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Oh, wast thou with me, dearest, then,
  While I rose up against my doom,
  And yearned to burst the folded gloom,
To bare the eternal Heavens again,
To feel once more, in placid awe,
  The strong imagination roll
  A sphere of stars about my soul,
In all her motion one with law;
If thou wert with me, and the grave
  Divide us not, be with me now,
  And enter in at breast and brow,
Till all my blood, a fuller wave,
Be quickened with a livelier breath,
  And like an inconsiderate boy,
  As in the former flash of joy,
I slip the thoughts of life and death;
And all the breeze of Fancy blows,
  And every dew-drop paints a bow,
  The wizard lightnings deeply glow,
And every thought breaks out a rose.
Edited by AC Benus
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13 minutes ago, AC Benus said:
Oh, wast thou with me, dearest, then,
  While I rose up against my doom,
  And yearned to burst the folded gloom,
To bare the eternal Heavens again,
To feel once more, in placid awe,
  The strong imagination roll
  A sphere of stars about my soul,
In all her motion one with law;
If thou wert with me, and the grave
  Divide us not, be with me now,
  And enter in at breast and brow,
Till all my blood, a fuller wave,
Be quickened with a livelier breath,
  And like an inconsiderate boy,
  As in the former flash of joy,
I slip the thoughts of life and death;
And all the breeze of Fancy blows,
  And every dew-drop paints a bow,
  The wizard lightnings deeply glow,
And every thought breaks out a rose.

This is heart filling; it reminds me of something from Whitman, in a way. 

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I had a breakthrough in my understanding of In Memoriam yesterday. (I'm sorry I don't have time to cite the sections of the work in what I'm about to write, but I think you'll be able to follow my thesis.)

If you glance through any of the analysis of Tennyson's love poem, printed or posted anywhere -- even the briefest examples -- the subject of how In Memoriam is structured around the "weddings" comes up. This means first, how the older of Tennyson's sisters was engaged to Hallam, and how she married another man soon(ish) after Henry's death. And two, near the conclusion of In Memoriam, the younger of Tennyson's sister gets married many years after Henry's death.

These two wedding do serve as anchoring points in the poem, but the conventional explanation (by hetero-oppressive demand) that these must be read as Tennyson longing to be "normal" never sat well with me at all. Such an augment is a major projection which the poem itself does not support. However, now having been in intimate contact with In Memoriam again, I can see the wedding context Tennyson's love for Hallam is painting for us. It follows this timeline in the poem: 

- The early verses of In Memoriam are lost and raw; single pieces about how the loss of Hallam feels, and the waiting for his remains and funeral. 

- The first Christmas without Hallam; Arthur feels like a ghost with others being merry around him, including his sister who's gotten engaged to another man, while he feels he's the only one being true to Henry.

- Spring and the wedding of the "unfaithful" sister sets Tannyson a new purpose; he gears up to make his random Elegy verses into the work of art In Memoriam will eventually become; he pins his own devotion to Hallam as something everlasting, and starts to refer to himself as Henry's widow. 

- This widowhood is explored in many subtle and revealing ways; a batch of poems speak of spring again; and the ones mentioning orange blossoms (Victorian bridal flowers for the hair) speak to a private ceremony where Arthur and Henry exchanged their own vows. 

- This revelation in the poem means that Tennyson's use of widow for himself is factually accurate, and slowly reveals his resentment towards a society that would not respect it if it were known [haha, which they still don't even to this day] , and on the figure of his sister who so flippantly tossed the memory of Hallam over to "move on" with life.

- The transformations poems (coming before and after the glorious pivot point of No. 95) take the sorrow beyond the physical realm of life and understand the great spiritual half of his life with Hallam, and Hallam's with his.

- This slowly builds to a sort of forgiveness for societal demands, and a gradual acceptance that he too must bend to them.

