Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/21/2005 1:34:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply
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    that Leo. Cohen lyric you posted was magnificent. i thought i'd send this more recent lyric to you. Cohen wrote it almost 40 years ago, and only felt it was finished in time for his 2001 album Ten New Songs.

    it is based on a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy, 'The God Forsakes Antony' (shown below.) what's remarkable to me was Cohen's ability to draw parallel lines between the fall of the city of Alexandria in the original poem and the monumental loss of a relationship in his lyric, and how the loss of each is a great defeat of ego.

    Alexandra Leaving

    Suddenly the night has grown colder.
    The god of love preparing to depart.
    Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
    They slip between the sentries of the heart.

    Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
    They gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
    And radiant beyond your widest measure
    They fall among the voices and the wine.

    It's not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
    A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust -
    Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
    Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

    Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
    Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
    Do not say the moment was imagined;
    Do not stoop to strategies like this.

    As someone long prepared for this to happen,
    Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
    Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
    Your firm commitments tangible again.

    And you who had the honor of her evening,
    And by the honor had your own restored -
    Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
    Alexandra leaving with her lord.

    Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
    Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
    Do not say the moment was imagined;
    Do not stoop to strategies like this.

    As someone long prepared for the occasion;
    In full command of every plan you wrecked -
    Do not choose a coward's explanation
    that hides behind the cause and the effect.

    And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
    Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed -
    Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
    Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

    Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
    Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

    Original poem:

    The god forsakes Antony

    When suddenly, at the midnight hour,
    an invisible troupe is heard passing
    with exquisite music, with shouts -
    your fortune that fails you now, your works
    that have failed, the plans of your life
    that have all turned out to be illusions, do not mourn in vain.
    As if long prepared, as if courageous,
    bid her farewell, the Alexandria that is leaving.
    Above all do not be fooled, do not tell yourself
    it was a dream, that your ears deceived you;
    do not stoop to such vain hopes.
    As if long prepared, as if courageous,
    as it becomes you who have been worthy of such a city,
    approach the window with firm step,
    and with emotion, but not
    with the entreaties and complaints of the coward,
    as a last enjoyment listen to the sounds,
    the exquisite instruments of the mystical troupe,
    and bid her farewell, the Alexandria you are losing.

    Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

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    • Rookie Ben Cassel (11/21/2005 10:02:00 PM) Post reply

      I never knew that Alexandra Leaving' was based on Kavafy. I wish I could post the music; it is truly a beautiful song.

  • Rookie Savannah Churchill (11/21/2005 10:49:00 AM) Post reply | Read 8 replies

    For some reason everytime I try to access a poem, anybodies poem all I get is a blank screen, every other link works fine, anyone else had this problem and how did you fix it? ? ? ? ? Help

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  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (11/21/2005 9:22:00 AM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    Max, in partial answer to your question about the Great American Poem (or I guess, The Poet With The True American Sound?) , a chance for me to plug again 'American's Favourite Poems', from the Pinsky Project. The tributes to individual poems which they have taken to their heart, from, often,1st,2nd,3rd generation immigrants, are deeply moving and just make you value the poems more.
    Sherrie, there's a fine Cavafy poem about immigrants and immigration, in his weary-wise voice. Frost gets the biggest representation, with six poems. Then Whitman. Granted the choice is by Pinsky and Dietz, but with an eye to the eloquence of the responses, there's no Angelou or Silverstein among the 200 poems, but there is Gwendolen Brooks' 'Bean Eaters' and Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes' 'Mother to Son'. Rupert Brooke's 'Soldier' which Jerry quoted, gets in as an immigrant's sentiment. And there's James Wright's 'The Blessing' about the wild horses. I love this book to bits (a literal description in this case...) and it would turn anyone on to poetry, imho. It goes some way to answering the question of what moves Americans- though as they're 'lifetime' loves, it may seem old-fashioned to you guys, as it stops well short of the Beat generation.

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    • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/21/2005 3:35:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

      J.C., 'O Captain My Captain' is dreck compared to what? 'Song Of Myself'? 'Pioneers! O Pioneers! '? please. most of Whitman's work is boring unaffecting rambles. any sound recommendations re ... more

    • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/21/2005 11:31:00 AM) Post reply

      'howl' is a magnificent piece, but i don't think it's regarded as highly as any of the others you mentioned. i'd like to throw 'O Captain! My Captain! ' in there as an iconic American work. and 'Fla ... more

    • Rookie Poetry Hound (11/21/2005 10:46:00 AM) Post reply

      I think Max is right that Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' and 'Stopping by Woods On A Snowy Evening' are two of the most iconic American poems. I would add Poe's 'The Raven' and 'Casey at the Bat' ... more

  • Rookie Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/21/2005 8:48:00 AM) Post reply | Read 10 replies

    hey ladies and gents, here's a question that came up in conversation over the weekend:

    it is largely accepted that Bob Dylan is a contemporary poet genius in the US. Leonard Cohen is Canada's favourite son, even Jamaica has Bob Marley. but who in the UK stacks up? i mean, from a poet/troubadour perspective; that one lone voice of reason and brilliance. also, anyone in Australia? anywhere?

