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Rhymed verse typed from memory

by marcus
Tags: memory, rhymed, typed, verse
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Jun1-11, 09:51 PM
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Knowing a poem by heart often seems to make it special, something that can come to mind when I'm alone walking in the parkland hills near the house, something to repeat aloud for no reason besides itself. The poems in this thread are (by open invitation to others as well) typed from memory. That means punctuation and spelling may differ. There may be a misremembered word here or there. I want to share what I care for enough to know by heart. You can too, if you like.
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Jun1-11, 10:09 PM
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SelfAdjoint taught me this poem. We were talking about Lie Groups and he thought of Leigh Hunt, a Victorian (circa 1850?) poet and said:

Jenny kissed me when we met
jumping from the chair she sat in.
Time, you thief, who loves to get
sweets into your list, put that in!

Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
say that health and wealth have missed me,
say I'm getting old---but add: Jenny kissed me!

I wasn't aware of Leigh Hunt until S.A. pointed that poem out
Partly in SelfAdjoint's honor, I learned another by the same poet. I think it contains a good idea. Abou ben Adhem was a real person and is revered in the Sufi tradition within Islam FWIW.

Abou Ben Adhem, may his tribe increase,
awoke one night, from a deep dream of peace,
and saw, within the moonlight in his room,
making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
an angel writing in a book of gold.

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
and to the presence in the room he said:
"What writest thou?" The vision raised its head
and with a look made of all sweet accord
answered "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay not so."
replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
but cheerily still, and said "I pray thee then,
write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished--the next night
it came again with a great wakening light,
and showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
and Lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!
Jun1-11, 10:21 PM
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Here's one by Thom Gunn about the death of a friend in the AIDS epidemic.

Poor parched man, we had to squeeze
dental sponge against your teeth,
so that moisture, by degrees,
dribbled to the mouth beneath.

Christmas Day your pupils crossed,
staring at your nose's tip,
seeking there the air you lost,
but still gaped for, dry of lip.

Now you are a bag of ash,
scattered on a coastal ridge,
where you watched the distant crash--
ocean on a broken edge.

Death has wiped away each sense,
fire took muscle, bone, and brains.
Next may rain leach discontents,
from your dust, wash what remains

deeper into damper ground,
till the granules work their way
into unseen streams, and bound
briskly in the water's play,

till you lastly reach the shore,
joining tides without intent,
only worried anymore
by the currents' argument.

Jun1-11, 10:27 PM
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Rhymed verse typed from memory

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote this when she was an old lady and remembered back to her younger days:

What lips my lips have kissed, and where and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
under my head till morning, but the rain
is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

upon the glass, and listen for reply.
And in my heart their stirs a quiet pain
for unremembered lads, who not again
will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus, in winter, stands the lonely tree,
nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
yet knows its boughs more silent than before.

I do not know what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
a little while, that in me sings no more.
Jun1-11, 10:42 PM
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Rilke wrote this when he was a young man, probably around 1895. I would say that it is BEING (Das Sein) that says these words to us when it brings us into existence. Urging us to experience because in this way IT has experience. But Rilke says Gott spricht, not the universe.

Gott spricht zu jedem nur eh er ihn macht--
dann geht er schweigend mit ihm aus der Nacht.
Aber die Worte, eh jeder beginnt,
diese wolkigen Worte, sind:

Von deinen Sinnen hinausgesandt,
geh bis an deiner Sehnsucht rand,
gieb mir Gewandt.

Hinter den Dingen wachse als Brand,
das ihre Schatten, ausgespannt,
immer mich ganz bedecken.

Lass dir alles geschehen, Schönheit und Schrecken,
mann muss nur gehen, kein Gefühl ist das fernste.
Lass dich von mir nicht trennen.

Nah ist das Land, dass sie das Leben nennen.
Du wirst es erkennen an seinem Ernste.

Gieb mir die Hand.


There are several English translations immediately available on line if you just google "Rilke gott spricht". Here is one of the first hits:

God speaks to each of us before we are,
before he's formed us---then, in cloudy speech,
but only then, he speaks these words to each,
and silently walks with us from the dark.

Driven by your senses, dare
to the edge of longing, grow
like a fire's shadow-casting glare

behind assembled things, so you can spread
their shapes on me as clothes.
Don't leave me bare!

Let it all happen to you: Beauty and Dread.
Simply go! No feeling is too much,
and only this way can we stay in touch.

Near here is the land that they call Life.
You'll know when you arrive by how real it is.

Give me your hand.
Jun1-11, 11:18 PM
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I guess if it was OK with Rilke I would prefer if the translation went like this:

Being speaks to us before we are,
before it's formed us. Then, in cloudy speech,
but only then, it speaks these words to each,
and silently walks with us from the dark.

(the rest would be the same).

