cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “national poetry month”

A Bit of Bard–maybe a bit late


Depending on where you are located, it’s April 23rd and William Shakespeare’s birthday. Today he is an amazing 453 years old! Last year the world celebrated the 400 years since he passed from immediate view–going out on his birthday in 1616. I believe Mark Twain is another writer who did the same, except being Twain he did so with more flourish by coming in with Halley’s comet and leaving the day it returned.

As for William, his influence is ageless. I’m currently undertaking the starting of a Shakespeare club on campus: Students for Shakespeare. I actually inherited the title of the club. A few years back a group of students who wanted to put on Macbeth at the local theater and by doing so, made enough from ticket sales to create a little nest egg for future ventures. Their tidy profit helped in bringing Shakespeare to our school. With some tight management of funds, I manage to bring in annually Shakesperience, a team of actors who travel around the state performing at schools for a small fee. For some students, this will be their first and only exposure to a live performance of Shakespeare.

In the classroom I no doubt wear out my students with my enthusiasm for Shakespeare. I have his poster up on the wall and once a month I create crazy iMovies that are played on the morning announcements that promote the Students for Shakespeare Club. And four is the number of students I commandeered to be in the yearbook photo since no one has actually showed up for our monthly meetings yet. I shall once more to the breach…

April also happens to be National Poetry Month. I usually provide a poem a day as tribute to the month. I save them up all year. This year spring break happened the first week of April, I succumbed to getting a cold, then became dizzyfied by SAT testing, followed by reviewing for AP exams, became distracted by class registration–well, let’s just say Eliot wasn’t kidding when he said April is the cruelest month. Maybe not cruel. Daffodils are blooming. I get happy when the flowers return. It is a busy month though.

So–my poetry plans fell through, but I shall, as Puck says, try to make amends. Here is a link that is definitely worth watching, especially if you relish really amazing acting. This is Sir Ian in his prime (around 43), performing a one man show of Shakespeare. And this fulfills my poetry and Shakespeare efforts for April since Sir Ian performs both sonnets and play excerpts. Enjoy!

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POM: April 26


This is oh so Thoreau. The way he observes nature, breaking the whole into bits without dissembling the phenomena.

 Mist by Henry David Thoreau

Low-anchored cloud,

Newfoundland air,

Fountain-head and source of rivers,

Dew-cloth, dream-drapery,

And napkin spread by fays;

Drifting meadow of the air,

Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,

And in whose fenny labyrinth

The bittern booms and heron wades;

Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,—

Bear only perfumes and the scent

Of healing herbs to just men’s fields.

POM: April 25


John Donne, Metaphysical poet, definitely challenges our perception of death with his “Death Be Not Proud.”  Death is not seen as a bully, a villain,  nor even anything to actually fear. Donne portrays death as a coward, in that it cannot act upon its own accord, needing an agent to perform. He presents death as merely a comma, a breath into the next life. This Holy Sonnet is a stunning portrait of his faith.

Another portrait, one more contemporary is by Dean Rader. He presents our transition as a reuniting. How welcome is an embrace, the meeting of child and parent after a long journey apart? Beautiful.

Alternate Self-Portrait 

by Dean Rader

One day

I will drift

into darkness

and know it

perhaps

the way a son

recognizes a mother

after he has returned

from many years

of travel

understanding

the new distance

is neither

beginning nor

end

only stillness

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean Rader. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

POM: April 24


Always a parent. The kinder are grown, gone, got lives of their own. Yet I will always be their momma. I am concerned if they are eating right, sleeping enough, and if they are  concerned about their cholesterol levels. This is why I so relate to this poem.

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand

—Robert Hershon

from Poetry Northwest, Volume XLI, No. 3, Autumn 2000
Poetry Daily, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Copyright 2001 by Robert Hershon.
All rights reserved.

POM: Yo–Shakespeare


I’m not aware of any other literary celebrity whose birth and death dates are the same day. That just Billy the Bard even more special, doesn’t it? This year is being touted as the Shakesyear, due to the span of 400 years  of celebrating his influence since his death in 1616. I certainly couldn’t let National Poetry Month slip by without celebrating Shakespeare on his birthday. Here is one of my favorite sonnets:

Sonnet 29 read by Matthew Macfayden

POM: April 22


I have fond memories of my father and boats.

Work

by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

I could tell they were father and son,
the air between them, slack as though
they hardly noticed one another.

