Almost Forgotten Verse
There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.
- Robert Graves
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is the ash.
- Leonard Cohen
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Half my life is gone, and I have let
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights, -
Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, The Library of America
This Is Just to Say
Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance.
- Robert Frost
In Australia, not reading poetry is the national pastime.
- Phyllis McGinley
I have eaten
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams (although written in 1934)
The Red Wheel Barrow
so much depends
© 1962 by William Carlos Williams (although written in 1923)
by Stephen Dunn
She taught theater, so we gathered
Sometimes he couldn't look at her, the blotches,
Everyone was crying. Everyone was crying and it
Stephen Dunn teaches (taught?) English at Stockton State College. His collection of poems, Between Angels, was published by W W Norton. "On the Death of a Colleague" was the eighth winner of the Mary Elinore Smith Poetry Prize (given in memory of Miss Smith by her family and friends). Mary Elinore Smith, who died in 1981, was an editor of The American Scholar.
Source: The American Scholar Summer 1989 published for general circulation by Phi Beta Kappa
by T S Elliot
Footfalls echo in the memory
The Poetry of D H Rumsfeld
by Hart Seely
Dubious verse by the secretary of defense
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is an accomplished man. Not only did he guide the war in Iraq, he has been a pilot, a congressman, an ambassador, a businessman, and a civil servant. But few Americans know that he is also a poet. Until now, the secretary’s poetry has found only a small and skeptical audience: the Pentagon press corps. Every day, Rumsfeld regales reporters with his jazzy, impromptu riffs. Few of them seem to appreciate it. But we should all be listening. Rumsfeld’s poetry is paradoxical: It uses playful language to address the most somber subjects: war, terrorism, mortality. Much of it is about indirection and evasion: he never faces his subjects head on but weaves away, letting inversions and repetitions confuse and beguile. His work, with its dedication to the fractured rhythms of the plainspoken vernacular, is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’. Some readers may find that Rumsfeld’s gift for offhand, quotidian pronouncements is as entrancing as Frank O’Hara’s.
And so Slate has compiled a collection of Rumsfeld’s poems, bringing them to a wider public for the first time. The poems that follow are the exact words of the defense secretary, as taken from the official transcripts on the Defense Department Web site.
As we know,
— 12 February 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
You know, it’s the old glass box at the —
And it’s all these arms are going down in there,
Some of you are probably too young to remember
But they used to have them
— 6 December 2001, Department of Defense news briefing
Once in a while,
— 16 May 2001, interview with the New York Times
You’re going to be told lots of things.
It doesn’t seem to bother people, they don’t —
Everyone’s so eager to get the story
All I can tell you is,
— 28 February 2003, Department of Defense briefing
The Digital Revolution
Oh my goodness gracious,
A trained ape can know an awful lot
— 9 June 2001, following European trip
Things will not be necessarily continuous.
— 12 October 2001, Department of Defense news briefing
I think what you’ll find,
And it will be known,
— 28 February 2003, Department of Defense briefing
Hart Seely writes for the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper. He is co-author of 2007-Eleven and Other American Comedies.
Source: slate.com 2 April 2003
President Bush Pens a Poem
Washington - Laura Bush says her husband is a poet even if, uh, Americans don't know it [still don't know it]. At a gala Friday night kicking off the third National Book Festival, Mrs Bush celebrated the written word in an age of visual media, thanking American authors for their "tales of mystery, history and heroism."
"A good book is like an unreachable itch; you just can't leave it alone," she said at the Library of Congress, repository of 126 million books, recordings, photographs, maps, manuscripts and more. She revealed that President Bush had penned a poem for her when she got back from a 5-day solo trip to Europe, where she attended a book festival in Moscow and visited France - getting two kisses on the hand from French President Jacques Chirac. "President Bush is a great leader and a husband, but I bet you didn't know he is also quite the poet," she said. "Upon returning home last night from my long trip I found a lovely poem waiting there for me."
As her husband watched quietly, she recited it.
Roses are red
Bush sometimes refers to his wife as a lump in the bed. [Curious. I wonder why.] Mrs Bush went on:
Roses are redder
And then the finale:
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too
Barney the dog had a tumble when Mrs Bush was handing him to her husband on a tarmac.
James H Billington, the librarian of Congress, called Mrs Bush "first reader of our land" for her work on behalf of literacy and reading. The first lady is a former librarian and teacher, and the book festival is modelled after those she started in Texas when her husband was governor. "Stories beckon us to toss all the cares in the world - work, even sleep - to read and discover," she said.
Novelist Tom Clancy, Cherokee storyteller Gayle Ross, nonfiction author and novelist Stephen L Carter, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer and actress Julie Andrews, who writes children's books, joined Mrs Bush in launching the festival.
Source: CNN Saturday 4 October 2003
I can't help but wonder what was the point in reading that poem - NOT to showcase the president's poetic talent. To show he is human, perhaps? (If he is, we need to know that.) Maybe it's just that she couldn't think of anything else to say. Maybe George was jealous of Donald Rumsfeld? If so, this should make him feel better...
Make the Pie Higher
by George W Bush
I think we all agree, the past is over.
Rarely is the question asked
They misunderestimate me.
Put food on your family!
This "Make the Pie Higher!" poem is composed of actual quotes from George W Bush. Visit the reference below for the actual context where each line appeared.
by Vladimir Nabokov, 1943
Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss
by Mark Isaak (with apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelly)
I met a scholar from an antique school
by Carol Hofstadter
by Philip Larkin
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
This is a special way of being afraid
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
1922 - 1985 / England
Aubade is a poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn.
This poem took Larkin 3 years to write...
For more articles, tests and visual amusements click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Intellectual and Entertaining section.