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Posts Tagged ‘e.e. cummings’

In a Station of a Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

by Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound’s Precepts

In March 1913, Poetry published “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste.” In it, imagist poet F. S. Flint, quoting Pound, defined the tenets of imagist poetry:

I. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective.
II. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
III. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.

Oread
by H.D.

Whirl up, sea—

whirl your pointed pines,

splash your great pines

on our rocks,

hurl your green over us,

cover us with your pools of fir.

Images
by Richard Aldington

Like a gondola of green scented fruits
Drifting along the dark canals of Venice,
You, O exquisite one,
Have entered into my desolate city.

The blue smoke leaps
Like swirling clouds of birds vanishing;
So my love leaps forth toward you,
Vanishes and is renewed.

A rose-yellow moon in a pale sky
When the sunset is faint vermillion
In the mist among the tree-boughs
Art thou to me, my beloved.

A young beech tree on the edge of the forest
Stands still in the evening,
Yet shudders through all its leaves in the light air
And seems to fear the stars–
So are you still and so tremble.

The red deer are high on the mountain,
They are beyond the last pine-trees,
And my desires have run with them.

The flower which the wind has shaken
Is soon filled again with rain;
So does my heart fill slowly with tears
Until you return.

Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

l.
by e.e. cummings

l(a

le
af
fa
ll

s)
one
l

iness

* Read more poems by e.e. cummings:
https://thepoetryplace.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/e-e-cummings/

Nuance

Even the iris bends

when the butterfly lights upon it.

by Amy Lowell

Patterns
by Amy Lowell 

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the
buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he
clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the
Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Amy Lowell on Imagism (1917)

  1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.
  2. To create new rhythms -as the expression of new moods — and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods. We do not insist upon “free-verse” as the only method of writing poetry. We fight for it as for a principle of liberty. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free-verse than in conventional forms. In poetry a new cadence means a new idea.
  3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. It is not good art to write badly of aeroplanes and automobiles, nor is it necessarily bad art to write well about the past. Webelieve passionately in the artistic value of modem life, but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 19 11.
  4. To present an image (hence the name: “Imagist”). We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.
  5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.
  6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.
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… from Organic Torah

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I.

1(a

le
af
fa
ll

s)
one
l

iness

II.

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely)stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
-i say though hate were why men breathe-
because my father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

III.

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
with by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

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Last night, I went with my dear friend Michelle to the Wheaton College Christmas Festival, featuring the Women’s Chorale, the Men’s Glee Club, the Concert Choir, Symphonic Band, and soloist Denise Gamez. Michelle is looking so beautiful and expecting her first baby, a Christmas baby, very soon. (I always think it is a very special thing when mothers, like Mary, are awaiting the arrival of a baby at Christmastime.) The music, like my friend, was beautiful, too!

Among my favorite songs performed was “There is No Rose of Such Virtue,” a Christmas Carol written in the very late Middle Ages, c. 1420, and set to music by contemporary composer Melinda Bargreen. It’s a macaronic song, meaning it’s written in two languages: Middle English and Latin.

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue

There is no rose of such vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu;
Alleluia.

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in lytle space;
Res miranda.

By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma.

The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:
Gaudeamus.

Leave we all this wearldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
Transeamus.

Alleluia, res miranda,
Pares forma, gaudeamus,
Transeamus.

I love how the song meditates on the “little space” of Mary’s womb, where heaven and earth meet, and how it interweaves the Latin of the Church with the English of the common people — as if interweaving spiritual and secular themes, symbolically, through the use of two languages. The last stanza could be translated like this: “Hallelujah! We must praise God for this wondrous marvel, [for the three persons of the Holy Trinity are] equal in nature … yes, we rejoice! Let us go!” Gloria in excelsis Deo!

My favorite famous singer in the world, Sting (aka Gordon Sumner), has sung this song, too. To listen to his version, check out: “There is No Rose of Such Virtue.” I love the use of percussion in Sting’s rendition!

Last night, I heard another beautiful poem set to music — this one modern, rather than medieval: e.e. cummings “little tree.” Eric Whitacre created the arrangement performed so lyrically by the Concert Choir under the direction of Paul Wiens. Here it is performed in New York, “Little Tree.”

Other songs from last night that I particularly enjoyed include: Riu, Riu, Chiu (so lively!), O Come, O Come Emmanuel (arranged by Kathleen Kastner for a percussion ensemble, but last night, performed with the addition of a beautiful oboe), and the Men’s Glee Club’s rendition of Healey Willan’s “Magnificat” (so wonderful to hear men singing Mary’s song! For it is a song for all souls).

I hope you enjoy these songs and carols, too.

Merry Christmas!

p.s. To listen to more beautiful music, check out the Wheaton College WETN Conservatory Archive, which features past concerts and performances!

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I gave two poetry readings in May, one in Kalamazoo, Michigan and one here in Wheaton, Illinois. Both were held out of doors, because the weather is beautiful and allows for it. To me, it was wonderful to be able to play flute with the wind blowing through my hair and perform my poetry with red-winged blackbirds singing their nesting songs as my jazz musicians — and later to be compared to a dryad!

In Michigan, I read for medievalists at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, and so I tried to choose poems that medievalists would like. In Illinois, I read for 4th and 5th girls graduating from this year’s Church of the Rez Sunday school class — and their parents — at an afternoon party featuring a May-pole for the girls to dance around with ribbons in their hands. I tried to find poems they would like, too. Naturally some of these came from MAGICAL POEMS FOR GIRLS, for both audiences, because that sonnet collection is full of fairy-tales, medieval fantasies, and stories about the lives of victorious queens.

I’ve been reading poetry by others as well, silently and joyfully and curiously to myself, especially from a recent issue of American Poet (the journal of the Academy of American Poets) and a collection of thoughts about poetry by Edward Hirsch called Poet’s Choice, which was the title of the column he wrote for the Washington Post Book World in 2002. I love what Hirsch writes about about the 19th century English poet John Clare, about “a language that is ever green” (as Clare wrote) and about love poems voiced as invitations:

We’ll down the green meadow and up the lone glen

And down the woodside far away from all men

And there we’ll talk over our love-tales again

Where last year the nightingale sung.

It’s a beautiful meditation, Clare’s is, and Hirsch’s on it is, too. Hirsch observes, drawing on a biography about Clare by Jonathan Bate, that more than fifty of Clare’s poems begin with the words “I love,” and the most common noun in his mature poetry is “joy.” What do these two facts tell us?

Something essential, something vital, something about the heart and life and the beauty of the natural world.

Clare loved to walk in through woods and fields, but he also spent time in an asylum due to mental illness, suffering through what Hirsch calls “the tormented years.” Yet the eyes of his heart were looking upward, so his meditations were still on love and on joy. Perhaps when we read Clare’s poetry, we can say in the words of e.e. cummings:

“now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened”

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i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings
1894-1962

Commentary: I love this poem.  The last two lines sound somewhat like a paraphrase of Pauline thought … but the whole poem makes me think about how e.e. cummings let all of his senses awaken to the natural world. All of us can be that awake.

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