Valuable poetry: My heart leaps up by William Wordsworth.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die …

This simple nine-line poem describes how the poet is filled with joy when he sees a rainbow, and how he hopes he will always keep that sense of enchantment with the natural world. The poem contains Wordsworth’s famous declaration, ‘The Child is father of the Man’, highlighting how important childhood experience was to the Romantics in helping to shape the human beings they became in adult life.

SOURCE: https://interestingliterature.com/2018/07/10-of-the-best-poems-by-english-romantic-poets/

With respect.

Valuable poetry: “There Will Come Soft Rain” by Sara Teasdale.

I rushed myself to write every day. I took in a both good and bad attitude and mind-set. But I would like to be stable/broad and moreover in a sequential too. Started having bad memory too. I must take care. Over the last two weeks, I forgot and missed to post it. But I still love to post it today.

ABOUT THE POET:

Sara Teasdale

American poet.

Sara Teasdale, in full Sara Trevor Teasdale, (born August 8, 1884, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.—died January 29, 1933, New York, New York), American poet whose short, personal lyrics were noted for their classical simplicity and quiet intensity.

Teasdale was educated privately and made frequent trips to Chicago, where she eventually became part of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine circle. Her first published poem appeared in the St. Louis, Missouri, weekly Reedy’s Mirror in May 1907, and later that year she published her first volume of verse, Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems. A second volume, Helen of Troy, and Other Poems, followed in 1911. She married in 1914 (having rejected another suitor, the poet Vachel Lindsay), and in 1915 her third collection of poems, Rivers to the Sea, was published. She moved with her husband to New York City in 1916. In 1918 she won the Columbia University Poetry Society prize (forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry) and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America for Love Songs (1917). During this time she also edited two anthologies, The Answering Voice: One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women (1917), and Rainbow Gold for Children (1922).

Teasdale’s poems are consistently classical in style. She wrote technically excellent, pure, openhearted lyrics usually in such conventional verse forms as quatrains or sonnets. Her growth as a poet is nonetheless evident in Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon (1926), and Stars To-night (1930). The poems in these collections evince an increasing subtlety and economy of expression. Teasdale’s marriage ended in divorce in 1929, and she lived thereafter the life of a semi-invalid. In 1933, in frail health after a recent bout of pneumonia, she took her own life with an overdose of barbiturates. Her last and perhaps finest collection of verse, Strange Victory, was published later that year. Her Collected Poems appeared in 1937.

There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,

And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one

Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

https://commaful.com/play/sydney/there-will-come-soft-rain/

Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sara-Teasdale

This poetry has taken from Medium.com 31 of the Best and Most Famous Short Classic Poems Of All Time.

With respect.

VALUABLE POETRY: Face To Face by Rabindranath Tagore.

This poetry supposed to post on day before yesterday. I forgot badly. All right, I still wanna post it.

ABOUT THE POET:

https://cdn.britannica.com/s:700×500/48/134948-050-10E316E2/Rabindranath-Tagore.jpg

Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali Rabīndranāth Ṭhākur, (born May 7, 1861, Calcutta [now Kolkata], India—died August 7, 1941, Calcutta), Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, and painter who introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of early 20th-century India. In 1913 he became the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Day after day, O lord of my life,
shall I stand before thee face to face.
With folded hands, O lord of all worlds,
shall I stand before thee face to face.

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence,
with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face.

In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil
and with struggle, among hurrying crowds
shall I stand before thee face to face.

And when my work shall be done in this world,
O King of kings, alone and speechless
shall I stand before thee face to face.

SOURCE: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/face-to-face/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rabindranath-Tagore

With respect.

Valuable poetry: “The World Is Too Much with Us” – William Wordsworth.

About the poet:

https://media.poetryfoundation.org/uploads/media/default/0001/16/34de255b59e296bc2233879e044bdca257f8b21c.jpeg?w=1274&h=&fit=max&1274

William Wordsworth

1770–1850

On April 7, 1770, William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumbria, England. Wordsworth’s mother died when he was eight—this experience shapes much of his later work. Wordsworth attended Hawkshead Grammar School, where his love of poetry was firmly established and, it is believed, he made his first attempts at verse. While he was at Hawkshead, Wordsworth’s father died leaving him and his four siblings orphans. After Hawkshead, Wordsworth studied at St. John’s College in Cambridge and before his final semester, he set out on a walking tour of Europe, an experience that influenced both his poetry and his political sensibilities. While touring Europe, Wordsworth came into contact with the French Revolution. This experience as well as a subsequent period living in France, brought about Wordsworth’s interest and sympathy for the life, troubles, and speech of the “common man.” These issues proved to be of the utmost importance to Wordsworth’s work. Wordsworth’s earliest poetry was published in 1793 in the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. While living in France, Wordsworth conceived a daughter, Caroline, out of wedlock; he left France, however, before she was born. In 1802, he returned to France with his sister on a four-week visit to meet Caroline. Later that year, he married Mary Hutchinson, a childhood friend, and they had five children together. In 1812, while living in Grasmere, two of their children—Catherine and John—died.

Equally important in the poetic life of Wordsworth was his 1795 meeting with the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was with Coleridge that Wordsworth published the famous Lyrical Ballads (J. & A. Arch) in 1798. While the poems themselves are some of the most influential in Western literature, it is the preface to the second edition that remains one of the most important testaments to a poet’s views on both his craft and his place in the world. In the preface Wordsworth writes on the need for “common speech” within poems and argues against the hierarchy of the period which valued epic poetry above the lyric.

Wordsworth’s most famous work, The Prelude (Edward Moxon, 1850), is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of English romanticism. The poem, revised numerous times, chronicles the spiritual life of the poet and marks the birth of a new genre of poetry. Although Wordsworth worked on The Prelude throughout his life, the poem was published posthumously. Wordsworth spent his final years settled at Rydal Mount in England, travelling and continuing his outdoor excursions. Devastated by the death of his daughter Dora in 1847, Wordsworth seemingly lost his will to compose poems. William Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850, leaving his wife Mary to publish The Prelude three months later.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

An Evening Walk (1793)
Descriptive Sketches (1793)
Borders (1795)
Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey (1798)
Lyrical Ballads (J. & A. Arch, 1798)
Upon Westminster Bridge (1801)
Intimations of Immortality (1806)
Miscellaneous Sonnets (1807)
Poems I-II (1807)
The Excursion (1814)
The White Doe of Rylstone (1815)
Peter Bell (1819)
The Waggoner (1819)
The River Duddon (1820)
Ecclesiastical Sketches (1822)
Memorials of a Tour of the Continent (1822)
Yarrow Revisited (1835)
The Prelude Or Growth of a Poet’s Mind (Edward Moxon, 1850)
The Recluse (1888)
The Poetical Works (1949)
Selected Poems (1959)
Complete Poetical Works (1971)
Poems (1977)

Prose

Prose Works (1896)
Literary Criticism (1966)
Letters of Dorothy and William Wordsworth (1967)
Letters of the Wordsworth Family (1969)
Prose Works (1974)
The Love Letters of William and Mary Wordsworth (1981)

Essays

Essay Upon Epitaphs (1810).

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

5. “She Walks in Beauty” – Lord Byron

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!

SOURCE: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/best-famous-poems-ever-written

https://poets.org/poet/william-wordsworth

With respect.

