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For a Poetry Monday:

"I like to see it lap the Miles," Emily Dickinson

I like to see it lap the Miles—
And lick the Valleys up—
And stop to feed itself at Tanks
And then—prodigious step

Around a Pile of Mountains—
And supercilious peer
In Shanties—by the sides of Roads—
And then a Quarry pare

To fit its sides and crawl between
Complaining all the while
In horrid—hooting stanza—
Then chase itself down Hill—

And neigh like Boanerges—
Then—prompter than a Star
Stop—docile and omnipotent
At its own stable door—

A riddle poem, probably intended for children (she liked to write poems for neighbor children) -- the answer being, of course, a train with a steam engine. Dickinson's father was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Amherst, and the station was not far from the family house.


Subject quote from "A Boy's Poem," Alexander Smith.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/627811.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Since All Knowledge Is Contained On Social Networks, a question for you all:

I'm noticing that most of the narrative poems I reread are by men. This … could stand correcting. There's Goblin Market of course, and Aurora Leigh plus Tighe's Psyche, though those two last are on the long side for casual reading.

What am I missing?

Can be new or old, though I'm more in the mood for older poetry at the moment -- I can save the modern/contemporary poems for another time.


Subject quote from "Gratiana Dancing," Richard Lovelace.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/627599.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

A pome for a moon-day:

On a Beach at Night, Walt Whitman

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.

Offered in honor of yet another family viewing of an ISS transit being blocked by overcast. Wet winter means fewer chances to wave hello to the astronauts (current number: 6). Contrast this, if you dare, with Spring and Fall.


Subject quote from "Ode to West Wind," Percy Shelley.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/627266.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

A reading of a Wednesday meme. Or something like that. I guess.


The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, a comfort reread during the flu.

In progress:

Am bounding along with I Shall Seal the Heavens and now just shy of 500 chapters in out of 1600+ total, ~¾ of which are available in English. I should however flag a content warning: an element that early on is handled as gruesome humor is later given a morally dark and potentially triggery explanation, at which time the narrative does not clearly signal understanding of just how dark it swerved; I am staying with it because the author has shown multiple times that he plays a long game and other moral issues have been returned to for questioning (and requestioning). This aside, it's working quite well as an adventure story with an ever-expanding canvas, and I've finally reached a point where there's glimmerings as to the meaning and significance of the title. Ultimate Vexation is a lot fun, but I understand how it would have gotten tiresome (both to write and read) if it hadn't been eventually suppressed.

Plus I've been reading two poetry anthologies of note:
  1. Villanelles ed. Annie Finch & Marie-Elizabeth Mali is an excellent collection. There's a historical section (as well an illuminating introduction: it did not originate as a French peasant form, despite what French poets told themselves) but the bulk is contemporary poets, including variations on the form. Unexpected inclusions of note include Ursula Le Guin, Tom Disch, and an ex-girlfriend. The layout is sweet: a pocket-sized hardcover just large enough that a standard 19-line beastie exactly fits on one page. I'm about ⅓ through, but still highly recommend this one.

  2. Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century ed. Carolyn Beard Whitlow & Marilyn Krysl is another single-form collection built on contemporary poets, where the book is laid out such that a standard example fits on a page, and that has poem by an ex (same one). Haven't gotten as far in this one yet -- a 39-line layout means it's not as portable.

This hasn't been my only poetry reading, natch: I'm not noting other anthologies now because too scattered -- if/when I finish one, I'll record it then.

Other fiction, I've bounced around with unsettled mind, picking up many things and putting each down after a chapter. This happens betimes.


Subject quote from "The Wish," Abraham Cowley.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/627034.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Links, links, my bedroom for some links.

How Iceland reduced teen drinking and drug use, as in from 42% of teens drinking to just 5%. (via)

Timelapse of sunset at Griffith Observatory.

NCG 2936 a.k.a. the Porpoise Galaxy.


Subject quote from "Much Ado About Nothing," II.1, William Shakespeare.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/626798.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, as I recover from a flu caught from TBD:

Axe Handles, Gary Snyder

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
          the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-—in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Another pome on children and teaching.

