Monday, April 20, 2015

Poetry Reading – Apr 16, 2015

It was an exceptionally well-attended reading. From Milton to Bukowski is a wide range in poets and the sheer wonder of articulating their words excited the eleven readers present.
Pamela, Talitha, Sunil, KumKum & Priya

We had a new reader, Govind Sethunath, come by to try out our group. He chose safety and read a couple of well-known poems of Shelley which we enjoyed – one was Ozymandias, the first poem ever that Priya read in our group, as she recalled.

Priya, Govind, Zakia, Thommo, CJ, Ankush, & Pamela

CJ's appearance provoked some wide-eyed amazement. So much has he reduced in girth from constant distance running in Hyderabad (his present posting) around Hussain Sagar lake, that he has had to acquire a new wardrobe. But his impish wit continues to surprise us, as it did in the choice of poem and poet – the incorrigible Charles Bukowski.

KumKum & Priya

We are glad to have Ankush back; he docked at Kochi port only an hour before our meeting and raced here on his bicycle from his present posting aboard INS Kesari (pennant L15), a tank and troop landing ship.

INS Kesari, the vessel on board which Ankush resides

Here we are at the end of the reading, wrapped in Wreathèd Smiles

Joe, KumKum, Talitha, Priya, Thommo, Pamela, Zakia, CJ, Govind, Sunil, Ankush

Full Account of the Poetry Reading on Apr 16, 2015
Present: Pamela, Joe, Talitha, KumKum, Sunil, Priya, CJ Mathew, Ankush, Zakia, Thommo,
Absent: Govind (?), Kavita (did not respond), Preeti (missed after confirming)
New Reader trying out: Govind Sethunath

The next reading for the novel Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith has been fixed already for Fri May 1, 2015.

We have an issue about our meeting place in the Library of the CYC; the authorities of the club want to charge us Rs 500 per session toward the use of the AC. Thommo will speak to them, and if they don't agree to exempt us, we'll try to get the Blue Room at the Cochin Club in Fort Kochi for free.

1. KumKum

Ezra Pound ( Oct 30, 1885 – Nov 1, 1972)
He was born in Hailey, Idaho, to European immigrant parents. Later the family moved to Pennsylvania. Pound studied in the University of Pennsylvania at the College of Liberal Arts. He received his MA from there, and also begun work for a Ph.D. in Literature, but never completed it. He got a handsome stipend of $500 a month for the PhD program. 

He was never a student with an one-track mind. Young Pound enjoyed the company of smart and beautiful women whom he came to know at the University, and he enjoyed frequent travel to various European cities even in his student days. Cities of Western Europe and London held a life-long charm for this American intellectual and dreamer.

He spent many years as an adult in London, then moved with equal ease to Paris, and further years were spent in Venice and other cities in Italy. He died in Venice at the age of 87.

Ezra Pound as an older man

Ezra Pound was an amazing individual: wherever he lived, he became part of the intellectual cream of the place. He was legendary in that respect. He was a friend of T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Cummings, Frost, Harriet Moore, James Joyce, and Hemingway, to name the top few. He was well read and knew nine languages. His more famous literary friends recognised his mastery over good writing and the craft of verse. Many of them requested him to "Blue-Ink" their works. Eliot, Joyce and Hemingway all admitted Pound's contribution in improving their novels and poems.

Not only were writers and the poets among his friends, but he also befriended famous painters, musicians –- and even the politicians of his time. He hobnobbed with Mussolini to his discredit.

Ezra Pound was a complex person. This complexity was apparent in everything he did. It pervaded his personal life, as well. He was married to Dorothy Shakespeare, the beautiful daughter of Yeats' one time lover. Dorothy was part of his life until the end, but she had to suffer his numerous dalliances. During their time in Paris Pound started a serious affair with Olga, the daughter of an American industrialist. Olga was a violinist, rich and possessed of a free spirit. Olga remained the "other woman" in his long life. Pound had a son by Dorothy named Omar, and a daughter by Olga, Mary. The Pounds were always poor, and so Dorothy sent her son to her mother in London to be brought up. Mary grew up with her mother in France, Italy and Spain. Olga helped the Pounds often, and she even shared her apartment with Ezra and Dorothy when they could not afford a place to stay.

 In 1922 Edmund Wilson reviewed Pound's collection titled Poems 1918-21. A sentence from this review remarks on Pound's complex style: "Pound's poems stood isolated with fragmentary wording contributing to poems that do not hang together." Perhaps he started the vogue in modern poetry of words 'not hanging together'!

Here are 3 poems from his huge collection.

Joe asked, when KumKum finished reading Au Jardin, what it was about. A woman he loves or has loved, said KumKum. In a book of criticism The Poetry of Ezra Pound by Hugh Witemeyer we read that this poem is a riposte to Yeats' poem, The Cap and Bells. The line
The jester walked in the garden.

is the opening line of that poem of Yeats, where the jester woos the young lady and as a last gesture offers his most prized possession, his jester's cap and bells. He sends it to her and dies – only then does the lady deign to love him in return. Pound says in his poem that kind of chivalric romanticism is not for him, and exclaims
Well, there's no use your loving me
That way, Lady;

You can read about this on p. 102 of the book referred to which can be searched with the phrase The jester walked in the garden at

About the next poem of Pound, Dance Figure, there is a reference to a Nathat-Ikanaie. Who is this? KumKum said it could be Akenathen, a pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC (wikipedia); but it is more likely to be the name of a girl in ancient Egypt whose name means 'tree at the river.' Thommo suggested that it could be a made-up word, even as Minister of State V.K. Singh in the present government is wont concocting such words as 'presstitutes'. To Joe the diction in the poem was suggestive of the Song of Songs from the Bible; so did it seem to Talitha. But there is no discernible connection to Cana, which in the New Testament is the scene of a marriage at which Jesus performed the first miracle of his public life.