Valuable poetry: “Holy Sonnet 10: Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne (1572-1631)

https://classicalpoets.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/donne.jpg

About the poet:

John Donne (born January 22, 1572 – died March 31, 1631) shifted dramatically in his life: The early Donne was the passionate lover and rebel of sense; the later Donne, a man consumed with his own spiritual journey and search for truth.

Donne is known as the first and greatest of metaphysical poets—those of a genre in which “the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions,” as essayist and critic Samuel Johnson put it.

Here, Donne has taken a Romantic form and transformed a transcendental struggle of life and death into a quiet ending, one in which death “shall be no more.”

Where Johnson spied cumbersome force, Donne’s style dazzles with soft and calm brilliance, even in the cascade of calumnies against the great “equalizer” Death. “Fate, chance, kings and desperate men” are yoked together, not in bondage but in freedom, in their power to inflict and manipulate death at will. The panorama of life and legacy has overcome death time and again, yet Donne expounds the expansive exploitation of death in one verse.

It is the will of man that triumphs over the cessation of life, the will to believe in what cannot be seen, to dismiss “poor death” as mere “pictures” compared to the substance of life infused with the Spirit.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

No bragging rights for Death, according to the poet, who in the first two lines of his sonnet denounces in apostrophe the end of life, “not proud,” “not so.”

“Mighty and dreadful,” two weighty terms, do not belong nor confer any majesty on death. “Thou are not so.” A simple statement, a certain indictment, and the poet has dispensed with Death, who is ponderous, no preposterous for the previous fears His presence has impressed on mankind.

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow?
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

In this neat conceit, Death himself is fooled, limited by the surface. “Thou think’st thou dost overthrow,” the monarch of destruction is an impoverished exile, removed forever more from the room of imperious prominence. “Poor death” is now the object of pity, the last enemy that will be thrown into the lake of fire.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

The poet compares death not to a savage desecration, nor a fatal, final battle, but instead an extension of any easy rest, one from which a man receives “much pleasure.” ”Rest and sleep” as “pictures,” the poet condescendingly remarks, bring death into the secondary status of demeaning dimension. Men’s bones receive a welcome respite, and their soul the final delivery from this earth. Death has nothing to brag about, for death is put in comparison with rest, with sleep, with regenerative silence. Death does not catch the prey of frail men, but instead sets men free, and without fail.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well?
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

Here, death as deemed a slave, a unique trope, one, which the poet fashions with wit and wisdom. “Fate” is far greater the force than the end of life which menaces many men. “Chance” is a game, a mere trifle, a toy which men gamble with, whether ending their fortunes or their lives. “Kings” put evil rebels, madmen, and threats to the state, to death. No one escapes the justice, the rule, the righteousness of the king, who even in passing, his dynasty passes on: “The King is dead. Long live the King!” is proclaimed from death to life, where the children of yesteryear become the rulers of today and the progenitors of the future. Death, mere bystander, ushers in the transitions of power.

As for the company of death, the poet outlines simply “poison,” natural or otherwise, which can slay a man in minutes or in hours. Poisons which have ended kings and queens, eradicated vermin and other pestilences, even drugs which prosper and prolong life began as poisons which in improper doses kill, and quickly.

Whether the vain ragings of craven men or glory on the battlefields, “war” covers a range of reigns and rights, ponderings and possibilities. Death is not even a scavenger, but a frustrated element pushed to the limit, expected to do the bidding of the common folk and the ruling elite, the final weapon which man overcomes even in being overcome.  In war, where men die for country, they live forever in the memory of their countrymen, mocking Death who has aided their eternity.

“Sickness” is the necessary pause for men who cannot contain their passions, for the growing race of human beings who run the race with no thought to running out. Sickness is the crucial agent that brings a long and much-needed arrest to those who inflict harm on their bodies, who resist the bounds of natural appetite. Sickness also is the final sign, the moments when a man who departs knows well that his time is short, and so the stultifying stops of pains and coughs at least buy him time to say “good-bye.”

“Poppy or charms can make us sleep as well.” “As well” communicates “in comparison” and “in addition,” gaily sporting with the super-abounding grace of nature’s wonders, which man has contrived to ease his pain and quicken his rest. “Poppy” is a joyful word, a colorful, childlike flower winding away with careless wonder in the wind. “Charms,” whether magical or romantic, are bewitching and bewailing, at least for the one who has fallen beneath their spell. Sometimes, the simple charm of a smiling face suffices more, traced with the soft face of a poppy gladly handed to a loved one. And so, Death is outdone once again!

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

“Sleep” appears again, but not in conjunction with rest; instead, rest leads to life eternal, where man will no longer need to rest, fashioned as he will be in a body that does not age, that will never flag or fail, Donne decrees. Death is further impoverished, ruined, left desolate. Man in eternal life witnesses death succumbing to himself. “Death shall be no more,” the poet proudly yet dulcetly declares, not even bothering to speak to death. So certain, so final, so enriched with vigor, the poet then whispers, yet loudly of the import of the paradox: “Death, thou shalt die.”

Death dies, or is Death dying? What a wicked end, the poet has mocked, derided, denounced, and diminished death into a cruel joke, a maxim which maximizes the power of the man reborn, trusting in a higher power to infuse him with eternal life, forever inoculating him from the subtleties of war, poison, and sickness all. Fate is fated to disappear, chance has become certainty, kings of limited renown are dethroned, and desperate men now hope. “Death, thou shalt die.” Death is now bereft of pride, like a witless cowboy who has shot himself in the foot, powerless and wounded, and by his own stroke.

Donne indeed has done and dispensed with Death, and mortal man evermore may rejoice!

Arthur Christopher Schaper is an author and teacher who lives in Torrance, CA. He writes several blogs including Schaper’s Corner.

Originally published on The Epoch Times.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Meaning of the Poem

Death is a perennial subject of fear and despair. But, this sonnet seems to say that it need not be this way. The highly focused attack on Death’s sense of pride uses a grocery list of rhetorical attacks: First, sleep, which is the closest human experience to death, is actually quite nice. Second, all great people die sooner or later and the process of death could be viewed as joining them. Third, Death is under the command of higher authorities such as fate, which controls accidents, and kings, who wage wars; from this perspective, Death seems no more than a pawn in a larger chess game within the universe. Fourth, Death must associate with some unsavory characters: “poison, wars, and sickness.” Yikes! They must make unpleasant coworkers! (You can almost see Donne laughing as he wrote this.) Fifth, “poppy and charms” (drugs) can do the sleep job as well as Death or better. Death, you’re fired!

The sixth, most compelling, and most serious reason is that if one truly believes in a soul then Death is really nothing to worry about. The soul lives eternally and this explains line 4, when Donne says that Death can’t kill him. If you recognize the subordinate position of the body in the universe and identify more fully with your soul, then you can’t be killed in an ordinary sense. Further, this poem is so great because of its universal application. Fear of death is so natural an instinct and Death itself so all-encompassing and inescapable for people, that the spirit of this poem and applicability of it extends to almost any fear or weakness of character that one might have. Confronting, head on, such a fear or weakness, as Donne has done here, allows human beings to transcend their condition and their perception of Death, more fully perhaps than one might through art by itself—as many poets from this top ten list seem to say—since the art may or may not survive may or may not be any good, but the intrinsic quality of one’s soul lives eternally. Thus, Donne leaves a powerful lesson to learn from: confront what you fear head on and remember that there is nothing to fear on earth if you believe in a soul.

