Friday, November 30, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This


The Hag of Beare Sings to Her Lover
By Patricia Monaghan (1946–2012)

That time in a ring of grass,
when I thought you were the sky. 
That other time,
dawn haloing your hair.
That time when you were
dark wine, hot on my lips.

Now you are gray and thin.
I am graying and not thin.
I stumble on my words,
you talk too much too fast,
we are jumpy and abrupt
as though we have just met.

So many years to make some
sense of love, and we are no
nearer. But we know something, 
dear heart, despite the years
and distances between us.
And what is that? Ah, ah,

as you would say. Ah, ah. Words
fail. There is no name for what
we are, for what we know of love
and of each other. We pass like comets
through each other's lives, leaving no trace
except brief rituals of arrival and departure.

So let us celebrate those rituals again,
my dear, for time grows short and dangerous,
my love, my ancient friend, and one day
there will be no trace of any of those times
we spent, though other lovers will come
to stumble wondering and wonderingly in our wake.

From Seasons of the Witch: Poetry and Songs to the Goddess. 


I've just discovered this wonderful poet. I was visiting a friend, saw the book, browsed, and was electrified. Then my friend told me she was re-reading it, as Patricia Monaghan had just died — on the 11th of November. Various sites mourning her online reveal that it was after 'a two-year journey with cancer'.

She is described as, 'scholar, author, poet, activist, artist, visionary and vice-president of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology'. Her Amazon author page says: 

Patricia Monaghan, Ph.D., (born 15 February 1946) is one of the pioneers of the contemporary women’s spirituality movement. She is the author of more than 15 books of poetry and nonfiction, including the two volume Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. She lives in Black Earth,Wisconsin (although she holds dual Irish and American citizenship), where she and her husband Michael McDermott tend a vineyard and large organic garden. She is also a wine expert, and author of Wineries of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She is a founder of and Senior Fellow at The Black Earth Institute, connecting earth, spirit and society through the arts.

It's obvious via the numerous online references that she was influential and much loved. I found this statement by her, which I like:

The artist can be seen as part of the commercial world, with success evidenced by money and fame.  Alternatively, the artist can be seen as practicing an oracular profession, drawing attention to the relationship between humanity and the other-than-human world.  Today, it is important for artists to choose the second role and to express the realities of our complex and interconnected natural world.

She herself certainly lived up to that!

Her website lists her books and other writings, both prose and poetry, and you can find them for sale on her Amazon pageSeasons of the Witch, which comes with a CD, is reviewed here.  Her online works are listed here, and there are more here and here. The last link includes Patricia reading her work. She was interviewed on the subject of war, and this interview — interesting reading for its own sake — also contains the full texts of several of her poems.

And who is The Hag of Beare? Seasons of the Witch contains notes on the poems, and the note on this one says:

In Irish her name is Cailleach, "the veiled one." She is one of the oldest goddesses of Ireland, probably reaching back to the pre-Celtic period. In historical literature she appears as a woman who grows young every time she meets a man who interests her. But this poem is based upon the famous "Lament of the Hag Beare" in which she speaks longingly of her youth.



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wonder Wednesday #11 Bridge

I was looking through some photos yesterday and remembered this class I took online.  I had made this piece of art and used a bridge.  One person in the class thought, this was odd and posted her opinion, about my art.  I tried to explain to her my view, how we continue to journey into the unknown. And how bridges symbolized many things that have happened in my life.   She thought it was sad, that my life was a bridge.  I didn't see it that way.   I am a military spouse, I have moved a lot, but whether we travel or not, aren't we always crossing bridges in our lives.  We reach out to make new friends, try new hobbies or take a class, expose ourselves to new things, through education, through our lives.  We get a job, we change jobs, buy a home or sell a home. We have children or not and that changes our world, our view and we cross more bridges.

I think of bridges as connections to new people, experiences and views of the world.

The Simon n' Garfunkel song, Bridge Over Trouble Water,  comes to mind. Bridges take us to where we need to go and sometimes give us new adventures.









