Friday, December 27, 2013

Poetry Friday: Clean Laundry, Finnish Art, and a Happy New Year!!!

First let me say Happy New Year to everyone. By the time next Friday drives up and honks outside my house, it will be 2014.

Today I am answering a Facebook call from Diane Mayr: "Let's fill Facebook with beautiful art." All I had to do was let Diane know I was interested, and she assigned an artist: Elin Kleopatra Danielson-Gambogi. ("Don't you love the name?" she asked. Yes, I do! And why have I never heard of this wonderful painter????) Danielson-Gambogi was Finnish, born in 1861, died in 1919.  Look her up online - she painted many quiet moments, many women. I love these three especially (and I'll toss a poem into the mix for that third one): 


On the Beach

In honor of Poetry Friday's last Friday of the year, here's a poem that converges with Danielson-Gambogi's lovely painting titled "A Sunny Day" (even though the painting is unseasonal for Seattle!): 

The Clothes Pin

How much better it is
to carry wood to the fire
than to moan about your life.
How much better
to throw the garbage
onto the compost, or to pin the clean
sheet on the line
with a gray-brown wooden clothes pin!
                                        - Jane Kenyon
Poetry Friday today is being hosted by Mary Lee Hahn, the woman who keeps Poetry Friday organized, over at A Year of Reading. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Poetry Friday: Paul Violi

This week over at BOOKS AROUND THE TABLE I talk about making lists, and I mention a poet named Paul Violi who wrote many list-poems. Here is one of them, a parody of Christopher Smart's poem, Jubilate Agno, especially the section written for his cat ("For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey/ For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean./ For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there./ For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended. / For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood./ For fifthly he washes himself. / For sixthly he rolls upon wash....") Violi has a lot of fun in his poetry (read his "Index" or "Triptych" to confirm this - BTW: That last title is a parody of TV Guide listings.)I know this is a slightly weird offering for Poetry Friday, but I wish more people read Violi. He takes some geting used to, and he takes a sense of humor.

For It Feels Like February 29th or 30th

Paul Violi

For we were made to reach for things.
For imagination extends life.
For our reach must exceed our grasp.
For in confinement imagination thrives.
For the Book of the Month Club selection
Has finally arrived.
For it is The Life of Jeffrey Hudson.
For it is a February Classic.
For a wondrous life he made.
For he flourished in confinement.
For he was a champion who scoffed at restriction.
For at age nine, though scarcely 18 inches tall,
He was gracefully proportioned.
For he was a page to Duke Edward.
For at a banquet he leaped out of a pie
Placed before Queen Henrietta Maria.
For she adopted him on the spot.
For he was made captain of cavalry.
For he was called Strenuous Jeffrey.
For he was tireless and heroic.
For firing from horseback
He killed his opponent in a duel.
For he was captured by Dunkirkers and imprisoned.
For upon his release
He was found to have grown taller.
For he was captured and imprisoned by Turkish pirates.
For by the time he was freed he had grown a foot taller.
For after the Restoration he was pensioned.
For as an accused conspirator in the Popish Plot
He was again imprisoned and again released.
For shortly thereafter he died
At the age of 63 at the height of 3 foot 9.

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Buffy at the appropriately named Buffy's Blog. Head over there to see what other people are sharing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Poetry Friday: Time for a bit of Walter De La Mare

From time to time, I find myself longing for a taste of Peacock Pie - one of my favorite books of poetry, written by Walter de la Mare. I've posted poems from it twice here at the Drift Record, both times for Poetry Friday, once last March and once way back in September of 2008. All I need to do, when I've pulled Peacock Pie down from the shelf, is find a couch, a blanket, a mug of cocoa, and have nothing in the world to do but enjoy the moment:

Dream Song

Sunlight, moonlight,
     Twilight, starlight---
Gloaming at the close of day,
     And an owl calling,
     Cool dews falling
In a wood of oak and may.

     Lantern-light, taper-light,
     Torchlight, no-light:
Darkness at the shut of day,
     And lions roaring,
     Their wrath pouring
In wild waste places far away.

     Elf-light, bat-light,
     Touchwood-light and toad-light,
And the sea a shimmering gloom of grey,
     And a small face smiling
     In a dream's beguiling
In a world of wonders far away.

                                 --Walter de la Mare

Not sure exactly why, but the effect this poem has on me resembles the experience of eating peppermint bark candy in December - maybe because both are just a little different from the normal sweet treat: they're sugary but they have some snap, they're layered - it's that crushed-candy-cane element, unexpected - and then there's white chocolate, dark chocolate, just sweet enough.
I know, that's a weird thing to say, but the two things - a Romantic Imagination and peppermint bark candy - converge.

Walter de la Mare 1873-1956
You can learn a little more about Walter de la Mare over at The Poetry Foundation and - who knew? - at The Official Walter de la Mare Society Website.
This week's Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts over at The Opposite of Indifference. Head over there to see what other people are posting.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Poetry Friday: Invictus

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

I just heard on the news tonight about Nelson Mandela's death. During his long incarceration in various South African prisons, he is said to have recited the following poem to fellow inmates in order to share its empowering "message of self-mastery."  So I wanted to share it with you, by way of remembering Mandela's long, long struggle against apartheid.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

                       -William Ernest Henley

Mandela's message of reconciliation (as opposed to revenge) is one that world leaders need to be listening to, I think.

If you haven't read J.M. Coetzee's The Life and Times of Michael K., be sure to do so - short, powerful and haunting, and a good beginning point for learning more about the devastating effects of institutionalized racism, imprisonment and civil war. 
Robyn Hood Black is hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up. Head over there to see what other people are sharing.