Source: https://classicalpoets.org/2013/01/31/poetry-analysis-death-be-not-proud-by-john-donne/

Please search; classicalpoets.org 10 greatest poem ever written.

With respect.

Valuable poetry: “The Tiger” by William Blake (1757-1827)

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About the poet:

William Blake was born in London on November 28, 1757, to James, a hosier, and Catherine Blake. Two of his six siblings died in infancy. From early childhood, Blake spoke of having visions—at four he saw God “put his head to the window”; around age nine, while walking through the countryside, he saw a tree filled with angels. Although his parents tried to discourage him from “lying,” they did observe that he was different from his peers and did not force him to attend conventional school. He learned to read and write at home. At age ten, Blake expressed a wish to become a painter, so his parents sent him to drawing school. Two years later, Blake began writing poetry. When he turned fourteen, he apprenticed with an engraver because art school proved too costly. One of Blake’s assignments as apprentice was to sketch the tombs at Westminster Abbey, exposing him to a variety of Gothic styles from which he would draw inspiration throughout his career. After his seven-year term ended, he studied briefly at the Royal Academy.

In 1782, he married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. Blake taught her to read and to write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today; the couple had no children. In 1784 he set up a printshop with a friend and former fellow apprentice, James Parker, but this venture failed after several years. For the remainder of his life, Blake made a meager living as an engraver and illustrator for books and magazines. In addition to his wife, Blake also began training his younger brother Robert in drawing, painting, and engraving. Robert fell ill during the winter of 1787 and succumbed, probably to consumption. As Robert died, Blake saw his brother’s spirit rise up through the ceiling, “clapping its hands for joy.” He believed that Robert’s spirit continued to visit him and later claimed that in a dream Robert taught him the printing method that he used in Songs of Innocence and other “illuminated” works.

Blake’s first printed work, Poetical Sketches (1783), is a collection of apprentice verse, mostly imitating classical models. The poems protest against war, tyranny, and King George III’s treatment of the American colonies. He published his most popular collection, Songs of Innocence, in 1789 and followed it, in 1794, with Songs of Experience. Some readers interpret Songs of Innocence in a straightforward fashion, considering it primarily a children’s book, but others have found hints at parody or critique in its seemingly naive and simple lyrics. Both books of Songs were printed in an illustrated format reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts. The text and illustrations were printed from copper plates, and each picture was finished by hand in watercolors.

Blake was a nonconformist who associated with some of the leading radical thinkers of his day, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. In defiance of 18th-century neoclassical conventions, he privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” Works such as “The French Revolution” (1791), “America, a Prophecy” (1793), “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” (1793), and “Europe, a Prophecy” (1794) express his opposition to the English monarchy, and to 18th-century political and social tyranny in general. Theological tyranny is the subject of The Book of Urizen (1794). In the prose work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), he satirized oppressive authority in church and state, as well as the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish philosopher whose ideas once attracted his interest.

In 1800 Blake moved to the seacoast town of Felpham, where he lived and worked until 1803 under the patronage of William Hayley. He taught himself Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian, so that he could read classical works in their original language. In Felpham he experienced profound spiritual insights that prepared him for his mature work, the great visionary epics written and etched between about 1804 and 1820. Milton (1804-08), Vala, or The Four Zoas (1797; rewritten after 1800), and Jerusalem (1804-20) have neither traditional plot, characters, rhyme, nor meter. They envision a new and higher kind of innocence, the human spirit triumphant over reason.

Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. In 1808 he exhibited some of his watercolors at the Royal Academy, and in May of 1809 he exhibited his works at his brother James’s house. Some of those who saw the exhibit praised Blake’s artistry, but others thought the paintings “hideous” and more than a few called him insane. Blake’s poetry was not well known by the general public, but he was mentioned in A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland, published in 1816. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had been lent a copy of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, considered Blake a “man of Genius,” and Wordsworth made his own copies of several songs. Charles Lamb sent a copy of “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Innocence to James Montgomery for his Chimney-Sweeper’s Friend, and Climbing Boys’ Album (1824), and Robert Southey (who, like Wordsworth, considered Blake insane) attended Blake’s exhibition and included the “Mad Song” from Poetical Sketches in his miscellany, The Doctor (1834-1837).

Blake’s final years, spent in great poverty, were cheered by the admiring friendship of a group of younger artists who called themselves “the Ancients.” In 1818 he met John Linnell, a young artist who helped him financially and also helped to create new interest in his work. It was Linnell who, in 1825, commissioned him to design illustrations for Dante‘s Divine Comedy, the cycle of drawings that Blake worked on until his death in 1827.

Tiger Tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Meaning of the Poem

This poem contemplates a question arising from the idea of creation by an intelligent creator. The question is this: If there is a loving, compassionate God or gods who created human beings and whose great powers exceed the comprehension of human beings, as many major religions hold, then why would such a powerful being allow evil into the world. Evil here is represented by a tiger that might, should you be strolling in the Indian or Chinese wild in the 1700s, have leapt out and killed you. What would have created such a dangerous and evil creature? How could it possibly be the same divine blacksmith who created a cute harmless fluffy lamb or who created Jesus, also known as the “Lamb of God” (which the devoutly Christian Blake was probably also referring to here). To put it another way, why would such a divine blacksmith create beautiful innocent children and then also allow such children to be slaughtered. The battery of questions brings this mystery to life with lavish intensity.

Does Blake offer an answer to this question of evil from a good God? It would seem not on the surface. But, this wouldn’t be a great poem if it were really that open ended. The answer comes in the way that Blake explains the question. Blake’s language peels away the mundane world and offers a look at the super-reality to which poets are privy. We fly about in “forests of the night” through “distant deeps or skies” looking for where the fire in the tiger’s eye was taken from by the Creator. This is the reality of expanded time, space, and perception that Blake so clearly elucidates elsewhere with the lines “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” (“Auguries of Innocence”). This indirectly tells us that the reality that we ordinarily know and perceive is really insufficient, shallow, and deceptive. Where we perceive the injustice of the wild tiger something else entirely may be transpiring. What we ordinarily take for truth may really be far from it: a thought that is scary, yet also sublime or beautiful—like the beautiful and fearsome tiger. Thus, this poem is great because it concisely and compellingly presents a question that still plagues humanity today, as well as a key clue to the answer.

SOURCE: https://poets.org/poet/william-blake

Please search; classicalpoets.org 10 greatest poem ever written.

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Valuable Poetry: “On His Blindness” by John Milton (1608-1674)

https://classicalpoets.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/milton.jpg

ABOUT THE POET:

John Milton (Born December 9, 1608 – died November 8, 1674) was an English poet of the late Renaissance period. He is most noted for his epic poem on the fall of Satan and Adam and Eve’s ejection from the Garden of Eden, Paradise Lost, which he composed after having gone blind. He studied at Cambridge University and was proficient in Latin, Greek, and Italian.  His Puritan faith and opposition to the Church of England led to his involvement in the English Civil War. After the ascension of the Puritan general and parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell over the Commonwealth of England, Milton was given a high position, making him essentially head propagandist.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Meaning of the Poem

This poem deals with one’s limitations and shortcomings in life. Everyone has them and Milton’s blindness is a perfect example of this. His eyesight gradually worsened and he became totally blind at the age of 42. This happened after he served in an eminent position under Oliver Cromwell’s revolutionary Puritan government in England. To put it simply, Milton rose to the highest position an English writer might at the time and then sank all the way down to a state of being unable read or write on his own. How pathetic!