The word "God" has extraneous associations that I don't think the poem needs. But in that case the Rilke original would have to go something like:

Sein spricht zu jedem nur eh es ihn macht--
dann geht es schweigend mit ihm aus der Nacht.
Aber die Worte, eh jeder beginnt,
diese wolkigen Worte, sind:


(Das Sein means being, existence. It could, I guess, be the universe.)
Jun1-11, 11:45 PM
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My favorite poem is probably In the Field by Richard Wilbur. Because it says that even though the universe itself be finite and mutable and not-for-ever, there is something stronger in the human heart. Wilbur and his wife go out one night in the field near their house to see the stars, and then again the next morning.

This fieldgrass brushed our legs last night,
as out we stumbled, looking up,
wading, as in the cloudy dregs,
of a wide sparkling cup--

our thrown back heads aswim
in the grand, kept appointments of the air,
save where a pine, at the sky's rim,
took something from the Bear.

Black, in her glinting chains,
Andromeda feared nothing from the seas--
preserved as by no hero's pains,
or hushed Euripedes'.

And there the Dolphin glowed,
still thrashing through a diamond froth of stars,
flawless, as when Arion rode
one of its avatars.

But none of that was true!
What shapes that Greece or Babylon discerned
had time not slowly drawn askew,
or like cat's cradles turned?

And did we not recall
that Egypt's north was in the Dragon's tail?
As if a form of type should fall
and dash itself like hail,

the heavens jumped away,
bursting the cincture of the Zodiac!
Shot flares, with nothing left to say
to us, not coming back,

unless they should at last,
like hard-flung dice that ramble out the throw,
be gathered for another cast.
Whether that might be so

we could not say, but trued
our talk awhile to words of the real sky,
chatting of class and magnitude,
star clusters, nebulae,

and how Antares, huge
as Mars' big roundhouse swing, was fled
as in some rimless centrifuge
into a blink of red.

It was the nip of fear
that told us when imagination caught
the feel of what we said, came near
the schoolbook thoughts we thought.

Then, in the late-night chill,
we turned and picked our way through outcrop stone,
by faint starlight, up the hill
to where our bed-lamp shone.

Today, in the same field,
the sun takes all, and what could lie beyond?
Those holes in heaven have been sealed
like raindrills in a pond.

And we, beheld in gold,
see nothing starry but these galaxies
of flowers, dense and and manifold,
that rise about our knees:

white daisy-drifts, where you
sink down to pick an armload as we pass,
sighting the heal-all's minor blue
in chasms of the grass,

and wisps of hawkweed, where
amidst the reds and yellows as they burn,
a few dead polls commit to air
the seeds of their return.

We could no doubt mistake
these flowers for some answer to that fright
we felt for all creation's sake
in our dark talk last night.

Taking to heart what came
from the heart's wish for life, which, staking here
in the least field an endless claim
beats on from sphere to sphere,

and pounds beyond the sun,
where nothing less preemptory can go,
and is ourselves, and is the one
unbounded thing we know.
Jun2-11, 12:03 AM
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From William Blake:

To see a World in a grain of sand,
and a Heaven in a wild flower--
hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
and Eternity in an hour.

And a sonnet by Jorge Luis Borges about the 4D spacetime contain the past and future always, like a crystal with the paths of all particles traced in it, nothing ever lost.

Solo una cosa no hay, es el Olvido.
Dios, que salva el metal, salva la escoria,
y cifra en su profetica memoria
las luna que serà y las que han sido.

Ya todo està. Los milles de reflejos
que entre los dos crepusculos del dìa
tu rostro fuè dejando en los espejos,
y los que irà dejando todavia.

Y todo es una parte del diverso
cristal de esa memoria, el universo.
No tienen fin sus arduos corredores,
y las puertas se cierran a tu paso.
Solo al otro lado del ocaso
veràs los archetipos y esplendores.

The poem is called Everness. Wilbur's translation:

One thing does not exist: Oblivion.
God saves the metal and he saves the dross,
and his prophetic memory guards from loss
the moons to come and those of evenings gone.

Everything IS: the shadows in the glass
which, in between the days two twilights, you
have scattered by the thousands, or shall strew
henceforward in the mirrors as you pass.

And everything is part of that diverse,
crystalline memory, the universe.
Whoever through its endless mazes wanders,
hears door on door click shut behind his stride,
and only from the sunset's farther side
shall view at last the Archetypes and Splendors.
Jun3-11, 02:28 PM
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too late to edit. Looking back I see I misremembered a word and typed "rise about our knees" instead of "lift about our knees". When typing from memory that can happen. Lift makes a nice internal rhyme with "white daisy-drifts". And flowers do lift, because they keep one part grounded and lift the other part up. Rising is more where the whole thing rises, with no part on the ground. Just a minor typo.

also the spanish version of Everness has spelling goofs, especially the accent marks. Never seem to learn how to accent Spanish. Just punctuation though. Important thing is to know by heart how the Spanish version sounds.

A Colombian poet named Alvaro Dalmar wrote this wonderful popular song called Besame Morenita (a joy-hymn to darkhair, darkeyed women) I can't spell it but I want to share the sound of it. The form of the poem is called "bambuco". I don't know what it means, bambuco is some type of rhythmic classification.

