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Favorite lines of poetry


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423 replies to this topic

#41 runnjump

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 18:21

But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All's misallianace.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun's illumination
stealing like a tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.

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#42 BillTheEditor

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 18:40

QUOTE (Strang @ Jul 25 2008, 05:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When I died
they washed me out of the turret
with a hose.

That's the last line of The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner. Five of the most powerful lines ever written in American poetry. Old as I am, and having seen what I have seen in my life, I can't read that poem aloud. I cry when I read it silently on the page.

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

-- Randall Jarrell

Edited by BillTheEditor, 12 August 2008 - 18:59.


#43 handlebar

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 18:57

Grown up by ESV Millay ( one of my all time favourite poets)

Was it for this i uttered prayers,
and sobbed and cursed,and kicked the stairs,
that now domestic as a plate
i should retire at half past eight?


Jim

#44 tawanda

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 12:41

Hi all,
I live in the UK and on a visit to a stately home a few years back, saw on a wall below the most gigantic oil painting of a very beautiful young women, a tatty piece of paper, framed, with the words I've copied below. The story surrounding it goes thus:
The enormous paintings above the hallway fireplace, of a young baronet and his wife, were painted shortly after their marriage took place in the late 1700's (I think it was about 1785 but can't quite remember). When the young man saw the finished portrait of his bride (which had been kept from him until completion), he was so moved, he immediately sat down to compose the poem below. This was then tacked on to the back of the canvas. The story was known in the family but thought to be legend until the poem itself was discovered 200 years later, when the paintings were taken down for cleaning/restoration.
I, in turn, was so moved by his words, that I jotted them down right there, and came home and embroidered them on to linen, embellishing them with a flowered border etc. The finished article now lives in my bedroom. I think both the poem and the story behind it are unique and beautiful. What do you think?-------


Tis done - the canvas takes each various grace,
And every mimicked feature finds its place,
Triumphant art withstands the power of time,
And beauty lives and reigns in all her prime.

Kind Heaven, indulgent to the sons of men,
Give 'em, with love, the pencil and the pen,
A boon Heaven's bounteous hand alone could give,
To make its darling works forever live.

So when the lustre leaves the faded eye,
And all the roses of thy cheek do die,
Maria, then thy other self shall charm,
Shall raise the sigh, my beating heart, alarm;

I see the form o'er which I fondly hung,
And think I hear the magick of thy tongue,
Till my 'tranced mind by sweet delusion fed,
Wakes from the dream, and all my heaven is fled.

TTFN
Tawanda
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#45 Leigh R

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 18:39

SO LONG
William Stafford

At least at night, a streetlight
is better than a star.
And better good shoes on a
long walk than a good friend.

Often in winter with my old
cap I slip away into the gloom
like a happy fish, at home
with all I touch, at the level of love.

No one can surface till far,
far on, and all that we'll have
to love may be what's near
in the cold, even then.



#46 bphollin

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 19:29

Here are three of my favorites:

1. My favorite simile in American letters: "Separation" by W.S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.


2. From "When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver, in New and Selected Poems Volume One, 1992

When it's over, I want to say: All my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.


3. The entirety of "Try to Praise the Mutilated World" by Adam Zagajewski, in New and Selected Poems, 2002, a volume you should scoop up at once and treasure.

-Brandon

#47 Leigh R

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 19:33

Brandon, thank you! You reminded me to read Mary Oliver again.

#48 bphollin

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 20:48

QUOTE (Leigh R @ Aug 13 2008, 01:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You reminded me to read Mary Oliver again.


Oliver's a goddess and I think she knows it! If you have the chance to buy or download At Blackwater Pond, you really must. It's a CD recording of Oliver reading 40 of her best poems.

#49 James P

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 21:30

"There once was a man from Nantucket."

cool.gif

So here's what happened
While you were nappin'
I just went out for a snack
I was feelin' famished
And then I vanished...
But now I'm back


#50 wpblaw

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 04:12

QUOTE (runnjump @ Jun 12 2008, 09:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
---------------------------------------------------------------

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

---------------------------------------------------------------



Since the first time I read it, this one is lodged permanently in my fabric. Just an unbelievable poem, not to mention a first line that will not be ignored...
Wall Street Econ 101: Privatize Profits; Socialize Losses. Capitalism will survive as long as socialism is there to save it.

