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I have been remiss in not celebrating (Inter) National Poetry Month, though my friend [livejournal.com profile] juno_magic has more than made up for my lack. Last year, I quoted some Shakespeare from memory. This year, I offer you a link to a cool poem I ran across in college and have never forgotten, about the power of poetry and words to draw us in. I've taught this a couple of times-- high school kids tend to like the humor. I give you Ishmael Reed's Beware: Do Not Read This Poem.
hobgoblinn: (Default)
Looks like I'm about to miss National Poetry Month. What should I share?

How my 10th and 12th grade English teacher, Willie Mae Burlage, (God rest her soul) told us that we should all memorize poems because someday we might be captured or imprisoned and pretty much stuck with whatever we'd furnished our little minds with?

How I found out some years later, how right she was? How the fragments I could pull forth both tortured and strengthened me at a very bad time in my life?

Nah. Here's something I can recite from memory (might miss a bit here and there, so you'll know I'm not cheating):

Now the hungry lion roars, and the wolf behowls the moon,
Whilst the heavy plowman snores, all with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow, whilst the screech owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe, in remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night when the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite in the churchway paths to glide
And we fairies that do run by the triple Hecate's team,
from the presence of the sun following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before, to sweep the dust behind the door.

[And a little later, the hobgoblin makes his last appearance:]

If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here, whilst these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream
Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend.
And as I am an honest Puck, if we have unearned luck,
now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,we shall make amends 'ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call. And so, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends,
and Robin shall restore amends.

(Will Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, V,I).
hobgoblinn: (Default)
I read a couple of fics by nwhepcat last night. I started with Double Vision, and moved on to its prequel, Dormant Magics. I think I had read both some time ago, but I saw they were prequels to Xander's Slayers, which I haven't read, and I wondered about the "Hand of Imhotep" references in DV. So I read them both.

And-- I ran across these bits of poetry by a poet I had never encountered: Mary Oliver. Beautiful stuff, and I absolutely see how someone in prison, trying to rebuild a life and redeem herself, would gravitate to such work. The miracle is not that Faith responded to the poetry, but that she ran across them in the first place.

I always love it when I find something so beautiful in so improbable a place. Also, with poetry, I think I experience it best in small doses. Quite unlike the way it's administered in college. You should have time to savor and be changed by a phrase here or there in a poem. Not plowing through All Wordsworth or something looking for some pattern that gives you an A on your term paper.

Yes, there's a Reason I'm now a computer programmer.

Anyway, I couldn't find the poem which contained these lines:

...looking
for death,
to eat it,
to make of it the miracle:
resurrection....


But I did find this one, and it spoke to me:


When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver
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