We tap another piece by the master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe and his haunting poem, “Annabel Lee.” “Annabel Lee” is the last complete poem composed by Poe. Like many of his poems, it explores the theme of the death of a beautiful woman. The narrator, who fell in love with Annabel Lee when they were young, has a love for her so strong that even angels are envious. He retains his love for her even after her death. Poe is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature.
This week’s selection cuts directly to the chase. seeker of truth is a transcendental peek into the works of e.e. cummings. Short and sweet to be sure, it speaks of our own truth being within us.
e.e. cummings was considered one of the most popular poets of the 20th century. He started to write poetry at a young age, always with the determined inclination of being a poet. He had a preference for his name to be abbreviated in all lowercase letters. Cummings’s mother encouraged him to express himself in verse and to journal. Learn more about e.e. cummings here.
seeker of truth
follow no path
all paths lead where
truth is here
A writer and educator in Victorian Times, Matthew Arnold in his poem “Dover Beach”, expresses his dealing through a crisis of faith. The speaker in the poem sees a change from religion to science almost subconsciously, paralleling it to the sea that the speaker is looking at. “Dover Beach” expresses alienation, doubt, and melancholy. It is thought of as forward-thinking, a harbinger of 20th century crises of faith. In essence, the poem questions what it means to be alive.
by Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
In this, the 53rd installment of the POETIC BLOOMINGS Reading Room, we take a peek at this lyrical ballad by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner recounts the experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage. The mariner stops a man who is on his way to a wedding ceremony, and regales him with his tale. The guest is torn between impatience and intrigue with the sailor’s story.
Coleridge had written this in loose verse with stanzas of either four or six lines in length, but sometimes going as high as nine to express this epic piece. Here is an excerpt of his work:
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Today we find this piece by Mark Strand about man’s relationship with poetry’s written word. Mark Strand was recognized as one of the premier American/Canadian poets of his generation as well as an accomplished editor, translator, and prose writer. The earmarks of Strand’s writings are precise language, expressive images, and the sense of absence; his works can be deemed witty and self-deprecating. Selected as the US poet laureate in 1990, his literary efforts covered five decades, and was highly regarded by critics and among his audience. In 1999 he garnered the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection Blizzard of One.
The New Poetry Handbook
1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.
2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.
3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.
4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.
5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.
6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.
7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.
8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.
9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.
10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.
11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.
12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.
13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.
14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.
15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.
16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.
17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.
18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.
19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.
20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.
21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.
We’ve reached the fiftieth edition of the POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM.
It has been said through this process that some featured poets were new in the scope of poetry for our readers. Marie Elena readily admits she is not a “student” of other poets or their poems (I’m sure as much as she’d like to be). But, that is good, for it is the thinking behind establishing this space. It persuaded our poets and guests to read the works of someone lesser known, or a popular poet’s lesser known brilliance. I appreciate you all for walking this path with us. I hope it spurred you on to read more of a certain poet. There is so much beauty in their words.
For our fiftieth selected poet, I offer two works of one who was completely unknown to me, and admittedly, I stumbled upon his words accidentally when I clicked on a wrong link. I am so glad that I did! His literary interests can be mirrored in my feeble abilities. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), was a Bengali poet, novelist, musician, painter and playwright who was instrumental in the direction of Bengali literature / music. His verse is profound, sensitive, fresh and beautiful. He was the only Indian and the first non-European awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913). His poetry is considered spiritual and his appearance gave him a prophet-like aura in the Western world. The elegance of Tagore’s prose and the magical sense of his poetry are still largely unknown outside the confines of Bengal. The two poems chosen truly gripped me and brought me to embrace his work. The first, “Parting Words” is his look at what his death would be like. The second selection, “A Hundred Years Hence” speaks of his poetry’s following long after his voice becomes silent. Both of these are reminiscent of Dyson McIllwain’s “If My Words Should Die”
by Rabindranath Tagore
When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.
I have tasted of the hidden honey of this lotus
that expands on the ocean of light,
and thus am I blessed
—let this be my parting word.
In this playhouse of infinite forms
I have had my play
and here have I caught sight of him that is formless.
