Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poetry blog

Cool poetry blog!

Poem of the Day. (The fastest way to find good stuff, I think, is to go to an author's name in the "Categories" sidebar.)


It was a little landscape, endless winters,
in which there dwelled, as if in ancient lindens,
sparrows and knives and friendship and leaves of treason

Adam Zagajewski, from "Elegy"
(translated by Clare Cavanagh)


One of the bloggers at "harriet"
the Poetry Foundation blog

gives us ten (eleven, really) fun facts about G M Hopkins.


The Penguin Book of the Sonnet
(a cento)

Our spirits grew as we went side by side
Listening to Schubert, grievous and sublime.
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
And signified the sureness of the soul.

I had forgot wide fields and clear brown streams;
Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill
To give us comfort through the lonely dark
Calm night, the everlasting and the same.

Fair as the moon and joyful as the light,
Your hands lay open in the long fresh grass.
I marked with flowers the minutes of my day:

One little noise of life remained -- I heard
The very shadow of an insect's wing
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


(draft of a Merton cento)

The stormy weeks have all gone home like drunken hunters.
Our minds are bleaker than the hall of mirrors.
The moonlight rings upon the ice as sudden as a footstep:
Her words come dressed as mourners
And tremble where some train runs, lost.
Come where the grieving rivers of the night
Will harp forever in the haunted temples.
The little voices of the rivers change,
And wind dies in the empty gate.

Somewhere, inside the wintry colonnade,
As delicate as frost, as sharp as glass,
God's glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight:
And on the holy hill
A shepherd scans the white accounting of the evening star.

O night of admiration, full of choirs!
O white, O modest cloister!
O land alive with miracles,
With veins of clear and frozen snow!
Now I will hear your voice at last
When the white stars talk together like sisters
And cannot go away
Until I plumb the shadows full of thunder.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jokey cento

This day winding down now
(a jokey cento, composed of lines floating about in the memory)

Unlove's the heavenless hell and homeless home
(Peaked margin of antiquity's delay)
And night is all a settlement of snow

Thou foster-child of silence and slow time
My love is dark as yours is fair
Benignly vested in humility
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak

Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Twine in a moon-blown shell
The whiles her foot she in my neck doth place
And winter's dregs made desolate
The sun-cracked thwarts, the oarlocks at their strings,
Rocks, lakes, caves, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death

Comes the cold volume of forgotten ghosts
Like Gieseking playing Scarlatti
But liquor is quicker

So, planing-heeled, I flew along my man
In such a jocund company
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky --
About suffering, they were never wrong
And left the vivid air signed with their honour

Rose-cheekt Laura, come;
Thou art divine, thou livest, as of old --
Author of light, revive my dying spright;

I die of thirst here at the fountain-side

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yet another cento

Yet another cento!

Not mine. This one's by John Ashbery. Here.

(And a list of sources for the lines from that cento.)

Split-screen version enabling one to see both the text of the cento and the list of sources at the same time.

In Evening Air

In Evening Air
(draft of a Roethke cento)

Under a southern wind,
Hidden in my own heart,
My lady laughs, delighting in what is.

A suddenness of trees
Turned by revolving air:
You will find no comfort here.
All waters waver, and all fires fail.

The dark heart of some ancient thing
And the sheen of ravens:
Flutter of wings and seeds quaking --
Such stretchings of the spirit make no sound
(I'm martyr to a motion not my own).

Once I transcended time
And came to a dark ravine --
Our small souls hid from their small agonies.

I receive! I have been received!
What speech abides?
How high is have?
The dew draws near
And loves the living ground.

What do they tell us, sound and silence?
The bushes and the stones danced on and on;
I walk as if my face would kiss the wind.

Without End

Without End
(draft of a Zagajewski cento)

Serpents in the vineyards slither softly.
Anything can happen.
What was ordinary isn't possible anymore.

Open wide the white fan of the window.
The cool wind interrogates the birds.
Children run across the flagstones.
Pale nights row noiselessly into the sky.

Youth dissolves
and a lark bathes in a puddle.
Through meadow and hedgerow, village and forest,
the weak blue flame of homeland wanders.

A fence. Chestnut trees. Bindweed. God.

Breathless autumn, racing, blue.
A tree on which a star sleeps.

:: :: :: :: ::

Addendum : The blogger at Enchiridion is having a cento contest!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tracy Chapman, 1988

Just because ...

What think we

What think we of this?

The key to the present situation, so far as a Catholic poetry is concerned, unlocks in turn a very serious paradox. The so-called renewal of the liturgy by Vatican Council II was preeminently an effort to bring to worship a much greater sense of the Mass itself through the participation of a laity officially designated as the People of God. But either we have failed to take note of some pervasively secularist forces at work in contemporary life, or the new liturgy itself has simply failed to inspire any further development of Catholic art. In a liturgy perhaps too conscientiously designed for a greater sense of community, almost the opposite effect has obtained -- that is, the nuclearization of the individual and consequently of the artist in isolation.

Thomas P. McDonnell, editor's introduction to Classic Catholic Poetry (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1988), p. 15