This Poetry Post Is Amateur at Most

I don’t know a lot about poetry and I haven’t read that much of it since college, but I’m about to write a blog post about…poetry. (Instead of my usual focus on novels.)

It was the idea of Kat Lib, one of the regular commenters here, and I decided to go with her suggestion and hope that readers more “versed” in poetry will help me out in the comments section.  🙂

Heck, songwriter Bob Dylan, who some consider a poet, won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. And various other musical greats — Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Phil Ochs, Rush drummer Neil Peart, and Renaissance lyricist (but not band member) Betty Thatcher, to name a few — wrote words that could stand alone, or almost stand alone, from the melodies with which they were coupled. So poetry, if some lyrics in popular music can be called that, is still kind of mainstream in a way.

As an English major in college, I read (or, in some cases, was forced to read!) tons of poetry. I liked Chaucer and Shakespeare; Milton and Alexander Pope not so much. Since then, the little poetry I’ve consumed has often been part of novels — including A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Lewis Carroll’s Alice sequel Through the Looking-Glass (“Jabberwocky”!), J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Sir Walter Scott’s novels.

Scott was a renowned poet (“oh what a tangled web we weave/when first we practice to deceive”) before turning to novel writing. Interestingly, one of the reasons Scott wrote his books anonymously was because poetry was considered more prestigious than novels in the early 19th century.

On the flip side, Thomas Hardy was a renowned novelist before turning to poetry during the second half of his writing career. Also, the writing that Herman Melville did after lapsing into obscurity during the last half of his life was mostly poetry (with the posthumously published novella Billy Budd an exception).

To revisit Possession for a minute, the fictional poets Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash in Byatt’s book were inspired by real-life poets Christina Rossetti and Robert Browning or Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Anyway, some of the poets I like most — whether read in college or when I very occasionally perused verse in the years since then — include Walt Whitman (“Song of Myself,” “I Hear America Singing,” “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” “O Captain! My Captain,” etc.), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Raven,” “To Helen,” “The Bells,” etc.), Robert Frost (“The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” etc.), Gwendolyn Brooks (“Paul Robeson,” etc.), Allen Ginsberg (“Howl”), Margaret Atwood (though I’m more a reader of her novels), the Brontë sisters (ditto on the novel thing), Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, W.B. Yeats, John Donne, William Blake, Rabindranath Tagore, Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Pablo Neruda, Federico García Lorca, Dorothy Parker, Shel Silverstein, and so on.

I realize I named some rather obvious poets and poems there! I just haven’t followed poetry enough to be aware of many lesser-known greats — though I do see some darn good poetry on a number of other WordPress blogs.

Who and what are some of your favorite poets and poems? Anything else to say about the poetry genre?

And for your poetic and musical enjoyment, here’s a vintage clip from the aforementioned band Renaissance.

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’ve finished writing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

238 thoughts on “This Poetry Post Is Amateur at Most

  1. I’d be here all night if I was to write down the poets and poetry I love. Poetry was kind of drummed into us at primary school and I have read a lot beyond that,largely because you can read a poem in no time but that does not mean that poem won’t stay with you,because that line because may move you to tears. I also see a lot of fabulous poets out here online too with amazing talent. Nice to see this shout out for poetry Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, great that you’re a poetry aficionado, Shehanne! I agree that there’s some stellar verse on WordPress — including poems by people, such as Mary Jo Malo and Liz Gauffreau, who also comment under my blog posts. And it’s so true that poetry can provide an emotional wallop in very few lines.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good morning Dave , bitter cold my Pomchi is still under the comforter and when she wakes up we go walking. She would rather walk than going to out front yard.
    Found this one someone posted in FB loved it

    She let go……

    She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
    She let go of the fear.
    She let go of the judgments.
    She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
    Se let go of the committee of indecision within her.
    She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

    Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
    She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
    She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
    She didn’t search the scriptures.
    She just let go.

    She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
    She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
    She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
    She didn’t promise to let go.
    She didn’t journal about it.
    She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
    She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
    She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
    She just let go.

    She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
    She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
    She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
    She didn’t call the prayer line.
    She didn’t utter one word.
    She just let go.

    No one was around when it happened.
    There was no applause or congratulations.
    No one thanked her or praised her.
    No one noticed a thing.
    Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
    There was no effort.
    There was no struggle.
    It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
    It was what it was, and it is just that.

    In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
    A small smile came over her face.

    A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

    ~ Rev. Safire Rose

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave, I think this will be my last comment on this particular column, but it’s great to see so many comments, not to mention that this is the longest comment thread that I at least can remember since I’ve been commenting here. The wealth of knowledge about the many great poems and song lyrics that were presented here is just so amazing, although I haven’t yet been able to read all of them or give them the time they deserve. My last poem to share here is one by a poet that I haven’t heard of until today, Jack Gilbert. He’s won some awards and been nominated for the Pulitzer Price twice, as well the National Book Award once (I think he died in 2012). I read this poem today on the only other blog I follow, Orangette by Molly Wizenberg. She’s been doing this blog for quite a while mainly focused on cooking and food. She has also written two memoirs, “A Homemade Life” and “Delancey” that I enjoyed very much (even though I rarely cook and am one of those people “who eat to live” and generally have not much of an appetite, yet still I have a fondness for cookbooks and reading about food!). She announced in a column late last month that she and her husband had separated, mostly because she’s discovered in the past year or so that she is a lesbian. However, she and her husband co-parent their young daughter, continue to be partners in the 3 restaurants they started and run in Seattle, and remain best friends. Her many blog commenters have shown a great deal of support and love for her and one sent her to a link of this poem “Failing and Flying”:

    Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
    It’s the same when love comes to an end,
    or the marriage fails and people say
    they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
    said it would never work. That she was
    old enough to know better. But anything
    worth doing is worth doing badly.
    Like being there by that summer ocean
    on the other side of the island while
    love was fading out of her, the stars
    burning so extravagantly those nights that
    anyone could tell you they would never last.
    Every morning she was asleep in my bed
    like a visitation, the gentleness in her
    like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
    Each afternoon I watched her coming back
    through the hot stony field after swimming,
    the sea light behind her and the huge sky
    on the other side of that. Listened to her
    while we ate lunch. How can they say
    the marriage failed? Like the people who
    came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
    and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
    I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
    but just coming to the end of his triumph.
    –Jack Gilbert

    Thanks again, Dave, for your column and for the many, many responses you made to each of us. I feel as though my life has been enriched by you and everyone who commented here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, quite a response! I think only three or four posts have attracted more comments since I started the blog in 2014, and this post is within about 40 views of breaking the record for most-viewed during the period of a week. Given that the weekly part of WordPress blog-viewing stats go from Monday to Sunday, there will definitely be way more than 40 more views before midnight tomorrow. Thanks again for suggesting the idea, Kat Lib, and for your very kind words! I agree that the comments and the poems/lyrics posted (or linked to) have been outstanding. As you say, a LOT of knowledge from the people here!

      The blogger you described sounds like she’s in a very interesting time of her life, and I’m glad she’s now living a life more true to herself while also managing her family life in such a good, friendly, mature way.

      And I think that Jack Gilbert poem you posted is terrific and compassionate.


  4. To a Skylark

    Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
    Bird thou never wert,
    That from Heaven, or near it,
    Pourest thy full heart
    In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

    Higher still and higher
    From the earth thou springest
    Like a cloud of fire;
    The blue deep thou wingest,
    And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

    In the golden lightning
    Of the sunken sun,
    O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
    Thou dost float and run;
    Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

    The pale purple even
    Melts around thy flight;
    Like a star of Heaven,
    In the broad day-light
    Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

    Keen as are the arrows
    Of that silver sphere,
    Whose intense lamp narrows
    In the white dawn clear
    Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

    All the earth and air
    With thy voice is loud,
    As, when night is bare,
    From one lonely cloud
    The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflow’d.

    What thou art we know not;
    What is most like thee?
    From rainbow clouds there flow not
    Drops so bright to see
    As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

    Like a Poet hidden
    In the light of thought,
    Singing hymns unbidden,
    Till the world is wrought
    To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

    Like a high-born maiden
    In a palace-tower,
    Soothing her love-laden
    Soul in secret hour
    With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

    Like a glow-worm golden
    In a dell of dew,
    Scattering unbeholden
    Its a{:e}real hue
    Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:

    Like a rose embower’d
    In its own green leaves,
    By warm winds deflower’d,
    Till the scent it gives
    Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-winged thieves:

    Sound of vernal showers
    On the twinkling grass,
    Rain-awaken’d flowers,
    All that ever was
    Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

    Teach us, Sprite or Bird,
    What sweet thoughts are thine:
    I have never heard
    Praise of love or wine
    That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

    Chorus Hymeneal,
    Or triumphal chant,
    Match’d with thine would be all
    But an empty vaunt,
    A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

    What objects are the fountains
    Of thy happy strain?
    What fields, or waves, or mountains?
    What shapes of sky or plain?
    What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

    With thy clear keen joyance
    Languor cannot be:
    Shadow of annoyance
    Never came near thee:
    Thou lovest: but ne’er knew love’s sad satiety.

    Waking or asleep,
    Thou of death must deem
    Things more true and deep
    Than we mortals dream,
    Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

    We look before and after,
    And pine for what is not:
    Our sincerest laughter
    With some pain is fraught;
    Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

    Yet if we could scorn
    Hate, and pride, and fear;
    If we were things born
    Not to shed a tear,
    I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

    Better than all measures
    Of delightful sound,
    Better than all treasures
    That in books are found,
    Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

    Teach me half the gladness
    That thy brain must know,
    Such harmonious madness
    From my lips would flow
    The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a fellow who for a while attempted poetry– and still very occasionally make small forays therein– I may have read more poets than casual enthusiasts, the way I’ve probably listened to a wider range of guitarists than many casual fans. I was, at least in my own mind, preparing for professional work.

    And like discussions that rage among camps of devotees as to which six-string hero is really the best, the question is equally pointless, given all the variables of criteria, as to who is the greatest poet, or the top five, etc. The assumptions behind the constitution of ‘greatness’ could lead the fair-minded to very disparate conclusions.

    But it’s easy enough to name a favorite. In the field of poetry, I declare my favorite to be Robert Herrick (1591-1674), who is not the most able of verse-wrights, nor the most schooled, nor the best painter in words of the natural world, nor even the one most capable of dramatic effect or of coining a remarkable image.

    Royalist, and man of God though he certainly is, Herrick is also a man plainly in love with life as he may enjoy it by his senses and his wit, who seeks never to cow his audience by the force of his mentality, but rather, seems to keep all plain that he can so as not leave plain sense behind. He is loving, he is kind, he seeks to assure and reassure, he finds harmony where he can, and symmetry too between the realms of man and heaven, and even consolation in mortality.

    I keep The Poetical Works of Robert Herrick close at hand, by my bed in fact. There have been more than few times when a few lines of his have done more to re-establish my rocky faith in the heart of mankind than I might have expected was even possible.