Mirame mirame quiereme quiereme
besame morenita
que estoy muriendo por esa boquita
tan jugosa y fresca, tan coloradita.

Como una manzana dulce y madurita
que me està diciendo
no muerdas con todo, no seas goloso,
y chupa que chupa que es mas sabroso.

Y dale un abrazo a tu morenita.
Jun28-11, 02:28 PM
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A living man is blind and drinks his drop.
What matter if the ditches are impure?
What matter if I live it all once more?
Endure that toil of growing up:
the ignominy of boyhood, the distress
of boyhood changing into man,
the unfinished man and his pain
brought face to face with his own clumsiness.
I am content to follow to its source
every event, in action or in thought,
measure the lot, forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse,
so great a sweetness flows into the breast:
We are blest by everything.
Everything we look upon is blest.

From the final stanzas of a Yeats poem, Dialogue of Self and Soul.
Jun30-11, 01:12 AM
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A bit from the Magic Flute opera:

Bald prangt den Morgen zu verkünden
die Sonn auf gold'ner Bahn
bald soll der Aberglaube schwinden,
bald siegt der weise Mann.

O holde Ruhe steig hernieder,
kehr in der Menschen Herzen wieder:
Dann ist die Erd ein Himmelreich,
und Sterbliche sind Göttern gleich!
Jul6-11, 03:27 PM
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This poem seems to be about making love outdoors under a tree, Richard Wilbur and his wife Charlene live in rural New England, so it seems like a reasonable interpretation.

We know those tales of gods in hot pursuit
who frightened wood-nymphs into taking root,
and changing then into a leafy shape
(fair, but perplexing to the thought of rape.)

But this, we say, is more how love is made:
ply and reply of limbs in fireshot shade,
while overhead we hear the leaves consent
to take the wind in free dishevelment,

and answering, with supple blade and stem,
caress the gusts that are caressing them.
Sep21-11, 04:44 AM
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You can have your magic beans Jack
your children are hungry and we need the cow back.
The lack of just terms and equitable or fair pacts
expose all crooked beanstalks to concerted attacks.
Unless obsessive cycles are stopped in their tracks
our towns will again be as flat as tacks.
You have been too trusting Jack
your childrens futures remain black
while current problems compound through lack.
Struggle earnestly against the pack
repudiate rights to depreciatingly retract
as giants fortress lie ripe for sack.
For only fair shares of the golden goose Jack
will save beanstalks and giants from the axe.
Sep21-11, 04:49 AM
P: 66
Noble sirs, exercise thy renowned might
honour thine agreement with the green knight
tis his by right.
Do not be unnerved, justice shall be served
while accolades are undeserved and truthful valour is reserved.
Qualms about the justice of fate
carry no weight on this judgement date
pious fervour too late.
Come now and cement the agreed pact
that ye have enacted through use of his multi faceted axe.
Once ye have availed of its plentiful resource
there is nay recourse
ye have chosen thine course.
Sep21-11, 04:57 AM
P: 66
Chaos is purely nature in action
first find that correct butterfly
and you can make anything happen.

Anti chaos is also quite easy to do
first find that correct butterfly
and then say boo.

Time goes on both ways forever
despite all mortal human endeavour
infinity will be reached never ever.

They all should come out at 17 words per sentence if I remembered them correctly.
Sep21-11, 05:42 AM
P: 66

God doesn't, with or without infinity, gamble
but, with or without infinity, can throw.
Sep21-11, 07:15 PM
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Only when love and need are one,
and the work is play for mortal stakes,
is the deed ever really done
for heaven and the future's sakes.

an unforgettable fragment of a Frost poem, and there is also this other by Frost. You can keep asking the Universe what its purpose is and what it all means, but it is not necessarily very helpful on that score---well maybe a little. A sense of perspective, distance, steadiness.

O star, the fairest one in sight,
we grant your loftiness the right
to some obscurity
It would not do to say of night
since dark is what brings out your light.

Some mystery becomes the proud,
but to be wholly taciturn
in your reserve is not allowed,
say something to us! we can learn
by heart and when alone repeat--
say something! And it says "I burn".
But say with what degree of heat!

Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade
use language we can comprehend,
tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid
but does say something in the end,

and steadfast as Keat's Eremite,
not even stooping from its sphere,
it asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height.
So when, at times, the mob is swayed
to carry praise or blame too far,
we may choose something like a star
to stay our minds on, and be staid.
Sep21-11, 09:45 PM
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Yeats wrote an epitaph for the satirist Jonathan Swift, author of A Modest Proposal, and of Gulliver's Travels:

Swift has sailed into his rest:
Savage indignation, there,
cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
world-besotted traveler, he
served human liberty.

And he wrote another called Consolation:

Oh, but there is wisdom in what the sages said,
but stretch that body for a while, and lay down that head,
till I have told the sages where man is comforted.

How could passion run so deep, had I never thought
that the crime of being born blackens all our lot--
but where the crime's committed, the crime can be forgot.

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