Category: poetry

pablo neruda 100 love sonnets poetry spanish chile love relationships

Pablo Neruda — Poet Of The Day

Pablo Neruda — Poet Of The Day

I love Pablo Neruda because he’s real. Even his most famous poem: ‘I love without know how, nor when, nor from where’ is the most sugar-coated of all his work — it still doesn’t sound perfect.

His relationship with Matilde was very complex. He was married to his second wife when they met and they could not be together publicly until fifteen years later. He was already a public figure at this time, and she had a life of her own. She was an amazing woman who was the first ever female physical therapist in Chile. They both couldn’t go public with their affair and Neruda didn’t want to hurt his wife. He held off publishing his famous 100 love sonnets until years later.

pablo neruda 100 love sonnets poetry spanish chile love relationships

This poem is incredible. Oftentimes these ‘relationship goals’ we set for ourselves are unrealistic. Pablo Neruda paints a very real portrait of the complexities of connections between people.

I love that about his poetry. It shows how real life is. Nothing is so cut and dried, and nice and tidy, tied up with a bow. We always think we will meet our soul mate in the simplest way. But life can be messy. I hope you all meet the love of your life when you are willing and able to be with them. But it might not always work out that way. When things seem too complicated, just remember, Neruda wouldn’t have been able to give us this poetry if his life was easy and simple.

john ashbery some trees new york school poet poem poetry

John Ashbery

John Ashbery

Today’s poet of the day is John Ashbery, who passed away Sunday at age 90.

I am so sad I never got to meet him. He was one of my favourite poets of all time, and he’s the reason for my love of all New York School poetry.

john Ashbery’s poem ‘Some Trees‘ is one of the most amazing works of modern poetry. Although I talked about it in the linked post, I wanted to revisit this beautiful poem. I think they are different every time we read them.

john ashbery some trees new york school poet poem poetry

Someone asked me to read this poem at a wedding once. I had to say no, I don’t really believe this is a love poem. John Ashbery was very young when he wrote this, and instead of reflecting the blind idealism some associate with youth, this poem shows us a sense of disillusion. It’s almost as if he already knows that no matter how amazing something is, in the end reluctance always creeps in.

When I first read it, I thought this poem was about meeting someone who saw the world the same way you did. And I still think it is about that, only now I can’t help but think it is about settling as well. Eventually, no matter what a whirlwind something was, it all must settle down.

I’m sure in the future I will have a different interpretation for this poem, but in the mean time, share your thoughts with me.

Rest In Peace John Ashbery

on the beach at night walt whitman poetry poet view trees

On The Beach At Night

On The Beach At Night — Walt Whitman

Today’s poem of the day is Walt Whitman’s On The Beach At Night.

on the beach at night walt whitman poetry poet view trees

I probably should have taken this photo on the beach at night, but the light might not be too good :PPP

One of m favourite lines in poetry is found in this poem:

‘They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden
shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they
endure’

Lately, I’ve been thinking aout how we feel we’re not getting what we want, like we’re not even close. I’ve had that feeling a lot, and I always remember that I don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. Everything we get can be thrown away if we think it’s not what we want. Or we can take everything we receive with gratitude and trust that it is a component of something much greater. And we will see only in the future how it all comes together.

I love that about art. How it makes us think and puts our lives in perspective.

Later on in the poem Walt Whitman changes his tone and style of the poem. He goes on to say that there is something much greater than all the stars, planets, and moons. What do you think he was talking about?

richard wilbur death of a toad

richard wilbur

Richard Wilbur

Today’s poet of the day is out Poet Laureate from 1987, Richard Wilbur, and his poem The Death of a Toad.

richard wilbur death of a toad

When I first read this poem, my thought was that it is the original hashtag: white people problems. The poets of this literary period were interested with bringing back the formal structure of poetry. As I discussed in my post about Claude McKay, structure sends a big message regarding the poet’s attitude.

To me, this poem is a bit sarcastic. The obituary-like style of the poem is almost over the top. It’s like Richard Wilbur is making fun of the reader, or the person who ran the toad over with the lawn mower. This is what got me thinking about the trendy ‘hashtag: white people problems’ that swept the interwebs some time ago. Where the poets of previous generations wrote about injustice and prejudice, Richard Wilbur picked at the entitlement of the surging middle class. It just always struck me as a bit tongue-in-cheek the way Richard Wilbur described the scene. This person ran over a toad, and now, a whole eulogy ensues. I can’t think of a way to showcase his privilege more.

Let me know what you think!

langston hughes 513 anthology

Poet Of The Day — Langston Hughes

Poet Of The Day — Langston Hughes

Today’s poet and poem of the day is Langston Hughes, one of the cornerstone poets of the Harlem Renaissance.

langston hughes anthology 514 langston hughes 513 anthology

I’m a huge fan of the Harlem Renaissance movement in poetry. One of my earlier posts referenced Claude McKay and the meaning behind these poets’ style and choice of words. Langston Hughes is in a league of his own regarding style. He wrote gospel and jazz lyrics as well as long ballad poems. But perhaps the poems most indicative of the style of the movement were his poems like ‘To You,’ below.

This poem is classic Harlem Renaissance. The simple rhyme and the poem’s succinct method of delivery are key. The message is clearly a call-to-action for people who are sick of the oppression and injustice faced at the time (and unfortunately, to this day). With ‘Dinner Guest: Me’ just on the next page it’s almost a scoff by the publisher at how little has been done.

langston hughes anthology 516 to you

 

codinome beija flor in english

Codinome Beija flor

Codinome Beija flor

“If someone calls you hummingbird in the street, do not answer. Only I should be allowed to call you that.”

