Guest Book

full-fox-print-color-corrected-reducedWelcome!  Please read some of my poetry while you’re here. Even if a post is two years old, they’re being read every day. They’re all current. Feel free to join the conversation. Lastly, treat this post as a Guest Book. Offer suggestions, improvements, requests or just say Hello! If you have a question concerning poetry or a poem, click read more at the end of this sentence and fill out the form.
  • For questions concerning a poem or poetry, here is where to ask them. If I know the answer, I’ll post it for all to read and comment on (and maybe correct). If you have questions concerning a particular line of poetry then be sure to include the poem or, if it’s longer, a link.


233 responses

  1. hey hey Patrick,

    Nice site you have here. You write some good poetry and do some good poetry analysis.

    Sorry about not approving your comments, I actually messed up some of the settings on my blog a few weeks ago. I had ended up making it so that I wasn’t receiving the comment notification emails anymore and all comments were going straight to the moderation folder. :P

    Glad to see another Patrick Gillespie is out there googling himself. I’m going to have to change around now that I know other Pat Gillespies are out there stumbling upon it.

    Oh, and I was born April 3, 1982 and my older brother has all girls too. No kids for me yet, though I hope so some day.

    Thanks for throwing your two cents in on my topic, it put a smile on my face :).

  2. I absolutely am in awe of your dissertation on Haiku – I loved it. I have written a little, had a couple accepted for publication in obscure places but this truly is a wonderful site.

    Thank you.

    Endless Sky:

    Hot summer perfume
    Warms and dulls our senses
    Seeds pods crushed for love

    For Peter Brock:

    Tribal warfare done
    Men and machines cool down
    Women weep again

    I was back in Perth by July, when London was bombed – just a few short weeks after being in London after Easter last year – and sat under a magnificent old magnolia tree in the grounds of St Martins of the Fields, just of Piccadilly.

    Flower petals fall
    On graves of centuries past
    While bombs burn your heart

  3. Patrick,

    Im thrilled to have found your site.

    Four weeks ago I Wikied ‘haiku’ so I could participate in a haiku workshop in Second Life. Since then I have been furiously reading, writing and researching haiku. Its a heady feeling being at the start of something that captures the imagination.

    I just read your excellent blog on haiku. That, and Jane Reichholds work have been the best reads Ive found so far. Your site has been added to my first and very new blog.

    I look forward to reading all you throw our way. And good luck getting published.


  4. dear patrick,

    NEVER down grade your haiku/poetry just because you haven’t been published YET!!
    not being published, doesn’t mean you are NOT successful. please e-mail me, so, we can discuss this & i can “help” you to
    “promote” yourself.

    with a humble heart, pamela a. babusci published haiku/tanka poet

  5. Patrick – what a wonderful blog! So glad you stopped by mine – now I can add you to my blogroll and peruse at leisure (not now though – I’m on my lunch break:-))

    I’m a great fan of iambic pentameter but I didn’t realise there was so much to it – thought it was merely a ten-syllable line. So I’ll be reading your post about it tonight :-)

  6. Dear Patrick, I have found a gold mine and a man after my own heart.

    I can see it will take me some time to digest all you have written.

    I think music went down hill after J.S. Bach and literature after Homer.

    There is now a wealth of good work which may never see the editor’s red pen. The Internet has liberated us. It’s all ephemeral anyhow like the windswept grass and the lilies of the field.

    Send me an email if you wish.

    Kind regards,
    Roger K.A.Allen

    • It’s so nice to see you here, Dr.. If you love Bach and Homer then yes, we’re kindred spirits. The first time a read Homer was on an 8 hour bus trip from Vermont to New York – when I was a high school student. That was perfect. I might as well have been aboard a galley and every bus stop might as well have been a archipelago which strange, repellent and enticing creatures. I’ll be sure to E-Mail you. I’m working on a post about Sidney’s Sonnets right now. That will keep me busy for the week.

  7. Hi Patrick. Saw you blasting the so-called “Worldclass Poetry Blog” for the same reasons I did but much more eloquently. Great work. Well met.

    • Nice to see you here, Paul.

      I’m just editing some of my posts, trying to improve them. Wish I had more time to post about everything I’d like to.

  8. Hi Patrick,
    Absolutely love your site :D

    Thank you for your visit to my blog and for your helpful suggestions (which I will certainly look into, once I have got the hang of exactly how this technology works, as its all completely alien to me LOL).

    I get the distinct impression that I am the sort of poet that drives Alan Taylor crazy, but…..this just keeps me bouncing right on back. I love writing poetry, though I know that prehaps my kind of poetry is not the norm, saying this, I thoroughly enjoy reading poetry of others, even if their stle is the complete oposite of mine.
    I will be linking you to my site, and visting often, once again thank you for your visit and kind comments. :-D

    • dear stacey,

      i trust i’m not the alan taylor to whom you refer? i’m also fairly sure you’re not the kind of poet who would drive me crazy. whatever you write is just fine with me. whoever this other alan taylor is, i assure you he’s an impostor. i’m the tasmanian poet, alan taylor ~ the poet-in-residence at the academy of the arts at the university of tasmania, 2009-2010, and the interweave and access arts poet-in-residence at the queen victoria museum and art gallery, tasmania, 2006-2010.

      i am Very pleased to make your acquaintance and encourage you to keep writing poetry, no matter what anyone else says or thinks about it…

    • Dear Alan
      Firstly im pleased to make your acquaintance also. You are not the “Alan Taylor” of which I was referring to (you’re much to polite!), sorry if there was any misunderstandings it was actually a fault on my part as I should have made it clearer of whom I was actually refering to, I do hope that im forgiven!
      I have been trying to reasearch your poetry, but im not certain if I now have the right “Alan Taylor”, so if at all possible could you email me on the above email address or leave me a message with a link.


  9. Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    You realize of course that you’re a poet who also happens to do carpentry?! I’m really enjoying your site and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about self-promotion and getting published. It’s quite unnerving sometimes but I find it’s a lot like taking a swim in a cold lake. You pretty much just have to dive in.
    Best wishes,

  10. Really nice to see another non-academic poet spending time on Milton. I am not too involved in tracking scansion; that was a poisonous element of high school English for me, though I often write in forms and have a metrical ear. I just don’t track it out on paper, and I don’t keep the vocabulary in my head (trochee, spondee, etc.). But Milton’s language is glorious. Still, I needed to spend two years copying out the epic word for word in order even to begin to comprehend what he might mean to me.

  11. Hi there! My name is Annie and I actually came across your blog while looking for people to get involved in a project that I’m trying to start in the Burlington area. Would you be interested in a writer’s group that would hold workshops every couple of weeks? I want to have a mix of people of different ages an experience levels who need honest, fair, and helpful criticism as well as a networking opportunity and a chance to share work. I’d really like to get you involved, although I don’t know if you even live in the Burlington area, but if you do I think you could bring an awesome energy and diversity to the group.

    Thanks and please shoot me an e-mail to let me know if you’re interested.


  12. or rather, you could just comment here and I’ll have the comment forwarded to me since you can’t actually see my e-mail address.

  13. Hi Annie!

    I don’t live in the Burlington area. I live in South Strafford, which is an hour and 40 minutes away. I love Burlington. Have you read Ulysses in Burlington, Vermont? I’m always curious to know what Burlingtonians think of the poem.

    Anyway, it’s hard to say. I think it would be enjoyable, but it might be hard to get there regularly. I’m coming up during the third week of August. I’m taking my twin girls (two eight year olds) up to the all girls Talent skateboard camp. We’ll be camping up on Hero island (like last year). It’s beautiful up there. Every time I visit I never want to leave. If you want to meet, let me know. I’ll probably hang out at the Barnes and Noble one of those days.

  14. Well congratulations… you’ve inspired my latest poem… well, you and some of your links. But I did meander back here to leave a comment and say hello. I think I found you under the search term “poetryblog rhyme”. Keep up the good work and thanks for your wonderful distractions. I’ll definitely check back and check often.

    -Andy Bonjour

    The poem I wrote this morning after linking place to place from your site is “The Distraction of Blogs”.

  15. Hi, Patrick,

    Thank you very much for visiting my blog and commenting on it. As you say I am just beginning. The Renaissance blog I opened for my students at the university, but yes, I’d like more people to visit and comment. I’ll try wordpress, but I still have to find my way around it.

    You have a great site and excellent stuff about poetry, including your poetry! I still have to explore your site more in depth, but what I have read is an inspiration. Thanks again!

    • Unless you’re fluent with HTML and have time to design your own website, I would whole-heartedly recommend WordPress.Com. If you decide to switch over to WordPress let me know so I can update my link. If you need any basic pointers, I might be able to help you.

      Also, I’m always open to cross posting by other bloggers with similar interests.

  16. I’ve read only two of your posts so far, but I agree with what you have said, that poetry which uses form is more interesting than the one that doesn’t. Thanks again.

  17. Patrick, I was happy to find your site when I was trying to reference narrative poetry that was written in iambic pentameter or iambic tetrameter. I found a mistake that needs to be corrected on the following link:

    My Papa’s Waltz Theodore Roethke
    My Papa’s Waltz may be one of Roethke’s best known poems. It’s written in an Iambic Tetrameter that Roethke skillfully varies according to the subject matter of the poem – a counterpoint unavailable to free verse poetry.

    The whiskey on your breath
    Could make a small boy dizzy;
    But I hung on like death:
    Such waltzing was not easy. … … …

    ***Please note that this poem is written in “trimeter” and not tetrameter.

    You seem to have quite the thorough site and congratulations for your hard work to share it all.

    sincerely, joy

  18. Patrick, I really appreciate your visit to my blog. You are right about the haiku: I continue to work on it. Often I come to the page cold from the day’s happenings. I write something and I let it stand. The Exile Blog is my space where I can be messy and take chances. This is good for me because I have had a tendency in the past to hold onto things too long, and this impeded my progress. The WordPress Blog is going to act as my website, not as another blog. I look forward to investigating your blog here in more detail.

  19. Patrick, your interest in meter struck a chord. This is something I had to grapple with in translating nineteenth-century Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer into English. Adapting Romance-language meter into English meter raises problems. I talk about it in my “Translator’s Note” to the Selected Poems of Jacint Verdaguer: A Bilingual Edition. “Guisla”, from Verdaguer’s epic Canigo, does, I think, survive to tell the second tale you mention at the top of your philosophy page. Just wondering what you might make of it.
    (There’s a copy in the library at University of Vermont, Burlington, but if that’s not nearby I’d be glad to send you another.)

    • Hello Ron,

      I love Burlington and I’d love to live there someday. As it is, I’m an hour and forty five minutes away. If you feel generous, I’d love to see a copy of it. If it’s something you would prefer loaning, then I would to send it back to you.

    • Hi Nicole,

      Sure, I would consider interviewing authors or reviewing. So you know, I’m limiting myself to reviews of poets who use traditional devices like meter and rhyme. If any of your authors are interested, have them take a look at my blog. My review of Annie Finch is representative. I would also consider children’s books if they are related to poetry.

  20. I have a question that perhaps you could answer here or as a longer post:

    Is it possible to write a true epic in English using rhyme, or must it be in blank verse?

    • An epic is loosely defined by its subject matter and breadth, rather than by the verse form in which it’s written. However, it is worth noting it’s strong roots in the oral tradition and how the great epics (in Latin and in English) use meter to sustain that tradition. Britannica offers up the following:

      Epic poetry has been used by peoples all over the world and in different ages to transmit their traditions from one generation to another, without the aid of writing. These traditions frequently consist of legendary narratives about the glorious deeds of their national heroes. Thus scholars have often identified “epic” with a certain kind of heroic oral poetry, which comes into existence in so-called heroic ages. Such ages have been experienced by many nations, usually at a stage of development in which they have had to struggle for a national identity.

      You’ll notice that Spencer’s Faerie Queene is included as an example of an epic, written in what came to be known as the Spencerian Stanza (they rhyme). So… Yes, it is possible to write a true English epic using rhyme. I suspect most poets chose not to, in English, because of the effort needed to sustain such an enterprise. (English, compared to Italian for example, is much more difficult to rhyme over the course of thousands of lines). However, it has been done. Check out Pharonnida by William Chamberlayne. Some might consider this more of a romance than an epic (although the same is said of the Faerie Queene). Chamberlayne’s rhyme scheme is that of the open heroic couplet – which came to be known as Romance Couplets.

      (I’ve edited this comment about 20 times. That’s what comes with talking to one’s wife and writing at the same time.)

  21. I seem to remember Fussell (Poetic Meter & Poetic Form) going at some length to point out the limitation of his sonnet form. I guess the question is not only whether it is literally possible to write a long poem in rhyme (that is, whether it is possible to sustain the effort without crippling the poem), but whether post-Milton, it is even appropriate or worth the effort to try to do so. Will have to check out and see what Pharonnida is all about.

    I ask because I’ve been contemplating writing an epic, which I had originally thought I might write in interlocking pentameter rubaiyat (as in Frost’s “Snowy Evening”) with a preface in blank verse, and a panegyric chant in appendix possibly in free verse. But I’m starting to wonder if the limitations of that would be too stifling. I’m still some years away from starting the thing (I first have to master both the subject matter and, of course, poetics). Not that I expect anyone to really read it.

    • I smile because, on the one hand, you’re concerned as to how it will be received and, on the other, you expect no one will really read it.

      I question… whether post-Milton, it is even appropriate or worth the effort to try to do so.

      It depends on what makes it “worth it”. What defines success? – the effort to write it? – it’s reception?

      Here’s what I can say. If you’re going to write a rhyming epic, you had better be a good poet – maybe a genius. If the world is going to criticize your work, let it be for dogmatic reasons (we just don’t like rhyme), not because you’re a bad poet or bad rhymer. Dismissing your effort will be so much easier if you’re rhymes are amateurish.

      Besides that, the limitations might indeed be too stifling. In shorter poems, like sonnets, rhyme can powerfully underline the content. In an epic length poem, it’s hard to imagine how it will sound like anything less than an affectation. A great poet can subdue meter (making one forget than he or she is reading meter), but no poet can subdue thousands and thousands of rhymes. Chamberlayne came closest, perhaps, because he used open heroic couplets. This allows him to de-emphasize the rhymes. By comparison, it doesn’t take long for the closed heroic couplets of Pope to sound utterly contrived (see his translations of Homer and Virgil).

      A rubaiyat thyme scheme would be extremely difficult to sustain on a large scale. English only has so many rhymes.

      The only thing that might come closest to serving as a model for what you would like to do (I think) are rhymed translations of Dante’s Inferno. Here’s a contemporary on-line example. Here’s one from the early 20th Century. Here is Michael Palma’s translation, possibly, the best triple rhymed translation available. Check these out. See if you like or dislike them. Know your reasons, then you can decide on your own approach.

  22. I have been enjoying this discussion.

    I wonder if anyone has read H.B. Cotterill’s translation (1924) of Homer’s Odyssey in iambic hexameter in English in the same style as the original Greek. There have been many criticisms of this work but I still find it pleasant to read and with the same lilt as the Greek. Indeed I read it as a student over 30 years ago and I couldn’t put it down. I could not find the book my late father owned but I bought one from a book store in Canada this year. It arrives in Australia in a week. In some ways it reminds me of the style of Longfellow’s Hiawatha.

    I have just finished a poem which I scribbled off one afternoon in 2007 about the Victoria Dock, Hobart, Tasmania. I write poetry primarily for myself bit I must admit, I like it when someone says it is good or stirred them.

    Epics alas are a rare breed now and even more so, poetic epics. We are too cynical, too busy, too much ennui, and too much déjà vu. Perhaps Tolkien is the closest we have and the movies may be better than the books. (I await howls of indignation).

    Roger Allen

    • I think I may have read parts of Cotterill’s translation when I was in high school, too young to appreciate his effort.

      Whenever I can, I opt for blank verse translations. I love blank verse.

      I think the best of them is Mandelbaum, but I haven’t read Esolen’s blank verse translation of Inferno.

      I looked for your new poem but you either haven’t posted it or I couldn’t find it. As to epics, I think you’re right about Tolkien. What’s really astonishing is how many oratorical devices (schemes of grammar) Tolkien uses, almost to the same extent as Milton. I wrote a paper on the subject. To my knowledge, no other writer (writing in this genre) really picked up on this facet of his writing. His style links his prose to the oral tradition in a way that no other writer has recognized or equaled.

  23. Hello Patrick,
    I am The Michael George Gibson of The True English (Poetry) Party and a member of The Queen’s English Society who has been stirring it up about the nature of poetry.There is a lot of muddle and nonsense out there, and many of the commentators on the Observer article and so forth muddle it up further. Please read my foundation document, ‘On English Poetry and Poems‘ and then start talking. It would be great fun to discuss these matters of formalism and so forth with you all.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Gibson

  24. As an amateur poet, and not an academic, my observation is that the modern freestyle approach to poetry is akin to the freestyle mode of living eg no religious or other rules/sanctions to live by and thus the democratisation of poetry. However as demos of course means the people, it follows thus (I may be wrong) that we see the mediocritisation of such (permit me the neologism, please, as we are on a poetry site). (I have done one year of Ancient Greek at university and am learning Modern or Demotic Greek).

    Thus, modern poetry is often modern prose in lines.

    Lines are for the reader, more than the poet, like traffic lights. They say, “please read differently with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and with a far away look in the eyes and realise you are going to come across some pretty zany ways of speaking English (or whatever, compressed forms, neologisms, etc).

    I once wrote a poem about childhood and then decided to cut out the lines and a poet who has published about numerous books told my what wonderfully poetic style of prose it was.

    I suppose this has been said a thousand times before. However the tide has turned so much now that when one writes in some form, nay even rhyme and metre, one is immediately branded as a literary dinosaur or even worse, “childish”.

    Tell me where to post a poem and I will do so, as I usually put them on my blog which to me is a place for essays (nearly extinct) and poetry.

    Last week I presented a two hour lecture to medical student on “Medicine and the Humanities”. I had written a 60 pages of notes from Genesis, Homer, Virgil, Dante,Shakespeare, Milton, Constantine Cavafy who wrote Ithaca, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and even Leonard Cohen (singer and poet. I was stunned by how little they had read. They didn’t get it. Not one of nearly one hundred students had ever written a poem, not even on toilet paper or a napkin at a restaurant.

    Poetically yours,
    Roger Allen

    • I resist politicizing aesthetics. Saying that free verse is akin to moral bankruptcy or cultural relativism is the flip side of saying that traditional poetry is patriarchal, conservative or reactionary. I don’t buy into any of that. I love contrapuntal music and I love the disciplines of meter and rhyme, but I’m not remotely conservative in my outlook. Conversely, I know a good many free verse poets who are arch-conservatives. All the same, politicizing art is a time honored tradition.

      The problem is that it’s hard to “villify” an aesthetic.

      However, if you can associate an aesthetic with a commonly perceived negative, you’re on your way. It’s a type of logical fallacy. It attempts to curry favor with a given audience by negative association. In other words, if one can associate an aesthetic with negatives that *most* everyone agrees are negatives, then the argument is won (even if the association is false). This fallacy is at the heart of the modern political campaign and I suspect that it’s a kind of association fallacy. I love rhetoric and logic, by the way.

      modern poetry is often modern prose in lines.

      Lineated prose. No poet or critic, to my knowledge, has demonstrated otherwise.

      A poem written in meter and/or rhyme does something that prose doesn’t. That is what has traditionally differentiated poetry from prose. Given some background in meter and rhyme, anyone could reconstruct a Shakespearean sonnet if it were “delineated”. The same can’t be said for free verse. Free verse, without lineation, is prose. My free verse poems are lineated prose.

      when one writes in some form, nay even rhyme and metre, one is immediately branded as a literary dinosaur or even worse, “childish”.

      Amateurishly written meter or rhyme is far easier to objectively criticize than amateurish free verse. That’s why it’s much more difficult to write metrical or rhyming poetry. When done poorly, it is often (and bizarrely) interpreted as a reason to write free verse. Bizarre because the criticism is tantamount to an admission that free verse is easier. In other words, why improve your mastery of form when you can write free verse – avoiding all that difficulty?

      Tell me where to post a poem and I will do so…

      Why wouldn’t you post it on your own blog?

      I was stunned by how little they had read. They didn’t get it. Not one of nearly one hundred students had ever written a poem…

      That will come, I think. Literature is like any pursuit. Some have an interest, some don’t. But the younger generation has the deck stacked against them. When I was in my early twenties, my education in literature was threadbare. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Share your love of literature with them. There may be just a few whom you inspire. That’s as it should be.

  25. How much of poetry now is part of a trendy literary establishment? I know it is in my country and town there is a sort of poetry clique which corals the horse in the stable they dictate… Unless you conform you end up in your own wilderness. It is usually free-style, with a wet T-shirt and in a vernacular. Who are the judges? What is their background? Perhaps, who cares?

    Being dead and famous may allow you to become establishment. For example if I said, “rose moles all in stipple on trout that swim” (I think this is the correct quote) I can imagine many saying what appalling use of English and what appalling grammar and that you can’t use stipple that way as no one would understand it. However Gerard Manly Hopkins is a sort of verbal Picasso to my way of thinking. I like his poetry.

    It is a difficult thing to be too far out in front. Van Gogh knew that and many of the Impressionists until they were dead.

    I have been challenged by what you and others have said here Patrick to transform a blank verse poem into something more structured and formed and the biggest challenge is to make it all seem effortless and not contrived like an excellent gymnast who has practiced for a thousand hours and has the bruises to show for it.

    Thanks for the chat. I learn a lot.

    Roger Allen

    • Roger from another Roger, I taught medical students for forty years or so and over time they tended to show a lot more science and less humanities in their education. I remember well in 2001, the year I retired, I would make a reference to something from literature or the classics and at least 95% had a puzzled look on their face. I remember well telling one questioner that if he followed a particular line of reasoning he would end up in Zeno’s paradox. Only about one person in the class of about 50 knew what that was.

      I went to a VERY small liberal college for my pre-med studies and it had a great books based curriculum. I hated it at the time but in my later years I wouldn’t have traded it for gold. Now that I have time for other things I am rereading many books I glossed through and have loved having the time to explore poetry. I still feel like a rank beginner but it is starting to fall into place.

      I agree very much with Patrick that we tend to short change our students, perhaps in the name of expediency or PC. University shouldn’t necessarily be operated like a fast food joint. Sometimes kids actually don’t know what is good for them. Just an opinion….

  26. Captain Jack and Lillian

    It was a mid-day in May
    When red sunlight lazily lay
    Peering through cloudless skies,
    Casting down on ocean’s brilliant dyes
    That Captain Jack and his crew of three
    sailed for the magic solitude of the boundless sea.
    Lillian stood on the surf-tormented shore,
    Her eyes’ scintillating soul the pain she bore.
    Jack consumed her heart, in all and in whole,
    And with it he took his truant soul.