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  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (11/21/2005 7:30:00 AM) Post reply | Read 4 replies

    I see, looking at my stats, that the curse of a poem is to have its title start with a letter in the 2nd half of the alphabet.
    hmmmm...could I unconsiously be writing better poems, when I know their titles will begin with A through F or so? I can see a critical review: 'Though Reif writes well from A to F, I felt his T through Z poems were weak. He should retitle them.'
    Junk food for thought.

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    • Rookie - 7 Points ***** ***** (11/21/2005 5:17:00 PM) Post reply

      Yes, I noticed that begin to happen for me also... a bitter poet's vitriol gets lazy after about 'f'.

    • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (11/21/2005 8:50:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      I think Jake's idea makes sense. If you number a poem with '1.', say, then the title, like,1. The Sphinx, for example, then you can get exposure for the ones you want. You can also rotate them...

    • Rookie - 7 Points John Kay (11/21/2005 8:46:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      You're lucky if they go through page one. My first poem beginning with 'A' gets all the hits first, and it's not the poem I'd offer to a first time reader of my work. I don't know any way around it th ... more

    • Rookie - 7 Points Rev. Dr. A. Jacob Hassler (11/21/2005 8:39:00 AM) Post reply

      good call, Max. i've noticed that, too. ... more

  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (11/21/2005 7:15:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Whether there's a 'quintessential' American poem, like you English are saying about the Brooke one? Something by Whitman, (who is certainly a quintessential American poet) ? We had Robert Frost, standing up there at Kennedy's inauguration, reading a sonnet. I don't know how many Americans knew his work, though many know 'The Road Not Taken' and 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening'. Literature has taken many simultaneous forks since then, and I don't feel any living American has that 'good, grey, National poet' image. America's poetry is one of disillusionment, I think...'a highway of diamonds with nobody on it'.

    I may be rambling on about nothing and deserve to have no replies and stand like a naked chicken out here amid the cold Forum winds.

    Still, I ain't done yet. I'll close with a parody of Frost back in high school, by a friend of mine whose 3rd period math teacher's name was Miles Edinburn. My friend would say around 10: 30 AM, 'I have promises to keep, and Miles to go before I eat...'

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  • Rookie Marcy Jarvis (11/21/2005 5:40:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    My brother, who is stationed over here in Germany (AGAIN! Yes, for a second TOUR of DOODIE) is taking his Panamanian-born wife to Paris for Thanksgiving.

    (lol, I didn't tell him Paris is burning. I think it'll make a great chapter.)

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  • Rookie Allan James Saywell (11/21/2005 4:41:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply


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    • Rookie Ernestine Northover (11/21/2005 3:25:00 PM) Post reply

      OVER A CORN PATCH! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! , that's no place for any respectable Teddy, have you no respect for him, poor soul, what a life he must lead. I shan, t sleep tonight thinking of him. Boo Hoo. Specie ... more

  • Rookie Allan James Saywell (11/21/2005 2:23:00 AM) Post reply | Read 7 replies


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  • Rookie Marcy Jarvis (11/21/2005 1:59:00 AM) Post reply | Read 2 replies


    Probably I am an ordinary middle-class
    believer in individual rights, the word
    'freedom' is simple to me, it doesn't mean
    the freedom of any class in particular.
    Politically naive, with an average
    education (brief moments of clear vision
    are its main nourishment) , I remember
    the blazing appeal of that fire which parches
    the lips of the thirsty crowd and burns
    books and chars the skin of cities. I used to sing
    those songs and I know how great it is
    to run with others; later, by myself,
    with the taste of ashes in my mouth, I heard
    the lie's ironic voice and the choir screaming
    and when I touched my head I could feel
    the arched skull of my country, its hard edge.

    Translated by Renata Gorczynski

    -Adam Zagajewski

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    • Rookie Joseph Daly (11/21/2005 10:30:00 AM) Post reply

      Marcy, I can't say that I am familiar with the writer. What I can say is that we need more who can write like this with so much power. Thank you for posting it, I'll do a search to find out m ... more

    • Rookie Max Reif (11/21/2005 6:54:00 AM) Post reply

      says a lot. (me speak brief)

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