Friday Poetry: Hugo Williams

Happy Friday!

Today is an unusual one for me because I have no teaching! Usually I have some lessons to teach but everyone is on holiday so that means I get an extra day off which is nice. Hopefully this means a little bit more reading.

The chosen poem for this week is by Hugo Williams. I must admit I hate a nettle sting hence why I have chosen this poem. I do like nettle tea though, very calming.

Joy

Not so much a sting

as a faint burn

 

not so much a pain

as the memory of pain

 

the memory of tears

flowing freely down cheeks

 

in a sort of joy

that there was nothing

 

worse in the world

than stinging nettle stings

 

and nothing better

than cool dock leaves.

 

Hugo Williams

 

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Friday Poetry: Gillian Clarke

I love plums! Green Gages are my absolute favourite. Due to this I have chosen a poem about plums by the Welsh poet Gillian Clarke.

 

Plums

When their time comes they fall

without wind, without rain.

They seep through the trees’ muslin

in a slow fermentation.

 

Daily the low sun warms them

in a late love that is sweeter

than summer. In bed at night

we hear heartbeat of fruitfall.

 

The secretive slugs crawl home

to the burst honeys, are found

in the morning mouth on mouth,

inseparable.

 

We spread patchwork counterpanes

for clean catch. Baskets fill, 

never before such harvest,

such a hunters’ moon burning

 

the hawthorns, drunk on syrups

that are richer by night

when spiders pitch

tents in the wet grass.

 

This morning the red sun

is opening like a rose

on our white wall, prints there

the fishbone shadow of a fern.

 

The early blackbirds fly

guilty from a dawn haul

of fallen fruit. We too

breakfast on sweetnesses.

 

Soon plum trees will be bone,

grown delicate with frost’s

formalities. Their black

angles will tear the snow.

 

Gillian Clarke

 

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Sappho: Poems and Fragments by Sappho (Review)

Sappho: Poems and Fragments by Sappho, translated by Josephine Balmer

About the author

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Sappho (Σαπφώ or Ψάπφω) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. In history and poetry texts, she is sometimes associated with the city of Mytilene on Lesbos; she was also said to have been born in Eresos, another city on Lesbos. Her birth was sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired throughout antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.

About the translator

Josephine Balmer is a British poet, translator of classics and literary critic.

Blurb

This second, expanded edition of Josephine Balmer’s classic translation of the Greek poet Sappho has new, recently-discovered fragments, including the Brothers Poem, the Kypris Song and the Cologne Fragment. In a new essay on these additions she discusses the issues raised in translating these fragmentary and ever-shifting texts. Poems & Fragments is now the only complete, readily-available translation in English of Sappho’s surviving work. Sappho was one of the greatest poets in classical literature. Her lyric poetry is among the finest ever written, and although little of her work has survived and little is known about her, she is regarded not just as one of the greatest women poets, but often as the greatest woman poet in world literature. In a comprehensive introduction, Balmer discusses Sappho’s poetry, its historical background and critical reputation, as well as aspects of contemporary Greek society, sexuality, and women.

Review

This is another read for my Masters and I must admit I was very excited to read it as I had done a unit on Sappho and just a handful of her work so it was nice to read all her known works. Sappho’s work sadly is mainly only fragments and I will be honest I find this so depressing as from the known fragments that we do have it is evident that Sappho was an amazing talent. I just hope more of her work is found over time like it has been so far.

The introduction of this book is excellent and I really enjoyed how it was broken down into sections and was so informative. I also enjoyed the section on the new fragments that have been found recently.

I’ve always found Sappho a fascinating character and I wish more was known about this very talented poet but sadly not a lot is known and what we do know was written many years after her death and can’t be relied upon.

Sappho’s poetry although only fragmentary is full of passion and life and it was a joy to read. Her poetry is full of different forms of love; romantic love, maternal love, friendship and love for all the many wonders in this world. I love reading her poetry because it is as relevant today as it was when it was written, Sappho is timeless.

Balmer has been really sympathetic with the translation and the translation flows well which makes reading this book a joy. I will admit I could not put it down once I started reading it.

I highly recommend this book, it might be mainly fragments but it is worth the read to see how this amazing woman’s voice has survived all these years and opens up a small window to a part of history that was thousands of years ago. I really hope we continue to find more of her work and hopefully learn more about this talented poet. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I leave you with one of my favourite fragments.

Beauty endures only for as long as it is seen;

goodness, beautiful today, will remain so tomorrow.

 

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Friday Poetry: Allan Ahlberg

Happy Friday!

Lots of schools are now going back so I have chosen an appropriate poem for the occasion.

 

Please Mrs Butler

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps copying my work, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Go and sit in the hall, dear.

Go and sit in the sink.

Take your books on the roof, my lamb.

Do whatever you think.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Keep it in your hand, dear.

Hide it up your vest.

Swallow it if you like, love.

Do what you think best.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.

Run away to sea.

Do whatever you can, my flower.

But don’t ask me!

