The Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation (who also have an excellent app, allowing you to search for poems at the intersection of Humour, Commitment, and Work and Play, amongst other terms) has just revamped their website too.

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It’s a dream. Poets from the 8th century and earlier – good old Anon – to the present day can be searched by name or theme.

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I especially liked the pre-made collections. Summer had the Amy Lowell poem on the bath, whilst Movie Heroes & Villains had several crackers, including What I Learned From the Incredible Hulk, May Swenson’s very funny poem about watching Roger Moore as Bond whilst struggling with the popcorn, and tame Monsters in the Closet (“Dracula wants to drink my blood – I think that’s rather rude.”).

If you click through to a poet’s page, it includes a link to their other poems and I’ve already had a gorge on Ben Jonson, whose wit appeals to me more and more. But best of all is discovering so many new poets: Paisley Rokdal, Gwendolyn Brooks, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jesse Randall, Lucia Perillo and James Weldon Johnson. In fact, this website’s a model of what to be: made for easy browsing by the beginner, but segmented enough for the specialist researcher and not falling into the usual school textbook cliches for the anthologies.

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You must learn your lines

Obedient daily dress,

You cannot always keep

That unfakable young surface.

You must learn your lines –

Anger, amusement, sleep;

Those few forbidding signs

Of the continuous coarse

Sand-laden wind, time;

You must thicken, work loose

Into an old bag

Carrying a soiled name.

Parch then; be roughened; sag.

And pardon me, that I

Could find, when you were new,

No brash festivity

To wear you at, such as

Clothes are entitled to

Till the fashion changes.

Phikip Larkin, Skin

Where the bee sucks

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This window by Annie Rie reminds me of Ariel’s song. Where the bee sucks, there suck I / in a cowslip’s bell I lie / there I couch when owls do cry / on the bat’s back do I fly / merrily, merrily shall I live now / under the blossom that hangs on the bough

 

Not to fret

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The days, the days they break to fade.

What fills them I’ll forget.

Every touch and smell and taste,

This sun, about to set

can never last. It breaks my heart,

Each joy feels like a threat:

Although there’s beauty everywhere,

its shadow is regret.

Still, something in the coming dusk

whispers not to fret.

Don’t matter that we’ll lose today.

It’s not tomorrow yet.

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Shades of Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson in Kate Tempest’s collection “Hold it Own”. Photos of small things that give me pleasure.

Burning diamonds

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Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come
For the woods are full of bluebells, and the hedges full of bloom,
The crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast…

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John Clare

A little madness

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A little madness in the Spring /
is wholesome even for the King

Emily Dickinson. As ever with ED, there are so many meanings, that I could read a sentence forever. But right now, while weighing up whether I should see the ED biopic A Quiet Passion, I’m just enjoying these madly extravagant coiffures and bonnets.

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From top to bottom: an early Picasso I’ve always liked, The Duchess of Kent, Julia Lady Peel, and a fashion shoot in this month’s Harpers Bazaar.

Rice-soft air

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With hieroglyphs of bushes and trees /

they write and write, /

now pressing on their pens, now not /

Ah on wet paper /

with an invisible brush /

On the soft, rice-like air.

Olga Sedokova. Photos Prague, 2017.

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Rat, oh rat…

never in my life have I seen

as handsome a rat as you.

Thank you for noticing my potatoes.

Oh Rat, I am not rich.

I left you a note concerning my potatoes,

but I see that I placed it too high

and you could not read it.

Oh Rat,

my wife and I are cursed with possession of a large and hungry dog;

it worries us that he might learn your name –

which is forever on our lips.

Oh Rat, consider my neighbour;

he has eight children (all of them older

and more intelligent than mine)

and if you lived in his house, Rat

ten good Christians

(if we include his wife)

would sing your praises nightly,

whereas in my house there are only five.

Christopher Logue