Subject quote from "The Excursion," William Wordsworth.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/626550.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday, an old favorite:

For a Five-Year-Old, Fleur Adcock

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another,
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
And we are kind to snails.

For us, it's small beetles ("buggies!") in the house, but same message. "We are kind to snails" was a code phrase in our house for many years prior child.


Subject quote from "The Snow-Storm," Ralph Emerson.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/626364.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Wednesday for a reading. More meme. Combined with Poetry Monday, this makes more than half my posting these days memeage. Ah, well.


Child of Light (光之子) by Tang Jia San Shao in a semi-official translation, a fantasy (magic academy flavor) in a genre roughly equivalent to a Japanese light novel, with all the benefits (quick brainless read) and annoyances (annoying "hero" getting worse over time) this implies. Got four volumes in but I won't be continuing any time soon, if ever, because I started ...

In progress:

... I Shall Seal the Heavens (我欲封天) by Ergen, also in semi-official translation. This one is a much more congenial xianxia, a genre blending wuxia with Taoism, Buddhism, and Chinese mythology -- what happens when Chinese fantasy writers use their rich (read: old) local traditions for worldbuilding. Lots of spiritual cultivators getting their qi on as they strive to become immortals. This book in particular is praised for its literary gravitas, a quality that carries over in this translation -- and much preferable over the bluster-based humor of so much Chinese popular fiction. That said, at around chapter 125, I seem to have wandered into an extended tournament arc (?!). At least it's a race against an obstacle course instead of a battle tourney. This one will take a while: there's over 1200 chapters available in English -- Alexandre Dumas, eat your heart out.

The Truth-Teller's Tale by Sharon Shinn, reread of a YA fantasy -- or in theory, I'm still in progress on this: I was halfway through when I mislaid the volume. (It's around here somewhere, I know it, lose my head next.)

Songs for the Open Road: Poems of Travel & Adventure ed. Carroll and Maclean, an original publication from Dover Books (they do that sometimes). Some nice discoveries here, as well as some interesting choices. It's a cheap volume, too, well worth tracking down if you need poetry browsing of a long evening (or middle of the night).

And speaking of poetry browsing, for those with smartphones, a recommendation: the Poetry Foundation's Poetry app is excellent for thematic browsing as well as searching for old favorites. There's a generous selection of modern as well as classic poems, the former slanted somewhat towards those appearing in Poetry magazine (I'm guessing because rights were easier). Accessing bios requires a connection, but not browsing itself.


Subject quote from "Scythe Song," Andrew Lang.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/626015.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

TBD is three years and nine months old, and almost daily anticipates turning four. ("Will I get presents for my birthday?" "Can we get a jumping castle at my party?" "Is my birthday tomorrow?")

Achievements unlocked this last month: the only one I noted was pumping self on swing. There was lots of practice towards mastering previous achievements, including buttons and storytelling (now up two sentences long).

In books, now that we've all-but-exhausted the Elephant & Piggie series, we're working our way through the empire of Curious George. While there's been a few more chapter books, including some Winnie the Pooh (I have to viciously hack away skip a lot of verbal murbling) and various series by friends of Janni, mostly we're still in the land of picture books + early readers* -- the latter with an emphasis on Marvel superheroes (Spider Man, Iron Man, Avengers) and nonfiction about the natural world and space (Dorrington-Kindersley, Cat in the Hat science books).

FWIW, current favorite superhero is Batman. (Batman shirts and underwear are worn as soon as washed.) Much effort is being spent trying to reconcile Hulk's anger with being one of the good guys. And on the difference between stories and reality.

We still go out to wave at the astronauts during visible ISS transits, bath-and-bedtime permitting. Growing up to be an astronaut ("I'm going to drive a rocket ship") has been insistent/consistent/persistent for a couple months now. We're trying to encourage this without pushing too hard.

After seeing snippets of American football at Grandpa's house, TBD came away with this understanding of how you play: one person throws a ball, then the other person catches it and falls down. This is not actually wrong. This makes for an entertaining indoor game.