    Here is one of his more famous verses:

    Delight In Disorder

    A sweet disorder in the dresse
    Kindles in cloathes a wantonnesse:
    A Lawne about the shoulders thrown
    Into a fine distraction:
    An erring Lace, which here and there
    Enthralls the Crimson Stomacher:
    A Cuffe neglectfull, and thereby
    Ribbands to flow confusedly:
    A winning wave (deserving Note)
    In the tempestuous petticoat:
    A carelesse shoe-string, in whose tye
    I see a wilde civility:
    Doe more bewitch me then when Art
    Is too precise in every part.

    I hope the antique spellings confuse no one….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Probably the most articulate person in rock’n’roll is Ian Anderson, the front man/flautist/acoustic guitarist/singer/songwriter/arranger of Jethro Tull. He was only 25 himself when he wrote the epic poem (under the hoax pseudonym of 12-year old prodigy Gerald Bostock) “Thick as a Brick”. This is, of course, the entire lyrical content of the 1972 concept album parody ‘Thick as a Brick’. Ian has influenced me as much in his dexterity with the English language as just about anyone (Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Henry James, William Shakespeare and all the other big dogs of literature). It’s a bit longish so bear with me:

    Really don’t mind if you sit this one out
    My word’s but a whisper your deafness a SHOUT
    I may make you feel but I can’t make you think
    Your sperm’s in the gutter your love’s in the sink

    So you ride yourselves over the fields
    And you make all your animal deals
    And your wise men don’t know how it feels
    To be thick as a brick

    And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away
    In the tidal destruction the moral melee
    The elastic retreat rings the close of play
    As the last wave uncovers the newfangled way

    But your new shoes are worn at the heels
    And your suntan does rapidly peel
    And your wise men don’t know how it feels
    To be thick as a brick

    And the love that I feel is so far away:
    I’m a bad dream that I just had today
    And you shake your head
    And say it’s a shame

    Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth
    Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth
    Spin me down the long ages: let them sing the song

    See there! A son is born and we pronounce him fit to fight
    There are black-heads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night
    We’ll make a man of him, put him to a trade
    Teach him to play Monopoly and how to sing in the rain

    The Poet and the Painter casting shadows on the water
    As the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea
    The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other
    As the failing light illuminates the mercenary’s creed
    The home fire burning: the kettle almost boiling
    But the master of the house is far away
    The horses stamping, their warm breath clouding
    In the sharp and frosty morning of the day
    And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword
    And the youngest of the family is moving with authority
    Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside

    The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
    Where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
    The builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
    And contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need
    The young men of the household have all gone into service
    And are not to be expected for a year
    The innocent young master – thoughts moving ever faster –
    Has formed the plan to change the man he seems
    And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword
    And the oldest of the family is moving with authority
    Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run

    What do you do when the old man’s gone – do you want to be him?
    And your real self sings the song. Do you want to free him?
    No one to help you get up steam
    And the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam

    I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways
    My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed
    So come on all you criminals! I’ve got to put you straight
    Just like I did with my old man twenty years too late
    Your bread and water’s going cold
    Your hair is too short and neat
    I’ll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me

    You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone
    You meet the stares, you’re unaware that your doings aren’t done
    And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be
    But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
    I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
    Your rings upon your fingers
    And your downy little sidies
    And your silver-buckle shoes
    Playing at the hard case
    You follow the example of the comic-paper idol
    Who lets you bend the rules

    Come on ye childhood heroes!
    Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
    Your super crooks
    And show us all the way
    Well! Make your will and testament
    Won’t you? Join your local government
    We’ll have Superman for president
    Let Robin save the day

    You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time
    The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line
    And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are
    And take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars
    And you wonder who to call on
    So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
    And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
    They’re all resting down in Cornwall
    Writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
    Of the Boy Scout Manual

    See there! A man born and we pronounce him fit for peace
    There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease
    We’ll take the child from him
    Put it to the test
    Teach it to be a wise man
    How to fool the rest

    We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
    God is an overwhelming responsibility
    We walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
    Cats are on the upgrade
    Upgrade? Hipgrave. Oh, Mac

    In the clear white circles of morning wonder
    I take my place with the lord of the hills
    And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured
    (in neat little rows) sporting canvas frills
    With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention
    While queuing for sarnies at the office canteen
    Saying: “How’s your granny?” and good old Ernie:
    He coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win
    The legends (worded in
    The ancient tribal hymn)
    Lie cradled in the seagull’s call
    And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist’s fall

    The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun
    And signal for the crack of dawn
    Light the sun. Light the sun
    Do you believe in the day?
    Do you? Believe in the day!
    The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun
    Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one
    Do you believe in the day?
    The fading hero has returned to the night
    And fully pregnant with the day
    Wise men endorse the poet’s sight
    Do you believe in the day?
    Do you? Believe in the day!

    Let me tell you the tales of your life
    Of your love and the cut of the knife
    The tireless oppression, the wisdom instilled
    The desire to kill or be killed
    Let me sing of the losers who lie
    In the street as the last bus goes by
    The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red
    While the fool toasts his god in the sky

    So come all ye young men who are building castles!
    Kindly state the time of the year
    And join your voices in a hellish chorus
    Mark the precise nature of your fear
    Let me help you pick up your dead
    As the sins of the father are fed
    With the blood of the fools
    And the thoughts of the wise and
    From the pan under your bed
    Let me make you a present of song
    As the wise man breaks wind and is gone
    While the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose
    And the nursery rhyme winds along

    So! Come all ye young men who are building castles!
    Kindly state the time of the year
    And join your voices in a hellish chorus
    Mark the precise nature of your fear
    See! The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
    And the hour of judgement draweth near
    Would you be the fool stood in his suit of armour
    Or the wiser man who rushes clear

    So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
    Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
    Your super-crooks
    And show us all the way
    Well! Make your will and testament
    Won’t you? Join your local government
    We’ll have Superman for president
    Let Robin save the day

    So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
    And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
    They’re all resting down in Cornwall writing up their memoirs
    For a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual

    So you ride yourselves over the fields
    And you make all your animal deals
    And your wise men don’t know how it feels
    To be thick as a brick

    Written by Ian Anderson • Copyright © BMG Rights Management US, LLC

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never followed Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson to a great degree, but this is impressive writing, bobess48! There are definitely some precocious rock lyricists who penned pretty darn mature stuff in their 20s.


      • And he didn’t just stop there. The next year, 1973, Jethro put out another album of continuous music, with another epic poem: ‘A Passion Play’:

        A Passion Play

        “Do you still see me even here?”
        (The silver cord lies on the ground.)
        “And so I’m dead”, the young man said
        over the hill (not a wish away).
        My friends (as one) all stand aligned
        although their taxis came too late.
        There was a rush along the Fulham Road.
        There was a hush in the Passion Play.
        Such a sense of glowing in the aftermath
        ripe with rich attainments all imagined
        sad misdeeds in disarray
        the sore thumb screams aloud,
        echoing out of the Passion Play.
        All the old familiar choruses come crowding in a different key:
        Melodies decaying in sweet dissonance.
        There was a rush along the Fulham Road
        into the Ever-passion Play.

        And who comes here to wish me well?
        A sweetly-scented angel fell.
        She laid her head upon my disbelief
        and bathed me with her ever-smile.
        And with a howl across the sand
        I go escorted by a band of gentlemen in leather bound
        NO-ONE (but someone to be found).

        All along the icy wastes there are faces smiling in the gloom.
        Roll up roll down, Feeling unwound? Step into the viewing room.
        The cameras were all around. We’ve got you taped; you’re in the play.
        Here’s your I.D. (Ideal for identifying one and all.)
        Invest your life in the memory bank; ours the interest and we thank you.
        The ice-cream lady wets her drawers, to see you in the passion play.

        Take the prize for instant pleasure, captain of the cricket team
        public speaking in all weathers, a knighthood from a queen.

        All of your best friends’ telephones never cooled from the heat of your hand.
        from your hand…..
        There’s a line in a front-page story, 13 horses that also-ran.
        also ran…..
        Climb in your old umbrella. Does it have a nasty tear in the dome?
        in the dome…..
        But the rain only gets in sometimes and the sun never leaves you alone,
        you alone…..
        you alone…..
        you alone…..
        you alone…..

        Lover of the black and white it’s your first night.
        The Passion Play, goes all the way, spoils your insight.
        Tell me how the baby’s made, how the lady’s laid,
        why the old dog howls in sadness.

        And your little sister’s immaculate virginity wings away
        on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George
        who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
        (The examining body examined her body.)

        Actor of the low-high Q, let’s hear your view.
        Peek at the lines upon your sleeves since your memory won’t do.
        Tell me: how the baby’s graded, how the lady’s faded,
        why the old dogs howl with madness.

        All of this and some of that’s the only way to skin the cat.
        And now you’ve lost a skin or two, you’re for us and we for you.
        The dressing room is right behind, We’ve got you taped, you’re in the play.
        How does it feel to be in the play?
        How does it feel to play the play?
        How does it feel to be the play?

        Man of passion rise again, we won’t cross you out:
        for we do love you like a son, of that there’s no doubt.
        Tell us: is it you who are here for our good cheer?
        Or are we here for the glory, for the story, for the gory satisfaction
        of telling you how absolutely awful you really are?

        There was a rush along the Fulham Road.
        There was a hush in the Passion Play.

        The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles

        This is the story of the hare who lost his spectacles.
        Owl loved to rest quietly whilst no one was watching.
        Sitting on a fence one day, he was surprised when suddenly a kangaroo ran close by.
        Now this may not seem strange, but when Owl overheard Kangaroo whisper to no one in particular,
        “The hare has lost his spectacles,” well, he began to wonder.

        Presently, the moon appeared from behind a cloud and there, lying on the grass was hare.
        In the stream that flowed by the grass a newt.
        And sitting astride a twig of a bush a bee.

        Ostensibly motionless, the hare was trembling with excitement,
        for without his spectacles he appeared completely helpless.
        Where were his spectacles? Could
        someone have stolen them? Had he mislaid them? What was he to do?

        Bee wanted to help, and thinking he had the answer began:
        “You probably ate them thinking they were a carrot.”
        “No!” interrupted Owl, who was wise.
        “I have good eye-sight, insight, and foresight.
        How could an intelligent hare make such a silly mistake?”
        But all this time, Owl had been sitting on the fence, scowling!

        A Kangaroo were hopping mad at this sort of talk.
        She thought herself far superior in intelligence to the others.
        She was their leader, their guru. She had the answer:
        “Hare, you must go in search of the optician.”
        But then she realized that Hare was completely helpless without his spectacles.
        And so, Kangaroo loudly proclaimed, “I can’t send Hare in search of anything!”
        “You can guru, you can!” shouted Newt.
        “You can send him with Owl.”
        But Owl had gone to sleep.
        Newt knew too much to be stopped by so small a problem
        “You can take him in your pouch.”
        But alas, Hare was much too big to fit into Kangaroo’s pouch.

        All this time, it had been quite plain to hare that the others knew nothing about spectacles.

        As for all their tempting ideas, well Hare didn’t care.
        The lost spectacles were his own affair.
        And after all, Hare did have a spare a-pair.