[In the real-life background of this, Tennyson - a beggarly type 'rich man' with little income and a shabby career as a published poet - is approached about doing his family obligation and marrying a particular young woman. With her, he is honest, coming out and proposing a sort of "professional marriage," or what we today call a marriage of convenience. The evidence of Tennyson's coming out to her can be seen in her breaking off the relationship on several occasions - occasions where it appeared the poet's love of Hallam was going to be publicly exposed. In fact, the last and 'final' rejection of him occurred after Tennyson had paid for a private printing of In Memoriam and distributed it amongst his circle; one of the later verses here states he can never love the woman he's entangled with, no doubt upsetting her greatly.* However, the full public publication of In Memoriam changed her mind. Why? It was an overnight bestseller, and in a matter of months, its fame turned Tennyson from a barely published poet to the Poet Laureate of the British Empire. Money. She married Tennyson finally when he had money, money, money!]  

- By the time of his younger sister's marriage, Tennyson can rest assured that his faithfulness to Hallam is safe, and regard the continuing aspects of life as something necessary. Thus In Memoriam can conclude full-circle with a merrier Christmas than the one 12 years earlier after Henry's death. And of course, as Gay men did in the age, Tennyson named his firstborn son after the man he loved - Hallam Tennyson.**



* I have the Complete Poetry of Tennyson, and can tell you confidently, there is not a single love poem in the book to her. There is a later-life poem about them having breakfast on the morning of their wedding anniversary, as it is staid and of the nature of one business partner writing a thank you note to the other.  

** Not one but two of Herman Melville's partners named their eldest sons after him: Herman Melville Greene and Herman Melville Williams :)  


Edited by AC Benus
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41 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

This is heart filling; it reminds me of something from Whitman, in a way. 

Yes! Thank you for saying this! I have no where read that Tennyson's In Memoriam influenced Whitman, but to me it's obvious. More than that, Tennyson's book "explains" the sudden conversion of city-swell Whitman -- spending his days and nights at the opera and writing reviews - into a poet at all. Just as the transcendental nature of In Memoriam is usually overlooked, so too are the many influences of this book on the first edition of Leaves of Grass. 

Haha, another essay for me to tackle, lol

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There rolls the deep where grew the tree.
  O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
  There where the long street roars, hath been
The stillness of the central sea.
The hills are shadows, and they flow
  From form to form, and nothing stands;
  They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.
But in my spirit will I dwell,
  And dream my dream, and hold it true;
  For though my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.
Edited by AC Benus
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That which we dare invoke to bless;
  Our dearest faith; our ghastliest doubt;
  He, They, One, All; within, without;
The Power in darkness whom we guess;
I found Him not in world or sun,
  Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye;
  Nor through the questions men may try,
The petty cobwebs we have spun:
If e'er when faith had fall'n asleep,
  I heard a voice `believe no more'
  And heard an ever-breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep;
A warmth within the breast would melt
  The freezing reason's colder part,
  And like a man in wrath the heart
Stood up and answered "I have felt."
No, like a child in doubt and fear:
  But that blind clamour made me wise;
  Then was I as a child that cries,
But, crying, knows his father near;
And what I am beheld again
  What is, and no man understands;
  And out of darkness came the hands
That reach through nature, moulding men.
Edited by AC Benus
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Whatever I have said or sung,
  Some bitter notes my harp would give,
  Yea, tho' there often seemed to live
A contradiction on the tongue,
Yet Hope had never lost her youth;
  She did but look through dimmer eyes;
  Or Love but played with gracious lies,
Because he felt so fixed in truth:
And if the song were full of care,
  He breathed the spirit of the song;
  And if the words were sweet and strong
He set his royal signet there;
Abiding with me till I sail
  To seek thee on the mystic deeps,
  And this electric force, that keeps
A thousand pulses dancing, fail.
Edited by AC Benus
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Love is and was my Lord and King,
  And in his presence I attend
  To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.
Love is and was my King and Lord,
  And will be, though as yet I keep
  Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,
And hear at times a sentinel
  Who moves about from place to place,
  And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.
Edited by AC Benus
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1 hour ago, AC Benus said:
Love is and was my Lord and King,
  And in his presence I attend
  To hear the tidings of my friend,
Which every hour his couriers bring.
Love is and was my King and Lord,
  And will be, though as yet I keep
  Within his court on earth, and sleep
Encompassed by his faithful guard,
And hear at times a sentinel
  Who moves about from place to place,
  And whispers to the worlds of space,
In the deep night, that all is well.