KumKum mentioned that Pound was in demand by great authors for 'blue-lining' their works, taking his editorial pen to Joyce's Ulysses, to the Waste Land of Eliot, and even Hemingway sought him out. All these authors have in common that they met in Paris, wondrous Paris, safe harbour for creative spirits.

Talitha said an easier, less allusive poem of Pound is the well-known The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter (the poet is Li Bai, or Li Po as he is also known). It's a lovely poem, said, Talitha, and stands on its own. That was a recreation from some loose translations by Fennellosa. Joe mentioned the caveats of Vikram Seth in his translation of the Chinese poets Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu in the volume Three Chinese Poets. Vikram Seth discusses the translations of Ezra Pound, with his "ignorance of Chinese and valiant self-indulgence," which he gently proposes as a "warning of what to shun."

2. Sunil
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)
Sunil read from a wikipedia account of the poet's life.

Her mother was a strong influence, and as the children wandered from place to place her, their mother read from a trunk full of books. Her mother was a school teacher, and from having to divorce her husband for dereliction, lived in straitened circumstances afterwards. They were three independent-minded sisters. When Edna went to Vassar, an elite all-women's (at that time) college she continued to write and had affairs with other women. She was bisexual and open about it. She dabbled in theatre, and wrote poetry entering a poem called Renascence in a contest; she did not win, but the second-prize winner yielded generously to Edna's as the superior work. She got a sponsor too for her education at Vassar from a lady admirer. She married but her husband had affairs (as did she) during their long and compatible married life. Edna was a pacifist during the war. She won the Robert Frost Medal for her contribution to poetry. You can read an excellent literary account of her multi-faceted career (short-story writer, dramatist, and so on) at Poetry Foundation

In the first poem, a perfect sonnet, Edna uses the sonnet form to propose the argument that love does not provide for everything, even for essential things, like 'meat and drink'; then she turns it around and says people are yet dying for the lack of love. For her the temptation is
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.

But she won't:
It well may be. I do not think I would.

With Virgil, she would rather yield to love (et nos cedamus amori).

The second poem (Conscientious Objector) is a pacifist poem. She was a pacifist and wrote poems pitying war's brutalities during World War II. Ankush however maintained Edna was not against war in itself, but scorned the idea of romantic war. The Poetry Foundation bio above has a long paragraph about her fervent pacifism of 1933, which was transformed into her writing war propaganda when she realised that Hitler and Japanese militarism were threatening the world. Thommo and Sunil referred to WWI starting in the Balkans with a shot that killed Archduke Ferdinand.

Sunil advised us to read the third long poem (The Ballad of the Harp Weaver) on our own. It tells the story of a woman without the means to clothe or feed her son, but who can give him love.

3. Talitha
Donald Justice (1925 – 2004)
Donald Justice was born in Miami in 1925. He studied piano and composition and graduated in English Literature. He studied at Univ of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was among the first to study at the creative writer's programme in USA, the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He later returned to teach there and was the mentor of many poets who came out of the workshop. He was a master of many forms of poetry (such as the villanelle, the sestina and the ballad), and even tried a random form (if there is such a thing) known as aleatory poems, which comes from the Latin word, aleator, for gambler. Such poems are prone to fragmentation, yet sound complete when they end, said Talitha. Rather like the average human life, what? You can read the poet's bio Talitha quoted from at

It seems he was an exacting teacher and nothing a student wrote ever held up under his severe gaze. A student lamented, “in less than ten words he could fashion a question that would blow your knot of words open like thistledown.”

The first poem, There is a gold light in certain old paintings, paints the lovely image of golden light. Orpheus' tragic loss of Eurydice is described in these words, which Talitha liked:
the song went this way: O prolong
Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.

CJ referred to the simple line
It is like happiness, when we are happy.

and noted its childlike quality.

Talitha skipped the next poem and read the one on the Pantoum of the Great Depression. Pantoum is a Malay verse form consisting of an indefinite number of quatrains with the second and fourth lines of each quatrain repeated as the first and third lines of the following one. Some of the descriptions are characteristic of the greyness that descended on lives in the Depression era, but it was a misery that people kept private although everyone suffered:
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

The repetitiveness induced by the form makes it read like a dirge; form and content are therefore apposite. Everyone appreciated the poem. KumKum said the poet crafted it very well. Ankush called it very 'modern'. Talitha remarked on the starkness of the line:
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor

Zakia liked the image
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.

and asked what was a villanelle; Talitha, our resident expert on forms, explained it and this is best read at leisure in the wikipedia reference:

where the villanelle is illustrated by the example of Dylan Thomas' famous poem, Do not go gentle into that good night, which has been recited twice at KRG.

