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OT: well versed

(120 posts)


  1. unhurt

    Share poetry you've read that made you feel things. (You may or may not choose to say what those things were.)

    Most everything by Robin Robertson is good, but this in particular wrenches something inside - but beautifully:


    i.m. Jessie Seymour Irvine

    Daughter of the manse of Dunnottar, then Peterhead
    and Crimond, all north-eastern edges over unstill waters,
    what softness brought this tune from your young hands?
    The tune my father called for every Sunday: the 23rd psalm.
    When I hear it now, it's all wet cobbles and the haar
    rolling in down the street outside, and him
    shaking their hands, sharp in his black and white:
    the dog-collar (I knew) cut clean from a bottle of Fairy Liquid.
    How far we all are from where we thought we'd be:
    those parishioners all vanished long ago; my father – ash
    above the crematorium; me, swimming back-crawl
    through the valley of the shadow of death, and you –
    not even a photograph left of you – the girl who will never
    touch again the foot of the cross at Crimond.

    - Robin Robertson

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. I were right about that saddle

    I am rarely moved by poetry at all, but when I am it lasts a lifetime. This by Larkin;


    What are days for?
    Days are where we live.
    They come, they wake us
    Time and time over.
    They are to be happy in:
    Where can we live but days?

    Ah, solving that question
    Brings the priest and the doctor
    In their long coats
    Running over the fields.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. unhurt

    I have the opposite problem, I think. Insufficient shielding on the warp core? Larkin always good for that...

    Was thinking about this one yesterday - in my top ten, because [incoherent noises about WORDS]. Also reindeers.

    The Fall of Rome

    The piers are pummelled by the waves;
    In a lonely field the rain
    Lashes an abandoned train;
    Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

    Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
    Agents of the Fisc pursue
    Absconding tax-defaulters through
    The sewers of provincial towns.

    Private rites of magic send
    The temple prostitutes to sleep;
    All the literati keep
    An imaginary friend.

    Cerebrotonic Cato may
    Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
    But the muscle-bound Marines
    Mutiny for food and pay.

    Caesar's double-bed is warm
    As an unimportant clerk
    On a pink official form.

    Unendowed with wealth or pity,
    Little birds with scarlet legs,
    Sitting on their speckled eggs,
    Eye each flu-infected city.

    Altogether elsewhere, vast
    Herds of reindeer move across
    Miles and miles of golden moss,
    Silently and very fast.

    - W.H. Auden

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. Snowy

    McGonagall certainly makes me feel things.

    I'll just leave this here.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. I were right about that saddle

    The great and illustrious Sir William Topaz
    McGonagall he's usually known as.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. unhurt

    Scottish Poetry Library has some light on that!

    "Patronage from royalty was to arrive in later life, in the form of a gift, purportedly sent by King of Burma, declaring him 'Sir Topaz, Knight of the White Elephant'. A rather obvious hoax, with its allusion to Chaucer's deliberate doggerel verse 'The Tale of Sir Topas' from The Canterbury Tales, McGonagall was – knowingly or otherwise – to assume the mantle, writing and performing as Sir William Topaz McGonagall until his death in 1902."

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. gembo

    There is a modest monument to McGonafgall in grey friars

    I am at heart a romantic and I go with the ploughman poet in the end

    ae fond kiss
    And then we sever
    Ae farewell alas forever
    Never met and never parted
    We would ne'er be broken hearted

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. I were right about that saddle


    I sang that on Thursday. The pause after syllable six wid gar ye greet.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. ih


    There were never strawberries
    like the ones we had
    that sultry afternoon
    sitting on the step
    of the open french window
    facing each other
    your knees held in mine
    the blue plates in our laps
    the strawberries glistening
    in the hot sunlight
    we dipped them in sugar
    looking at each other
    not hurrying the feast
    for one to come
    the empty plates
    laid on the stone together
    with the two forks crossed
    and I bent towards you
    sweet in that air
    in my arms
    abandoned like a child
    from your eager mouth
    the taste of strawberries
    in my memory
    lean back again
    let me love you

    let the sun beat
    on our forgetfulness
    one hour of all
    the heat intense
    and summer lightning
    on the Kilpatrick hills

    let the storm wash the plates

    - Edwin Morgan

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. unhurt

    @ih - oh, always lovely.

    This matched my mood last July (and still does whenever I catch up on the news):

    Crossing the Border

    I sit with my back to the future, watching
    the landscape pouring away in front of my eyes.
    I think I know where I'm going and have
    some choice in the matter.
    I think, too, that this was a country
    of bog-trotters, moss-troopers,
    fired ricks and roof-trees in the black night - glinting
    on tossed horns and red blades.
    I think of lives
    bubbling into the harsh grass.

    What difference now?
    I sit with my back to the future, watching
    time pouring away into the past. I sit, being helplessly
    lugged backwards
    through the Debatable Lands of history, listening
    to the execrations, the scattered cries, the
    falling of roof-trees in
    the lamentable dark.