    The day had grown to twilight dim
    As Night birds sang a solemn hymn
    That echoed across the night-tide’s rush
    riding waves’ glow with reddish blush.
    There appeared a bright cold moon
    As if a talisman, not a warning too soon
    For the once calm waters began to swell
    from the chilling winds upon them fell.
    The tossing tempests had grown and grown
    as mountainous waves appeared as death’s throne.
    In solemn silence, Captain Jack and the three
    became slumbering souls beneath the tumultuous sea.
    The lurid sea, the lurid sea
    in all the pageantry of her beauty.

    Moon tints of purple and pearl evolved into brilliant liquescence
    when Lillian appeared as crystalline light, the poetry of her presence.
    Her face shone sorrow and her soul she borrowed as she pleaded to the stars above,
    wishing the return of Captain Jack, her one and only love.

    Out of the sea’s immensity, into a labyrinth of pearly light,
    Captain Jack stood a proud tower holding his stone flowers
    toward Lillian , he held them out right.
    Her heart palpitated at the welcome sight, her eyes beamed with glee
    One-step then two then vanishing into the cold embrace of the sea.

  27. I would only add some thought why I used long lines in the last two paragraphs;
    The flow matched the sounds as I spoke it , however unorthodixed the longation. I could have- would have broken the words to be politically correct in poetry, but I ain’t that guy!

    • Hi Robert. The poem reminds me a little of Longfellow, a little of Robert Service. I did notice that you lineated the poem’s last two stanzas differently than at your website. But you know what I really like about it? It’s a narrative poem. If we were in a Texas pub, the next round would be on me. I wish there were more poet/storytellers. The impulse to tell a story and write poetry is all too rare these days. Hope your new book does well.

  28. I enjoyed reading this and thought what makes the difference between a song and a poem. Most songs seem to have less complex lyrics and seem to cater for a less sophisticated audience although Leonard Cohen is an exception.

    I have just written a conventional rhyming and metric poem about the sea and cray fishing boats based on a holiday at the Victoria Dock in Tasmania but I do not know if it is considered proper to post such on this site. It will go on my own website.

    Roger Allen

    • Dr. Allen, feel free to post your poem here. I consider this a guestbook – a book that belongs to my guests. Treat it the way you would treat any tattered guestbook at an Inn or bed & breakfast.

    SEPTEMBER 2007

    By Roger K.A. Allen
    17 October 2009

    I sit and watch the boats from the warm confines,
    Of my tall wide window with its frosted panes,
    With its sandstone walls from the press of time
    Won by the sweat of a chain gang line,
    When the rough edges of men were rasped by the cat –
    In Van Diemen’s Land hell with a bloodied back.
    It’s now a holiday haunt with massive beams
    And hand-cut posts, iron pins and rusted rings-
    It is not as it was and not as it seems.

    This maritime store once echoed and thundered,
    To the roll of oak barrels of dark overproof rum,
    And the stacking of sacks in the dust and spilled grain,
    To the shouting of orders when the prisoners complain,
    While taught ropes ran hot through stout wooden blocks,
    To the spoked wooden wagons and their patient draft horses,
    Standing blinkered below on Hunter Street’s cobbles of Victoria Dock.

    Fishing boats now fill my view,
    With their pretty hulls of bottle green and navy blue,
    Some wooden, some steel with tell-tale roux,
    Some double-enders for the meanest of monsters of following seas,
    Like Colin Archer designed for the Norse fishing fleet.

    In this mess of swaying masts and banging booms
    Are snug wheel houses with orange buoys with the boats’ names too,
    And through their salt-sprayed glass, a single bunk behind the wheel,
    Where exhaustion sleeps and bruises heal.

    On deserted decks lie stacked craypots of sun-bleached cane,
    As the boats writhe like men in pain
    To the rock and roll of the seductive swell,
    Which has broached the gate of this citadel.

    Sea nymphs with gusts scud the mirrored dark blue
    This now docile monster whose huge peaks can tumble
    Off mountainous waves that make brave sailors tremble,
    Before that Lord of all Winds and the smiter of ships,
    The great Roaring Forties on which tea clippers flew.

    Boats lashed abreast as the steel hulls moan and the hawsers groan
    As they strain against the rhythmic heave
    And their nylon springs draw taught like long-bows strings,
    And their short breast-lines on bollards looped
    Hold them close to the quay while a seagull swoops.

    These boats await the start of the cray fishing season,
    And to shoulder their bows like fit young bloods in a rugby match,
    Against the punishing waves and the bighting spray,
    And the oft-feared doom of a following wave
    In their annual hunt for this lucrative catch,
    About the fortieth parallel.

    • That’s really not bad! You possess an imaginative and evocative feel for imagery. There is a welcome clarity to your lines that I enjoy.

      My only comments would be the following:

      1.) Beware of adjectives. Minimize their use as far as possible. Perhaps limit yourself to one or two per 10 lines. You will be amazed what this discipline forces you to do and how it will mature your descriptive powers. Adjectives are like salt. It is easy to ruin a masterful dish with too much.

      2.) Be careful not to overuse the prepositional phrase. Your first sentence is a series of prepositional phrases –

      from the warm confines,
      Of my tall wide window with its frosted panes,
      With its sandstone walls from the press of time
      Won by the sweat of a chain gang line,
      When the rough edges of men were rasped by the cat –
      In Van Diemen’s Land hell with a bloodied back…


      To the roll of oak barrels of dark overproof rum,
      And the stacking of sacks in the dust and spilled grain,
      To the shouting of orders…

      It’s a habit of thought typical of a mind given over to vivid imagery and description rather than narrative or disquisition. Once you become aware of this habit, it is easy to overcome it.

      Go back and look at some of your favorite poets with just these two admonitions in mind.

  30. I really appreciate your comments Patrick. This is the first time I have had such from a real poet. I work in a busy practice and I know of no colleagues with such vices as poetry. I think a poet like a sailor looks at the wind differently. Once you eyes are opened they cannot be closed.

    With regards your comments about adjectives, can you give me a few lines of what you would do with those above (if you have time and I know this is a big ask). How about leaving out the “with: and inserting commas, or is that cheating?

    It seems that what you are suggesting is what my wife are going with our home eg “Zenning it”. We are de-junking it and the space does the talking.

    My wife found this saying in a home decorating book called At Peace At Home. “Nothing can bring you lasting peace; you have it already if you just stop disturbing it.” Swami Satchidananda.

    It is like a poem is already in the rock. We just leave too many rough edges on it. We disturb it too much is what you are saying?

    Is it the phrase “with bla bla” or just the adjectives. I love Homer who used adjectival epithets often eg the wine-dark sea, the grey-eyed goddess Athena, the fleet-footed Hermes, the wily Odysseus etc and many become parenthetical epithets.

    I’ll go back with this in mind and try again. I often do this during the day between patients.

    The Antipodean Roger.

    • It seems that what you are suggesting is what my wife are going with our home eg “Zenning it”. We are de-junking it and the space does the talking.

      That’s a lovely way to put it.

      With regards your comments about adjectives, can you give me a few lines of what you would do with those above…

      Rewriting another poet’s lines is like romping with a grizzly bear cub – in front of its mother.

      Discretion, I think, is the better part of valor.

      As for adjectives, another poet once said the same thing to me. My poetry used to be full of them. He also said this:

      There is a difference between writing poetry and writing poetically.

      And that was all the instruction I ever needed. The first poem I wrote, subsequent to that, was The Evening Coming. Years later, I notice two adjectives in the first and second line. After that, none. For me, this was a whole new way of writing. I never looked back.

      My advice is to do one of two things: Take out all the adjectives in your present poem, then choose your favorite four and put them back. Then rewrite the rest without adjectives. Think of it as an exercise.

      Or you could try writing a poem from scratch.

      Take a look at Frost’s Mending Wall. I think there are only five or six adjectives in the entire poem.

      Just in the first stanza of your poem I think I counted 15 (I first wrote 12) adjectives.

      I sit and watch the boats from the warm confines,
      Of my tall wide window with its frosted panes,
      With its sandstone walls from the press of time
      Won by the sweat of a chain gang line,
      When the rough edges of men were rasped by the cat –
      In Van Diemen’s Land hell with a bloodied back.
      It’s now a holiday haunt with massive beams
      And hand-cut posts, iron pins and rusted rings-
      It is not as it was and not as it seems.

      In the entirety of Shakespeare’s To be or not to be, I counted 10; and yet this is some of the most evocative poetry ever written.

      To be, or not to be: that is the question:
      Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
      The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
      Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
      And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
      No more; and by a sleep to say we end
      The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
      That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
      Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
      To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
      For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
      When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
      Must give us pause: there’s the respect
      That makes calamity of so long life;
      For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
      The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
      The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
      The insolence of office and the spurns
      That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
      When he himself might his quietus make
      With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
      To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
      But that the dread of something after death,
      The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
      No traveller returns, puzzles the will
      And makes us rather bear those ills we have
      Than fly to others that we know not of?
      Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
      And thus the native hue of resolution
      Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
      And enterprises of great pith and moment
      With this regard their currents turn awry,
      And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
      The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
      Be all my sins remember’d.

  31. You have thrown down the gauntlet and I shall take up the challenge with a redraft.

    But to be the Devil’s advocate, how about Keats’s eg Ode to Autumn and Ode to a Grecian Urn and Tennyson’s Ulysses which are stuffed full of verbal seasoning viz adjectives like a trussed turkey…? They are not so abstemious as the above which is more rambling with the erudite speaker in need of a good psychiatrist, some Prozac and probably some psycho-analytic work. This beauty is of course a soliloquy and not a poem. But that brings us back to what’s a poem. The above could appear alineated (if there is a word) and read as well.

    • how about Keats’s eg Ode to Autumn and Ode to a Grecian Urn

      Oh ho! So you want to run with the big boys? OK! Then here’s what you have to do.

      There are different kinds of adjectives and Keats studied Shakespeare carefully. He learned a trick from Shakespeare as to how to use an adjective. Look up two rhetorical figures: Hypallage and Anthimeria. These were the two most powerful schemes of grammar in Shakeapeare’s toolbox and Keats knew it.

      Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

      Maturing sun is an example of hypallage. Where else have you seen this adjective applied to the sun? Nowhere. This is a poetic creation by Keats. The sun normally matures a crop, but by shifting maturing to the sun, Keats has effectively transferred the epithet, to quote Sister Joseph. Instead of the cut being unkind, Shakespeare would write: “This was the most unkindest cut of all.” This confers tremendous vitality to the adjective. To say that the confines are warm or that edges are rough or that the windows are tall and wide is to almost say nothing at all and to say it in a very ordinary and expected way. The art of poetry, which modern poets have all but forgotten or are too ill-talented to manifest, is to use language in an extraordinary way. A few ordinary adjectives are OK, but if you are going to run with Keats or Tennyson, then some of your adjectives must be extraordinary.

      To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees

      Mossed is an example of anthimeria. Anthimeria is a scheme of grammar wherein one part of speech is substituted for another. Normally, moss is used as a noun or as an adjective mossy. But Keats was a great poet and knew his Shakespeare. He turned moss into a verb. The cottage trees were mossed. This is not just an ordinary adjective and the effect of it is vivid because of it is an extraordinary use of language.

      With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
      And still more, later flowers for the bees,

      Keats’ use of the word budding is a weak sort of anthimeria (since the word can be used as a verb), but separated from its object flowers, the word budding takes on much greater vividness.

      So. if you want to use more adjectives, then they must be extraordinary. Reread poets like Keats and Shakespeare, looking for examples of hypallage and anthimeria, and you will begin to develop a nose for it in your own writing. However, you will also find some modern poets occasionally using hypallage and anthimeria.

      Here’s an example of hypallage from T.S. Eliot (the first lines of Prufrock):

      The muttering retreats
      Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

      Take the word “abstemious” in your note above. Apply it in a way you never have. For example, I might say of today’s weather that it was “abstemious weather”. (And it really was.) But this is what you must do with you adjectives if you want to roast Turkey like Keats.

      This beauty is of course a soliloquy and not a poem.

      It may not be a poem, but it is poetry. : )

  32. Hi Patrick,

    This is an incredible website and excellent resource! I’m so happy to have found it. I have a specific question regarding my own poetry that I would like to ask of you, but perhaps not in a public forum. Would it be possible to correspond via email? I was unable to find an email address on your site.

    I understand that you must be very busy, but I would be very grateful to have a few minutes of your time.

    All the best, and congratulations again on such a great site!

  33. Hello, I am new and a fan of poetry as well. My writing has just started in days and hope that you have fun visiting my blog. I will be back.

    The work of your friends and you seem very professional in my eyes.

    Keep going!

  34. Greetings, Patrick!

    Regarding extraordinary adjectives: Conceding the effectiveness of “muttering retreats” (Eliot) or “most unkindest cut” (Shakespeare), one may still pause over Shelley’s “thy skiey speed” (“Ode to the West Wind”), not to mention the rather fulsome adjective phrases with which that poet fills “To a Skylark.” (Breezes made fragant by a rose’s scent, e.g., are “heavy-wing-ed thieves.”) One has the impression that even the greats could get a bit carried away with this sort of thing.


    • Hi Rob! Yes, there’s definitely a trick to original language. Shelley wasn’t as good at it as Keats or Shakespeare, and it’s not enough to just throw a more descriptive adjective before the noun, like “heavy-winged”. It’s hard to describe. It’s a combination of the unexpected both in description and grammar – Anthimeria. Shakespeare was a master. Keats could pull it off and so could Eliot, on occasion. Some 20th Century poets took the unexpected to extremes – making a fetish out of it and robbing it of its effect.

      The thing that you picked up on with Shelley was a trick that Keats grew out of – this trick of making nouns into adjective (or adverbs) by adding -y and -ey. (There is a name for it but I can’t remember.) It was all the rage by the end of the 18th century. By the time Keats and other poets took it up, the figure had quickly devolved into an obvious poetic mannerism. For some reason (and this could be my mistaken impression) it was especially prevalent among the women Romantic poets?

  35. I was surprised to see a quotation of Shakespeare using “skyey”; maybe the device that it exemplifies–I don’t know a term for it either–had also “gone around” a couple centuries before?! I’m afraid I haven’t read enough Romantic poetry by women to have any impression one way or other. In a possibly-related vein, however: In our own society, females–especially those in their early teens–seem to delight in creating and using linguistic variations, written as well as spoken… Whatever! ttyl (*giggle*) xxx


  36. Aloha, Patrick. I want to thank you for placing a link on Poemshape to my book at Self-published Poets. It gave me pause at first, since I wasn’t sure that my poetry is sufficiently “formalist” to qualify for notice as such. But the book does include a few forms — there is an unrhymed sonnet (“Icarus, from the abyss”) and a haiku — and most of my poems are solidly iambic, even when writing syllabics. It’s always been my feeling that the English language falls naturally into iambics when at it’s most expressive, and it’s most basic. Also, I like to think that I leave the poem free to find its own form. And I use end rhyme as well as internal rhymes, but usually only at the emotional peaks, were the intensity of feeling, like a stone into a pond, sends out its ripples as echoes.
    Anyway, it’s a pleasure to find your site. It seems like an excellent forum for ‘promoting’ your own work, while establishing a Web presence. I’m sure that, as more and more people link to Poemshape, they will find their way to “Self-published poets” as well.

    • //It gave me pause at first, since I wasn’t sure that my poetry is sufficiently “formalist” to qualify for notice as such.//

      As far as the Self-Published Poets site goes, whether a poet writes traditional poetry is secondary. But, as for that, it sound like your mixture of traditional techniques and free verse is interesting. I’m all for that kind of experimentation – enjoy reading it.

    • //it sounds like your mixture of traditional techniques and free verse is interesting. I’m all for that kind of experimentation – enjoy reading it.//

      Patrick– Email me with your snail-mail address and I’ll send you a copy of “Between Wings”. Like yourself, I’ve never been much into ‘promoting’ myself or the poems…but I always like to get feedback. The poems are written in a style that’s not much in favor any more…now that the predominant mode is a kind of ‘free’ verse that’s apparently ‘free’ of imagery, and ‘free’ of music…in other words, free to be prose.

    • Hi Jim! It looks like you’ve made a real effort to understand the spirit of the haiku. If you’re still writing haiku and continue to be interested, there are two sites that I enjoy very much: Jornales and Australian Haiku.

      Besides that, I’ve been thinking of putting together a post of Haiku on the Solstice – something we can all post at our respective blogs.

      If you have a haiku for the solstice, you can E-Mail me (see Contact) or post it here.

  37. Hi, Patrick. This is just to wish you & yours a splendid Solstice Season!

    Now to my winter comes a discontent,
    When many whom I love are of a mind
    To mark the birth of one they think was sent
    To die, though sinless, for their sinful kind.
    Their god of love demanded blood, you see;
    The blood of his own son, whose life, in “fact,”
    Was blameless. Their god does not seem to be
    A being with whom I can make contact.
    But as our planet courses ’round the Sun,
    There comes a moment when, the moment passed,
    Well blesses them, and me, and everyone
    Whom Earth above her equator holds fast.
    “Let there be light,” we need no god to say;
    We shall have less of night, and more of day!

  38. Hi, Patrick. This is just to wish you & yours a splendid Solstice Season!

    Now to my winter comes a discontent,
    When many whom I love are of a mind
    To mark the birth of one they think was sent
    To die, though sinless, for their sinful kind.
    Their god of love demanded blood, you see;
    The blood of his own son, whose life, in “fact,”
    Was blameless. Their god does not seem to be
    A being with whom I can make contact.
    But as our planet courses ’round the Sun,
    There comes a moment when, the moment passed,
    Well blesses them, and me, and everyone
    Whom Earth above her equator holds fast.
    “Let there be light,” we need no god to say;
    We shall have less of night, and more of day!

    (PLUTONIC SONNETS 88, courtesy of PublishAmerica)

  39. Well, if we atheists are grumpy or depressed all the time, the “bright believing band” (T. Hardy) are sure to use it against us; some of them might even try that much harder to SAVE us…


  40. Hello,
    We feel a bit of a cheat in here. Novices poking a stick into poetry to see if it bites. My granddaughter and I are trying to write ‘poetry’, and found you whilst researching odes.
    We will quietly watch and learn -from Albion’s misty shores – if that’s alright? (all right :0) )

    Wonderful site; thank you. John & Giselle. Yorkshire, England

    • Oh… after I made that table, I wondered how useful it really was.

      I almost went back to the post and deleted it. You must have found it helpful. Tell me how? I’m very interested. I would consider making more if I thought they actually served a purpose or helped readers.

  41. I think the use of variants in certain areas of the poem add identity to the poet, much like the writing style is for the novelist; that is, one uses a certain vocabulary and so on–So shouldn’t the use of variants only in specific parts be something similar too?

    But also, and this goes a bit on a tangent, I’m interested in a deeper understanding of how variants are used–In what ways is it proper and not. I’ve seen how you said that variants are used for some sort of emotional instability within a poem, to assert a specific theme, or even how the use of a word disrupts the meter itself–Shelley’s Ozymandias comes to mind as does the word ‘Savage’ from an opening line; but, I forgot what poem that is from.

  42. hello everybody. it’s very interesting to read your posts, I consider myself very luky to find this site, it helps me alot either in my studing or for personal interest.speciall thanks to Mr. upinvermont for his graet and helpful analysis.

    • You’re most welcome Neelover.

      I had been planning on finishing more humdrum analysis (the third part of “Home Burial”), but this last post derailed me. And how… but stay tuned.

  43. Hi,

    I came over here from a link to your “let poetry die” over at the clevelanpoetics blog. Nice essay, by the way; I agree with it completely.

    Now, with that said, let me ask: who the heck are you?

    Is there some reason that you have a nice blog about poetry, but don’t bother to put your name on it? (I presume that if I dig down deep enough I can find your name somewhere? Is it like an Easter Egg hunt?)

    • Is there some reason that you have a nice blog about poetry, but don’t bother to put your name on it?

      Guessin’ that’s just the way I like ta’do things. Ayup…

      Good thing ya’have you’re own blog where you can do it hows’ever it pleases.

      But I don’t hide it. just click on Me (first tab under the blog’s name) and my name is right there.

  44. Delightful and informative. I didn’t know this sub-genre existed. I’ll bet I’m not the only ancient stodge who will on the nonce scrape together 17 syllables of female fasteners and tasteful innuundies. This goes to Wilbur too, who has been known to commit haiki.

    • :-) The language of carpentry is nothing if not the language of sexual double-entendre. Frost strikes me as the kind of man who didn’t know how to be subtle about these things (so all that’s left to us are a couple of coarse, off-color jokes in rhyme) , but knowing what I know about Wilbur, I’ll bet he’s linguistically cunning.

  45. I first stumbled on this website while looking for some information on Donne’s Holy Sonnet 10 and found an absolute treasure–complete with notation on iambic pentameter. :) Your analysis, your poetry, your creativity…certainly top-notch work.

    Crystal from Los Angeles

  46. Hi Patrick,
    I just read your “Philosophy”. I am so glad to have found your blogsite. I am also a big fan of forms and meter in poetry. I also get excited about poets so really go for the sounds in language more than the concept. There is much meaning that arises just in the sounds of words and the play of words. I look forward to visiting your site often.

    Good day!


  47. Hello,

    I had just finished (well, more or less :) reading “How to Read Slowly”, by James W. Sire, and was looking for some help in understanding Johne Donne’s “Batter my Heart”, which I find now absolutely fascinating, so multi-layered and deep. I was especially puzzled by its metrical structure, being but a beginner in reading poetry with a special attention to its meter (well, I managed to identify iambic pentameter, but what with these spondees…) – and here I found this absolutely fantastic blog worthy of all possible praise :). Thanks a lot; this may be a passion and a favourite pastime for you, but still it is much work, so I thought I’d leave a word “to keep you going”. And of course the blog will be thoroughly read and put in my Bookmarks forever :).

    • Wow, Marianna… thanks. I’m way out in California this week so… sorry I couldn’t respond sooner. :-) Comments like yours definitely keep me going.

    • Hi Heather! I just looked and Thankyou! :-)

      I was just feeling down because I haven’t written any articles for PoemShape and my girls keep asking me why I spend so much time on the computer. I’ve been thinking of taking a break from the web and so your gesture is warmly appreciated.

      Overall, I very much like the presentation of your blog. I’ve been thinking that it might be time for a new theme on my own blog.

  48. I haven’t received any ‘notice’ from you so I came by, wondering.

    The ’emptiness’ is common to anyone inflamed by poetry or any literary pursuit. Like you, I often agonize over such moments like I described in the ‘riddle’. Give it time, Patrick. Sometimes, the ‘birthing’ is silent as the grave–where the seed beds. But indeed, unfortunately during this time, may I quote the last stanze in ‘riddle’:

    my (our) yearnings
    wear out the sun, singe my (our) heart(s)
    a thousand times…

    … but always
    at dawn i (we) bud

    Have faith, dear friend!

  49. I absolutely love your blog, possibly because I too favour rhymes and metre in poetry, but your blog is just an interesting read, even if I didn’t have a bias.
    Top work

  50. Hi, Patrick,

    I just today found your site from my friend Jim Wilson’s Shaping Words blog. I am glad to have found it and look forward to exploring it more.