The genius of this poem comes in the way that Milton transcends the misery he feels. First, he frames himself, not as an individual suffering or lonely, but as a failed servant to the Creator: God. While Milton is disabled, God here is enabled through imagery of a king commanding thousands. This celestial monarch, his ministers and troops, and his kingdom itself are invisible to human eyes anyway, so already Milton has subtly undone much of his failing by subverting the necessity for human vision. More straightforwardly, through the voice of Patience, Milton explains that serving the celestial monarch only requires bearing those hardships, which really aren’t that bad (he calls them “mild”) that life has burdened you with (like a “yoke” put on an ox). This grand mission from heaven may be as simple as standing and waiting, having patience, and understanding the order of the universe. Thus, this is a great poem because Milton has not only dispelled sadness over a major shortcoming in life but also shown how the shortcoming is itself imbued with an extraordinary and uplifting purpose.

SOURCE: https://classicalpoets.org/2016/01/07/10-greatest-poems-ever-written/

With respect.

Valuable poetry: Power by Audre Lorde.

ABOUT THE POET:

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A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Lorde was born in New York City to West Indian immigrant parents. She attended Catholic schools before graduating from Hunter High School and published her first poem in Seventeen magazine while still a student there. Of her poetic beginnings Lorde commented in Black Women Writers: “I used to speak in poetry. I would read poems, and I would memorize them. People would say, well what do you think, Audre. What happened to you yesterday? And I would recite a poem and somewhere in that poem would be a line or a feeling I would be sharing. In other words, I literally communicated through poetry. And when I couldn’t find the poems to express the things I was feeling, that’s what started me writing poetry, and that was when I was twelve or thirteen.”

Lorde earned her BA from Hunter College and MLS from Columbia University. She was a librarian in the New York public schools throughout the 1960s. She had two children with her husband, Edward Rollins, a white, gay man, before they divorced in 1970. In 1972, Lorde met her long-time partner, Frances Clayton. She also began teaching as poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College. Her experiences with teaching and pedagogy—as well as her place as a Black, queer woman in white academia—went on to inform her life and work. Indeed, Lorde’s contributions to feminist theory, critical race studies, and queer theory intertwine her personal experiences with broader political aims. Lorde articulated early on the intersections of race, class, and gender in canonical essays such as “The Master’s Tools Will Not Dismantle the Master’s House.”

Lorde’s early collections of poetry include The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), and From a Land Where Other People Live (1972), which was nominated for a National Book Award. Later works, including New York Head Shop and Museum (1974), Coal (1976), and The Black Unicorn (1978), included powerful poems of protest. “I have a duty,” Lorde once stated, “to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.” Lorde’s later poems were often assembled from personal journals. Explaining the genesis of “Power,” a poem about the police shooting of a ten-year-old black child, Lorde discussed her feelings when she learned that the officer involved had been acquitted: “A kind of fury rose up in me; the sky turned red. I felt so sick. I felt as if I would drive this car into a wall, into the next person I saw. So I pulled over. I took out my journal just to air some of my fury, to get it out of my fingertips. Those expressed feelings are that poem.”

Her poetry, and “indeed all of her writing,” according to contributor Joan Martin in Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, “rings with passion, sincerity, perception, and depth of feeling.” Concerned with modern society’s tendency to categorize groups of people, Lorde fought the marginalization of such categories as “lesbian” and “black woman.” She was central to many liberation movements and activist circles, including second-wave feminism, civil rights and Black cultural movements, and struggles for GLBQT equality. In particular, Lorde’s poetry is known for the power of its call for social and racial justice, as well as its depictions of queer experience and sexuality. As she told interviewer Charles H. Rowell in Callaloo: “My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds… [White, arch-conservative senator] Jesse Helms’s objection to my work is not about obscenity … or even about sex. It is about revolution and change.”

Lorde was a noted prose writer as well as poet. Her account of her struggle to overcome breast cancer and mastectomy, The Cancer Journals (1980), is regarded as a major work of illness narrative. In The Cancer Journals, Lorde confronts the possibility of death. Recounting this personal transformation led Lorde to address the silence surrounding cancer, illness, and the lived experience of women. For example, Lorde explained her decision not to wear a prosthesis after undergoing a mastectomy in the Journals: “Prosthesis offers the empty comfort of ‘Nobody will know the difference.’ But it is that very difference which I wish to affirm, because I have lived it, and survived it, and wish to share that strength with other women. If we are to translate the silence surrounding breast cancer into language and action against this scourge, then the first step is that women with mastectomies must become visible to each other.”

Lorde’s 1982 novel, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, was described by its publishers as a “biomythography, combining elements of history, biography and myth.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984) collected Lorde’s nonfiction prose and has become a canonical text in Black studies, women’s studies, and queer theory. Another posthumous collection of essays, A Burst of Light (1988), won the National Book Award. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde was published in 1997.

In 1981 Lorde and fellow writer Barbara Smith founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, which was dedicated to furthering the writings of black feminists. Lorde would also become increasingly concerned over the plight of black women in South Africa under apartheid, creating Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa and remaining an active voice on behalf of these women throughout the remainder of her life. Lorde addressed her concerns to not only the United States but the world, encouraging a celebration of the differences that society instead used as tools of isolation. As Allison Kimmich noted in Feminist Writers, “Throughout all of Audre Lorde’s writing, both nonfiction and fiction, a single theme surfaces repeatedly. The black lesbian feminist poet activist reminds her readers that they ignore differences among people at their peril … Instead, Lorde suggests, differences in race or class must serve as a ‘reason for celebration and growth.’”

Lorde’s honors and awards included a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A professor of English at John Jay College and Hunter College, Lorde was poet laureate of New York from 1991-1992. Warrior Poet (2006), by Alexis De Veaux, is the first full-length biography of Audre Lorde.

POWER.

The difference between poetry and rhetoric

is being ready to kill

yourself

instead of your children.

 

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds

and a dead child dragging his shattered black

face off the edge of my sleep

blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders

is the only liquid for miles

and my stomach

churns at the imagined taste while

my mouth splits into dry lips

without loyalty or reason

thirsting for the wetness of his blood

as it sinks into the whiteness

of the desert where I am lost

without imagery or magic

trying to make power out of hatred and destruction

trying to heal my dying son with kisses

only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.

 

A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens

stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood

and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and

there are tapes to prove it. At his trial

this policeman said in his own defense

“I didn’t notice the size nor nothing else

only the color”. And

there are tapes to prove that, too.

 

Today that 37 year old white man

with 13 years of police forcing

was set free

by eleven white men who said they were satisfied

justice had been done

and one Black Woman who said

“They convinced me” meaning

they had dragged her 4’10” black Woman’s frame

over the hot coals

of four centuries of white male approval

until she let go

the first real power she ever had

and lined her own womb with cement

to make a graveyard for our children.

 

I have not been able to touch the destruction

within me.