4. Pamela
Constantine P. Cavafy (1863 – 1933)
The poem Pamela selected has been recited before, six years ago along with other well-regarded poems of Constantine Cavafy – Waiting for the Barbarians, Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto. See

There's an excellent bio at the Poetry Foundation site:

Itahaca stresses the journey is everything, the destination less important, or as R.L. Stevenson put it in concluding his essay, El Dorado:
to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.

Somewhere else that great traveller said:
For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.

Pamela liked the lines
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,

Cavafy describes snatches of the 20-year journey of Odysseus from Troy, back to his native kingdom, Ithaca, with his faithful mariners, braving the dangers from Cyclopses, the race of one-eyed giant monsters, and the Laistrygonians, the giant cannibals who destroyed many of his ships with rocks and ate several companions of his. When Odysseus returns (as Joe, Thommo, and CJ remarked) only his old dog, Argos, recognises him, and has barely enough strength to wag his tail. Penelope, his wife, is busy keeping at bay suitors. She is the exemplar of the faithful wife. Incidentally, Ulysses is the name in Roman myths for Odysseus, and Tennyson's poem, Ulysses, is also about his return to Itahaca.

Cavafy's style is direct, almost laconic, but with it he achieves great wisdom:
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.

You can see he is a sensual poet too, but in this poem he has no need to be erotic as he is in other poems. Cavafy circulated his verse among friends, but did not care to publish much, and privately, if at all. He therefore died in obscurity, and it was for posterity to discover him, and his world of fleeting pleasures and relationships. But he was a serious student of history and civilisations too. His writings were acclaimed by E.M. Forster.

5. Ankush
John Burnside (1916 – 2008)
Ankush distributed a few heavily marked up pages of three poems of John Burnside, a Scottish poet whose bio may be read at

In his memoirs A Lie About My Father he recalls the experience of being badly affected by an alcoholic and abusive father. A volume of his verse called Black Cat Bone (2011) won the Forward Prize for Poetry and the T.S. Eliot Prize. You can read a review of the collection at

Ankush likes the way Burnside uses metaphors and language. Rather than say, 'I am sad', he communicates it indirectly by the images he uses. In the poem Disappointment he seems to be recalling himself as a child wading into a stream and the water flowing past in a 'Quink-blue current' and a fish swimming by.

CJ said Parker Quink is still sold as ink in these days of ball-point pens. In India it is made and marketed by Luxor. On how Quink became famous you can read:

Parker Quink is still going strong after 80 years:

People were puzzled by the word 'burr' in the expression
A burr of water streaming through his hands

It means a whirring noise, in its onomatopoeic sense, and not any of those other meanings.

In Loved and Lost the poet concludes that
that love divulged is barely love at all:
only the slow decay of the second skin
concocted from the tinnitus of longing.

Whatever that means; so all those who have been professing their love through the ages – this poet reveals they have only been busy about derma care!

In Amnesia, the third short poem, Burnside says there is always room for ambiguity in memory. And the image for that he uses is snow falling to obscure the contours of familiar shapes. People liked the expression
is one

for the effect of a snow drift. The use of 'precise and random' makes the reader sit up. These are good impressionist scene captures.

6. CJ Mathew
Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
You can read about this German-American poet at

Somebody called him the poet of American low-life. He was a poet in LA, that wonderful city to examine the seedy side of America, and wikipedia reports 'Bukowski embarked on a series of love affairs and one-night trysts', all of which provided material for his poetry, and his short stories. Wikipedia also speaks of his 'riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behaviour', and the epitaph on his tomb: “Don't Try”, which apparently forbids the aspiring poet from trying to create poetry, instead he is admonished to wait, and wait, until it comes to you. Bukowski didn't have to wait around a lot, judging from the thousands of poems he wrote.

CJ wondered if the first poem he had chosen by Bukowski was fit for reading before the gentle ladies of our group. But a chorus of yeas put paid to his bashfulness and he went ahead with My Groupie. This poet is obviously a performer well used to young women reaching out and straining to touch him on stage. The colloquial meaning of 'take' is to have your way sexually with a person. is most useful on this score, and you can look up the meaning of the word 'score' itself.

When the poem ends one is compelled to agree with the poet
one can never be sure
whether it's good poetry or
bad acid.

Bukowski's description of Poetry readings is fortunately different from ours. None of our readers are
still hoping their genius will be

It is not our own 'thin invisible talent' we gather to celebrate. Laughter punctuates our readings, given that no poet or reader, can escape the ready wit of our audience to find something incongruous or silly in the proceedings.

Bukowski's experience of the 'poetry holes of America' where people gather to read their own poetry may be one side of the picture. But isn't it wonderful that people gather at all for poetry readings, to listen to each other? Take a look at this picture of people at a bar in lower Manhattan attending a 'poetry slam'. Do they look sad, or are they rapt?

The audience at KGB Bar in Manhattan listens to recited poetry

The Prakriti Foundation in Chennai conducts such events too. By the way a 'four rounder' is to boxing what T20 is to cricket, a shortened version in which the boxers go at each other slam-bang for four rounds (if both men last) from the word go.

7. Thommo
Günter Grass (1927 – 2015)
The German author died a few days ago on April 12 and appropriately Thommo chose to read a poem of his, considered controversial when it was published. Wikipedia states the facts thus:
On 4 April 2012, Grass's poem "What Must Be Said" (Was gesagt werden muss) was published in several European newspapers. Grass expressed his concern about the hypocrisy of German military support (the delivery of a submarine) for an Israel that might use such equipment to launch nuclear warheads against Iran, which "could wipe out the Iranian people" ("dass...iranische Volk auslöschen könnte").

