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Poems

http://poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/listen-to-poetry

¤  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE  [1564-1616]
The man that hath no music in himself,
 
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
 
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
 
And his affections dark as Erebus:
 
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. 

[The Merchant of Venice]

7ages-of-man

•  The Seven Ages of Man ⇒

∇  Alexander Pope   [1688-1744]  ↓

” Ode on Solitude”

•→The Dance of Death ←[Sir Walter Scott, 1771 – 1832]

Ψ   Three poems  ↓

1→ The Rainbow  [William Wordsworth]

2→ The Child Is Father To The Man  [Gerard Manley Hopkins]

3→ Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children  [Ogden Nash]

♦  Jeremy Irons reads ↓  “Afterwards” [Thomas Hardy_1840-1928]

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
‘He was a man who used to notice such things’?

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid’s soundless blink,
The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
‘To him this must have been a familiar sight.’

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, ‘He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm,
But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.’

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door,
Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
‘He was one who had an eye for such mysteries’?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom
And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell’s boom,
‘He hears it not now, but used to notice such things’?

♦ → Morgan Freeman recites ‘Invictus’  ↓  by William Ernest Henley  [1849-1903]

. . . It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

♦  Richard Burton reads ‘The hound of Heaven’  ↓  by Francis Thompson  [1859-1907]

♦  “Desiderata”  ↓ Max Ehrmann (1872–1945)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
  
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
  
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
  
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
  
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.
¤  Two poems by D H Lawrence  ⇓ [1885-1930]
⇓  The Elephant Is Slow To Mate ←  

♦ “The English Are So Nice!” ↓

The English are so nice – so awfully nice
they are the nicest people in the world.

And what’s more, they’re very nice about being nice
about your being nice as well!
If you’re not nice they soon make you feel it.

Americans and French and Germans and so on
they’re all very well – but they’re not really nice, you know.
They’re not nice in our sense of the word, are they now?

That’s why one doesn’t have to take them seriously.
We must be nice to them, of course,  of course, naturally—
But it doesn’t really matter what you say to them,
they don’t really understand—
you can just say anything to them:
be nice, you know, just be nice
but you must never take them seriously,
they wouldn’t understand.

Just be nice, you know!  Oh, fairly nice,
not too nice of course, they take advantage—
but nice enough, just nice enough
to let them feel they’re not quite as nice as they might be.

¤  Bill Murray reads  ↓  Wallace Stevens  [1879-1955]

•  The Planet On The Table  

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

•  A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts ↑

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten on the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

♦  Wystan Hugh Auden  ⇓  [1907-1973]

audenpoems

≈  ‘If I could tell you’  ↓

⇓  “Funeral Blues” ⇐

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

O Tell Me the Truth About Love  ⇓

¤  Philip Larkin ←[1922-1985]
Φ  “This Be the Verse”  ↓  (read by Tom Courtenay)

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
 
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
 
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
∞  “We Real Cool”  ↓  Gwendolyn Brooks  [1917-2000]

… First read by the poet herself, then by Mr Morgan Freeman  ↑

Θ  “Wanting to Die”  ↓  Anne Sexton ←[1928-1974]

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.   
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.
 
Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,   
the furniture you have placed under the sun.
 
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
 
Twice I have so simply declared myself,   
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,   
have taken on his craft, his magic.
 
In this way, heavy and thoughtful,   
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.
 
I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.   
Suicides have already betrayed the body.
 
Still-born, they don’t always die,
but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet   
that even children would look on and smile.
 
To thrust all that life under your tongue!—
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.   
Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,
 
and yet she waits for me, year after year,   
to so delicately undo an old wound,   
to empty my breath from its bad prison.
 
Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,   
raging at the fruit a pumped-up moon,   
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,
 
leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love whatever it was, an infection.
¤ ¤  Sylvia Plath  [1932-1963]  ↓  (two poems)

≈  The Night Dances

≈  Ariel

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue pour of tor and distances.

God’s lioness, how one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!—

The furrow splits and passes,
sister to the brown arc of the neck I cannot catch,

Nigger-eye
Berries casting dark
Hooks—Black sweet blood mouthfuls,

Shadows.
Something else hauls me through air—
Thighs, hair; flakes from my heels.

White Godiva, I unpeel—
Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.

The child’s cry melts in the wall.
And I am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red eye, the cauldron of morning.

♥  The Laughing Heart ↓ [Charles Bukowski]

◊  Tiptoe  ↓ [ani difranco]

tiptoeing through the used condoms strewn on the piers
off the west side highway sunset behind the skyline of jersey
walking towards the water 

with a fetus holding court in my gut
my body highjacked – my tits swollen – I’m sore
the river has more colors at sunset than my sock drawer ever dreamed of
I could wake up screaming sometimes  but I don’t
I could step off the end of this pier but I’ve got shit to do
and I’ve an appointment on tuesday to shed uninvited blood and tissue
I’ll miss you I say to the river – to the water
to the son or daughter I thought better of
I could fall in love with jersey at sunset
but I leave the view
to the rats
and tiptoe back

♦  Michael Ondaatje ↓ reads ‘The Cinnamon Peeler’ [Hamilton Tolles Lecture, 2009] 

If I were a cinnamon peeler   I would ride your bed 
and leave the yellow bark dust  on your pillow.
Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers floating over you. 
The blind would stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe under rain gutters, monsoon.
Here on the upper thighat this smooth pastureneighbor to your hair
or the crease that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers as the cinnamon peeler’s wife.
I could hardly glance at you   before marriage – never touch you
— your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands in saffron, disguised them over smoking tar, helped the honey gatherers…
When we swam once    I touched you in water and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said,  this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter’s wife, the lime burner’s daughter.
And you searched your arms   for the missing perfume.
and knew what good is it  to be the lime burner’s daughter 
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love 
as if wounded without the pleasure of  scar.
You touched your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon peeler’s wife.  Smell me.
¤  Lawrence Ferlinghetti:
ferlinghetti

Recipe For Happiness Khaborovsk Or Anyplace

One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day.