Why this part brought a new tune to my head, I cannot say. But it’s beautiful. 

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And all is well, though faith and form
  Be sundered in the night of fear;
  Well roars the storm to those that hear
A deeper voice across the storm,
Proclaiming social truth shall spread,
  And justice, ev'n though thrice again
  The red fool-fury of the Seine
Should pile her barricades with dead.
But ill for him that wears a crown,
  And him, the lazar, in his rags:
  They tremble, the sustaining crags;
The spires of ice are toppled down,
And molten up, and roar in flood;
  The fortress crashes from on high,
  The brute earth lightens to the sky,
And the great Aeon sinks in blood,
And compassed by the fires of Hell;
  While thou, dear spirit, happy star,
  O'erlook'st the tumult from afar,
And smilest, knowing all is well.
Edited by AC Benus
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No. 125 speaks to our times directly, although it describes the beginning of the world-changing year of 1848. The "February Revolution"  began in France, but by the end of the year, democracy movements had been initiated and quashed in a dozen European countries, including the UK, sadly.  

The brutal repression that followed, and the doubling down on "empire" by the people in charge, led one Women's Rights activist to mourn in this way:


At the end of 1849


The bells resound mute at the end of a year, 

Which in these hard and baleful times of woe,  

Must escort German Freedom to the graveyard –

Ah! All without hope for a change of fate. 


Imprisonment, exile or death – the tribute 

Of those who consigned themselves to the homeland,

Who fought for rights and the union of people,

That we might join together as a Nation.


But still, but still – liberty cannot die 

In a people so willing to sacrifice,

At least, not forever; not when it's ever-fresh. 


And even though hope for the seeds is withered –

The ones we sowed – folks will inherit one day 

What we're fighting for and have not yet achieved. 

