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Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by speed, Feb 15, 2007.
Speed, I kid you not when I say that was the exact poem I was going to post next. Freaky.
Dark Wood, Dark Water
- Sylvia Plath
This wood burns a dark
Incense. Pale moss drips
In elbow-scarves, beards
From the archaic
Bones of the great trees.
Blue mists move over
A lake thick with fish.
Snails scroll the border
Of the glazed water
With coils of ram's-horn.
Out in the open
Down there the late year
Hammers her rare and
Old pewter roots twist
Up from the jet-backed
Mirror of water
And while the air's clear
Hourglass sifts a
Drift of goldpieces
Bright waterlights are
Sliding their quoits one
After the other
Down boles of the fir.
I enjoy 'The Bell Jar,' by Sylvia Plath. Have you read it?
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness
And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn
The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.
Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.
From 'The Pirates of Penzance' (Gilbert & Sullivan)
I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's;
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you ev'ry detail of Caractacus' uniform:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin",
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle[*] from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat",
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery—
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy—
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a-gee.
For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
- W.S. Gilbert
I always thought that was quite amusing.
That is very bizarre. But it is a hilarious and well-known poem. I just love Larkin's lusty, lecherous lamentations on life.
And this has been an excellent thread thus far. I'm reading poems Ive never come across before. I would never seek out Sylvia Plath on my own. Interestingly, I was reading an article about the decline of poetry, in which it stated that even 50 years ago, a famous or well-known poet like Eliot, would recite poems to a full house at Carnegie Hall. Now, poetry is mocked and put down by modern society and media, as a pointless, frivilous, aristocratic endeavor, and one in which no one can earn any money. Furthermore, there are so few well-known contemporary poets.
Eliot's survey of the Poets is quite an interesting read. I disagree with him on many counts but his opinions were hugely influential. He is particularly merciless towards most of the Romantics - Shelley coming off worst - and solidified their long neglect by educational and 'cultural' bodies. Indeed, if it weren't for Harold Bloom, I doubt the Romantic poets - outside of Blake - would be read much at all today.
(Speaking of Bloom, I'm still waiting for his opinion on the new Pynchon novel. You know he has read it like four times by now, or so! Hopefully he can save it from the scorn it gets from reviewers unconditioned to appreciate its subtleties)
In any case, Mark Haddon (hugely popular author of 'The Curious incident...') published a follow-up book of poetry. I haven't read it, but it has received some good reviews.
In any case, thanks for posting the Larkin. It was new to me. I will have to seek out more of his work.
There are some good contemporary poets.
Edison was deaf when he invented the Phonograph and
Plateau blind when he created a rudimentary form of cinema.
we're in the frame for something
Shots patched frame by frame
the reset limbs still ache:
Mad scientists muscle in
to another creation myth: Plateau
stares down motion, tears
retinal oceans off sun's eyelid.
The doctor has changed his mind
an uneven swap, granted
there are means, ways
but it's the mean ways we keep
and grow as culture. The box office
records failed flights, compulsive returns
to typecast menace. Marey's revolver
diagnostic; still loaded, safety catch
on the ghost story of reality.
Hatching mad schemes in the dark
under the hood of a Black Maria
the Doctor grants the strangest lesson:
matter can be dissolved, transmitted
and reassembled – the audience
will never buy it! It's 1936!
Inwardness is a tonal effect of the elliptical
after William Fuller
what clouds conspire overhead
eventually comes out in the wash
glass dust sprinkles greyheave
in falling light, halving
sound silts passageways
between thoughts afloat
in the auditory canal
a new kind of water
hollows out the human
rounding up our senses
as stray numbers in an equation
variations on an enigma
assembling what can never be built
a new public monument
from our innermost lights
Here is the first section of Allen Ginsberg's postmodern classic (oxymoronic, no?) 'Howl'
For Carl Solomon
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
floated out and sat through the stale beer after
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
ionary indian angels who were visionary indian
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-
homa on the impulse of winter midnight street
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
in policecars for committing no crime but their
own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
gardens and the grass of public parks and
cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-
dle and fell off the bed, and continued along
the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
picked themselves up out of basements hung
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
East River to open to a room full of steamheat
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were
stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
stores where they thought they were growing
old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
& the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
phonograph records of nostalgic European
1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the
Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
impossible criminals with golden heads and the
charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
notism & were left with their insanity & their
hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
and subsequently presented themselves on the
granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-
nished room emptied down to the last piece of
mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted
on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that
imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
Complete poem: http://members.tripod.com/~Sprayberry/poems/howl.txt
Sure there are some excellent contemporary poets, but almost no one knows who they are, and no one reads their poetry unless they're Harold Pinter or this Mark Haddon or something (and fucking Pinter was on the outs just a few years ago). A few grad students, and poets is all. Hence, poetry, is, more or less, a dead field to 99.99% of the population (well, American pop.).