        THE END

        We sleep by the ever-bright hole in the door,
        eat in the corner, talk to the floor,
        cheating the spiders who come to say “Please”,
        (politely). They bend at the knees.
        Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.
        Old gentlemen talk of when they were young
        of ladies lost, of erring sons.
        Lace-covered dandies revel (with friends)
        pure as the truth, tied at both ends.
        Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.
        Scented cathedral spire pointed down.
        We pray for souls in Kentish Town.
        A delicate hush the gods, floating by
        wishing us well, pie in the sky.
        God of ages, Lord of Time, mine is the right, right to be wrong.
        Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.
        Jack rabbit mister spawn a new breed
        of love-hungry pilgrims (no bodies to feed).
        Show me a good man and I’ll show you the door.
        The last hymn is sung and the devil cries “More.”
        Well, I’m all for leaving and that being done,
        I’ve put in a request to take up my turn
        in that forsaken paradise that calls itself “Hell”
        where no-one has nothing and nothing is- well -meaning fool,
        pick up thy bed and rise up from your gloom smiling.
        Give me your hate and do as the loving heathen do.

        Colours I’ve none dark or light, red, white or blue.
        Cold is my touch (freezing).

        Summoned by name – I am the overseer over you.
        Given this command to watch o’er our miserable sphere.
        Fallen from grace, called on to bring sun or rain.
        Occasional corn from my oversight grew.
        Fell with mine angels from a far better place,
        offering services for the saving of face.
        Now you’re here, you may as well admire
        all whom living has retired from the benign reconciliation.
        Legends were born surrounding mysterious lights
        seen in the sky (flashing).
        I just lit a fag then took my leave in the blink of an eye.
        Passionate play join round the maypole in dance
        (primitive rite) (wrongly).
        Summoned by name I am the overseer over you.

        Flee the icy Lucifer. Oh he’s an awful fellow!
        What a mistake! I didn’t take a feather from his pillow.
        Here’s the everlasting rub: neither am I good or bad.
        I’d give up my halo for a horn and the horn for the hat I once had.
        I’m only breathing. There’s life on my ceiling.
        The flies there are sleeping quietly.
        Twist my right arm in the dark.
        I would give two or three for
        one of those days that never made
        impressions on the old score.
        I would gladly be a dog barking up the wrong tree.
        Everyone’s saved we’re in the grave.
        See you there for afternoon tea.
        Time for awaking the tea lady’s making
        a brew-up and baking new bread.
        Pick me up at half past none
        there’s not a moment to lose.
        There is the train on which I came.
        On the platform are my old shoes.
        Station master rings his bell.
        Whistles blow and flags wave.
        A little of what you fancy does you good (Or so it should).
        I thank everybody
        for making me welcome.
        I’d stay but my wings have just dropped off.

        Hail! Son of kings make the ever-dying sign
        cross your fingers in the sky for those about to BE.
        There am I waiting along the sand.

        Cast your sweet spell upon the land and sea.

        Magus Perde, take your hand from off the chain.
        Loose a wish to still, the rain, the storm about to BE.
        Here am I (voyager into life).
        Tough are the soles that tread the knife’s edge.
        Break the circle,stretch the line, call upon the devil.
        Bring the gods, the gods’ own fire.
        In the conflict revel.
        The passengers upon the ferry crossing, waiting to be born,
        renew the pledge of life’s long song rise to the reveille horn.
        Animals queueing at the gate that stands upon the shore
        breathe the ever-burning fire that guards the ever-door.

        Man – son of man – buy the flame of ever-life
        (yours to breathe and breath the pain of living): living BE!
        Here am I! Roll the stone away
        from the dark into ever-day.

        There was a rush along the Fulham Road
        into the Ever-passion Play.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. “I love Lucille” (BB King fan– I’m guessing, in which case: me too!!) has already mentioned Ezra Pound, to whom in particular, I owe a debt.

    Pound was a poet of no small stature in the last century, but is perhaps most remembered today as the man who edited TS Eliot’s The Wasteland (someone down the page made a comment about not liking Pope, and though I do like Pope, perhaps we are both grateful that Pound x-ed out a body of heroic couplets, a la Pope, from The Wasteland), and the man who persuaded Sylvia Beach of Shakespeare and Company to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses. He has been described somewhere, in that regard, as a midwife to Modernism.

    But he was also a tireless promoter of his enthusiasms, and he had many enthusiasms over the years before political economy, after being driven to distraction by the global Depression, took him down and made him a pawn to despots. Among those of a poetic sort: Catullus, Ovid, Dante, the Troubadour poets, the Tang Dynasty’s Li Po and Tu Fu. His enthusiasm being a bit infectious, I read all these authors in my enthusiasm for Pound’s enthusiasms, and consider myself richer, much, gratefully, for having done so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jhNY, VERY interesting info about Ezra Pound and his “midwife” relationship to “Ulysses” and “The Wasteland.” Reminds me a bit of how Walker Percy (and John Kennedy Toole’s mother) had so much to do with Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” finally getting published (posthumously).

      Sounds like your “enthusiasm for Pound’s enthusiasms” paid off big time in some compelling reading for you!


      • Yes. Those enthusiasms occupied me for years, right down to the present day, though I’ve added some of my own, and dropped some too. He made me wish for a classical education, but not enough to acquire one. So I’ve contented myself, such as one can, with translations.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Not surprised to see many here citing lyricists as their favorite poets, especially now Dylan is a Nobel winner.

    Reminds me: Lord Byron and Ben Jonson, each accomplished, highly, in the field of literature, wrote lyrics for songs still heard occasionally, even now. Jonson’s is Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes; Byron’s is I’ll Go No More A-Roving.

    On the topic of top lyricists from rock, I would like to include another name for consideration: Keith Reed, who wrote for Procol Harum. Also, to my ear, Jim Morrison cannot be overrated in comparison to his contemporaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Didn’t know that about Lord Byron and Ben Jonson, jhNY!

      Definitely would agree about Jim Morrison and the Procol Harum lyricist. Some of the work of Natalie Merchant and Smokey Robinson (among others) is pretty poetic, too.


      • Debunked mostly, the quote attributed to Dylan re Smokey being “America’s greatest living poet”. I found this on the webs:

        in the very funny interview with JANN WENNER published
        in Rolling Stone on November 29, 1969, when Wenner says, ‘What about
        the poets? You once said something about Smokey Robinson . . .’ Dylan
        responds with ‘I didn’t mean Smokey Robinson, I meant ARTHUR RIMBAUD.’

        Turns out the quote above was a fabrication from a Motown promo man, although Dylan may have mentioned Smokey as a favorite poet in a news conference. Tongue-in-cheek? Maybe.


        • Smokey Robinson and Rimbaud in the same sentence! The mind reels-to-reels…

          I visited the Motown Museum (“Hitsville U.S.A.”) in Detroit back in 2011. Great place to see, as you might imagine.


            • Yes, just kind of an average-sized house, or two attached houses.

              One thing I remember about the tour was that the rich, echo-y drum sound on a lot of Motown songs was achieved with the help of a large hole in the ceiling!


              • Perhaps that hole came in handy, but mostly, as I’ve read, the characteristic sound was produced by another means. The studio space was small, so small that the room itself was not large enough to produce much of an echo. That was achieved by the use of a plate reverb, literally a piece of metal suspended in a box by its corners and miked inside. The music would run through the metal plate and the plate would reverberate in the box, where it was picked up by the mike and then blended with the original signal. At least one of the plate’s corners was loose from its mountings, causing the plate to hang precariously in its box, to which a sign had been attached: ‘Do Not Touch! THIS is the Motown Sound!’ In other words, it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Interesting. I guess the tour guide emphasized the hole more than the plate reverb, at least from what I remember… 🙂

                  “In other words, it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” — ha! Perfect!


                  • Upon reflection (a sort of joke), I realize that hole might also have been miked, and depending upon its depth and its particular acoustic properties when acting upon sound received, might have functioned as a sort of echo chamber. I’ve seen some built underground, literally chambers of stone..

                    Come to think of it, the echo chambers, I think there may have been as many as seven, at Gold Star in Hollywood consisted of such structures– they were built to compensate for the recording room’s smallish size. That’s where Phil Spector made most of his big hits.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Ah, those echo-y, “wall of sound” Phil Spector-produced classics! (“Be My Baby,” etc.) Too bad his music was a lot nicer (and saner) than he was.

                      It’s definitely possible that the Motown hole was miked, but I’m not remembering.

                      “Reflections” — The Supremes. 🙂 Good one!


      • On the poems something related.. oh well…

        “Though Mr. Dylan has sent a message of thanks to be read aloud, he has not dispatched someone to accept the award on his behalf, as other non-attendees have done.

        “From a P.R. viewpoint, it’s been a disaster,” said Jens Liljestrand, the book editor at the Swedish newspaper Expressen. “It’s been a very unfortunate autumn for the Swedish Academy.”

        Liked by 1 person

            • Oops — sorry I’m late replying to this comment, bebe. It didn’t show up in my email notifications for some reason.

              I agree — covers of Bob Dylan’s songs can sound better than the originals. Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower,” The Byrds’ version of “Mr. Tambourine Man”…

              And I bet Leonard Cohen, if he had lived, would have traveled to Stockholm to receive the Nobel!

              Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, jhNY, how could I have not thought of Procol Harum, who recorded one of my favorite songs ever, as well as the lyrics, “That her face, at first just ghostly, Turned a whiter shade of pale.” I didn’t know that Keith Reed wrote them, so thanks for mentioning him (also Jim Morrison, who I must say put on one of the best rock concerts I’ve ever been to way back when).
      A couple of other well-known singer/songwriters that I greatly admire are David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! Bowie, Springsteen, and Lou Reed! I especially liked Reed’s lyrics (and music) from his Velvet Underground days.

        (Sad about Greg Lake’s death today — crummy year for rock and pop star deaths.)


      • At one time, according to a survey, A Whiter Shade of Pale was Great Britain’s favorite song– probably not due to the Chaucer ref.

        Lyrically, as we’re talking Springsteen, I’d recommend some of Tom Waits’ efforts– both felt they owed much to the Beats, and tried hard to be influenced accordingly.

        Lou Reed also– but probably owed, he’d argue, more to William Burroughs than the other Beats. He was also a great admirer of a poet from an earlier generation: Delmore Schwartz.

        Bowie? Hard to beat all around, but if asked, I’d bet he’d say he was most influenced, as a lyricist, by Iggy Pop. Yep, that Iggy Pop.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is such a beautiful, majestic, melancholy song.

          I’ve listened to a little Tom Waits (on your recommendation a while ago), and he IS an impressive and unique talent with a rough-edged sound.

          Hadn’t really thought about that Iggy Pop/David Bowie connection, but I can see it.

          Thanks for all your musical insights, jhNY!


          • If Waits would have been blessed by anything like an average vocal range, he’d probably enjoyed even more success. As it was, he wasn’t, and in oversinging and straining down the long years, lost much of what little he had. A very, very nice man, in my experience.

            Decades ago, I reviewed one of his shows, met him backstage after writing it– he asked to read it, I let him, and the next day, over local radio, during an interview, he read my entire review over the air!