*A photo of a bridge, back in my neck of the woods







 



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Monday, November 26, 2012

Life of a Poet ~ Serena Helriot

Kids, I'm sure you have come across Serena Helriot in your junkets 'round the 'sphere.  You'll find this wonderfully quirky and effervescent poet at Pliabilities, "the Intersection Between Lies and Possibilities", where she writes "I desire to articulate the view from the heights of wonder". Within this interview, Serena gives me one of the best answers to a question that I have ever received. Hop aboard! We are going down Highway One, along the coast once again, this time to a suburb of  Los Angeles. 



Poets United: Serena, I am stoked to be sitting down with you at last. Tell us about life at your house.



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Poetry Pantry - #125


The Poetry Pantry
2nd Chance Poems or 1st time shares

Hi Poets - Happy  Sunday to You all.  Hope you all have found poetic inspiration since we met here last Sunday. And hope your life has brought you good things.  It is always nice to look forward to spending time with you sharing poetry on Sunday.  I look forward to seeing what many of you have written this week.

Even if you wrote your poem for another site originally, consider also including a link back to Poetry Pantry to spread the word and the joy of poetry and help others to discover our site. I have been heartened by the number of people who really have gotten into the habit of visiting a large number of fellow poets.  Please try to visit as many other poets as you can. 

If you see someone's name you don't recognize, stop in and say "Welcome."  And if you are a person new to this site, the best way to be known is to visit others' sites.  If you are someone who links on the second day, the best thing for you to do is visit others' sites as well; and hopefully they will then return your visit. And don't forget to leave a comment here at this site after you link.  Even if just to say hi to your poet friends.

And now...here is the procedure:  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 8:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


There 3 simple rules:

1. Link only 1 poem per week.  If you link more than one, anything after #1 will be removed.

2. Please visit several other poems linked here when you link to yours. Please
don't just link and run, waiting for others to visit you. 

3. Leave a comment after you have posted
your link.  I find that people who leave comments tend to be more participatory.  They wish to be part of the community.  A little of this goes a long way.  It feels good for all.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This


Haiku By Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)
Translated by David G. Lanoue

flowing in the hut's
gate...
the Milky Way


sound asleep
there is peace on earth...
pond snail


on one side
snow falling, the other
spring rain!


with the dripping
of paper umbrellas...
spring mist


the lover cat
his face so alert
comes home


through green bamboo blinds
a pretty woman
in white


birdsong in bamboo grass--
too shy
for the fence


a fresh-made dewdrop
is cool too...
moon at the gate


Or I should say, I wish I'd written these, as they are not one poem but separate haiku. I subscribe to a site called Daily Issa, and receive one in my email inbox every day. These are a random selection of some recent arrivals.

Issa is considered one of the four great Japanese haiku masters, the others being Basho, Buson and Shiki. Haiku juxtapose two images, and the poetry is supposed to happen between or outside the words, like an 'aha!' moment. These four men were indeed beautiful exponents of the art. My favourite is really Basho, whose work is  probably the most quoted, but I love them all. In Issa I particularly like a sort of quirkiness, and the way he often includes people in these nature poems, placing humanity as part of nature, equal to (not greater or lesser than) other living things. As well as a poet, and an artist whose sketches often accompanied his haikiu, he was a lay Buddhist priest.

You can find more of his work here and here. (If you Google, there are yet more places.)

Also David Lanoue has recently released a new book: Issa's Best:  a translator's selection. And for practical reasons a selection is all it can be: in his 64 years Issa wrote over 20,000 haiku! It's available in print and also in both a Kindle edition and a Nook edition.

(You will note that they are not in lines of 5/7/5 syllables. I don't speak or read Japanese, but those who do say that our syllables are much longer than Japanese. Therefore contemporary haikuists writing in English now tend to try for greater brevity than 5/7/5. Some like to use short/long/short lines; others ignore line length, making the images paramount. Lanoue's translations can go either way.)

The Daily Issa site has moved and become a Yahoo group. (The link above takes you to an archive.) If you wish to receive the daily emails, go here to join.



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wonder Wednesday #10 Gifts

I know what you are thinking... Gifts?  Now, hear me out, hold on...lol   I know this is the time of year a lot of us celebrate Thanksgiving.  I think we probably all have done a thankful type of poem.  This prompt is not just about any gift.  No, it isn't.....
This prompt is about a gift from your heart, that you gave.  Don't say I didn't warn you-there might be another gift prompt next month. Yes, highly likely ;D!



