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Friday, November 12, 2010

Thomas Ernest Hulme: A New Poem ... Sort Of

Thomas Ernest Hulme
Thomas Ernest Hulme
I discovered good Mr. Hulme about the same time I really discovered poetry: not until I had to teach the freaking stuff (poetry, I mean) to my kids at SASA.  I did poetry in college, of course, but didn't really ever get it, must less enjoy it, and certainly I couldn't teach anyone how to write it!  In effort to learn a bunch about poetry and poets without having to do all the work (this was back when I was still lazy), I compiled a list of poets and assigned them to groups of students to study and present to the class.  One of them was T.E. Hulme, and I didn't know a thing more about him that one extremely short piece.

In a really great collection I picked up for a class I took my sophomore year at BYU, I read Hulme's two-line piece, "Image," which I quote here:

Old houses were scaffolding once
and workmen whistling.

The poem blew me away--one of the only poems to do so throughout my college education--and even more so later when considering its implications against the context of the poor city of Saginaw, Michigan.  I had no idea back then that he'd only written five others (which made the aforementioned assignment really frustrating for the young ladies he accepted the challenge), two of which I've never found, save in title. 

I've read and worship, in addition to "Image," the poems "Autumn," "Above the Dock," and "The Embankment," all of which can be found readily online.  There are two other titles, however, whose poetry have eluded me, especially since I can't afford the $160 The Collected Works of T.E. Hulme

Tonight, I found another:

Mana Aboda
Mana Aboda, whose bent form
The sky in arched circle is,
Seems ever for an unknown grief to mourn.
Yet on a day I heard her cry:
"I weary of the roses and the singing poets —
Josephs all, not tall enough to try."

I'm not going to take any time looking into the poem now, because I haven't had enough time to really absorb it (seriously, I only found this thirty minutes ago).  But I'm EXTREMELY, in case you couldn't already tell, excited about it, especially the interesting connection (though it may be entirely fallacious, but this is just off the top of my head) in the last line to the central idea of one of my favorite pieces, Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters: "Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man."  But that's enough!  I don't want to get ahead of myself.  I mean, for crying out loud, I don't even know what the words "mana aboda" refers to.  Ah, research!

When I figure this out and come up with a commentary on the poem, I'll be back with more!  (This is great!)

MORE ABOUT HULME: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/t-e-hulme

Finally, if anyone can find the last of the six poems, "Conversion," by my man, PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I CAN FIND IT! 


  1. I am close to an explosion. I've figured out the beautiful simplicity of "Mana Aboda" (with help from a Hulme scholar), and discovered the 6th, "Conversion," which I haven't quite figured out. Who knows if anyone cares, but this is very nearly a religious experience for me. MORE TOMORROW!

  2. Yes Yes yes yesyes yes I am so excited for more

    I still have all of the packets you gave us in 9th grade and oh my god i think i might print these out and add them to those packets.

    I've used these poems so often, and I've used The Embankment so many times for so many things. I've tried to write in that style and it never worked but I'm still trying! I also used that poem for a video that Tobin, Brian, etc., and I put together. Brian read the poem and we acted it out. It was short and sweet but was it ever SWEEEET.

  3. I would LOVE to see that video. Of all the poems, I've always been able to relate most closely to "The Embankment." What I love is how each of his six poems are, first, obviously written by the same person, and second, thematically completely different. I think I'm going to have to look at all six of them together, as well as individually at the two new ones.

    You'll love the 6th one, "Conversion." It's gorgeous. And I'll include the differences in the poetry and extra bits as published by Pound.

    This is so EXCITING!

  4. From CINDERS "A melancholy spirit, the mind like the great desert lifeless, and the sound of march music in the street, passes like a wave over the desert, unifies it, but then goes."


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