    Kind regards,


  51. I visited here a while back, really liked it, forgot to bookmark it though, and then got busy with life (and unfortunately death.) Fortunately I found my way back and it’s safely bookmarked now. So much to enjoy here.

  52. I enjoyed your page, especially your dissertation on Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. I felt like I had discovered a pot of gold when I stumbled upon your site. I’ll be back to feast on your stories and poems. The editors’ loss, I feel.


  53. I love this site, and so hope you and your followers will join me for a poetry event!
    Friday, August 5
    Poetry in the Barn
    A dynamic evening of spoken word, featuring Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Galway Kinnell. A chance to hear one of America’s greatest living poets read his own words, along with
    two other acclaimed poets with Vermont ties, Bill Wadsworth and Joan Hutton Landis. Vermont composer/cellist, Michael Close, will provide musical interludes.
    7 PM
    Phantom Theater is located in the Edgcomb Barn off the East Warren Rd. in Warren.
    reservations: 496-5997
    more info:

  54. Hello, I came across the link to your site when I was doing a search for a simple nursery rhyme poem and I was very impressed by the amount of research and detail you put into your work and provided on your site for ordinary people such as myself.

    I have never been able to understand the ‘skeleton’ or dynamics of poetry, but I love to allow the internet “breeze” carry me along to sites where I can read poetry by others; amateurs and renowned authors alike. I may not understand what an iambic something-or-other is, or how haiku’s come about, but I do know that when a piece of poetry touches me in a way that I am able to conjure a picture, or sound(s), or feeling(s) within myself – where my heart and soul have been touched – then I have found a good poem.

    It is nice to meet another Northerner from another beautiful New England state. I was born and raised in Maine and did not move from there until I was in my 30’s (military move). I miss the north so very much, especially during the winters because we get so little snow down here in Virginia. I also have 3 daughters, but mine are grown now and I am enjoying the wonders of being a grandmother to the sweetest little girl who makes the sun shine brighter whenever I see or hear her.

    I look forward to spending many hours here in your site learning more about new things that you have to offer. I especially look forward to reading more of your poetry.

    Best wishes…enjoy your summer.
    Karla H.

    • Hi Karla, thanks and thanks for your comment on Monday’s Child. I learned quite a bit writing that post and it made me want to pick out another nursery rhyme. They’re all fascinating.

      As to the skeleton of poetry, I hear your sentiment from a lot of readers. For me, finding out what touches a reader’s “heart and soul” is endlessly interesting (why are some poems so easy to fall in love with while others leave us cold?). So, if you’re curious, there’s plenty to read here. You’re the kind of reader I write for.

      I love Maine. I could imagine living in some of the coastal towns but I would probably miss the staying ice of Vermont’s winter. I have relatives in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia is a beautiful state but too hot in the summer. If I lived in Virginia or the Carolinas, I would probably want to live in the mountains or somewhere around Nags Head. Anyway, best to you and to your summer as well.

  55. Brad said he was working with a “poet” and I took that to mean a master craftsman. I did not realize that he meant “master wordsmyth.” I’m looking forward to looking at the site as I can. Good choice of co-workers. Brad took good care of my house in Hanover about 10 years ago when Barbara and I lived there, before NYC.

  56. Glad as I am to see someone reading Philip Sidney in this day and age, I must take issue with at least one assertion here:

    ‘Iambic Pentameter was brand-spanking new, Elizabethan poets were excited to have a meter comparable to that of the Lain poets.’

    One need go no further than the second line (the first, depending on how you read it, is not ‘perfectly’ iambic) of Chaucer’s General Prologue to find:

    the DROUGHTE of MARCH hath PERCed TO the ROOT

    Though Chaucer is given to substitution — as are most poets, Frost being an uncanny exception — the whole CANTERBURY TALES is in iambic pentameter.

    • Yes Sydney, all true, but Chaucer’s innovations are isolated to Chaucer. The poets who immediately followed him seem not to have taken up those innovations, poets like Wyatt, Gower and Lydgate. Iambic Pentameter was just another meter (a decasyllabic line really) clumsily handled, lacking the richness and flexibility which was to quickly develop with the 1600’s.

      To poets like Sidney, Spenser, Daniel and their circle, one need only read their experiments in meter to see that there was little, if any, of Chaucer’s influence. They experimented with alexandrines, with quantitative verse in English, and hybrids. They were searching for a meter capable of competing with the quantitative meter of Latin poetry. I could have more accurately written: To them, Iambic Pentameter was brand-spanking new. And it was.

    • Sydney, I began to wonder how the Elizabethans perceived Chaucer and thought you would find the following paragraph, from Donald R. Howard’s biography, interesting:

      Between Chaucer’s time and Shakespeare’s, the pronunciation of English changed, so much so that Chaucer’s poems no longer sounded right. He was admired for his rhetoric and his “philosophy,” his skill as a storyteller, and as the “first finder of our fair language,” but his rhythms were a puzzle and his rhymes did not sound true. People tolerated Chaucer’s “rough” verse and assumed he had a tin ear. Henry Peacham, writing in 1622, found “under a bitter and rough rind,” a kernel of “conceit and sweet invention.” Dryden said there was in his verse “the rude sweetness of a Scotch tune” — “natural and pleasing, though not perfect.” (p. 513 Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World)

  57. Mr Gillespie,
    I’m an undergraduate Engineering student at Anna University, Chennai, India. I write with rhyme and not meter but wanted to do so. Having had no teacher other than Byron, meter was quite a hard task. I used a rather very crude form of meter-rhythm, based more on the feel in the recitation than precise counts. A Google search brought me this way. Your blog is excellent…I’m very pleased with the posts regarding Iambic Pentameter. I have learnt a lot and will continue to do so for a long time, by the look of it. The amazing thing is that what you write here might be available elsewhere, but definitely not in the concise, lucid, simple yet comprehensive manner that it is found here. So, I tip my hat to you, sir.

    • Hey Narendranath, I do appreciate your tip of the hat. Before I started writing many of these posts, I had the same thought: Most of this information is already out there, but the explanations always seemed excessively academic and tediously convoluted – filled with information that was mostly tangential.

    • No, Mr Gillespie, I have not tried writing my version of North’s passage. I found it daunting, especially when you so subtly included an innocuous looking phrase-“measuring yourself against Shakespeare”.:-)
      But I’ll do it soon and let you know in the comments section.

  58. Allow me to compliment you on a most enlightening and enriching blog. I found it after a google search for analysis of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” (one of my favourite sonnets) and was hooked after a few minutes. I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of line 8 of that poem, but you certainly stimulated some lively discussion in my household.

    • Thanks Thaddeus. About the only thing I can do is present all the different ways the line can be interpreted. :-) I get the impression that my own favored interpretation is out of the norm. Wish I could have joined the discussion, but I guess I’ve been doing some of that in the comment section.

  59. My wife is a literature professor and my eldest
    daughter is taking an English degree, focusing on
    the Romantic poets, so I have to fight pretty hard
    to hold my own in discussions!

    Anyhow, getting back to Ozymandias,don’t you think
    that the clause “which yet survive” could be
    interpreted as Shelley suggesting such
    passions as Ozymandias had in his day still
    survive in our modern times? Looking around me, I don’t think “the frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command” have gone away in our political and economic overlords, have they? What do you think?

    • Here’s the line you’re referring to:

      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things…

      I think there’s a strong case to be made for your interpretation. You know, this obvious possibility escaped me, but you’re right. The lines, which otherwise seem self-contradictory, make sense if Shelley means to say that they “yet survive”, today and in others, just as they appear on the lifeless stones. It’s still an interesting juxtaposition, but I like it. I’m going to add this thought in the post.

  60. Dear Mr. Gillespie,

    Glad you agree ;-)

    When I first learnt this poem back in the 80s as a schoolboy in England, our English master told us to temporarily delete the clause “stamp’d on these lifeless things” and read lines 5-8 straight through without it so we could get a better handle on the grammar of that tricky (for schoolboys) section. If you do that, it becomes obvious that Shelley can ONLY be suggesting that “those passions” are still very much with “us”, both in Shelley’s day (George III et. al) and in the 21st century (George W. Bush et. al). When you put the temporarily deleted “stamp’d on these lifeless things” clause back in, that interpretaion still makes sense I feel, if you mentally paraphrase it as “Ozymandias had those passions, the sculptor captured them well in the statue, and they are still very much alive and well in our modern times”.

    Now one bit I am still undecided about, even after all these years, is whose heart is being referred to in “the heart that fed”? Is it Ozzie’s heartor the sculptor’s? Could it even be the collective heart of Ozzie’s subjects?

    Once again, thanks for “debating” this stuff with me. It’s great to find someone with a similar interest, open mind and humility!

  61. //Now one bit I am still undecided about, even after all these years, is whose heart is being referred to in “the heart that fed”? Is it Ozzie’s heartor the sculptor’s? Could it even be the collective heart of Ozzie’s subjects?//

    My impression is that most readers prefer reading the heart as belong to Ozymandias. The first version of this poem reinforces that interpretation by placing a comma between hand and heart:

    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

    The later revision (which is the one most of us read) omits this comma. It’s possible to read way too much into such punctuation, but in this case it’s all we have. I myself prefer reading the heart as belonging to the artist. In our own day ‘heart’ has strong associations. When we say that someone has ‘heart’, that’s a compliment. Someone can also be ‘hearty’. I don’t know if the word had the same connotations to Shelley, but a reference to the tyrant’s heart doesn’t quite jibe with me – when every other reference to the tyrant is of a cold, desiccated, waste.

  62. ‘Atlantic Salmon.’ you reckon ‘Every year they return from the ocean, swimming upstream to spawn (breed). I am not sure but isn’t it every three and a half, or seven or something?

    The ground zero and mythical heart of Irish Poetry Inc, is the source of the Boyne River and a place that’s undergone several different appellational shifts over the course of its history; as both a mythical Segais Well, Well of Connla, Nechtan and Boannd’s Well and …well – delivering the crown jewels of Irish poetry to you is information given too freely away Vermont, Stone, you two freindly ciphers, anonymous and unknown, unread, by Jove missus, a fellow comment jockey jostling in the big I Am saying hello and …anyway, you obssesive lovers in the one tru America; Segais Well is surrounded by nine hazel trees, and in summer their foliage is so profuse purple leaf beneath the light of summer’s end Lughansa, shimmering, ‘make(s) a powerful image and represent(s) nothing if not a “dying generation” – and on each tree, the annals tell you Vermont and Stone, of nuts there that fruit in such abundence, a feeding frenzy occurs in the waters below bole branch and bough, when the Salmon of Knowledge that spawned there, have returned and are feasting there on the nuts of poetic knowledge, as they are widely known among a select few Irish assholes, drunks and wifebeaters with an addiction to fraudulently claiming Atlantic Salmon of Knowledge annually return to their spawning place, Boand, Connla, Nechtan and Segais Well, on this island whose poetic soul speaks universally. America.

    There’s a 7C bardic text that was first translated in 1979, that is 120 lines and authored by the mythological Milesian Druid Amergin, who left only three poems behind but occupies a homeric postion in the pecking order of Irish poets. The original Old Irish text appears in manuscript and has no title, my guess being that after hundreds of years of use as a first primer in the bardic schools, that were live on the island for 1000 years, it was so well known it didn’t need one. The Cauldron of Poesy, as it has become known, is three and four times as long as Amergin’s other two, Song of Amergin and Amergin’s Invocation on landing in Ireland in, depending on the source, anywhere between 1600-1000BC.

    Yeats did not have the benefit of this text, but I am sure he would recognize its immediate importance, being a very important document that starts out asking ‘where is the root of poetry in a person; in the body or in the soul’, and answering says the root of poetry in a person:

    …is in the soul, for the body does nothing without the soul. Others say it is in the body where the arts are learned, passed through the bodies of our ancestors. It is said this is the seat of what remains over the root of poetry; and the good knowledge in every person’s ancestry comes not into everyone, but comes into every other person.

    The verbal gift, this seventh century bard tells us, comes not into everyone but every other person, 50% of us are born with an ability to become as Yeatsean as Silly Willy himself, away with the Tuatha De Danann Sidhe, should you wish, knowing the reason and logic behind fairies that few beyond the shores of Banbha, Eriu and Fodla, can get your intellect around because doing so takes at least five years continual head-banging on a corpus of English language versions from the original Gaelic, that are so mind bendingly challenging to understand in their fullness and entirity, it’s easier retaining your sanity by walking away baffled and agree it’s meaningless because a brain so able as your own came to the Well of Segais only after a benevolent blogger from bog standard answers arrived, swept down and linked that Yeatsean puzzle of A Vision and his mumbo jumbo you dismissed, in truth who can blame you, because, I think, you need to come here and ‘get it’; this thing Yeats called poetry Ireland, a sincerely interesting and ancient poem still going strong, there’s so much to learn in your 15 year studying in filidh school, from your year-one grade focloc ‘word-weaving beginner’, to Ollamh (pronounced ulav) poetry professor, the final grade of seven, attained after a final five year period, going from year-10 grade six Anruth ‘great stream’, to the professorial nobility Yeats’s Hibernian Order of Bards can express. When.

    Yeats he extemprozed into being perne circuiting from the top of what bardic branch Mr Yeats sat on and cast from, his mind invented it, creating in an exercise of Ascendency, the connection to his ancient, almost, at the time of Yeats, lost altogether Tradition of the Celtic Absence, imagine that, the manuscripts in which the filidh (poets) Tradition reside, yeats was, in a very big part, Responsible for creating them, ‘not long after spawning (some’ Student poets reading over 177,000 useless pages of gobble dee gook, from cover to cover, ‘sea to shining sea’, spawned unlevel poetry to die about, never returning to the ocean, surrendipity succombed to chance as you stumble blindly blundering online and randomly arriving at this forum for lovers, this one true guild of wannabe know-alls aware of what Yeats may have meant, or not, who ask questions and posit this and that de facto-cryptic fictionalized assay onto the meat and two veg at our academic breeze-fest coming thru the ‘conduit for that which comes’.

    David Meltzer wrote that, in a seminal manifesto, the title of which need not detain us here, Dearest Vermont Stone poet-knower conversing on the intricacies of experience and …I dunno.

    No, no, this is not a country for ancient windbags to expire their final inelegant breath, America the Brave; political presence in the one left-wing communist terror expert opining on the bestial floor at your incredibly prescient election debate, where our Future lies, that’s decided by millions of you voting for, er, me, thee and You assaying ‘ay up tha’ ‘Merican masses, why is Gingrich such a sprout? Santorum the fecund mix of whatever the neologism some comic made official with an entry in the oh English dick-shon-ree, is/was?.. I dunno.

  63. Hello VP, sorry about that, my email address is No probs if it doesn’t appear. I am only fizzing on the imbas, as the word for ‘poetic inspiration’ was originally spelled in the ancient annals almost altogether unknown until the time of Silly Willy’s re-invention when scholars were first translating all this, hitherto, mysterious poetry tradition Yeats cleaved to and from his first poem to last.

    But seriously, great stuff, very impressed with your dedication and eloquence Vermont poet mate. Do speak with Thomas Graves’s online avatar, Thomas Brady. He curates Scarriet, a wordpress site set up after the Machevelian jection of he and I just before the last presidential election, Lughansa, Sep 1 2010, that will go down in the annals of American Poetry, as a most educational enactment by this go to that person whose name is …I dunno.

    • Yes — you know, I clicked on the link, eager to read the article and never realized that it was you, Eugene, who sent me the link!

      Instead, I googled your name and contact info; than, after finding nothing, I reluctantly returned to thank whoever sent me the link. Lo and behold!

      I think your article is right on, reminds me very much of the one I wrote just a couple years ago: Let Poetry Die and later, as a rewrite for the Wall Street Journal (which they ultimately rejected) Let Poetry Die: Redux. I thought, at times, that you might have read my own article. You will have to include me with William Logan, who finds “that not much that is memorable, meaningful or musical has been written by an American poet in decades.”

      And I’m going to make the following my motto:

      “Under these conditions one hopes that their love of their art will sufficiently inspire them despite their long treks towards probable nothingness.”

      What kind of responses did you get to your opinion piece?

  64. Hi,

    I discovered your site a week or so ago, read a bunch of your posts, and wanted to say that I’ve found your insights on the inner workings of meter incredibly helpful. I’ve mainly been going off instinct for my own verse so far, and while I think my instincts are pretty good, it’s so much more satisfying to have an idea of how a particular meter or substitution produces the effect it does.

    And it’s always refreshing to find someone with a sensible attitude towards rhyme and meter in today’s climate. Vive la forme!


    • Thanks Pyrrha, I owe that sensible attitude to George T. Wright. He wrote “Shakespeare’s Metrical Style”. Everything I’ve written about meter proceeds from his sensible approach to meter.

  65. I have been reading your words about Emily Dickinson with great enthusiasm, and I am more appreciative than I can possibly express here or at the moment. I rarely write free verse. I’m not a “tennis without the net” scribbler. I have studied with (under?) a number of excellent poets. I was in an MFA program, but once my thesis was approved, I lost interest in the actual degree. It’s a young person’s game. I’m 67. If I were to recommend a primer for prosody, it would probably be John Hollander’s Rhyme’s Reason. Now, what I really want to say is I found your blog because I was searching for some corroboration regarding my use of the word “Fourteener” in one of my recent poems. I’m in a peer group, and one of the members said she thought I might get into trouble for using the F(fourteener) word. Here are 4 of my lines:

    Fourteeners you may well employ to say what’s going on,
    as did the Belle of Amherst. Boy, she had it going on.
    There is no better meter when you trace the sky at dawn;
    The Yellow Rose of Texas was composed on her front lawn.

    I searched the web and gleaned as much as I could from The Princeton New Encyclopedia of Poetics and Poety, looking specifically for some reference to Emily Dickinson’s name in conjunction with both the word fourteener and with The Yellow Rose of Texas. I’m feel lucky, indeed, in finding your discussion on the subject. I’ve also begun to explore your blog more thoroughly.

    For now, let me just emphasize that I am grateful.


    Robert Burr / NYC
    Co-Editor with Barry Wallenstein of
    Visions and Revisions: a poet’s process (1999) Broadview Press;
    My Chapbook: Trading Bits of Dream

    P.S. I chose my handle “comprehendanectar” 6 months ago, for
    whatever that’s worth. Ha!

    • Hi Robert, thanks so much for stopping by. :-) I’m honored. I’m going to have to look up your books now. They sound very interesting. And that’s some handle. Back before the days of the web, my CB handle was BottleCap, in honor of my glasses. I don’t know why you would get into trouble using the word fourteeners? Dickinson, as far as I know, only wrote one poem in fourteeners, but that counts I think.

    • Thanks for your quick reply. I’m sure you’re busy. I’m looking forward to reading more from your blog. It’s so well set up, I think. I sent the link to my peer group (about 9 poets who meet once a month to trade comments on our poems). Two answered immediately, saying they’d learned a lot from looking at your writing on prosody. The reason I might have trouble with the word Fourteeners is that I imply that they are her metrical be all and end all, and that The Yellow Rose of Texas is a kind of Fourteener. I go on to say “The Yellow Rose of Texas was composed on her front lawn. I think you called Dickinson’s ballad form a variant stemming from the Fourteener. I don’t remember which lines I sent you. No matter. I don’t know why I’m obsessing about this. The Princeton New Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics suggests that Fourteener, as a form, belongs solely to the Renaissance, the English Renaissance, I think. I may change Fourteener to Four and Three. That will take away the jargony tone at least. Thanks again. I registered with WordPress a few months ago. Why I used E.D. “Success….” line is beyond me except it has always been one of my favorite stanzas..If you happen onto Facebook, rbrrr is my handle there or I’ll acknowledge you as a friend if you notify me. Congratulations on your thoughtful and well-written blog.

    • Thanks Bob. For the most part, my poetry has been just about been ignored. I’m touched.

      I joined facebook a couple of years ago, then quickly deleted my account. I love exchanging E-Mails and keeping in contact, but facebook just felt a little too surreal and insincere. However, if I were on Facebook, I would friend you. :-)

    • I have to agree regarding Facebook. There’s always that underlying feeling that it might blow up in everyone’s face. “Surreal” is a good word for its fly-by (kind of) landscape. I’ve looked through more of your writing, and I like it.

  66. I am currently a student studying computers. But I have just begun this year to really love and adore poetry after taking a general education class taught by the poet Dana Gioia (former chairman for the NEA!). I really am an artist at heart and am overwhelmed by the amount of great content on this website. You seem to be in the very position I would love to be in years from now: self-taught, writing (and skateboarding!). I can tell this site took tons of work, and hope you know its appreciated!

    • Hi Spencer, thanks! Doesn’t take much to be self-taught. and it’s a lot cheaper than some of the alternatives. :-) I’ve been longboarding a little, but haven’t gotten the nerve, yet, to go out to a skate park.

  67. I can’t resist identifying with Spencer’s Reply. I would only add that I don’t know about “tons of work,” but it does feel as though exploring your blog could take some substantial time. I trust what I’m finding, but I think I’ll have to go more slowly. The care taken here makes that feasible.

  68. Patrick,

    Thank you, thank you for all the information.


    A fellow writer, (alas in NYC & not the idyllic landscapes of Vermont but still a pretty rich environment)

    • Thanks Anita. I’m always happy to hear from a fellow writer. NYC is beautiful. If I had the disposable income, I’d have a nice little flat down there.

  69. I’m so glad to have found your blog site. I was looking for Ben Johnson’s critique of John Donne’s meter, and here it is. I am a sometime poetry student living in Mountain View, CA. When I have lots of $$ I take evening poetry workshops at Stanford Extension. They are taught by their newly hatched Stegner Fellows and they are all about traditional forms. I have been wrestling with what it means to have/not have an MFA. I have recently self-published a novel and have also recently started a poetics blog ( but you put me utterly to shame. Just printed out your posts on Yeats (anthimeria) and Enjambment, to read when I get home from work tonight. Anyway, thanks for your amazing commitment (it’s inspiring) and all best. Merry B.

    • Thanks Merry, I haven’t been all that productive lately. Your comment is much appreciated and encouraging. I, for my part, really don’t know what it means to have an MFA – whether that’s good or bad. I don’t have one and I doubt there are any colleges or Universities who would hire me for the lack of one. I think it’s good if one wants to pursue a career in poetry.

  70. Patrick,

    Commenting on “Sailing to Byzantium”: I really appreciate your very close reading of this poem.

    I have decided on PERNE = “to spin or gyrate” for my own peace of mind. As Wiktionary has it, and giving Yeats the benefit (and elegance) of parallel syntax: inviting the sages to come, to perne, to consume. “Gyre” is noun here, and a holy sage in a mosaic-fire would have no choice, really, but to pern (or perne, since these are olde Byzantine sages) if he or she found him or herself a gyre of fire. Makes total sense.

