The Poetry Thread

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Black Leaf

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Let's get some culture in this Pub! A thread from all your favourite poems, from Virgil to Pam Ayres

Take Them Fuckin' Sunglasses Off

Take them fuckin sunglasses off
The sun’s outside you tool
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
You’re confusing cunt with cool
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
Surely you can’t see
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
You’re not Lennie from Peters & Lee
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
It’s a look we all deplore
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
Lose those delusions of grandeur
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
Them shades are a shameful blunder
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
You’re not Roy Orbison or Stevie Wonder
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
Your room is dimly lit
Take them fuckin sunglasses off
It’s dark in there you tit

© JB Barrington 2015 © words escape me 2015

("You're confusing cunt with cool" is officially one of my go to insults now)
 

Nobby-W

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This is a mocking poem I composed once for a Pendragon game -

There was a bold knight named Sir Lancelot.
And with the kings's wife he did dance a lot.
She spoke in his ear,
I do like you best dear,
When you skillfully wield your lance a lot.
 

Voros

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It was from Louis Simpson's translations of modern French poetry where I discovered the great Surrealist poet Robert Desnos.

He was arrested by the Gestapo for writing anti-fascist poetry and died in the camps from typhoid soon after the Liberation. He also wrote journalism, novels and film scripts, his letters to his wife from the camps after the Liberation are tremendously moving as well.


Identity of Images
Robert Desnos - 1900-1945


I am fighting furiously with animals and bottles
In a short time perhaps ten hours have passed one
after another
The beautiful swimmer who was afraid of coral wakes
this morning
Coral crowned with holly knocks on her door
Ah! coal again always coal
I conjure you coal tutelary genius of dreams and my
solitude let me let me speak again of the beautiful
swimmer who was afraid of coral
No longer tyrannize this seductive subject of my
dreams
The beautiful swimmer was reposing in a bed of lace
and birds
The clothes on a chair at the foot of the bed were
illuminated by gleams the last gleams of coal
The one that had come from the depths of the sky and
earth and sea was proud of its coral beak and great
wings of crape
All night long it had followed divergent funerals toward
suburban cemeteries
It had been to embassy balls marked white satin gowns with
its imprint a fern leaf
It had risen terribly before ships and the ships had not
returned
Now crouched in the chimney it was watching for the
waking of foam and singing of kettles
Its resounding step had disturbed the silence of nights
in streets with sonorous pavements
Sonorous coal coal master of dreams coal
Ah tell me where is that beautiful swimmer the swimmer
who was afraid of coral?
But the swimmer herself has gone back to sleep
And I remain face to face with the fire and shall remain
through the night interrogating the coal with wings of
darkness that persists in projecting on my monotonous
road the shadow of its smoke and the terrible
reflections of its embers
Sonorous coal coal pitiless coal


Identité des images
Je me bats avec fureur contre des animaux et des bouteilles
Depuis peu de temps peut-être dix heures sont
passées l'une après l'autre
La belle nageuse qui avait peur du corail ce matin s'éveille
Le corail couronné de houx frappe à sa porte
Ah! encore le charbon toujours le charbon
Je t'en conjure charbon génie tutélaire du rêve et da ma
solitude laisse-moi laisse-moi parler encore de la
belle nageuse qui avait peur du corail
Ne tyrannise plus ce séduisant sujet de mes rêves
La belle nageuse reposait dans un lit de dentelles et d'oiseaux
Les vêtements sur une chaise au pied du lit étaient
illuminés par les lueurs les dernières lueurs du charbon
Celui-ci venu des profondeurs du ciel de la terre et
de la mer était fier de son bec de corail et de ses
grandes ailes de crêpe
Il avait toute la nuit suivi des enterrements
divergents vers des cimetières suburbains
Il avait assisté à des bals dans les ambassades
marqué de son empreinte une feuille de fougère
des robes de satin blanc
It s'était dressé terrible à l'avant des navires et les
navires n'étaient pas revenus
Maintenant tapi dans la cheminée il guettait le
réveil de l'écume et le chant des bouilloires
Son pas retentissant avait troublé le silence des
nuits dans les rues aux pavés sonores
Charbon sonore charbon maître du rêve charbon
Ah dis-moi où est-elle cette belle nageuse cette
nageuse qui avait peur du corail?
Mais la nageuse elle-même s'est rendormie
Et je reste face à face avec le feu et je resterai
la nuit durant à interroger le charbon aux ailes
de ténèbres qui persiste à projeter sur mon
chemin monotone l'ombre de ses fumées et le
reflet terrible de ses braises
Charbon sonore charbon impitoyable charbon.