Although not technically a poem, the song of the day is Cazuza’s Codinome Beija Flor, or Codename, Hummingbird.

codinome beija flor in english

The song, and especially the line above, always spoke to me because people have called me a hummingbird before. I mean, the similarities are uncanny. As the smallest bird, the hummingbird is always just a few hours from starving to death because its’ metabolism is so fast. I have some experience in this area.

Cazuza’s sentence structure and the way he wove these lyrics together is especially beautiful, I’ll try my best to translate them.

 

‘What’s the point  of lying?
Or pretend to forgive?
What’s the point of being friends
The passion is gone.
Love is a funny coincidence
Our music will never play again

Why bother to figure out
Our hidden intentions?
The nectar we had between us
Was slowly dissipated
From flower to flower
Amoung my enemies
My hummingbird.

I protected your name out of love
Using the codename ‘hummingbird.’
If someone calls you hummingbird in the street, do not answer, never

Only I should be allowed
Into your icy ear
Whisper secrets that will melt you.
You dreamed while awake
In a way so as not to feel the pain
You would cry inside,
But pour out a generous love

You would cry inside,
But pour out a generous love.’

 

Ao my translation leaves something to be desired, but I hope the message is clear. I don’t speak Portuguese that well, so I’m sorry for any mistakes I made. It’s very difficult to translate Codinome Beija Flor because Cazuza’s lyrics are very complex. Combined with the music, this song is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. Please go and have a listen!

Sand and Foam Kahlil Gibran

Sand And Foam — Poem Of The Day

Sand And Foam — Poem Of The Day

Today’s poem of the day is Kahlil Gibran’s Sand and Foam.

Sand and Foam Kahlil Gibran

“I am forever walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam,
But the sea and the shore will remain.
Forever.”

I can’t retype the whole poem because it’s very long, but I love the above line. It is the very opening of the poem.

Recently I was talking with someone about the psychology behind wanting to leave a footprint in the world. People have many different fears, but I think the greatest is being forgotten. It is not so much that people want to be famous, or be revered, as they want to leave their mark. Human psychology and fears are fascinating to me. Why do we fear being forgotten? When discussing this poem specifically, I argued that people who fear being forgotten aren’t truly confident in their purpose in life. Sand and Foam is all about leaving behind something, just so it can be wiped away, like a Mandala. The practice of this really forces us to learn that what is most important is within us all the time. A lesson I need to re-learn constantly.

I have another favourite quote from Sand and Foam:

“It takes two of us to discover truth: one to utter it and one to understand it.”

Completely unrelated to the above, it means we have to really listen to grasp the meaning of something. And it also harks back to the concept of ‘is something real if we don’t believe it;’ something I talked about in-depth in this post.

Kahlil Gibran goes on to say that we are present in everything. The universe is comprised of all of us. Maybe this is what our lives mean after all.

John Ashbery Some Trees

Poem of The Day — Some Trees

Poem Of The Day — Some Trees

The poem of the day is one of my favourites of all time: Some Trees, by John Ashbery.

John Ashbery Some Trees

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.

 

John Ashbery was a member of the New York School along with Frank O’Hara (Lunch Poems) and many others. This movement popped up around the same time as The Beats movement was happening in San Francisco. While The Beats poets were very fiery and passionate, New York School poets were a little more detached, less emotional.

They were heavily influenced by Imagism; their poetry used all the senses to connect the images in the poem. They used symbolism, association, and narrative to link one word with the next.

Some Trees is my favourite because not a word is wasted here.

The lines that stand out the most are:

‘To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try’

What does he mean by this? It’s very complex, yet every word is linked. My opinion is that they both share a view on the world that maybe isn’t mainstream. And it was through this ‘rebellion’ that they met and fell in love.

Someone asked me to read this poem at a wedding, but I had to decline because it isn’t a very good love poem. The last lines speak to this:

‘Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.’

 

I’ll leave it up to you to try to figure out what he meant ;))

rilke

POEM OF THE DAY – RILKE

POEM OF THE DAY – RILKE

rilke

RILKE the German poet is today’s poem of the day.

‘I’m not sure yet when
you’ll have my response.
But, listen: a rake at work this early.
Above, alone, in the vineyard, a man
is already talking with the earth.’

(Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann translation)

 

This poem is almost imagist, reminding me of the likes of William Carlos Williams, where painting a picture with the simplest language is important.

Whenever we discussed poetry in any of my classes, our professors made us dissect every word and piece of punctuation. In the case of Rilke it is vital. I usually hate reading translated poems because I feel like I’m reading the translators’ take on it. This poem is so short however, that it’s pretty easy to guess what the German version says. Since German language is vastly different from English, the punctuation really drives home the point.

The third line especially: ‘I don’t know when you’ll have my answer, but listen…’ could it be that the answer is already out there? Or you already know it?

What do you guys think is the Antwort?

poem of the day

Poem Of The Day

Poem Of The Day

poem of the day

I’ve written about this poem before, and my post can be found here. I feel very strongly about this issue. It pertains to our current struggle today with racism and the systematic killing of African-Americans.

When we discussed Claude McKay’s poem ‘If We Must Die,’ our professor brought up an interesting point about the line ‘O Kinsmen.’

Why did he choose such a phrase? Was he talking to his peers? People who were like him in some way? We argued that no, he wasn’t; he was talking to us. The line “O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe” is directed towards all of us, all the people in the world, who have a moral obligation to stand up when an injustice occurs. The common foe is racism, hatred, and narrow-mindedness.

The poem is a classic Shakespearean Sonnet. African-Americans in the 1920s were not very well-versed in Shakespeare. But white people were. When we discussed this poem, we came to the conclusion that this sonnet was not written to rile up other black people; it was written to rile up “us,” the “others.”

Poem of the Day is another series I wanted to start, discussing poetry and its’ meanings. Please leave me a comment about what you think of all this, and I hope it inspires you in some way!