    That said, I agree with you totally about Yeats’s allusions being arcane. He must have been quite a rock star in his day—his readers are assumed to know everything about him—his output and his career, his personal constellation of myths and beliefs and political views, Irish history of both the daily newspapers and all the back into the mists of time, his failed lover affairs, etc.—including all the proper names. I am slowly finding my way into poems “Sailing to Byzantium,” but there are others, such as “Easter 1916,” an occasional poem where the reader has to know the back-story of the Easter Rising and the Irish martyrs. Yes yes the great line. “A terrible beauty is born.” It would have been just as great in a speech.

    And I absolutely agree with you that Helen Vendler goes too far when she reads into this poem a despairing preoccupation with age and loss of sexual vigor. Yeats has clearly taken the Buddhist or stoic’s stance in the beginning, that all this youthful baby-making is a mark of impermanence. He is beyond that and is owning that space.


    • Thanks Merry, I’ve always favored perne as a reference to the buzzard, if only because I like being a contrarian. Can’t think of a better reason. As to Yeat’s allusions, reading his poetry can be like reading Japanese haiku, allusions within allusions. There’s just no end to it.

  71. Well firstly, at the age of 50+ I’ve decided to try my hand at reading and writing poetry. Secondly, I’m not the most clever or articulate person in the world and though I find it rewarding, I also find it hard work. So much to learn, such little brain! I need all the help I can get. And that’s where you and your website come to my rescue. I am ploughing my way through and learning such a lot. You write with a complete understanding of the subject and you convey this in a style that is so easy to understand.
    If I could ask a question though that might help me further? I still struggle with the poetry of most poets so I was wondering, from your list of featured poets, is there a poet in particular you could recommend for me to read and study at my ‘learner’ level?

    • Hi Henry, that’s a tricky question. Any answer is going to be flavoured by my own biases, and those may or may not be helpful. But here goes: For an absolute beginner, studying a poet prior to the 20th century comes with some stumbling blocks: unfamiliar linguistic usages, differences in the use of metaphor, unfamiliar allusions and conventions along with thematic material that can feel a little dated, if not irrelevant and boring. Contemporary poets are, in many cases, poets in name only. They might as well be writing prose and you might as well be reading prose (or flash fiction). You may get some conventionally generic images or watered-down metaphors, but nothing that will really teach you about the sorts of thing real poetry is capable of. There are also schools of modern poetry that, unless one is familiar with the school, leave one feeling as though the poems are a bit arbitrary, convoluted or pointless.

      Edna St. Vincent Millay is a good bet. She’s slightly old fashioned, in her style, but nevertheless writes about subjects that feel modern. Her sense of form is almost effortless. A.E. Stallings, alive and kicking, is also a very good poet and writes in the tradition of Millay (pursuing old-fashioned subjects). Robert Frost is obviously a great poet and the best possible model for a contemporary poet wanting to master traditional verse in a modern vernacular. A good, and contemporary, free verse poet is Mary Oliver. She’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but she’s the Vivaldi of the prepositional metaphor. A lot of poets could stand to study her for that reason alone. You might also try Yeats. Yeats can be hit or miss, in terms of comprehending his arcane Irish and metaphysical/religious allusions, but most of his poems can be enjoyed (without understanding them the way Yeats intended them). You might also consider a poet like James Wright or Theodore Roethke. Oh, and Richard Wilbur! Wilbur, in my opinion, is our greatest living poet.

      Anyway, as you can see, my bias is for traditional poets. If you would like recommendations for free verse writers, I’m happy to make recommendations there too.

  72. Well thank you for your comprehensive reply.
    I am familiar with some pre 20th Century poetry as there is a great tradition of such poetry here in North Wales. And it is true what you say that these poems were written in a time unfamiliar to us and so can be difficult to read and relate to. There is also a great tradition of 20th Century poets here and my favourites are, luckily for me, local. RS Thomas, TH Parry Williams, R Williams Parry.
    I try to read contemporary modern poetry but most leave me confused and cold. But then that just might be a lacking on my part.
    I have started to look at your recommendations which I am very grateful for. I asked for recommendations from you because otherwise I waste a lot of reading time trawling aimlessly when I would rather be focused. So for starters I will be concentrating on Millay.
    I am glad you mentioned Yeats because I have been reading your work on ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ which I’ve found riveting. And I must tell you that a light bulb went off in my head when you suggested he could be enjoyed without understanding them the way Yeats did. I spend so much time trying to discover the literal meaning when really I should also try and enjoy them for what they are. So a BIG thank you for that.
    And a BIG thank you for your reply. Very much appreciated. So love and peace from across the pond to you and your wife.

  73. Hello again, I have just been reading your article on adjectives which I found very interesting. Especially as I have no idea what an adjective is. I think I have a little grasp on what it means and why it’s over use isn’t desirable in poetry. Here is a poem I wrote. Do you think it is a good example of the overuse of adjectives?

    Manicured Moustache.

    A whiskered treasure in pride of place,
    Precious plume of pure panache.
    If ever a masterpiece graced a face,
    Manicured his Regal moustache.
    But now to see it, unkempt, overgrown,
    Sealed beyond, the conclusive moan.

    Hair as grey as Arthurian armour,
    Hoary shades on an ice glazed lake.
    Hypnotic harebell eyes of a charmer,
    Stunningly sharp, acute as a snake.
    Pupils now dwell on dilated days,
    Sleep, The Last Sleep, in a morphine haze.


    • Hi Henry, I highlighted all your adjectives:

      Manicured Moustache.

      A whiskered treasure in pride of place,
      Precious plume of pure panache.
      If ever a masterpiece graced a face,
      Manicured his Regal moustache.
      But now to see it, unkempt, overgrown,
      Sealed beyond, the conclusive moan.

      Hair as grey as Arthurian armour,
      Hoary shades on an ice-glazed lake.
      Hypnotic harebell eyes of a charmer,
      Stunningly sharp, acute as a snake.
      Pupils now dwell on dilated days,
      Sleep, The Last Sleep, in a morphine haze.

      Simply in terms of adjectives I would say that, yes, you’ve got too many. When there are that many, reading the poem gets to be like swimming through molasses in wool long-johns. As I wrote in the post, if you’re suffering from an addiction to adjectives, the best thing to do is to not use them (and adverbs too). Just say no. Ideally, this forces the poet to fill their lines with ideas rather than fluff. :-)

  74. Thanks so much for your reply it has given me lots to think about. I’ve worked quite hard on the poem and have, I hope, reduced the adjectives by half. And I think it is improved as a consequence.
    If you find the time could you cast your experienced eye over it and tell me what you think of it as a result of reducing the adjectives, and if you have any time left could you tell me what you think of it as a beginners poem?
    After your comments I enjoyed researching the use of adjectives in poetry and thought the Mark Twain quote was pretty cool, “When you catch an adjective, kill it.”
    Thanks ever so again.


  75. Moustache.

    If ever a masterpiece graced a face,
    His show of whiskers would take pride of place.
    Pampered and cherished a plume of panache,
    Work of a Dali that imposing moustache.
    With increasing neglect and overgrown,
    Shadowing over that final moan.

    Hair as grey as Arthurian armour,
    Hypnotic and harebell eyes of a charmer.
    Stunning and sharp, acute as a snake,
    A false impression of a mind awake.
    Pupils dilated in misplaced days,
    Sleep, The Last Sleep, in a morphine haze.

    • Hi Henry, I do think you’ve improved the poem from a technical standpoint. However, the poem remains “beginnerish”. For example, all the lines are end-stopped. This suggests a poem that was written line by line, rather than organically. Syntactically, your first three lines end in identical propositional phrases: graced of face, pride of place, plume of panache. The second and third lines of the second stanza repeat this pattern: eyes of a charmer, acute as a snake. What this suggests is a poet working hard to fill the lines because there’s more bucket than water, if you know what I mean. The inverted grammar of “Work of a Dali that imposing moustache” feels forced for the sake of rhyme.

      The challenge for you, and all poets who want to write traditional poetry, is to not sound as though you’re writing traditionally. When I read your comments, written as prose, they sound absolutely nothing like the poem. Your prose is modern, relaxed and straightforward. Your poetry feels contrived, forced and a little antiquated. I notice you use very few adjectives or adverbs in your prose. The trick for you, Henry, is to bring your prose into your poetry. Not fully. You will have to find the balance yourself, but your poem shouldn’t sound is though its straining to fit in its bottle; and it shouldn’t sound as though it’s written by an entirely different person. Your poetry should sound deceptively like your prose without being prose. Wilbur, Frost, Stallings and Roethke all do this sort of thing. Millay, when she’s not writing antiquated verse, pulls this off too. All the traditional poets whose poetry survives, learn to bring a prose-like ease and naturalness to their poetry.

  76. Hi again, and a big THANK YOU for taking the time again.

    And how right you are, ‘more bucket than water.’ And I would add, more thesaurus than ‘naturalness’.

    This poem I’m hoping is sailing more in the direction you are advising. I am not forcing words to fit, I am not end-stopping every line, I am using less adjectives, and overall I am hoping it is more organic and prose like. You have helped me enough I think so if you wish, a simple ye or nah regarding the direction of this poem will be okay if you find time to glance over it. I also hope you enjoy it.

    Teddy Boys.

    I recall a Christmas night,
    Sheets of ice on the inside
    Of my bedroom window panes!
    I reached for my torch light
    That was next to my bedside
    To shoot down model planes
    Dog fighting on the ceiling.
    My head was cold, my fingers
    Freezing, couldn’t feel my feet!
    What, with church bells ringing,
    Along with carol singers,
    And drunks brawling in the street!
    Then from amongst the racket,
    Dad whistling ‘Tutti Frutti’
    As he climbed the stairs. I knew
    He would take off his jacket,
    A smile, then place it over me.
    I gladly put my hands through
    The sleeves of his teddy boy
    Tweed down into the silky
    Pockets. Snug and warm, I lay
    Under my dad’s pride and joy,
    Dreaming I was Elvis Presley,
    And my dad was Johnny Ray.

    • Hi Henry. Yea. I think this effort is in the right direction. Keep at it. If you can marry this tone with meter, then you’ll really have something (if that’s the way you want to go). :-)

  77. Thanks once again. I’m sure I could marry tone and meter but probably not with this particular poem. “if that’s the way you want to go” intrigued me a little. ; – )

  78. I am an artist and was looking for imagery, when I found one of your poems: “Something Within”. I love it. It is so curious that I found it searching for images that I have to come to use as symbols of personal meaning, as I work through a period of change, being ‘reborn’ from my own German family background of intolerance and self destructive systems that were channeled and magnified in fascism. I have been using the image of the goose to represent this state of weakness/vulnerability /insecurity versus emotional awareness, that gives way to anger, fear, control, heavy silence, repression and suicide, in my family. I want to write a new story for myself and my family story, through words and images. So, I was looking for images associated with the poem “Goosey Goosey Gander”, when I found your poem. Magically, it fit, so perfectly with what I feel, at this momentous shift. I am not sure what will hatch, but it will be beautiful. Thank you for your beautiful poem, and for showing me a German person can be tender and beautiful, just as I was lamenting my own pitiful family tree, yearning for some hope to make sense of my own painful family ancestry. Your poem made me see my own beautiful goose egg.

  79. Hey there! I’ve been reading your weblog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

    • Thanks Fred. Glad you got up the gumption to say Hello. New Caney must be warming up right about now. I’ve driven through New Caney many times. I used to live in Houston with a girlfriend and we’d drive north to Lake Livingston on the hot days.

  80. I like that you say you are not a critic of other poets and that we have a hard enough time as it is. That we do sir. Looks like you’ve grown a bit of a following too! Good blogging!

    • Hi Cliff, sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner. My recommendation? Oh jeez… Here’s a fun little book I picked up. It’s called The Tao and the Bard. It’s by Phillip Depoy and contrasts the writings of Lao Tzu with Shakespeare. You get it all, great philosophy, great spirituality, and great poetry. :-)

  81. Hello, Patrick

    I stumbled upon your website as I researched colloquialism in poetry. I am thrilled by your talented depth on and for poetry, and the poetics of. I’ve been infused by the passion for poetry for quite some time. I craft it and guide others in simple terms further into the world of poetry. My website is crude yet does highlight my interest. I also created and lead a poetry group of eighty plus member, and counting, through – . I randomly choose poems for my featured ‘Poem of the Month’ thread, and also entertain a weekly prompt along with abundance of discussions. I’ve linked an excerpt to your ‘colloquialism in poetry’ page for my members to read. I’d be extremely thrilled to place your ‘Death of Li Po’ poem as next months featured poem. I can’t express how much I love that poem, and Li Po’s poetry for that matter, and yours I should add. You are very talented and deserve much praise for your crafting. Nice website you have here!


    – K. Cotton aka blue angel

    • Hi blue angel, thanks so much for your comment. =) I tried to follow your link at, but came up with a blank page. Part of the problem may be that I use a variety of privacy and anti-tracking controls. I enabled scripting at your site but still no go; so I guess I’ll have to rely on your description. Congratulations on your 80 members. It takes a lot of work to maintain a poetry group like that — more than I’m good for. And if you’d like to feature the Death of Li Po, go right ahead. That’s an old poem and first written in my very early twenties.

  82. I apologize for my website, it loads very slow even at best. I will be upgrading it soon. Thank you, deeply for allowing me to feature your poem. Early twenties and pounding out such imperial writing, I’m awed by that. I will be reading more of your works asap. Here’s a small offering of poetics from me to you. I know you specialize in traditional poetry which I love and respect. I’m weak in that area. I can also be found at.

    *tendrils twist* – blue angel

    tendrils twist

    luminous intent

    whispers begin to shimmer

    in iridescence
    with inebriated senses
    we inhale love’s toxins

    {exhaling remembrance, long since forgotten}

    we tousle wildly
    upon the hills of audaciousness


    as the aphrodisiac
    infuses our systems chi

    with ambrosia aroused
    pearlescent promises are deemed

    above us stars dangle dim

    bare, embracing
    in elation


    we sink in opulent dreams
    gently releasing
    tender breaths

    accepting the sweet zeal of

    tendrils twisting

  83. A number of respondents have read your poetry. If you want comments, feel free to ask for them; but I think you already know my opinion. In subject and style, you’re at least 200 years too late. :-)

  84. Your very analogy, swords, sheaths, etc., is drawn from an attic stuffed with stock phrases, cliches and tired metaphors. As to lawyering over whether I said 400 or 200 years, let’s put it this way: your poetry is a potpouri of theft from just about every period prior to the 20th century. Take your pick. Sometimes it sounds like this, sometimes like that. My opinion hasn’t changed; but maybe someone else who reads your writing will have a different response.

  85. //I have read somewhere in this same block, about some of the poets who were very critical of John Keats…//

    Yes, and out of the thousand or so poets who consider themselves a misunderstood and falsely maligned John Keats, maybe one of them, every two hundred years or so, will be right. You may go on comparing yourself to Keats, Shakespeare and every other genius. You certainly aren’t the first and won’t be the last.

    The mark of genius, however, is in it’s the ability to recognize and correct its own mediocrity and mediocrity, its inability.

  86. Typos:

    “Colapsed on them”


    “It it the swaddling cloth”

    Random missing words:

    “And that, to my regret, it has done on
    Same nest” (missing “the”)

    “we may been spied” (missing “have”)

    Un-metered (when compared to metered lines, will also show huge variations in meter):

    “Dear father, I am your son Esau.”

    “Day of rest?”

    The fact that you needed any of this pointed out it is…sad and bizarre. I was being sarcastic when I wrote “All of that might be intentional…”


    You misquoted me by adding “un” to “intentional.” You also have a typo in your response to me, but I’ll let you find it. This is my final reply to you.

  87. Hello. Since you seem knowledgeable on the subject, could you please comment on the meter of my poem ?


    Dear sensitiveness, beacon of my heart,
    Your composure makes me a composer,
    The architect of our small shelter: art,
    And to poetry, the staunch bricklayer.

    Whimsy whispers become wise words of cheer
    When the feather moves, before thoughts turn faint;
    In vibrant verses your veiled voice will veer:
    Your forms I shall sculpt, your face I shall paint!

    My sensations and deepest desires
    Through melodies you thoroughly explain,
    Uncovering patterns one admires,
    Thereby nude for whom you entertain.

    Whenever I write, your sultry scent sticks;
    Sincerely yours, an ardent lover speaks.

    • Hi Ray, there are two standards by which to judge the poem. By modern standards, the poem is fine. It keeps the pattern in some places, it doesn’t in others. That’s about right. By traditional standards, the meter varies too much in such a small poem. The first line starts as Iambic Pentameter, the second feels trochaic, the third is IP again, and the last altogether falls apart. So, no real pattern is established and the stanzas that follow, likewise, don’t resolve it. If you want to write the poem so that it stands comparison to more traditional forms, it’s back to the drawing board for you. :-) Here and there you’ll have to rephrase some words and thoughts.

    • Thank you very much for your comment ! Is regular meter an absolute requisite for writing a sonnet, or can it be carefully crafted and mixed to different extents ? Or is it just about being traditional ?

    • Hi Ray, sonnet form, since the 20th century, has been all over the map. William Carlos Williams, for instance, finally gave up and dispensed with rhyme and meter altogether. Williams just couldn’t write a good sonnet. (With that in mind, Tony Barnstone wrote a Sonnet Manifesto whose viewpoint you might find informative.) My own opinion is that however you want to write a sonnet, you can find a poet and viewpoint willing to rationalize it. In other words, there are poets who write 14 lines without a shred of meter or rhyme, and still consider them sonnets because, well, it has 14 lines. So, is regular meter and absolute requisite for writing a sonnet? Depends on who you ask. If you don’t think it should be, then you merely need to find the right person to ask and off you go <— sardonic comment. :-)

      If you're asking me, then yes, a regular meter and rhyme are an absolute requisite, otherwise you’re not writing a sonnet (you’re writing a blob that you’re merely calling a sonnet). Likewise, if you play tennis with the net down, then you’re not playing tennis anymore. The whole fun of a sonnet is in creating something organic and inevitable despite the restrictions and unreasonable demands of form. That’s the challenge. That’s what makes a sonnet a sonnet. It’s a showpiece. It’s a demonstration that you’ve actually mastered a difficult poetic form. Who wants to solve the crossword puzzle where none of the words actually cross? The careful craft happens when the poet transcends the form by way of the form, not when the poet expediently dodges the form (howsoever carefully crafted those expedient dodges may be).

      My attitude is this: Master the sport first, then show the world what you can do.

  88. Knock, knock. Anyone in Vermont? Things have been kinda quiet at your website so I thought I would drop off a poem. Enjoy! Or if need be, enjoy critiquing…

    A Beer at Jenny’s

    I want a beer so bad!
    But none I shall imbibe
    Nor pay the toll of brain and sense
    To even bleaker night.
    Or might I be already
    There, in the parking lot,
    In homage haste with my tribute
    Oh Capital of Hops!
    I shall not say
    But only say
    How secret adds to thirst.

  89. Vermont, I’ve been tearing plywood siding off an old storage building and during a break wrote his poem. It was not “intellectually induced,” to say the least. I just started typing and it happened. Now back to the siding. Await your “Critics’ Choice Award”!

    The Wax Museum

    What noisy hullabaloo
    But silent, very
    Silent, here for me.
    “Is any one home?”
    “Is any one me!”
    Oh not again have I
    Crashed this party
    Of the cosmic dogma,
    The revelry and revelers
    Of a pc wax museum.
    My apologies to the academy
    I depart early, my blonde
    Mannequin (Gender Studies
    Ph.D.) a little stiff from it all
    Herself, but melting,
    I agog to mold her in
    The perfect image of Rebel desire
    Or she I, whatever,
    Her latest psycho study maybe.
    Hmph. But if we don’t talk politics…
    At the apartment we talk
    About the weather, warm,
    A kiss and cuddle,
    Dance a little. Miraculously
    The wax museum recedes
    To bouncy life.
    She laughs. I laugh.
    “Yee-aay-ee! Wah-Who-Eeee!”
    The wax museum be damned
    And vanquished in this bed!
    Only a Secesh blow up doll
    Folded discreetly beneath its springs
    Begs to differ.

  90. My “poem of the month.” But it seems too familiar to me. I hope I haven’t read it, or something like it, before and am inadvertently plagiarizing. Vermont would know, I assume.


    tree is cut
    house is built
    house burns down
    tree grows back

  91. Lovely, even the licence plate, Patrick. I, too, find I own too many things. I am downsizing as I tappy-tip (since a “picker” will come visit next week to remove the stuff I no longer need nor use). I am an editor, not a collector. Groucho Marx once opined, “The problem with the world? There are too many people and too much stuff in it.” Glad I found you. Hope you continue to thrive. Undeniably, J/DiT

    • Thanks Judith. I just caught a later-summer cold from my kids. Other than that, the weather is fair. I closed parens for you. Sometimes, when I comment at other blogs, I wish the blogger would feel free to correct my typos. I often do the same for others here, though I probably wouldn’t have noticed the parens. On the other hand, maybe losing a parens is the beginning of downsizing.

  92. Hello Patrick,
    I am teaching poetry to my kids (apart from what little they learn at school).
    I came across your blog by accident. Its is a wonderful resource.
    Thanks for your deep insights. I love the way you write. There is lot to learn.
    Below, this is for you (imperfect as it is):

    How lovely to stumble, be lost, then find a spring
    whose bubbling water, on a sizzling summers day,
    can sustain my curiosity, how cool, it does bring
    a rhapsodic moment, an inspiration, to make hay.

    A bard, a carpenter, I wonder how you bred
    intimacy with dead poets, your devotional craft
    your eloquent blog, a lifeline, I hang by a thread
    this compliment, therefore, is just a sparse draft.

    Taking delight, in matters of metre and rhyme
    I acknowledge, like nectar, your taste is sublime
    I write, read aloud, seeking echoes in dark caves
    It isn’t easy, to entertain, dead poets in their graves
    So here goes, I come out, to see the light of day
    Hoping to quote you, as I go about my way.

    Yesterday, while taking part in a photography caption contest, I wrote a poem as it came to my head.
    It took me just five minutes, perhaps less. So I started to think about metres and rhymes, stuff learned at college and forgotten soon after. Then, suddenly inspired, I wrote a second piece. If you have time to critique those 2 poems, I would appreciate that very much. The link is below. I sometimes write for myself, not often though. This is one of the rare times, I share with anyone else.


    • Hi Deba, I’ve never had a dedicatory poem written to my blog. Thanks! And sorry for not answering sooner. I’m sitting at the local garage while my truck is inspected. Catching up. You said there’s a link to your other poem, but I don’t see it. But if you do want me to critique our poem, be sure and tell exactly what you’re interested in knowing. It’s easy for me to say way too much. :-)

  93. 7:15AM 18-11-2015

    ACT 1 SCENE 4
    CURTAIN. In same place, in the town of Zeraphath. Curtain reveals Elijah.