Translation from Modern Poets of France: A Bilingual Anthology, edited and translated by Louis Simpson, published by Story Line Press, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Louis Simpson.
 
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Voros

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Witness the genius of Mark E. Smith one of the true poets of rock n' roll (we need a book of lyrics damn it).

Spectre Vs. Rector
The Fall

MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)

MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Van Greenway (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)

Part one: spectre versus rector
The rector lived in Hampshire
The spectre was from Chorazina
Inevil dust in the air
The rector locked his doors

Part two: detective drives through Hampshire
Stops because of the fog there
And thinks a visit to the rector
And meanwhile and meanwhile

Spectre possesses rector
Rector becomes spectre
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
Enter inspector
Even as he spoke a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him

Part four: detective versus rector
Detective versus rector possessed by spectre
Spectre blows him against the wall
Says "Die latin this is your fall
I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin my hate is crisp
I'll rip your fat body to pieces

MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Van Greenway (blah blab)

Scene five, scene five
Comes a hero
Soul possessed a thousand times
Only he could rescue rector
Only he could save inspector
And this hero was a strange man
"Those flowers, take them away" he said
"They're only funeral decorations
And oh this is a drudge nation
A nation of no imagination
A stupid man is their ideal
They shun me and think me unclean
Unclean"

I have saved a thousand souls
They cannot even save their own
I'm soaked in blood but always good
It's like I drunk myself sober
I get better as I get older

MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Van Greenway (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)

Part six:
That was his kick from life
That's how he pads out his life
Selling his soul to the devil
And the spectre enters hero
But the possession is ineffectual
But the possession is ineffectual
And the possession is ineffectual

And MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Van Greenway (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
I said Sludge hai choi (blah blah)

Last scene:
Hero and inspector walk from the scene
Is the spectre banished forever?
The inspector is half insane
The hero runs back into the mountains
The hero goes back into the mountains
He was an exorcist but he was exhausted
An exorcist but he was exhausted
He racked on his bed all night long

MR James be born be born
Yog Sothoth rape me lord
Van Greenway (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)
Sludge hai choi (blah blah)

(chorus ad lib)
 
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Lofgeornost

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A few weeks ago, I saw a crescent moon with strong earthshine on the rest of its face. It put me in mind of "Sir Patrick Spens," no. 58 of the Child Ballads. This is a modernized (and Anglicized) text, with a few Scots phrases where necessary for rhyme words:

The king sits in Dumferline town,
Drinking the blood-red wine:
‘O where will I get good sailor,
To sail this ship of mine?’

Up and spake an eldern knight,
Sat at the king’s right knee:
‘Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor
That sails upon the sea.’

The king has written a broad letter,
And signed it with his hand,
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
Was walking on the sand.

The first line that Sir Patrick read,
A loud laugh laughéd he;
The next line that Sir Patrick read,
The tear blinded his ee.

‘O who is this has done this deed,
This ill deed done to me,
To send me out this time o’ the year,
To sail upon the sea!'

'Make haste, make haste, my merry men all,
Our good ship sails the morn:’
‘O say not so, my master dear,
For I fear a deadly storm.'

'Late, late yester-e’en I saw the new moon,
With the old moon in her arm,
And I fear, I fear, my dear master,
That we will come to harm.’

O our Scots nobles were right loathe
To wet their cork-heeled schoon;
But long ere all the play were played,
Their hats they swam aboon.

O long, long may their ladies sit,
With their fans into their hand,
Or ere they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the land.

O long, long may the ladies stand,
With their gold combs in their hair,
Waiting for their own dear lords
For they’ll see them na mair.

Half o’er, half o’er to Aberdour,
It’s fifty fathom deep,
And there lies good Sir Patrick Spens,
With the Scots lords at his feet.
 

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Put Hannibal in the scales: how many pounds will that peerless
General mark up today? This is the man for whom Africa
Was too small a continent, though it stretched from the surf-beaten
Ocean shores of Morocco east to the stormy Nile,
To tribal Ethiopia, and new elephants’ habitats.
Now Spain swells his empire, now he surmounts
The Pyrenees. Nature sets in his path
High Alpine passes, blizzards of snow: but he splits
The very rocks asunder, moves mountains with vinegar.
Now Italy is his, yet still he forces on:
‘We have accomplished nothing,’ he cries,’ till we have stormed
The gates of Rome, till our Carthaginian standard
Is set in the City’s heart.’ A fine sight it must have been,
Fit subject for caricature — the one-eyed commander
Perched on his monstrous beast! Alas, alas for glory,
What an end was here: the defeat, the ignominious
Headlong flight into exile, everyone gawping at
The once-mighty Hannibal turned humble hanger-on,
Sitting outside the door of a petty Eastern despot
Till His Majesty deign to wake. No sword, no spear,
No battle-flung stone was to snuff the fiery spirit
That once had wrecked a world: those crushing defeats,
Those rivers of spilt blood were all wiped out by a
Ring, a poisoned ring. On, on, you madman, drive
Over your savage Alps, to thrill young schoolboys
And supply a theme for speech-day recitations!