© Ellen Wilson



Yes,  a gift that you gave, it could be time, a gesture of kindness, hope or a gift you purchased.  This gift was so wonderful, it gave you a happy heart.  The giving was the true treasure.  Your gift reflected, the sentiment of caring, remembering and being thoughtful.

Some examples:

My aunt is sick, but I've been told she doesn't need any more material items.  Gift cards to eat out and mail please her the most.  I try weekly to send her mail. I might include some dried lavender, or a sealed tea bag, or a quote.   It is the thought that counts!


My mom was given a gift at work, that I thought was beautiful.  This friend had a large family and didn't have the money to give a fancy gift.  She told my mom, after work to stop by her home.  When mom arrived the friend gave her a glass wine carafe and said follow me.  Mom's friend had a huge garden, filled with veggies, herbs and flowers. My mom is a gardener, too.  She told her once a week, she could stop by and pick a bouquet.  Every week this happened, she would also send me mom home with a few veggies.  I thought this gift was so special, so did my mom. 


Or you could share a poem about a heartfelt gift you are going to give! 






 
I look forward to your gifts, I mean poems. 

 

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Life of a Poet - Jennifer Wagner

Kids, today we are heading down the west coast to Seattle, not too far from where I live, to visit poet Jennifer Wagner. Jennifer writes at Poet Laundry and has been waiting ever so patiently for her turn in the rotation. Get ready for some beautiful scenery and a visit to a wonderful and happy family. Seattle, Jennifer tells me, is the home of the first Starbucks - ever - so I think it's appropriate to bring along enough lattes for all of us.  I'm buying. 




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Poetry Pantry - #124


The Poetry Pantry
2nd Chance Poems or 1st time shares

Hi Poets - Happy  Sunday to You all.  How are you doing this week? Hope you all have found poetic inspiration since we met here last Sunday. And hope your life has brought you good things.  It is always nice to look forward to spending time with you sharing poetry on Sunday.  I should be around more promptly this week than I was last week when I really didn't have anything I wished to share.

Even if you wrote your poem for another site originally, consider also including a link back to Poetry Pantry to spread the word and the joy of poetry and help others to discover our site. I have been heartened by the number of people who really have gotten into the habit of visiting a large number of fellow poets.  Please try to visit as many other poets as you can. 

If you see someone's name you don't recognize, stop in and say "Welcome."  And if you are a person new to this site, the best way to be known is to visit others' sites.  If you are someone who links on the second day, the best thing for you to do is visit others' sites as well; and hopefully they will then return your visit. And don't forget to leave a comment here at this site after you link.  Even if just to say hi to your poet friends.

And now...here is the procedure:  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 8:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


There 3 simple rules:

1. Link only 1 poem per week.  If you link more than one, anything after #1 will be removed.

2. Please visit several other poems linked here when you link to yours. Please
don't just link and run, waiting for others to visit you. 

3. Leave a comment after you have posted
your link.  I find that people who leave comments tend to be more participatory.  They wish to be part of the community.  A little of this goes a long way.  It feels good for all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Classic Poetry ~ "Forgiveness" by John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1809 - 1894

John Greenleaf Whittier, known as The Quaker Poet, The Slave Poet and The Fireside Poet, wrote from the time he was a child until he died at 85. A Quaker devoted to social causes and reform, Whittier worked for years as an editor and writer at a series of abolitionist newspapers and magazines. Additionally, he was a politician and abolitionist, opposing slavery before it became the divisive subject that resulted in civil war. Most famous for lengthy works, such as the oft-referred-to poem, Snowbound, Whittier occasionally wrote shorter pieces like Forgiveness, below.


Forgiveness


My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

After reading this anew, I cannot help but hope that each of us experiences the same epiphany.  ~Kim



Friday, November 16, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

from Stones of the Sky

By Pablo Neruda(1904-1973) 
trans. James Nolan

XIII

The lichen on the stone, green
elastic creeper, entangles
the primal hieroglyph,
stretches the sea's
scripture
around the round rock.
The sun reads it, barnacles fade it,
and from stone to stone
fish slither by like shivers.
Silently the alphabet goes on
spelling out its sunken syllables
along the immaculate lip of the coast.

