Friday, June 27, 2008

Poetry Friday - 16

Yesterday saw the birthday of the late Laurie Lee, one of the few people ever to become a legend in his own lifetime - and one of the few people to make my hometown of Stroud famous. He's probably best known for his autobiographical Cider With Rosie, but he also wrote poetry such as this:

April Rise

If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.


Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is.

You can find the whole poem here.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at Biblio File.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Poetry Friday - 15

Last year Doctor Who gave me references to Shakespeare and Eliot (in "The Shakespeare Code" and "The Lazarus Experiment" respectively), this year (last week) it's given me Christina Rossetti, specifically the last four lines of this extract:

Goblin Market

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy."
Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger-tips.
"Lie close," Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"

"Midnight" was a brilliantly acted story: I consider David Tennant a genius (and I don't use that word lightly) but Lesley Sharp matched him in this episode. The plot was a bit meh, but the acting was fantastic, and the use of the lines from Rossetti was spot on.

Anyway, the poem can be read in its entirety here.

And this week's Poetry Friday round-up is at Semicolon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Poetry Friday - 14

It's been a slightly chaotic couple of weeks as I've recently started a second (part time) job (I need the cash, and this one let's me get out of the house !), so Poetry Friday slipped out of my schedule. However, I'm back this week to celebrate the birthday of one of Ireland's greatest poets, W B Yeats in 1865.

Yeats was Anglo-Irish, which means that his family belonged to the ruling minority class in Ireland, a Protestant upper class that still had strong ties to England, unlike the largely Catholic, and frequently disenfranchised, lower classes. But Yeats himself always felt a strong connection to Ireland and was particularly captivated by the landscape of County Sligo in NW Ireland, where his mother's relatives lived.

His father, John B Yeats, was a painter, and he moved the family to London when William was three. Yeats hated London and didn't do very well at school; he was half-blind in one eye and was generally far more interested in daydreaming than in learning to read. He always felt spiritually at home in Sligo and fortunately his family moved back to Ireland, to Howth on Dublin Bay, in 1880. In 1885 the Dublin University Review published Yeats' first two poems.

Yeats' first published volume of poetry, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889), brought to his door a young woman named Maud Gonne. His yearning for Maud and his inability to attain her haunted him for almost all his life. He proposed in 1891 and again in 1916, but was refused by Gonne on both occasions.

Yeats founded the National Literary Society and what would go on to become the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. J M Synge and Ezra Pound were close friends of Yeats, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923.

Here are three of his poems that I love:

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

I first fell in love with this poem when Anthony Hopkins' character recited it in the film version of 84 Charing Cross Road.

A Drinking Song

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Never give all the heart

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

Is it me, or are the last two lines just a little bit heart-breaking?

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at A Wrung Sponge