The poetry thread

I am aware that this thread might end up being an airball.

With that said, I am challenging myself to do a lot of things that I a) have either never done or b) haven’t done in quite some time. This thread falls in the “b” category.

I love poetry. I really feel at this time it would behoove me to reintroduce it into my life. If anyone else would like to share a poem, please feel free. I would love to learn more about it. Tonight I found a very intriguing poem by a woman named Mary Elizabeth Frye. I found it to be quite moving. Below it is the backstory, which is REALLY interesting!

Do not stand at my grave and weep
by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starshine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there; I did not die.

“This consoling elegy had a very mysterious genesis, as it was written by a Baltimore housewife who lacked a formal education, having been orphaned at age three. As far as we know, she had never written poetry before. Frye wrote the poem on a ripped-off piece of a brown grocery bag, in a burst of compassion for a Jewish girl who had fled the Holocaust only to receive news that her mother had died in Germany. The girl was weeping inconsolably because she couldn’t visit her mother’s grave. When the poem was named Britain’s most popular poem in a 1996 Bookworm poll, with more than 30,000 call-in votes despite not having been one of the critics’ nominations, an unlettered orphan girl had seemingly surpassed all England’s many cultured and degreed ivory towerists in the public’s estimation. Although the poem’s origin was disputed for some time (it had been attributed to Native American and other sources), Frye’s authorship was confirmed in 1998 after investigative research by Abigail Van Buren, the newspaper columnist better known as “Dear Abby.” The poem has also been called “I Am” due to its rather biblical repetitions of the phrase. Frye never formally published or copyrighted the poem, so we believe it is in the public domain and can be shared, although we recommend that it not be used for commercial purposes, since Frye never tried to profit from it herself.”

Thanks so much! That’s a lovely poem. I was not familiar with the backstory and I appreciate your passion.

I’ve always loved poetry although I haven’t read for years, I have always tried to commit poems that I think are important or personally moving to memory. I think it’s a good habit. I need to get back to some of those which have fallen aside…
This is one of the first ones I memorized probably when I was 18 years old and I think it’s particularly poignant for these dystrophic times. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst…”

THE SECOND COMMING

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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Oh yes. I love Yeats. He is definitely one of the greats. This is one of the great poems ever written, no doubt.

The only poems I know are about a guy from Nantucket.

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Unexpected on Ute fans but I’ll bite.

First one, there may be others depending on how this goes. This one is from Carl Dennis. He got a Pulitzer in 2001 for the book this one was in.

The God Who Loves You
BY CARL DENNIS
It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families—
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you’re living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.

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This is an all time favorite…

There’s a certain Slant of light

BY EMILY DICKINSON

There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons –

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –

We can find no scar,

But internal difference –

Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –

'Tis the seal Despair –

An imperial affliction

Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –

Shadows – hold their breath –

When it goes, 'tis like the Distance

On the look of Death –

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HA! I came to this thread solely to say we should probably ban you from it because you only knew dirty limericks.

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There once was a young lad from Kent…oh, never mind…

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Dude, it doesn’t even rhyme.

J/K. It’s cool like one of those mind bending sci-fi short stories.

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“ You think you’re so smart,
with your fancy little words,
this is not so hard.”

Sokka

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Jokes aside, I’ve always had a fondness for Poe. The rhythm he has in the bells and the raven is unmatched. Poe’s poems pwns Poe’s posers.

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Not to hijack this thread but I’ll always remember my English teacher my senior year of high school. His introduction at the beginning of class was something along the lines of, “I am not the type of teacher that you are going to come to with your problems. I’m not the type of teacher you are going to confide in or ask for life advice…”

He was right!

However, he was a deeply sarcastic man, so someone I enjoyed thoroughly. This was not true for many of his students, and he routinely got under student’s skins. Couple that with him being a tough teacher and it was a good formula for random classroom blow-ups. I was the last of five siblings who had all had him, so I had heard his legend and was prepared for his antics.

For example, one day he was writing something on the chalkboard with his back turned to the class. One frustrated kid named Cody who was kind of a problem anyway suddenly shouts out, “YOU SUCK MR GATES!” Mr Gates wheels around and looks at the nicest, most polite, best student in the class and says, “Why Jeremy! I’m shocked you’d say something like that! The other teachers always talk about what a good student you are, but I’m going to have to tell them about this!” Jeremy of course was very flustered and bumbled a denial he said it. Mr Gates seemingly undeterred said, “Oh, don’t try to deny it Jeremy…”

I’m still not sure to this day that Jeremy realized that Mr Gates was teasing him and defusing a weird situation and mostly just wanted to see the prized student who had never done anything wrong squirm. I have a son like Jeremy, Mr Gates would have teased him relentlessly.