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s quite a Waits memory, jhNY! Your review must have been expertly written. (No surprise there.) Glad he was so nice.

              Yes, certain singers have pretty mediocre voices, at best: Waits, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan… Some have excelled in the widespread-success game despite not being blessed vocally; I guess Waits wasn’t as successful — though he of course has left his mark and is greatly respected.


              • My guess is his biggest success came early– though how much money he made depends mightily on his publishing deal: he wrote Old 55, which the Eagles covered, and made a minor hit with.

                Liked by 1 person

                • And didn’t he write the “Jersey Girl” song Bruce Springsteen covered? Plus Waits co-starred in Jim Jarmusch’s movie “Down by Law” — a great film I saw the year it came out (1986).


                  • Tom’s collaboration with Jim Jarmusch didn’t end with ‘Down by Law’. He is the disc jockey voice on the Memphis radio station late at night in ‘Mystery Train’ and he appears as ‘himself’ in a segment with Iggy Pop in the anthology film, ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ as well as several non-Jarmusch films including Francis Ford Coppola’s version of ‘Dracula’ (as Renfield) and Robert Altman’s ‘Short Cuts’ as a boozy husband of Lily Tomlin.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  • Forgot that one, and it’s probably at least the earner that Old 55 has been– doubt he made much money from film appearances, but I’d be happy to be surprised. Dracula looks like the surest, biggest payday of the lot bobess48 lists below.

                    Incidentally, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (I Put A Spell On You) takes up much of the viewers’ attention in Mystery Train, or at least he did mine. Oozes charisma, that one. Also, comic, if not cosmic menace.

                    For a treat, perhaps you’d take a listen to one of his more obscure outpourings, Yellow Coat:


                    • Yes, jhNY, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins had charisma to burn!

                      One of my earliest album purchases was the Creedence Clearwater Revival record with their version of “I Put a Spell On You” — a great version, indeed. But of course one thinks of the unfortunate fact that many white singers/bands have had more success with African-American-written/performed songs than the African-American originators of those same songs.


                    • I had only heard the Credence Clearwater version of “I Put a Spell on You” (first song on their first album) and didn’t make the connection until I’d seen ‘Mystery Train’ a couple of times. I agree, Screamin’ Jay had a natural charisma and ease in front of the camera and seemed like a natural fixture in that dilapidated, creepy old motel.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, bobess48! Another Hawkins (Dale) wrote the “Susie Q” song also covered on that debut CCR album. Of course, as you know, CCR would go on to have many major (non-cover) hits written by the band’s John Fogerty.


                  • Thread’s maxed below, so

                    You mentioned Dale Hawkins and Susie Q– one of the great singles of the early rock and roll era. The guitar solo is by James Burton, who went on to become Ricky Nelson’s guitar player, then Elvis’ during the live Vegas years, then he joined up with Emmy Lou Harris for a while, then he played for Jerry Lee Lewis. Among the most influential of all telecaster pickers….and there have been zillions.

                    Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I do know that Bowie and Iggy Pop were quite close, and Bowie recorded the song they wrote together, “China Girl.” It wasn’t one of my favorite of his songs, although I did adopt a cat once that I named “China.” I don’t know much about Tom Waits, but I listened to one of his songs on some sort of compilation album and couldn’t stand his voice, so I never pursued any of his other music, but that wasn’t really exactly fair. What’s interesting about the Bowie/Lou Reed connection is that Bowie and Mick Ronson produced Reed’s “Transformer” album, which contained some of his best or well-known songs: “Satellite of Love,” “Walk on the Wild Side,” and “A Perfect Day.” Bowie also gets credited with backing vocals.

          Liked by 1 person


    “WHERE have I come from, where did you pick me up?” the baby asked its mother.

    She answered half crying, half laughing, and clasping the baby to her breast,– “You were hidden in my heart as its desire, my darling.

    You were in the dolls of my childhood’s games; and when with clay I made the image of my god every morning, I made and unmade you then.

    You were enshrined with our household deity, in his worship I worshipped you.

    In all my hopes and my loves, in my life, in the life of my mother you have lived.

    In the lap of the deathless Spirit who rules our home you have been nursed for ages.

    When in girlhood my heart was opening its petals, you hovered as a fragrance about it.

    Your tender softness bloomed in my youthful limbs, like a glow in the sky before the sunrise.

    Heaven’s first darling, twin-born with the morning light, you have floated down the stream of the world’s life, and at last you have stranded on my heart.

    As I gaze on your face, mystery overwhelms me; you who belong to all have become mine.

    For fear of losing you I hold you tight to my breast. What magic has snared the world’s treasure in these slender arms of mine?”

    ~ Rabindranath Tagore

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So many Poets so little time…Dave, William Wordsworth’s poetry was in my School`s curriculum also my Mother made me study so many of them in my childhood.

    The World Is Too Much With Us
    William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850

    The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be
    A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free
      William Wordsworth,

      It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
      The holy time is quiet as a Nun
      Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
      Is sinking down in its tranquility;
      The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea;
      Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
      And doth with his eternal motion make
      A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
      Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
      If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
      Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
      Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
      And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
      God being with thee when we know it not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, Williams Wordsworth — I should have mentioned him, bebe! Wonderful that your mother had you read him and other poets. (Don’t know if you were happy about those “assignments” at the time, but things like that are at least appreciated later. 🙂 )

        I also remember taking a course (probably college but might have been high school) in “The Romantic Poets” of now-200 or so years ago — covering Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and a couple of others.

        Thank you for posting those two outstanding Wordsworth works.

        “So many poets, so little time” — ha! Very true!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Dave, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your column on poetry, and I must say you seem to have much more knowledge about it than you give yourself credit for. It’s been wonderful that there have been so many responses on this blog, and it has certainly reawakened in me my love of poetry, whether in verse or song lyrics, even if I don’t always understand the symbolism or metaphors. Several commenters have mentioned Rimbaud, and as you noted he led a rather dissolute life and died at age 37. What’s amazing is that he quit writing poetry at age 19. He must have been an influence on my brother’s poetry, or I wouldn’t have bought a paperback of “A Season in Hell” and “The Drunken Boat.” (I see by my worn copy that it came out when a new trade paperback cost $1.50!) It’s an interesting edition in that it has the original French “en face” with the translated version by Louise Varese. I think I had an idea that this would help me in remembering anything from my four years of French in high school — it didn’t, at least not much. I was reading about him in something I found in Wiki, and it noted about his love for absinthe, then opium, gin and beer: “According to biographer, Graham Robb, this began “as an attempt to explain why some of his [Rimbaud’s] poems are so hard to understand, especially when sober.” Another fascinating tidbit that just occurred recently was the revolver that his lover poet Paul Verlaine tried to kill him with (but only wounded him) sold at auction in Paris for $460,000.

    On another subject, my friend was asking me just last night while doing a crossword puzzle, who wrote the poem “The Highwayman.” I had to look it up, and it was Alfred Noyes, which I should have remembered from one of your previous columns a while ago. We happened to be discussing Phil Ochs, who had taken some of the lyrics from the poem and presented it live on a TV show “Come, Read to Me a Poem” in 1967. I was watching a video of this performance on YouTube while reading the lyrics, and he stayed true to the poem as written aside from dropping some stanzas — it’s quite a long poem (in two parts) — and even still the recording was around 6 minutes long. It’s really wonderful, as was his rendition of “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe. Ochs is someone else who died much too young (sigh).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Kat Lib, for the great/wide-ranging comment and kind words! I still think I’m no poetry expert, but maybe I’ve read a little more than I originally thought. 🙂 I agree that the many terrific comments have spurred more interest in poetry on the part of some of us — and the traffic continues to pour in (even if not everyone who visits leaves a comment). By the time midnight arrives tonight, from what I see on this blog’s stat page, it might be the highest two-day total of views and unique visitors since the blog started in July 2014. Definitely more interest in poetry than I expected!

      Rimbaud’s story IS amazing (and depressing). Imagine having a poetry career that basically ends at 19, yet is remembered more than a century later. And $460,000 for that revolver? Wow!

      Yes, the super-talented, principled Phil Ochs had an even shorter life than Rimbaud. 😦

      Thanks again!


      • Good grief, my friend is working on today’s crossword in the Philly Inquirer, and he was asking me what was the name of the island where a volcanic eruption supposedly destroyed Atlantis. Does this mean tomorrow’s puzzle will have a clue about Rimbaud? 🙂 FYI, it’s Santorini.

        Another poem I wanted to share that I learned of from Joan Baez’s “Baptism” recording was one by James Joyce that was set to music. This poem is much more accessible than his novels (“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is the only one I actually read).

        Ecce Puer (1932)
        by James Joyce

        Of the dark past
        A child is born;
        With joy and grief
        My heart is torn.

        Calm in his cradle
        The living lies.
        May love and mercy
        Unclose his eyes!

        Young life is breathed
        On the glass;
        The world that was not
        Comes to pass.

        A child is sleeping:
        An old man gone.
        O, father forsaken,
        Forgive your son!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Coincidence! And struggling newspapers are underwater (financially).

          Thanks for the example of James Joyce’s poetry, Kat Lib! Nicely done verse. The only Joyce I’ve read is his “Dubliners” collection of short stories, which includes “The Dead.” Fairly accessible, too.


    • “A Season in Hell” and “The Drunken Boat.” (I see by my worn copy that it came out when a new trade paperback cost $1.50!) It’s an interesting edition in that it has the original French “en face” with the translated version by Louise Varese.”

      Published by New Directions, yes? That’s probably the conveyance by which most of us Americans born in the last half of the 20th century read Rimbaud first. I’ve still got my copies too.

      I also happen to own a print of that famous (and nearly the only one you see) photo of blank-eyed Rimbaud at 19, a gift from a friend of many years who had the good sense to have a bit of spending cash and nerve and in the early 1960’s, approached a descendant and asked if there were any photographs to be had. Only the one, but it was THE ONE!

      I recommend also The Illuminations. As I recall, much of what else he wrote before he stopped was meant to outrage, insult and confound his contemporaries. Crudities abound.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A Rimbaud book from when a new trade paperback could be priced at $1.50 — impressive, jhNY. As is having that photo. Your residence is part-museum! 🙂

        When Rimbaud came up in a blog conversation here some months ago (I forget the topic), I read a bit of his vivid poetry. Will definitely read more.


        • I believe I was the fellow who pointed you toward The Drunken Boat…

          I have a book on Rimbaud post-poetry, wherein, such as can be gathered from letters home, he attempts, for some years, a career as frontier opportunist and sometime gun-runner in the wilds of north Africa. Then he came home, very old for his chronological age, to die.

          My residence is part-museum, but mostly yard-sale.

          Liked by 1 person

      • jhNY, I would have guessed that if anyone else owned a copy of “A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat” published by New Directions back in the early 1960’s it would be you. I’ll order “The Illuminations” when I’ve accumulated more points from Barnes & Noble. I assume the copy of this book has the print of him on the cover that you’re fortunate to have. Also, is it the one translated by Louise Varese?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Can’t get at my copy of The Illuminations at the moment, or maybe ever, as it’s somewhere in my vast collection of book piles, book shelves and book boxes. And since I’ve owned it since college, and college was 45 years ago, it’s way back someplace in all likelihood.

