Monday, July 7, 2008

"Let lips do what hands do; They pray"

I thought about posting some kiss-based poetry on the Spill when Maddy suggested it as a topic, but the blog was moving really fast that week and I didn't want to slow it down, so I've saved it for now. The first is by a little-known (at least here in the UK: US residents?) poet called Edna St Vincent Millay, who was a very bohemian and free-living woman: the second is by Sir Thomas Wyatt, a courtier from Tudor times, a genuine Renaissance man. The poem may or may not be about Anne Boleyn. Hope you like them!

'What lips have kissed my lips, and where, and why'

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometimes they did put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she caught me in her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, Dear heart, how like you this?

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of foresaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since so kindely I am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

Thoughts, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

A propos of bugger all, I thought you might like to have a look at this website, about a close ally of music, dancing. I answered the online questionnair and was slightly perturbed to realise the site owner was publishing the whole thing. He seems lovely and welcomes contributions, so feel free to bug him with your own answer!


Proudfoot said...

"At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
Ethereal, flush’d, and like a throbbing star
Seen mid the sapphire heaven’s deep repose;
Into her dream he melted, as the rose
Blendeth its odour with the violet..."

Now, I bet they had a good snog at this point. The sort of long snog that makes your teeth feel squeaky clean afterwards. It's hard to describe a kiss, but you can lead a horse to water in the build up. I guess you have to read the whole of Keats' St Agnes Eve to get the full screenplay (and a very filmic poem it is too). Sorry to ramble so, tracyK, but this passage always reminds me of kissing, even though the act itself and slurpy noises are not described. These two have obviously got better breath than I do. Blendeth it's odour with the violet, indeed. Tshah!

Thanks for the Wyatt and Millay. I was reading both fairly recently looking for something romantic to put in the missus' anniversary card.(wonder if we have the same anthology but don't ask me to root it out & say what it is) I think I settled on something raunchier from ee cummings. Can't remember if I got lucky that night but that's marriage for you.

steenbeck said...

Uggh, just typed a bunch of stuff & it disappeared. fuckin non-mac. That part of Romeo & Juliet is a sonnet!! I'm such a geek, but I was very excited to learn that. While they're dancing there are 14 lines that form a shakespearian sonnet.

And I love Edna St. Vincent Millay, she's so brazen w/ her male & female lovers. Love this one...

Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release
or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.

steenbeck said...

OOh, forgot to say, tracy, I agree w/ fp, if you're too lazy to write a novel, or whatever, that would make a kick ass song, w/ the kitty litter and the best mates. Seriously, it's beautiful and ridiculously evocative.

Proudfoot said...

Or as Keats said:
"Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
Is— Love, forgive us! —cinders, ashes, dust;"
And they call him a Romantic Poet. Sounds like you need to pay the mortgage first.

TracyK said...

Proudfoot, I think we must have remarkably similar poetry tastes, interesting! That bit of The Eve is indeed gorgeous: love the way he crams sound, sensation, colour, taste and scent all into a few lines. The Romatics are a very peculiar bunch indeed: there's an excellent novel by Jude Morgan called Passion, and it's the lives of Shelley, Keats and Byron told through the eyes of their key women (so Byron gets two bites with Augusta and Caroline!), fascinating lives. Poetry was so much more rock'n'roll back then.

Steenbeck, it is indeed a sonnet and it's such a clever idea. R&J is on the SATs syllabus next year, so no doubt I'll be pig-sick of it in a year or two, but it's got great swathes of very chewy verse.

As for songwriting, I spent about 10 years sharing houses with and involved in relationships with musicians. NEVER again. Ever. Brrrr...I'm happy sticking to the marking, meetings and reportings!

FP said...

Enjoyed reading both of those. In fact if you have the time, could you look at the new theme of the week and tell us about any good poems you know about them? I know that's a tall order but I like poetry very much and just don't take the time to read beyond what I like which is basically Yeats. Yeats. Oh and some more Yeats.

TracyK said...

Ha, okay, will do! The Ballad Of reading Gaol is a bit long for the Spill though!