    Norman MacCaig 1967

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. I were right about that saddle

    They Flee From Me by Thomas Wyatt is a demolition charge strapped to my heart;

    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 sometime they put themself in danger
    To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
    Busily seeking 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 me caught in her arms long and small;
    Therewithall 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 through my gentleness
    Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
    And I have leave to go of her goodness,
    And she also, to use newfangleness.
    But since that I so kindly am served
    I would fain know what she hath deserved.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. gembo

    see also Noli Me Tangere by Tom Wyatt very brilliant.

    Norman McCaig gave a reading in the old old Waterstones that was in the lecky board on George St - said he did not like listening to long poems so did not write long poems. Good man.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. bax

    First, are you our sort of a person?
    Do you wear
    A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
    A brace or a hook,
    Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

    Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
    How can we give you a thing?
    Stop crying.
    Open your hand.
    Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

    To fill it and willing
    To bring teacups and roll away headaches
    And do whatever you tell it.
    Will you marry it?
    It is guaranteed

    To thumb shut your eyes at the end
    And dissolve of sorrow.
    We make new stock from the salt.
    I notice you are stark naked.
    How about this suit —

    Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
    Will you marry it?
    It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
    Against fire and bombs through the roof.
    Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

    Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
    I have the ticket for that.
    Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
    Well, what do you think of that ?
    Naked as paper to start

    But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
    In fifty, gold.
    A living doll, everywhere you look.
    It can sew, it can cook,
    It can talk, talk, talk.

    It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
    You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
    You have an eye, it’s an image.
    My boy, it’s your last resort.
    Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

    — The Applicant. Sylvia Plath.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. gembo

    Positively cheerful for Plath that one Mr Bax

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. bax

    Agreed Mr Gembo, its a wickedly jaunty number, all things considered.

    Gerard Langley does an excellent upbeat rendition

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. bax

    Not forgetting Sylvia's own heavyweight oration

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    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. gembo

    Monsieur Le Bax that is some accent Sylvia is going with. Reminds me of the time I tried to listen to some records in the poetry library. I had not pushed the headphone jack into the socket far enough so the rest of the poetry library could hear them too. First up was Vanessa Redgrave sining Where have all the flowers gone, next on the turntable was another posh in, Dylan Thomas, whole half an album of him. Then I put on my favourite John Cooper Clarke doing Evidently Chicken town, I give a small sample

    The feckin weed was feckin turf
    The feckin speed was feckin surf

    It was at this point that they came up the stairs and told me to turn it down

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. I were right about that saddle

    I appreciate the craft of that Plath piece, it's very good. But it doesn't touch me.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. Diarmid

    You look different every time
    You come from the foam-crested brine
    It's your skin shining softly in the moonlight
    Partly fish, partly porpoise, partly baby sperm whale
    Am I yours? Are you mine to play with?
    Joking apart
    When you're drunk you're terrific
    When you're drunk I like you mostly
    Late at night, you're quite alright

    Robert Wyatt

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. gembo

    @diarmid, I find Robert wyatt's version of Shipbuilding to be a wonderful thing

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. wingpig

    Gertrude Stein's If I had told him, a completed portrait of Picasso, as used here:

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    I wasn't aware of this before hearing it used as the rhythmic backing to the dance.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. unhurt

    John Hegley, anyone?

    These National Health glasses

    these national health glasses were devised
    before the vision of the people got privatised

    Well executed poem

    before the blast of the squad
    his last request
    was a bullet-proof vest
    or a God

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. gembo

    I saw John Henley in 1983 in teviot when I was on school trip to the festival. Also drinking beer

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. I were right about that saddle

    With these videos and this talk of Robert Henley we are in danger of drifting into poetic songs. I am strongly affected by the entire oeuvre of Jaques Brel but we must remain on the topic of printed verse which is what this thread is about.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. unhurt

    True. You know I take a very strong stance on thread drift...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. fimm

    Google doesn't give me this one, so I'll have to try from memory:

    There is the loneliness of peopled places
    Streets thronging with their human flood, the crowd
    That fills bright rooms with billowing tongues and faces
    Like foreign music, over-shrill and loud.

    There is the loneliness of one who stands
    Fronting the waste against the cold sea-light
    Like a lost gull in solitary flight

    Ach. Lines missing here. But this is the first poem I ever memorised, so you are getting it anyway...

    But I have known no loneliness like this
    Locked in your arms and bent beneath your kiss.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. HankChief

    The little chiefs have learnt to recite this

    "One fine day in the middle of the night,
    Two dead men got up to fight

    Back to back they faced each other
    Drew their swords and shot each other."

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. Cyclingmollie

    While waters wimple to the sea,
    While day blinks in the lift sae hie,
    Till clay-cauld death sall blin' my e'e,
    Ye sall be my dearie.

    Ca' the yowes to the knowes,
    Ca' them whare the heather grows,
    Ca' them whare the burnie rowes,
    My bonie dearie!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. I were right about that saddle

    That's a punch in the gut @Cyclingmollie. Tearing up a wee bit at my desk.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. urchaidh

    My great grandfather worked in a steel plant in Motherwell. He was killed when he fell into a ladle of molten steel.

    A local poet, Andrew Smith, wrote a poem 'In Memoriam' - sadly much more McGonagall than Morgan.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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