tedln
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Any fans of poetry here?

I can pretty well reveal my age by listing my favorite poets. I love all the old standards like Frost, Sandburg, and Browning. I do have a few favorites from later years. I have always considered the "I Have A Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. to be more of a poem than a speech and it moves me every time I read it. I'm not much of a fan of modern poets because style usually seems more important than substance to them. Even when modern poets attempt to write substance over style, it seems shallow with little depth and even less understanding.

It is always hard for me to name favorite poems because it depends on the mood I am in at the time but I have many.

When I was a child or a young adult, cable television wasn't an option. All television was locally broadcast and most stations signed off at midnight only to return with a test pattern early the next morning. Many of the stations would sign off each night with a poem by John Gillespie McGee Jr. entitled "High Flight". To fully understand the poem, you need to understand the poet.

John McGee was an American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at the age of 18. After training, he joined the British Air Force during the Battle Of Britain. This was before the United States entered World War II. He was assigned to a squadron flying Spitfire aircraft which could climb to altitudes in excess of 20,000 feet. He wrote this poem in his mind whole soaring over Britain in his spitfire. He wrote it on the back of a letter home after landing. He was killed in a mid air collision three months later at the age of 19.

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Ted
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lorax
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Absolutely! Gotta have poetry, or life isn't worth living. I'm probably going to show my Canadian roots very strongly here, although likely not my age....

Among my top all-time faves are Leonard Cohen, Gordon Downie, Sarah McLaughlin, Hawksley Workman, Yoav, Tom Waits, and Loreena McKennit. If you're very astute, you'll note that these are also musicians, but I happen to believe that good poetry is good poetry whether it's sung or spoken. One of my favourite single lines of modern poetry comes from Tom Waits - "I'm all alone / I've smoked my friends down to the filter...."

I'm also a big fan of the Victorian and Edwardian nonsense poets, like Edward Lear, Charles Dobson (Lewis Carrol) and their ilk. And from there, I appreciate quite deeply the nonsense-style poems of their modern counterparts: Roald Dahl, Eric Idle, and Quentin Blake.

And moving further back in history, the Elizabethans knew how to twist a verse, and although I'm fond of Shakespeare (particularly his blank verse), I think that Marlowe and Bacon were more lyrically adept within the forms available to them. Futher still, Ovid, Virgil, and Homer are beautiful examples of epic poetry.

In foreign (ie non-English) languages, I truly appreciate Voltaire, Racine, Juan Leon Mera, and Garcia Vargas Llosa.

tedln
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Lorax,

I totally enjoy Leonard Cohen ( hallelujah ), Sarah McLaughlin, (especially when she sang Leonard Cohens "hallelujah") and Tom Waits to a lesser degree. Add Nora Jones to the list. I even like Lady Gaga in many ways.

I've read Homer, Virgil, and Ovid comes in third on that list.

I enjoyed Shakespeare but always had to keep reminding myself that most of his work was written in a "tongue in cheek" manner. He was critical of the audience instead of the characters.

Ted
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cynthia_h
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Shakespeare also made a point of belittling the "losing" dynasty in the Wars of the Roses, being careful to flatter the reigning Queen Elizabeth (Tudor) and her successor King James (son of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots). This political undertone runs through his plays, as well as the more obvious physical comedy thrown in for the "groundlings": the people who paid to watch the plays without a place to sit, who stood on the ground and watched.

Another good Canadian writer/singer whose lyrics sometimes just erupt in my brain wrote these lines long ago:

"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee..."

in his ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Gordon Lightfoot.

I cannot name a "favorite" poet, but most of the ones I read are now considered "literary" or "classical." Many contemporary poets don't do much for me.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours"

True in any water-borne catastrophe: Katrina, any hurricane, shipwreck, drowning...

Cynthia H.

tedln
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Cynthia,

I was in Cleavland many years ago on a business trip. I arrived kinda late at night but wasn't sleepy so I went to the bar to see if they had any good Canadian unpasteurized beer. I knew they didn't but thought I would try anyhow. I was sitting at the bar drinking a cold beer and listening to a guy playing a guitar and singing ballads. He asked if anyone had a request for a song. I asked if he knew "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot. I thought it was an appropriate song for a cold night in Cleavland. After he started playing and singing (he knew all the verses) a guy came over and sat at the bar next to me and asked if I was aware that day was the anniversary of the sinking of The Edmund Fitzgerald. I wasn't.

If we want to use song lyrics as poetry references, I will probably go with Don McLean and American Pie, "The Day The Music Died" (Buddy Hollys death)

As a young man I always had a single line from a single poem that I recalled when needed.
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once."
I never could remember where I read the line until I did a google search moments ago and found it came from Shakespeare in "Julius Caesar"


Ted
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cynthia_h
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tedln wrote:Cynthia,

I was in Cleavland many years ago on a business trip. I arrived kinda late ... I asked if he knew "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot. I thought it was an appropriate song ... a guy came over and sat at the bar next to me and asked if I was aware that day was the anniversary of the sinking of The Edmund Fitzgerald. I wasn't.
Maybe not consciously. Our unconscious minds sometimes pull these cosmic jokes on us, to the consternation not only of ourselves, but the people around us.

As always, spend a moment in thought in memory of the men who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald, and for everyone who has died trying to get an honest day's work done (mine workers, oil rig workers, victims of gunfire, anyone, any cause of death).

Cynthia

Charlie MV
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I know some Doug Clark. Anybody remember him?

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rainbowgardener
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I love Marge Piercy, (contemporary) poet, essayist, novelist. Just to give you a sample, here's her poem To Be of Use (also the title of the the book of poems it appears in) :

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

tedln
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Lorax,

There seem to be a few expat Canadians on this forum. Why has no one mentioned KD Lang (especially when she sang Leonard Cohens "Hallelujah") or possibly when she sang "Crying" with Roy Orbison (a good Texas lad)?

Ted
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tedln
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Charlie MV wrote:I know some Doug Clark. Anybody remember him?
Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts or Doug Clark, English poet who died this year?

Ted
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lorax
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tedln wrote:Lorax,

There seem to be a few expat Canadians on this forum. Why has no one mentioned KD Lang (especially when she sang Leonard Cohens "Hallelujah") or possibly when she sang "Crying" with Roy Orbison (a good Texas lad)?

Ted
As a musician, kd lang (who is from my own home-province) is a lovely lady and an amazing voice. As a poetess, however, she's not as good as Cohen. And I'd tend to mark Leonard Cohen as the poet, since Halleleuja is his and has simply been covered to death.

Charlie MV
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tedln wrote:
Charlie MV wrote:I know some Doug Clark. Anybody remember him?
Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts or Doug Clark, English poet who died this year?

Ted

Get 'em from the peanut man.



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