barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
You've probably read Percy Shelley's poem "Ozymandias"... but did you know that Shelley's friend Horace Smith wrote his own poem on the same subject at the same time? Shelley's version is far more well-known, and probably has better poetry, but I really like the post-apocalyptic twist ending of Smith's version:

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

And for your convenience and ease of comparison, here's Shelley's version:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"Think when we talk of of horses, that you see them..."

I adore Shakespeare's prologue to Henry V. He understood so well the role of the audience's imagination in filling in the details that the medium cannot.

"...can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass..."
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
If soldiers all were pugilists there would not be a war,
For pugilists would want to know what they were fighting for.
For instance:
If Tommy Atkins had been told to beat up Herman Schmitz,
And Herman had been told to blow the other into bits,
And if they had been pugilists they would have answered "No!
We will not fight unless we get a section of the dough.
We will not risk our arms and legs and shed our ruddy gore,
While you who fatten on the fight make millions by the score.
Although it is a noble stunt to redden hill and dale,
We will not fight unless we get a section of the kale."
And thus the world-wide warfare would be ended in a minute,
For bankers would not start a war if there were nothing in it.

("Yellow-Legs and Pugs," quoted in the May 1917 "Journal of Electrical Workers and Operators" and attributed to "a wise wage-slave somewhere"; later recited by Utah Phillips on his album "I've Got to Know")
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
This is the America I remember; the America of big cities and strange frontier and tall ships and taller buildings and clever farmers and Yankee ingenuity; the America where everything is new and everything is big and you can keep your old folk heroes because we have new folk heroes here. This is an America I could be proud of.

They Have Yarns by Carl Sandburg

"They have yarns
Of a skyscraper so tall they had to put hinges
On the two top stories so to let the moon go by,
Of one corn crop in Missouri when the roots
Went so deep and drew off so much water
The Mississippi riverbed that year was dry,
Of pancakes so thin they had only one side,
Of 'a fog so thick we shingled the barn and six feet out on the fog,'
Of Pecos Pete straddling a cyclone in Texas and riding it to the west
coast where 'it rained out under him,'
Of the man who drove a swarm of bees across the Rocky Mountains and
the Desert 'and didn’t lose a bee,'
Of a mountain railroad curve where the engineer in his cab can touch
the caboose and spit in the conductor’s eye..."
barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she's done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

(from The Random House Book of POETRY for Children; no author given)
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
"I hate it how abandoning capitalization has become trendy on restaurant menus."

"You can blame e. e. cummings for that if you'd like."

"Stupid e. e. cummings! I wish he was e. e. goings instead!"


Nov. 12th, 2012 03:30 pm
barnabas_truman: (Default)
Here is another poem I like. I first learned it in 12th grade English class, and it really struck a chord with my latent wanderlust.

by Peter Viereck

Also Ulysses once--that other war.
      (Is it because we find his scrawl
      Today on every privy door
      That we forget his ancient role?)
Also was there--he did it for the wages--
When a Cathay-drunk Genoese set sail.
Whenever "longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,"
Kilroy is there;
      he tells The Miller's Tale.

At times he seems a paranoic king
Who stamps his crest on walls and says "My Own!"
But in the end he fades like a lost tune,
Tossed here and there, whom all the breezes sing.
"Kilroy was here"; these words sound wanly gay,
      Haughty yet tired with long marching.
He is Orestes--guilty of what crime?--
      For whom the Furies still are searching;
      When they arrive, the find their prey
(Leaving his name to mock them) went away.
Sometimes he does not flee from them in time:
"Kilroy was--"
            with his blood a dying man
      Wrote half the phrase out in Batan.

Kilroy, beware. "HOME" is the final trap
That lurks for you in many a wily shape:
In pipe-and-slippers plus a Loyal Hound
      Or fooling around, just fooling around.
Kind to the old (their warm Penelope)
But fierce to boys
      thus "home" becomes that sea,

Horribly disguised, where you were always drowned--
      (How could suburban Crete condone
The yarns you would have V-mailed from the sun?)--
And folksy fishes sip Icarian tea.

One stab of hopeless wings imprinted your
      Exultant Kilroy-signature
Upon sheer sky for all the world to stare:
      "I was there! I was there! I was there!"

God is like Kilroy. He, too, sees it all;
That's how He knows of every sparrow's fall;
That's why we prayed each time the tightropes cracked
On which our loveliest clowns contrived their act.

The G.I. Faustus who was
Strolled home again. "What was it like outside?"
Asked Can't, with his good neighbors Ought and But
And pale Perhaps and grave-eyed Better Not;
For "Kilroy" means: the world is very wide.
      He was there, he was there, he was there!

And in the suburbs Can't sat down and cried.

Sea Fever

Sep. 2nd, 2012 08:58 pm
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
This is a poem I like. You may recognize one line that was quoted in Star Trek, but it's a good deal older than that. I think it sums up the essence of everything I love about the songs and stories of the sea.

Sea Fever
by John Masefield

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
barnabas_truman: (Default)
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

--Howard Thurman


Nov. 17th, 2005 10:43 pm
barnabas_truman: (Default)
...because barelyproper wanted to know the clean version of it.

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
His daughter, named Nan,
Ran off with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nan tuck it.
barnabas_truman: (oldstyle)
A poem I wrote for one of the education/cultural awareness courses I'm taking. Wrote it fifteen minutes before it was due, because the best mood for creativity is last-minute panic! Yeah, it probably could've turned out better but I'm leaving it as it is. The prompt was to write a poem beginning "I am from..." about my cultural origins.

I am from Narnia, from Oz and Middle-Earth,
from Discworld, from The Valley;
I've travelled with wanderers, studied with wizards,
fought with giants, swum with serpents.
I have crossed the Deadly Desert, braved the fires of Mount Doom;
the Deep Magic from the Beginning of Time gives me courage.
The wisdom of the Norse gods, the legacy of the Greek heroes.
I know these tales, and, like a Phoenix,
am born again at the beginning
when I read them once more.

I am from the Music, I am from the Dance,
the Beat that holds the world together.
My fingers prance upon the keyboard,
my wooden hammers fly across the dulcimer,
my soul flows like breath through my penny-whistle,
and I beat a primal rhythm on my drum.
Every people has its music,
every culture has its own.
Strip away the melody
strip away the notes
strip away the instruments
and everyone plays to one rhythm.
The world is a drum circle, and I gladly join in.

I am from the Euclidean Plane.
I know the location of every point, and every point in potentia.
I feel the lines flowing around me, I construct a perfect polygon.
From Euclid's axioms, the cornerstones, I construct a flat cathedral
of points and lines, circles and squares, angles right and otherwise:
a monument, in perfect scale, to sacred geometrics.
I measure the Earth, I measure the Stars, I measure space and time;
Those axioms aren't what they seem--this world is curved, I find.
Perhaps I'm not Euclidean after all...


barnabas_truman: (Default)

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