 

Allan Ahlberg

 

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The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

About the author

Homer is the presumed author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. There are loads of legends regarding the life of Homer however, what we can definitely confirm about him is his centrality to ancient Greek culture.

About the translator

Emily Wilson is a professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Blurb

Composed at the rosy-fingered dawn of world literature almost three millennia ago, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.

This fresh, authoritative translation captures the beauty of this ancient poem as well as the drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, none more so than the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this version as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.

Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, Emily Wilson’s Odyssey sings with a voice that echoes Homer’s music; matching the number of lines in the Greek original, the poem sails along at Homer’s swift, smooth pace.

A fascinating, informative introduction explores the Bronze Age milieu that produced the epic, the poem’s major themes, the controversies about its origins, and the unparalleled scope of its impact and influence. Maps drawn especially for this volume, a pronunciation glossary, and extensive notes and summaries of each book make this is an Odyssey that will be treasured by a new generation of readers.

Review

The Odyssey is one of history’s greatest stories and you can see why. It has monsters, fighting, adventure, gods, violence and much more. It does not stay still for a moment and  Wilson’s translation keeps the story fluid and easy to read.

The introduction by Wilson was fantastic and I could not put it down. I will admit sometimes I struggle with introductions to books mainly because sometimes the people who write them always come across as rather stuck up and they love to use extremely long words which are just not necessary. Wilson however writes an amazingly informative introduction that is interesting and keeps you hooked on every word. It was a joy to read and left me excited to start the epic poem. I also enjoyed the translator’s notes as it really showed how Wilson translated the poem and why she did certain things.

The poem was equally as good and again I could not put it down. It is a tale well known and has been translated by many different people through the years and many versions have been published. This translation in my opinion was stunning. It kept the flow of the poem and was almost song like to read which fit well as they think originally it would have been told orally.

Odysseus has a seriously rough deal. He spent 10 years at war in Troy and then he can’t get home. His journey is filled with monsters, women who want him as husband, and the loss of his men. Odysseus is cunning though and uses his skills at lying to get him out of problems with a little help from certain gods.

I highly recommend this book to people with a classical background and to people who have never read a classical book and want to try one. It is such a good read and one I will happily read again. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Friday Poetry: Anon

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

I hope everyone has some good reading planned for the long weekend. Now you will have noticed this is a day late but to be honest I forgot, but I thought I would still post the chosen poem anyway. Also it isn’t technically a poem but hopefully you will enjoy it.

 

This is the House That Jack Built

 

This is the farmer sowing his corn,

That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,

That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,

That married the man all tattered and torn,

That kissed the maiden all forlorn,

That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,

That tossed the dog,

That worried the cat,

That killed the rat,

That ate the malt

That lay in the house that Jack built.

 

Anon

 

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Friday Poetry: Lord Byron

Happy Friday!

My chosen poem today is by the notorious Lord Byron who is known for his often outrageous writings and misadventures.

 

So, We’ll Go No More a-Roving

 

So, we’ll go no more a-roving

So late into the night,

Though the heart be still as loving,

And the moon be still as bright.

 

For the sword outwears its sheath,

And the soul wears out the breast,

And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.

 

Though the night was made for loving,

And the day returns too soon,

Yet we’ll go no more a-roving

By the light of the moon.

Lord Byron

 

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Friday Poetry: T. S. Eliot

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone has some good weekend plans ahead. This week’s poem is an old favourite. As some of you know I love the cat poems by Eliot so I thought I would share another of my favourites.

The Rum Tug Tugger

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any call for me to shout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious beast:
His disobliging ways are a matter of habit.
If you offer him fish then he always wants a feast;
When there isn’t any fish then he won’t eat rabbit.
If you offer him cream then he sniffs and sneers,
For he only likes what he finds for himself;
So you’ll catch him in it right up to the ears,
If you put it away on the larder shelf.

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing,
The Rum Tum Tugger doesn’t care for a cuddle;
But he’ll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing,
For there’s nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any need for me to spout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

T. S. Eliot

 

The Rum Tug Tugger really is the epitome of cats.

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Friday Poetry: Hugo Williams

Happy Friday!

This week I have chosen a poem by Hugo Williams. Williams was born in 1942 and is a British poet, journalist and travel writer.

Reading through some poetry this week and this poem really stuck out for me and I have read it quite a few times since discovering it.

 

Tides

The evening advances, then withdraws again

Leaving our cups and books like islands on the floor.

We are drifting you and I,

As far from one another as the young heroes

Of these two novels we have just laid down.

For that is happiness: to wander alone

Surrounded by the moon, whose tides remind us of ourselves,

Our distances, and what we leave behind.

The lamp left on, the curtains letting in the light.

These things were promises. No doubt we will come

back to them.

 

Hugo Williams

 

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Friday Poetry: Ogden Nash

Happy Friday!

This week’s poem is a short one that made me laugh. It is by the American poet Ogden Nash and is based on homophones.

 

A Flea and a Fly

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly, ‘Let us flee!’

‘Let us fly!’ said the flea

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

 

Ogden Nash

 

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