Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poetry Pantry #223

Loredana Donovan's Photos of Paestum ruins in Salerno, Italy

Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.  I just don't GET people who link and enjoy visits, yet don't bother to visit others -- even those who spent time making comments on their poetry.

This week I am sharing  Loredana Donovan's photos of Paestum ruins in Salerno, Italy.    According to Wikipedia, the ruins of Paestum are notable for their three ancient Greek temples which are in a good state of preservation. The oldest of these temples, the First Temple of Hera (pictured third from top) was built in 550 B.C.  Check Wikipedia for detailed information.  Looks like a most fascinating place. If anyone else has photos from their area or interesting photos from somewhere you have visited, I'd like to feature them!  Let me know.

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see there is always a  great turn-out for Midweek Motif.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!  (And, ha, perhaps many of you have noticed that if you look at one week's prompt Susan gives  a clue about the following week's prompt as well, so you can get a head start.)

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

Ode to Fanny
By John Keats (1795-1821

Physician Nature! Let my spirit blood!
O ease my heart of verse and let me rest;
Throw me upon thy Tripod, till the flood
Of stifling numbers ebbs from my full breast.
A theme! a theme! great nature! give a theme;
Let me begin my dream.
I come — I see thee, as thou standest there,
Beckon me not into the wintry air.

Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears,
And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries, —
To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
A smile of such delight,
As brilliant and as bright,
As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes,
Lost in soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze!

Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
What stare outfaces now my silver moon!
Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
Let, let, the amorous burn —
But pr'ythee, do not turn
The current of your heart from me so soon.
O! save, in charity,
The quickest pulse for me.

Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
Be like an April day,
Smiling and cold and gay,
A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
Then, Heaven! there will be
A warmer June for me.

Why, this, you'll say, my Fanny! is not true:
Put your soft hand upon your snowy side,
Where the heart beats: confess — 'tis nothing new —
Must not a woman be
A feather on the sea,
Sway'd to and fro by every wind and tide?
Of as uncertain speed
As blow-ball from the mead?

I know it — and to know it is despair
To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny!
Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
Nor, when away you roam,
Dare keep its wretched home,
Love, love alone, his pains severe and many:
Then, loveliest! keep me free,
From torturing jealousy.

Ah! if you prize my subdued soul above
The poor, the fading, brief, pride of an hour;
Let none profane my Holy See of love,
Or with a rude hand break
The sacramental cake:
Let none else touch the just new-budded flower;
If not — may my eyes close,
Love! on their lost repose. 

Like many of us in English-speaking countries, I first encountered Keats at school. I had good English teachers who read verse beautifully, so I loved the Odes and for decades agreed unquestioningly with the view that Keats was the most brilliant of the Romantic poets — or would have been, if his promise had not been cut off at the age of 25 by his tragic death from tuberculosis.

It was quite a surprise, then, when I looked for a Keats poem to share with you, to discover that I don't much like his writing now! This must make me some kind of tasteless idiot, since he is still considered a very important poet by people much more scholarly and famous than me. But he suddenly seems old-fashioned, in ways which not all poets of past eras do.

I found many of the poems over-sentimental. Well, perhaps that's a fault of youth, which he would have outgrown. I also found the thees, thous, wouldsts etc. irritating, and had trouble tolerating what now seems to me his frequent long-windedness.

 'Get to the point!' I want to yell, rather than following his leisurely turns of thought.  Oh dear!

I chose this poem because the intensity of his frustrated passion gives it pace and urgency.  

I guess many of you know something of Keats's life, and his romance with Fanny Brawne, from the movie Bright Star. You can find more details from Wikipedia (link on his name, above). 

There is a longer, even more detailed and literary biography at The Poetry Foundation. And, just when you've accepted that he died because of medical ignorance and/or the stress of his work being unfairly criticised, here is an article by a new biographer, saying it was all his own fault!

HIs portraits are contradictory too, some showing him as romantically handsome, some as a bit gormless, and still others as frankly fat. So I used the death mask, as that must surely be accurate.

Perhaps you won't agree with me about his work. (Few people do.) You can check it out for yourself, or refresh your memory, at PoemHunter. Or you can find many books of his poetry, as well as letters and biographies, at good old Amazon.

Oh, wait — I did find one exceptional poem which still doesn't disappoint. I didn't share it here as it is very well-known and I like to try and give you something which might be new to you. But do read (or re-read) it anyway. It's true — he really did have brilliant promise after all. Unlike some of his other poems, I think On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer is a masterpiece.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Tree(s)

Olive Trees with the Alpilles in the Background (1889), Vincent van Gogh

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Tree(s)

Tree(s): What was/is a tree to you?  
Is there one you miss or wish to meet someday?

Find a way to answer in a poem.

I illustrated this prompt with a selection of Vincent van Gogh's  paintings of trees. Feel free to write to paintings and photographs--but provide a link to your source if you do.

Trees and Undergrowth (1887), Vincent van Gogh

     Here's a poem you may know: 


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
                                        Source: Poetry (August 1913).

Pink peach trees ("Souvenir de Mauve"), Vincent van Gogh (1888)
O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little chile, like the birds that have
nested in your branches and left you?
Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered at
the tangle of your roots and plunged underground?
The women would come to fill their jars in the pond, and your
huge black shadow would wriggle on the water like sleep struggling
to wake up.
Sunlight danced on the ripples like restless tiny shuttles
weaving golden tapestry.
Two ducks swam by the weedy margin above their shadows, and
the child would sit still and think.
He longed to be the wind and blow through your resting
branches, to be your shadow and lengthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch on your topmost twig, and to float like
those ducks among the weeds and shadows.

Undergrowth with Two Figures (1890),  Vincent van Gogh
White dawn. Stillness.When the rippling began
I took it for sea-wind, coming to our valley with rumors of salt, of treeless horizons. But the white fog
didn't stir; the leaves of my brothers remained outstretched, unmoving.
Yet the rippling drew nearer – and then my own outermost branches began to tingle, almost as if
fire had been lit below them, too close, and their twig-tips were drying and curling.
Yet I was not afraid, only deeply alert.
I was the first to see him, for I grew out on the
pasture slope, beyond the forest.

. . . .   (Read the rest HERE at All Poetry.)

Cypresses (1889), Vincent van Gogh

For those who are new here:  
  1. Post your Tree poem on your site, and then link it here.
  2. If you use a picture include its link.  
  3. Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
  4. Leave a comment here.
  5. Visit and comment on our poems.

(Next week's Midweek Motif is One Day in a life ...)

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