Louise Otto-Peters




Edited by AC Benus
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The love that rose on stronger wings,
  Unpalsied when he met with Death,
  Is comrade of the lesser faith
That sees the course of human things.
No doubt vast eddies in the flood
  Of onward time shall yet be made,
  And throned races may degrade;
Yet, O ye mysteries of good,
Wild Hours that fly with Hope and Fear,
  If all your office had to do
  With old results that look like new;
If this were all your mission here,
To draw, to sheathe a useless sword,
  To fool the crowd with glorious lies,
  To cleave a creed in sects and cries,
To change the bearing of a word,
To shift an arbitrary power,
  To cramp the student at his desk,
  To make old bareness picturesque
And tuft with grass a feudal tower;
Why then my scorn might well descend
  On you and yours. I see in part
  That all, as in some piece of art,
Is toil cöoperant to an end.
Edited by AC Benus
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Dear friend, far off, my lost desire,
  So far, so near in woe and weal;
  O loved the most, when most I feel
There is a lower and a higher;
Known and unknown; human, divine;
  Sweet human hand and lips and eye;
  Dear heavenly friend that canst not die,
Mine, mine, for ever, ever mine;
Strange friend, past, present, and to be;
  Loved deeplier, darklier understood;
  Behold, I dream a dream of good,
And mingle all the world with thee.
Edited by AC Benus
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Thy voice is on the rolling air;
  I hear thee where the waters run;
  Thou standest in the rising sun,
And in the setting thou art fair.
What art thou then? I cannot guess;
  But though I seem in star and flower
  To feel thee some diffusive power,
I do not therefore love thee less:
My love involves the love before;
  My love is vaster passion now;
  Though mixed with God and Nature thou,
I seem to love thee more and more.
Far off thou art, but ever nigh;
  I have thee still, and I rejoice;
  I prosper, circled with thy voice;
I shall not lose thee though I die.
Edited by AC Benus
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O living will that shalt endure
  When all that seems shall suffer shock,
  Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure,
That we may lift from out of dust
  A voice as unto him that hears,
  A cry above the conquered years
To one that with us works, and trust,
With faith that comes of self-control,
  The truths that never can be proved
  Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.
Edited by AC Benus
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O true and tried, so well and long,
  Demand not thou a marriage lay;
  In that it is thy marriage day
Is music more than any song.
Nor have I felt so much of bliss
  Since first he told me that he loved
  A daughter of our house; nor proved
Since that dark day a day like this;
Tho' I since then have numbered o'er
  Some thrice three years: they went and came,
  Remade the blood and changed the frame,
And yet is love not less, but more;
No longer caring to embalm
  In dying songs a dead regret,
  But like a statue solid-set,
And moulded in colossal calm.
Regret is dead, but love is more
  Than in the summers that are flown,
  For I myself with these have grown
To something greater than before;
Which makes appear the songs I made
  As echoes out of weaker times,
  As half but idle brawling rhymes,
The sport of random sun and shade.
But where is she, the bridal flower,
  That must be made a wife ere noon?
  She enters, glowing like the moon
Of Eden on its bridal bower:
On me she bends her blissful eyes
  And then on thee; they meet thy look
  And brighten like the star that shook
Betwixt the palms of paradise.
O when her life was yet in bud,
  He too foretold the perfect rose.
  For thee she grew, for thee she grows
For ever, and as fair as good.
And thou art worthy; full of power;
  As gentle; liberal-minded, great,
  Consistent; wearing all that weight
Of learning lightly like a flower.
But now set out: the noon is near,
  And I must give away the bride;
  She fears not, or with thee beside
And me behind her, will not fear.
For I that danced her on my knee,
  That watched her on her nurse's arm,
  That shielded all her life from harm
At last must part with her to thee;
Now waiting to be made a wife,
  Her feet, my darling, on the dead
  Their pensive tablets round her head,
And the most living words of life
Breathed in her ear. The ring is on,
  The `wilt thou' answered, and again
  The `wilt thou' asked, till out of twain
Her sweet "I will" has made you one.
Now sign your names, which shall be read,
  Mute symbols of a joyful morn,
  By village eyes as yet unborn;
The names are signed, and overhead
Begins the clash and clang that tells
  The joy to every wandering breeze;
  The blind wall rocks, and on the trees
The dead leaf trembles to the bells.
O happy hour, and happier hours
  Await them. Many a merry face
  Salutes them -- maidens of the place,
That pelt us in the porch with flowers.
O happy hour, behold the bride
  With him to whom her hand I gave.
  They leave the porch, they pass the grave
That has to-day its sunny side.
To-day the grave is bright for me,
  For them the light of life increased,
  Who stay to share the morning feast,
Who rest to-night beside the sea.
Let all my genial spirits advance
  To meet and greet a whiter sun;
  My drooping memory will not shun
The foaming grape of eastern France.
It circles round, and fancy plays,
  And hearts are warmed and faces bloom,
  As drinking health to bride and groom
We wish them store of happy days.
Nor count me all to blame if I
  Conjecture of a stiller guest,
  Perchance, perchance, among the rest,
And, tho' in silence, wishing joy.
But they must go, the time draws on,
  And those white-favoured horses wait;
  They rise, but linger; it is late;
Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.
A shade falls on us like the dark
  From little cloudlets on the grass,
  But sweeps away as out we pass
To range the woods, to roam the park,
Discussing how their courtship grew,
  And talk of others that are wed,
  And how she looked, and what he said,
And back we come at fall of dew.
Again the feast, the speech, the glee,
  The shade of passing thought, the wealth
  Of words and wit, the double health,
The crowning cup, the three-times-three,
And last the dance; -- till I retire:
  Dumb is that tower which spake so loud,
  And high in heaven the streaming cloud,
And on the downs a rising fire:
And rise, O moon, from yonder down,
  Till over down and over dale
  All night the shining vapour sail
And pass the silent-lighted town,
The white-faced halls, the glancing rills,
  And catch at every mountain head,
  And o'er the friths that branch and spread
Their sleeping silver through the hills;
And touch with shade the bridal doors,
  With tender gloom the roof, the wall;
  And breaking let the splendour fall
To spangle all the happy shores
By which they rest, and ocean sounds,
  And, star and system rolling past,
  A soul shall draw from out the vast
And strike his being into bounds,
And, moved through life of lower phase,
  Result in man, be born and think,
  And act and love, a closer link
Betwixt us and the crowning race
Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
  On knowledge; under whose command
  Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand
Is Nature like an open book;
No longer half-akin to brute,
  For all we thought and loved and did,
  And hoped, and suffered, is but seed
Of what in them is flower and fruit;
Whereof the man, that with me trod
  This planet, was a noble type
  Appearing ere the times were ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God,
That God, which ever lives and loves,
  One God, one law, one element,
  And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.
Edited by AC Benus
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  • 3 months later...


