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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Poetry XXXV -- Textbook Poetry 3.6

It’s been a while, so welcome back: to you, if you’re reading this; to me, because, honestly, that's who this is mostly for, right?  Is blogging not a selfish endeavor?  After all, I can’t manage to find my words or name in print anywhere else!  (Yeah, I'm whining.  Sorry.  Just got another rejection last week.  I'm running out of publishers to submit to.)

So, getting right back to it: we’re nearly done with the textbook poetry.  Why?  Because there’s only one poetry section left of An Approach to Literature, and if there’s an old textbook of mine we haven’t yet covered, I can’t and won’t be able to get to it for quite some time, as they’re all in boxes since I don’t have bookshelves anymore (sold them for the move), and I don’t exactly anticipate a fortuitous coming-into of both free bookshelves and space in which to set them up.  Considering we’re—or I’m, really—very nearly finished, how happy I was to see the first poem of section VI, then, no less, the next I found (after a bunch of British stuff like so much of all the British stuff I’ve ever read), and finally … well, that’s it, because the last five poems I already knew:

An Approach to Literature
Brooks, Purser, Warren

The Convergence of the Twain
Lines on the Loss of the Titanic
Thomas Hardy
      In a solitude of the sea
      Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

      Steel chambers, late the pyres
      Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

      Over the mirrors meant
      To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls – grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

      Jewels in joy designed
      To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

      Dim moon-eyed fishes near
      Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...

      Well: while was fashioning
      This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

      Prepared a sinister mate
      For her – so gaily great –
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

      And as the smart ship grew
      In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

      Alien they seemed to be;
      No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,

      Or sign that they were bent
      By paths coincident 
On being anon twin halves of one august event,

      Till the Spinner of the Years
      Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres. 

An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum
Stephen Spender
Far far from gusty waves these children's faces.
Like rootless weeds, the hair torn around their pallor.
The tall girl with her weighed-down head. The paper-
seeming boy, with rat's eyes. The stunted, unlucky heir
Of twisted bones, reciting a father's gnarled disease,
His lesson from his desk. At back of the dim class
One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream,
Of squirrel's game, in the tree room, other than this.

On sour cream walls, donations. Shakespeare's head,
Cloudless at dawn, civilized dome riding all cities.
Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley. Open-handed map
Awarding the world its world. And yet, for these
Children, these windows, not this world, are world,
Where all their future's painted with a fog,
A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky,
Far far from rivers, capes, and stars of words.

Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, and the map a bad example
With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal--
For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes
From fog to endless night? On their slag heap, these children
Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel
With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.
All of their time and space are foggy slum.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.

Unless, governor, teacher, inspector, visitor,
This map becomes their window and these windows
That shut upon their lives like catacombs,
Break O break open 'till they break the town
And show the children green fields and make their world
Run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues
Run naked into books, the white and green leaves open
History is theirs whose language is the sun.


  1. Good to have you back! As far as shelves, there aren't any closing Borders in/near Ada, are there? I believe when the one in Washington closed, they let people take the shelves if they could provide for the transportation of them. Just a possible thought.

    On the second poem, between this and Eco, I think that you could create an entire tag for entries that relate to fog. :)

  2. Also, a good CAPTCHA: "mixtrip"--a trip that combines business with pleasure/vacation

  3. I doubt there's a Borders within a hundred miles. Really.

    You know, I hadn't even noticed the fog until you mentioned it. Yeah, there's a bunch. Kind of over-done, really.

    And that's a great CAPTCHA.


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