In On Poetry Glyn Maxwell gives a writing exercise where you draw from a deck of cards. Each suit prompts a social situation; each value prompts a setting. Draw a card. Write a stanza. Repeat. Or not.[Read More]
Keats: To My Brothers
Tonight I read this occasional poem which John Keats wrote on the 17th birthday of his brother, Tom.
To My Brothers
Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.
And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice
That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.
Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise
May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world’s true joys,—ere the great voice,
From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.
November 18, 1816
Re-reading Glyn Maxwell’s On Poetry, I took special note of this following passage, which appears just before a section break.
A memorized poem can be passed to you intact. I think this makes the written poem unique, in terms of our relationship with its materials—by which I mean the black (something there) and the white (nothing there). The Stalin regime could destroy Osip Mandelstam, but not the poems his widow Nadezhda had learned by heart. That’s something and nothing showing their true colors.[Read More]
John Clare, Loss & Gain
On a surprise (forgotten) day of PTO, I learned of John Clare—I am Jack Randall now. I was Byron and Shakespeare formerly. As I read his verse and am confronted with his dismay at the destruction of the wild places he loved—this was the 19th c.—I am filled with sadness and nostalgia for how far this has gone in 200 years.[Read More]
I’m filled with this longing—again—to be taken up with writing and reading poetry. It will pass, a momentary urge. But where does this urge come from? To be known? Who knows poets but other poets? And it seems unlikely that I’d find publication when I haven’t put the time in. I haven’t read, I haven’t written in years. But that can all change. And let’s say I stop chasing an ideal and just start working at it. What might that get me?[Read More]
Exercises from On Poetry
It’s been quite a few years since I last spent time on poetry. For whatever reason I seem to go through cycles where I read and write none of it, and then it comes back like some kind of need. So, I’m re-reading Glyn Maxwell’s On Poetry and doing some of the exercises this time. The exercises for the first chapter involve taking a number of blank pages and pretending certain things about them. What follows are my just-spit-it-out first draft attempts. Just getting the juices flowing again.[Read More]
I was wrong to ever try to teach you;
The things I want for you cannot be learned:
Swallow sun and dance upon the waters—
—November 15, 2012