And he hoped that many would demand "that the governments of both Iran and Israel allow an international authority free and open inspection of the nuclear potential and capability of both."

In response, Israel declared him persona non grata in that country.

Thommo mentioned that originally Grass had owned up early on to being a member of the Hitler Youth (as was former Pope Benedict XVI) when he was conscripted as a boy during WWII. What he took a long time confessing (until 2006 when he wrote a biographical memoir later translated as Peeling the Onion) was that at age 17 he had actually volunteered for the Waffen SS, a separate part of the German army who were responsible for the worst war crimes, including the death camps. Read a review of the book at

What Must Be Said is a prose poem of 69 lines in 9 unrhymed stanzas. The poet demands that the Iranian and the Israeli nuclear sites be both put under international control, and nuclear weapons eliminated. The Western hypocrisy Grass underscores consists in treating Israeli nuclear weapons as okay, but Iranian weapons, if they exist at all, as evil. He excoriates Germany for abetting the Israeli nuclear posture of aggression by providing a submarine so it could launch a missile from a mobile site that could not be tracked easily or attacked.

The further hypocrisy (of the West) is to raise a big ruckus about nuclear proliferation by 'rogue states' while they themselves were the world's very FIRST proliferators by supplying clandestinely the means to produce weapons-grade plutonium to Israel: a reactor from France erected at Dimona, a site in the Negev desert; heavy water from Norway via England and later supplied by USA; uranium sourced from the apartheid South African regime; testing conducted in the Prince Edward Islands (not far from Antarctica) under S African control); all watched and monitored silently by US intelligence and satellites. You can read much of this interesting stuff in a detailed account at an Israeli website 

The nuclear reactor which supplied Israel with weapons-grade plutonium for atomic bombs - outside Dimona in the northern Negev desert

Joe asked Thommo: what is there so controversial in what Grass stated in the poem? It is common knowledge that Germany supplied a submarine and was 'complicit' in providing a platform for an atomic weapon at sea; that Israel had nuclear weapons is also universally known. Grass' solution of bringing Iranian and Israeli nuclear sites under international control as the only way for peace to return to Israel and Palestine is an opinion, radical perhaps, but rational and fair. Would Grass have caused as much of a controversy if he had composed it as a prose article for the same journals, Süddeutsche Zeitung, La Repubblica and El País?

The outcry orchestrated by the Israeli lobby worldwide was undoubtedly because a German of international stature had broken a long-standing protocol that no German should ever say anything critical of Israel, given that Germany was responsible for much of the cruelty and systematic killing of Jews during the time of the Third Reich. That taboo being broken was a barrier breached which infuriated the Israeli government. Grass warns in the poem that the charge of anti-semitism is an easy knee-jerk reaction, but one that would not stick against him.

8. Zakia
Sudeep Sen (born 1964 )
Zakia read a poem, quite detailed and descriptive, done by Sudeep Sen for Leela Samson, the former dancer of the Kalakshetra in Chennai. If there is a fault in this poem it is the excessive details in the description, leaving little to the imagination of the reader. It is a tribute to Leela Samson and talks of her eyelids that 'flit and flirt.' Priya said of Sudeep Sen that he has a glad eye. He's cute, added, CJ. We wondered whether Leela had a Samson; apparently not. You can see her dancing here

Whether pirouettes are a feature of Bharatnatyam or not, we can't say, probably not. Priya used a quaint phrase for Leela Samson saying she is 'not very new' (born 1951 to be precise).

Said KumKum to Joe
'You're not very new,'
He answered encore
'But neither, my dear, are you!'

Talitha alerted us to the line
adorns you and your dance, reminding us of
the treasure chest that is only

The treasure chest is her dancer's body the poet is referring to.

9. Joe
Grey Gowrie (born 1939)
Joe's reading consisted of the lyrics of three Fado songs, translated by the poet, Grey Gowrie, from the Portuguese lyrics written by three different lyricists named in the text below.

Fado (from Latin fatum = fate) means destiny and the genre originated in the 1820s. Wikipedia says “In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.” Popular poets have written verses for this kind of music, and singers began to adapt the poems of even literary poets, like Pedro Homem de Mello, to fado music. Composers supplied the melody. We heard fado in Fort Kochi several years ago when singers from the University of Coimbra (a group called Alma de Coimbra) sang in the Bishop's House outdoors in full costume on Jan 29, 2009:

Joe came to know about Fado music 20 years ago when a singer with a smoky voice called Cesária Évora from the Cape Verde islands sold a top selling CD in USA. There are many other famous singers (Amália Rodrigues, Cristina Branco, Mariza) of fado, female as well as male.

A word about the poet. Grey Gowrie (the Earl of Gowrie) is a well connected hereditary peer of the realm, and has been a Tory minister in the 80s and 90s, and was chairman of the Arts Council and Sotheby's. He was born in 1939 and at a young age he published his first book of poems, after working as an assistant to the American poet, Robert Lowell – that was from a time Gowrie spent teaching at Harvard after graduating from Oxford, as all British peers do. After that he fell silent as far as poetry was concerned and woke up only after after the trauma of a heart transplant and published a new volume called the Domino Hymn, a sequence of 17 poems in 2005.