"A poem for a November day"


Oh, for a day of burning noon

And a sun like a glowing ember;

Oh, for one hour of golden June,

In the heart of this chill November.


I can scarcely remember the Spring's soft breath

Or imagine the Summer hazes.

The yellow woods are so damp with death

That I have forgotten the daisies.


Oh, to lie watching the sky again,

From a nest of hot grass and clover,

Till the stars come out like golden rain

When the lazy day is over.


And crowning the night with an aureole,

As the clouds kiss and drift asunder,

The moon floats up like a luminous soul.

And the stars grow pale for wonder.

Alfred Douglas,






Edited by AC Benus
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2 hours ago, AC Benus said:

"A poem for a November day"

What a wonderful poem. Thank you so much for sharing it!

I particularly liked these lines - I am drawn to them, and the memories they bring to me.

2 hours ago, AC Benus said:

Oh, to lie watching the sky again,

From a nest of hot grass and clover,

Thanks again.

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  • 1 month later...


Recollecting a Visit to W. B. Yeats


It is most pitiful to watch men go

In search of beauty with despairing eyes,

And what it is they lack as this world lies

Open before their gaze they do not know.

These porcelain skies with billows of graven snow

They paint on cold, thin cups, and draw from strings

Voices of mourning winds and sense of wings;

From woods rob sad-faced flowers and bid them grow

Nearer their souls; ay, creep out in the night

And steal the stars and the bright Moon from Heaven,

And bring them home to decorate their dreams

My God it is a strange and pitiful sight

To see the treasury of a poet's room

And him alone there shrouded in beauty's gloom!

Walter Turner



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  • 4 weeks later...
Just now, Black Paper said:




Blow it all away.

Make it go away.

Throw it all away!

Destroy it all today.

Right here.

Right now.


With your mind,

You can DESTROY all of the things that are all unkind.

Destruction is required for reproduction.

Just, like the storm,

You were born with reconstruction.

You have the ability to create a new tranquility.

You have the responsibility.

You have invincibility.

Make your own destiny.

You do not have to be rich.

All you need is a penny.

And, with that seed, indeed,

You can create plenty.

Show them who you are.

Show them how you’ll go far.

If they don’t believe you will achieve,

They can simply leave.

That isn’t evil, for that type of logic is simply Medieval.

Just, make them watch you as you powerfully continue,

As you will prove how you will improve with every single move…

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I don’t know

how to ask politely
for what I want from another man,
what etiquette dictates in such circumstances:
do I dress requests in finery,
or should they come garbed in
plain, rough clothes?


