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April 11, 2007


In keeping with national poetry month, and it made me giggle insanely.

Wordsworth Rap

Hopefully it was meant to be funny.

Some primal termite knocked on wood; and tasted it,
and found it good. That is why your Cousin May
fell through the parlor floor today.

Ogden Nash


Well in my many walks I rarely found
A place less likely for a bird to form
Its nest close by the rut gulled waggon road
And on the almost bare foot-trodden ground
With scarce a clump of grass to keep it warm
And not a thistle spreads its spears abroad
Or prickly bush to shield it from harms way
And yet so snugly made that none may spy
It out save accident -- and you and I
Has surely passed it in our walk to day
Had chance not led us by it -- nay e'en now
Had not the old bird heard us trampling bye
And fluttered out -- we had not seen it lie
Brown as the road way side -- small buts of hay
Pluckt from the old propt-haystacks pleachy brow
And withered leaves make up its outward walls
That from the snub-oak dotterel yearly falls
And in the old hedge bottom rot away
Built like a oven with a little hole
Hard to discover -- that snug entrance wins
Scarcely admitting e'en two fingers in
And lined with deathers warm as silken stole
And soft as seats of down for painless ease
And full of eggs scarce bigger e'en than peas
Heres one most delicate with spots as small
As dust -- and of a faint and pinky red
-- We'll let them be and safety guard them well
For fears rude paths around are thickly spread
And they are left to many dangers ways
When green grass hoppers jump might break the shells
While lowing oxen pass them morn and night
And restless sheep around them hourly stray
And no grass springs but hungry horses bite
That trample past them twenty times a day
Yet like a miracle in safetys lap
They still abide unhurt and out of sight
-- Stop heres the bird that woodman at the gap
Hath frit it from the hedge -- tis olive green
Well I declare it is the pettichaps
Not bigger then the wren and seldom seen
Ive often found their nests in chances way
Where I in pathless woods did idly roam
But never did I dream untill to day
A spot like this would be her chosen home.

John Clare


The crib stock fothered -- horses suppered up
And cows in sheds all littered down in straw
The threshers gone the owls are left to whoop
The ducks go waddling with distended craw
Through little hole made in the henroost door
And geese with idle gabble never oer
Bate careless hog untill he tumbles down
Insult provoking spite to noise the more
While fowl high perched blink with contemptuous frown
On all the noise and bother heard below
Over the stable ridge in crowds the crow
With jackdaws intermixed known by their noise
To the warm woods behind the village go
And whistling home for bed go weary boys

John Clare, 1824-1832

Speaking of birds, why not come on over to TiO and listen to cleek's bird song?

Did I announce that the same way the small brown wren boasts his presence?

That was my intent, anyway. There is no shame for a promoter.

The War Song of Dinas Vawr

The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition;
We met a host, and quelled it;
We forced a strong position,
And killed the men who held it.

On Dyfed's richest valley,
Where herds of kine were browsing,
We made a mighty sally,
To furnish our carousing.
Fierce warriors rushed to meet us;
We met them, and o'erthrew them:
They struggled hard to beat us;
But we conquered them, and slew them.

As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king marched forth to catch us:
His rage surpassed all measure,
But his people could not match us.
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sacked his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.

We there, in strife bewild'ring,
Spilt blood enough to swim in:
We orphaned many children,
And widowed many women.
The eagles and the ravens
We glutted with our foemen;
The heroes and the cravens,
The spearmen and the bowmen.

We brought away from battle,
And much their land bemoaned them,
Two thousand head of cattle,
And the head of him who owned them:
Ednyfed, king of Dyfed,
His head was borne before us;
His wine and beasts supplied our feasts,
And his overthrow, our chorus.

Thomas Love Peacock

I forgot to plug my son's elementary school choir, 10 years ago.

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Most of the poetry I get to read at the moment is for the under-5s. I liked this one (by Kaye Umansky):


I'm a Gorilla!
I'm a Gorilla!
I want ice cream
And I want vanilla!
Three big scoops
On a dish, with a spoon.
I want ice cream
And I want it SOON.

suspended, no third

"i am suspended and unresolved,
often well into the Elsewhere.
and we are out of time."

she holds my hand tightly.
while between deliberate gazes
her eyes push and tell me
"there is no more."
i can feel the tension in my shoulder -
her holding and pushing.

"i could kiss you and it would be nice.
and then i would have to leave
so let's not kiss ; just this
is enough. still i must leave.
though more slowly i'll walk away."


The Garden Of Love

William Blake

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

We are about to see the emergence of hordes of 17-year cicadas in Chicago. I'm going to try to keep this poem in mind, and to regard them as "happy units of a numerous herd
of playfellows," but it won't be easy.

As the Team's Head-Brass

As the team's head-brass flashed out on the turn
The lovers disappeared into the wood.
I sat among the boughs of the fallen elm
That strewed the angle of the fallow, and
Watched the plough narrowing a yellow square
Of charlock. Every time the horses turned
Instead of treading me down, the ploughman leaned
Upon the handles to say or ask a word,
About the weather, next about the war.
Scraping the share he faced towards the wood,
And screwed along the furrow till the brass flashed
Once more.

The blizzard felled the elm whose crest
I sat in, by a woodpecker's round hole,
The ploughman said. 'When will they take it away?'
'When the war's over.' So the talk began --
One minute and an interval of ten,
A minute more and the same interval.
'Have you been out?' 'No.' 'And don't want to, perhaps?'
'If I could only come back again, I should.
I could spare an arm, I shouldn't want to lose
A leg. If I should lose my head, why, so,
I should want nothing more...Have many gone
From here?' 'Yes.' 'Many lost?' 'Yes, a good few.
Only two teams work on the farm this year.
One of my mates is dead. The second day
In France they killed him. It was back in March,
The very night of the blizzard, too. Now if
He had stayed here we should have moved the tree.'
'And I should not have sat here. Everything
Would have been different. For it would have been
Another world.' 'Ay, and a better, though
If we could see all all might seem good.' Then
The lovers came out of the wood again:
The horses started and for the last time
I watched the clods crumble and topple over
After the ploughshare and the stumbling team.

Edward Thomas
NSI, pp. 165- 6

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