Juvenal, Satires X, translated by Peter Green
 

Voros

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I think the Vietnamese American poet Ocean Vuong is quite remarkable. One of the major poets in English for this generation.


Aubade with Burning City
BY OCEAN VUONG

South Vietnam, April 29, 1975: Armed Forces Radio played Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as a code to begin Operation Frequent Wind, the ultimate evacuation of American civilians and Vietnamese refugees by helicopter during the fall of Saigon.


Milkflower petals on the street
like pieces of a girl’s dress.

May your days be merry and bright...

He fills a teacup with champagne, brings it to her lips.
Open, he says.
She opens.
Outside, a soldier spits out
his cigarette as footsteps
fill the square like stones fallen from the sky. May all
your Christmases be white
as the traffic guard
unstraps his holster.

His hand running the hem
of  her white dress.
His black eyes.
Her black hair.
A single candle.
Their shadows: two wicks.

A military truck speeds through the intersection, the sound of children
shrieking inside. A bicycle hurled
through a store window. When the dust rises, a black dog
lies in the road, panting. Its hind legs
crushed into the shine
of a white Christmas.

On the nightstand, a sprig of magnolia expands like a secret heard
for the first time.

The treetops glisten and children listen, the chief of police
facedown in a pool of Coca-Cola.
A palm-sized photo of his father soaking
beside his left ear.

The song moving through the city like a widow.
A white ...    A white ...    I’m dreaming of a curtain of snow

falling from her shoulders.

Snow crackling against the window. Snow shredded

with gunfire. Red sky.
Snow on the tanks rolling over the city walls.
A helicopter lifting the living just out of reach.

The city so white it is ready for ink.

The radio saying run run run.
Milkflower petals on a black dog
like pieces of a girl’s dress.

May your days be merry and bright. She is saying
something neither of them can hear. The hotel rocks
beneath them. The bed a field of ice
cracking.

Don’t worry, he says, as the first bomb brightens
their faces, my brothers have won the war
and tomorrow
 ...    
The lights go out.

I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming ...    
to hear sleigh bells in the snow ...    

In the square below: a nun, on fire,
runs silently toward her god — 

Open, he says.
She opens.


Source: Poetry (February 2014)
 

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The LotFP Rome 1560 thread has put me in mind of Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess":

Ferrara

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
 

Voros

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I liked a term someone in the recent (quite good, unlike his terrible doc on Jazz) Ken Burn's documentary used to describe Hank Williams: The Hillbilly Shakespeare.

I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry
Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die?
That means he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry
The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry


Songwriters: Hank Williams Sr.
I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry lyrics © Sony/atv Acuff Rose Music
 
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Voros

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Sonny Boy Williamson is my favourite blues songwriter and that's saying something when you consider how many great songwriters there were in the genre.

His songs are full of wry humour, ironic understatement, shifts in diction and poetic wordplay.

Don't Start Me Talkin'
Sonny Boy Williamson

Well, I'm goin' down to Rosie's, stop at Fannie Mae's
Gonna tell Fannie what I heard, her boyfriend say

Don't start me to talkin', I'll tell her everything I know
I'm gonna break up this signifyin', 'cause somebody's got to go

Jack give his wife two dollars, go downtown and get some margarine
Gets out on the streets, ol' George stopped her
He knocked her down, and blackened her eye
She gets back home, tell her husband a lie

Don't start me to talkin, I'll tell everything I know
I'm gonna break up this signifyin', somebody's got to go

She borrowed some money, go to the beauty shop
Jim honked his horn, she begin to stop
She said, take me, baby, around the block
I'm goin to the beauty shop, where I can get my hair sock

Don't start me to talkin', I'll tell everything I know
Well, to break up this signifyin', somebody's got to go
 
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Voros

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How did some self-described 'couple of corndogs from San Pedro' end up being some of the best lyric writers in rock history?

The day D. Boon died is the rock equivalent of the day Rimbaud abandoned poetry at 21 to become a gun merchant.