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1 hour ago, Parker Owens said:


I don’t know

how to ask politely
for what I want from another man,
what etiquette dictates in such circumstances:
do I dress requests in finery,
or should they come garbed in
plain, rough clothes?


Makes me think of Maurice and Scudder

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      every second
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      for just a second...
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    • By AC Benus
      Poetry Prompt 6 – Elegy
      Let's Write a Tennyson-style Elegy!
      We have studied how verse form relates to certain patterns, like line length, using end-of-line rhymes for emphasis and memorability, and stanza patterns like the Tanka, Haiku, and Couplet.
      We can build on that by practicing with the four-line structure of the Elegy, which is like a pair of couplets split up to be a-b-b-a in its rhymes.        
      The Elegy belongs to a group of lyric poetry including the Pastoral and the Eclogue. This form is ancient, and city-bound Hellenistic Greeks used to dream of getting back to nature through such popular pieces. While the other two forms promoted bucolic bliss, the Elegy spoke of loss – more often than not, of one handsome shepherd being taken by someone rich and powerful to 'the city,' and his equally handsome and lonely shepherd mate having to deal with the separation.[1] In this sense Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis is an Elegy, as the goddess has to suffer the rather comic rebuff of the beautiful boy before ultimately losing him altogether.
      With this, he breaketh from the sweet embrace
      Of those fair arms which bound him to her breast,
      And homeward through the dark laund[2] runs apace;
      Leaves Love upon her back deeply distrest.
      Look, how a bright star shooteth from the sky,
      So glides he in night from Venus' eye.
      Later, continuing to run from the goddesses' lust-driven pursuit, the beautiful teen boy is gored and killed by a boar. So in this we come to how the Elegy has been most often used in English: a lament for a departed loved one. Even though it is usually thought of as a death song, good Elegies still retain the element of nature as a sub-theme.
      For our purposes of studying how to write one, I will stick with examples from arguably one the greatest same-sex love poems ever written (and one sadly few bother to read today); Tenneyson's In Memoriam contains the lines:
      'Tis better to have loved and lost
      Than never to have loved at all.
      And the man he loved, Arthur Hallam, must have been a remarkable soul, for the expanse of In Memoriam is as passionate and sweeping as its near contemporary poem, The Leaves of Grass. Tennyson deals with his loss by questioning everything – Christian hypocrisy against same-sex love, faith versus reason, love being stronger than doubt and hate, even Creationism versus Evolution. And ever in the background is nature and how it brings the poet back to the presence of his beloved. Take for example these strophes from 95:
      By night we lingered on the lawn,
      For underfoot the herb was dry;
      And genial warmth; and o'er the sky
      The silvery haze of summer drawn;
      And calm that let the tapers burn
      Unwavering: not a cricket chirped:
      The brook alone far-off was heard,
      And on the board a fluttering urn: 
      But when those others, one by one,
      Withdrew themselves from me and night,
      And in the house light after light
      Went out, and I was all alone,
      Then strangely on the silence broke
      The silent-speaking words, and strange
      Was love's dumb cry defying change
      To test his worth; and strangely spoke.
      So word by word, and line by line,
      The dead man touched from the past,
      And all at once it seemed at last
      His living soul was flashed on mine,
      And mine in his was wound and whirled[3]
      About empyreal heights of thought,
      And came on that which is, and caught
      The deep pulsations of the world.
      So, sucked from out the distant gloom
      A breeze began to tremble o'er
      The large leaves of the sycamore,
      And fluctuate all the still perfume.  
      Here we can see what I mean when I say the rhyme pattern is like a pair of Couplets split up, and note that Tennyson chose to stick with a lyrical 8-syllable line length throughout. There is a grandeur to these lines, but I chose to show them first for how beautifully he weaves in the presence of both nature and the memory of the departed. But that does not always have to so blatant. Easier to follow are the four stanzas of 73:
      So many worlds, so much to do,
