Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Peotry is sissy stuff that rhymes"

Thus sa NigelMolesworth, curse of St Custards. However, being more of a Fotherington-Thomas sort, I love the stuff. Hullo clouds, hullo sky! Following a request from DebbyM, I've been thinking about a good poem to post. Someone else jogged my memory of this one by the fantastic e e cummings, so here it is.

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you quite so new

Here's my absolute favourite from him though: I have it stapled next to my whiteboard (not political correctness, the boards are actually white now) and when I have a stressful moment my eye can rest upon it and it gives me a lift. I can't get through reading it aloud without my voice breaking.especially the last line. The words are oblique, like most cummings, but you don't have to over-analyse it, let the words wash over you. Poetry should always be said outloud though. If we all have the temerity to sing along with music at our PCs (and we all do, right?), why not read them out. The sounds are everything.

somewhere i have never travelled
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens ; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands


Tempusfugit said...

Ahh, the beauty of poetry. I gree absolutely your points about poetry - it should be spoken/heard rather than read, and the reader shouldn't spend too much time trying to 'understand' everything. Merely revel in its sound and savour the obliqueness.

e.e. cummings is a great fave of mine. I used his poetry in class when I was doing teaching practice many years ago in Washington, County Durham. I've also used it often over the years for TEFL teaching. Its so deceptive, seeming simple yet packed with complexity, disarmingly profound.

I'll try and blog a couple of other fave poems when I've found them on poemhunter.com. I reckon everything is better if its got a bit of poetry in it somewhere. The 'Spill is no exception.

FP Molesworth said...

Chizzz! Chizz! Chizz! Who let Fotherington-Thomas(hullo clouds, hullo sky!) onto our blog? This is not criket. And Peason agrees with me. It's bad enuff letting gurls onto the internet without having poetry which is only for sissys. as any fule kno.

Proudfoot said...

Can't quite agree about poetry being read aloud. How would you read eecummings (punctuation optional) stuff with all the weird 'wrong' punctuation in it. Surely Blake's poems go with his engravings which are hard to read out loud. The visual effects of George Herbert? On the other hand yes, if it's Richard Burton....

TracyK said...

I have to agree on Blake. There's a dreadful poem of his in the GSCE Anthology, Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found, which I find very hard to read without sniggering through. There's something hopelessly naive about some of his poetry that it's almost painful. Having said that, I teach David Almond's Skellig (an extraordinary book: if you have bright kids of 10 or so, please buy them a copy. It covers evolution, ornithology, Blake and the home schooling debate with a wonderful does of obliqueness, kids always adore it) and I intersperse reading out loud with side detours into Blake. Tyger! and Jerusalem they love. The pictures weird them out, though I love them.
I don't worry about the 'wrong' pronunciation, but the rhythm is hard to ignore, punctuation or not. I sometimes make very bright year 11s annotate a blank copy of 'somewhere...' while I read it out loud. They are always cross that cummings left most of the punctuation out, but it does lead to healthy debate.
Sorry FPeason, my grate friend, but I was winer of the mrs joyful prize for rafia work...

ToffeeBoy said...

I've never been a great one for poetry, but Nigel Molesworth ... ah, that's a different matter. So here's my vote for the greatest poem ever written (aktualy its a skool song chiz chiz chiz):

Ho for bat Ho for ball
Ho for hockey and lax and all
miss dennis is strict,
miss hamilton fair
But miss peabody (gym) is both strict and tall

debbym said...

First of all, thanks very much TracyK for making time to post this (I was the one worried about poetry) - the reading aloud idea makes sense to me, and I'm definitely going to have a bash at it. I imagine that my daughter might like to listen to poetry for a change (she's mentally handicapped and cannot read herself - yet), so Charlie & Lola are going to find themselves relegated to a dark corner for a day or two while we try some stanzas for size.
To my utmost horror I had NEVER heard of Nigel Molesworth and had to google...

TracyK said...

Ah, but once found, never forgotten. Once you are a fan, you discover an awful lot of like-minded souls, identified only by the occasional chiz-chiz...
A good idea might be to find something strongly rhythmic for your daughter, maybe some of the ballads that actually do tell a story, like The Lady of Shallot or The Highwayman. Or Flannan Isle, or The Listeners, if she's not too easily spooked!

goneforeign said...

I think the Clancy Bros did a music version of 'The Highwayman'- a kid might enjoy that.

lukethedrifter said...

poems for young people can be tricky, there's definitely an anti-poetry thing in built in young boys. I found that the poem Timothy Winters (Roger McGough perhaps, I've forgotten) was a hit with boys. And there was one by Ogden Nash (possibly called When I Grow Old?) which made girls interested.

one of my adolescent faves, which I still love, and appeals to the eternal adolescent in me was John Wilmot's I Cannot Change, As Others Do, gloriously immature in some ways. It's essentially saying, 'hmph, if you don't love me anymore I wish I'd die, *then* you'd be sorry'. And Ozymandias, which I maintain is one of the most vivid and stirring sonnets I've ever read.

Tempusfugit said...

According to Wikipedia, Molesworth is quoted on music as saying,"I can only tell you that if you get the whole lot of minims crotchets and quavers mixed up together it is like an atomic xplosion cheers cheers cheers." (How to Be Topp). Pretty much on the money, I reckon.

Could the 'Spill engage the services of that most reputable partnership Molesworth, Dondle and Chizz should we have any trouble with the law?

Proudfoot said...

John Wilmot the Earl of Rochester should really not be read aloud in front of children. Try googling 'By all love's soft yet mighty powers'.Not the sort of thing I'd put in a Valentine's card, but Molesworth would probably approve.