          But I did find this on the interwebs– complete with the famous pic!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, that is the photo I was thinking of, and I totally understand not being able to locate a certain book. I’ve been meaning to organize all my books since I moved into my new home, but it’s just as well that I didn’t. After my second water loss since I’ve moved in, the rep for the company approved by my insurance company was here today and he told me they are planning to box up all the books on my finished basement shelves in order to re-paint all the walls and clean the carpets after fixing the drywall in my ceiling. Then that doesn’t include the two large bookshelves I’ve got in in my den (right behind me) and a smaller shelf in my bedroom. The only good thing is that I’ve no longer any boxes of books to deal with. Those were disposed of through donations to the Goodwill or another flood I had that wiped out most of the mass market paperbacks in the 1980’s. In the past year I’ve had 3 floods, one in my condo and 2 in my new home. My best girlfriend has started calling me “Mrs. Noah”!


            • Having lived in the same apartment for 35 years, on reading of your water troubles I realize: 100% of damage that has occurred within its walls has been caused by leaks upstairs from me– though thankfully, most have been smallish. I did lose a 19th century set of encyclopedias to one, however, which was a shame as the volumes were filled with bios of people one but seldom reads about today, if ever.

              Hope your latest leak was your last. Sincerely.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks, me too, as well as does my homeowner’s property insurance company! I didn’t know until the other day that my policy includes a “vanishing deductible,” so I only owe the contractor $450 instead of the $500, my silver lining to this mess. Until this year I never realized how destructive water can be — I feel so much more sympathetic to people who have lost much more than I from floods and storm surge, not to mention those whose lives or loved ones (including pets) have been lost.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Rimbaud: That ribaldry and general inclination to write offensive smut at his contemporaries and rivals is off-putting.

        Hard, I’d guess, (not that that I can report evidence he tried) to resist some of the impulses one might get, having so much talent, and so much insolence– as can often afflict the over-bright at 19.

        I do enjoy reading Verlaine too, happy to have both in print (in translation)– though I think more good translating work has been done, by far, with Rimbaud’s best, than with Verlaine’s. And beyond intrinsic sublimity (wherever it appears), for reasons of influence on future writers– Rimbaud’s is vast, Verlaine’s is comparably not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re quite welcome, Clairdelune, but prior to yesterday I didn’t even realize (or forgot) the connection between Rimbaud and Verlaine, which has been described as a “torrid affair” that obviously didn’t end well.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. A great American Poet was Emily Dickinson was born in 1830, hardly left her home was a private poet. Was never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence. Dickinson was a recluse for the later years of her life. After her passing her Sister discovered her poems and made them public.
    The rest is history and today her name is a household name.
    Dave music is my passion with that comes the love of Poetry.

    This one is a short poem, today`s world as we know DT talks about his hollow self.

    I’m Nobody! Who are You?
    I’m nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
    They’d banish us, you know.

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public, like a frog
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love Emily Dickinson, bebe! I don’t own many poetry books, but I do have a collection of her work. Amazing what she was able to convey in such succinct verse. And one of the most famous examples of a writer whose fame didn’t come until after death.

      That Dickinson poem you posted definitely has a Trump vibe — but I’d vote for Emily any day over Donald!

      (Bit of trivia: syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson, who succeeded Ann Landers at the Chicago Tribune, is an indirect descendant of Emily.)

      Yes, lyrics in music have a close tie with poetry — and the music you’ve done (which I’ve heard on CDs and YouTube) is wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a post Dave…Nobel Committee passed Leonard Cohen, a great poet. I chose this one I love his low voice and there are so may poems.

    Take the Waltz
    Leonard Cohen
    Now in Vienna there are ten pretty women
    There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry
    There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows
    There’s a tree where the doves go to die
    There’s a piece that was torn from the morning
    And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
    I, I-I-I
    Take this waltz, take this waltz
    Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
    Oh, I want you, I want you, I want you
    On a chair with a dead magazine
    In the cave at the tip of the lilly
    In some hallway where love’s never been
    On a bed where the moon has been sweating
    In a cry filled with footsteps and sand
    I, I-I-I
    Take this waltz, take this waltz
    Take its broken waist in your hand
    This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
    With its very own breath of brandy and Death
    Dragging its tail in the sea

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bebe, for the comment and link! Great song and lyrics — and definitely a low voice. 🙂

      Yes, if the Nobel people were going to pick a songwriter, Leonard Cohen was at least as deserving as Bob Dylan — and actually has more of a literary pedigree, with two novels as well as books of poetry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One modern day Novelist and Poet is Vikram Seth who wrote ” Suitable Boy”, the big Novel we have discussed before in here and the the blog we don`t mention the name anymore.

        After a long and wretched flight
        That stretched from daylight into night,
        Where babies wept and tempers shattered
        And the plane lurched and whiskey splattered
        Over my plastic food, I came
        To claim my bags from Baggage Claim

        Around, the carousel went around
        The anxious travelers sought and found
        Their bags, intact or gently battered,
        But to my foolish eyes what mattered
        Was a brave suitcase, red and small,
        That circled round, not mine at all.

        I knew that bag. It must be hers.
        We hadnt met in seven years!
        And as the metal plates squealed and clattered
        My happy memories chimed and chattered.
        An old man pulled it of the Claim.
        My bags appeared: I did the same.

        ~Vikram Seth

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I deliberately hated poetry in the 6th form as my English teacher deliberately hated me. I’d fallen in love with some poetry in the 5th form because my English teacher loved poetry and even illerates such as myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I didn’t realize poetry would be a topic drawing quite this much interest! According to my stats page, this post today drew the second most visitors and the second most views of any single day since I began this blog in July 2014! And there’s still more than two and a half hours until midnight. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. One of my favorite poems is “September 1, 1939,” by W. H. Auden. You can find it here: Cleaning out some files recently, I came across four fat folders full of poems I had written over the years, including some from a poetry class I took in college as well as some later stuff. Some of the earliest of my poetry was simply terrible, but here and there I found a good line. I’ve even sneaked a bit of poetry into my latest book “The Value of Doubt” (See:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you mentioned that Auden poem, Bill. It’s a dazzling work.

      Also glad you wrote some poetic lines you’re proud of.

      I haven’t read “The Value of Doubt,” but I did read your “Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans” — and it’s excellent. (For those reading this comment, that’s Woodstock, Ill., not the Woodstock music festival!)


  17. I first tried writing poetry when I was in high school. It was quite terrible, as you might expect of a sensitive adolescent. When I was in college, I took a fiction writing course and practiced writing short stories, eventually attempting novels. While my fiction writing got better and I actually successfully completed National Novel Writing Month four times, I felt that the world did not necessarily need another mediocre novel. I was limited by not allowing myself to get totally outside myself, which is necessary unless everything you write is an autobiographical first person narrative. So I turned to writing book reviews, which I enjoyed doing without that need for creative perfection accompanied by the inevitable psychological flogging. I also began writing some spiritual, metaphysical pieces which could be considered poetry. Along those lines, I hosted a poetry writing workshop at the library a couple of years ago conducted by a local poet. Out of her workshop, I wrote a poem out of a meditative exercise. With your permission, Dave, and everyone else’s forbearance, I will reproduce what I wrote, not only as an example of my writing but also as a way I have of approaching poetry, whether I’m reading it or writing it.

    In an Antique House
    Brian Bess
    I stand across a street observing an antique house with picket fence, wraparound veranda, gabled windows promising chambered alcoves within. The attraction of belonging pulls me toward the entrance.

    I stand between porch swings at each end, huge wooden door with windowed panes in front of privacy curtains.

    Within are entrance rooms in opposite directions. On an antimacassar-covered cloth upholstered couch sits a black cat with quills erect in spooked trauma at an unseen apparition. I turn my gaze and he no longer exists.

    Although unoccupied for a hundred years the air breathes fresh, not heavy with dust. I feel years peel away as the ghosts of previous cares become alive with momentary vibrancy.

    Always repelled by the styles of nuclear families that sprouted boomers I am entranced by the structures of previous eras, when ornate curves were things of beauty and suffused the premises.

    A compass has magnetized me here, for within this hall of wonders and terrors lies eternity.

    My curious spirit needs breathing room to roam and occupy the novelty of untried corners.

    An invisible tether pulls me toward a staircase as I rest my hand on the smooth surface of a sculptured bannister.

    Upstairs is the elevated perspective where air is thinner and spirit is thick. I follow the hall wrapping itself along the dimensions of the house and feel the omen of the closed room toward the front. Like most terrors curiosity trumps fear and I turn the knob. A ghoulish flash of light rushes toward the doorway but dissolves as I enter and invade its space. Dark gloom pervades this room despite sunlight outside. I am happy to rest in its shadow but happy to seek more colorful rooms.

    Across the hall I enter the room of light and dissolve into a serenity bath. I leave boneless and careless but with enough volition to will my rubbery limbs to carry me to the rear room. Swirls of paints of various colors cover walls, floor and ceiling. I lie in the middle as definition between walls and ceiling vanishes. I swirl myself as both brush and paint. I am content to rest in sensory splendor until I see a trapdoor in the ceiling. A ladder drops and beckons me to higher heights. I climb to what I can’t conceive could be higher than I’ve been. Will I have to balance myself at the peak with the weathervane?

    I enter a turret with panoramic view. All ceilings, floors and doors are now transparent and I appear suspended. With a blink I face one angle; blink again and face another. I have reached a summit which contains its inversion with the awareness of a corresponding basement bunker. Limbs and volition are no longer necessary. I am home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian, I think what you wrote is outstanding and very evocative. Kind of a prose poem? Very glad you posted it here. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m always impressed with your reviews of fiction and nonfiction works.

      I think a number of commenters here have tried their hand at writing fiction. I even completed a draft of a novel in the 1980s, which was okay but not great. I might have gotten better at the genre if I stuck with it, but I moved on to other (creative and non-creative) pursuits. Some writers can pull off excellent first novels; others (Jack London is one who comes to mind) start off with clunkers. (A year after his debut book, London blossomed with the terrific “The Call of the Wild.”)

      Liked by 1 person

      • If I may ask you to indulge me in posting one more from the last two or three years:

        The Whisperer of the Meadow

        He sits amid the blades and the voices rustle through his head, singing of breezes from thousands of years ago and thousands of years hence.

        Perhaps he keeps returning to the meadow because, unlike the mall or the restaurant its container is unfettered air and vegetation unrooted in specific time. He might be sitting on the impromptu battlefield where the first Indian was slain by De Soto or the improvised bed of primeval lovers.

        The whisperer softly utters secrets of his soul it knew before he ever committed them in a language he must sleepwalk to understand.

        The circumference of the meadow and the vertical bole of the tree are routes his soul must travel, moving through Infinity in a vehicle of stillness.

        The seasonal scenery changes only alter the acoustics of the meadow’s language: the slowness of frosted breath, the speed of humid hissing.