    So harsh has been
    Continuance of the ravaging climate of drought
    And perils fostered by it on this land,
    In the fulfilment of my prophesy,
    I, selfsame character and instrument
    Of the divine ordainment, have not been spared,
    But of ordeals imposed by the event
    Have been partaker and a targeted victim.
    The torrent valley at Cherith, where I sought
    Refuge from capture by the enemy,
    Was scooped up by the hot palm of the sun
    Till it evaporated; and on its bed
    Merely an undulating dune reclined.
    Hence I departed from it, and have come
    Into this town, ore-smelting Zarephath.
    My sandals are familiar to this skirt;
    For one it is among my several stops
    From Dan to Bathsheba, as I dispatch
    The pilgrimages involve in wearing this robe.
    In it I know true hospitality’s roof;
    It is that of a widow. The countless times
    I have been entertained as guest in it,
    So much so, that, in it, there cutleries are,
    Having been reserved and delegated to
    Mine own exclusive use the many years,
    Would not permit another mortal’s touch;
    But ever disappear and keep unseen
    Till very day I wrought appearance; and
    The delicacy in the simmered pot
    Likewise prescribes my palate for the repast.
    Now, lo who ply the doorframes of same roof,
    With cheerfulness sate on hump of her cheeks,
    Quite ineffaced from them by the harsh smite
    Adversities of the time do propose,–
    The widow of Zarephath!
    (Enter the Widow, from her house.)

    Oh, man of the true God,
    What a day you pick to light on my doorstep!
    I am not out of doors; yet if you would,
    This day, invite yourself into my house,
    Your visit will discover that, I am
    As good as not at home. For, lo, good man,
    The general affliction in the land,
    The famine and the cruel drought that here make
    Guant and emaciated all bowls and pots,
    Did not exempt my humble roof of dwelling,
    Nor cull it from all others for empathy.
    I heartily welcome you now to my house.
    But, as you venture in, be not amazed
    To find the absence of geniality,
    Who formerly was your wonted host within.
    In time of surplus, magnanimity smiles
    And bask in pleasure of being liberal.
    But when misfortune strikes and coffers shrink,
    A smile is tedious to affability;
    And patronage of charity assumes
    A cumbersome drudgery. I have me left
    A dozen palmfuls of flour in one jar,
    And oil drained nigh the lees in the other.
    These for myself, my son and you, shall serve,
    When well prepared, for the twain and one meal
    And then exhausted. Thereafter we shall all,
    Like ruminants, chew on what has been chewed,
    Till nothing left, our stomachs chew themselves.
    I go now to prepare for you, myself
    And my son, this first of the last repasts,
    Perhaps, we shall all snatch, before ourselves
    Are snatched away, as many in Samaria
    By fatal consequence of implorable drought.

    Good woman, go in and
    Prepare the meal. Of it we shall partake
    Like nobles in a sumptous banquet: for,
    Though prevalent is famine and harsh drought
    That ravages all now found in this land,
    And give men sucken cheecks and fallen flanks,
    Here in this roof of hospitality,
    That dares keep me its guest, there shall be plenty
    For occupants in it; so much so that,
    From ample nourishment each day, their corpulence
    Existence of harsh famine and drought shall belie.
    Behold, your twain jars of fine flour and oil,
    However great is the sum measured from them,
    Shall not recede in wave of their abundance,
    Till actual day the leniency of heaven
    Repeal the doom against this land; and send
    Tears of remorseful clouds to come extinguish
    Samaria’s subsisting conflagration of woe and anguish.


    11:11AM 18-11-2015

    For Peter’s sake! Look the time that waka pass which I use write this thing, na just for only morning. How many mornings dey waka pass heaven every year? E no many enough for us to use do as people for olden days do? To write something self like this, be impossible? Whatz gwan? Why all these gibber and shriek in the streets, on account of composing poetry? If I fit speak good inglish or done see inside of theatre once, how else I for write this thing? Make we ask Thomas Calyle, on THE HERO AS A POET? Make somebody wey dey speak inglish every day helep me answer the question na? Abi Ralph Emerson say THE POET go come from Niger Delta, Nigeria? Abi e matter where him origin decide to waka come from? Who go know the Warlock when him see am, but only a Warlock? So no Warlock for all of here? E must be here, make we no pretend. I stay ponder who need humility, the slave drudging for words or the master who no fit breathe without words?

    • Hi Naz- Welcome back. That little paragraph at the end of your comment? That’s better than any of your poetry. Your poetry postures. Your poetry is conventional, derivative, unoriginal, cliched and fusty. If you stopped trying to write like a dead white guy you might actually get somewhere. Why? Because you have some incredible talent. Too bad you keep drowning it in neo-Restoration, quasi-Biblical drivel.

    • Okay Nazaritus, once again I’m deleting your posts. If you can’t write straightforwardly I’m not going to waste my time trying to decipher your comments. This kind of nonsense:

      “d d d d rank. It is a me me me me meental faculty, so tu tu tu tu tu trust trusting, so carefree, so uns s s s s smart, gu gu gu guli guli gu gu gu gullible and easily di di di di se se se se se sembled. It is a mental mental state, that po po po po po possesses”

      Ain’t gonna’ fly on my blog. It wastes my time and it wastes the time of other readers. No more comments from you unless its intelligible, readable, honest and straightforward.

  94. It is not my philosophy. It is that of a celebrated patriarch of philosophy who lived somewhere near New England in the past. I, we yet await your response to his expressed opinion regarding what constitutes ORIGINALITY. You will do us,– the audience here– and the referenced ancient thinker, the favour of redressing the issue in hand here, will you not? I have no individual opinion. As you would know, I am one who is only SLEEP-WALKING his way in his attempt to adopt traditional poetry as the mode of his plays. So, just inform us here about the relevance or otherwise of that quoted ancient sage’s words above in this matter; for, as it is obvious, it seems to stand in opposition to your own view here about originality. I, we are waiting your response to HIM.

  95. //What your audience here did contemplate, on my posing that quotation to thwart your position above, was, that, you would have siezed the opportuniry to expound on the notion of ORIGINALITY,//

    Actually, I’ve already done that here.

    But discussions of “originality” are besides the point. The problem is your poetry. You need to stop writing neo-Restoration, quasi-Biblical drivel.

  96. good morning patrick…………….enjoyed finding your website………..also your comments on poetry……….i am a bit saddened by the large increase of free verse in modern poetry……… in abstract art, it seems to require no real discipline of words or meter…………and the inevitable conclusion is that……….hell,anyone could write such stuff……………not quite true of course.
    i taught school in vermont for some time…………..loved the place,met my love there…… on,carl johnson

    • Hi Carl, thanks for writing. I was recently corresponding with a poet interested in my haiku, and recently out of a graduate creative writing/poetry course. I was told that the instructor didn’t allow them to write short form poetry or anything with rhymes — just free verse.

      This was a couple days ago and it still irritates me.

      Hopefully we’ll get one or two good or great poets in the next hundred years despite the rank and utter incompetence of poetry in academia. There’s a whole generation of “poets”/free-versifiers to be avoided, at all costs, by younger pots. They’re infinitely better off teaching themselves. Sorry. As you can see, I’m still vexed.

  97. Many thanks for your piece in the 6/17/16 Valley News. I’m not a student of poetry, just someone who enjoys reading it. But somewhere along the line poetry got redefined, or perhaps undefined. I have never been able to figure out why prose that’s arbitrarily split up into different lines is called poetry. If it’s no longer defined by meter or rhyme, then what the heck makes it poetry? As I say, I’m no student, so perhaps I’m missing something.

  98. 7:15am 18-3-2016

    ACT 2 SCENE 1
    CURTAIN. In Babylon, land of the Chaldeans. Curtain reveals Nebudchadnezer, his Queen and several armed Guards on balcony of his palace.

    From the perspective of an airy eagle,
    Upon this high and furflong-spanning balcony
    Of your magnificient palace of authority,
    The sight of this enchanting spectacle
    Of rare, exotic and luxuriant growths,
    Will pass for nothing else than the inviting
    Scene of an orchard of rare comeliness,
    Suspended in the terrace of the clouds!
    What wonder-maker, sent by the gods to men,
    Concieved this startling novelty in the world;
    Dispute the great implimentation of it
    With an enormous resource, both of will and
    Sagacity; till, to astound all men,
    This eye-bedazzling verdant cultivation,
    At lenght, condoned ingenious ordinance
    That hung it high from ground, like massive mount of fog
    On an impalpable and elusive pillar?

    My queen, it is apparent that,
    As lamb-new as the recent nuptial feast
    Which, in sight of the world, did celebrate
    Alignment of affection in our hearts,
    So uninducted is your knowledge of
    The sundry things regarding imperial Chaldea.
    Regarding the conception, the hatch and
    Sustainance, through the treck of time, of this
    Astonishing hanging gardens, I tell you now:
    Behold, this wonderment of flourished growths,
    Arrayed on battlement of my vast palace,
    Was executed in defrayment of
    A solemn promise, made in lue of a
    Befitting dowry, or that quarry of gold
    Considered ample wealth, that would convince
    The paragon of beauty in an ancient world
    Concede place to the notion that demands
    That she leave the great palace in which she
    Was bred and reared; relinquish all her strong
    Affinity of love and of affection
    To homelihood and kin: and, what is more,
    Most poignant to emotion, the uproot,
    Severance and final exile of her days
    From region she is fond of; and of a land
    That breathes the perfume of a tropic clime.
    These same unwanted contrarieties
    She did say she was ready to admit;
    And knot her heart to that of the beseeching
    And honest gallant Chaldean prince of old,
    If only he would, on behalf of her,
    Perform the wondrous feat of ascending the sky;
    Search and discover there, steeds of the gods;
    Which, after taming, he should strap with reins
    And bravely harness to the florid chariot of
    Indigenious climate of her origin:
    On which, on conclusion of their nuptial kiss,
    Herself and him shall mount and ride away;
    And bear fast in their wake, procession of
    That pleasant atmosphere, conducive for
    The flourish of the flora of her sentiment.
    If that brave intrigant prince had not opposed
    The detriment associated with
    Bring to life of that awesome enterprise,
    The bricks of words we utilize to frame
    The edifice of our present conversation,
    Anticipating sure default in their mould
    The several centuries preceding this day,
    Would have remained mere sand.
    (Enter several Ambassadors, returning from Judea.)
    Your mission has returned: but as I spy
    On its grave countenance, in place of smile
    That is more affable than words in greeting,
    It comes with frown. Yet grant expression leave
    And place with words, than this suggestive look
    That a scheme-thwarting tale do overtures.

    1st Ambassador:
    Your majesty,
    Jehoachin of Judea has rebuffed
    All the terms of agreement earlier made
    Between great Babylon and his realm of rule.
    He has rejected your express demand;
    And will not hand to us, as you dictated,
    The utenisils of gold in the great shrine;
    The knowledgeable and hands of craftmanship
    Found in his realm. He is keeping a firm hold,
    He voiced to us; and would not suffer the
    Amputation of any ligament,
    Either of humans or resources, from
    The body of his kingdom.

    Seems that that stubborn crown
    Is quite impaired of hearing; hence in his ear,
    The mild purr of diplomacy we use
    Have no impact. If so, we shall unfast
    Not only the roar but the fangs along;
    Which, bared in snarl of hate, shall snap his ear:
    And from his royal court, conduct him in
    A most disgraceful march of many miles,
    Barefoot, from Judea into Babylon.
    Give the word to my captains. Let them proceed
    To that insurgent crown in Jerusalem;
    Awake him from the dream of lordliness;
    Remove from him the robe of stateliness;
    Appoint in place of him, another from his line,
    More docile and susceptible to curb;
    So much so that, upon his diadem,
    Name we prefer he smelts, and dare not contemn!


    11:57am 18-3-2016

  99. 7:15am 11-7-2016

    ACT 1 SCENE 1
    CURTAIN. In Persia, Shushan, court of the king. Curtain reveals a grand feast. King Xerxes, Governors of the hundred and twenty jurisdictional districts, other Nobles, armed Guards at their posts, and several Attendants.

    Under my clasp of sceptre,
    Merely three slithering summers have relinquished
    Their slough on surface of enduring time,
    And mantled the look of the world with the
    Impact of incidents their passage shed.
    Yet, though it insignificant seems from bounty
    Of ceaseless harvest of years, same period has
    Afforded the winged bear of triumphing Persia–
    Amidst the emulations likewise striving–
    Foray for grandeur in the world; and make
    Farthest incursion into the grove of fame.
    Hence, now, the envy of her former rivals,
    Her matchlessness and more superior mandate,
    On prowess prey and prowl for escapades
    Exclusively on territories that span
    The great expansiveness of soil between
    The jeweled orient and bedazzling Ethiope.
    But since ambition is like appetite
    That has a throat and gut, which, in the instance,
    By much consumption could soon be assuaged
    Yet empty itself through the nethermost
    And plead perpetual insatiability,
    The ravenous beast of aspiration on which
    Imperious Persia rides, deems it due time
    It ventures too across the Aegean;
    And wrought the enclaves of sagacious Hellens,
    Another conquered and enriched reserve
    Of kingdoms, populations, crowns and states;
    Who, nourishing us with their tides of tribute,
    Shall wrought us grandest cataract of wealth
    And huge resources, in sight of the world.
    In that regard, we did, some full moons back,
    Dispatched our emissaries to creased-brow Greece.
    They have repaired to us; bearing from that shore,
    A dozen urns; all brimed with golden laurels,
    That signify, without debate of swords,
    The willingness of Greece to recognize
    Supremacy of Persia over all.
    Now, then, it seems their pile of crowns of will
    And grave authority, though toweing high,
    Before our mountain-like proportion of power,
    Is stunted; and, awares, abases itself.
    If it be so, then pantheon of their gods,–
    The very height of venerated Olympus,–
    Before ours, in enforced humility,
    Shall homage do; even condign obeisance.
    To mark this triumph of our stateliness
    Over all such who jealousy affect,
    From the full foliage of the verdant year,
    We have alloted four scores and a hundred
    Sunrise to sunset, to commemoration of
    The many counted chariots of victory
    That have advanced us to this junction of time,
    In which we find a universal nod
    And concord of opinion and consent
    To grander Persia’s influence and dictation.
    Behold, we have appareled russet morns
    In purple robes; adorned the garish noons
    In wind-caressing softest linen; and
    The vigil nights attired in the garment
    Embroidered with winking stars: and all enticed
    Into this festival and dance of glory
    Performed alone by grandios Persia on
    The very pinnacle of peerless might
    In this ephemeral peep of ageless time.
    As we carouse the days and banquet the nights,
    With delicacies glutton up your bowls;
    And all your cups make drunk with savoury wine.
    We shall make delighful feast belabour days,
    And jocund fanfare burdensome to hours;
    Till dainty ornament of festivity
    Becomes as cumbersome and shoulder-wearying
    As the beleaguered drapery of husbandry.
    Carxes, Herxes; two names of prominence
    Attending grave affairs in my grand court;
    Proceed you swift to quarters of my queen,
    Delectable Verxes. Intimate her of
    How her invitingness and rare seen face,
    This very instance, breaking into this court
    While I role honoured host of this assembly
    And concourse of the jurisdictional chiefs,
    Than all the pleasantness of the event,
    Shall satisfy my heart; and make my word
    No less indebted to the satisfaction of
    What undisclosed wish that may later sue
    For her discreet compliance to my will.
    (Exit Herxes and Carxes.)
    The sun is sinking and its radiance wanes.
    The constant bearers of the tapers of night
    Are smashing the flints to enkindle them;
    That, when soon sable night descends on the world,
    The vast array of the refulgent stars
    The sight of things shall yet enlighten keep;
    And the preponderance of cunning shadows
    In stint of darkness, curb and oversight.
    But, at this grand event, complying with my wish,
    When my queen, Verxis, paragon of grace,
    Appearance wroughts here, you shall all attest,
    Within the ceilin and canopy of this feast,
    The advent of another nocturnal queen,
    That beauty of the full-face moon does twin!


    10:39am 12-7-2017

  100. Jair:
    These three desponding years,
    Dear Hadasha, since the departure of
    Thy mother from this breathed strond of men,
    The heart of Jair, severed from that cordial bond
    Twain decades with her it uphold in life,
    Has, on account of the despairing estrange,
    Good riddance bade to all the happy ties,
    Alliance and solidarity of interest
    It entertains in this enbrevied treck
    And convulated scurry of man on earth.
    From the inauguration of affiance,
    In nature, there exist an inexplicable
    Approximation of twain human throbs;
    Whose appositeness, one unto the other,
    Is like the strong consensus of beating wings.
    The fracture of the one is an irreperable
    Damage and loss, which renders absolete
    All the yet to be numerated flights
    And seasons of soar in that airy plumage
    The knotting of both wings compose in life.
    When Death retrieved the matrass from her bed,
    Unknown to him, under my trudging sandals,
    He made recoil and retrocede all the
    Untrodden remnant mileages of my days
    Into the mere succinct and frugal yards
    That briers trudge straight to the house of bones.
    So, these, dear Hadasha, are the last puffs
    My fading breath shall suffer stroll with words
    Before mortality reclaims my clay.
    Hence, from my lips, this last admonition
    Hang thee like priceless jewel, not on thine ear,
    But on thy neck of troth and heedfulness.
    Right from thy earliest days, the frequent song
    That all jocose lips that, halting by it,
    Have used to tickle the rib of thy cradle
    Or lullaby it into soothing sleep,
    Has invariably been one of approbation
    And praising of thy Joseph-mother’s face.
    Time and maturity, acting as one,
    Have failed to modulate or qualify
    All the enamourings of nature on thee.
    Hence all opinions, granted view of thee,
    Shall all, by the enveiglement of thy grace
    And rarer beauty, soon adopt themselves
    Brave Jacob’s seven summers’ knotted sleave
    Of labour and sweat splutterings for love.
    Yet, dearest daughter, suffer not this fact
    Enrind thine heart; and make thee set aside
    Those golden tenets and reminders that,
    From infancy, thy days were ever suckled.
    Pluck from that comely face a haughty eye;
    Yet never you permit it soon become
    The hovel of affected modesty;
    Where unabashed coquette, to public gaze
    Throws wide the window; and every passerby
    Invites with furtive and evocative glance.
    Do not unfoil the veil over thy countenance
    Yet leave thy bossom lewd and unattired
    Before the peep of the lascivious sun.
    Make virtue the fine trinket on thy neck;
    And chastity, the constant soughted pearl
    Begemed by coral of thy probity.
    All these do; and as sure as winter’s crust
    Are thawed and made to vanish from the crest
    Of lofty mountains by the breath of summer,
    So from the darkling clouds of pressing trials
    The light and sunshine of amelioration
    Shall suddenly break on your continence;
    And flourish seasons that shall all encourage
    Hope and joy ever pass each others substitute.
    Now, now, sweet Hadasha, brace well thyself.
    Do not permit, on my expiring divan
    This drench and sogginess, elicited from
    The dripping cypress of thy grief! Hold her,
    Good Modecai;– unto whom entrust
    Is her solicitude. Hold her, prevent
    This agitation in the vessel of her soul
    By the enforced pass of tempestuous sighs;
    Which, unappeased betimes by softest words
    And proper sentiment of consolation,
    May cause the fatal fissure of her breast;
    And instance, this day, an inopportunity,
    In which an aged sire’s last breaths assume–
    As may this parting ones here now I spew–
    The turbulent and gusty storm of sorrow
    That his surviving daughter’s prime days overthrow.

  101. Juliet:
    Ever since Joseph, the meek carpenter,
    With his sweet-fondling tongue, in my ear breathed
    Endearing and heart-stirring words of love,
    My maiden bosom, like untainted Eden
    Of sleeping flowers of pure tender passion,
    Has been aroused; and troubles as if restive wings
    Of but a thousand butterflies within flaps.
    I have borne daily the sweet agony
    Which the chaste maiden naturally suffer,
    When, in the period of nice courtship,
    Empassioned lover, pouring in her ear
    Enjoyed endearment, kindles in her breast
    The ember of emotion and of love,
    That glows and burns with such carressing flame,
    Till her whole body and soul it engulfs
    With ecstacy and conflagration of love.
    As earnest of his genuine love for me,

    As custom does prescribe,– meek Joseph warned
    The older men of both our kinsfolks;
    And, under the roof of my since late father,
    Through solemn rite, to him I was engaged.
    But since that nice event, heels of twain years
    Have trudged by that hope, while my husband-to-be,
    No further stride has taken to advance
    Ahead of us, the ample miles which lie
    Between that promise and fulfillment of it.
    In minor Nazareth’s attractive orchard
    Of comely maidens, as my neighbours hold,
    I, Mary, was most dainty rose displayed.
    Many affluent suitors, foreigners
    Amidst them, came to seek my hand in marriage.
    But nor their wealth or privilege stand
    In our society, succeeded in
    Enticing my heart to yield to their calls.
    For, right from my early days and childhood,
    In Joseph, then mere boy, son of the carpenter,
    Such a trust-worthy, kind age-long friend I had.
    Thus merely him alone and no man else,
    Did my discerning heart at entrance beckoned,
    When, at the threshold, his love stood and knocked.
    Now that whole-heartedly I have received him;
    And other suitors, by his welcomed sight,
    Discourage from the cordial overture,
    I am a little worried and perturbed
    That, Joseph, knowing he obtained my hand,
    Apparently without much protest from me
    And the due rigour rivalry entails,
    May reckon me, however praised my beauty
    And well-commended my fine qualities,
    Like shinning pearl that, though is rarest stuff,
    Since cheap it is got and with no much sweat,
    By the one who who obtained it may be handle
    Not in way its true value may prefer,
    But in slight manner which possession fetched it.
    In earlier days of our courtship, the torrid summer
    In Joseph’s heart, that thawed, with passionate words
    My gentle bosom till I melt in love,
    It seems has been converted to cold winter.
    Now when he speaks to me, there is no heat;
    But such warmwood which man use for old wife.
    Since same day to that man of humble means,
    Espoused I was, my hands have busy been
    With idle needle, knitting little frocks
    For the unseen child of the promised marriage.
    Lo, in escape of but two frittered summers
    Bestriding that time and this crawling day,
    This needle of my patience, knitting wools
    Of all the sluggish days in expectation
    Of happy nuptial, several dozens
    Have woven of the little pretty frocks,
    The evidence of joyful hope in my heart
    For the envisage child unsown yet in my womb.
    (Angel Gabriel appears.)

  102. .