      So little done, such things to be,
      How know I what had need of thee,
      For thou wert strong as thou wert true?
      The fame is quenched that I foresaw,
      The head hath missed an earthly wreath:
      I curse not nature, no, nor death;
      For nothing is that errs from law.
      We pass; the path that each man trod
      Is dim, or will be dim, with weeds:
      What frame is left for human deeds
      In endless age? It rests with God.
      O hollow wraith of drying fame,
      Fade wholly, while the soul exults,
      And self-infolds the large results
      Of force that would have forged a name.
      So here, I hope you noticed right away, Tennyson used the exact form and line pattern, but achieved something markedly different from 95. His anxiety almost beats with a heartbeat as we read his words, and 'nature' becomes thought of human nature and of how natural it is for two people to love one another.
      The prompt: write your own set of four-lined Elegy stanzas. The theme is 'Remember,' and I encourage all of you to submit your work to Irri for the spring anthology. Keep the rhyme pattern a-b-b-a, use as many stanzas as you like, but maintain a consistent 8-syllable line. Play with it; your poem does not have to be about death or loss, just remembrance.       
        [1] The two young shepherds who were household names in ancient and Renaissance times were Corydon and Alexis. They were as well known a couple as Romeo and Juliet is to us and the story of how their pure love and passionate devotion to one another was tested by the glitz and fakeness of hypocrisy was written about time and time again. Marlowe's famous lines of "Come live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove" is Corydon speaking to Alexis. (See Chapter 3 of Bruce R. Smith's 1991 literary survey of same-sex love in Shakespeare's England)       
      [2] Laund = a grassy meadow
      [3] The 'his' of this line and the line above are the originals. Tennyson's son later systematically went through the poem and edited parts he felt were too 'gay.' Thus in this line he craftily added a 't' to make a nonsensical 'this': "And mine in this was wound". Unfortunately this was one of his favorite ways to deface the manuscript. Sometimes, as in the case of "His living soul was flashed on mine," he was forced to cross out his father's words and simply write something obscuring above it; here he altered it to read: "The living soul was flashed on mine," which again makes no sense to a reader. (See In Memoriam, edited by Robert H. Ross, 1973 New York)
      Walt Whitman's editor for the Leaves of Grass insisted he add qualifiers like "him and her," and "he and she" in his erotic poetry where he only wrote "him" and "he." Later on his dutiful students defaced his manuscripts after the master's death to reflect the edited print versions of the poem. (See Love Stories, by Jonathan Ned Katz, 2001 Chicago)
      Emily Dickinson likewise had her manuscripts rather brutally altered by her editor and niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi. As Keith Stern writes: "Though we know little about Dickinson's sexual life, we can be certain about the passions of her sexual orientation. In 1852 she wrote a love letter to her friend Susan Gilbert that read in part, 'Susie, forgive me darling, for every word I say – my heart is full of you, none other than you in my thoughts.' Her love for Gilbert inspired many of her poems. In addition to altering Dickinson's rhymes and punctuation, early editors replaced Gilbert's name in many of the love poems that were written to her. Scissors and erasers were taken both to poems and correspondence, turning 'her' to 'him,' and erasing the 's' in front of 'she.'" (ps. 139-140, Queers in History, 2009 Dallas)
      It is a shame that LGBTQ youth are still systematically kept from knowing the extent of Gay arts and letters that exists all around them. Editing Gay people out of their own history should end.
    • By AC Benus
      Poetry Prompt  2 – Haiku
      Let's Write a Basho-style Haiku!
      It's arguable that Haiku is now the most popular set form of verse in the English language. Today more Haiku are written around the world than Sonnets and all the other forms put together.
      Haiku, or Hokku, arose out of Tanka and a variation on that form. The natural way in which the five lines of Tanka can be broken into strophes of three and two lines, in either combination, was known as Renga, or linked verses. These witty poems, which often took the form of question and answer, were light and popular entertainment.
      That all changed with a Gay genius. Basho Mastsuo (1644-1694) spent his life sequestered with the men he loved, first with the teenager with whom he was raised almost as a brother within a samurai family, and then later as a lay Buddhist monk with several men who formed his acolytes and partners.     