My Heart and The Real World
The Minutemen

And so my soul collapsed into a big guilt wad
Some big thunder law forces me to eat shit
And if I was a word could my letters number a hundred?
More likely coarse and guttural one syllable anglo saxon

I'm a victim of fact let's say I loved a girl
But the world was wrong and I was forced to march in line
But it felt like handcuffs
Machines disregard my pronouns
I am defeated
I am a cool damp clay
 

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And for the last one tonight, my favourite lyric in jazz. The single greatest performance of this song is on the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane album (course the whole album is a masterpiece too).

Lush Life
Billy Strayhorn

I used to visit all the very gay places
Those come what may places
Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life
To get the feel of life
From jazz and cocktails.

The girls I knew had sad and sullen gray faces
With distant gay traces
That used to be there you could see where they'd been washed away
By too many through the day
Twelve o'clock tales.

Then you came along with your siren of song
To tempt me to madness!
I thought for a while that your poignant smile was tinged with the sadness
Of a great love for me.

Ah yes! I was wrong
Again,
I was wrong.

Life is lonely again,
And only last year everything seemed so sure.
Now life is awful again,
A troughful of hearts could only be a bore.
A week in Paris will ease the bite of it,
All I care is to smile in spite of it.

I'll forget you, I will
While yet you are still burning inside my brain.
Romance is mush,
Stifling those who strive.
I'll live a lush life in some small dive
And there I'll be, while I rot
With the rest of those whose lives are lonely, too
 

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I liked a term someone in the recent (quite good, unlike his terrible doc on Jazz) Ken Burn's documentary used to describe Hank Williams: The Hillbilly Shakespeare.

I really enjoyed that documentary, though I've not seen all the parts of it. Here is another lyric from a song featured in it, Towne Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty":

Living on the road my friend,
Was gonna keep you free and clean
And now you wear your skin like iron,
And your breath as hard as kerosene

You weren't your mama's only boy,
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye,
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boy,
His horse was fast as polished steel
He wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel

Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico,
Nobody heard his dying words,
Ah but that's the way it goes

All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose

Lefty, he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth

The day they laid poor Pancho low,
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go,
There ain't nobody knows

All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell,
And Lefty's living in cheap hotels
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold,
And so the story ends we're told

Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He only did what he had to do,
And now he's growing old

All the Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him go so long
Out of kindness, I suppose

A few gray Federales say
We could have had him any day
We only let him go so long
Out of kindness, I suppose
 

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The advent of cold weather has me thinking about Stan Rogers' song "Canol Road":

Well you could see it in his eyes as they strained against the night
And the bone-white-knuckled grip upon the road
Sixty-five miles into town, and a winter’s thirst to drown
A winter still with two months left to go

His eyes are too far open, his grin too hard and sore
His shoulders too far high to bring relief
But the Kopper King is hot, even if the band is not
And it sure beats shooting whiskey-jacks and trees

Then he laughs and says “It didn’t get me this time, not tonight
I wasn’t screaming when I hit the door.”
But his hands on the tabletop, will their shaking never stop
Those hands sweep the bottles to the floor

Now he’s a bear in a blood-red mackinaw with hungry dogs at bay
And springtime thunder in his sudden roar
With one wrong word he burns, and the table’s overturned
When he’s finished there’s a dead man on the floor

Well they watched for him in Carmacks, Haines, and Carcross
With Teslin blocked there’s nowhere else to go
But he hit the four-wheel-drive in Johnson’s Crossing
Now he’s thirty-eight miles up the Canol road
He’s thirty-eight miles up the Canol road
In the Salmon Range at forty-eight below

Well it’s God’s own neon green above the mountains here tonight
Throwing brittle coloured shadows on the snow
It’s four more hours til dawn, and the gas is almost gone
And that bitter Yukon wind begins to blow

Now you can see it in his eyes as they glitter in the light
And the bone-white rime of frost around his brow
Too late the dawn has come, that Yukon winter has won
And he’s got his cure for cabin fever now

Well they watched for him in Carmacks, Haines, and Carcross
With Teslin blocked there’s nowhere else to go
But they hit the four-wheel-drive in Johnson’s Crossing
Found him thirty-eight miles up the Canol road
They found him thirty-eight miles up the Canol road
In the Salmon Range at forty-eight below
They found him thirty-eight miles up the Canol road
 

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How about some François Villon:

The Ballade of Fat Margot (The Testament, lines 1591-1627)

Because I love and serve this beauty gladly,
you must think I’m blind or completely mad
but she has charms to please the finest palate;
for love of her I’d strap on shield and dirk.
When the men arrive, I hop and fetch a pot;
I get the wine without a lot of racket,
I bring them bread and water, cheese and fruit,
and if they pay well I call out “Bene stat!
and come again, next time you’re in rut,
to this old whorehouse where we hold court.”