    Time has been,
    When summoned by a journey to distant skirt,
    Hump of this she-ass I would sudden mount;
    Lean over to her ears; chant a few words–
    A few words of potent incantation–
    And at once she would leap on the shown path;
    And make the hunger of her fleet-hoofness
    Devour the delectable rich feast of miles
    Imposed betwixt spot from which I strike out
    And what desired place I intend to be.
    But either caused by heaviness of days
    And seasons of consuming miles with hoofs,
    Or by this extra robe of flabbiness
    And greaves of mutton that obese bowls of meal,
    In recent years, prosperity has use
    To adorn bones of her familiar passenger,
    Hence by the embarked copulence of both,–
    The layers of her years and lush commuter,–
    Made sluggish the response of her hoof-falls
    To far-flung place that beckons to my ride,
    I cannot outside mere surmise detect.
    But, it seems, for each mile that she would snatch,
    The sun must take a circle over the earth!
    Balak, the majesty of Moab, stays,
    Even this moment, my appearance at
    That elevated hill: from whose high brow,
    I shall cast, on what wind in motion then,
    The potent ash of my grave execration:
    Which, borne by the wings of the restive gust,
    Shall settle on the camp of invading Isreal.
    (A Seraph appears on the path, brandishing a sword in his hand. The she-ass turns from the path..)
    Ah, Bakalama, what is this you do?
    To turn aside hoofs from the straight path that
    Calls to this crucial trip; and, to do what,
    Divert hoofs to a field to munch the turf?
    No, you dare not do that– not in this urgent case–
    Not in this cogent call; in which the king
    Himself stays my arrival at a place
    Appointed for us to meet this very instant!
    Though the shrub in this field be rarest meadow;
    Which, showered by the dew, has fill the air
    In this place with most piquant of exuded
    Spiced vapour that your nostrils ever sniffed,
    You shall not have so much as one teeth-grab!
    Now stir back into the track of our progress;
    Else I shall thug and pull so hard at the rein,
    It would snap thy neck if it strangles not!
    (The ass sinks to the ground.)
    Ha, you sink hoofs! Let me draw forth the whip.
    It seems the trot of my words in thine ear,
    That former days were welcomed with comprehension,
    Are now disdained; as if their gait in your ear
    Have assume indecipherable rant
    From queer tongue of stranger. Then let this whip
    My emphatic mouthpiece be against the sentry
    That at doorway of thine ears halts meaning.
    (He whips the ass severally.)
    I sting with whip, yet stubborness will not
    Permit you heed my will? Ha, Bakalama,
    I am so sore enraged against thee now,
    Had I by me a daggar, I shall draw
    And burst with heinous stab, this well-distended
    Pauch of thy swallowed fodder and gulped cups!

  103. BIRCHES
    A woman of rare comeliness,
    As much as she stands an enchanting thing
    Before the eyes of men, remain their curse:
    For, so captivating she is to them,
    Like several offspring from the fecund womb,
    Not one, but many men shall suckled be
    By bosom of her coveted beauty and love:
    Hence, no wife shall she be for one, but all.
    I am such woman; the enamored of all eyes.
    This roof I keep, is the shrine of debauchery.
    I am the alluring paragon of beauty,
    An harlot, who the fleeting husbands hosts,
    When here they stroll to homage and extol
    This emblem of eye-thralling beauty and lust.
    I never was that jealous for one man
    Or his affection; for, within this breast
    No heart beats, but a cold and liveless stone.
    My passion is mere merchandise in trade;
    My kiss is a commodity from lips;
    And, soft carress, a thing I change for coins.
    Fetch you your silver, and I shall grant you
    That ware and rarer article of bliss,
    Abashment and the sense of decency
    Would not condone from homely wife or maiden.
    The sun is up, and shall berouse in men
    That ever famished beast of strong desire.
    Hence I await their visit to my shrine,
    With avaricious purse and lusty flesh.
    That human progeny on trodden earth
    Might overtake hereafter of all lives
    And keep abiding with eternity,
    Nature has so aggrandize surge of passion
    In the loin of sires; as often it is,
    It sues from them like an inordinate flood,
    That undermines the door of morality;
    Overpeers the chaste roof of matrimony;
    And ample tide still have, to go waste where?
    But in that reservoir of impropriety
    That solely bears the burden of empathizing
    With the exuberance engendered by nature.
    (A knock is heard on the door.)
    Aha! as I envisaged, the guest of love
    Stands at the threshold and knocks for my heart.
    I shall unbolt, and welcome him within
    For intimacy, yet without my heart.
    (She opens the door. The Two Hebrew Spies enter.)
    You are both welcome to my garden of love.
    My pretty flowers of desire are in bloom.
    As it accords with the wish in your heart,
    Reveal to me which one you would now pluck;
    And for your pleasure and delightful stay,
    I shall reap it for you. Your sandals, coming,
    Strange as it is, abreast themselves to me,
    Suggest that you endorse the twosomeness–
    Two husbands for one wife! The jocund jackals,
    The likeliness of this depict in nature.
    Amidst them, the sole matriarch of their offspring
    Is never frugal with her nether part;
    I am not too. An harlot, like myself,
    No scruple entertain in trying the queer,
    But would attempt ought for the munificent purse.
    Now let your lips disclose content of your heart.
    However strange it sounds, you shall find how,
    To do your wish, amenable I am,
    In so far as your purse could vomit coins
    That corresponds with bargain done for it.

    • Just have to say, Sheathword, this is a fairly misogynistic passage. No less misogynistic 400 years ago, but more expected at least. In this day and age? No. The demand for this sort of writing has long since passed. And no, I’m not going to discuss it with you and I’m not interested in your opinion of me or my judgment. The deal is that if you continue posting here, you have to bite your tongue when comments are made. This isn’t a discussion forum.

  104. Hi Patrick, I just read your introductory page and I especially noticed your comments on free verse versus “traditional poetry.” I was simply wondering, were those opinions influenced by Ezra Pound? I’ve been reading many of Pound’s essays lately and I’ve come to similar conclusions – namely, that free verse is strictly easier than poetry with meter and/or rhyme, and usually a result of laziness. I’d like to know what you think of that, or if you even know of Pound’s opinions on free verse.

    • I’m only familiar with Pound’s opinions indirectly. That’s to say, I’ve never read much of Pound beyond his poetry and only know of his more general opinions while reading biographies of other poets. What I have read of him, I’ve liked though. My opinion on free verse is largely my own. But this whole refrain (that free verse is more difficult to write than traditional poetry) was utterly deflated long before me. When free verse first got started that same conceit was making the rounds and prompted EA Robinson to reply: “Judging by the results, I’d have to agree”.

      If free verse were really more difficult, then every free versifier should be able to write “easier” traditional poetry with ease and grace. That never happens. Even “formalists” have a hard time with traditional poetry, which is probably why contemporary verse and rhyme has such a poor reputation. It’s much easier to be mediocre when writing free verse.

      All that said, was there something of Pound’s you had in mind?

  105. 3:00pm 14-9-2016

    ACT 2 SCENE 2
    CURTAIN. In Oz, the house of Job. Curtain reveals Job, several Stewards and seven Widows and their Young ones.

    In view of the prevalent come-shorts of grains
    And the expected soar in prices of stuffs
    In all our regions and the nearby ones,
    Occasioned by poor output from the harvests,
    I have anticipated this additional
    Wide hole in the purse of my heavy spendings;
    Through which I shall ensure, to the last mouth,
    No man, no woman, child, grown or still young,
    That victim pass to the unfortunate
    Misadventure of crops, is not made a
    Beneficiary to my gratition,
    If not the subsidized rate of my grains.
    Stewards, conduct you all of them away from here.
    March them to one of the pregnant granaries;
    And each of them grant a full sack of grain,
    Which shall replenished be each seventh day,
    Till the next harvest season, as we hope,
    This one succeeds with a more good exploit.
    (One of the widows approaches and kneel before Job.)
    Rise, woman, to your feet. Your gratitude
    More eloquent is through these speechless tears
    Coursing down your cheeks, than in this overt act;
    That, as I openly reject, denounce,
    Here dungy idols my mortalness with fall on knees.
    Besides, you are no more beholden to me
    Than I am to the impersonal and liberal wind
    That, with each breath I draw, revives my faint.
    (The Woman rises to her feet and embrace Job. The Stewards escort all the Widows and their children away. Enter Wife of Job.)

    It would seem that,
    To the roof of Job in particular,
    When, in a merry humour, fortune guests
    Himself with an opportuness, his host
    And patron of the house, will never reckon
    His blessings and his happiness complete,
    Till he has charitied them to his neighbours teeth.

    When fortune has particularized the smile,
    How else may the good name defend himself
    If he is made a favourite of that cheer,
    Aside, commending then an altruistic heart,
    He fast uproots as much as he can of
    The individualized teeth of his success
    To ameliorate the communal frown?
    Try hard as I may, I cannot shear enough
    Of the engirting fleece on my prosperity
    To clothe the destitution of my neighbour,
    While yet in popular opinion,
    My flocks are sobriqueted as prosperous.
    I cannot tell how it is with other men,
    But for mine own self, my sincerity,
    My staunch devote to wholesome articles
    And reverent creeds, shall nothing pass to me
    Than idle schedule of an hypocrite,
    If I dare make the camel of my godliness
    Out-distance the horse of my humanity.
    Stewards, have not the messangers we sent
    To go inquire, at my eldest son’s,
    The welfare of the banqueting, in which
    He entertains, as host, his other brothers
    And lovely sisters, by this time supposed
    To have returned?

    They have not.
    (Enter a Herdsman, in torn robe and wounds on him.)

    Your hasty entrance,
    If not this tattered stitch of seam on seam,
    Here and there smeared with human ruddy spills,
    In which you have appeared; and this distending
    In their soft sockets, of your eyeballs,
    Articulate, before your parting of lips,
    The inauspicious tiding you have fetched.
    If it pertains not to me and my house,
    It will not so surprise with this impetuousity
    And face of horror. Since it is, speak up.
    My ear is yet to hear what may bleed it.

    My lord,
    If for each word I utter here to you
    In telling you of of it, with mine own hand,
    I pluck a tooth from my mouth of rotten news,
    I would not cause myself sufficient pain
    As penalty for being the messanger.

    Then linger not in telling it;
    Else, by the fear alone of hearing it,
    You fellowship us to your anguish
    Before the coming of ours; hence doubles it.

    1st Herdsman:
    My lord,
    With all the other herdsmen in the field,
    While there we oversight the graze of your
    Three and one thousand oxen; lo, from the east,
    All of a sudden, came marauding band
    Of roguish Sabeans, mounted on fast steeds;
    Brandishing weapons. They assaulted and
    Gave to the sword a score of your herdsmen.
    Myself alone of that unfortunate bunch
    Escaped with only scars; all else is lost,–
    Three and one thousand of your oxen and
    Souls of a score of herdsmen in your employ.
    (Enter another Herdsman, in torn clothing and wounds on him.)

    2nd Herdsman:
    My lord, my lord,
    I pray you grant my honest tongue the pardon,
    For breaking hurriedly thus into your roof;
    And in the ears of audience in it,
    Intending this thrust of knifing words.

    Pardoned, then, you are. Speak.

    2nd Herdsman:
    Behold, my lord,
    Myself and fellow herders of your camels
    Were in the field, when, from sun-stiring west,
    All of a sudden, in three seperate bands,
    The Chaldeans came with bounty-seeking raid.
    The dozen less one of your herdsmen they slew;
    And cattered swift away with their departure,
    To the last hoof, your teeming humped camels.
    Myself alone, that witnessed the whole thing,
    With this torn garment and fresh wounds on me,
    From the regreted happenstance, was salvaged.
    (Enter a shepherd, with torn clothing snd wounds on him.)

    My lord,
    While here I open lips to air the words
    In my recount of an incredulous chance,
    If a drop of lie wets my tongue in it,
    May all these gaping gashes on my body
    Attest to it with stubborness to balm
    And healing oitments; but fatal prove themselves!

    Then, speak, speak;
    And may the prospect of this wounds on you,
    Redeem your truthfulness or otherwise it.

    Myself and all your other shepherds were
    Pasturing you out-numbered flock of sheep
    High on the elevated shoulders of
    A range of hills, enriched with meadow, when,
    All in an instant, a stiff storm assembled
    Over our heads, its pregnant darkling clouds
    Upon the hills . Ere we could move the flocks,
    The suddeness of the precipitation
    Intruded and stayed our preventive move.
    It was as if, the cloud-brimed vessels that
    The splashing season kept high in the sky,
    Were tilted and there did disgorge, in one fall,
    Showers and heavy flooding of the earth
    That only several days’s incessant pour
    Should likely aggregate. Hence was the hill,–
    The same place we were with your teeming flocks,–
    Inundated so much, a heavy torrent
    Burst forth. And as it scurried down the hill,
    Away coursed with the tide, your numerous sheep,
    And one and ten of your disheartened shepherds;
    Who helpless struggled, but could not prevail
    The stiffness of the rushing current’s haste.
    To the last shrieking man and bleating sheep,
    Borne to the precipice by the cascading waters,
    They were deposited in a deep-gullet gorge.
    Only myself, that lived to tell it here,
    Avoided the hate of that most untimely fate:
    For all is lost; not so much as a hoof
    Or footwear, from your former shepherds or
    The multitudinous flock their task presided,
    Escaped, on that hill the evil incident.
    (Enter a Messanger, in chared garment and wounds on him.)

    You are the messanger,
    Who, with some others, earlier we sent to
    Inquire of the welfare of our sons
    And daughters, feasting at their eldest’s place.
    What news fetch you now hither with this face
    That is bespattered and so flushed with the
    Dews of emotion, if your tongue sings it,
    No other but the sorriest ditty it will!

    What is the word?
    However cruel it is, tell it to us.
    Before your come, these others too fetched words
    That plunged, like swords, with throes into mine ears.
    Still I am yet to bleed the womanish tears.
    If you have it, unsheathe it; for it seems
    You have been wrought the herald of a tale
    That an outrageous fortune, having fawned,
    Have adequately whet for fatal keeness;
    And to delude the ear that must hear it,
    Sheathed it in your throat of impalpable words;
    That, when you draw and thrust with utterance,
    Though it does murder the ear that hears it,
    You will not be inculpated for merely speaking.
    Hence have you made this soft tears of remorse
    Soften the hateful words. Yet, I say; speak.
    The expectation of harm is unbearable;
    And like the actual harm, afflicts and torments.
    Now, speak; and doing so, hold you not back
    A single word of truth about the news.

    Behold, my lord,
    When at you own behest, I and two others
    To the house where your sons and daughters were
    Marking the banquet, we conveyed ourselves,
    Arrived at it, knocked on the door and were
    Admitted by them; and invited to
    The merry table within, we did accept;
    And were partaking with them of the cups
    Flowing with wine and bowls of delicacies,
    When, all in an instance, we heard a loud,
    Disgruntled clamour of ear-splitting thunders.
    Before the swiftest of us could approach
    The door and unbolt it, high from the sky,
    What seemed like the concordance of a hundred thunders,
    Converged their sudden fall upon the roof;
    Rent it asunder; and, within it, smashed
    The flints for the enkindling and burst of
    A furious heavy flame; which did engulf
    The whole house in a hungry conflagration.
    And, in no time, all that was found within,
    Even the hapless breathing occupants,
    Consumed and swift converted into ashes!
    My lord, from the regretable tragedy
    Which there occured, alone myself escaped,
    And lived to testament it in your ear:
    And likewise say, it is nought, if it is not
    A strategem, designed and originating
    From where the heinous thunders issued forth–
    Even the heavens!

    Is it this day alone,
    Else the last one that ancestors its come,
    That has attested with coincidences,
    Irregular conjointure of events,
    And evil marriage of unlikelihoods;
    Which through their strange and frequent visitations
    Have harrowed man, perplexed his perfect policies;
    And uncommodious make his fleeting pass
    On this once paradise, now beleaguered earth;–
    That, ay, amidst us, corporal inhabitants,
    Exist and likewise rove, incorporal ones:
    Who, furnished with the bridles and the straps
    Over the potent elements of nature,–
    The waters, flame and wind,– could steed on them;
    And gallop them to purpose that accords
    With any interest that prevails in their hearts?
    Nay, it is not this day that victims me
    With their malevolence, that I am apprised
    Of irrefutableness of the proofs.
    Nay, it should not astound, if in this one
    Interlude of time betwixt the rise and set
    Attempted by the sun, my flocks of sheep,
    My numerous herd of oxen and humped camels,
    My honest and industrious hired herders,
    And nature’s propagation of myself,–
    My cherished offspring, are all snatched from me.
    Beyond misgiving and the stance of reason,
    It is the doing of what is unseen,
    Possessing consciousness as the ones seen.
    Yet what rests now for me to do or say,
    But here, as I do, fall upon my knees.
    (He falls on his knees.)
    And in this humble state, rearing my palms,
    This moment wrought occasion for expressing
    The great appreciation in my heart
    For all I formerly own; which, though divested of,
    The providence that gave, I here still hail
    By saying: He that giveth has likewise taken:
    O my soul, bless the gracious Hand in heaven!


    6:13pm 15-9-2016

  106. 7:15am 15-11-2016

    ACT 1 SCENE 1
    CURTAIN. In Jerusalem, the upper chamber of a house. Curtain reveals the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus, among them, his mother, Mary and Brothers.

    Men, brethren, all assembled here,
    As you all know, in anticipation of
    Occurence of a pertinent event,
    The sacred scriptures, to inspire in us
    Unyielding trust, strong faith and a resolute will,
    Far in advance of the actual age and day
    Prefered for the come to pass, through prophecy,
    Ensures we are acquainted: hence it was
    Inevitable that, through the lip of David
    The sundry centuries back, what beforehand
    Was uttered about coin-fondling Judas;
    Who, for the tinkle of thirty silver pieces,
    Assumed the sandals that did guide the mob
    To Gathsemene; and within his bosom,
    Unleashed from most perfidious heart in the world,
    A kiss that did betray the luminous morning star
    To adjutants of the principality of darkness;
    Should come to fruition. Howbeit, amidst our fold,
    He stood a pillar, and of our glorious ministry,
    A portion did obtain and overseered
    That was of consequence, with the full proceeds
    Of his apostacy, procured a field:
    Then, to express remorse and execute,
    Before the world, an act that falsely typifies
    Repentance for so gross the turpitude,
    A hundred lifetimes in the robe of Job
    As penance, will never mollify the doom,
    Headlong he pitched from height of his own cypress;
    And noisely bursting in his midst, disgorged
    And bespattered his entrails in that field.
    The incident, by many eyes testified,
    Was gossiped by the natives of Jerusalem.
    They, in their dialect, did designate
    The cursed plot of land, Akeldama,–
    The field of blood. For it was prophecied:
    And desolate let be his tenement,
    With no soul found trespassing into it.
    And let his proper staff of oversight
    Apportioned be to another fellow’s clasp.
    Hence, brethren, it is necessary that,
    Amidst the faithfuls, who for our glorious gospel
    Did sandals laced and have exhausted miles
    In propagation of it at wake of our rabbi,
    From the first season that proceeded his
    Immersion in the Jordan by the baptist
    And this of his illustrious ascension,
    We nominate another that will hold
    The vacant office of that apostate.
    In this regard, if my opinion
    Is granted privilege of making the election,
    I will endorse two names here in our midst;–
    Barsabas Justus and loyal Mathias.
    Now, if of these two I have pointed out
    The congregation under this roof do
    Concede applause, let us, by casting lot,
    Decide which one of them from this day forth
    Shall the twelfth bear of our great mantle of
    Apostleship. Let us lay hands on them,
    And the one the angels would approve
    To be a principal shearer in our work,
    This instance shall be manifest to us
    After the prayer.
    (They cast the lot, by laying their hands on the heads of both men.)
    Our heavenly father,
    Thou who alone descries what is in their heart,
    Designate thee for us, between these two,
    The one you have ordained to pick this fallen staff.
    (A flame appears on the head of Mathias.)
    Behold, on laying here, our hands on
    The heads of both men, to inform us of
    Who be the chosen one, lo how untried
    The smash of flints, enkindled was this flame
    On the dry locks of forthright Mathias.
    How gentle and unscathing is this fire
    That signifies approval of this man,
    With its appearance and caress of his locks,
    As once, at the rocky slopes of mount Horeb,
    To draw the sight of Moses, the lush thornbush
    Was there engulfed with flame, that did not scathe
    A single fig on it. This is the sign.
    Mathias is the chosen one between the two.
    That to resolve what may bestir dispute
    And disaffection in the midst of us,
    We could entreat and promptly be admitted
    Our words into the hallowed tabernacle
    Beyond the stars, should be for us a cause
    For the expression of uncommon joy
    And granting of praise unto whom it is due.
    Hence I invite all in this congregation,
    Draw with me lips, and let us raise to heaven
    A hymn of glory to the most high One
    And father of our lord and saviour, Christ.
    (They all raise their voice in a song of praise. The loud sound of a stiff wind is heard within and without the hall. The holy spirit is poured on each of them, in the form of flames on their heads. They all begin to speak in tongues. Enter several citizens of Jerusalem, many proselyte Jews among them.)

    1st Proselyte:
    Fellows, what means this thing here?
    Are all these men and women that we sight here,
    As their apparels do attest to eye,
    Not Galileans? How come it then that they,
    To magnify the wondrous ways of God,
    Grant utterance acouterment that is
    Unusual and uncustom to their lips,
    While usual and customed it is to us all
    Who foreigner and proselyte pass to their creed?
    For, lo, they prate, each one of them, with perfect lip
    In all the sundry languages we bear
    As aliens in their midst!

    2nd Proselyte:
    Indeed, it is so! (Pointing at Mathew.)
    How eloquent and fluently that fellow speaks
    About the wonderfulness of the Lord,
    Even in the native language of my people
    In distant-lying Mesopotamia,
    Though, as we all see, he is a Galilean!

    3rd Proselyte:(Pointing to Nathaniel and Andrew.)
    Likewise these two, who the words of their praise,
    Compose in the smooth accent of my kinsmen,
    Inhabiting the regions in Cappadocia!

    4th Proselyte:
    Some here, do, likewise,
    Astound me with the strange plod of their lips
    With familiarity in my alien ears!
    To what may they all owe this strange ability
    To speak in many foreign languages,
    Isolated from the region they were bred,
    But to the influence of intoxicating wine
    Or something similar?