        When he is away he is drawn to the Meadow; when he is there he is compelled to return to his people, an emissary, a translator.

        He will speak in a parable. He will speak in a poem. He will speak in a song or a gyration. Puns may deliver when rhetoric fails. A dose of humor may lubricate the medicine–whatever arrests the listener.

        He sits on the ground, plunges his hands in the tall grass and touches the ground. Hands touch Earth; Earth earths back.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are a very accomplished writer, Brian/bobess48! Vivid imagery and reflections. Thought-provoking/philosophical words. And other good things. I especially like the lines evoking what might have happened in the meadow’s past.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Dave, you are a good writer, ave you tried again to write fiction? Who knows, you might find your novel tucked away in a corner of your mind…
        It’s interesting to see how so many of your readers/followers are writers of some kind. Yes, I tried also after both my French and Spanish professors told me that I should write, based on my work in their courses; my creative writing professor told me I should write plays. I did write short stories, one-act plays and poetry for a time, but raising two children, going to school a night, working part-time to earn a living and going through a stressful divorce all at the same time left little room for creativity.
        I always envied the drive, stamina and inner strength of Jean M. Auel, who wrote the first book of “The Clan of the Cave Bear” series on a typewriter on her kitchen table – (an interesting, warm human being – I met her years ago in Hawaii, we belong to the same club) – and of J. K. Rowling, who also wrote her earlier books under difficult circumstances.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for the kind words, Clairdelune! I never tried writing another novel, but who knows? Now that I’ve finished my “Fascinating Facts” literature book, I’ll see if have another book I want to do after I go through the whole publishing thing.

          I hear you about how “life gets in the way” when trying to do creative writing. It sounds like you had a LOT on your plate. From your comments, I can tell you’re a fabulous writer. (I decided not to try another rewrite of my novel after my first daughter was diagnosed as terminally ill in the latter 1980s; I could barely do my full-time journalism job at the time.)

          Yes, the drive and focus (and talent) of authors such as J.K. Rowling and Jean M. Auel who were living difficult lives is absolutely awe-inspiring.


  18. Poetry has not been high on my list of things to read, but after reading your post and these comments I now intend to look for some of these poets the next time I’m at the library. I have enjoyed Whitman, Frost, Angelou and the forever irreverent Ogden Nash – “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” always resonated with me. So many ways to think of that verse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree with your sentiments, energywriter! I’m also not much of a poetry reader who will now (and is already starting to) read more verse after seeing the great comments and poems posted here.

      And, yes, that’s quite a line by Ogden Nash! Maybe one of the most famous lines in “lighter” poetry.


  19. Poetry is often a more intimate form of expression than fiction and, because it is often confessional, soul-searching, introspective it is a subjective experience that lends itself less well to analysis than prose. I have always been drawn toward poetic fiction writers, probably first encountered through Ray Bradbury who often built entire stories on the foundation of a single metaphor. Of course, I read more fiction than poetry, mainly because a collection of poems often feels “slighter”, like it has a bit less meat for your money than a big chewy novel. Also, I’m drawn toward STORIES, PLOTS, CHARACTERS, the fact that the novelist is playing God and creating entire WORLDS.

    But poetry creates interior worlds, which are really the ones we carry around within us every day and so, therefore, it is conducive for more intimacy. With that in mind, it’s often better to discuss poetry by sharing it, the evidence of which I see here with all the great poems reproduced in their entirety (another thing we can’t do with novels). I’m also reminded that I, along with several others here, have encountered most of our contemporary poetry through the lyrics of songs. Along those lines, I will include one of those by the recently departed Leonard Cohen:

    The Stranger Song
    Leonard Cohen
    It’s true that all the men you knew were dealers
    Who said they were through with dealing
    Every time you gave them shelter
    I know that kind of man, it’s hard to hold the hand of anyone
    Who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
    Who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
    And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
    You find he did not leave you very much, not even laughter
    Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild
    He’ll never need to deal another
    He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
    He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
    And then leaning on your window sill
    He’ll say one day you caused his will
    To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
    And then taking from his wallet
    An old schedule of trains, he’ll say
    I told you when I came I was a stranger
    But now another stranger seems
    To want you to ignore his dreams
    As though they were the burden of some other
    Oh, you’ve seen that man before
    His golden arm dispatching cards
    But now it’s rusted from the elbows to the finger
    And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter
    Yes, he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter
    Ah, you hate to see another tired man
    Lay down his hand like he was giving up the holy game of poker
    And while he talks his dreams to sleep you notice there’s a highway
    That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder
    It’s curling just like smoke above his shoulder
    You tell him to come in sit down
    But something makes you turn around
    The door is open you can’t close your shelter
    You try the handle of the road, it opens, do not be afraid
    It’s you my love, you who are the stranger
    It is you my love, you who are the stranger
    Well, I’ve been waiting, I was sure
    We’d meet between the trains we’re waiting for
    I think it’s time to board another
    Please understand, I never had a secret chart
    To get me to the heart of this or any other matter
    Well, he talks like this you don’t know what he’s after
    When he speaks like this you don’t know what he’s after
    Let’s meet tomorrow if you choose
    Upon the shore, beneath the bridge
    That they are building on some endless river
    Then he leaves the platform for the sleeping car that’s warm
    You realize, he’s only advertising one more shelter
    And it comes to you, he never was a stranger
    And you say okay, the bridge or someplace later
    And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
    You find he did not leave you very much, not even laughter
    Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild
    He’ll never need to deal another
    He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
    He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
    And then leaning on your window sill
    He’ll say one day you caused his will
    To weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
    And then taking from his wallet
    An old schedule of trains, he’ll say
    I told you when I came I was a stranger
    I told you when I came I was a stranger
    I told you when I came I was a stranger
    I told you when I came I was a stranger
    Songwriters: Leonard Cohen
    The Stranger Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Brian, for your excellent/eloquent analysis of the pros and cons of poetry, how it compares with novels, etc.! That kind of analysis was lacking in my piece. And it’s interesting to think about novel writers who come close to writing “poetry in prose.” Ray Bradbury is indeed a very good example of that.

      And you posted one of many beautifully written Leonard Cohen songs. Wow!


  20. Hi Dave, I didn’t see your blog until this morning, and I now have on my desk at least 10 books of poetry (and still more on the shelves behind me) and one CD. The latter is a recording by Joan Baez from 1968, “Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time,” in which she sings or recites a wide variety of songs and poems by writers such as Henry Treece, Countee Cullen, John Donne, Walt Whitman, William Blake, ee cummings, Arthur Rimbaud, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Federico Garcia Lorca. My favorite poem is also on this CD, “Colours” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Of course, a CD doesn’t have the liner notes that albums used to have, so I’ve been poring over my books of collected poems to no avail, when it occurred to me that there is this thing called “Google” that can actually be used to find complete poems. 🙂 So here is “Colours”:
    When your face came rising
    above my crumpled life,
    the only thing I understood at first
    was how meager were all my possessions.
    But your face cast a peculiar glow
    on forests, seas, and rivers,
    initiating into the colors of the world
    uninitiated me.
    I’m so afraid, I’m so afraid,
    the unexpected dawn might end,
    ending the discoveries, tears, and raptures,
    but I refuse to fight this fear.
    This fear-I understand-
    is love itself. I cherish this fear,
    not knowing how to cherish,
    I, careless guardian of my love.
    This fear has ringed me tightly.
    These moments are so brief, I know,
    and, for me, the colors will disappear
    when once your face has set…

    –Translated by George Reavey (not the same translator as on the Baez album, but close to what I remember until I listen to the CD again)

    I was fortunate enough to take a course on Modern Poetry while at Drake University. My professor was Gary Gildner, a poet whose poems had appeared in magazines, whose first collection in hardcover, “First Practice,” came out in 1969. I am the proud owner of a first edition, personally inscribed by him. During our class we studied Robert Creeley, James Dickey, my personal favorite Theodore Roethke, etc., and some of his own poems. I wrote my term paper on Roethke, which I didn’t keep a copy of and would probably blush in shame if anyone else read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Kat Lib! That sounds like a really interesting Joan Baez album. Natalie Merchant (the former frontwoman of 10,000 Maniacs) did something in that neighborhood six years ago with an album of her music set to already-written children’s poetry.

      “Colours” is a magnificent poem that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m very glad you posted it!

      Taking a poetry course taught by a published poet is a terrific memory to have.


      • I seem to be on a Joan Baez theme today. I’ve always felt an affinity with her because her one-time husband, David Harris, and my brother who wrote poetry were both CO’s during the Vietnam War era (I’m not sure if they were in the same prison or not). My brother was also the one who introduced me to the music of both Baez and Dylan. My favorite Baez album was simply entitled “Joan” recorded in 1967. What brought it to mind was that she apparently had a great love of poetry, and one of the songs was the poem “Annabel Lee,” by Edgar Allan Poe, set to music written by Don Dilworth. She also covered the songs “Eleanor Rigby” and “Dangling Conversation,” both written by no slouches when it came to song lyrics. Each song is beautifully sung by Joan, especially “Turquoise,” written by none other than Donovan:

        “Your eyes beams like sunlight on a gull’s wings
        And the leaves dance and play after you
        Take my hand and hold it as you would a flower
        Take care with my heart, oh, darling, she’s made of glass

        Your eyes feel like sunlight resting on me
        And the birds cease to sing when you rise
        Ride easy your fairy stallion you have mounted
        Take care how you fly, my precious, you might fall down

        In the pastel shades of sunlight I have wandered
        With my eyes, my ears, my heart strained to the full
        I know I’ve tasted the essence in those few days
        Take care who you love, oh, darling, he might not know”

        Actually, Donovan wrote some very silly songs during his hippie-trippy period, but I think he did write some really great ones like this and “To Catch the Wind.”

        There is a lot to be said for poetic song lyrics, even if I at first was skeptical of Dylan getting the Nobel Prize for Literature. I was looking through one of my many books and came across one entitled “Beginnings in Poetry,” which I bought to help me know how to read poetry properly. Included in this were two poems by: (1) Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne” and (2) Bob Dylan, “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” (there again is a reference to Joan Baez, or so I’ve heard!).

        By the way, as an asterisk to Joan’s cover of “Dangling Conversation” on the “Joan” recording, she notes that Paul Simon wanted it to be known that the original line was “Is the theatre really dead?” I’d not realized that the version she sang was “Is the Church really dead?” This is the kind of trivia I love to read about!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I remember, from the “Woodstock” album, Joan Baez mentioning her then-husband’s CO status while she was performing. Great, Kat Lib, that your brother was a CO as well during the time of that needless, unjust war. But not great that he was punished for it.

          Yes, Joan Baez covered songs by some terrific songwriters (and non-song writers), in addition to writing her own material. And Donovan does indeed have a mixed repertoire — from silly to sublime. Those are excellent Donovan lyrics you posted — as well as a great piece of Paul Simon-related trivia.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Donovan may not have written as many great lyrics as Dylan, Cohen or a few others. However, I feel that musically he was often superior to Dylan. He was the first pop star in the 60’s to use African traditions, long before ‘world music’ became a known catch phrase or Paul Simon got a lot of praise for it. Also, some of the first flute playing I heard in rock’n’roll was on Donovan (played by noted session musician Harold McNair), before Jethro Tull, Traffic, Moody Blues or most of the other late 60’s British progressive groups.