Proudfoot said...

PS. One for the teachers.

The Lesson

Chaos ruled OK in the classroom
as bravely the teacher walked in
the nooligans ignored him
his voice was lost in the din

"The theme for today is violence
and homework will be set
I'm going to teach you a lesson
one that you'll never forget"

He picked on a boy who was shouting
and throttled him then and there
then garrotted the girl behind him
(the one with grotty hair)

Then sword in hand he hacked his way
between the chattering rows
"First come, first severed" he declared
"fingers, feet or toes"

He threw the sword at a latecomer
it struck with deadly aim
then pulling out a shotgun
he continued with his game

The first blast cleared the backrow
(where those who skive hang out)
they collapsed like rubber dinghies
when the plug's pulled out

"Please may I leave the room sir?"
a trembling vandal enquired
"Of course you may" said teacher
put the gun to his temple and fired

The Head popped a head round the doorway
to see why a din was being made
nodded understandingly
then tossed in a grenade

And when the ammo was well spent
with blood on every chair
Silence shuffled forward
with its hands up in the air

The teacher surveyed the carnage
the dying and the dead
He waggled a finger severely
"Now let that be a lesson" he said

TracyK said...

Ah, Roger McGough, one of my big heroes! I've met him, and was actually unable to speak, for the first time in my life. Tomothy Winters is by Charles Causley, he's little known outside teacher circles.

'Timothy Winters'

Timothy Winters comes to school
With eyes as wide as a football-pool,
Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters:
A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.

His belly is white, his neck is dark,
And his hair is an exclamation-mark.
His clothes are enough to scare a crow
And through his britches the blue winds blow.

When teacher talks he won't hear a word
And he shoots down dead the arithmetic-bird,
He licks the pattern off his plate
And he's not even heard of the Welfare State.

Timothy Winters has bloody feet
And he lives in a house on Suez Street,
He sleeps in a sack on the kithen floor
And they say there aren't boys like him anymore.

Old Man Winters likes his beer
And his missus ran off with a bombardier,
Grandma sits in the grate with a gin
And Timothy's dosed with an aspirin.

The welfare Worker lies awake
But the law's as tricky as a ten-foot snake,
So Timothy Winters drinks his cup
And slowly goes on growing up.

At Morning Prayers the Master helves
for children less fortunate than ourselves,
And the loudest response in the room is when
Timothy Winters roars "Amen!"

So come one angel, come on ten
Timothy Winters says "Amen
Amen amen amen amen."
Timothy Winters, Lord. Amen

Very sad.

goneforeign said...

I thought I was being so slick, I read 'Timothy' and in about the second verse I started reading it aloud, the cat on my lap looked worried. When I'd finished it I thought 'that sounded pretty good' so I stuck a mic in my iPod and did it again, this time for posterity. The dog barked so I started over. When it was done I thought, I'll have a first, the first verbal post on the Spill in honour of Ms. M.C.
So I loaded it into iTunes and checked it, 'twas good but it was in .wav format, so I ran it through both Sound Studio and Audacity to convert it to MP3, uploaded it to Podbean and thence over to our 'New Post' box, found a poetry pic to go with it and then posted it.
If you'd happened on it about 4.05pm you'd have seen it in all it's glory, I checked it and there was NO SOUND! Bloody thing, went back and re-checked everything but still, no sound.
So Ms. Maddy will have to make her entrance without the benefit of a resident poet illiterate.

treefrogdemon said...

Be careful what you read at funerals. I read Yeats' "He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven" at my mother's funeral, and now I can never read it again.

Blimpy said...

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

goneforeign said...

Here's one I've liked over the years, Keneth Fearing wrote it in 1935 at the height of the depression.

Dirge For the American Stock Market
by Kenneth Fearing.

1-2-3 was the number he played but today the number came 3-2-1;
Bought his Carbide at 30 and it went to 29; had the favorite at Bowie but
the track was slow ----
O executive type, would you like to drive a floating-power, knee-action, silk-
upholstered six? Wed a Hollywood star? Shoot the course in 58? Draw
to the ace, king, jack?
O fellow with a will who won't take no, watch out for three cigarettes on
the same, single match; O democratic voter born in August under Mars.
beware of liquidated rails----
Denoument to denouement, he took a personal pride in the certain, cer-
tain way he lived his own, private life,
But nevertheless, they shut off his gas; nevertheless, the bank foreclosed;
nevertheless, the landlord called; nevertheless the radio broke,
And twelve o'clock arrived just once too often,

Just the same he wore one gray tweed suit, bought one straw hat, drank one straight Scotch, walked one short step, took one long look, drew one deep breath,

Just one too many,
And WOW he died as WOW he lived,
Going WHOP to the office and BLOOIE home to sleep and BIFF got married
and BAM had children and OOF got fired,
ZOWIE did he live and ZOWIE did he die,
With who the hell are you at the corner of his casket, and where the
hell're we going on the right-hand silver knob, and who the hell cares
walking second from the end with an American Beauty wreath from why the hell not,
Very much missed by the circulation staff of the New York Evening Post;
deeply, deeply mourned by the B.M.T.
WHAM, Mr Roosevelt; POW, Sears Roebuck; AWK big dipper; BOP, summer rain;
BONG, Mr., Bong, Mr., bong, mr., bong.

TracyK said...

Glad that you liked Tomoty, Goneforeign, it's popular with kids, as is the very grim A Case Of Murder, by Vernon Scannell. Sorry about the debacle though!
And ah for Yeats and ooh for Larkin! The Whitsun Weddings is my absolute favourite, it's rammed with memorable lines, though far too long to post. I feel An Arundel Tomb coming on later this week!