    Men of Judea
    And all you who derive your sandals’ trail
    From foreign nations yet do proselyte
    The creed of Isreal, let this be known to you:
    These men and women, gathered here,
    As you suggest and are grossly mistaken,
    Are actually not filled with tempered cups.
    For, as you yourselves would deny it not,
    It is the third hour of the day and too early
    For human bowel to ingest strong drink.
    But, on the contrary, their utterance,
    That here perplexed your ears, is nothing but
    The manifestation of the power of God.
    For, long afore this age, the prophet Joel,
    The God of heaven spoke regarding what,
    This day, has instanced here; when he did say:
    And, in the later days, I shall cause to be poured,
    Without distinction, my spirit on all sorts of men.
    Your maidens will be granted lips of prophecy,
    Your young men shall encounter potent visions
    And utter words in dialects of the world.
    Then, strangest signs shall be observed in heaven;
    And, on the earth below, disquieting tokens,
    Before the come of the illustrious day of the Lord.
    Men, brethren, grant me your attentive ears.
    Jesus, the Nazarene, was a man who,
    Through undeniable feats and wonders of God
    Done in your midst, by many was confessed
    A character no less than any prophet
    That ever was talked about in our sacred scripts.
    Yet, that same man, most guileless of the souls
    That ever in this breathing lump of clay
    Expend the seasons, you, the guilty men
    And citizens of this prophet-slaying city,
    Jerusalem, did cause to be delivered
    Into the hands of Romans; who fastened him
    Upon a stake, as he was a mere reprobate,
    Deserving the great humiliation and death.
    Yet, lo, amidst this ample throng of all
    Whom you percieve here, exercising free,
    The gift of speaking in the tongues of angels,
    There is no soul who will not testify,
    That, ay, indeed, he is a witness and saw,
    After his resurrection from the tomb,
    Our lord and rabbi, in his living flesh;
    Ere, in our very sight, mounting the air,
    Ascension he made to the hallowed heaven.
    It is respecting that same one, that, in
    The sacred scripts, the psalmist, David, did
    Pronounce these words: Before my very sight,
    The magnificence of the Lord of host
    Was ever constant; and, at his right hand,
    Unwaivered his my station. For sake of this,
    Uncommon cheerfulness imbued my heart.
    And I embraced the confidence and hope
    That, though I do accost mortality,
    My flesh he shall not suffer long detained
    Perpetual captive in the kingdom of Hades;
    Since, his most loyal one, he shall reclaim
    And not permit abide corruption of the pit.
    Men, brethren, you who cherish principles,
    You would admit that, in an issue of
    Such paramouncy in the lifes of men,
    It exigent is that the voice of truth
    Should exercise prerogative and freeness
    That empathizes with its pertinence.
    The sundry centuries back, the psalmist, David,
    Expired; and with ancestors was laid in a tomb.
    There is no single lip of testament
    Who, to the world, says that he ascended heaven.
    Indeed, he did not. But, Jesus, the Nazarene,
    Who trails his lineage from the house of David,
    Is the one that was resurrected by God;
    As I and these many men and women here,
    To the mistrusting ear, as living witnesses
    Of the event, will swarm with all our lips.
    Same Jesus whom you handed to the Romans,
    And suffered be crucified by those cruel pagans,
    Three days after his death, God raised him from the tomb.
    He did appear to our face, ascended to heaven;
    And, by God, has been constituted the
    Sole means of salvation to the whole world.

    1st Proselyte:
    Brother, your words,
    Like a keen knife, has wrought wound in our hearts.
    Deep in our ignorance, we, citizens of
    Jerusalem, fell to the will of our leaders;
    And did permit the Romans execute
    That prophet from the skirt of Galilee.
    Now that we have come to know how false were
    Our former actions, and contrition smites;
    What do you say that we do, to express
    The deep remorse in all our weeping hearts?

    Repent; and let each one of you
    Betimes submit willingly to our care,
    And be baptised in the name of Jesus,
    For the remission of sin and be reclaimed
    From the inescapable clutch of death,
    That ancient and foremost enemy of man.
    Surrender your souls to the one ordained
    And constituted the saviour of the world,
    Jesus, the Nazarene; the lamb of God.
    (Many of the proselytes join themselves to the apostles and are led to be baptised.)


    5:59pm 15-11-2016

  107. 7:15am 16-1-2017

    ACT 1 SCENE 1
    CURTAIN. In the garden of Eden. Curtain reveals a mound of earth, blown upon by the wind till it reveals the man, Adam, lying on the ground.

    What awesome dream is this life
    Into which, suddenly, man has awaken?
    In mind of man there is no memory,
    Yet, unfolding his eye-lids this first time,
    As if from a deep slumber, man discerns
    How he has been aroused into consciousness.
    What then is consciousness? What likewise is
    That former state of sleep before aware?
    The mind of man was hollow, the heart of man
    Unknown to curiousity or design.
    But this same moment granted sentient self
    And the capacity to grapple thought,
    Within man is enkindled the desire
    To know and gain insight into all finds:
    This same insatiate eyes, feast with perception,
    Till the reflective faculty of man
    Obtains discernment of this beautiful world.
    Discernment! How soon, when immediate to thought,
    This selfsame word expressing sentiment
    That blosomed in man, as if from unknown,
    Discovered self and did alight his tongue.
    What life, what dream, is this awakening?
    Behold, with suddeness I stired from naught
    Into this flourish of inclinations
    And yearnings to discover what I am.
    But what do I percieve here and about,
    Aside supply and surplusness of things
    Inviting and delightsome to my view:
    And with alluring harmony in them,
    That doth bespeak of undeniable
    Ingenuity and solicitude
    In the immaculate engendering?
    Lo how, in pairs, else in undefined sums,
    These dazzling creatures rove about the place.
    Some on the surface of the ground do crawl;
    While others, beating wings, take to the air;
    Yet all, quite like mine own self, animated
    With happiness, confess it with their stirs
    And various forms of motion. What are these,
    And for thier kind, what designation fits,
    Who, utmost in their manners, unlike man,
    To stir forth, crawl about in lovely couples?
    As do these crawling creatures, have man a mate,
    Such that is sembable and compliments
    His own peculiar form? His ignorance,
    Not knowledge, makes demand to find his state.
    Hence, unacquaintance, not awareness, fetched
    The thirst to know and curiousity.
    But from who or what, on behalf of man,
    Shall satisfying answers be procured?
    O thou who from yon elevated spot
    Cast thy refulgent gaze upon this world,
    And to all things appoint the shade and shape,
    Shall man’s enlightenment proceed from thee?
    Did he who fashioned man caused thee to be?
    Lo, as the last of these words that express
    My willingness to know my circumstance
    Fell from my lips, the instance I detect
    A heavy summon from repose on me:
    Which to remark and dully satisfy,
    On this soft bed of flowers, I lay Adam;
    Hence the name man shall be addressed where I am.
    (He lies on the bed of flowers and falls fast asleep. A whirlwind stirs the dust particles over him and clears away. He wakes and finds the woman lying beside him. They both rise to their feet.)
    For the eye of man what invitingness,
    For the sense of man what befuddlement,
    Shall ever sue or be adopted, to
    Surpass this one in which, in his semblance and form,
    Beauty and love unite themselves as one?
    How aptly in thy comely figure is
    This fascinating rendering of man!
    Thou art man’s actual match and complement;
    Hence I shall hail thee woman: and confess,
    Thou art bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.


    10:07am 16-1-2017

  108. Dear Patrick,

    I feel warm about your life, your writings, and what you have to say to the world!
    At times, that innocence is desired and valued all over the world…
    If all would be and think like you. My grandmother used to say, “It’s not good for
    friends or guests to talk about politics, religion, or food, keep yourself safe.” At
    my age I agree … she was totally right!!! I am a grandmother now, I have four
    children and 6 grandchildren!
    Thank you for illumining the world with your life and poems!
    A poet from Texas!

    • What a wonderful note. Just the reason for a guest book. I do have very strong political opinions, compassion above all, but we only have so much time in this world. :) My grandmother, by the way, used to say the same thing.

      My favorite history book is about art and music — barely a mention of warfare or politicians. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the world.

  109. Patrick, I just want to say how pleased I am to have found your website! I alighted here by chance, as I have to write a sonnet for an evening class, so looked at some posts of yours from a few years back. I am delighted to see that you’re still posting and I really lok forward to looking round your site more, and getting notifications of updates. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much Kate, I suppose I’ll keep posting here till the bitter end. :) Though there’s no remuneration, it’s much more satisfying than “publishing”.

  110. 7:15am 19-1-2017

    ACT 2 SCENE 3
    CURTAIN. In same place. In the middle of the garden. Curtain reveals Satan in the guise of a Serpent, coiled on a branch of the three in the middle of the garden.

    When I stole the sight,
    Unseen by them, my hateful jealousy
    Malignly leered, as, in the hundreth time,
    Flowers of passion blomed upon their clasping lips.
    The happy state of this untainted couple,
    Is like the noon-refulgent happiness
    Against the shadow-haunted gloominess
    Of deep despair, when juxtaposed to my
    Present state of descent from former glory.
    Grave was the oversight and fatal the
    Neglect of overlook, which did permit
    Intrusion and cross-frontier of my person,–
    The most inglorious in wile and strategem,–
    Into this garden of naked innocence.
    I have deployed my stealth; hence, undetected,
    Have drank with ears, when they drew words about
    The worries and the cares they vigilant,
    Else what should rouse them to their watchfulness.
    The woman, now I know, of them both
    Is delicate, less firm and the more pliant.
    In the induction of my artifice
    For the fall and decline of mortal man,
    In this dissemblance of the crafty serpent,
    The woman is the gosling I shall approach;
    Induce and shuffle with my subterfuge,
    Pervert and so deviate with my untruth,
    She shall succumb to them and be derailed;
    Her firmer paramour, if not for fault,
    For empathy and love he bears for her,
    On her behoof, shall witingly perfidy
    Trust of their Origin; and likewise be doomed eternally.
    (Enter Eve)

    As each day, summoned by thirst,
    To quell it, I stroll to the flowing brook;
    Measuring my plod, as I walk pass this
    Particular vicinage of this fair garden,
    That is the navel of it, I have observed
    How, as if to entice me halt by it,
    The gentle fingers of a mild-mood gust
    Bestirs itself; and all in the environ
    Embraces in the softest manner of
    A tactile fondle. On more than one event,
    I have– I shame to note it– been compliant;
    And to the overture of the mild wind
    Submissive made myself. For, strange as it is,
    It is like the attendance of a pageant;
    Since not myself alone it entertains,
    But, in their varied kinds, the living creatures.
    Alike such who ply the ground and the wing-borne,
    Are snared to this spot, when the mild-humoured wind
    Is in display: and, cognate to its act,
    As if in mere coincidence, else to be
    Complicit in it, this fore-warning tree,
    Forfended from bite, nay, even from touch,
    A pleasant fragrance the same moment spews
    Into the air; and through the active nostrils,
    Take captive all that, through sniffing, partake
    Of that so dream-like and exceeding bliss
    Implicate in the inhalation of
    Its potent essence. What a mystery,
    That a tree, a thing that is unconscious of
    Its own existence, yet made to take stand
    And personate a state; as if it breathes
    And is aware that, stationed in this garden,
    It is the actual presence of a knowledge
    Defended from the faculty of man!
    While even for what is admired and craved
    The circumstance of frequent usage, makes
    Uninteresting the habituate appetite,
    For sake of the estrange and distance from touch,
    The human nature yearns for taste untried,
    Though the abstention is a thing imposed.
    But, Eve, take heed: unwariness itself
    Is a precursor-fall ere comes the actual fall.
    Hence, stroll pass.

    Hail, Eve, thou paragon of beauty!
    And mother-to- be of the human progeny.
    Why, when in thy breast there is the desire,
    Dost thou abide the torment on thy soul;
    And would not stretch forth thine own hand to be
    The instrument that brings to pass thy will?
    Is it true that, by a severe injunction,
    God has forbidden from the bite of hunger,
    All the sweet-tasting fruits found in this garden?

    It is not so.
    All the fruit-yielding trees found in the garden,
    He has permitted that, when hungry, we
    Consume as food. But with respect to this tree
    He sighted in the middle of this garden;
    Of whose fruit, tasting, to the eater grants
    The knowledge of both what is good and bad,
    He has commanded that we should forbear
    Even from touch, and keep abstained from teeth;
    Else, in the same day disobedience exhorts,
    And we pluck to actually eat of it,
    We shall expire and return to dust.

    Fair Eve, thine ignorance,
    Not understanding, should be liable
    For this misjudge thou makest of the intent
    And purpose of that grave rule assigned thee.
    Indeed, it was done to subject to just trial
    The wisdom of both the man and the woman;
    In a quest to determine, between them,
    Who owns the abler judgment; hence should be
    Endorsed as the superior, and the one
    That grave authority shall exercise
    In what they do in all their days to come.
    Was not this selfsame requisition made
    On all the other creatures in this world,
    At the inauguration of their days:
    And, I alone, the serpent, acting shrewd,
    Plucked and ate the fruit of this abstract tree:
    And, triumphing in the test, amidst the beasts,
    Was culled and elevated to this state
    In which I brag this rare ability–
    Denied all beasts– to furnish thought its word?
    Taste, woman, taste, betime, of this sweet tree;
    Ere these same words from me, alighting his ear,
    That firmer knot of nerves on bones, the man,
    Make preempt you in it: and acquire a state
    That his predominance over you consolidates.
    (The woman plucks a fruit from the tree and eats it. She realizes that she is naked and hides herself behind the tree. Enter Adam.)

    Why, woman, at my entrance,
    Do you conceal yourself behind that tree;
    The same fruit-harvest tree, whose mellowness
    We were enjoined to distance and exclude
    From both our clutch and bite? Avoid its snare;
    And come away.

    I am unable to do so.

    Wherefore are you unable to do so?

    I am unable to do so,
    For sake of shame.

    For sake of shame?
    For sake of what shame?

    For sake of the shame of my nakedness.

    For sake of the shame of your nakedness?
    What mean you by that? What is nakedness
    Aside this state of unassumingness
    And native moderation in which, by
    Afore-thought, nature has commended that
    All creatures, both our conscious selves, subsist?

    The state of nakedness and shame
    That here I speak, is still unknown to you:
    And shall remain unfound by your character,
    Till, as I have done, you relinquish your
    Obedience; pluck from this mysterious tree,
    And snatch the bite.

    Hast thou, indeed,
    Plucked and ate, of this defended tree, a fruit?

    I have, indeed.

    Woman, you have?
    And, wherefore did you that?

    This serpent here,
    Coiled on a bough of the tree, is the character
    Who did persuasive argument employ;
    And mine own self, convinced, stretched forth my hand,
    Plucked and ate the fruit.

    O Disobedience,
    Impersonate in this fold of scales and forked fangs,
    Hast thou, behind my strength and vigilance,
    Sought for this frailer extraction of my ribs:
    And with the mastery of thy cunningness,
    Endeavoured an apology of falsehood,
    Till thou attainest the success in it;
    And has superimposed upon this erstwhile
    Impecable and innocence in nature,
    A cause to render the sight of human naked skin
    A just occasion for shame and abashedness?
    Yet, I say, woman, come away with me.
    Withdraw yourself from the forbidden tree,
    And the side of that wrap of craftiness.
    Though it has made you overstep and fall,
    Show your remorse; and fast estrange yourself
    From that cruel principal of your defeat.
    Keep not its flank; for it remonstrates not
    With the deserved state and face of repine
    Forgiveness need sight you.

    I shall not.
    And safe you would, along with me, partake
    Of the fruit of this tree; and come to know
    The reason for the shame of nakedness,
    I shall enforce, betwixt the both of us,
    A strong division in all words and deeds:
    And make indefinite and unadjourn,
    This enmity between our flesh and bone!


    9:45am 20-1-2017

    Those who are esteemed umpires of taste are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. Their knowledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars, or some limited judgment of color or form, which is exercised for amusement or for show. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty as it lies in the minds of our amateurs, that men seem to have lost the perception of the instant dependence of form upon soul. There is no doctrine of forms in our philosophy. We were put into our bodies, as fire is put into a pan to be carried about; but there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ, much less is the latter the germination of the former.
    ….and even the poets are contented with a civil and conformed manner of living, and to write poems from the fancy, at a safe distance from their own experience. But the highest minds of the world have never ceased to explore the double meaning. For we are not pans and barrows, nor even porters of the fire and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it, and only the same divinity transmuted and at two or three removes, when we know least about it. And this hidden truth, that the fountains whence all this river of Time and its creatures floweth are intrinsically ideal and beautiful, draws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet, or the man of Beauty; to the means and materials he uses, and to the general aspect of the art in the present time.
    The breadth of the problem is great, for the poet is representative. He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the common wealth.
    He is isolated among his contemporaries by truth and by his art, but with this consolation in his pursuits, that they will draw all men sooner or later.

    THE POET Ralph Wald Emerson.

  111. 7:15am 16-3-2017

    ACT 1 SCENE 4
    CURTAIN. In same place. In the threshing floor of a vine. Curtain reveals Noah by the brimed casks of wine.

    There is no honest lay
    In which unscrupulous conjecture or
    The most commited attentiveness to reason
    Could be made in this lower treck of being,
    That will not fittingly adjust to the
    Position that, indeed, there seems to be
    No compromise or a concilliation
    Between the natural longings of the sensual earth
    And those immutable and forthright canons
    That brotherhood the practical and abstract realms.
    Though all the fastened whips of principle
    And scorpion tails of precept, are for behoof,
    Ordinating and moderation of his flesh;
    Yet from the fruition of his deeds and words,
    What is preponderant abjures, contests
    And spurns all the benevolent proscripts;
    And make them seem like predators of his flesh,
    Not humble flock of doctrines, whose golden fleece
    Are for the beatification of his soul.
    Indeed, the hankerings of the outer shell
    And rind of human spirit, must bear such potency
    And an allurement of gratification,
    It makes adorner of it a reprobate
    Even against the rulings of his mind
    At each occasion he is summoned to
    Assuage desire and be elected as
    The temporal magnate of the honeycomb of bliss.
    Is same not why, even from hallowed heaven,
    Came the invasion of insurgent angels
    Into this lower strond of sleep and wake;
    And taking up the likeness of quick clay,
    Took for themselves the exquisiteness of sight
    Under the sun,– the daughters of men, as wives;
    Hence, with that, proved and published that, no
    Other indictable cause did prompt their come
    Aside that same inducement of the flesh,
    Whose unproportionate indulgence by man
    Enticed and lured their jealousy for it,
    And did inform their wrong adventure to
    His habitat; and the accounted years
    Of their sojourn, accountable wrought for the
    Daily increase of the atrocities
    And plunder of untold predicaments
    That have drained the earth of much tears and blood,
    It has assumed a shrivelled husk of pang,
    An arid reserve of woe and hopelessness;
    It now makes seem, mere superstition and myth,
    The notion that, like charitable clouds,
    Omniscient Providence hovers the whole world,
    Not merely the indifferent canopy of stars;
    Unto which only asses bay in hope,
    And the asps of despondency and throe,
    From their forked tongues, incessantly petition
    For answer with the sibilating hiss
    From all their disappointments? Now so ruined
    And disaligned have those strange graftings of
    Celestial flame and dustiness of Adam
    Wrought the nice form and composition of virtue
    All over the earth, rectitude of Noah
    Makes his name hang on the lips of the world
    Like the last apple of innocence yet to be plucked
    And bitten by the gullibility
    Inherited by flesh in guileless Eden.
    Yet I am famed among my neighbours for
    A cultivator of grapes, a vine-dresser,
    Who, with sufficient hired hands for help,
    Sow, harvest grapes, crush them in vinepress and
    Extract the tempered juice for sale and profit.
    Over the years, the sundry withered decaeds,
    The sumless casks of wine I have distilled
    To make the earth drunk; yet no single drop
    Do I permit fall upon my own tongue.
    I will not reel like the unmindful heels.
    If the earth will not heed when he is sobber,
    I might as well make purseful from his unheedingness,
    And make him gulp and gulp my tempered grapes
    Till so intoxicated, his state of drunkeness,
    Where failed and faltered his own sobberness,
    Succeeds in tothering to find sobriety.
    Now earth, come drink and drink of Noah’s wine,
    Till inundated your improbity in his vine!
    (He overturns the casks of wine, splash out the wine in them on the ground, pours it over his body, drinks lavishly of it, falls on the wine soaked floor and falls asleep.)

    The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful; it is by abandonment. The great moments of history are the facilities of performance through the strength of ideas, as the works of genius and religion. “A man” said Oliver Cromwell “never rises so high as when he knows not whither he is going.” Dreams and drunkenness, the use of opium and alcohol are the semblance and counterfeit of this oracular genius, and hence their dangerous attraction for men. For the like reason they ask the aid of wild passions, as in gaming and war, to ape in some manner these flames and generosities of the heart.

    CIRCLES Raplh Waldo Emerson.

  112. Thank you for your wonderful writing on Sonnet 116. I have just found your blog because I was looking at meter to try to confirm my reading of the sonnet which I am currently teaching as a guest at the Tibetan Children’s Villages (TCV) school in Dharamsala, India.

  113. 7:30am 2-4-2014

    ACT 4 SCENE 5
    CURTAIN. In same place, grand court of the Pharaoh. Curtain reveals the celebration of jubilee. Seti on the throne, his son, Ramses by him, princess Nephetiti, Bythia, other Nobles, Captains, Guards and Attendants. Flourish and fanfare.

    You yet implore, fair Nephetiti, that,
    I exercise patience, and endurance feed
    With ample morsels of its quality
    When cognizance you should take of the fact that,
    When was commenced this jovial festival,
    That, in encompass of our realm, celebrates
    My golden jubilee, the sun was perch
    On the lofty brow of noon; and, since then, has
    Pitched in flight and declined from altitude,
    Its radiant wings beat flaps below the crest
    And summit of our arrogant pyramids,
    Peep from their shoulders with beams at the world,
    Yet, our stout Moses has not shown his face
    Among this welcomed audience of guests, that has come
    To honour the occasion with their presence?

    Your majesty know
    The heart of that predilection of the gods.
    As you yourself the truth of this attests;
    He hosts not a presumptuous heart in breast;
    Or, one that insurbordination will make
    Act with impunity; neglecting your word,
    That, days in advance of this, did summon him
    To an ocassion, as rare as this one,
    In which, within the ceilin of your grand court,
    Like an impressive array of twinkling stars,
    Shine these crowns, subjugated by your throne.
    Impute not impudence to his belate
    And drag of chariot wheels at wake of time
    That should have ushered his face to your sight.
    I know that, a few wink of the watchful eye,
    And his appearance shall sudden here.

    I will advise your majesty,
    Waste not a single wink in that exercise;
    It shall prove futile; Moses shall not come;
    Else, more assuredly, in that face we know.

    What, Ramses, mean you by,
    Not in the face we know? Know you aught about
    Moses’s recent going-ons, that crave
    Our own attention, yet we are not aware?

    Your majesty,
    Wrinkle you no thought on what he has said.
    This shall not be the last, as not initial,
    Of the days Ramses has entertained our ears
    With his strange speculations on all the
    Where-to and what-do of that gallant prince.

    Is it so, Ramses?
    Did you merely intend to tickle rib,
    When those words you submitted, respecting the
    Come or not of that famous prince?

    Permit me leave that for this
    Unraveling day, before its set of sun,
    To disentangle for us. Now, in the while,
    I shall regale you and your honoured guests
    With the unthreading of a mystery,
    Discovered when, stone, pebble after pebble,
    I did unsettle the loam of this realm,
    To find.

    What is this mystery?

    Your words, some seasons past, were
    If the would-be deliverer of the Hebrew slaves, Was a mortal man, I should fetch him to you in chains;
    But, if a myth or legend that lives in gossip,
    Uncover all inquiry about it,
    Recount it loud in a wrap of papyrus,
    And fetch it to you in a conifone.
    I have the conifone; this is it.
    (He hands Seti a conifone.)

    Why, you hand me an empty one.

    The conifone is empty,
    For the tale is no mere myth!

    It is not a myth?

    It is not.
    You did commission me go search your realm,
    To find the would-be man of gross sedition;–
    That so much talked about deliverer of
    The Hebrew slaves. After my tedious work
    In searching for and apprehending him,
    I did decide to present him to the world,
    Even in this grand event of your jubilee,
    When great is the assemblage of the ears
    That will attest, from the lip of the reprobate,
    His own words of confession about himself.
    I shall discover him here; for he is a man,
    A well known character, a breathing soul,
    That, in this grand realm, daily tramples loam,
    With an insidious treachery in heart,
    Even with a to-be-feared proximity
    To our unwary corridor of power;–
    A person and a face, that is no stranger
    To the eye and ear of this grandios court.