On his loom the moss weaver
goes back and forth, higher and higher,
carpeting caverns of air and water
so that no one dances but the wave
and nothing follows but the wind.

XIV

Rolling from lake or mountain edge,
the stone, round volcanic
daughter, snow dove,
left its shape behind
tumbling toward the sea,
its fury spent along the way.
The boulder lost its sharp-peaked,
short-lived landmark
that like a cosmic egg
was swept into the river where
between other stones, it kept on rolling,
its ancestor forgotten,
far from the hellish landslide.

This is how, sky-smoothed, it arrives
at the sea: perfect, worn down,
renewed, renowned:
purity.



Stones of the Sky (Las piedras del cielo) is presented as a book-length poem in sections, or a series of connected poems on one theme. Many of  them are about specific stones: agate, emerald, lapis lazuli, chalcedony....

It's Neruda — they're all beautiful. These two consecutive pieces, which go together so perfectly, I love above the rest because of the way the luscious words seem to roll around the mouth, even when you don't speak them aloud. I could wish, too, for Neruda's gifts of imagination!

I sometimes think he must be everyone's favourite poet, and deservedly so. This volume was published late in his life. The translator, in his Introduction, opines that it is not so well known as his love poems and political verse. It's available from Amazon in a bilingual edition. A review there says:

This suite of thirty poems is Neruda's last love song to the Earth. When he wrote these poems he was dying of cancer, and as the title suggests he addresses not ordinary stones, but cosmic ones: stones that reconcile immobile permanence and the clarity of spiritual flight. When the poet meets his crystallized self, the encounter "takes on an eerie brilliance"—The Village Voice

You can find other volumes of his poetry at Amazon's Neruda page. You can also read his work at PoemHunter. Enjoy!



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wonder Wednesday #9 Shades of Grey

Yes, you read that right, lol   Yes, this is the book I'm sure you have heard about.  I'm not trying to offend anyone, but  I thought about the color scale from black  to white. I have started painting again.  Between black n' white there are many shades of gray or grey.


photo via here










    Wait, don't gasp...it isn't what you think.  I thought this would make an intriguing prompt.  Before you say, "Oh, my".... wait a minute, hear me out.

I want you to think in terms of love and hate, pain and pleasure, beauty and ugly, etc.   There are fine lines between these.  This is where we are going with the prompt.  I want you to write a poem about the fine lines, the between, the shades of gray! 


Now, if you have read the book and want to go there-your choice!  Just remember it is your blog, your voice.  I'm not looking for sex poems- I am looking for poems that blur the lines, the the gray!



                                                                    - Jodi Picoult 





 “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
Dorothy Parker












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Monday, November 12, 2012

Life of a Poet - Bodhirose


Kids, we know Gayle Walters Rose as Bodhirose, of  Bodhirose's Blog. Gayle writes from true-life experiences. She says her first love is poetry, but she also enjoys writing memoir. Hop aboard our magic carpet and we'll zip down to Florida. Maybe we can fit in a beach walk along those glorious shores.



Poets United: Gayle, I find the name of your blog intriguing. Would you like to explain its meaning, or how it came to be?


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poetry Pantry # 123


The Poetry Pantry
2nd Chance Poems or 1st time shares

Hi Poets - Happy  Sunday to You all.  How are you doing this week? Hope you all have found poetic inspiration since we met here last Sunday. And hope your life has brought you good things.  It is always nice to look forward to spending time with you sharing poetry on Sunday.  I should be around more promptly this week than I was last week when I really didn't have anything I wished to share.

Even if you wrote your poem for another site originally, consider also including a link back to Poetry Pantry to spread the word and the joy of poetry and help others to discover our site. I have been heartened by the number of people who really have gotten into the habit of visiting a large number of fellow poets.  Please try to visit as many other poets as you can. 

If you see someone's name you don't recognize, stop in and say "Welcome."  And if you are a person new to this site, the best way to be known is to visit others' sites.  If you are someone who links on the second day, the best thing for you to do is visit others' sites as well; and hopefully they will then return your visit. And don't forget to leave a comment here at this site after you link.  Even if just to say hi to your poet friends.

And now...here is the procedure:  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 8:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


There 3 simple rules:

1. Link only 1 poem per week.  If you link more than one, anything after #1 will be removed.

2. Please visit several other poems linked here when you link to yours. Please
don't just link and run, waiting for others to visit you. 

