SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: D H LAWRENCE

A WHITE BLOSSOM
by D H Lawrence

A tiny moon as white and small as a single jasmine flower
Leans all alone above my window, on night’s wintry bower,
Liquid as lime-tree blossom, soft as brilliant water or rain
She shines, the one white love of my youth, which all sin cannot stain.

D H Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English author, poet, playwright, essayist and literary critic. His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, human sexuality and instinct. (Annotated biography of D H Lawrence courtesy of publicdomainpoems.com, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: D H Lawrence is a name well-known among lovers of poetry, but from time to time a classic is in order! As is often the case for me, the end line of this poem won me over. The idea of a first love, one that becomes idealized and lives on in your heart forever on a pedestal, is a universal concept that Lawrence sums up splendidly with “the one white love of my youth, which all sin cannot stain.”

Want to read more by and about D H Lawrence?
DHLawrence.org

online-literature.com
poets.org

FRIDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: William Wordsworth

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

by William Wordsworth


A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.


William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) was an English Romantic poet who defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Unconventional for his time, he advocated the use of everyday language in verse. Also unusual was his choice of subject matter – primarily nature, but also women, children, the poor, and the oppressed. This revolutionary style gradually transformed into mainstream acceptability and Wordsworth was eventually named Poet Laureate of England in 1843.

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

By William Butler Yeats:

NO SECOND TROY

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

“No Second Troy” is reprinted from The Green Helmet and Other Poems. W.B. Yeats. Dundrum: Cuala Press, 1910.

ON BEING ASKED FOR A WAR POEM

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

“On Being Asked for a War Poem” is reprinted from The Wild Swans at Coole. W.B. Yeats. New York: Macmillan, 1919.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). (Annotated biography of William Butler Yeats courtesy of Wikipedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: I’ll be honest, I do not tend to be a fan of rhyming poetry. As a result, I tend to overlook many of the greats of yesteryear, such as Longfellow, Keats, and Yeats – to name a few. However, my mother informs me that William Butler Yeats was a relative of ours, being of the same Butlers from which my family comes. Having presented me with that information, my mother promptly informed me that I should feature Mr. Yeats on my Saturday Poetry Series. Well, what kind of a Jewish daughter would I be if I did not heed the subtly guilt-ridden instructions of my mother?

Of course I would not publish something that I do not stand behind, so I perused Mr. Yeats’ work and found two pieces that I am pleased to share here today. “No Second Troy” I adore for both its story and its end line. “On Being Asked For a War Poem” I find wholly appropriate for As It Ought To Be in that it explores the relationship between the poet and politics. I was doubly pleased as I learned more about Yeats to find that he himself was a politician in addition to a poet.

May the relationship between poetry and politics live long and prosper, and may poets have the power to make the change we want to see in the world, as it ought to be.

Want to read more by and about William Butler Yeats?

The National Library of Ireland Presents The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats
NobelPrize.org
Poets.org
The Literature Network
The Poetry Archive
Poetry Archive

SUNDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: “If” by Rudyard Kipling

kipling

 

IF

by Rudyard Kipling

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
 
 
 
Rudyard Kipling was a wildly prolific late 19th and early 20th century British author born in India. He is most famous for the novels, The Jungle Book and Kim, though he also published many poems, “If” being the most famous of them.