    What, Ramses, say you?
    It is a character, that bears, himself,
    The privilege of our own rare acquaintance,
    As any of the nobility in Egypt?

    Strange as it may sound,
    Your majesty, it actually is so.
    We found the man, hatched, like a vulture’s egg,
    Right in the airy nest of our proud falcons:
    Hence, in the course of seasons that have passed,–
    Like all the noble plumes of our royal house,–
    Inducted, nurtured and trimed in our ways;
    All the accouterings of our cultivation,
    Wisdom and might, dissembled in his form
    In the sight of the world; as, all the while,
    When not divulged, deluding yet himself
    That he is of our plummage, when actually,
    Like the delusion of a flapping mote
    Amidst the fledglings of the airy minded,
    He dreams in feather of our fame and wonder;
    Being a man, that owes derivation
    To an ignoble and degenerate stock.
    As chance will have it, to lend credence
    All the indictable facts we uncovered
    Regarding his true origin; and, here,
    Amidst the citizens of this grand kingdom,
    To show, within his breast, the doctrine, creed
    That charioteer both his will and allegiance,
    He did bespatter, with a murderer’s hand,
    The blood of a nobleman of this realm
    On the impartial thirsty tongue of soil:
    And, for what justifiable cause under the sun?
    But,– after his arrest, upon our querry,
    As he confessed, with no reserve, remorse
    In breast, and startled our ear,– to set free
    A Hebrew slave, a mere stone-cutter,
    That the slain Egyptian, chief of our architects,
    The valiant Baker, was correcting with whip!

    Baker, chief of our architects, is dead?

    He is, your majesty;
    And at the hand of, in the present age,
    The should-be name and face of perfidy.

    And you say,
    He is that same so-called deliverer?

    He is.
    When your own ears– as mine did painfully do–
    Partakes of the cruel stabs of treason from
    The traitor’s lip, no further proof you will seek.

    Where is he?

    I have him laced in chains;
    Flanked by armed guards; and your pleasure stay
    To show him to the world.

    Then call him in.
    You say he is familiar to our sight?

    He is.

    Then, it is an uncommon strangeness;
    And has astired in me, curiousity.
    I will see it; fetch him to my sight.

    (To the Guards.)
    Bring in the Hebrew slave.
    (Enter Moses, dress in tattered clothing of a slave, with chains around his neck, on his hands and feet, escorted in by two armed guards.)

    I stand, your majesty,
    Under the awesome shadow of your justice.
    Discovered thus before your mighty will,
    My only wish, is, that, upon my person,
    When called your judgment to be minister,
    Within its clasp, the furnished instrument
    Should be, indifferent timeless principle;
    That, in adjudication of this affair,
    Dissection should make of available
    Submitted facts, while disregarding what
    Parochial notion, bigotry and hate,
    In their antiquate estimate of truth,
    Have granted tissue of proscriptive will,
    The ligament of potent ordinance
    And forceful breath of venerated law.

    Who is responsible for this?
    On whose authority was this noble prince
    And honoured name of Egypt’s royal house,
    Stripped of the vestment of his envied rank,
    Denied the right and privilege of birth;
    And wrongly tangled in this trinket of
    A common bondman?

    Your majesty,
    Refer not to him as one; is no Egyptian.
    He is a genuine breed of Hebrew slaves.
    If you doubt my words, querry him yourself.

    Speak, Moses, let me hear your word.
    Are you an Egyptian, or a Hebrew slave?

    I am the son of Amram
    And Yochabed; both Levites, Hebrew slaves.

    Bythia:(She rises from her seat, and kneels before Seti.)
    Pardon, your majesty!
    He was an innocent infant, that I found
    And picked from bossom of a woven wicker,
    Adrift a mild-mood tide of the tendering Nile.
    Ascribe no blame to him; it is not his own;
    But that of my desire to gain, myself,
    The swaddle of a child; for girting on my name,
    The dignity and joy of motherhood.
    Now, you know, he is innocent in this.
    Let what harsh verdict you make sue on this
    Disgraceful tale of guile and secrecy
    I made erupt to shame our royal house,
    Descend on my own guilty character,
    Not that of this man; who, merely few nights
    Behind this wakeful sun, came into the know
    And possible distress and storm of sighs
    The sudden disillusionment may trail.

    Quit, Bythia, hence my sight!
    And this day forth, permit no peep of this sun,
    Descry the shadow of your character
    Within the nigh of his devouring flame;
    Else you dissolve like raisin in the heat.
    (Bythia rises and exits.)

    The thrust of this sight, to mine eye,
    Is like the dagger of a tragedy,
    That, plunging in the heart of controversy,
    Achieves the most profound of its attempts
    At slash and dig, the hilt accompanies
    The cruel adventure of the shaft of whetness
    Beyond the treshold of concilliation.
    Did I long contemplate come of this day,
    And heralds it now with fulfilment of come,
    But not with, as I did anticipate,
    The hatching of a golden dream in my heart,
    But this surprising drag and summon from
    The sheath of happenstance, the glinting blade
    And horrid keeness of despair and grief?

    Stout Moses, I shall not
    Myself adjudge, as either right
    or wrong,
    These negative alleges here leveled on you.
    The sundry seasons of your trustful dealings
    In intercourse with me, so wrongly interjected
    By this most unfortuitous fissuring
    And rip-apart of your acquirements,
    Stand you immaculate yet in my sight.
    Hence, whither you be man who lineage trace
    From haggard bondmen, else from nobility,
    Impugns not my opinion; for I am aware,
    Though, hatched amidst the beat of wings inclined,
    The many fowls there be of laden wings,
    That ever with the nestlings keep unfledged,
    And never attempt the courage in that first leap
    From elevation of the precipitous cliff-face
    Into the grapple of dissenting gales
    And trials of dissuassive whirlwinds in the sky,
    Which character and sense of airiness
    Precurses; while, even amidst the motes,
    The daily measurement and sum of flaps
    Is rarely reckon an assiduous rite.
    Hence, know, I shall determine this affair,
    Leaning upon no other reason for
    Your justification, but, from your own word,
    Assurance I have of the promptings of
    Will and decision even in your heart.
    Now, in the presence of affirming audience here,
    Moses, I pose this urgent question to you.
    Are you the long expected and talked-about Deliverer of the Hebrew slaves?

    Your majesty,
    If you think I am that man, allay your fears;
    I am not him: and, neither the days ere
    Disclosure to me of my origin,
    Or in the ones proceeding my know of it,
    Have I, in this breast, entertained the thought,
    To dare assume, myself, for sake of Isreal,
    The challenger of Egypt: for, one and all know,
    The would-be emulate of this authority
    And throne in Memphis, that the vastest earth,
    Bestrides with an unrival mightiness,
    Shall not stand and sustain position with
    So disproportionate a ligament of response
    Against the long established and impressive
    Pyramid-like dimension of this grand realm.
    No; to compel the Nile retract her course,
    Not mortal will, but an immortal one,
    Shall be the prompter. In the sight of all here,
    However imposing and proportionate
    Was the allotement nature granted it,
    Does this mere dusty joints and fragments of
    My sightless soul, bespeak of feats of wonder
    And manifestations that could affront
    The god-like awesomeness of Egypt’s will?
    Yet, Seti, I will not conceal from you
    What is the true disposition of this man.
    And, this is it: if by any eventuality,
    It falls the lot of my will and decision,
    I shall, myself, assume the very limb
    And inter-tissue ligature of that myth,
    Whose advent, as the whole of Egypt dread,
    Shall stir, from ancient and protracted sleep,
    The glorious sun of Isreal’s liberty.

    What, Moses?
    You would, yourself, if it lies in your power,
    Bestir, under my reign, sedition in Egypt?

    If, to enlarge the Hebrew slaves
    From the inhuman use, that daily burst
    Their bloated sacks of tears and gusty sighs,
    Involves sedition, then, your majesty,
    In all sincerity, I say it in your hearing:
    I shall implore sedition come do my bidding;
    And rent asunder the stiff fetters that,
    The trudging centuries, restrained from flight,
    That craving and will for enlargment in
    The breast of all the sons of Abraham.

    While, deep in my breast, lurked
    Opinion that deemed it good of me to
    Give no regard to narrow-minded bias
    And bigoted view that finds fault in you,
    Merely for pointing from a different stock,
    Adoring alien principles and creeds;
    And, unreservedly with words, have shown that,
    I share no part in such improper hoot
    And segregation cast on worthiness
    Wherever it is found: and, for the grave crime
    For which you were, for trial, arraigned here,–
    The murder of a notable name in this realm,–
    As prejudice for your deserved renown
    And all your proud attainments in our annals,
    Strongly appeal for clemency in my ruling,
    I scarely did misgive that, in your breast,
    A turn-about of will and of resolve,
    Has been decided; and, unknown to me,
    Discarded is the former heart of trust
    And soul of loyalty, subsist deep in
    The former fellowship we did partake
    Ere your recent reclaim of origin:
    And, now, in its stead, even in my face,
    Breathes an insurgent, a belligerent heart,
    That would incite the vermins of unrest
    And locust of mutiny against my throne.
    Stout Moses, what is this great evil that,
    All in an instance, has partitioned you
    From the call of the patroit trumpets of
    Allegiance to great Egypt and his will?

    If you must know it, your majesty,
    Then, I will, this day, make it known to you.
    What here you did refer to evil in me,
    Is nothing other than the promptings for
    A more resolute response to unjust hate–
    The hate of any man against a soul–
    That bids him clip wings of free will in that soul;
    That bids him circumscribe latitude in that soul;
    That bids him cast reins on spontaniety in that soul;
    That bids him proscribe prerogative in that soul;
    That bids him limit ingenuity in that soul;
    And bids him stradle franchise of that soul,
    To guide and dictate to it, in the path
    Opposed to individual will and destiny.
    If ever there be an immortal being,
    Unto which nature’s marveling harmony
    Could be ascribed, it was not his intent
    That, amidst the roaming mortals on the earth,
    In whereso they respire their stint in time,
    Should be enforced division and partiality
    In all joinings of their complex pursuits.
    What man, percieving this discriminations
    Practised against his own peculiar stock
    And declivity of the force in his veins,
    Shall not, if he has a smack of the heroic,
    Demonstrate how hard he abides, himself,
    Imposition of those straps and curbles of will?

    Then, what now I shall say and do,
    By urgings of mine own distinghuished line,
    In the attesting sight of the grandees here,
    I do hence set afoot ahead of time.
    By the exclusive prerogative of this throne,
    Ramses, I say, take the hand of the princess.
    (Ramses takes the hand of Nephetiti.)
    I hence clear publish in ear of the world:
    This princess, comely Nephetiti, the
    Bedazzlement of all eyes in whole Egypt,
    I now ordain, shall be the wife of Ramses.
    When time extinghuishes my flickering flame,
    Ramses here shall succeed me to this throne.
    Against this rebel slave, now I declare:
    Let the name, Moses, be whiped from all scrolls;
    Let all the reference to it be expunged
    From surface of all gossiping monuments;
    From surface of all time-enduring engravings;
    From surface of all our proud obelisks.
    Let the name, Moses, be defended from lips;
    Eschewed from gossip and attraction of words.
    Let the name, Moses, no more be heard by ears
    Forever and a day in grandiose Egypt.
    And as expulsion of the name we make,
    By strictest ordinance, we likewise foist
    Forever banishment on this character;
    That, now, shall bear it like the decrepit robe
    Cast on the shoulders of humiliation,
    That, far away from suburb of our care,
    Our interests and our prompts, digresses with him,
    Beyond periphery of the rich Nile
    Into the vagrancy of unrecallable exile!
    (The armed guards escort Moses away from the court.)


    1:31pm 2-4-2014

  114. I look for the hour when that supreme Beauty, which ravished the souls of
    those eastern men, and chiefly of those Hebrews, and through their lips spoke
    oracles to all time, shall speak in the West also. The Hebrew and Greek
    Scriptures contain immortal sentences, that have been bread of life to millions.
    But they have no epical integrity; are fragmentary; are not shown in their order
    to the intellect. I look for the new Teacher, that shall follow so far those
    shining laws, that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding
    complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the
    identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart; and shall show that the
    Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.

    DIVINITY SCHOOL Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  115. When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
    And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
    Upon thy side against myself I’ll fight,
    And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn.
    With mine own weakness being best acquainted,
    Upon thy part I can set down a story
    Of faults conceal’d, wherein I am attainted,
    That thou in losing me shalt win much glory:
    And I by this will be a gainer too;
    For bending all my loving thoughts on thee,
    The injuries that to myself I do,
    Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.
    Such is my love, to thee I so belo

  116. Shalom Patrick,
    I enjoyed reading your commentary on Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium.” Thank you.
    Would you kindly share your thoughts on the following verses :
    ” unless soul clap its hands and sings,” might be interpreted as : an aged man is analogous to a tattered coat unless he is happy on the inside ?

    Additionally, why does the speaker aspire to be in eternity an artifice used by the aristocracy for trifle tasks such as waking up a ” drowsy emperor” or being set upon a bough of ” lords and ladies of Byzantine,” rather than being used for pragmatic yet meaningful purpose ? Isn’t there ironic/ sardonic tone about the readers of art who are restricted to the aristocracy , reading and interpreting art superficially?
    Thank you in advance for your response.
    Ilana Ben Harav.

    • I would probably be skeptical of your tattered coat analogy only because Yeats doesn’t really say that an aged man is X (a tattered coat) unless Y. He says he is “paltry” unless Y (his soul clap its hands). That is, even if the aged man clap his hands and sing, his raiment (his physical being) remains a tattered thing. He may not be a paltry thing, but still remains a tattered coat. The country of the young remains a land in which the aged man doesn’t belong. What the aged man has to offer is something different — the clapping (a reference to poetry’s meter perhaps?) and song.

      //why does the speaker aspire to be in eternity an artifice//

      Who would? Not me. But I’m not sure Yeats means us to read this literally. As I wrote in the post:

      Yeats, in my opinion, is describing a personal, spiritual transformation as manifested through his art – his poetry. He is, in a sense, identifying himself as his poetry – which is all that will remain after he has died. In this guise, the gold bough is like the magnum opus of his poetry (his Collected Poems).

      Further, if one continues to interpret Yeats’s last stanza metaphorically rather than literally, “drowsiness” isn’t a reference to “sleepiness” but to a lack of spiritual awareness. All of us, Lords and Ladies, are drowsing in the sense that we’re not spiritually awakened (in Yeats’s opinion). By addressing us as aristocracy, my own feeling is that Yeats is asserting that his poetry (spiritual meaning and awakening) isn’t (or isn’t going to be) for everyone but, to quote Shakespeare, caviar for the general.

      Your own interpretation is a possibility. I resist it only because it strikes me as a rather bitter way to end the poem. It also robs the poem of its metaphorical content.

  117. 3:30pm 4-4-2014

    ACT 5 SCENE 5
    CURTAIN. In same place. Curtain reveals Moses by the burning thornbush.

    As I draw so nigh it with sandals,
    Behold, amazement strikes me in the eye!
    This thornbush that was litted by bright shaft
    Of thunderbolt, and hence, engulfed in flame,
    As most unnatural and curious to sight,
    Though, still enraped in a harsh ball of blaze,
    Has not yet suffered any harm from fire!
    Lo, its trunk, branches, figs, are not consumed:
    And in the bowel of the conflagration,
    It lives unsinged and unincinerated;
    As if, in the midst of the flame, it is
    A sculpture wrought from frozen block of snow,
    Hence, quite impervious is to fang of fire.
    Either, I am in a trance and mine eyes dream,
    Else, most astonishing mystery I ever saw,
    Here captures my sight. I should flee this scene
    Now that I have the chance, else motion nigh,
    Till, danger that I know not crouch within it
    Leaps from this eye-bewildering enigmy
    To come wrought me its prey. But no; I dare
    Hold sandals here; and would draw nigh the flame;
    Dare thrust my hand in it, to find, through touch, if
    This thornbush that, though caught in breast of fire
    Yet smiles in life, is tangible thing or not.
    (He moves near the flame.)

    Voice of God:
    Moses! Moses!

    I heard, distinctly, a voice
    That beckoned at my name: but, as it seemeth,
    It is but merely a day-dream call of it;
    For, lo, I turn about and gaze around
    To find the speaker, and my sight caught none.
    So shaken is my breathing limbature,
    Bemused by this enacted mystery here,
    My head, it seems, is swollen twice in size
    To house the fearful guests of wondering thoughts,
    Impersonal surmises, strange and disquieting.
    But, yet, I doubt, if or not, the voice that hailed
    My name here, is extraneous of my mind,
    Not resident in it; hence, I shall now
    Intrude an interlude of hushing words;
    And, from the brief insistence of serenity,
    Discover if, as I speculate within,
    Not from the resonance of my clashing thoughts,
    But, rather, from a voice incorporeal,
    My name was hailed.
    (He keeps calm and listens in silence.)

    Voice of God:
    Moses! Moses!

    That was no voice
    Fawned in the stable of my reveries!
    Why, in the sight of my attentive ear,
    Strange as it is, it seems, it sue did from
    A disembodied lip immanent in
    This strange impersonation of a flame,
    That, though, entangling here a thornbush in fire,
    Belies the virtue of a kindlement,
    With such a personable fieriness,
    No single fig found on the hapless bush
    Has suffered harm of fire. Surely, a mystery.
    Yet, I fly not from it: my sandals stand
    Resolutely upon a heart of courage;
    And shall abide, dire or not, the consequence
    In keeping this spot, and daring response,
    When next the characterless voice hails my name.

    Voice of God:
    Moses! Moses!

    Here I am.

    Voice of God:
    Moses, draw thee not nigh the flame.
    Put off thy sandals; bare the soles of thy feet:
    Behold, the spot on which thy sandals are poised,
    Is consecrated to the plod of angels.
    (Moses takes off his sandals from his feet.)

    Who art thou, Lord?

    Voice of God:
    I am the God of all thine ancestors.
    (Moses kneels and bows his face to the earth.)
    The God of Abraham; the God of Isaac,
    And Jacob, his heir.
    Lo, the suffering,
    Predicament and lamentation of Isreal,
    Caused by the centuries of bootless bondage
    Under the cruel predominance of Egypt,
    Has not unnoticed nor uncensored gone
    By the eternal Keeper of the promises
    Rendered to Abraham and all his offspring.
    Now, Moses, brace thyself; for, hence, I shall
    Constitute thee my lip of messanger;
    And, fast, disparch thee down to hateful Egypt;
    Where thou shall go; and, there, on my behove,
    Assume the utterer of all my grave words
    In the ear of the Pharaoh.

    But, who am I, Lord,
    That, on my shoulders, I should dare presume
    To bear so great the burden as the one
    Thou would lay on it? Lo, this face I wear,
    And the name, Moses that I bear, by strict impose
    And harsher levy of a breathing law,
    Are universally accounted both as
    Forbidden to sight and defended from ear,
    In all the territories embraced by the Nile.
    Now, should I, in obedience to thy word,
    Proceed to that realm with my face and name;
    Seeing that, both, are nothing valued there,
    Than, at the instance of a dreaded pharaoh,
    The hapless prey of their persecuting law?

    Voice of God:
    Be not affeared.
    My angel shall ahead of thee proceed forth;
    And ever there with thee abide to do,
    At thy instigation, what be my will.

    Yet, excuse me, Lord.
    It may chance that, I will proceed to Egypt,
    But when there I arrive, and, in the ears of
    Your chosen people, breathe the word sent
    The God of their remembered ancestors,
    There might be doubters found amidst their fold;
    Who, not so soon submissive to trust and faith,
    May throw this pertinent querry to my face:
    What be the name of the One who sent you?
    What shall I answer, then, Lord?

    Voice of God:
    In olden times,
    I did my presence sure make manifest
    To that first scuffler of the concept of faith,–
    Inheritor of Canaan, Abraham.
    Before him, I did represent myself
    As God almighty: but, with respect to
    My proper designation in the lips of angels,
    I made no such divulgence of it to him.
    In telling of myself, in heaven and on earth,
    I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be;
    For I am that I am. Heed thou this hence.
    I am Jehovah: that is mine own name;
    The true memorial of my character
    In the world, even to times indefinite.

    Excuse me, still, Lord.
    What if, though, I have mentioned your name,
    Amidst your people, the hard-hearted ones
    Who strong misgiving nurse, doubt still my lip;
    And, there, demand I furnish them a sign,
    Ere they permit belief due entrance
    The chamber of their breast; what then shall I do?

    Voice of God:
    What, Moses, is that in thy clutch?

    It is mere shepherd’s staff, Lord.

    Voice of God:
    Cast it now on the ground.
    (Moses throws the rod on the ground. It becomes a snake.)
    Fly thee not, Moses, from the venomed fangs.
    Now, grab, with hand, the slither by the tail;
    And view it fast assume once more thy rod.
    (Moses grabs the snake by the tail. It becomes the shepherd’s staff in his hand.)
    Plunge, Moses, thy right hand, into thy robe;
    And, after that, retrieve it to thy sight,
    To feast thy vision with the second sign.
    (Moses dips his right hand under his garment. He brings it out, covered in whiteness.)
    Mark thee how pale it is like a leper’s limb?
    Dip it back in thy robe, and fetch it forth;
    And see if, once more, it has not restored to
    The pristine health it bragged ere it was dipped.
    (Moses puts the hand into his garment, and draws it out in good health.)
    The sight of these remarkable tokens should
    Suffice, in stirring the conviction of
    The elders of my people; that they know
    I am the one, indeed, that sent thee forth.

    Excuse me still, Lord.
    Behold, not the day ere this one that strolls
    Under the sun, or the ones that precurse it,
    Have the whole world attested to, in me,
    The grave infirmity of slurring words.
    I am impaired of lip, since the day I was born;
    And, ever since, have been known as a slurer.
    Why, then, Lord, should I take upon myself,
    This grave commission of, pretending myself,
    To be, before your people, Egypt and his gods,
    The lip of speech and utterance for Isreal’s God?

    Voice of God:
    Who, of all creatures that roam the vast earth,
    Apportioned pratting lip to mortal man?
    Was it not I myself? And when I shall,
    Amidst men, constitute a man my mouthpiece,
    Amidst his utterings, shall a single word
    Dare stumble in its walk to awaiting ears?
    Rise, Moses, and proceed with haste to Egypt.
    For lo, ahead of thee have flown my angel,
    Into that land, in which, my many wonders,
    And mortifying prodigies,
    Shall so outspoken be and garrulous,
    No chronicle of the Nile and pyramids,
    Shall clamour, in this day and age, any name
    As eloquently as mine and my fame.


    6:30pm 4-4-2014

    Else, like expecting the natural frame and proportion of a mountain to emulate the artifice in the symmetry of a man-made pyramid.

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