Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday - 5

I'm currently (belatedly) reading Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife (Bandwagon? Which bandwagon?). I'm also in the midst of writing a timey-wimey (to borrow the Tenth Doctor's phrase) Doctor Who story, and two days ago it was Robert Frost's birthday, thus my offering this week is Frost's

I Could Give All To Time

To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.

What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time's lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.

I could give all to Time except - except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.

This week's round up is at Cuentesitos

(Currently I would give my right arm for a trip in the TARDIS so I can catch up on this week's missing sleep - apparently my body decided to get me ready for the clocks moving forward to BST this weekend by depriving me of sleep this week ! Bah, humbug !)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Poetry Friday - 4

My long Easter weekend was going to be spent solely in writing a long-planned and lengthy story accompanied by Classic FM's annual "Hall of Fame" countdown, but alas work has intervened so I shall be working on another half-completed story. Nevertheless, I thought that I would share this poem by Howard Nemerov:


The cursive crawl, the squared-off characters
these by themselves delight, even without
a meaning, in a foreign language, in
Chinese, for instance, or when skaters curve
all day across the lake, scoring their white
records in ice. Being intelligible,
these winding ways with their audacities
and delicate hesitations, they become
miraculous, so intimately, out there
at the pen’s point or brush’s tip, do world
and spirit wed.

The full text of the poem is here.

When I write straight into a word processor, rather than longhand in a notebook, I find myself missing the physical act of writing and the way the words seem to flow through my hand and out of my pen. These lines of Nemerov's capture that fascination that I have with the physics of writing longhand, and I particularly like the comparison with skating.

This week's Poetry Friday round up is hosted over at Wild Rose Reader.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Match It for Pratchett Campaign

I've just found out, via a friend, that Terry Pratchett fans worldwide are trying to raise enough money to match his donation of $1000000 to Alzheimer's Research.

If you're interested in making a donation, however small, click on the button below.

Please note, if you're outside the UK, you have to click the "Don't have a postal code" link and then you'll get an alternate box for putting in an address - and tick the non-UK radio button as well.

Please, if you can spare a couple of dollars or pounds or whatever your local currency is to make a donation in honour of a marvellously talented man, do so. Thank you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Poetry Friday - 3

My Poetry Friday offering this week is by Alfred Tennyson:


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The poem was first published in "Poems" in 1842 and was written in the first few weeks after Tennyson learned of the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam. The Victorians tended to read this poem in a pretty straight forward manner but later critics have viewed it differently. One of the most commonly held critical views is that the poem is a dramatic representation of a man who has no faith in either the gods or in the necessity of preserving order in his kingdom and his own life.

However you read it, though, it possesses a certain melancholic music that lingers in the mind after you're finished.

This week's PF round up is by Jama Rattigan.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Poetry Friday - 2

It was the birthday this week of Edward Thomas, a quitessentially English poet. This is one of the many poems he wrote in the short period of poetic creativity that came upon him before he was killed in the First World War:

Lights Out

I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends,
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.

There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter and leave alone
I know not how.

The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way
And myself.

Thomas' was the first poetry by a FWW poet that I ever read, many many years ago: I was 16 and a friend recited from memory his poem But These Things Also Are Spring's, which impressed itself upon my brain that I sought out a copy of Thomas' poems later that same morning.

Today is the anniversary of the first publication in 1923 of Robert Frost's well-loved poem:

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Note that both men, who were very great friends for a few years before Thomas' death, wrote of woods and sleep.

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is over at The Simple and The Ordinary.