Archive for Poetry

The Summer Rain

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 20, 2016 by telescoper

And now the cordial clouds have shut all in, 
And gently swells the wind to say all’s well; 
The scattered drops are falling fast and thin, 
Some in the pool, some in the flower-bell. 

I am well drenched upon my bed of oats; 
But see that globe come rolling down its stem, 
Now like a lonely planet there it floats, 
And now it sinks into my garment’s hem. 

Drip drip the trees for all the country round, 
And richness rare distills from every bough; 
The wind alone it is makes every sound, 
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below. 

For shame the sun will never show himself, 
Who could not with his beams e’er melt me so; 
My dripping locks–they would become an elf, 
Who in a beaded coat does gayly go.

by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I Journeyed from University to University

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 14, 2016 by telescoper

I journeyed from university to university, and I saw everywhere the past rebuilt before the eyes of young men and young women — Egypt, Greece, Rome; language, architecture, laws –saw the earth and sky explained, and the habits of mind and the habits of body —

Everywhere chairs of this and that, largely endowed.

But nowhere saw I a chair of the human heart.

by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

August, by Dorothy Parker

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 13, 2016 by telescoper

When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart; 

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces’ pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by.

by Dorothy Parker (1893-1967).

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on August 6, 2016 by telescoper

The title of this poem by Ernest Dowson, Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam, can be translated from my half-remembered schoolboy Latin as something like “the brief span of Life forbids us from conceiving an enduring hope”. It’s a quotation from one of the Odes of Horace (Book I, Ode 4, line 15):

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

by Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)

Leaving Party

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , on July 20, 2016 by telescoper

As regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) will know, I’m about to leave my current job as Head of School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. Although I don’t actually finish here until the end of the month, there was a small gathering in the School this afternoon to celebrate the fact that I am leaving. Here is the cake:

Cake_leave

This was accompanied by Prosecco, opened in dangerously explosive fashion by Philip Harris, who will be taking over as Acting Head of School after my departure. As such he will be responsible for Health and Safety in the School. I hope he fills in a risk assessment before attempting to open any further bottles of bubbly! I got a lovely gift of a pair of champagne flutes, although I haven’t managed to play any music on them yet.

I’ve also been inundated with gifts by Dorothy Lamb, my Head of Schools Coordinator. Dorothy arranged a special treat for me this morning, in the form of a private screening (in the Attenborough Centre) of my favourite film, The Maltese Falcon. I’ve seen this film dozens of times on TV or on DVD but never in the cinema, so this was a very nice thought. Here’s a still from the movie, which reminds me for some reason of the Senior Management Group:

Maltese-Falcon-Tell-the-Truth-1941

At this afternoon’s cake and wine party, Dorothy also read out a poem what she wrote, which I reproduce here (including a preamble) in the hope that literary agents and talent-spotters might be reading this blog:

Those of you who read Peter’s blog will know that he regularly posts poems by Stevie Smith, Emily Dickinson, Wordsworth and others, plus occasionally his own work. The last time I wrote a poem was when I was about 8 years old and it was published in ‘The Brownie’ so I thought it fitting that, frighteningly, almost half a century on, I should pen another.

To Peter Coles, aged 53 and almost one sixth
Known for a passion for the cryptic,
Let’s hope his departure is not apocalyptic.
A northern gent in whom we trust,
An honest man, some say robust;
A wealth of knowledge, awesome talent
And, as a boss, sublime, transparent.
With Coltrane, Cohen and Humphrey Bogart
He is not backward in going forward.
With diphthongs, datives, gerunds and such
Though untrepanned, he’ll give the heads up.
A Newcastle lad up at Cambridge
Prosecco chilling in the fridge,
He truly does explain things clearly
Though I’m still ignorant of quantum theory.
He always seems to stay clear sighted
Except when it comes to Newcastle United.
A crossword never left unsolved,
An over never left unbowled,
The poems of the good and great,
The Miss Lemon drizzle cake he ate;
And every due respect he paid
To his trusted Midlands maid.
And so we say farewell to Peter,
Though this poem has the strangest meter,
Whilst lexicons fill every space,
An emptiness will take his place,
A smile of sadness on my face.

 

 

Emily Dickinson’s Desk

Posted in History, Poetry with tags , on July 15, 2016 by telescoper

Here’s a fascinating post about the poet Emily Dickinson. Apparently she wrote all her poems sitting at that little square table!

Malcolm Guite

Emily's desk Emily’s Desk

Whilst I was speaking at a CS Lewis conference in Amherst I had the opportunity to visit Emily Dickinson’s house, now beautifully preserved as the Emily Dickinson Museum. And so I came to stand in that ‘mighty room’ where all the poems were written, and there, plain and simple and strangely, paradoxically, small was her little desk: a small square writing table.  I was filled with wonder at how much had flowed from so small a space, but then I thought about Dickinson’s characteristically concentrated and terse verse forms; those compact and concentrated little quatrains with the emphatic dashes linking and yet binding in the energy of her phrases, and it seemed to me the smallness of the desk was itself part of the form of the poetry, part of her gift.

Anyway the whole experience stirred me on to this: (as always you can hear…

View original post 88 more words

How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on July 13, 2016 by telescoper

I.
I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
‘Good speed!’ cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
‘peed!’ echoed the wall to us galloping through;
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

II.
Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

III.
‘Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
At Dffeld,’twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So, Joris broke silence with, ‘Yet there is time!’

IV.
At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare thro’ the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each hutting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

V.
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye’s black intelligence,—ever that glance
O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

VI.
By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ‘Stay spur!
‘Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault’s not in her,
‘We’ll remember at Aix’—for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

VII.
So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
‘Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And ‘Gallop,’ gasped Joris, ‘for Aix is in sight!’

VIII.
‘How they’ll greet us!’—and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets’ rim.

IX.
Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

X.
And all I remember is—friends flocking round
As I sat with his head ‘twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent

by Robert Browning (1812-1889)

 

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