Mr Gates also was from Central Utah, a fact he had carefully kept concealed from his students. We figured it out one day when we say him driving a giant pick up truck. Upon questioning him about his off character car he admitted he had inherited the car recently from a family member who still lived in Central Utah. But he loved to pretend he was from New York and even used a fake New York accent that we could never quite figure out. He would wear tweed jackets and turtlenecks, had a beatnick beard and frequently wore sunglasses in class.

This lengthy preamble is just to illustrate the man was a character to say the least.

As we began to learn about poetry he decided he would introduce us to the topic with a ‘special poetry reading’. So he gets up in front of the class and reads the “Touch of the Masters Hand” poem most of you are familiar with. At the end he clasped his chest and exclaimed, “Oh… wasn’t that NICE!” And then pretended to wipe a tear away from his eye. “I love poetry that takes the time to explain what it means at the end…” It was a good lesson in what makes bad poetry.

I haven’t been able to hear that poem since without cracking up. So… carry on, I just wanted you to know that I believe Mr Gates would find some humor in knowing I, of all people, had a sports message board with a thread devoted to poetry.

And for the record, I’m glad it is here.

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This is not quite the man from Nantucket, but it is a short poem I have found to fit appropriately into a conversation when dealing with a certain type of person.

The Bee

The bee he is a busy soul.
He does not know of birth control.
I guess that’s why in times as these,
there are so many sons of bees.

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Here is an old favorite of mine that I had memorized at one point in time. I can still quote parts of it.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

BY ROBERT W. SERVICE

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.

Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.

He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;

Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.

Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.

If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;

It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,

And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,

He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, "I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;

And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:

"It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.

Yet 'tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;

So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains."

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;

And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.

He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;

And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,

With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;

It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,

But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.

In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.

In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,

Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;

And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;

The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;

And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;

It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”

And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;

Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;

Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;

The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;

And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;

And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.

It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;

And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;

But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;

I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I’ll just take a peep inside.

I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked"; … then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;

And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.

It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—

Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

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My mother used to launch into this poem whenever she was in her cups.
Much hillarity ensued.
Brings back fond memories.

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“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

-John Keating

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A couple more from a Sufi poet, Rabia of Basra. She lived 717-801. When she was young her parents died and while living on the street, she got stolen and sold into slavery. She was bought by a brothel and was forced to work until she was 50. She was likely bought out by one of her John’s. Her poems are pretty remarkable considering the life she was forced to lead. Sex trafficking is horrible.


One Day

One day He did not leave after
Kissing
Me.


She became one of the most famous of Sufi mystics. Knowing that story, this is my favorite of hers.:


I Hope God Thinks Like That

There is a dog I sometimes take for a walk
and turn loose in a
field.

when I can’t give her that freedom
I feel in debt.

I hope God thinks like that and

is keeping track of all
the bliss He
owes
me.

Most of her stuff is mystical but these autobiographical pieces were pretty powerful.

There you have it. Sufi Islam, human trafficking and spiritual mysticism in a Utefans trifecta. I came for the NFL rookie reporting but I’ll take the poetry thread.

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That was awesome!

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@NewbombTurk…there once was a man from Rangoon…

#DrDirty #JohnValby

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quiet clean girls in gingham dresses

all I’ve ever known are whores, ex-prostitutes,
madwomen. I see men with quiet,
gentle women—I see them in the supermarkets,
I see them walking down the streets together,
I see them in their apartments: people at
peace, living together. I know that their
peace is only partial, but there is
peace, often hours and days of peace.

all I’ve ever known are pill freaks, alcoholics,
whores, ex-prostitutes, madwomen.

when one leaves
another arrives
worse than her predecessor.

I see so many men with quiet clean girls in
gingham dresses
girls with faces that are not wolverine or
predatory.

“don’t ever bring a whore around,” I tell my
few friends, “I’ll fall in love with her.”

“you couldn’t stand a good woman, Bukowski.”

I need a good woman. I need a good woman
more than I need this typewriter, more than
I need my automobile, more than I need
Mozart; I need a god woman so badly that I
can taste her in the air, I can feel her
at my fingertips, I can see sidewalks built
for her feet to walk upon,
I can see pillows for her head,
I can feel my waiting laughter,
I can see her petting a cat,
I can see her sleeping,
I can see her slippers on the floor.

I know that she exists
but where is she upon this earth
as the whores keep finding me?

charles bukowksi

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