From time to time, there’s an epic clash,
when Margot comes to bed with no cash:
I can’t even look at her, I hate her to death,
I snatch up her dress, her surcote and belt,
and swear to her I’ll pawn them for my cut.
Hands on her hips, that little Antichrist wheezes
and howls and swears by the death of Jesus
that I’ll do no such thing. So I grab up a plank
and write a blunt reply across her nose,
in this old whorehouse where we hold court.

Then we make up and she cracks a huge fart
(no toxic beetle ever puffed worse)
and, laughing, hammers her fist on my crown.
“Go! Go!” she calls, with a slap on my rump.
Then, both of us drunk, we sleep like a log.
And when we wake, with her belly rumbling,
she’s not about to waste her fruit: she climbs right on
and I just lie there, squashed flatter than a board.
Her lechery will be the death of me
in this old whorehouse where we hold court.

Come wind, hail, or ice, my bread is baked.
I’m a dirty old man and a slut’s what suits me.
Which one is worse? We’re a match,
like unto like: bad rat, bad cat.
Filth is our calling and boy does it call us;
Virtue runs when it sees us, and we run from it,
in this old whorehouse where we hold court.

From François Villon, Poems, trans. by David Georgi
 

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Some Yeats for the season:

The Magi

Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.
 

Voros

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I'm not really a believer (but I can't say I'm not a believer) but I do love a good gospel tune. This one, written by Tom Waits for Johnny Cash, is one of the best.

Down There By The Train
(Johnny Cash version, 1994)

There's a place I know, where the train goes slow
Where the sinner can be washed in the blood of the lamb
There's a river by the trestle down by Sinner's Grove
Down where the Willow and the Dogwood grow

You can hear the whistle, you can hear the bell
From the halls of heaven to the gates of hell
And there's room for the foresaken if you're there on time
You'll be washed of all your sins and all of your crimes

If you're down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there where the train
goes slow

There's a golden moon that shines up through the mist
And I know that your name can be on that list
There's no eye for an eye, there's no tooth for a tooth
I saw Judas Iscariot carrying John Wilkes Booth

He was down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
He was down there where the train
goes slow

If you've lost all your hope, if you've lost all your faith
I know you can be cared for and I know you can be safe
And all the shameful and all of the whores
And even the soldier who pierced the heart of the lord

Was down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there where the train
goes slow

Well, I've never asked forgiveness and I've never said a prayer
Never given of myself, never truly cared
I've left the ones who loved me and I'm still raising Cain
I'm taking the low road and if you've done the same

Meet me down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there where the train
goes slow

Meet me down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there by the train
Down there where the train
goes slow

Written by: Tom Waits (performed by Johnny Cash)
© 1994
 

Voros

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Course Cash is no slouch as a songwriter, this is one of my favourites. Great diction.

Drive On
By Johnny Cash

I got a friend named Whiskey Sam
He was my boonierat buddy for a year in Nam
He said is my country just a little off track
Took 'em twenty-five years to welcome me back
But, it's better than not coming back at all
Many a good man
I saw fall And even now,
every time I dream I hear the men
and the monkeys in the jungle scream

Drive on, don't mean nothin'
My children love me, but they don't understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don't mean nothin', drive on

I remember one night,
Tex and me Rappelled in on a hot L.Z.
We had our 16's on rock and roll
But, with all that fire,
was scared and cold
We were crazy, we were wild
And I have seen the tiger smile
I spit in a bamboo viper's face
And I'd be dead, but by God's grace

Drive on, don't mean nothin'
My children love me, but they don't understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don't mean nothin', drive on

It was a real slow walk in a real sad rain
And nobody tried to be John Wayne
I came home, but Tex did not
And I can't talk about the hit he got
I got a little limp now when
I walk Got a little tremolo when
I talk But my letter read from Whiskey Sam
You're a walkin' talkin' miracle from Vietnam

Drive on, don't mean nothin'
My children love me, but they don't understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
Drive on, don't mean nothin', drive on
 

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I think there is a difference between a musical lyric and written poetry, one isn't neccessarily like the other but I think these three are the best lyrics by Dylan that come close to the standard of written poetry.