But unless I learn to use

the difference between poetry and rhetoric

my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold

or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire

and one day I will take my teenaged plug

and connect it to the nearest socket

raping an 85 year old white woman

who is somebody’s mother

and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed

a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time

“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

 

Audre Lorde, “Power” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1978 by Audre Lorde.  Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)

 

Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53918/power-56d233adafeb3

With respect.

 

Valuable poetry: Middle Passage by Robert Hayden.

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ABOUT THE POET:

Robert Hayden

1913-1980.

Poet Robert Hayden was born Asa Bundy Sheffey into a poor family in the Paradise Valley neighborhood of Detroit; he had an emotionally traumatic childhood and was raised in part by foster parents. Due to extreme nearsightedness, Hayden turned to books rather than sports in his childhood. After graduating from high school in 1932, he attended Detroit City College (now Wayne State University) on scholarship and later earned a graduate degree in English literature from the University of Michigan. As a teaching fellow, he was the first Black faculty member in Michigan’s English department. Hayden eventually became the first African American to be appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. His collections of poetry include Heart-Shape in the Dust (1940), Figure of Time (1955), A Ballad of Remembrance (1962), which won the grand prize at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, Selected Poems (1966), Words in the Mourning Time (1970), The Night-Blooming Cereus (1972), Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems (1975), and American Journal (1978). Hayden’s formal, elegant poems about the Black history and experience earned him a number of other major awards as well. “Robert Hayden is now generally accepted,” Frederick Glaysher stated in Hayden’s Collected Prose, “as the most outstanding craftsman of Afro-American poetry.”

The historical basis for much of Hayden’s poetry stemmed from his extensive study of American and African American history. Beginning in the 1930s, when he researched Black history for the Federal Writers’ Project in his native Detroit, Hayden studied the story of Black people from their roots in Africa to their present condition in the United States. “History,” Charles T. Davis wrote in Black is the Color of the Cosmos: Essays on Afro-American Literature and Culture, 1942-1981, “has haunted Robert Hayden from the beginning of his career as a poet.” As he once explained to Glenford E. Mitchell of World Order, Hayden saw history “as a long, tortuous, and often bloody process of becoming, of psychic evolution.”

Other early influences on Hayden’s development as a poet were W. H. Auden, under whom Hayden studied at the University of Michigan, and Stephen Vincent Benet, particularly Benet’s poem “John Brown’s Body.” That poem describes the Black reaction to General Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War and inspired Hayden to also write about that period of history, creating a series of poems on slavery and the Civil War that won him a Hopwood Award in 1942.

Although history played a large role in Hayden’s poetry, many of his works were also inspired by the poet’s adherence to the Baha’i faith, an Eastern religion that believes in a coming world civilization. Hayden served for many years as the poetry editor of the group’s World Order magazine. The universal outlook of the Baha’is also moved Hayden to reject any narrow racial classification for his work.

James Mann of the Dictionary of Literary Biography claimed that Hayden “stands out among poets of his race for his staunch avowal that the work of black writers must be judged wholly in the context of the literary tradition in English, rather than within the confines of the ethnocentrism that is common in contemporary literature written by blacks.” As Lewis Turco explained in the Michigan Quarterly Review, “Hayden has always wished to be judged as a poet among poets, not one to whom special rules of criticism ought to be applied in order to make his work acceptable in more than a sociological sense.” This stance earned Hayden criticism during the polarized 1960s. He was accused of abandoning his racial heritage to conform to the standards of a white, European literary establishment. “In the 1960s,” William Meredith wrote in his foreword to Collected Prose, “Hayden declared himself, at considerable cost in popularity, an American poet rather than a black poet, when for a time there was posited an unreconcilable difference between the two roles… He would not relinquish the title of American writer for any narrower identity.”

However, much of Hayden’s best poetry is concerned with Black experience and history. “The gift of Robert Hayden’s poetry,” Vilma Raskin Potter remarked in MELUS, “is his coherent vision of the black experience in this country as a continuing journey both communal and private.” Hayden wrote about such historical figures as Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Cinquez. He also wrote poems about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the American slave trade. Edward Hirsch, writing in the Nation, called Hayden “an American poet, deeply engaged by the topography of American myth in his efforts to illuminate the American black experience.”

Though Hayden wrote in formal poetic forms, his range of voices and techniques gave his work a rich variety. “Hayden,” Robert G. O’Meally wrote in the Washington Post Book World, “is a poet of many voices, using varieties of ironic black folk speech, and a spare, ebullient poetic diction, to grip and chill his readers. He draws characters of stark vividness as he transmutes cardinal points and commonplaces of history into dramatic action and symbol.” “His work,” Turco wrote, “is unfettered in many ways, not the least of which is in the range of techniques available to him. It gives his imagination wings, allows him to travel throughout human nature.” Speaking of Hayden’s use of formal verse forms, Mann explained that Hayden’s poems were “formal in a nontraditional, original way, strict but not straight-jacketed” and found that they also possessed “a hard-edged precision of line that molds what the imagination wants to release in visually fine-chiseled fragmental stanzas that fit flush together with the rightness of a picture puzzle.”

It wasn’t until 1966, with the publication of Selected Poems, that Hayden first enjoyed widespread attention from the nation’s literary critics. With each succeeding volume of poems his reputation was further enhanced until, in 1976 and his appointment as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Hayden was generally recognized as one of the country’s leading poets. Critics often point to Hayden’s unique ability to combine the historical and the personal when speaking of his own life and the lives of his people. Writing in Obsidian: Black Literature in Review, Gary Zebrun argued that “the voice of the speaker in Hayden’s best work twists and squirms its way out of anguish in order to tell, or sing, stories of American history—in particular the courageous and plaintive record of Afro-American history—and to chart the thoughts and feelings of the poet’s own private space… Hayden is ceaselessly trying to achieve… transcendence, which must not be an escape from the horror of history or from the loneliness of individual mortality, but an ascent that somehow transforms the horror and creates a blessed permanence.”

Hayden once said that he considered himself to be “a poet who teaches in order to earn a living so that he can write a poem or two now and then.” He taught at Fisk University for more than twenty years, where he rose to become a professor of English. Hayden ended his career with an eleven-year stint at the University of Michigan. His honors and awards included the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1980. His Collected Prose (1984) was published posthumously.

 

MIDDLE PASSAGE:

I

 

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:

 

Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,

sharks following the moans the fever and the dying;

horror the corposant and compass rose.

 

Middle Passage:

voyage through death

to life upon these shores.

 

“10 April 1800—

Blacks rebellious. Crew uneasy. Our linguist says

their moaning is a prayer for death,

ours and their own. Some try to starve themselves.

Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter

to the waiting sharks, sang as they went under.”

 

Desire, Adventure, Tartar, Ann:

 

Standing to America, bringing home

black gold, black ivory, black seed.

 

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,   

               of his bones New England pews are made,   

               those are altar lights that were his eyes.

 

Jesus    Saviour    Pilot    Me

Over    Life’s    Tempestuous    Sea

 

We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord,

safe passage to our vessels bringing

heathen souls unto Thy chastening.

 

Jesus    Saviour

 

“8 bells. I cannot sleep, for I am sick

with fear, but writing eases fear a little

since still my eyes can see these words take shape

upon the page & so I write, as one

would turn to exorcism. 4 days scudding,

but now the sea is calm again. Misfortune

follows in our wake like sharks (our grinning

tutelary gods). Which one of us

has killed an albatross? A plague among

our blacks—Ophthalmia: blindness—& we

have jettisoned the blind to no avail.

