"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Two Centos for Byron

Once more through all he bursts his thundering way—
It is not ours to judge,—far less condemn;
The gift—a fate or will that walked astray—
For stories,—but I don’t believe the half of them.
(He made the church a present by the way);
Why doth he gaze on thee, and thou on him?
A heavy price must all pay who thus err,
Beating for love as the caged birds for air.

Lord Byron, Image Credit: NYPL

For my part I say nothing—nothing—but
For me who, wandering with pedestrian Muses,
Pythagoras, Locke, Socrates—but pages
And they were enemies; they met beside
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection!
But something of the spirit of old Greece
Would still, albeit in vain, the heavy heart divest.
Why, I’m Posterity—and so are you;
Give thee back this.—Now for the wilderness.
The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind;
The Arbiter of other’s fate
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
Your next step may be fatal!—for the love
White, cold and pure, as looks a frozen rill,
Death’s a reformer, all men must allow.
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon—
‘That good but rarely came from good advice.’
‘Gainst such belief, there’s something stronger still
And if you had it o’er again—‘twould pass—
An arrow for the heart like a sweet voice.
The fair most fatal Juan ever met,
His spirit seemed to dare you to forget!

Poet's Note:

The above centos are the poetic equivalent of playing with LEGO pieces. Think of each line as a block stacked on top of other blocks. These two poems are comprised of individual lines taken from several different Byron works. Why play with a dead man's writing in this way? Firstly, because my current poetry mentor, Stephen Fry, told me to as an exercise. Secondly, as Mr. Fry accurately promised me, centos "provide a harmlessly productive way of getting to know a particular poet's way with phrase and form." (The Ode Less Travelled, p. 262)

Here are the Byron poems from which I borrowed lines: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Epistle to Augusta, Beppo, Manfred, Cain, Don Juan, Darkness, The Giaour, Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Online Poetry Trip to Scotland

When you grow tired of where you are, but lack the time and money to travel today, google your way to someplace else.

Scotland and northern Ireland as seen by the Aqua satellite in 2011,
the red dots mark fires being monitored,
Image Credit: NASA

Throughout the 2016/17 winter, my reading and writing focus has been poetry. Today, I visited Scotland with the help of the Poetry Foundation. In addition to Google Search, I find the Poetry Foundation's search engine to be quite helpful at turning up great samples of poetry past and present, native and exotic (depending on who you are).

So I am happy to have encountered the work of the late Norman MacCaig, an Edinburgh-based poet with Highland roots. Try one of his poems. Here's one that took me in. It's a stopping-to-smell-the-roses kind of poem:

For a short biography, additional poetry samples, an article he wrote on Scottish poetry, and a good old-fashioned bibliography, head to his About page.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Salient Pessimism 9

I will bring our needed surcease and the quiet for which we all are longing. Believe me.

But to do so, first I must shout the loudest.