot of poems in the last few months, partly because I had to learn them, partly because through all the studying (hah) I actually developed a genuine interest. From whatever poetry I have read, I think formal verse is just as effective a way to put across a message. Look around you, everything in the nature has structure; that should be enough to prove that structure has beauty too. The metric patterns, for me, give a sense of precision and balance to the poem. I don’t think that formal verse with things such as metre or rhyme limits your creativity, I actually think it challenges you further. The rules were there for a reason. While it is okay to break them when they seem like a cage around that particular poem, breaking the rules is neither the better way nor the only way to expression. I may be wrong, but every time someone says “poetry is freedom” and “poetry is expression, which is not bound by any laws”, I can’t help but think of all the greatest masters of poetry, right from the Bard, who used the rules and patterns and laws to express, and express a lot. A bias towards neither of the two types of poetry, formal or free verse: that’s what they mean by freedom.
In my three posts on poetry on this blog, I have made it a point to bash the poems found all over the internet, those which are generally assisted by glittery, romantic or dark, mushy, pictures of suicidal people. And, I do not like them: random difficult sounding words picked right out of a thesaurus, stringed together, deliberately avoiding any semblance of grammar do not automatically qualify as poetry.
But, as I was writing that right now for the third time, I realized for the second time how incredibly judgmental I was sounding and so I decided to actually tell you about one poetry blog that I regularly read and actually sort of love. Do visit! I’m sure there are a lot of great poetry blogs on the internet and I hope I discover more of them.
Poetry Sucks – it’s one of my most viewed posts, and now that I think
about it, one of the most excessively critical posts on this
blog. I had decided never to delete any of the posts I have written, just
because I change my opinions; so instead of removing the post, I am re-writing
as much as prose does. I think good poetry is very hard to write. I think
a poem should not be vague for the sake of being vague. Inverting lines
and using pompous words doesn’t cut it; which is why, I don’t like most of the
poetry posted all over the internet; then again, I don’t like most of the prose
posted around the internet for the very same reasons, as well.
without actually ever having read a single collection. I had already decided I
didn’t like plays, when I discovered Oscar Wilde. Sometime last year, someone
suggested that I read Poe’s The Raven (I can’t recall who) and I did and I
liked it. I read a book last month, sitting in the library, a book of poems by
Wordsworth; I liked quite a few and didn’t quite like some others. Last week I
was looking for books on Shakespeare and I flitted through the pages of a book
of sonnets and loved almost every one I read. My point is – I change my
opinions quite a lot, hm? Actually, my point is, I seem to form a lot of strong, uninformed opinions. And it may be time for me to inform myself about poetry!
fiction; I know whose recommendations to trust, I know what genres I like, I know
the names of most of the authors out there. My books-to-be-read list is already
four feet long! When it comes to poetry, what I have in my head is a white
screen (of sorts) with a big question mark in the centre. I don’t know whom to
read, where to start and how to look for good poems. So I’m posting this hoping
that someone will tell me about their favourite poems, the poets they like and
the different kinds of poetry out there. What would you suggest?
Poetry sucks; well 99% of it, anyway. I hate poetry; even the 1% that doesn’t suck as much as the rest. I can recall only two poems that I’ve actually ever really liked(and they were not in any way based on sadness). Usually it’s too vague, too depressing, and most of it doesn’t have a clear message.
All the poems that you’ll find strewn all over the internet are something else: usually it’s a combination of some glittery anime picture or a sunset picture with a couple standing there, or just any revoltingly romantic picture and a few non-rhyming lines with words that you’ll never use while writing or talking squeezed in there just for the sake of it. Of course, it has to be about either death or love. And the basic principle is – the less you understand it; the better it is. Kind of like modern art all over again, huh? It’s depressing to see so many people waste so much time on being depressing!
I don’t deny that it’s hard to write: all the haikus and acrostics and all. But why write it, right?! Why does anyone need to write a poem with “17 syllables divided into three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 syllables” which is what I think a haiku is?! So what if it’s difficult; writing with your feet is difficult – doesn’t mean it has a point!
My views on poetry are basically summed up by Jess Mariano in Gilmore Girls: “I can’t get into poetry. It’s kind of like, geez, just say it already, we’re dying here.”