It spreads, the terrifying sickness spreads.

Its claws have scratched sight from the Capt.’s eyes

& there is blindness in the fo’c’sle

& we must sail 3 weeks before we come

to port.”

 

               What port awaits us, Davy Jones’

               or home? I’ve heard of slavers drifting, drifting,   

               playthings of wind and storm and chance, their crews   

               gone blind, the jungle hatred

               crawling up on deck.

 

Thou    Who    Walked    On    Galilee

 

“Deponent further sayeth The Bella J

left the Guinea Coast

with cargo of five hundred blacks and odd

for the barracoons of Florida:

 

“That there was hardly room ’tween-decks for half

the sweltering cattle stowed spoon-fashion there;

that some went mad of thirst and tore their flesh

and sucked the blood:

 

“That Crew and Captain lusted with the comeliest

of the savage girls kept naked in the cabins;

that there was one they called The Guinea Rose

and they cast lots and fought to lie with her:

 

“That when the Bo’s’n piped all hands, the flames

spreading from starboard already were beyond

control, the negroes howling and their chains

entangled with the flames:

 

“That the burning blacks could not be reached,

that the Crew abandoned ship,

leaving their shrieking negresses behind,

that the Captain perished drunken with the wenches:

 

“Further Deponent sayeth not.”

 

Pilot    Oh    Pilot    Me

 

 

II

 

Aye, lad, and I have seen those factories,

Gambia, Rio Pongo, Calabar;

have watched the artful mongos baiting traps

of war wherein the victor and the vanquished

 

Were caught as prizes for our barracoons.

Have seen the nigger kings whose vanity

and greed turned wild black hides of Fellatah,

Mandingo, Ibo, Kru to gold for us.

 

And there was one—King Anthracite we named him—

fetish face beneath French parasols

of brass and orange velvet, impudent mouth

whose cups were carven skulls of enemies:

 

He’d honor us with drum and feast and conjo

and palm-oil-glistening wenches deft in love,

and for tin crowns that shone with paste,

red calico and German-silver trinkets

 

Would have the drums talk war and send

his warriors to burn the sleeping villages

and kill the sick and old and lead the young

in coffles to our factories.

 

Twenty years a trader, twenty years,

for there was wealth aplenty to be harvested

from those black fields, and I’d be trading still

but for the fevers melting down my bones.

 

 

III

 

Shuttles in the rocking loom of history,

the dark ships move, the dark ships move,

their bright ironical names

like jests of kindness on a murderer’s mouth;

plough through thrashing glister toward

fata morgana’s lucent melting shore,

weave toward New World littorals that are

mirage and myth and actual shore.

 

Voyage through death,

voyage whose chartings are unlove.

 

A charnel stench, effluvium of living death

spreads outward from the hold,

where the living and the dead, the horribly dying,

lie interlocked, lie foul with blood and excrement.

 

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies,   

       the corpse of mercy rots with him,   

       rats eat love’s rotten gelid eyes.

 

       But, oh, the living look at you

       with human eyes whose suffering accuses you,   

       whose hatred reaches through the swill of dark   

       to strike you like a leper’s claw.

 

       You cannot stare that hatred down

       or chain the fear that stalks the watches

       and breathes on you its fetid scorching breath;   

       cannot kill the deep immortal human wish,   

       the timeless will.

 

“But for the storm that flung up barriers

of wind and wave, The Amistad, señores,

would have reached the port of Príncipe in two,

three days at most; but for the storm we should

have been prepared for what befell.

Swift as the puma’s leap it came. There was

that interval of moonless calm filled only

with the water’s and the rigging’s usual sounds,

then sudden movement, blows and snarling cries

and they had fallen on us with machete

and marlinspike. It was as though the very

air, the night itself were striking us.

Exhausted by the rigors of the storm,

we were no match for them. Our men went down

before the murderous Africans. Our loyal

Celestino ran from below with gun

and lantern and I saw, before the cane-

knife’s wounding flash, Cinquez,

that surly brute who calls himself a prince,

directing, urging on the ghastly work.

He hacked the poor mulatto down, and then

he turned on me. The decks were slippery

when daylight finally came. It sickens me

to think of what I saw, of how these apes

threw overboard the butchered bodies of

our men, true Christians all, like so much jetsam.

Enough, enough. The rest is quickly told:

Cinquez was forced to spare the two of us

you see to steer the ship to Africa,

and we like phantoms doomed to rove the sea

voyaged east by day and west by night,

deceiving them, hoping for rescue,

prisoners on our own vessel, till

at length we drifted to the shores of this

your land, America, where we were freed

from our unspeakable misery. Now we

demand, good sirs, the extradition of

Cinquez and his accomplices to La

Havana. And it distresses us to know

there are so many here who seem inclined

to justify the mutiny of these blacks.

We find it paradoxical indeed

that you whose wealth, whose tree of liberty

are rooted in the labor of your slaves

should suffer the august John Quincy Adams

to speak with so much passion of the right

of chattel slaves to kill their lawful masters

and with his Roman rhetoric weave a hero’s

garland for Cinquez. I tell you that

we are determined to return to Cuba

with our slaves and there see justice done. Cinquez—

or let us say ‘the Prince’—Cinquez shall die.”

 

The deep immortal human wish,

the timeless will:

 

Cinquez its deathless primaveral image,

life that transfigures many lives.

 

Voyage through death

to life upon these shores.

Robert Hayden, “Middle Passage” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1962, 1966 by Robert Hayden. Copyright © 1985 by Emma Hayden. Reprinted with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Source: Collected Poems (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1985)

 

SOURCE: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43076/middle-passage

With respect.

 

Valuable Poetry: Daddy by Sylvia Plath.

This poem supposed to be posted yesterday. But I started thinking more about affirmations. A bit deeper. Because I believe, every affirmation that I gonna write, I should follow the same affirmation whole day. This is the reason why I was thinking a lot.

Here the valuable poem comes;

ABOUT THE POET:

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Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. By the time she took her life at the age of 30, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. In the New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates described Plath as “one of the most celebrated and controversial of postwar poets writing in English.” Intensely autobiographical, Plath’s poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself. On the World Socialist web site, Margaret Rees observed, “Whether Plath wrote about nature, or about the social restrictions on individuals, she stripped away the polite veneer. She let her writing express elemental forces and primeval fears. In doing so, she laid bare the contradictions that tore apart appearance and hinted at some of the tensions hovering just beneath the surface of the American way of life in the post war period.” Oates put it more simply when she wrote that Plath’s best-known poems, “many of them written during the final, turbulent weeks of her life, read as if they’ve been chiseled, with a fine surgical instrument, out of arctic ice.” Plath has inspired countless readers and influenced many poets since her death in 1963.

