Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gravely Poetic

 The other day, in conversation with roommates, the topic of favorite poems came up. My roommate, Hillary, pulled up the following picture as her favorite poem:

 She then proceeded to share her experience of visiting Hemingway's grave every fall and how perfectly the poem encapsulated.

I love this idea of poetic epitaphs. One of my favorite's is the words upon Keat's grave.
In searching poetic gravestones, I was delighted to stumble upon the website, Poets' Graves. Call me a nut job, but I think a roadtrip of famous cemetery's and grave sites would be awesome.

Have any favorite epitaphs to share?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Simply Because You Asked

Tonight, I am in love with this gem, as found in Billy Collins' 180 More. Please, enjoy.

“The Russian Greatcoat” 
Theodore Deppe
While my children swim off the breakwater,
while my wife sleeps beside me in the sun,
I recall how you once said you knew
a sure way to paradise or hell.
Years ago, you stood on the Covington bridge,
demanded I throw my coat into the Ohio--
my five dollar “Russian greatcoat,”
my “Dostoevsky coat,” with no explanations,
simply because you asked.

From that height, the man-sized coat fell
in slow motion, floated briefly,
one sinking arm bent at the elbow.
At first, I evade the question when my wife asks,
as if just thinking of you were an act of betrayal.
The cigarette I shared with you above the river.
Our entrance into the city, your thin black coat
around both our shoulders. Sometimes I can go
weeks without remembering. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pages of Rain

I love L-O-V-E as much as the next person, but two weeks of L-O-V-E poems was a bit much. Lesson learned: Never celebrate the month of L-O-V-E in such a manner ever again. Thank goodness, dear reader, we can now move onward. 

What poetry I've recently read or I am currently reading:
  • Eireann Corrigan's poetic memoir, You Remind me of You. It is the story of Corrigan's struggle with anorexia, her relationship with her boyfriend, and his struggles with depression. Upon first read, I loved it. The book combines three loves of mine: poetry, memoirs, and young adult literature. It was a gorgeous, fast, emotional read. But, the more I come back to it, the less impressed I am. Corrigan over-uses shock value. Her writing is occasionally heavy handed and her attempts at irony often fall flat. Crucial events are rehashed half a dozen times throughout the book. I applaud Corrigan for what she has overcome and the work she has produced, but it is not a work I'd recommend for more than a quick read.
  • Billy Collins' 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. There seems to be this cult of lovers of Billy Collins. I do not want to join the following, because I'm stubborn like that. But dang, I'd have to admit the man is terrific. I own a copy of Collins' anthology Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and I love it. It's just such a fun collection. While I have not yet had the time to really familiarize myself with 180 More, my initial impression is one of full approval. I must give a nod to Collins for spreading accessible poetry across America. 
  • Ted Kooser's Delights and Shadows, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. To be fair to Mr. Kooser, I will refrain from commentary on the work as a whole until I have finished it. But tonight, I'd like to share with you one poem of Kooser's that I just love. 

A Rainy Morning
Ted Kooser

A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, dear reader.
Here is a chaotic mess of love quotes, links, and poems.
Enjoy what you'd like to, ignore what you don't.

"I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved."
~ Shana Abé
Those Who Love
Sara Teasdale
Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile inconsequent things.

And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."
~ Anaïs Nin

Check out the July 3, 2008 post, Crazy Little Thing called Love, for more love quotes.
Sometimes with One I Love
Walt Whitman

Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn’d love;
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love—the pay is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not return’d;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)
Love love poetry? Check out the works of John Donne here, love poems among others.

"I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, --- , as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, ------, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding."
~ Anaïs Nin

Photo by: Valerie Owens. Please do not use without permission.

Click here for a favorite love quote of mine, orignally posted in June 2008.

"There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted."
~ Judith Martin

True Love
Judith Viorst

It is true love because
I put on eyeliner and a concerto and make pungent observations about the great issues of the day
Even when there's no one here but him,
And because
I do not resent watching the Green Bay Packers
Even though I am philosophically opposed to football,
And because
When he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the middle of the street,
I always hope he's dead.

It's true love because
If he said quit drinking martinis but I kept drinking them and the next morning I couldn't get out of bed,
He wouldn't tell me he told me,
And because
He is willing to wear unironed undershorts
Out of respect for the fact that I am philosophically opposed to ironing,
And because
If his mother was drowning and I was drowning and he had to choose one of us to save,
He says he'd save me.

It's true love because
When he went to San Francisco on business while I had to stay home with the painters and the exterminator and the baby who was getting the chicken pox,
He understood why I hated him,
And because
When I said that playing the stock market was juvenile and irresponsible and then the stock I wouldn't let him buy went up twenty-six points,
I understood why he hated me,
And because
Despite cigarette cough, tooth decay, acid indigestion, dandruff, and other features of married life that tend to dampen the fires of passion,
We still feel something
We can call
True love.

Check out the L-O-V-E label for more love poetry, both recent and past posts.

"I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ"
~ Anaïs Nin
Love Poem With Toast
Miller Williams

Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.

The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.

With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,

as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Love Again and Always

My apologies for slacking on L-O-V-E posts. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing your favorite love poetry with me. I will be sure to post your suggestions on Valentine's Day or shortly prior to. If you have any more love poems, quotes, or even songs to share, please do!