Gates of Eden
WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides
Upon four-legged forest clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun
Though its glow is waxed in black
All except when ’neath the trees of Eden

The lamppost stands with folded arms
Its iron claws attached
To curbs ’neath holes where babies wail
Though it shadows metal badge
All and all can only fall
With a crashing but meaningless blow
No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden

The savage soldier sticks his head in sand
And then complains
Unto the shoeless hunter who’s gone deaf
But still remains
Upon the beach where hound dogs bay
At ships with tattooed sails
Heading for the Gates of Eden

With a time-rusted compass blade
Aladdin and his lamp
Sits with Utopian hermit monks
Sidesaddle on the Golden Calf
And on their promises of paradise
You will not hear a laugh
All except inside the Gates of Eden

Relationships of ownership
They whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly
And wait for succeeding kings
And I try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden

The motorcycle black madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen
And her silver-studded phantom cause
The gray flannel dwarf to scream
As he weeps to wicked birds of prey
Who pick up on his bread crumb sins
And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden

The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what’s real and what is not
It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what’s true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music

Visions of Johanna
WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin' to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the “D” train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it’s him or them that’s really insane
Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of ’lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it’s so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel

The peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Sayin’, “Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him”
But like Louise always says
“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?”
As she, herself, prepares for him
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain

Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
WRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
With your mercury mouth in the missionary times
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass
Who among them do they think could carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace
And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace
And your basement clothes and your hollow face
Who among them can think he could outguess you?
With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims
And your matchbook songs and your gypsy hymns
Who among them would try to impress you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

The kings of Tyrus with their convict list
Are waiting in line for their geranium kiss
And you wouldn’t know it would happen like this
But who among them really wants just to kiss you?
With your childhood flames on your midnight rug
And your Spanish manners and your mother’s drugs
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs
Who among them do you think could resist you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

Oh, the farmers and the businessmen, they all did decide
To show you the dead angels that they used to hide
But why did they pick you to sympathize with their side?
Oh, how could they ever mistake you?
They wished you’d accepted the blame for the farm
But with the sea at your feet and the phony false alarm
And with the child of a hoodlum wrapped up in your arms
How could they ever, ever persuade you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

With your sheet-metal memory of Cannery Row
And your magazine-husband who one day just had to go
And your gentleness now, which you just can’t help but show
Who among them do you think would employ you?
Now you stand with your thief, you’re on his parole
With your holy medallion which your fingertips fold
And your saintlike face and your ghostlike soul
Oh, who among them do you think could destroy you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums
Should I leave them by your gate
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
Copyright

© 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music
 

Voros

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Course Dylan during this period would name check the influence of the genius French poet Rimbaud but unlike a lot of posers in rock n' roll I can actually see the influence.

Morning of Drunkenness
BY ARTHUR RIMBAUD
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY JOHN ASHBERY
O my good! O my beautiful! Atrocious fanfare where I won’t stumble! enchanted rack whereon I am stretched! Hurrah for the amazing work and the marvelous body, for the first time! It began amid the laughter of children, it will end with it. This poison will remain in all our veins even when, as the trumpets turn back, we’ll be restored to the old discord. O let us now, we who are so deserving of these torments! let us fervently gather up that superhuman promise made to our created body and soul: that promise, that madness! Elegance, knowledge, violence! They promised us to bury the tree of good and evil in the shade, to banish tyrannical honesties, so that we might bring forth our very pure love. It began with a certain disgust and ended—since we weren’t able to grasp this eternity all at once—in a panicked rout of perfumes.
Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, horror in the faces and objects of today, may you be consecrated by the memory of that wake. It began in all loutishness, now it’s ending among angels of flame and ice.
Little eve of drunkenness, holy! were it only for the mask with which you gratified us. We affirm you, method! We don’t forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole lives every day.
Behold the time of the Assassins.
 

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The beats were another influence on Dylan. To me the greatest of the Beat-associated poets are Jack Spicer and Gary Snyder.

“Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”
BY JACK SPICER
Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the
water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.
 

Voros

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Snyder is more closely associated with The Beats as Spicer died fairly young from drink. He took his Buddhism much more seriously than most and his poems are remarkable.

The Bath
BY GARY SNYDER
Washing Kai in the sauna,
The kerosene lantern set on a box
outside the ground-level window,
Lights up the edge of the iron stove and the
washtub down on the slab
Steaming air and crackle of waterdrops
brushed by on the pile of rocks on top
He stands in warm water
Soap all over the smooth of his thigh and stomach
“Gary don’t soap my hair!”
—his eye-sting fear—
the soapy hand feeling
through and around the globes and curves of his body
up in the crotch,
And washing-tickling out the scrotum, little anus,
his penis curving up and getting hard
as I pull back skin and try to wash it
Laughing and jumping, flinging arms around,
I squat all naked too,
is this our body?