If anything, although I enjoy him, Eliot is much to blame for lowly status and popularity of poetry today . I hate to see a review of him in 200 years (if this is even possible). Imagine the person excorciating Eliot's impenetrable moderness.
Did you know, that it wasnt until the romantics, that Shakespeare was considered great? Shakespeare for fuck sakes. I;m sure you do Nile. Milton's been on a roller coaster as well. Just an aside.
Here's a song I wrote some time ago.
Powerless To Fate
Powerless to fate, death lingers over her feverish soul
Slowly fading away, the black shade ensues
The final breath of life pulsates through the air
Like the cut of a knife, she separates from this world
Eternal damnation casts down its wretched claws
An incantation spoken from a serpent’s tongue
Flailing in darkness, falling, weeping, all hope erased
For this pitiable soul, bereaved is her embrace
Let him take
Mortal crestfallen beauty
Dispatched in disarray
Swarming amongst the others
Abundant in decay
Please tell me what you think
I certainly enjoy it. Of course, hearing the tune might help but the lyrics are a leap in the right direction. Or at least in my opinion.
Tastes/attitudes change. Reception of past works always presents unique problems. Perhaps some objective standard of a "classic work" does not even exist?
As for the lyrics related, eloquent to an extent but beyond cliched. There is almost nothing of great texture there. I encourage you to continue writing, though - one must struggle to find a unique voice!
I dont think it does. However, in the past, with a far reduced number of printed works, the classics rose to the top. Can we say that now? I dont know. How does the explosion of works, and forms of art, impact what will be a classic? And is it merely the tastes of the age?
What interests me is how these tastes change. For instance, in the renaissance, one of my most beloved writers, Lucian, was perhaps one of the most praised, influential, and widely read authors. But by the 20th century, he's largely been forgotten, and Robert Graves attacked him for being crude and base. There are so many examples of this.
Thus, perhaps the classics are those works (including philosophy) that survive the tastes of each fickle age, as admirers who understand their quality, preserve them.
Or they feel that bastardising them to fit their particular creed will give said creed a much sounder base?
Studies of reception has taught me time and time again that the importance of works and their impact/relevance changes with the times they are read.
That said, I like to imagine that regardless of whether anyone still reads Lucian/considers him great at any exact time, he still remains great in some bizarre transcendent definition of the word.
Indeed. It does seem quite important. Each age's values and symbols change, and the meanings are lost or watered down. But god forbid we let professors do all of the explaining, and not the creator of the works, or fellow greats of the age!
I am very wary of those who re-intepret entire works (as in every little detail) based on their perception of the symbols of the work's age; much worse are the bigger idiots, who use past works, to justify their own contmeporary ideas.
Some of my own creations:
Sin is my duty, Sin is my name,
Sin is my pastime, my favourite game.
All my life I have been a sinner,
Versus religion forever the winner.
Eyes wide with shock, she held up the sword,
The brutality of her deeds striking her to the core.
Then came understanding and banished her fears.
She handed it, hilt first, blinking back all the tears.
The other received it, held it up to the light,
And once satisfied, she charged into the fight.
But she wanted love, detesting the violence,
And, blinking back tears, she listened to silence.
Silence unending, love lost to despair,
What swords destroy, words cannot repair.
Then came a wizard, and, with a few rhymes,
He put an end to her heinous crimes.
Ad Majorem Ego Gloriam
Ad majorem ego gloriam,
Is this really what I want?
Ad sepulchrum, in memoriam,
Will I worship God? I won't.
Do I want glory for myself
Or just a quiet life to live?
Should I a book be on the shelf
Or should I just stand up and leave?
Credit give where credit's due?
If you ask me, God is due none.
Having allowed men to be cruel,
Now from my life He shall be gone.
For men like me the Holocaust
Is sound proof for God-denial.
We've got a state, but what's the cost?
And is this what you call survival?