            Liked by 1 person

  21. Arthur Rimbaud was a big influence on Jim Morrison’s life and poetry. On a daily basis, Morrison practiced Rimbaud’s philosophy: “The poet makes himself into a visionary by a long derangement of all the senses.” Morrison fancied himself a poet before all else, as is reflected in many of his lyrics.

    “What have they done to the earth?
    What have they done to our fair sister?
    Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
    Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
    And tied her with fences and dragged her down”

    On the other hand (“you have different fingers” ~ Steven Wright), Edgar Guest’s simple poetry was read to me by my parents when I was a toddler. One of them is timely:

    The Approach of Christmas
    by Edgar A. Guest

    There’s a little chap at our house that is being mighty good
    Keeps the front lawn looking tidy in the way we’ve said he should
    Doesn’t leave his little wagon, when he’s finished with his play
    On the sidewalk as he used to; now he puts it right away
    When we call him in to supper, we don’t have to stand and shout;
    It is getting on to Christmas and it’s plain he’s found it out.

    He eats the food we give him without murmur or complaint;
    He sits up at the table like a cherub or a saint;
    He doesn’t pinch his sister just to hear how loud she’ll squeal’
    Doesn’t ask us to excuse him in the middle of the meal
    And at eight o’clock he’s willing to be tucked away in bed.
    It is getting close to Christmas; nothing further need be said.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, thepatterer! Jim Morrison DID often have interesting lyrics in his Doors songs, and his words and (short) life do seem to have been influenced by Rimbaud.

      Heck, The Doors’ very name (short for William Blake’s “The doors of perception” line that became the title of an Aldous Huxley nonfiction book) has literary antecedents.

      And, yes, there is simple poetry and more complex poetry. Guest’s poem is kind of nice, but clearly not exercise-the-brain verse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know Guest hasn’t the rep of a fine poet, but when you’re on your daddy’s lap, and he’s reading such simple words, from the same book his own father read to him, then it’s an everlasting pleasure and very much of those times.

        I love the history you almost always insert into your responses. It’s interesting, as well as an indication of your formidable personal knowledge of the written and spoken word.

        Thanks to you and Kat Lit for yet another fascinating exposure to what’s what in literature.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. In today’s World with Trump Presidency this one resonates in my mind Dave

    Where The Mind Is Without Fear

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Nobel laureate in Literature in 1913

    On the Seashore

    On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
    The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.
    They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.
    They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.
    The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby’s cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
    On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, bebe! It was great to read, and to hear, this poem. I love it — accessible and really profound at the same time. Almost anyone who’s a parent, or remembers bits of their childhood, would find this poem extremely evocative. Tagore was an amazing, multifaceted talent.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. Stephen Crane, most famous for his novels “Red Badge of Courage” and “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” was, during his short life, a prolific poet as well. Here is one of his short poems that I have always appreciated:

    In the Desert
    By Stephen Crane

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, “Is it good, friend?”
    “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

    “But I like it
    “Because it is bitter,
    “And because it is my heart.”

    The final two lines, incidentally, were used by Joyce Carol Oates at the title of her 1991 novel. You mentioned that Donne’s line “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was used as a title by Hemingway. It make me wonder how many other novel titles were inspired by lines from poems – I’m sure quite a few. I know that “A Catcher in the Rye” was so titled based on the fact that Holden Caufield mishears (and is later corrected) the Robert Burns poem “Coming Thro’ the Rye”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Nice topic and article, Dave. I’ve been following the Writers’ Almanac for some time and often enjoy the poems selected for that days’ postings. One I recently felt a bit sentiment over was “Wet Autumn” by Tom Hennen. Here is the link, in case anyone would like to enjoy it, too. Short but powerful.

    I enjoy most of their chosen poems, but poetry interest comes to me in spurts and is not always how I like to focus my reading time. Maya Angelou, as you also noted, is one my favorites. So was John Denver’s writing – his songs definitely bring out the “sunshine on my shoulders”, and I feel such a stirring, listening to his words, no matter who is singing them. Dylan, another favorite. I was so happy he won the recent Nobel award. He deserved it. One of my favorite song writers has been Dolly Parton, of all people. Her song “Wildflowers” just moves me so deeply.

    We identify with poems, with lyrics, as we should. The stories of our lives live on in them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, hopewfaith!

      I like that “Wet Autumn” poem a lot. Very timely, too. With all the great links people are putting here, I might start to become more of a poetry reader. 🙂

      Dolly Parton has an almost a caricature-like reputation, but she’s an excellent songwriter. And John Denver had a “not cool” reputation, but some of his music was beautiful and evocative. I have his greatest-hits album from way back when.

      I have more mixed feelings about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel, given how many never-won-it novel writers deserve that prize. But his lyrics of course have often been terrific.

      Loved your concluding paragraph. So true!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Pat!

          I haven’t listened to Hank Williams Sr. as much as I should (my country music listening has been mostly limited to The Dixie Chicks, who are now more pop than country), but I’ve heard great things about him. I knew a columnist from Alabama I’d see at conferences who waxed absolutely eloquent about Williams’ lyrics.

          Liked by 1 person

          • To resurrect Twain’s comparison between lightning and lightning bug– that’s the difference between HW and HW Jr.

            The owner of a used bookstore in Nashville years ago was nice enough to show me an item he had for sale: The Hank Williams Song Writer’s Book (the title I approximate: the thing’s been out of print for years, and I can’t find one on the interwebs)– signed! I exclaimed to him that an autographed copy must be rare, to which he replied: It is indeed. Hank signed and drank with the same hand.

            Here’s a bit of his poetizing:

            “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”

            Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
            He sounds too blue to fly
            The midnight train is whining low
            I’m so lonesome I could cry

            I’ve never seen a night so long
            When time goes crawling by
            The moon just went behind the clouds
            To hide its face and cry

            Did you ever see a robin weep
            When leaves begin to die?
            Like me, he’s lost the will to live
            I’m so lonesome I could cry

            The silence of a falling star
            Lights up a purple sky
            And as I wonder where you are
            I’m so lonesome I could cry

            Liked by 3 people

            • Those are absolutely first-rate lyrics, jhNY. Seemingly simple, but pretty darn deep — a combination many of the best lyrics have.

              That Hank Williams book sounds rare indeed. Did you buy it? Or was it way too expensive?


              • Didn’t buy it– had already been sold. For which I am grateful in a way: I couldn’t really afford the asking price, but, knowing me, I might have tried.

                Hank Williams had a run– a hell of a run– for a while, the while being less than two years. I’ve got a reissue of all his singles, and that’s where I spotted it. Every song during that run, unlike what preceded or followed, is familiar to all old time country fans. Pretty sure he was the best that ever played the game.

                I do have one Williams rarity– how rare I don’t know– a print of a photo taken of him in the alley behind his mother’s boarding house in Montgomery AL. He poses a few feet ahead of an abandoned jalopy….

                Liked by 1 person

  26. Howdy, Dave!

    — Who and what are some of your favorite poets and poems? —

    This side of the amazingly prolific A. Nonymous (author of the classic two-line poem “Fleas” that reads in its entirety, “Adam/Had ’em”), The Great Stephen Dunn is among my all-time favorite poets, with an extraordinary range that has widened over the four-plus decades since I first was one of his students at what is this week called Stockton University. And I have a lot of company in my admiration for the conversational quality, laid-back humor and unique voice — almost always assertive and nearly never imperious — in Stephen’s work, as exemplified by his “Different Hours” being awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

    Stephen isn’t quite as prolific as the above-referenced A. Nonymous, but he has written many poems that I love, with a few mentioned here:
    — “With No Experience in Such Matters” (
    — “What Goes On” (
    — “The Routine Things Around the House” (
    — “Outfielder” (
    — “Learning to Be Strange in a Small Town” (

    Synchronistically, I noticed this Saturday that “The New Yorker” has added audio files to Stephen’s poems on its online site:


    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, J.J.! I had only vaguely heard of Stephen Dunn. The poems of his you linked to are sad, terrific, pack an emotional wallop, and more. Very impressive writing. Wonderful that you were in his college classroom!

      Thanks, also, for the humor, as in “what is this week called Stockton University” and your citing of the “Fleas” poem “Adam/Had ’em.” I guess if Adam had worn a flea collar, he would have had two articles of clothing (that and the fig leaf).


      • — I had only vaguely heard of Stephen Dunn. The poems of his you linked to are sad, terrific, pack an emotional wallop, and more. Very impressive writing. —

        And those constitute only the tip of the tip of the iceberg, which I believe encompasses a great many more even better, although I think the awesome compression of “Outfielder” may be in a league of its own.

        — Wonderful that you were in his college classroom! —

        I consider myself extremely lucky in this regard (as in so many others). I attended Stephen’s creative-writing workshops not only as an enrolled student most of the trimesters during my two years at Stockton but also as an auditing parasite a number of trimesters over the following years: His kindness was boundless.

        Meanwhile, I feel I would be remiss were I not to share on this auspicious occasion a very small selection of my other favorite poems, avoiding as much as possible those improper proper nouns already mentioned by either you or others this week:
        — Yehuda Amichai’s “Letter of Recommendation.”
        — John Berryman’s “The Dream Songs: 14.”
        — Robert Bly’s “Counting Small-Boned Bodies.”
        — Charles Bukowski’s “Time to Water the Plants and Feed the Cat.”
        — Robert Creeley’s “Oh No.”
        — T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes.”
        — Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind: 20.”
        — Tess Gallagher’s “Instructions to the Double.”
        — Federico Garcia Lorca’s “City That Does Not Sleep.”
        — Ernest Hemingway’s The Lord’s Prayer in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”
        — Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” as translated by Robert Fitzgerald.
        — Immanuel of Rome’s “A Little Thought.”
        — Robinson Jeffers’ “Hurt Hawks.”
        — Jack Kerouac’s “Lucien Midnight.”
        — Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig.”
        — Theodore Roethke’s “In a Dark Time.”
        — Gary Snyder’s “Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout.”
        — Wallace Stevens’ “The Emperor of Ice-Cream.”
        — Mark Strand’s “Keeping Things Whole.”
        — William Carlos Williams’ “Paterson.”

        Because a number of the DAOLiterati are not only readers but also writers, I am compelled to refer to the already-mentioned Adrienne Rich, whose “Twenty-One Love Poems: VII” opens thusly: “What kind of beast would turn its life into words?” It took a lifetime for her to answer that question (as it does everybody else).

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks so much for that list of favorite poems, J.J.! I will definitely read a number of them as I get the time this week. (I’ve only read a couple in the past.)

          You mentioned Charles Bukowski. I’ve read one of his novels (“Hollywood”) but not his poetry, yet. Well, maybe a bit of it — U2’s excellent song “Dirty Day” references some of Bukowski’s words.

