Thursday, 21 June 2012

and so - no more poetry

being that there's now some 500 posts on here with that description attached. and while i'm all for dispersing the words of poets i think that's ample for a starter!

it's most likely not the last time a poem will be seen here but certainly they won't be appearing withanything like the same frequency - other blogs, other pressures and not enough time! if i was to do it again i would post more of the translations accompanied by the original languageversions (where possible). other than that i wouldn't change a whole lot. there's wee geographical areas i've missed but not many and a bit of googling should take anyone browsing to those places i haven't been.

i wanted to finish off with more stats but unfortunately i've just never got around to it. at the last count the most popular poets on here were (in order)

martgaret atwood (by a country mile!)
bertolt brecht
elma mitchell
claribel alegria
carol ann duffy
flavien ranaivo

so hope you enjoyed all that. 501!

tadeusz różewicz

Who Is a Poet

a poet is one who writes verses
and one who does not write verses

a poet is one who throws off fetters
and one who puts fetters on himself

a poet is one who believes
and one who cannot bring himself to believe

a poet is one who has told lies
and one who has been told lies

and who has been inclined to fall
and one who raises himself

a poet is one who tries to leave
and one who cannot leave

trans by magnus jan krynski and robert a maguire

Saturday, 16 June 2012

the forbidden word!!

vaginas. i'm rather partial to them. my mother had one and i'm very happy about that fact. most of my work colleagues are in possession of a vagina, quite some percentage of our work centres around the wonky doings of the vagina and its associated workings - these would be things like uteruses and ovaries and the like. we don't tend to have much discussion of the vagina beyond that except perhaps for the effects on it (and everything else) of pregnancy and childbirth. in these cases, mostly, i am glad i don't have a vagina. that said, not being in possession of a vagina, it's my place to listen in a vagina based discussion. women, being the possessors of the vagina, should have the last say on its doings. i'm reasonably certain most men would feel the same way if the positions were reversed.

or would they? it appears, according to the guardian, that for some people, and specifically a charming sounding fellow called Mike Callton who says It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women, it is so much of a taboo that other stuff, like free speech and whatnot, should be abandoned in the face of its power.

at first i was willing, and wanting, to believe that maybe it was just the guardian gilding the lily but now lisa brown, the dirty birdy who was driven to utter the word vagina in a public place, has confirmed the story. further she alleges that this same mike callton has a degree in biology. how did that work? maybe it's different where he comes from but when i did mine quite a lot of attention was paid to reproduction. did they just avoid the word vagina? and if so what replaced it? and then what did they do with the likes of cloaca?

it's a funny world we live in these days and i shouldn't really be surprised by any fresh new madness but this took me aback. it's the sort of thing that makes me want to fly to michigan and run up and down the streets shouting vagina, vagina, vagina! even in the guardian there appear to be those who are trying to put forward the position that using the word vagina is obscuring the debate on abortion. i would suggest that in a debate on women's reproductive rights if you can't use the word vagina in public you haven't got the right to be there in the first place.

and while i remember. just for balance - penis

charles simic

Eyes Fastened With Pins

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

too stupid for facebook

after what seems like months, and is quite probably years, of people telling me i should be on that facebook i've finally decided to dip a toe into the waters of the devilish media. not that i can actually use it. i had to go via other people's pages in order to find out what it was supposed to look like. even more stalkerish than google maps! i kind of thought there might be a search thing (and apparently there should be) but not on my page. i look at it blankly. i google stuff to tell me how to work it. they tell me i have menus that i do not have, basic commands to use that it seems are absent from my account. they should be there but they are not. aim the unusability of it all!

normally i'd be in a computer induced rage by now. and yet i am not. i know all the arguments for why i should 'engage' and even if i'm able to let go of my many reasons for not using it up to this point i'm still left with apple's kindly spellchecker insisting i should capitalise the f. for that reason alone i feel happy to admit that i, alone among my peers, am too thick for facebook. i shall try to bear up under the ignominy....

margaret tait


I used to lie in wait to see the clover open
Or close,
But never saw it.
I was too impatient,
Or the movement is too subtle,
And more than momentary.
My five-year-old self would tire of waiting
And when I looked again
– All closed for the night!
I missed it
Once more.

I have registered the opening of escholtzia
On an early summer morning.
It gave me a sharp awareness of time passing,
Of exact qualities and values in the light,
But I didn’t see the movement
As movement.
I didn’t with my own direct perception see the petals
Later, on the film, they seemed to open swiftly,
But, at the time,
Although I stared
And felt time not so much moving as being moved in
And felt
A unity of time and place with other times and places
I didn’t see the petals moving.
I didn’t see them opening.
They were closed,
And later they were open,
And in between I noted many phases,
But I didn’t see them moving open.
My timing and my rhythm could not observe the
rhythm of their opening.

The thing about poetry is you have to keep doing it.
People have to keep making it.
The old stuff is no use
Once it’s old.
It comes out of the instant
And lasts for an instant.
Take it now
Without water.


Tomorrow they’ll be something else.

Monday, 4 June 2012



It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle —
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me —
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads — you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.