Classic English Poetry

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justsit
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by justsit » Thu May 25, 2017 5:06 pm

Mantrik wrote:William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING...
One of my favorites, but due to a great blessing, Yeats was Irish, not English.

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Classic English language Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu May 25, 2017 5:37 pm

Should have put this in the OP; English language poetry, any nationality, even translations are OK.
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conebeckham
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by conebeckham » Thu May 25, 2017 5:57 pm

Nicholas Weeks wrote:
DGA wrote: I was taking the conservative approach, the traditional distinction between the classics (or "ancients") and moderns. The moderns would include everyone from Chaucer to the present.
Then give us a poet before Chaucer whose English is comprehensible. Even Chaucer is often (mostly?) opaque to our ear.
Middle English is definitely not the same language as "English." Many people read Chaucer in translation. I've read him in the original, and in translation. I'm a big fan. A variety of characters on a religious pilgrimage, telling stories--what's not to like? Reminds me of some of my own Indian pilgrimages and the cast of "characters" I've traveled with....

I can still recite the beginning from heart....
"Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
of which vertu engendred is the flour...."

How about poets in translation?
Juan Ramon Jimenez, translated by Robert Bly:

"Full Consciousness"

You are carrying me, full consciousness, god that has desires,
all through the world.
Here, in this third sea,
I almost hear your voice; your voice, the wind,
filling entirely all movements;
eternal colors and eternal lights,
sea colors and sea lights.

Your voice of white fire
in the universe of water, the ship, the sky,
marking out the roads with delight,
engraving for me with a blazing light my firm orbit:
a black body
with the glowing diamond in it's center.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by DGA » Thu May 25, 2017 6:09 pm

Mantrik wrote:William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Several recent events brought this to mind. Manchester's 'innocence' and Trump' s 'rough beast' tour.
Well spoken. I'm glad you beat me to it.

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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by DGA » Thu May 25, 2017 6:16 pm

Nicholas Weeks wrote:
DGA wrote: I was taking the conservative approach, the traditional distinction between the classics (or "ancients") and moderns. The moderns would include everyone from Chaucer to the present.
Then give us a poet before Chaucer whose English is comprehensible. Even Chaucer is often (mostly?) opaque to our ear.
That's beside the point. Modern English (the Elizabethans to the present, basically) is comprehensible to us without translation because it's Modern English. Chaucer, Piers Plowman, and so on are opaque to us because Middle English ain't Modern English.

Classics are classics usually because they are written in a classical language. Think Greek, Latin, &c. I call Paradise Lost a classic because Milton tried really, really hard to produce a "classic" in Modern English, and he succeeded. Some might make a similar case for someone like Tasso.

But these quibbles about categories are a bit silly, I admit. If we're talking about poems in English that we like, then that's "classic" enough.

Here's one I used to use when teaching undergrads. Amy Lowell was quite the celebrity at her peak.
Amy Lowell, 'Patterns' wrote: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 jewelled 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 whale-bone 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 splashing 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 sen’night.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” l 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?

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Mantrik
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Mantrik » Thu May 25, 2017 6:26 pm

justsit wrote:
Mantrik wrote:William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING...
One of my favorites, but due to a great blessing, Yeats was Irish, not English.
Indeed.

My English Literature degree was from the University of Wales; in addition to Yeats, I also studied Anglo-Welsh literature and even writers from the USA (where apparently they use a version of English) . ;)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu May 25, 2017 6:32 pm

Up-Hill

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak ?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.
Christina Rossetti
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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justsit
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by justsit » Thu May 25, 2017 6:44 pm

Mantrik wrote:
justsit wrote:
Mantrik wrote:William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING...
One of my favorites, but due to a great blessing, Yeats was Irish, not English.
Indeed.

My English Literature degree was from the University of Wales; in addition to Yeats, I also studied Anglo-Welsh literature and even writers from the USA (where apparently they use a version of English) . ;)
Ah, the nuance of language - "English" as in language or nationality; "Classic" as in language or style; "Poetry" as in style or genre.

Throwing nuance to the wind, then:


"Jabberwocky"

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) Lewis Carroll

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justsit
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by justsit » Thu May 25, 2017 6:49 pm

Another favorite from Yeats:

The Coming of Wisdom with Time


THOUGH leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu May 25, 2017 6:56 pm

Mourn, Children of the Island of the Mighty, mourn:
Tydain hath gone; the Father of Awen hath gone!

Nay, for the gray old towns would have passed away
But that that old mafi gray, whose merciful eyes
Shone like the wide, deep skies with bright star-fire,
Toiled without tire to make an end of woe.
And the bright Gwyddon fires he set aglow
Shall not burn low, as though they never had been ;
The oaks shall be green again, and wet with the dew,
And the skies blue, and the world full of song. . .

Children of the Island of Hu, glad be your song!
Tydain Tad Awen came, the Father of Awen came!
Sing, for the Father of Awen hath conquered wrong,
And in our own hearts there are stars aflame!