3. Leave a comment after you have posted
your link.  I find that people who leave comments tend to be more participatory.  They wish to be part of the community.  A little of this goes a long way.  It feels good for all.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

Going to Meet Her Lover

By Philip Martin (1931-2005)

It sings. Everything,
Sun, wind, these pavements,
This old wall protesting
Every woman
Has the right to choose.
I've chosen you
For life, my body sings
Its forty years and I'm
Nineteen, and a man passing
Shows it with his eyes.
In five minutes you'll clasp me,
Claim me. These loose clothes
I wear because you like them
Stream on the wind.

From New and Selected Poems. (Melbourne, Longman Cheshire, 1978.)


I think it's remarkable that Philip, a heterosexual man, could so well imagine himself into the head of the woman speaker of the poem. I, who am a woman, would like to have written so beautifully and authentically of this experience.

I knew of Philip's work, and admired it, long before I met him in person. Eventually we worked together in the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union of Australia, and in the publishing cooperative Pariah Press. We became great mates, and it was a shock to learn of his death.

I have recounted a little of our friendship at my SnakyPoet blog, where I have also posted a eulogy by his partner Jenny Gribble, which tells a great deal more about him. You can find other links there too, to what other online material exists. A few of his books are on Amazon and at Abe Books. But there are other Philip Martins, so check the list of his books in the Wikipedia entry (at the link on his name, above).

Unfortunately some online poems by a Philip Martin are (to anyone who knows his writing) obviously by one of the others, and do not compare. So I'd better give you something else here and now.

Port Fairy

Here nothing stands between you and the wind.
Wind and sea. For twenty years I've come
Back here from cities that I love. Tonight
In Seacombe House again, I hear the gusts
Beat at the walls, and the sea's loud. Both call me
Out to walk. The pines in Sackville Street
Vie with the roar from the East Beach, the South Beach.
Behind me the ancient ship lies in its dunes.
I face into the south, the solid dark
Beyond the last street lights: imagine the first
Light struck here by European hands
To glimmer in a window, solitary
Across the blackness of new land, old land:
Small, impertinent, almost swallowed up.

                                 ***

'It is good also to be poor, and listen to the wind.' *
Ten winters back, weak from the flu, I came here
With a line from a poem echoing inside me.
Upstairs in this old house I saw the streets
Shining black with rain. No one about.
Switched off the radio, wanting not even Mozart:
'It is good also to be poor.'  Voluptuous
Austerity. No human sounds. I listened:
Unbroken roar from the East Beach. Then, closer,
More intimate, new rain against my window.
And lay down, sure of healing. Sleep, wind, sea.

*From Robert Bly's 'Poem against the British'.

(Port Fairy is a coastal town south-west of Melbourne. The book cover shown above uses a photo, by Avis Quarrell, of the Port Fairy lighthouse.)



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wonder Wednesday? #8 E=mc2

Aren't you happy, no more W! Woo-hoo~ lol Today we are going to focus on the man, Albert Einstein. I know this formula E=mc2 represents energy.



 Today we are going to extend and expand ours, by using one of his quotes to write a poem. Yes, you get to pick the quote!  :D   Albert Einstein's quotes resonate tones of truth. I think his words ring true, for most of us. I want you to pick one of his quotes and pen a poem that rings true for you~






 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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Monday, November 5, 2012

Blog of the Week ~ Hope Whispers

Kids, today we are thrilled to feature a long-time member of the Poets United community since its beginnings in 2010: Carrie Burtt, found at Hope Whispers




Carrie can be found writing to a variety of prompt sites through the week. She writes with a great deal of life wisdom and philosophy....from the benefits of letting go to the consumption of chocolate cake in the midnight hours. Here is one recent treasure, plucked from her well-stocked pantry:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Poetry Pantry # 122


The Poetry Pantry
2nd Chance Poems or 1st time shares

Hi Poets - Happy  Sunday to You all.  How are you doing this week? Hope you all have found poetic inspiration since we met here last Sunday. And hope your life has brought you good things.  It is always nice to look forward to spending time with you sharing poetry on Sunday.  I should be around more promptly this week than I was last week when I really didn't have anything I wished to share.