#51 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 04:53

This is not from a poem, but it aches like one:


We drank a little longer and then we went to bed, but it wasn't the same, it never is – there was space between us, things had happened. I watched her walk to the bathroom, saw the wrinkles and folds under the cheeks of her ass. Poor thing. Poor poor thing. Joyce had been firm and hard – you grabbed a handful and it felt good. Betty didn't feel so good. It was sad, it was sad, it was sad. When Betty came back we didn't sing or laugh, or even argue. We sat drinking in the dark, smoking cigarettes, and when we went to sleep, I didn't put my feet on her body or she on mine like we used to. We slept without touching.

We had both been robbed.


--Charles Bukowski, Post Office



Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1971; p 96.

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#52 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 04:55

A bonafide poem:

'oh yes'

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
than
too late.


-- Charles Bukowski


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#53 JRodriguez

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:16

From Neruda's "Tonight I Can Write" in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"

"I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her."


#54 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:19

From Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts"

In Brueghel's Icarus, for example: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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#55 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:22

The fifth poem particularly...


Saigyo Hoshi
(1118-1190)

SEVEN POEMS


1.
In my boat that goes
Over manifold salt-ways
Towards the open sea
Faintly I hear
The cry of the first wild-goose.

2.
Mingling my prayer
With the clang of the bell
Which woke me from my dreams,
Lo, ten times I have recited the
Honorable Name.

3.
Since I am convinced
That Reality is in no way
Real,
How am I to admit
That dreams are dreams?

4.
Startled
By a single scream
Of the crane which is reposing
On the surface of the swamp,
All the other birds are crying.

5.
Those ships which left
Side by side
The same harbor
Towards an unknown destination
Have rowed away from one another!

6.
Like those boats which are returning
Across the open sea of Ashiya
Where the waves run high,
I think that I too shall pass
Scatheless through the storms of life.

7.
Although I do not know
At all whether anything
Honorable deigns to be there,
Yet in extreme awe
My tears well forth.




(Translated by Arthur Waley)

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#56 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:27

Okay, okay, okay, one more...


This Close

In the room where we lie,
light stains the drawn shades yellow.
We sweat and pull at each other, climb
with our fingers the slippery ladders of rib.
Wherever our bodies touch, the flesh
comes alive. Head and need, like invisible
animals, gnaw at my breast, the soft
insides of your thighs. What I want
I simply reach out and take, no delicacy now,
the dark human bread I eat handful
by greedy handful. Eyes fingers, mouths,
sweet leeches of desire. Crazy woman,
her brain full of bees, see how her palms curl
into fists and beat the pillow senseless.
And when my body finally gives in to it
then pulls itself away, salt-laced
and arched with its final ache, I am
so grateful I would give you anything, anything.
If I loved you, being this close would kill me.


Dorianne Laux

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#57 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:32

Okay, I know I said "one more," but these four sentences, they could be a poem. They're not, technically. It's from Don DeLillo's Underworld:


Sometimes I see something so moving I know I'm not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.

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#58 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:37

QUOTE (JRodriguez @ Aug 19 2008, 09:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
From Neruda's "Tonight I Can Write" in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"


Love is so short, forgetting is so long.


Jeez, that's kindv stabby.

And they should teach us that when we're children so we aren't always caught off guard.

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#59 JRodriguez

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:40

It'd be so easy to get carried away on this thread ... so just 2 short ones I love from William Carlos Williams -

"Descent", in Poems of 1953

From disorder (a chaos)
order grows
- grows fruitful.
The chaos feeds it. Chaos
feeds the tree.

And

"The Hurricane", in The Clouds

The tree lay down
on the garage roof
and stretched, You
have your heaven,
it said, go to it.

Edited by JRodriguez, 20 August 2008 - 05:45.


#60 JRodriguez

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 05:44

QUOTE (ethernautrix @ Aug 20 2008, 05:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (JRodriguez @ Aug 19 2008, 09:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
From Neruda's "Tonight I Can Write" in Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"


Love is so short, forgetting is so long.


Jeez, that's kindv stabby.

And they should teach us that when we're children so we aren't always caught off guard.


That's actually my favorite Neruda line. The first time I read it I was just kind of stunned, and it really hit home. I think reading that line actually turned me on to poetry in general too.






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