The three fado poems (translations of lyrics of the fado songs) are taken from a recent volume of Grey Gowrie in 2013 called The Italian Visitor. Two of the fado poems below (Vielas De Alfama and Lembrai-te da Nossa Rua?are followed by links to videos where you can hear the music.

Grey Gowrie came to write these translations at the suggestion of the Gulbenkian Foundation Director Andrew Barnett in London when he told the Director how he enjoyed going to attend the fado music sessions at O Fado, a Portuguese restaurant in Knightsbridge. The foundation commissioned 18 poets including Gowrie, to do English versions of Fado songs, alongside the original. That resulted in a volume called
Saudade: An Anthology of Fado Poetry
by Mimi Khalvati (Author, Editor)

For the table of contents of this volume, showing all the poets and their poems, see

Elena Kuzmina says Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or a missing lover. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.

Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone. It is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being – which now triggers the senses and makes one live again – or feel incomplete forever.

10. Govid Sethunath
Percy Shelley (1792 – 1822)
Our new reader Govind Sethunath chose to read from Shelley. One of the poems, Ozymandias, was read by Priya when she came first to attend. It is there in the list of Poets and Poems read at our blog.

Govind gave a little family background to Shelley. He married a girl called Harriet impetuously, after she threatened to commit suicide. Later after some travels and writing, he met Mary Wollstonecroft Godwin, daughter of a feminist, and abandoned Harriet to marry the new lady who became the famous author, Mary Shelley. Read about their complex relationships and passions at the wiki site

They led a wonderful life amid a circle of friends including poets like Byron and Keats. Shelley's generous admiration of Keats is reflected in his poem Adonais, written as an elegy after Keats died. Shelley too died young, only a year after Keats, in a boating accident when his sailboat capsized on the NW coast of Italy, in the gulf of Spezia between Genoa and Pisa. His body when found was defaced and bloated and had to be cremated on the beach. 

Shelley's Funeral by Fournier (Byron in boots at the right, Leigh Hunt is next to him)

Ozymandias was an alternative name for King Ramesses II. Wikipedia states that
Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth-century BC, and some scholars believe that Shelley was inspired by this.

Shelley's further inspiration came from an inscription on a statue, "King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work." Shelley and his friend, Horace Smith, competed to write a sonnet based on this and you can see the two sonnets side by side at

Nothing can match the grave finality of the last five lines of Shelley's poem:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

This image could also have been invoked when soldiers pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein after the fall of Baghdad in the 2003 Iraq War. Ankush delivered the trivial bit that this poem was used as the title of an episode in the TV series called Breaking Bad (which, he said, means raising hell). See

The second poem Govind recited was Love's Philosophy. It is an excellent poem to memorise for youths who have designs on damsels. Joe said he recalled the last two lines differently and gave out his version, which is actually the one that appears in the Palgrave Treasury – from where he got his dose of the romantic poets early. Thommo guessed it might be just such lines Joe used on KumKum!

Everyone lauded Govind for his maiden effort.

11. Priya
John Milton (1608 – 1674)
Milton's duet of long poems Il Penseroso (the melancholy man) and L'Allegro (the happy man) figures in most anthologies of the last century. The wikipedia entry for L'Allegro notes: “The poem invokes Mirth and other allegorical figures of joy and merriment, and extols the active and cheerful life, while depicting a day in the countryside according to this philosophy.” See

It starts with a stentorian cry to banish loathèd Melancholy, and extols the virtues of the nymph Aurora
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,

A little further
Com, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastick toe

Talitha pointed out this image takes off from William Shakespeare, who has these lines in The Tempest ('trip' means to dance nimbly):
Before you can say come, and goe,
And breathe twice; and cry, so, so:
Each one tripping on his Toe,
Will be here with mop, and mowe.

Another fine image is
Sport that wrincled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.

Il Penseroso finds our learned poet starting out with a cry of bastardy abuse:
HENCE vain deluding joyes,
The brood of folly without father bred,

Joe has never forgotten this, and hoped to use the second line against a rapscallion, but hasn't had the chance yet.

The Poems

1. KumKum
Ezra Pound (1885 – 1972)

Ezra Pound photographed as a young man in 1913 by Alvin Langdon Coburn

Au Jardin
O you away high there,
You that lean
From amber lattices upon the cobalt night,
I am below amid the pine trees,
Amid the little pine trees, hear me!

'The jester walked in the garden.'
Did he so?
Well, there's no use your loving me
That way, Lady;
For I've nothing but songs to give you.

I am set wide upon the world's ways
To say that life is, some way, a gay thing,
But there'll come sorrow of it.
And I loved a love once,
Over beyond the moon there,
I loved a love once,
And, may be, more times,

But she danced like a pink moth in the shrubbery.
Oh! O know you women from the 'other folk',
And it'll all come right,
O' Sundays.

'The jester walked in the garden.'
Did he so?

Dance Figure
For the Marriage in Cana of Galilee
O woman of my dreams,
Ivory sandalled,
There is none like thee among the dancers,
None with swift feet.
I have not found thee at the well-head
Among the women with pitchers.
Thine arms are as a young sapling under the bark;
Thy face as a river with lights.