My whole body and my limbs
have thrilled with his touch who is beyond touch;
and if the end comes here, let it come
—let this be my parting word.
A HUNDRED YEARS HENCE
by Rabindranath Tagore
A hundred years hence
Who it is
With such curiosity
Reads my poems
A hundred years hence!
Shall I be able to send you
An iota of joy of this fresh spring morning
The flower that blooms today
The songs that the birds sing
The glow of today’s setting sun
Filled with my feelings of love?
Yet for a moment
Open up your southern gate
And take your seat at the window
Look at the far horizon
And visualize in your mind’s eye –
One day a hundred years ago
A restless ecstasy drifted from the skies
And touched the heart of this world
The early spring mad with joy
Knew no bounds
Spreading its restless wings
The southern breeze blew
Carrying the scent of flowers’ pollen
All on a sudden soon
They coloured the world with a youthful glow
A hundred years ago.
That day a young poet kept awake
With an excited heart filled with songs
With so much ardour
Anxious to express so many things
Like buds of flowers straining to bloom
One day a hundred years ago.
A hundred years hence
What young poet
Sings songs in your homes!
I send my tidings of joy of this spring.
Let it echo for a moment
In your spring, in your heartbeats,
In the humming of the bees
In the rustling of the leaves
A hundred years hence.
This American poet, writer, and editor won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Carl August Sandburg had been regarded as a major player in modern literature. His appeal as a poet was unmatched in his day, perhaps because the scope of his experiences connected him with so many sectors of Americana. On his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that Carl Sandburg was America. He was more than the sum of the voice of America, and poet of who possessed strength and genius. Today’s poem is Mr. Sandburg’s, “Who Am I?”
WHO AM I?
by Carl Sandburg
My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
reach my hands and play with pebbles of
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
reading “Keep Off.”
My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive
in the universe.
Next Wednesday will mark the 50th entry into the reading room. At that point we will take a brief respite from the Reading Room for some other feature (undecided as of yet).
Also I will be posting the instructions for the next phase of the July P.E.O.D Challenge next week.
This week’s poet is regarded as one of the greatest British poets, and his influence remains in his widely read works. Byron’s magnum opus, Don Juan, ranks with John Milton’s Paradise Lost as two of the most important poems by England’s honored poets. The masterpiece was an epic of its time, and had roots deep in literary tradition. Even though it was shocking to early Victorians, it concerns itself with its own contemporary world — social, political, literary and ideological. We present one of the best romantic poetry verses by this great author. This is Lord George Gordon Byron’s “THY DAYS ARE DONE”.
THY DAYS ARE DONE
Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
Thy country’s strains record
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The slaughter of his sword!
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
The freedom he restored!
Though thou art fall’n, while we are free
Thou shalt not taste of death!
The generous blood that flow’d from thee
Disdain’d to sink beneath:
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy spirit on our breath!
Thy name, our charging hosts along,
Shall be the battle-word!
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
From virgin voices pour’d!
To weep would do thy glory wrong:
Thou shalt not be deplored.
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning-author Toni Morrison has passed away at age 88. Her contributions to the literary world covered over six decades and her honorariums included the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The world took comfort from Morrison’s wisdom both within the pages of her work and her inspired speeches. Here in the POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM, we honor her by featuring some of Morrison’s most stirring and powerful thoughts on various subjects including writing, art, death and love.
“You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” —Song of Solomon, 1977
“Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” —During her Nobel Prize speech in 1993
“Your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.” —During her Wellesley College Commencement address in 2004
“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” —Song of Solomon, 1977
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” —Beloved, 1987
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” —During her Nobel Prize speech in 1993
Emily Dickinson was an American poet. A prolifically private poet, very few of her nearly eighteen hundred best poems were published during her life. Many publishers edited her works to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems were quite unique for the times in which she wrote. Her poems generally dealt with themes of love, death and immortality. Dickinson lived much of her life in isolation. Thought to be an eccentric by locals, she had a penchant for wearing white clothing. Somewhat anti-social, Emily was known for her reluctance to greet guests or even leave her room. She had never married.
I Cannot Live With You
I cannot live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf
The sexton keeps the key to,
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup
Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.
I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down,
You could not.
And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’.
That new grace
Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.