See where the hills are waving flaming plumes,
And the sky blooms with purple and beryl and gold!
Dim were those fires and cold on the hills when he came,
But now they sprinkle with flame the starry night,
And now they sprinkle with light our hearts and minds;
And out of the winds and the wilds and the quiet skies

Look his deep merciful eyes; and in the trees,
And in the wild old seas hear we his song;
And he hath conquered wrong, and set aglow
The fires that heal all woe and ease all pain.
Tydain Tad Awen lived, and the Lords of Sin are slain!

Sing, Children of the Island of the Mighty, sing!
Tydain Tad Awen came, the Father of Awen came!
The Golden Dragon of the world is on the wing,
And the sky is aflame, and the land and the sea are aflame!
From Tydain Tad Awen by Kenneth Morris

The Welsh title refers to the Arch Druid of long ago.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Mantrik
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Mantrik » Thu May 25, 2017 7:07 pm

There is an entire genre of Anglo-Welsh Poetry.

Here's a link to 'The other Thomas' and a realy useful online resource in general:

http://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/welsh-testament

Another from the grey dour old cleric:

On the Farm
BY R. S. THOMAS

There was Dai Puw. He was no good.
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And took the knife from him, when he came home
At late evening with a grin
Like the slash of a knife on his face.

There was Llew Puw, and he was no good.
Every evening after the ploughing
With the big tractor he would sit in his chair,
And stare into the tangled fire garden,
Opening his slow lips like a snail.

There was Huw Puw, too. What shall I say?
I have heard him whistling in the hedges
On and on, as though winter
Would never again leave those fields,
And all the trees were deformed.

And lastly there was the girl;
Beauty under some spell of the beast.
Her pale face was the lantern
By which they read in life’s dark book
The shrill sentence: God is love.
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by tingdzin » Fri May 26, 2017 2:40 pm

Mantrik wrote:Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Yes, very apt now.

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sat May 27, 2017 5:48 pm

Blow, Bugle, Blow

The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
Tennyson
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:16 pm

WHEN I THINK
When I think of what I know,
Earth is hard my feet below,
And around me is a wall
Leaning in, about to fall;
'Neath a roof that hides the sky,
And within that space am I.

When I think of what I dream,
Then around me flows a stream
Sometimes near and sometimes far,
Sometimes glassing sun and star.
And within my little land
Sometimes Lords of Beauty stand;
And the mountains are afire
With their purple old desire,
And along dim shores, the sea
Sometimes whispers tales to me.
Yet my mountains and my sea
Will not let my dreams go free.

But there is no roof above,
When I think of what I love,
And there is no earth beneath,
I am one with life and death;
And my world is larger far
Than the realm of any star;
And within me, deep and deep,
Universes wake and sleep.
— H. J. Clements
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:19 pm

A factoid about Tennyson that I did not know - from his Memoirs:
A kind of waking trance - this for lack of a better word - I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words - where death was an almost laughable impossibility - the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life... It is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with absolute clearness of mind.
"loss of personality... the only true life" - what a wise one! :bow:
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Queen Elizabeth II
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Queen Elizabeth II » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:50 am

The Nightjar

We loved our nightjar, but she would not stay with us.
We had found her lying as dead, but soft and warm,
Under the apple tree beside the old thatched wall.
Two days we kept her in a basket by the fire,
Fed her, and thought she well might live – till suddenly
I the very moment of most confiding hope
She arised herself all tense, qivered and drooped and died.
Tears sprang into my eyes- why not? The heart of man
Soon sets itself to love a living companion,
The more so if by chance it asks some care of him.
And this one had the kind of loveliness that goes
Far deeper than the optic nerve — full fathom five
To the soul’s ocean cave, where Wonder and Reason
Tell their alternate dreams of how the world was made.
So wonderful she was — her wings the wings of night
But powdered here and therewith tiny golden clouds
And wave-line markings like sea-ripples on the sand.
O how I wish I might never forget that bird —
Never!
But even now, like all beauty of earth,
She is fading from me into the dusk of Time.
Sir Henry Newbolt

tingdzin
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by tingdzin » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:19 am

Was that the Newbolt of "The sands of the desert are sodden red ... " etc.? Oh, I see via Google it was indeed. Nice to know he had a different side to his character.

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Old Stan
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Old Stan » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:09 am

I really respect William Blake! it's interesting that when I was younger even 5-7 years ago I didn't understand poetry at all...Now I find it beautiful.

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:37 pm

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
Tennyson
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Re: Classic English Poetry

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:43 pm

The flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow dies;
All that we wish to stay
Tempts and then flies.
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright.

Virtue, how frail it is!
Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
For proud despair!
But we, though soon they fall,
Survive their joy, and all
Which ours we call.

Whilst skies are blue and bright,
Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
Make glad the day;
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou—and from thy sleep
Then wake to weep.
Shelley
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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