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One consequence of critiquing is sometimes you have that filter on when you read anything. I just read a poem recently that slipped by the filter by being IMO so damn good. It's unlike anything I write. I figured I'd post it and ask if anyone else had a poem that they came across that they fell in love with.

How To Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.

By Stephen Dobyns
Dogs have it all figured out Smile

That's a beauty, Todd. It's true that we sometimes get so caught up with the need to critique that we forget to just enjoy poems -- though when you've read enough of them, the poems that don't need any help really jump off the page and bury themselves in your mind.
definitely true todd. i love the dog in this one,
for me, the poem below is the ultimate love poem. i have many that i love but this one just seems so special.

She Walks in Beauty
By Lord Byron (George Gordon)

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Yeah Billy I love Byron. That one might have the best first line ever.

Here's another one that works for me:

 Bag Of Mice
I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,
from the top down. The mice,
huddled at the bottom, scurried the bag
across a shorn field. I stood over it
& as the burning reached each carbon letter
of what you'd written
your voice released into the night
like a song, & the mice
grew wilder.

Nick Flynn
This is one of my favourite poems if only because it talks about depression without actually being depressing.

Scorpion by Stevie Smith

'This night shall thy soul be required of thee'
My Soul is never required of me
It always has to be somebody else of course
Will my soul be required of me tonight perhaps?

(I often wonder what it will be like
To have one's soul required of one
But all I can think of is the Out-Patients' Department -
'Are you Mrs. Briggs, dear?'
No, I am Scorpion.)

I should like my soul to be required of me, so as
To waft over grass till it comes to the blue sea
I am very fond of grass, I always have been, but there must
Be no cow, person or house to be seen.

Sea and grass must be quite empty
Other souls can find somewhere else.

O Lord God please come
And require the soul of thy Scorpion

Scorpion so wishes to be gone.
That is eclectic Jack. I love the sea and grass must be quite empty. Way to turn the predictable meaning of that phrase upside down.
I don't know how to pick one, there are so many classics. I love many by Byron. I love the Romantic poets best. But I will put this one here because it was one of the first ones I loved and dreamt myself into as a teen-ager when I used to dream about a man. I didn't even understand a lot of the lines in the middle back then, but I do now. For me, it has stood the test of time and all of the changes I have gone through, inwardly and outwardly--then and yet now, eternal love... :

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

--John Keats

It speaks of a side of men that I can't even believe exists anymore--the side that needs feminine love and softness and some kind of shelter from harshness in the world, and it implies the man's protectiveness of her as well (another lovely gender-related aspect that has been significantly scorned and "beaten down" by "feminism"). This all in the context of his own love and fidelity to the one woman--"for ever."

I need to mention just one Byron poem, since I always use one of its stanzas as a signature or favorite quote in different places.

The Tear.

"My" stanza:

Mild Charity's glow to us mortals below
Shows the soul from barbarity clear,
Compassion will melt where this virtue is felt,
And its dew is diffused in a Tear.

P.S. Of course I also love She Walks in Beauty Smile
I also liked your interpretation of Keat's poem Rose. This is the kind of poem you laugh about when a teacher reads it aloud because of how young you are, and how the language is so embarrassingly personal. I don't often read Keats but when I do I'm often struck by how effortless he makes it all seem.

Great poem.


As a teenager, I used to model my poems on Keats, Byron, Shelley, and early Yeats poetry. And I'd bring girls bouquets of flowers, and write them long letters about what I felt to be their best qualities and detailed reasons how they made life worth living just by subtle movements they made, or facial expressions and so on. And they would tell their friends about it, and their friends would say it was weird to do that kind of thing these days, and the other boys that wanted the girls would say that what I was doing was faggot stuff, and the girls would agree and go with them. Then those girls all became teenage mothers with drug problems. So I figured that idealizing women was a deadend road. So I started writing poems that many people say make no sense. And I can't really say I love any of my poems, or any poems by anybody else. I sat and thought of any one poem, and couldn't do it. The closest thing I can figure would be good for this thread is the poem that keeps coming back to mind the most by Walt Whitman that goes

Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)

I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,

You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,

You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return,

I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

I don't often read poems critically unless that's what's wanted. So most of these famous poems, I simply accept. Because the poet isn't going to revise them, and I wouldn't want them to, even if I didn't like the poem.

Another thing about those boys that got all the women, I remember they would use poems like "She Walks in Beauty" to describe her, because they learned that poem in school. It was a famous, legitimate poem; opposed to any poem I'd specifically made about the girl. All the women I've known since have all tended to go for men that abuse them and lie to them and that wouldn't know how to write a poem. I think I know where I went wrong, I should have wrote them the poems and letters about how much I loved them, then lied about it all. That's what girls tend to get excited about. So Rose Love, it doesn't pay to be a sensitive man.
There is no guarantee that a man who writes poetry is any more or less sensitive than any other man, nor any more or less prone to violence and abuse -- simply that he writes poetry and others do not.