Sweating and panting in the stove-steam hot-stone
cedar-planking wooden bucket water-splashing
kerosene lantern-flicker wind-in-the-pines-out
sierra forest ridges night—
Masa comes in, letting fresh cool air
sweep down from the door
a deep sweet breath
And she tips him over gripping neatly, one knee down
her hair falling hiding one whole side of
shoulder, breast, and belly,
Washes deftly Kai’s head-hair
as he gets mad and yells—
The body of my lady, the winding valley spine,
the space between the thighs I reach through,
cup her curving vulva arch and hold it from behind,
a soapy tickle a hand of grail
The gates of Awe
That open back a turning double-mirror world of
wombs in wombs, in rings,
that start in music,
is this our body?

The hidden place of seed
The veins net flow across the ribs, that gathers
milk and peaks up in a nipple—fits
our mouth—
The sucking milk from this our body sends through
jolts of light; the son, the father,
sharing mother’s joy
That brings a softness to the flower of the awesome
open curling lotus gate I cup and kiss
As Kai laughs at his mother’s breast he now is weaned
from, we
wash each other,
this our body

Kai’s little scrotum up close to his groin,
the seed still tucked away, that moved from us to him
In flows that lifted with the same joys forces
as his nursing Masa later,
playing with her breast,
Or me within her,
Or him emerging,
this is our body:

Clean, and rinsed, and sweating more, we stretch
out on the redwood benches hearts all beating
Quiet to the simmer of the stove,
the scent of cedar
And then turn over,
murmuring gossip of the grasses,
talking firewood,
Wondering how Gen’s napping, how to bring him in
soon wash him too—
These boys who love their mother
who loves men, who passes on
her sons to other women;

The cloud across the sky. The windy pines.
the trickle gurgle in the swampy meadow

this is our body.

Fire inside and boiling water on the stove
We sigh and slide ourselves down from the benches
wrap the babies, step outside,

black night & all the stars.

Pour cold water on the back and thighs
Go in the house—stand steaming by the center fire
Kai scampers on the sheepskin
Gen standing hanging on and shouting,

“Bao! bao! bao! bao! bao!”

This is our body. Drawn up crosslegged by the flames
drinking icy water
hugging babies, kissing bellies,

Laughing on the Great Earth

Come out from the bath.

Gary Snyder, “The Bath” from Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
 

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Ginsberg for a long time I dismissed as someone better known as a personality than a writer but then one day a teacher read this poem in class and instantly changed my mind. The Fall of America is my favourite collection of his.

Supermarket in California
BY ALLEN GINSBERG
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Berkeley, 1955
Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California” from Collected Poems 1947-1980. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg.
 

Voros

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Sorry for all the posts one poem leads to another in my mind!
 

Klibbix!

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Here's one of my favourites:

This Be The Verse
BY PHILIP LARKIN
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
 

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Since it's New Year's Eve, it's time for some Robert Burns! I never much liked the sung version of this poem, until I heard the later verses. As I grow older, 'wandering many a weary foot' and have more old friends I never see anymore compared to current ones I do, the poem becomes more meaningful.


Auld Lang Syne:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
Chorus

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
Chorus

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
Chorus
 

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I thought that, in the new year, I'd try to post poems that have some connection to gaming, or at least to the genres of writing that it draws on. That's a pretty big field, really.

Here's an example: an A.E. Housman poem that's the colophon of Ursula Le Guin's The Wind's Twelve Quarters:

A Shropshire Lad: XXXII

From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.

Now—for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart—
Take my hand quick and tell me
What have you in your heart.

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
I take my endless way.
 

Voros

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'For a Breath I Tarry' is also the title of one of Zelazny's best stories.
 

Lofgeornost

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'For a Breath I Tarry' is also the title of one of Zelazny's best stories.

I'd forgotten that, though I read the story, ages ago.

Staying with Housman, another of his poems has given a title to several SF stories:

A Shropshire Lad, IV: REVEILLE

Wake: the silver dusk returning
Up the beach of darkness brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
Strands upon the eastern rims.

Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,
Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of night in tatters
Straws the sky-pavilioned land.

Up, lad, up, ‘tis late for lying;
Hear the drums of morning play;
Hark, the empty highways crying
‘Who’ll beyond the hills away?’