The father sanded the gunwales,
the boy coiled the lines.
And I admired them there, each to his task

in the quiet of the long familiar.
The sawdust coated the father’s arms
like dusk coats grass in a field.

The boy worked next on the oarlocks
polishing the brass until it gleamed
as though he could harness the sun.

Who cares what they were thinking,
lucky in their lives
that the spin of the genetic wheel

slowed twice to a stop
and landed each of them here.

Copyright © 2015 by Sally Bliumis-Dunn.

image: morguefile/seabreeze

POM: April 21


Just what are the uses for poetry? I was hoping a sage, classic poet master like William Carlos Williams has the answer. After reading his poem I have more questions than answers.

 

The Uses of Poetry

William Carlos Williams, 18831963

I’ve fond anticipation of a day
O’erfilled with pure diversion presently,
For I must read a lady poesy
The while we glide by many a leafy bay,

Hid deep in rushes, where at random play
The glossy black winged May-flies, or whence flee
Hush-throated nestlings in alarm,
Whom we have idly frighted with our boat’s long sway.

For, lest o’ersaddened by such woes as spring
To rural peace from our meek onward trend,
What else more fit? We’ll draw the latch-string

And close the door of sense; then satiate wend,
On poesy’s transforming giant wing,
To worlds afar whose fruits all anguish mend.

Definitely a spot for posey Mayflies

image: morguefile/mzacha

POM: April 20


Carl Sandburg captures well how language is as fluid as a river. Rivers can shrivel up over time, and so can language. Poetry keep the languages of times, people, ideas, and civilizations from drying up.

Languages

Carl Sandburg (18781967)

There are no handles upon a language 
Whereby men take hold of it 
And mark it with signs for its remembrance. 
It is a river, this language, 
Once in a thousand years 
Breaking a new course 
Changing its way to the ocean. 
It is mountain effluvia 
Moving to valleys 
And from nation to nation 
Crossing borders and mixing. 
Languages die like rivers. 
Words wrapped round your tongue today 
And broken to shape of thought 
Between your teeth and lips speaking 
Now and today 
Shall be faded hieroglyphics 
Ten thousand years from now. 
Sing—and singing—remember 
Your song dies and changes 
And is not here to-morrow 
Any more than the wind 
Blowing ten thousand years ago.

POM: April 19


Walt Whitman. I now associate him with Robin Williams’ Dead Poets Society when he is coaxing Ethan Hawks’ character to create a poem about “Uncle Walt.” A “sweaty-toothed madman” is the description that rolled out. Walt Whitman is a bit of a madman. He wrote and rewrote Leaves of Grass throughout his career–sadly his new approach to poetry wasn’t readily embraced which is reflected in this poem.

I can relate to Walt and his statement about being open-minded to new ways of thinking. While his writing was not fully embraced in his time, Whitman is now considered one of America’s greatest poets.

 

morguefile image

Shut Not Your Doors to Me Proud Libraries

by Walt Whitman

 

Shut not your doors to me, proud libraries,
For that which was lacking among you all, yet needed most, I bring;
A book I have made for your dear sake, O soldiers,
And for you, O soul of man, and you, love of comrades;
The words of my book nothing, the life of it everything;
A book separate, not link’d with the rest, nor felt by the intellect;
But you will feel every word, O Libertad! arm’d Libertad!
It shall pass by the intellect to swim the sea, the air,
With joy with you, O soul of man.

POM: April 18


The Brownings provided one the most moving romances in literature. Robert writes to Elizabeth first as a fan, then as an admirer, and finally as confident and husband. Although older and ill, Elizabeth escapes the oppression of her father’s household and elopes with Robert to Italy, living out the remainder of her days in the bliss of her husband’s love. Okay, it probably wasn’t that perfect, but I do get a bit sentimental when I read poetry. I didn’t want to investigate this particular poem. I didn’t want to pop the bubble of how enduring love  remains through time by discovering he wasn’t looking for Elizabeth. I also wanted to believe she was perhaps just visiting friends, or had popped out for a gelato and would return. It would be too sad to think that she had passed away and he kept looking for her throughout their house. *sniff* Now and then mushy stuff is good to feast on.  Hope you appreciate R.B.’s poem as much I do.

 

Love in a Life

Robert Browning, 18121889

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew,—
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune—
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But ‘tis twilight, you see,—with such suits to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

image: pintrest

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