My great loves in poetry are the metaphysicals, especially John Donne.

by John Donne

I am two fools, I know,
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry ;
But where's that wise man, that would not be I,
If she would not deny ?
Then as th' earth's inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water's fretful salt away,
I thought, if I could draw my pains
Through rhyme's vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,
Some man, his art and voice to show,
Doth set and sing my pain ;
And, by delighting many, frees again
Grief, which verse did restrain.
To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when 'tis read.
Both are increasèd by such songs,
For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.
i enjoyed all the ones put up so far. though i do prefer happier ones than sad Big Grin sorry jack.

here's one of my all time faves which is think is underrated. whether you a kid or an adult you get it. you know the tranquillity is going to burst into blood and snot, you know not to run your finger down that vorpal blade less you want the fucker cutting off. i love it.

by Lewis Caroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal blade in hand;

Long time the manxome foe he sought-

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood a while in thought
And, as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!"

He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogroves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.
I love hearing Carroll's poems read aloud, much more than I enjoy reading them in private. Good actors can do wonderful things with the JabberwockySmile

If this isn't my favourite poem it's in the top three, if only for verses two, five and six.

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun - by Emily Dickinson

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him -
The Mountains straight reply -

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through -

And when at Night - Our good Day done -
I guard My Master's Head -
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow - to have shared -

To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

Though I than He - may longer live
He longer must - than I -
For I have but the power to kill,
Without - the power to die -
she does a great job of anthropomorphism on the rifle or shotgun.
as you know, i'm not too keen on old emily but

To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

is a great stanza, not sure about all the -'s
Here's another one I really love.

The Other Side of the Sky

When God was waiting
to be invented, the sky
was thinner. You
could have touched it,
then turned away
without the fear of being seen,
gone back
to your father's house
where everything was quiet.
Perhaps the moon shone
on a mountain lake.
Animals and heroes
were the shapes the stars made
long before you heard the stories
meant to explain them.
And when you asked
your father about the sky --
if there was another side
to it, if there was an end --
he said you'd know
how to think about it
when you had to.
And you believed him.
Of all the lies
you carried with you, that one
hurt the most to leave behind.

Stephen Dunn & Lawrence Raab
Whilst I also share a love of a fine selection of the clasics, and amongst these I could perhaps select something more worthy than what i'm about to offer. (I did breifly consider posting John Betjemen's Shropshire lad, but then my taste in poetry is so eclectic that it did not feel right to profile one style or poet as prefered to another...I just couldn't choose)
For me some of my best loved memories are from reading to the kids at bedtime. Mostly childrens nonsense rhyme by Edward lear and other fun poetry that we used instead of the dire selection of modern bedtime stories, such as Post man Pat!
Amongst our favourites were Little red ridding hood & also The three little pigs by Roald Dahl. (And we loved Lewis Carol's Jabberwocky as well)
But I think top of the kids' list was A Bad Week for the Three Bears by Tony Bradman, illustrated by Jenny Williams. It was read out at least once a week for several years)
Although this would not pass much muster in the serious critique board... (perhaps in doggeral), it has managed to shine a light into our family that has helped to keep us sane through 7yrs of things being pants (Devonshire for rubbish). Whenever things looked like they were finally going belly up....we would look at each other and chime the refrain from the book "The rest of the week wasn't too bad....except that it started to rain and junior said....." (after which we would fit some doggeral rhyme about our situation in). So for outstanding service in difficult circumstances it deserves to be in at least my top 20.
I'd say those are all excellent examples of poems you love -- mostly because I love them too Smile Not to mention Pam Ayres (I had a cassette!) and Spike Milligan.

Granny by Spike Milligan

Through every nook and every cranny
The wind blew in on poor old Granny
Around her knees, into each ear
(And up nose as well, I fear)

All through the night the wind grew worse
It nearly made the vicar curse
The top had fallen off the steeple
Just missing him (and other people)

It blew on man, it blew on beast
It blew on nun, it blew on priest
It blew the wig off Auntie Fanny-
But most of all, it blew on Granny!

Yes, he was a witty devil. Wink

I was just looking for something quite different, when I came across this recording of 'Tarantella', in Belloc's own voice. It is nothing like the way I have always read it -privately, I think I am better -- but I thought I would put it up, just because of this sing-song way.

I see Celtic were knocked over by Aberdeen, that must have pleased all closet Gers supporters.....Wink

Your children were fortunate to have it introduced early -it seems quite a rarity nowadays -- and you were fortunate to have children who would go along with it!

I like Betjeman, and have 'Summoned by Bells'. He is quite easy to emulate, with that rather fussy, precise voice, and if you write about something quite beautiful, and then work in the 'Number 56 tram to Denmark Hill, or any place-name of your choice, in London, you are home and dry. But he did not write 'A Shropshire Lad'! How polite are Leanne and co, not pointing it out! Smile
I've heard that version of "Tarantella" as well... and I was decidedly unimpressed with boring old Hilaire!

I confess, I'm not familiar enough with either Betjeman or Housman to have picked up on the "Shropshire Lad" thing... I'm rather ambivalent about both poets but then, I'm sure plenty of people are ambivalent about some of my favourites as well Smile
Blush I had never realised this...I've always listened to John betjeman reading it out...and sort of assumed it was his as it seams to be everywhere and I had never heard mention of A E Housman (until I just looked it up). Like I said I do not follow any particular poet as such I just like a wide range of individual poems. So flunk the blond...I'm well used to it..."got it wrong again" will be inscribed on my tomb.
We've all done it at least once, don't worry Smile
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