Towns and countries woo together,
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.

Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
Sunlit pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
Were not meant for man alive.

Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover;
Breath’s a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey’s over
There’ll be time enough to sleep.


Chad Oliver used the last stanza as the beginning of his story "Blood's a Rover," back in 1952. I encountered it in one of the several anthologies Robert Silverberg edited in the mid-1970s. I don't remember the story, but the poem stuck with me. Looking at the story's description, I ought to go back and reread it.

The title's been reused a couple of times since. James Ellroy gave it to a crime novel, but sticking with SF, Gregory Benford apparently employed it for a story in 2004, which I've never read. More notably, Harlan Ellison used it for a collection of material related to "A Boy and His Dog," which appeared in 2018. To judge by the ISFDB entry, there was a projected 'Boy and His Dog' TV series for NBC back in 1977 that never got off the ground. That would have been weird.

Ellison was apparently planning to use the title as far back as 1980, leading to this letter from Chad Oliver:

Oliver-Ellison Letter.jpg
 

Lofgeornost

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Another poem that has been used to entitle an SF story--by Iain Banks, this time. It's the fourth part of Eliot's Waste Land:


IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
 

Silverlion

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This is a recent one, I don't do dark as often anymore.


My heart is fractured and un-whole,
held together by cobweb threads,
and faint knotted strings.
A black snake hovers and drips
foul venom stinging depression into
my blood.
Just a faint brush and everything will snap
but for kind friends gentle care
and dog's gentle eyes reminding
why I am here trying to hold
on, so I say a prayer, and
hear the no, but I look
and see, all the tiny threads, are
fur, woven and knotted as many dog's
who've passed, strings sewn to hold me.
Just a little longer with kindness
and canine's thankful unbreakable love.
A lesson if we could learn, no heart would need to mend
for all would know, how not to to tear and rend, or shatter
another of our kind, and we'd be the people whose own
eyes shine with accepting trust, to never be undone.
 

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This is the colophon to Christopher Priest's Inverted World. It's part of a short poem by Samuel Johnson. Frankly, it puts me in mind of some recent changes at my workplace:

Whereso'er I turn my view,
All is changed, but nothing new;
Endless labor all along

Endless labor to be wrong.
 

Séadna

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I got to see PDF copies of John Archibald Wheeler's notebooks and there was this poem in it. It's about living in a world where quantum theory is true. Thought it was a nice curiosity.

Dear ones of today and of times past and of time to come,
we are participants together in shaping this great universe of ours,
it shapes us but we shape it,
we are the products of history,
but we also make history for ourselves and for others,
we are the flower, our universe the flower case,
brief the bloom in time, local in space,
yet all that surrounds us in space and time,
has its part in the making of that bloom,
flower case and flower are one
 

Fenris-77

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When God Comes Back
-All Them Witches

Cut me up, primitive
I'll die like a slave
Riding the wings
Of that Jesus snake
Ten thousand souls in your right hand
Never lost ground to no cold blooded man
Ten thousand souls in your right hand
Juggernaut child in a fragile land
Everything I see is just a part of it
Every word I breathe is just a part of it
I saw her drink from that cup of light
That's how I know she still exists
Cut me up, primitive
I'll die like a slave
Riding the wings
Of that Jesus snake
 

Lofgeornost

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It may not be great poetry, but I've always liked the verse in "The First Sally (A): Trurl's Electronic Bard," in Lem's Cyberiad. It's very clever stuff, though I'd guess a lot of the credit goes to the translator, Michael Kandel. I'm including a bit of story which is a lead-in to the longest poem:

Klapaucius thought, and thought some more. Finally he nodded and said: "Very well. Let's have a love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit."

"Love and tensor algebra? Have you taken leave of your senses?" Trurl began, but stopped, for his electronic bard was already declaiming:

Come, let us hasten to a higher plane,
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n,
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

Come, every frustum longs to be a cone,
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Riemann, Hilbert, or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

Cancel me not -- for what then shall remain?
Abscissas, some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
The product of our scalars is defined!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a2 cos 2 phi.
 

Voros

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Sf poetry is an interesting subgenre I quite like. I even started a short thread on it and fantasy poetry here.

Will pull a few from my books to post later.
 

Séadna

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though I'd guess a lot of the credit goes to the translator
The poem is completely different in different translations, mentions totally different mathematical objects and mathematicians. The omission that makes the biggest difference in the English version is Brouwer*. I think the English one is actually a translation of the Italian version.

*Brouwer held to the Intuitionist philosophy of Maths and love is "intuitive".
 
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