In the New York Times Book Review, former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky wrote, “Thrashing, hyperactive, perpetually accelerated, the poems of Sylvia Plath catch the feeling of a profligate, hurt imagination, throwing off images and phrases with the energy of a runaway horse or a machine with its throttle stuck wide open. All the violence in her work returns to that violence of imagination, a frenzied brilliance and conviction.” Denis Donoghue made a similar observation, also in the New York Times Book Review: “Plath’s early poems, many of them, offered themselves for sacrifice, transmuting agony, ‘heart’s waste,’ into gestures and styles.” Donoghue added that “she showed what self-absorption makes possible in art, and the price that must be paid for it, in the art as clearly as in the death.” Dictionary of Literary Biography essayist Thomas McClanahan wrote, “At her most articulate, meditating on the nature of poetic inspiration, [Plath] is a controlled voice for cynicism, plainly delineating the boundaries of hope and reality. At her brutal best—and Plath is a brutal poet—she taps a source of power that transforms her poetic voice into a raving avenger of womanhood and innocence.”

Born in 1932 in Boston, Plath was the daughter of a German immigrant college professor, Otto Plath, and one of his students, Aurelia Schober. The poet’s early years were spent near the seashore, but her life changed abruptly when her father died in 1940. Some of her most vivid poems, including the well-known “Daddy,” concern her troubled relationship with her authoritarian father and her feelings of betrayal when he died. Financial circumstances forced the Plath family to move to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where Aurelia Plath taught advanced secretarial studies at Boston University. Sylvia Plath was a gifted student who had won numerous awards and had published stories and poetry in national magazines while still in her teens. She attended Smith College on scholarship and continued to excel, winning a Mademoiselle fiction contest one year and garnering a prestigious guest editorship of the magazine the following summer.

It was during her undergraduate years that Plath began to suffer the symptoms of severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death. In one of her journal entries, dated June 20, 1958, she wrote: “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” This is an eloquent description of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, a very serious illness for which no genuinely effective medications were available during Plath’s lifetime. In August of 1953, at the age of 20, Plath attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills. She survived the attempt and was hospitalized, receiving treatment with electro-shock therapy. Her experiences of breakdown and recovery were later turned into fiction for her only published novel, The Bell Jar.

Having made a recovery, Plath returned to Smith for her degree. She earned a Fulbright grant to study at Cambridge University in England, and it was there that she met poet Ted Hughes. The two were married in 1956. Plath published two major works during her lifetime, The Bell Jar and a poetry volume titled The Colossus. Both received warm reviews. However, the end of her marriage in 1962 left Plath with two young children to care for and, after an intense burst of creativity that produced the poems in Ariel, she committed suicide by inhaling gas from a kitchen oven.

Timothy Materer wrote in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, “The critical reactions to both The Bell Jar and Ariel were inevitably influenced by the manner of Plath’s death at 30.” Hardly known outside poetry circles during her lifetime, Plath became in death more than she might have imagined. Donoghue, for one, stated, “I can’t recall feeling, in 1963, that Plath’s death proved her life authentic or indeed that proof was required. … But I recall that Ariel was received as if it were a bracelet of bright hair about the bone, a relic more than a book.” Feminists portrayed Plath as a woman driven to madness by a domineering father, an unfaithful husband, and the demands that motherhood made on her genius. Some critics lauded her as a confessional poet whose work “spoke the hectic, uncontrolled things our conscience needed, or thought it needed,” to quote Donoghue. Largely on the strength of Ariel, Plath became one of the best-known female American poets of the 20th century.

The writer A. Alvarez, writing in The Savage God, believed that with the poems in Ariel, compiled and published by Hughes, Plath made “poetry and death inseparable. The one could not exist without the other. And this is right. In a curious way, the poems read as though they were written posthumously.” Robert Penn Warren called Ariel “a unique book, it scarcely seems a book at all, rather a keen, cold gust of reality as though somebody had knocked out a window pane on a brilliant night.” George Steiner wrote, “It is fair to say that no group of poems since Dylan Thomas’s Deaths and Entrances has had as vivid and disturbing an impact on English critics and readers as has Ariel. … Reference to Sylvia Plath is constant where poetry and the conditions of its present existence are discussed.” Plath’s growing posthumous reputation inspired younger poets to write as she did. But, as Steiner maintained, her “desperate integrity” cannot be imitated. Or, as Peter Davison put it, “No artifice alone could have conjured up such effects.” According to McClanahan, the poems in Ariel “are personal testaments to the loneliness and insecurity that plagued her, and the desolate images suggest her apparent fixation with self-annihilation. … In Ariel, the everyday incidents of living are transformed into the horrifying psychological experiences of the poet.”

In Plath’s final poems, wrote Charles Newman in his The Art of Sylvia Plath, “death is preeminent but strangely unoppressive. Perhaps it is because there is no longer dialogue, no sense of ‘Otherness’—she is speaking from a viewpoint which is total, complete. Love and Death, all rivals, are resolved as one within the irreversibility of experience. To reverse Blake, the Heart knows as much as the Eye sees.” Alvarez believed that “the very source of [Plath’s] creative energy was, it turned out, her self-destructiveness. But it was, precisely, a source of living energy, of her imaginative, creative power. So, though death itself may have been a side issue, it was also an unavoidable risk in writing her kind of poem. My own impression of the circumstances surrounding her eventual death is that she gambled, not much caring whether she won or lost; and she lost.”

As a very young poet Plath experimented with the villanelle and other forms. She had been “stimulated” by such writers as D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Theodore Roethke, Emily Dickinson, and later by Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton. She has been linked with Lowell and Sexton as a member of the so-called “confessional” school of poetry. Ted Hughes noted that she shared with them a similar geographical homeland as well as “the central experience of a shattering of the self, and the labour of fitting it together again or finding a new one.”

At times, Plath was able to overcome the “tension between the perceiver and the thing-in-itself by literally becoming the thing-in-itself,” wrote Newman. “In many instances, it is nature who personifies her.” Similarly, Plath used history “to explain herself,” writing about the Nazi concentration camps as though she had been imprisoned there. She said, “I think that personal experience shouldn’t be a kind of shut box and mirror-looking narcissistic experience. I believe it should be generally relevant, to such things as Hiroshima and Dachau, and so on.” Newman explained that, “in absorbing, personalizing the socio-political catastrophes of the century, [Plath] reminds us that they are ultimately metaphors of the terrifying human mind.” Alvarez noted that the “anonymity of pain, which makes all dignity impossible, was Sylvia Plath’s subject.” Her reactions to the smallest desecrations, even in plants, were “extremely violent,” wrote Hughes. “Auschwitz and the rest were merely the open wounds.” In sum, Newman believed, Plath “evolved in poetic voice from the precocious girl, to the disturbed modern woman, to the vengeful magician, to Ariel—God’s Lioness.”

While few critics dispute the power or the substance in Plath’s poetry, some have come to feel that its legacy is one of cynicism, ego-absorption, and a prurient fascination with suicide. Donoghue suggested that “the moral claims enforced by these poems now seem exorbitant,” adding, “The thrill we get from such poems is something we have no good cause to admire in ourselves.” McClanahan felt that Plath’s legacy “is one of pain, fear, and traumatic depression, born of the need to destroy the imagistic materialization of ‘Daddy.’” Nevertheless, the critic concluded, “The horrifying tone of her poetry underscores a depth of feeling that can be attributed to few other poets, and her near-suicidal attempt to communicate a frightening existential vision overshadows the shaky technique of her final poems. Plath writes of the human dread of dying. Her primitive honesty and emotionalism are her strength.” Critics and scholars have continued to write about Plath, and her relationship with Hughes; a reviewer for the National Post reported that in 2000, there were 104 books in print about Plath.