      In the summer of 1684 (when he was forty years old,) he set out with his partner Chiri (who was thirty-six,) to see the country. These adventures resulted in the flowering of his poetry and the widespread dispersal of his brand of Haiku. Later, his most influential travel collection of verse was finalized the year he died as Oku no Hosomichi, or A Narrow Path through Open Country. Its posthumous publication in 1702 ensured his poetic immortality.    
      So, Basho's form was a serious attempt to redact out the subjective view of the poet, and in this regard he was influenced by Zen thought that the "I" is an illusion. Within a very limited form he tried to capture the corporal impressions of an event, and trusted that the reader would insert his or her own emotions into what they were shown. By corporal I mean the bodily senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. His most famous Haiku is this:
      Which translates literally as:
      There is a particular anthology of one hundred English language versions of those eight simple Japanese words, and all of them are different, and all of them are in proper Haiku form.
      The Haiku is based on a three-lined structure, and has the following syllables: 5,7,5. Like all Japanese poetry and traditional lyrics, a seasonal word is essential. In the frog poem, the frog is a symbol of summer. Another summer poem that illustrates his totally subjective style is this one from Oku no Hosomichi:
      The prompt: write two Haiku. One inspired by a sight you witnessed outdoors, in a secluded patch of nature (either in your yard, a city park, or the great untamed wilderness). And a second one inspired by an urban sight (something that catches your eye on the street), or that happens indoors. You must be true to the form and include a seasonal word within both poems, but remember, words like 'surfboard' and 'bug spray' speak of summer just as much as 'frog' and 'cicada' do. Think outside the box and just use a sight that speaks to the season in the part of the world you are right now. 
      To be a true Haiku, do not use words or concepts like "I," "my," "mine," etc. Stick to plain scene painting, for if the sight moved you, it has the potential to move others too. 
    • By Juan Manuel Sandoval
      Hi everyone! I’ve only recently joined the site, but it’s felt so warm and welcoming that I thought it’d be interesting to share something for discussion. I write poetry in both English and Spanish and only recently have begun to blend both my languages within poems. I was having in interesting exchange with a professor at my university this year where I confessed that sometimes I felt pressured to offer translated versions of my writing, while sacrificing the value of what a Spanish word or phrase was adding to my poem in order to please non-Spanish speaking readers. I mentioned I had begun blending the two languages without offering translations and he said I shouldn’t feel obliged to offer translations. He said readers shouldn’t force a type of language or culture censorship where the value of a piece is diminished because they can’t simply put the effort to translate words and phrases themselves or research the context of a piece. I’m curious if anyone else has thought about this dilemma of culture and language in your poetry and whether you share the professors opinion or have something else regarding it. It’ll be lovely to discuss!
    • By Valkyrie
      I know it's a bit early, but it seems like there are quite a few new poets on site.  So I thought I'd post a shout-out for National Poetry Writing Month, which starts April 1st.  The goal for NaPoWriMo is to write 30 poems in 30 days.  There's no structure as to how to accomplish that goal, although most writers strive for one per day.  It's a great time to go through AC's poetry prompts.  I've been stockpiling a few prompts of my own, which I will post here.  I also receive daily prompts via email from a lady who has done this for years.  If anyone is interested in receiving these prompts, please PM me your email address and I will either forward them to you or send her your email so you can receive them directly; it's entirely up to you.  
      Most people post their NaPoWriMo poems in a weekly "chapter", although some people prefer to post daily.  To get an idea of how past participants have done it, check out my own "April Musings",  Parker Owens "Parker's NaPoWriMo 2017", or Aditus' "Going to the Movies".  
      Participating in NaPoWriMo is a lot of fun.  I hope to see a lot of participants in April!  

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