White as an almond are thy shoulders;
As new almonds stripped from the husk.
They guard thee not with eunuchs;
Not with bars of copper.

Gilt turquoise and silver are the place of thy rest.
A brown robe, with threads of gold woven in
patterns, hast thou gathered about thee,
O Nathat-Ikanaie, 'Tree-at-the-river.'

As a rillet among the sedge are thy hands upon me;
Thy fingers a frosted stream.

Thy maidens are white like pebbles;
Their music about thee!
There is none like thee among the dancers;
None with swift feet.

You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hand,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.

I who have seen you amid the primal things
was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion seed-pod and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,

2. Sunil
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Conscientious Objector
I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome.

The Ballad of the Harp Weaver
Son,” said my mother,
When I was knee-high,

You’ve need of clothes to cover you,
And not a rag have I.
There’s nothing in the house
To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with
Nor thread to take stitches.
There’s nothing in the house
But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman’s head
Nobody will buy,”

And she began to cry.
That was in the early fall.
When came the late fall,

Son,” she said, “the sight of you

Makes your mother’s blood crawl,–
Little skinny shoulder-blades
Sticking through your clothes!
And where you’ll get a jacket from
God above knows.
It’s lucky for me, lad,
Your daddy’s in the ground,
And can’t see the way I let
His son go around!”
And she made a queer sound.
That was in the late fall.
When the winter came,
I’d not a pair of breeches
Nor a shirt to my name.
I couldn’t go to school,
Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
Passed our way.
Son,” said my mother,
Come, climb into my lap,
And I’ll chafe your little bones
While you take a nap.”
And, oh, but we were silly
For half an hour or more,
Me with my long legs
Dragging on the floor,
To a mother-goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
For half an hour’s time!
But there was I, a great boy,
And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
To sleep all day,
In such a daft way?
Men say the winter
Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
And food was dear.


3. Talitha
Donald Justice (1925 – 2004)

There is a gold light in certain old paintings
There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.
It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and from nowhere at once, this light,
And the poor soldiers sprawled at the foot of the cross
Share in its charity equally with the cross.

Orpheus hesitated beside the black river.
With so much to look forward to he looked back.
We think he sang then, but the song is lost.
At least he had seen once more the beloved back.
I say the song went this way: O prolong
Now the sorrow if that is all there is to prolong.

The world is very dusty, uncle. Let us work.
One day the sickness shall pass from the earth for good.
The orchard will bloom; someone will play the guitar.
Our work will be seen as strong and clean and good.
And all that we suffered through having existed
Shall be forgotten as though it had never existed.

This poem is not addressed to you
This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly,
But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.

Even while you sit there, unmovable,
You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.

It is not sad, really, only empty.
Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.

Your type of beauty has no place here.
Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.

You neither can nor should understand what it means.
Listen, it comes without guitar,
Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.

Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon.
You will forget the poem, but not before
It has forgotten you. And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.

O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned!
Nor is one silence equal to another.
And it does not matter what you think.
This poem is not addressed to you.

Pantoum of the Great Depression
Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

Simply by going on and on
We managed. No need for the heroic.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
I don't remember all the particulars.

We managed. No need for the heroic.
There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
I don't remember all the particulars.
Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
Thank god no one said anything in verse.
The neighbors were our only chorus,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
No audience would ever know our story.

It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
What audience would ever know our story?
Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
We did not ourselves know what the end was.
The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
People like us simply go on.
We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.
And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

From Collected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Donald Justice. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Source: Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)

4. Pamela
Constantine P. Cavafy (1863 – 1933)

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

5. Ankush
John Burnside (1916 – 2008)

Hope will predominate in every mind, till it has been suppressed by frequent disappointments. Samuel Johnson

I turn left out of the rain
at Kippo junction.
The windshield clearing to sky and a skim
of swallows over the road like the last few
pages of a 50s story book

where someone is walking home
to the everafter,
touched with the smell of the woods and the barberry
shadows where the boy he left behind
is standing up to his waist in a Quink-blue current.

A burr of water streaming through his hands
in silt italics, touch all hook and eye
beneath the swell, and fingers opened wide
to catch what slithers past – the powder-blue
and neon of a surer life than his,
scant as it is, and lost, in the gaze of others.

Loved and Lost
Give me a childhood again and I will live
as owls do in the moss and curvature

of nightfall

but never really seen,

tracking the lane
to a house I have known from birth

through goldenrod
and alstroemeria;

while somewhere,
at the far edge of the day,

a pintailed duck
is calling to itself

across a lake,
the answer it receives

no more or less remote than we become
to one another,

then set aside till we admit

that love divulged is barely love at all:
only the slow decay of the second skin

concocted from the tinnitus of longing.

It never lasts;
but for a while,
at least,
I forget
what I wanted to see
from my kitchen door
and watch the new snow
falling in the yard
and random
like an early film,
whiting at the corners
then the spars
of the gate,
erasing the path
by degrees
and blanking out
the post-and-wire
along our boundary
till everything
is one
and all the world
is local: fuzzed
of motion
and those long
where a man
is almost there,
raising his hand
to wave
or turning back,
and random
like an early film
and pausing
in the snow,
as if to listen.

