Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Poetry News, In Brief

Scandalous! In The Times UK, Justine Picardie investigates whether Emily Brontë's poems were really written by her "reprobate" brother Branwell. Spoiler: Picardie doesn't solve the mystery, but the story is fascinating, nonetheless.

The Prisoner

Till let my tyrants know, I am not doom'd to wear
Year after year in gloom and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

He comes with Western winds, with evening's wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars:
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.

Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,
When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears:
When, if my spirit's sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder-storm.

But first, a hush of peace--a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends.
Mute music soothes my breast--unutter'd harmony
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels;
Its wings are almost free--its home, its harbour found,
Measuring the gulf, it stoops, and dares the final bound.

O dreadful is the check--intense the agony--
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb--the brain to think again--
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.

Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald Death, the vision is divine.

Another old scandal! Baroque in Hackney tells the tale of the night poet Wallace Stevens got his wish to have a fistfight with Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway hit Stevens three times before Stevens connected his first punch. When Stevens finally did land one, he broke his own hand! (Making the story even better, Hemingway was 36, Stevens was 56.)

The Plot Against the Giant

First Girl
When this yokel comes maundering,
Whetting his hacker,
I shall run before him,
Diffusing the civilest odors
Out of geraniums and unsmelled flowers.
It will check him.

Second Girl
I shall run before him,
Arching cloths besprinkled with colors
As small as fish-eggs.
The threads
Will abash him.

Third Girl
Oh, la...le pauvre!
I shall run before him,
With a curious puffing.
He will bend his ear then.
I shall whisper
Heavenly labials in a world of gutturals.
It will undo him.

Millions' Poet -- a poetry version of American Idol -- is currently the hottest show in Arabia. The Millions' poem reprinted below reminds me of another TV show: Kids Say The Darnedest Things.

Respect For Your Parents

by Muhammad al-Manhali

A child asks his father: “O father, where are you
going? Please tell me why you’re pulling my
grandfather on his bed instead of him using his

He replied: “I’m throwing away your grandfather in
the sea, there is no place for him here any more.
What do you want?”
The boy says: “I want his blanket, so that when
tomorrow comes and you grow old and come
under my shadow I can wrap you with it and throw
you along with him.”

Know people, that God blesses and will be pleased
to those who are always willing to serve and help
their parents, for as much as they are pleased with
you; so too will he be