I've posted before from Carol Lynn Pearson's In Love Again and Always. It's a beautiful little collection love poems, a little fluffy, but enjoyable. I particularly like the definition of love this simple gem presents.
Like The Weather
Carol Lynn Pearson

Drenched and dripping
I tell you
That love is rather 
Like the weather--

Something you can 
Report on,
But not very well

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In yesterday's post, I shared two poems about the anxiety a wife might feel waiting for the return of a husband. Tonight, let me share with you what perhaps might be on the mind of the husband during time apart.
When Will I Be Home?
Li Shang-Yin (813?-858)
Trans. Kenneth Rexroth

When will I be home? I don't know. 
In the mountains, in the rainy night,
The Autumn lake is flooded. 
Someday we will be back together again.
We will sit in the candlelight by the West window. 
And I will tell you how I remembered you 
Tonight on the stormy mountain.
And one more, along the same lines, this time translated from Sanskrit.
My Husband before Leaving
Trans. J Moussaieff Masson and W.S. Merwin

My husband
before leaving on a journey
is still in the house speaking
to the gods and already
separation is climbing like
bad monkeys to the windows.
Both poems were found, again, in Enduring Ties, edited by Grant Hardy. I love the way these poems show emotion without spelling it out. It's beautiful.

Monday, February 8, 2010

You Have Been Gone Five Months

Tonight, I present to you Ezra Pound's translation of an eighth century poem by Li Po, "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter." What strikes me most particularly about this poem is that it tells a love story without ever mentioning love. Rather than simply post the poem, I will accompany it with a great reading by Jodie Foster through Poetic Touch's YouTube channel.

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
Ezra Pound, translated from the work of Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
Played I about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you,
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into fat Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noises overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early in autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
                        As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

By Rihaku

I was reminded as well of a small poem originating from the Baule tribe of the Ivory Coast, as  found in Grant Hardy's anthology, Enduring Ties. I will share that with you as well. The message, to me, seems to be the same, yet told in fewer words. Interesting that such themes stretch across cultures. 

Song of a Woman Whose Husband Had Gone to the Coast to Earn Money

Whenever I go out of the village
and see a stone
or a tree in the distance,
I think:
It is my husband.

(Twelfth Century)
Adapted from a German translation of the original Baule by Willard R. Trask

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Love Poetry? There's An App for That

The month of L-O-V-E continues...

This was a poem shared to me via telephone this a demonstration of the astounding capabilities of Ipod Apps. Love poetry? There's an app for that. And the poem just happens to be beautiful. So, I'm sharing it with you.

Matthew Arnold

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me!

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth,
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, My love why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Care to Share?

I'd LOVE to read your favorite love poems. Don't have a favorite love poem? How about favorite love quotes or lyrics? Please share!

L-O-V-E... Kind of.

I want to share with you poems in celebration of love. But the poems that seem draw me in are not those of celebratory praise, but those of melancholy longing. So, this isn't much a love poem, but I hope you like it nonetheless.


Laurel Blossom

That is the difference between me and you.
You pack an umbrella, #30 sun goo
And a red flannel shirt.  That's not what I do.

I put the top down as soon as we arrive.
The temperature's trying to pass fifty-five.
I'm freezing but at least I'm alive.

Nothing on earth can diminish my glee.
This is Florida, Florida, land of euphoria,
Florida in the highest degree.

You dig in the garden.  I swim in the pool.
I like to wear cotton.  You like to wear wool.
You're always hot.  I'm usually cool.

You want to get married.  I want to be free.
You don't seem to mind that we disagree.
And that is the difference between you and me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jenny Kissed Me

Tonight's selection is a simple, adorable classic.
Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
~ Leigh Hunt (1784 - 1859)
I also like this YouTube clip of the same poem. Brief and sweet, like the poem itself.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Poetry Valentines

POETRY VALENTINES, free to print, link, or attach.
How cool is that?
Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Share the L-O-V-E

I have an idea.

On February 14, 2010 I would like to barrage this poor blog with love poetry--your favorite love poetry. Please share! Comment with a poem title and poet and a link if available or feel free to email me at Ask your family, friends, and lovers for their favorite love poetry and share that as well. I will post all poetry suggestions on Valentine's Day.
(Please keep it G rated).

Twelve days? I think we can gather plenty of love poetry. What do you think?

And now for today's love poem.
Sidney King Russell

You loved me for a little,
Who could not love me long;
You gave me wings of gladness
And lent my spirit song.
You loved me for an hour
But only with your eyes;
Your lips I could not capture
By storm or by surprise.
Your mouth that I remember
With rush of sudden pain
As one remembers starlight
Or roses after rain...
Out of a world of laughter
Suddenly I am sad...
Day and night it haunts me,
The kiss I never had.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Little L-O-V-E

Happy February, the month of L-O-V-E. Please, don't gag. Love is a beautiful thing. It is such a beautiful thing, in fact, that I'm devoting fourteen days to love poetry. (That can be read two ways--neat.) Don't worry, it won't be all gushy. There are lots of different love poems.

To start off the month, please welcome Richard Brautigan to the blog.

It's Raining In Love

Richard Brautigan

I don't know what it is,
but I distrust myself
when I start to like a girl
a lot.

It makes me nervous.
I don't say the right things
or perhaps I start
to examine,
what I am saying.

If I say, "Do you think it's going to rain?"
and she says, "I don't know,"
I start thinking: Does she really like me?

In other words
I get a little creepy.

A friend of mine once said,
"It's twenty times better to be friends
with someone
than it is to be in love with them."

I think he's right and besides,
it's raining somewhere, programming flowers
and keeping snails happy.
That's all taken care of.

if a girl likes me a lot
and starts getting real nervous
and suddenly begins asking me funny questions
and looks sad if I give the wrong answers
and she says things like,
"Do you think it's going to rain?"
and I say, "It beats me,"
and she says, "Oh,"
and looks a little sad
at the clear blue California sky,
I think: Thank God, it's you, baby, this time
instead of me.