6. CJ Mathew
Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
Portrait by Martin Hanko
My Groupie
I read last Saturday in the
redwoods outside of Santa Cruz
and I was about 3/4's finished
when I heard a long high scream
and a quite attractive
young girl came running toward me
long gown & divine eyes of fire
and she leaped up on the stage
and screamed: "I WANT YOU!
I told her, "look, get the hell
away from me."
but she kept tearing at my
clothing and throwing herself
at me.
"where were you," I
asked her, "when I was living
on one candy bar a day and
sending short stories to the
Atlantic Monthly?"
she grabbed my balls and almost
twisted them off. her kisses
tasted like shitsoup.
2 women jumped up on the stage
carried her off into the
I could still hear her screams
as I began the next poem.
mabye, I thought, I should have
taken her on stage in front
of all those eyes.
but one can never be sure
whether it's good poetry or
bad acid.

Poetry readings
poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clanladies,
week after week, month after month, year
after year,
getting old together,
reading on to tiny gatherings,
still hoping their genius will be
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause
they read basically to and for
each other,
they can't find a New York publisher
or one
within miles,
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never daunted,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, the other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
from nowhere.

I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.

if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:

a drunken plumber at a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
an elephant's fart in a circus tent,
a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
the mailman telling a dirty joke


(from Bone Palace Ballet © Ecco, 2002. Reprinted with permission.)

7. Thommo
Günter Grass (1927 – 2015)

What Must Be Said
Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long
What clearly is and has been
Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors
Are at best footnotes.

It is the alleged right to first strike
That could annihilate the Iranian people--
Enslaved by a loud-mouth
And guided to organized jubilation--
Because in their territory,
It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

The universal concealment of these facts,
To which my silence subordinated itself,
I sense as incriminating lies
And force--the punishment is promised
As soon as it is ignored;
The verdict of "anti-Semitism" is familiar.

Now, though, because in my country
Which from time to time has sought and confronted
Its very own crime
That is without compare
In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,
I say what must be said.

Why though have I stayed silent until now?
Because I thought my origin,
Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged
Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound

And wish to stay bound,
From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

Why do I say only now,
Aged and with my last ink,
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say;
Also because we--as Germans burdened enough--
Could be the suppliers to a crime
That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity
Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

And granted: I am silent no longer
Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped
That this will free many from silence,
That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger
To renounce violence and
Likewise insist
That an unhindered and permanent control
Of the Israeli nuclear potential
And the Iranian nuclear sites
Be authorized through an international agency
By the governments of both countries.

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
Even more, all people, that in this
Region occupied by mania
Live cheek by jowl among enemies,
And also us, to be helped.

8. Zakia
Sudeep Sen (born 1964 )

Bharatanatyam Dancer
for Leela Samson

Spaces in the electric air divide themselves
in circular rhythms, as the slender
grace of your arms and bell-tied ankles
describe a geometric topography, real, cosmic,
one that once reverberated continually in
a prescribed courtyard of an ancient temple
in South India. As your eyelids flit and flirt, and
match the subtle abhinaya in a flutter
of eye-lashes, the pupils create an
unusual focus, a sight only ciliary muscles
blessed and cloaked in celestial kaajal
could possibly enact.
The raw brightness of kanjeevaram silk, of
your breath, and the nobility of antique silver
adorns you and your dance, reminding us of
the treasure chest that is only
half-exposed, disclosed just enough, barely —
for art in its purest form never reveals all.
Even after the arc-lights have long faded,
the audience, now invisible, have stayed over.
Here, I can still see your pirouettes, frozen
as time-lapse exposures, feel
the murmuring shadow of an accompanist’s
intricate raag in this theatre of darkness,
a darkness where oblique memories of my
quiet Kalakshetra days filter,
matching your very own of another time,
where darkness itself is sleeping light,
light that merges, reshapes, and ignites,
dancing delicately in the half-light.
But it is this sacred darkness that endures,
melting light with desire, desire that simmers
and sparks the radiance of your
quiet femininity, as the female dancer
now illuminates everything visible: clear,
poetic, passionate, and ice-pure.

9. Joe
Grey Gowrie (born 1939)

Madrugada (Dawn)
Cold night with dawn breaking
like ice at the moment of waking
and your heart a dream window
you cannot look out of or know
whom to follow, where to go
and your love a shadow.

You drift on alone
through the backstreets of Lisbon
empty as you are.
Is it worth walking so far
for some moral star,
for someone not there?

If only you knew
whom you wanted to make love to
in the end, or could come
to believe in the dream
she was the same
one you suspected all the time.

The time that flows down
byways of a sleeping town
as each reiterating dawn
of your life wears on
to disappoint and inspire
your song, your sad guitar.

(after the Portuguese lyrics of Fernando Pinto do Amaral)

Vielas De Alfama (Streets of Alfama)
In dead hours of night
a guitar is trembling
and a woman singing
her bitter fado.

Even through the grimy
and murky glass
of her window
there comes a voice
for all who go
down the alleys of Alfama,
streets of old Lisbon,
hurt by her sorrow.

I wish I lived there
too, for the fado.
I would spy, like the moon,
on secretive lovers
half-seen in doorways
or spurred on by sad
and shameful old songs

of the streets of Alfama
alleys of Lisbon,
the moon, the guitar
and the woman singing.

(after the Portuguese lyrics of Artur Ribeiro). You can see a video of the music at sung by Consiglia Licciardi & Nuno da Camara Pereira )

Lembrai-te da Nossa Rua? (Do you remember our street?)
Remember our street?
Where we used to meet
and lived and loved in? Where you
used to live and I still do
and which was supposed to see us through?