Even if you wrote your poem for another site originally, consider also including a link back to Poetry Pantry to spread the word and the joy of poetry and help others to discover our site. I have been heartened by the number of people who really have gotten into the habit of visiting a large number of fellow poets.  Please try to visit as many other poets as you can. 

If you see someone's name you don't recognize, stop in and say "Welcome."  And if you are a person new to this site, the best way to be known is to visit others' sites.  If you are someone who links on the second day, the best thing for you to do is visit others' sites as well; and hopefully they will then return your visit. And don't forget to leave a comment here at this site after you link.  Even if just to say hi to your poet friends.

And now...here is the procedure:  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 8:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


There 3 simple rules:

1. Link only 1 poem per week.  If you link more than one, anything after #1 will be removed.

2. Please visit several other poems linked here when you link to yours. Please
don't just link and run, waiting for others to visit you. 

3. Leave a comment after you have posted
your link.  I find that people who leave comments tend to be more participatory.  They wish to be part of the community.  A little of this goes a long way.  It feels good for all.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Classic Poetry ~ " Nature" By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

US Postage Stamp bearing the image of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, born in Portland, Maine in 1807, became a national literary figure by the time he was 40, and a world-famous personality before his death at 75. He was a traveler, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with European traditions in literature and thought, while remaining proud of American life and history. These dissonant characteristics spurred Longfellow to experiment with new-world themes and made him ambitious for international success. For more on this American treasure go to hwlongfellow.org

Known more for lengthy sonnets, ballads and iambs, Longfellow occasionally wrote more concisely, as he did when he penned this brief and insightful sonnet, Nature.

Nature


As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
  Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
  Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
  And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
  Nor wholly reassured and comforted
  By promises of others in their stead,
  Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
  Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
  Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
  Being too full of sleep to understand
  How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This


Get Married

By Olga Novak (1928 - 2005)

(Dedicated to the Born Losers in the Marriage Stakes)

When I was a young maiden,
I was too plain, too clever and too smart.
With boys worthy and eligible —
I just couldn't get a start.

My mother, being more experienced,
more mature and more wise,
To remedy my single status —
Dished up some good advice.

You are not likely to get Prince Charming.
But spinsterhood — it's oh, so dull.
Why then, not settle for some no hoper?
Just to fill in your female destiny's lull.

        Get married, get married,
        Get married without delay.
        A woman on her own!
        What will the neighbours say?

I got married. To a louse and a weakling,
And life was a hopeless sham.
Till — one miserable, grey morning
A divorcee I became.

There are still some crusty, old boozers!
My mother got a grapevine.
So, why won't I get out and circulate?
And persuade one of them to be mine.

        Get married, get married,
        Get married without delay.
        A woman on her own!
        What will the neighbours say?

To such a fellow, heavy drinker,
I got married again.
He got killed: in a car accident.
Now a widow I shall remain.

But my mother keeps on nagging:
You're capable, you can earn and save;
Maybe there is still somewhere for you some old man,
With one foot in his grave?

        Get married, get married,
        Get married without delay.
        A woman on her own!
        What will the neighbours say?


(This one is meant for reciting aloud.)


Polish-born Olga Novak, who migrated to Australia in 1952 (after living in Russia, and briefly in Germany) was poet, novelist and film-maker — but best-known as a dynamic performance-poet. This piece, declaimed in her distinctive accent, was undoubtedly the most popular poem in Melbourne in its heyday. Audiences used to chime in gleefully with the chorus.

It was published in her book of poems, The Witch's Coven, in 1978. Despite the title poem which accurately depicts witches 'calling the quarters', Olga was an atheist. She used the term as a metaphor for self-determining women — in full consciousness of its use by some men as a term of opprobrium for self-determining women.

Unfortunately her books are out of print, and one novel was never published. She wanted me to be her literary executor. Although there was no formal arrangement, Olga's daughter (and heir) approved the plan. My own commitments meant that I have only just created a blog in her name, which starts by showcasing her poetry from The Witch's Coven. My intention is to add some of her prose at a later date.

Olga was not the most literary of writers — although she was well-read — and English was her second language. Nevertheless her work has verve and passion. After a youth of struggle, she had strong opinions and wrote of them fearlessly.



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).