          Great that Stephen Dunn is not only an ultra-talented poet but kind as well. I like that combination…


          • — You mentioned Charles Bukowski. I’ve read one of his novels (“Hollywood”) but not his poetry, yet. —

            Until I came across Barbet Schroeder’s “Barfly” in the late 1980s, I didn’t even know C.B. had authored prose of any kind!

            — Great that Stephen Dunn is not only an ultra-talented poet but kind as well. I like that combination… —

            If you ever choose to follow up “Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers” with “Pleasing Poop on Pulitzer-Winning Poets,” then you may wish to add to this combo an account of Stephen’s career as a Hofstra University basketball player whose unerring outside shot earned him the nickname “Radar” on the Butch van Breda Kolff-coached squad that went 23-1 in 1959-60, as documented by fellow alumnus George Vecsey, whose work you might have come across in the local newspaper of record (

            Liked by 1 person

            • As you probably know, the “Hollywood” novel is Bukowski’s hilarious fictionalized account of his writing the “Barfly” screenplay!

              A great poet, a kind person, AND a sweet-shooting b-ball player? Okay, that’s a triple crown (to mix sports metaphors)…


    • Though I will always look upon A. Nonymous’ “Fleas” with high regard, recently I read another poem involving such a creature, and a pal, which you might enjoy:

      A flea and a fly in a flue
      Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
      Said the fly, “let us flee!”
      “Let us fly!” said the flea.
      So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
      Ogden Nash

      Liked by 3 people

      • Howdy, jhNY!

        I do indeed enjoy many of Ogden Nash’s acutely observed bits, including not only the flea/fly routine you mentioned here but also the candy/liquor schtick energywriter mentioned elsewhere, as well as his cutting remarks in the red-blooded debate over bathing before shaving or shaving before bathing (depending on one’s point of view), which were originally published under the hed “And Three Hundred and Sixty-Six in Leap Year” ( in “The New Yorker” (

        Ow. There’s never a styptic pencil around when you need one . . .


        Liked by 2 people

        • Moseyed over to the shaving debate poem, and I did enjoy it, though thankfully, many years ago I settled firmly on one side. Me, not enjoying the act, put it off too often, and now, several days since last chin met steel, must steel myself for shaving– after bathing.

          Liked by 1 person

  27. Hi Dave – you did VERY well with this topic 🙂 I would say Dorothy Parker for sure (anything and everything), Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, and, definitely, Lewis Carrol (“The Crocodile”, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”). Have a great week, Dave!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Pat! Much appreciated!

      And thanks for naming several excellent poets — of both serious verse and more humorous verse fame.

      This renowned John Donne poem from 1624 is magnificent:

      No man is an island,
      Entire of itself.
      Each is a piece of the continent,
      A part of the main.
      If a clod be washed away by the sea,
      Europe is the less.
      As well as if a promontory were.
      As well as if a manor of thine own
      Or of thine friend’s were.
      Each man’s death diminishes me,
      For I am involved in mankind.
      Therefore, send not to know
      For whom the bell tolls,
      It tolls for thee

      Hmm…I wonder where Hemingway got the name for one of his novels… 🙂

      Have a great week, too!

      Liked by 3 people

    • PatD, I’m glad you mentioned Shel Silverstein – I discovered him when my grandson was nearly 5 and I bought a few of Silverstein’s books of poems aimed to a younger audience, only to discover that they work on two levels – amusing the young and making the adult think. My grandson liked the poems so much that he was reading them on his own within a couple of months. I should have written to Shel to thank him for helping me teach my grandson to read so quickly!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, Shel Silverstein is one of those terrific writers who can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

        (As a barely relevant aside, I dated a relative of Silverstein about 15 years ago — after my first marriage ended and before I met my current wife. The relationship with that relative did not end well. 🙂 )

        Liked by 2 people

            • Thanks Dave, but it was not a traumatic experience, I was not that much into it. Eventually I realized that relationships were not part of my destiny, I accepted that my fate was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so I concentrated on the life I had rather than on the one I did not have. You know, when life hands you lemons… Probably there’s a book written about something like it! 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • “I concentrated on the life I had rather than on the one I did not have” — those are wise words, Clairdelune. There are so many elements that make up a potentially satisfying life, and a “significant other” relationship is just one of them.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Clairdelune — I’ve been racking my brain over what I’m getting my granddaughters – ages 7 and 8 – for Christmas this year. Shel Silverstein just went on the list. I learned about him years ago when my then-teenage daughter told me about him. She was in a magnet school and her major was creative writing. Shel Silverstein was one of her favorite poets … and then he became one of mine 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

            • Hard to believe the same guy wrote A Boy Named Sue….but it’s true.

              I used to see him long ago when I performed and hung about the Exit/In in Nashville merely 40 years ago. Bald, completely, with a deep tan, a beard black as coal and a big white smile, he stuck out more than a little among the locals gathered there to hear songwriters. But I never saw him perform.

              A first-rate illustrator too, though most often, of his own stuff. But for a while, he also drew regularly for Playboy.

              Liked by 2 people

              • That’s right, jhNY! I remember you mentioning — either on this blog or on HP — having seen Shel Silverstein. He was one of those people with two (or more) careers.

                Never was a big fan of his Johnny Cash-sung song…


                • Never cared much for Boy Named Sue either, though I was happy it gave Johnny Cash another payday. Liked Dr. Hook’s Sylvia’s Mother and Cover of the Rolling Stone less. He wrote them too. But I’ll bet he made more money as a songwriter than he did wearing all his other hats.

                  My favorite of all his outpourings in various media is Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book, a truly subversive item for a child to find at age 10– as I did. The illustrations, unsurprisingly, are excellent, and the book overall, hilarious.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • Perhaps one issue with some of Shel Silverstein’s songs is that, while the words were great, the melodies tended to be…meh. But, yes, any extra payday for Johnny Cash was welcome! I also loved the guest singing Cash did on U2’s “The Wanderer.”


  28. I forgot to add that I agree, there are many writers of song lyrics who are great poets, but I can never recall their names, only the singers and the song titles – such as “wild Horses” sung by Susan Boyle (that middle-aged British singer with a golden throat!!), and “One of these days” sung by Tim McGraw – both emotion-stirrers.
    I also like short poems using few words to convey a feeling:

    A street lamp
    casts shadows
    on the sidewalk,
    Our shadows together.
    But look:
    it’s only
    a trick of perspective.

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Hi Dave,
    I’m baaaack…! Yes, still alive and coping with work and family illness and life in general. I still check in to enjoy your posts but have not had enough free time to join in.
    I do love poetry, and have read most of the poets you listed – I would add Rimbaud, a very interesting poet, and the Italian Gabriele d’Annunzio – recently I found an excellent English translation of his most famous poem “Rain in a Pine Forest”. My favorites are Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda, Robert Frost, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
    There are indeed many songwriters who write poetical gems, but I seldom recall their names –

    Liked by 5 people

    • Great to hear from you, Clairdelune! I know your workload is almost always overwhelming, but didn’t know about your family illness situation. Very sorry to hear about that, and good luck with that.

      Thank you for your mentions of all those memorable poets! I finally read some of Rimbaud a year or so ago. Stunning, vivid, influential, ahead-of-its-time stuff, and written at such a young age. Unfortunately, his life eventually became pretty much a train wreck.

      Liked by 2 people

    • D’Annunzio! The hero of Trieste! (just ask him).

      Found a paper-bound edition of his Nottorno on a blanket the other year, in Italian, natch– can’t read it, but I had to save it regardless. Besides, it came with the loveliest engraved illustrations.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Ancient Music
    by Ezra Pound
    A playful take on

    Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!
    Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!

    Winter is i-cumin in,
    Lhude sing goddamn!
    Raineth drop and staineth slop
    And how the wind doth ram
    Sing goddamn!

    Skiddth bus and sloppeth us,
    An ague hath my ham
    Freezeth river, turneth liver,
    Damn you, sing goddamn.
    Goddamn, goddamn, tis why I am goddamn,
    So gainst the winter’s balm.

    Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!

    Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

    We real cool. We
    Left school. We

    Lurk late. We
    Strike straight. We

    Sing sin. We
    Thin gin. We

    Jazz June. We
    Die soon.
    Song of the Open Road, I
    Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

    Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
    Healthy, free, the world before me,
    The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

    Walt a Gay/Bi man living during an oppressive era gave us the best example of the American spirit.

    Poetry? it doesn’t need to be Byron to be great.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Poetry? it doesn’t need to be Byron to be great” — so true, “I love Lucille,” and you gave three excellent, varied examples of that.

      Speaking of Byron, and poetry-novel connections, Mary Shelley’s novel “The Last Man” features a character based on Lord B. (And another character based on her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley.)

      And, as you know, Walt Whitman also had the distinction of being an early self-publisher.

      I mentioned it in my column, but I’m also a big fan of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Paul Robeson” poem:

      That time
      cool and clear,
      cutting across the hot grit of the day.
      The major Voice.
      The adult Voice
      forgoing Rolling River,
      forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
      and other symptoms of an old despond.
      Warning, in music-words
      devout and large,
      that we are each other’s
      we are each other’s
      we are each other’s
      magnitude and bond.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Wow, I must admit that I never finished reading “The Last Man.” In my teens if you put a book in front of me during the school year that was not on the syllabus you became my enemy, Summers however, were spent reading fiction and astronomy text books.

        I need to revisit, “The Last Man.” I too love GB, “Paul Robeson” is powerful and true, “we are each other’s harvest” says it all.

        I spared you “Epic of Gilgamesh”, I used to do late night poetry pages and this was one of the hardest to complete—I posted sections at a time.
        By the time we finished, Song of the open road, it was like waving bon voyage to an old friend.

        I’m still getting a kick out of how bad Bob Dylan’s Nobel nomination is grating people—like good art literature should also push the limits 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha! “The Last Man” IS a fairly dense novel, and not exactly teen fare. I didn’t read it until four or five years ago. But it has beautiful writing amid the apocalyptic theme.

          Yes, some amazing lines and sentiments in that evocative Gwendolyn Brooks poem.

          I should read “Epic of Gilgamesh” someday, but, realistically, probably won’t… Literature that old can be an interesting combination of fascinating and tedious.

          As for Bob Dylan, there are so many deserving non-lyricist writers who’ve never won the Nobel, but BD certainly has a way with words. His win might be a little less grating if he acted more gracious about it and didn’t skip the Nobel ceremony. But his personality is what it is… 🙂

          Forgot to add in my previous comment a response to your mention of Walt Whitman’s sexuality. Oscar Wilde (who wrote some poetry) also lived in that more homophobic era, and, as you probably know, he and Whitman once met. Certainly two very different people and very different writers.


        • I agree, Clairdelune! That amazing song and Paul Robeson’s amazing voice give one the shivers. I have “Old Man River” on an album recorded at Robeson’s 1958 Carnegie Hall concert. By then, he had nicely changed some of the lyrics to make it partly a fighting song, not just a despondent/stoic song.

          Yes, Gwendolyn Brooks’ wonderful poem really IS a great companion to “Old Man River.”

          Liked by 1 person

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