Saturday, December 26, 2009

Poetry meme UPDATED

Found at Inscapes (a blog that comes recommended by the sagacious William Luse), after clicking on the label "poetry."

UPDATE (12/28): I was just rereading the post from which I stole the meme below, and found this sentence:
Some of the most beautiful and moving poems I know are not “pretty”; they are harsh, maybe even dissonant, and treat ugly subjects, for example, “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owens, or Lawrence’s “Do Not Go Gentle.”

Yikes! Lawrence? Lawrence??

The ghost of Dylan Thomas, I'm sure, forgives the blogger!

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was .....

2. I was forced to memorize ..... in school and .....

3. I read/don't read poetry because .....

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is .....

5. I write/don't write poetry, but .....

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature .....

7. I find poetry .....

8. The last time I heard poetry .....

9. I think poetry is like .....

My answers:

1. The first poems were of course the songs I heard on AM radio before the age of three ("American Pie" and "A Horse with No Name" were particular favorites). Then, later: Beatles lyrics, and Robert Frost (age 11, just as I was beginning to write rhymes of my own).

2. Memorably, I was forced to memorize Poe's "Annabel Lee" in school. I was out of school when the assignment was given, to be done by the following day. So that following day I was in class, sweating bullets and frantically hoping the teacher wouldn't call on me before I had the chance to memorize the piece right then and there! In 30 minutes, I managed to memorize enough of the poem to earn a grade of 15 out of 20.

3. I read poetry because for me, it is almost the only kind of literature worth reading!

4. Favorite poems include Dylan Thomas's "Prologue"; Shakespeare's sonnet 18; Catullus's "Odi et amo" (I hate and I love); many poems by Cummings; Theodore Roethke's "I knew a woman, lovely in her bones"; Countee Cullen's "A Song of Praise"; "O Holy Night" in French (Minuit, chrétiens); and a hundred others.

5. I used to write poetry. Nowadays, I perpetrate a feeble kind of light verse every once in a blue moon.

6. See answer to #3!

7. I find poetry where it can be found, which is almost everywhere.

8. The last time I heard poetry was my own viva voce reading of A Child's Christmas In Wales last night. Prose poetry, but poetry nonetheless!

9. I think poetry is like nothing else in the world. (Oh, what am I supposed to say?) I think poetry is loads of fun. And more, I think poetry is necessary, at least for me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

José Garcia Villa

Bring the pigeons watermelons, Abelard.
The order has cool philosophic purity.
This is not largesse but Roman nobility.

Bring the peacocks oranges.
Turn the philosophy to sensuousness.
Pallas Athene is Greek thereby.

But if we bring the watermelons pigeons?
If we bring the oranges peacocks?
Is that very difficult?

This would not be Greek nor Roman,
This would be purity without philosophy.
This would be artistry.

José Garcia Villa, poem #34, in Doveglion: Collected Poems, ed. John Edwin Cowen, intro. Luis H. Francia (Penguin Books, 2008), pp. 21-22.


This Christmas evening, it's probably a good idea to pray for the peace of mind of the troubled woman who ran at the Holy Father as the late-night Christmas Mass began, and for the healing of Cardinal Etchegaray who broke a bone (his hip, was it?) during the confusion.


by Dr. Eric Milner-White (1884-1963)

What is man that thou visitest him,
      and the son of man that thou so regardest him?

LORD, let me kneel before thy miracle
      -- an infant in a stable
            on a human mother's breast,
      from all eternity thine only begotten Son,
            thy Word from before beginning,
      God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God,
            of his own choice, of thine own purpose,
                  made mortal man.

What is man that thou visitest him,
      and the son of man that thou so regardest him?

O CHRIST, let me kneel before the wonder of thy Glory
            thus made manifest to all flesh;
      to be made one with thy lowliness,
                  one with thine obedience,
                  one with thy majesty of love,
      in a union, that by thy grace
                  shall know no divorce
                      unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Eric Milner-White, My God, My Glory : Aspirations, Acts, and Prayers on the Desire for God, ed. Joyce Huggett (London : Triangle/SPCK, 1994), p. 57

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O come, all ye faithful ...

Adeste, fideles,
laeti triumphantes,
venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte regem angelorum!
Venite adoremus Dominum!

En, grege relicto,
humiles ad cunas
vocati pastores approperant :
et nos ovanti gradu festinemus!
Venite adoremus Dominum!

A kid's answer to a Santa question

This was on the news around here. A reporter was asking little kids questions about jolly old St. Nick, and one of the questions was, "How fast does Santa's sleigh fly?"

A girl of about six came up with the best answer. She thought about it and said, "Ten seconds per second."

Christmas Eve

A meditation by the distinguished 20th-century Anglican churchman Eric Milner-White.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On a happier note!

Enbrethiliel gives us a characteristically cheery post for her Sacerdotal Sunday: about the Curé of Ars; about "sin detection" and running shoes; about smiling at the thought of returning to dust, and other good things.

And yes, on Ash Wednesday, I wish I could hear the priest say to me, in "sexist" iambic Elizabethan: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."