Cold winds came,
cold even for springtime,
to sweep you away
like leaves that fell later
the autumn after

you’d gone. A sea
in moonlight brings you back to me
sometimes, but it is only
a mirage, a stratagem,
a ghost in my garden.

Our poor street
looks empty now it is too late
to find you. Sometimes
I imagine you coming and going
like you used to. But there is only the going.

(after the Portuguese lyrics of António Cálem). You can see a video of the music titled Fado da Defesa at

10. Govid Sethunath
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Love’s Philosophy
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

(The penultimate line of the two stanzas differ in Palgrave's Treasury:
In one another's being mingle— instead of In one spirit meet and mingle

What are all these kissings worth instead of What is all this sweet work worth)

11. Priya
John Milton (1608 – 1674)

L'Allegro (poem texts in ye olde orthography)
HENCE loathèd Melancholy
Of Cerberus and blackest midnight born,
In Stygian Cave forlorn
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shreiks, and sights unholy.
Find out som uncouth cell, 5
Where brooding darknes spreads his jealous wings,
And the night-Raven sings;
There, under Ebon shades, and low-brow'd Rocks,
As ragged as thy Locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. 10
But com thou Goddes fair and free,
In Heav'n ycleap'd Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth
With two sister Graces more 15
To Ivy-crownèd Bacchus bore;
Or whether (as som Sager sing)
The frolick Wind that breathes the Spring,
Zephir with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a Maying, 20
There on Beds of Violets blew,
And fresh-blown Roses washt in dew,
Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
So bucksom, blith, and debonair.
Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee 25
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and Wreathèd Smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek; 30
Sport that wrincled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Com, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastick toe,
And in thy right hand lead with thee, 35
The Mountain Nymph, sweet Liberty;
And if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crue
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreprovèd pleasures free; 40
To hear the Lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull night,
From his watch-towre in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to com in spight of sorrow, 45
And at my window bid good morrow,
Through the Sweet-Briar, or the Vine,
Or the twisted Eglantine.
While the Cock with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darknes thin, 50
And to the stack, or the Barn dore,
Stoutly struts his Dames before,
Oft list'ning how the Hounds and horn
Chearly rouse the slumbring morn,
From the side of som Hoar Hill, 55
Through the high wood echoing shrill.
Som time walking not unseen
By Hedge-row Elms, on Hillocks green,
Right against the Eastern gate,
Wher the great Sun begins his state, 60
Rob'd in flames, and Amber light,
The clouds in thousand Liveries dight.
While the Plowman neer at hand,
Whistles ore the Furrow'd Land,
And the Milkmaid singeth blithe, 65
And the Mower whets his sithe,
And every Shepherd tells his tale
Under the Hawthorn in the dale.
These delights, if thou canst give,
Mirth with thee, I mean to live.
(Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900)

Il Penseroso
HENCE vain deluding joyes,
The brood of folly without father bred,
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixèd mind with all your toyes;
Dwell in som idle brain, 5
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the Sun Beams,
Or likest hovering dreams
The fickle Pensioners of Morpheus train. 10
But hail thou Goddes, sage and holy,
Hail divinest Melancholy,
Whose Saintly visage is too bright
To hit the Sense of human sight;
And therfore to our weaker view, 15
Ore laid with black staid Wisdoms hue.
Black, but such as in esteem,
Prince Memnons sister might beseem,
Or that Starr'd Ethiope Queen that strove
To set her beauties praise above 20
The Sea Nymphs, and their powers offended.
Yet thou art higher far descended,
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore,
To solitary Saturn bore;
His daughter she (in Saturns raign, 25
Such mixture was not held a stain)
Oft in glimmering Bowres, and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove. 30
Com pensive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestick train,
And sable stole of Cipres Lawn, 35
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Com, but keep thy wonted state,
With eev'n step, and musing gate,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes: 40
There held in holy passion still,
Forget thy self to Marble, till
With a sad Leaden downward cast,
Thou fix them on the earth as fast.
And joyn with thee calm Peace, and Quiet, 45
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring,
Ay round about Joves Altar sing.
And adde to these retirèd Leasure,
That in trim Gardens takes his pleasure; 50
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheelèd throne,
The Cherub Contemplation,
And the mute Silence hist along, 55
'Less Philomel will daign a Song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
While Cynthia checks her Dragon yoke,
Gently o're th'accustom'd Oke; 60
Sweet Bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musicall, most melancholy!
Thee Chauntress oft the Woods among,
I woo to hear thy even-Song;
And missing thee, I walk unseen 65
On the dry smooth-shaven Green.
To behold the wandring Moon,
Riding neer her highest noon,
Like one that had bin led astray
Through the Heav'ns wide pathles way; 70


Shipra said...

It was a delightful Poetry Session. We read from 11 poets. Enjoyed the session very much. Thanks to everyone who participated in the session.

And, Joe you did a marvelous job in your reporting.

Management - Learning from Experiences by Reflection said...

Yes, KumKum, I too recall this session with warmth. Sometimes magic is created when people meet and focus on things which move the spirit ...

Glad you enjoyed my reportage, which sometimes goes a little beyond what was strictly discussed within the confines of the session.