In other pastimes, the Busytown: Eye Found It game has been successfully introduced. We've made many trips to the nearest used book store, as each visit we allow one new jigsaw puzzle (as well as yay books).**

Numeral recognition is down cold, but numbers past 9 are still confusing -- as is, to be fair, counting past 13. This somewhat hinders the lessons in clock-reading, requested every couple days. Some basic words are recognized as a whole pattern ("No", "Roar"), but less than half the alphabet can be identified.

In current pronunciations, for a while "Daddy" often resolved closer to dah-tee than dah-dee -- I blame Peppa Pig. (Not my favorite TV show, but it's relatively innocuous and introduced the Tooth Fairy so we don't have to. Also current watching: Paw Patrol and Hurray for Huckle). Sentences grow in complexity, including more careful use of conditionals and subjunctives. Time beyond yesterday and tomorrow is still somewhat fuzzy: "tomorrow" often means "the next day," as in "tomorrow and tomorrow is (event)" for something the day after tomorrow.

And then there's the talking, talking:

(swooping about a bunny) "Help! I'm flying instead of hopping!"

"Wolves blow down houses only in stories?"

TBD: "Once upon a time there was a king who lived in a castle for three days."
Janni: "Then what happened?"
"Then a dinosaur came and ate him up."

"In stuffies there is stuff."

TBD: "I wish I was a clock."
Janni: "So you'd always know what time it is?"
(laugh) "That clock doesn't know what time it is."
(apparently this is funny because it's inanimate)

Janni: "You don't want to watch the rest of Cars?"
TBD: "Because I don't like Mater and Lightning."
"Because Lightning McQueen is mean?"
"I think he's going to learn to be nicer."
"I don't want that story."

(evening after the post-inaugural march)
"How was your day?"
"What was the best part?"
"The $friendsname part."
(we marched with said friend, who had a two-seater stroller enclosed against icy rain -- TBD carried a sign saying "DON'T BE MEAN" and friend "BE KIND")

"Oh no, the plate is sneaking away without any food on it!"



* As a book, I'm especially impressed with a retelling of the first five minutes of A New Hope from the droids' point of view, called Escape from Darth Vader. It's a complete, if open-ended, story.

** Props to Melissa & Doug for their high quality floor puzzles.


Subject quote from "Kiss," Prince.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/625791.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Monday, Monday, poetry for a Monday.

Ceremonies for Candlemas Eve, Robert Herrick

Down with the rosemary and bays,
    Down with the misletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
    The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;    
    Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
    Or Easter’s eve appear.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
    Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
    Unto the crispèd yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
    And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
    To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
    With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
    To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.

I was going to post this next week, but I just realized that this Thursday is already February 2 -- the Feast of the Purification or Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This was called Candlemas in the early Church from the practice of carrying lighted candles in procession in memory of Simeon's words during the presentation of the infant Jesus, "to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles." Traditionally, Christmas decorations in churches remained up until this day, when they're finally taken down. And Herrick, like the traditional parish priest that he was (*cough*cough*), knew this custom very well.

Herrick actually published two poems on the subject: the other is here. The titles are easily confuseable in google searches.


Subject quote from "Hydriotaphia, Urn-Burial," Thomas Browne.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/625588.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Hello, Monday. Have a poem.

Prof of Profs, Geoffrey Brock

I was a math major—fond of all things rational.
It was the first day of my first poetry class.
The prof, with the air of a priest at Latin mass,
told us that we could “make great poetry personal,”

could own it, since poetry we memorize sings
inside us always. By way of illustration
he began reciting Shelley with real passion,
but stopped at “Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” —
because, with that last plosive, his top denture
popped from his mouth and bounced off an empty chair.

He blinked, then offered, as postscript to his lecture,
a promise so splendid it made me give up math:
“More thingth like that will happen in thith clath.”

For those who don't remember their Shelley, here's the poem in question.


Subject quote from "Troilus and Cressida," V.iii, William Shakespeare.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/625158.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Public Service Announcement:

A crocheted Totoro stuffie with a pink doctor's kit bandage on one ear and a cast on the other arm is ridiculously cute.

(Pix didn't come out sorry not sorry.)


Subject quote from "Alexander Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/624982.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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