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Poetry Meme [Sep. 25th, 2005|08:22 pm]
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In short: post a favorite poem. Now this is a cool meme that's far more informative than a quiz or questionnaire!

FORGETFULNESS by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel,
which suddenly becomes one you've never read, never even heard of,

As if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

Something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the captital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise up in the middle of the night
to look up the dates of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

[User Picture]From: drfgeek
2005-09-26 05:07 am (UTC)
The Road Less Travelled (A.K.A.: The Road Not Taken) - Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-09-26 04:14 pm (UTC)
A classic and a fine choice, sir. I do like much of Frost's work and this is one of his finest, IMHO.
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[User Picture]From: qatar
2005-09-26 06:20 am (UTC)
WOW, I absolutely love that poem. Love love love. Now I'm going to have a hard time dredging up a poem I like more (and that I haven't already posted somewhere).

(Though happily I haven't yet forgotten that the dark mythological river's name is Lethe.)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-09-26 04:13 pm (UTC)
It was tough for me to pick between that and a couple of his other poems. ("Litany", if you haven't seen it, is worth a look.) . I heard Collins a bit over a year ago on NPR and have since become a big fan.

And thank you for the river name, too. :)
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[User Picture]From: wordslinger
2005-09-26 06:45 pm (UTC)
I like that one. Here's one that I often read (you'll see why... just read...)


by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

HE royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say--
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

"Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders -- oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
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[User Picture]From: materjibrail
2005-09-27 02:26 am (UTC)
I loved and copied yours, Nicodemusrat. Here's mine.just don't ask what it "means". It's still seeping in.It came from Poetry Daily a couple of months ago.
Aphasic Echolalia- Bruce Beasley

Lord if soul if Lord if soul preserve
If preserve consume Please consume
Jesus please consume Him saved in
Alcohol in brine the offal of the skull
Secret and innermost thinking-stuff
Stuff-of-the-world I see black light
Hover & held gleam in the lightless
Brain-cave no center into which it could
Collapse A strange I call it a strange
Lord replete with so many conflicting illusions
If soul there is in the amputated place an ailment
Not to be treated preserve if Lord there is if soul there
Is in its resident fissure its lack Consume Him please consume Him
Where is the way (where the light dwelleth) & the dwelling
Place of darkness who will find it Lord caught here
Between the psyche & the soma amid the unmeaning
Agitation if soul there is among the cavities in the innermost the light that lights
That light If gut there is the vacuum seeths & spills amid the convolutions
Please a strange I call it a strange unbearably replete What do words
The Word what mean garble of story & shocked-still freeze
Frame so many conflicting illusions If soul there is if Lord
If soul there is seized by tongue-flicks Sloughed song-
In-the-blood I see black light if black light if
Lord there is lust-giver jellyfish-mucid
Unbeholdable not-particle
not wave preserve me
Let me consume
Thee brain-

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