Newman considered The Bell Jar a “testing ground” for Plath’s poems. It is, according to the critic, “one of the few American novels to treat adolescence from a mature point of view. … It chronicles a nervous breakdown and consequent professional therapy in non-clinical language. And finally, it gives us one of the few sympathetic portraits of what happens to one who has genuinely feminist aspirations in our society, of a girl who refuses to be an event in anyone’s life. … [Plath] remains among the few woman writers in recent memory to link the grand theme of womanhood with the destiny of modern civilization.” Plath told Alvarez that she published the book under a pseudonym partly because “she didn’t consider it a serious work … and partly because she thought too many people would be hurt by it.”

The Bell Jar is narrated by 19-year-old Esther Greenwood. The three-part novel explores Esther’s unsatisfactory experiences as a student editor in Manhattan, her subsequent return to her family home, where she suffers a breakdown and attempts suicide, and her recovery with the aid of an enlightened female doctor. One of the novel’s themes, the search for a valid personal identity, is as old as fiction itself. The other, a rebellion against conventional female roles, was slightly ahead of its time. Nancy Duvall Hargrove observed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, “As a novel of growing up, of initiation into adulthood, [The Bell Jar] is very solidly in the tradition of the Bildungsroman. Technically, The Bell Jar is skillfully written and contains many of the haunting images and symbols that dominate Plath’s poetry.” Materer commented that the book “is a finely plotted novel full of vivid characters and written in the astringent but engaging style one expects from a poet as frank and observant as Plath. The atmosphere of hospitals and sickness, of incidents of bleeding and electrocution, set against images of confinement and liberation, unify the novel’s imagery.” Hargrove maintained that the novel is “a striking work which has contributed to [Plath’s] reputation as a significant figure in contemporary American literature. … It is more than a feminist document, for it presents the enduring human concerns of the search for identity, the pain of disillusionment, and the refusal to accept defeat.”

Letters Home, a collection of Plath’s correspondence between 1950 and 1963, reveals that the source of her inner turmoil was perhaps more accurately linked to her relationship with her mother. The volume, published by Plath’s mother in 1975, was intended, at least in part, to counter the angry tone of The Bell Jar as well as the unflattering portrait of Plath’s mother contained in that narrative. According to Janet Malcolm in the New Yorker, “The publication of Letters Home had a different effect from the one Mrs. Plath had intended, however. Instead of showing that Sylvia wasn’t ‘like that,’ the letters caused the reader to consider for the first time the possibility that her sick relationship with her mother was the reason she was like that.” Though Hughes exercised final editorial approval, the publication of Letters Home also cast a new and unfavorable light on numerous others linked to Plath, including Hughes himself. Malcolm wrote, “Before the publication of Letters Home, the Plath legend was brief and contained, a taut, austere stage drama set in a few bleak, sparsely furnished rooms.” Plath’s intimate letters to her family contain unguarded personal commentary on her college years, writing, despair, friendships, marriage, and children.

After Plath’s death, The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit, a book for children, was also discovered among her papers and published posthumously. The story features Max Nix, a resident of Winkelburg, who happily acquires a modest “woolly, whiskery brand-new mustard-yellow suit.” Nicci Gerrard wrote in the Observer, “There’s no disturbance in the world of Winkelburg: even Max’s desire for a suit is as shallow and clear as the silver stream that runs like a ribbon through the valley.” Despite the lasting impression of Plath’s bleak art and early death, Gerrard concluded that “small pieces of happiness like this little book remind us of her life.”

Plath’s relationship with Hughes has long been the subject of commentary, not always flattering to Hughes. Feminist critics in particular tended to see in Plath’s suicide a repudiation of the expectations placed upon women in the early 1960s. Further criticism attended Hughes’s guardianship of Plath’s papers, especially when Hughes admitted that he destroyed some of Plath’s journals, including several written just prior to her suicide. Materer felt that Hughes’s control over Plath’s papers—a right he exercised only because their divorce had not become final—caused “difficulties” for both critics and biographers. Materer added, “The estate’s strict control of copyright and its editing of such writings as Plath’s journals and letters have caused the most serious problems for scholars.”

Since Hughes’s death from cancer in 1998, a new edition of Plath’s journals has been published, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962.This exact transcription of the poet’s journals, from her earliest days at Smith College to the days of her marriage, has been published verbatim, down to her misspellings. “Uncritical admirers of Plath will find much here that is fascinating,” noted Oates. “Other readers may find much that is fascinating and repellent in equal measure.” Oates concluded, “Like all unedited journals, Plath’s may be best read piecemeal, and rapidly, as they were written. The reader is advised to seek out the stronger, more lyric and exhilarating passages, which exist in enough abundance through these many pages to assure that this presumed final posthumous publication of Sylvia Plath’s is that rarity, a genuine literary event worthy of the poet’s aggressive mythopoetic claim in ‘Lady Lazarus’—Out of the ash/I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air.”

Hughes once summarized Plath’s unique personality and talent: “Her poetry escapes ordinary analysis in the way clairvoyance and mediumship do: her psychic gifts, at almost any time, were strong enough to make her frequently wish to be rid of them. In her poetry, in other words, she had free and controlled access to depths formerly reserved to the primitive ecstatic priests, shamans and Holymen.” The poet continued, “Surveyed as a whole … I think the unity of her opus is clear. Once the unity shows itself, the logic and inevitability of the language, which controls and contains such conflagrations and collisions within itself, becomes more obviously what it is—direct, and even plain, speech. This language, this unique and radiant substance, is the product of an alchemy on the noblest scale. Her elements were extreme: a violent, almost demonic spirit in her, opposed a tenderness and capacity to suffer and love things infinitely, which was just as great and far more in evidence. Her stormy, luminous senses assaulted a downright practical intelligence that could probably have dealt with anything. … She saw her world in the flame of the ultimate substance and the ultimate depth. And this is the distinction of her language, that every word is Baraka: the flame and the rose folded together. Poets have often spoken about this ideal possibility but where else, outside these poems, has it actually occurred? If we have the discrimination to answer this question, we can set her in her rightful company.”

Daddy

By Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years, poor and white,

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

 

Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time——

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal

 

And a head in the freakish Atlantic

Where it pours bean green over blue

In the waters off beautiful Nauset.

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.

 

In the German tongue, in the Polish town

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.

My Polack friend

 

Says there are a dozen or two.

So I never could tell where you

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.

 

It stuck in a barb wire snare.

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.

And the language obscene

 

An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.

 

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.

 

I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

 

Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.

Every woman adores a Fascist,

The boot in the face, the brute

Brute heart of a brute like you.

 

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot

But no less a devil for that, no not

Any less the black man who

 

Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.

 

But they pulled me out of the sack,

And they stuck me together with glue.

And then I knew what to do.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

 

And a love of the rack and the screw.

And I said I do, I do.

So daddy, I’m finally through.

The black telephone’s off at the root,

The voices just can’t worm through.

 

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——

The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.

Daddy, you can lie back now.

 

There’s a stake in your fat black heart

And the villagers never liked you.

They are dancing and stamping on you.

They always knew it was you.

Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

 

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Collected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1992

 

SOURCE: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48999/daddy-56d22aafa45b2

With respect.