 ¤  Allen Ginsberg  [1926-1997]⇒‘Howl’⇐
∇  Daevid Allen  ← [1938-2015]

‘POET FOR SALE’ ↓ (‘Now Is The Happiest Time Of Your Life’_1977)

Poet for sale, a real live one, yeah.
Yes a real live person for sale
I have my values anyway,
Clothing no extra charge of course

Buy me now, go on
Buy me now, save yourself.
Get a gnome for your home
Or an angel in a taxi-cab
Or a corpse in a London bus
Or a fairy in your dairy milking petty cash.

All you gotta do is buy me and I’m yours, all yours.
No extra charge and my hair is real I tell you, it’s real!
I beat as I sleep as I dream.

You could have me today, no deposit and I’m interest free too
Just free.  Isn’t that enough?
Take me and I will love you, lurve you, love you, love you
And then, eat you, eat you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you – Thank you, thank you, thank you

Thank you, thank you, thank you  –  Wank you, swallow you whole.

Master, your word is law
Wipe your feet on my mouth and I will wait at your door.

Am I really wanted? Am I? Am I wanted?
Is my head to be rented till demented?

Look, I’m no brothel full of philosophic muscle
I’m no menstruating minstrel in a bedroom with no headroom
I’m no rotten ill-gotten corpse of cold glutton to be bought cheap
So piss off purchasers!

‘Hey man – what’s happening?’  

¤  Poets on Film   ⇓  [National Film Board of Canada]

This short film brings together animated interpretations of four poems by great Canadian wordsmiths:

[1]  “Riverdale Lion” ↓  by John Robert Colombo
Bound lion, almost blind from meeting their gaze and popcorn
the Saturday kids love you. It is their parents
who would paint your mane with polkadots to match their California shorts
 and would trim your nails for tie clips.
 
Your few roars delight them. But they wish you would quicken your pace
and not disappear so often into your artificial cave
for there they think you partake of secret joys and race
through the jungle-green lair of memory
under an African sun as gold as your mane.
 
But you fool them. You merely suffer the heat and scatter the flies
with your tail. You never saw Africa.
The sign does not tell them that you were born here, in captivity,
 that you are as much a Canadian as they are.
[2]  “A Kite is a Victim”  ↓  by  Leonard Cohen  [1961]
A kite is a victim you are sure of.

You love it because it pulls

gentle enough to call you master,

strong enough to call you fool;

because it lives

like a desperate trained falcon

in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down

to tame it in your drawer.

 

A kite is a fish you have already
caught 
in a pool where no fish come,

so you play him carefully and long,

and hope he won’t give up,

or the wind die down.


 
A kite is the last poem you’ve written

so you give it to the wind,

but you don’t let it go

until someone finds you

something else to do.


 
A kite is a contract of glory

that must be made with the sun,

so you make friends with the field

the river and the wind,

then you pray the whole cold night before,

under the travelling cordless moon,

to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

[3]  “Klaxon”,  ↑  by  James Reaney    [1949]
All day cars mooed and shrieked,

Hollered and bellowed and wept

Upon the road.

They slid by with bits of fur attached,

Fox-tails and rabbit-legs,

The skulls and horns of deer,

Cars with yellow spectacles

Or motorcycle monocle,

Cars whose gold eyes burnt

With a too-rich battery,

Murderous cars and manslaughter cars,

Chariots from whose foreheads leapt

Silver women of ardent bosom.

 
Ownerless, passengerless, driverless,

They came to anyone

And with headlights full of tears

Begged for a master,

For someone to drive them

For the familiar chauffeur.
 

Limousines covered with pink slime

Of children’s blood

Turned into the open fields

And fell over into ditches,

The wheels kicking helplessly.

 
Taxis begged trees to step inside

Automobiles begged of posts

The whereabouts of their mother.

But no one wished to own them anymore,

Everyone wished to walk.
[4]  “The Bulge”  ↑  by George Johnston
Nobody knows what’s growing in Bridget.
Nobody knows whose is.
What’s more, maybe a beauty queen
Maybe a midget, maybe a braided bull to stand by the door
 
Lovely full Bridget
Her eyes are figs;
Her belly’s an ocean heaving with fish;
Her hair’s a barn yard with chickens and pigs;
Her outside is a banquet;
Her tongue is a dish.
 
Something enormous is bulging in Bridget: 

A milkman, a postman, a sugar stick, a slop, 

An old maid, a bad maid, a dull head, a fidget. 

Multple sweet Bridget, 
What will she draw?
∇  Charles Edward Carry’s “The Sleepy Giant”  ⇓  [voice & music: Natalie Merchant]

sleepygiant

My age is three hundred and seventy-two, 
And I think, with the deepest regret, 
How I used to pick up and voraciously chew 
The dear little boys whom I met.

I’ve eaten them raw, in their holiday suits; 
I’ve eaten them curried with rice; 
I’ve eaten them baked, in their jackets and boots, 
And found them exceedingly nice.

But now that my jaws are too weak for such fare, 
I think it exceedingly rude 
To do such a thing, when I’m quite well aware 
Little boys do not like to be chewed.

And so I contentedly live upon eels, 
And try to do nothing amiss, 
And I pass all the time I can spare from my meals 
In innocent slumber—like this.

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