Post a Poem
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Stars Down To Earth

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Post: #11
RE: Post a Poem
This bizarre poem is from John Dolan (the "War Nerd" from that Exile mag). It's not exactly brilliant poetry, but the content is still pretty interesting.

The Problem Is How To Thank
by John Dolan

The problem is how to thank...
A dead Ukrainian of the thirteenth century
who took a Mongol arrow in the throat
for you.
How to thank such a person...
by going to the mall, perhaps?
"He would have wanted it that way",
as basketball jocks are taught to say
when their supposed best friend and teammate
dies just before the tournament?
No, I don't think so. How do you thank that dead Ukrainian?
Think fast, because even as we speak

The Mongols are coming. They are here.

Picture a clear morning then,
farm folk are walking to their fields
as their breath huffs
tiny ghost dragons in the air.

No - not yet, wait, wait...

They're poor and thin, and the winds blow,
it's the harsh East of Europe,
it's the Little Ice Age.
Only farm folk, without enough food,
half-starved and quite short
but some of them are different, see that girl
who is feeding her chickens - she's pretty in her feudal, slave way...

Wait, wait . . .
They are here.

It has to be imagined...
Just imagine what you could do
if you'd ridden three thousand miles
over the empty steppes in winter after winter
from a place with no water
and no culture and no books and no nothing, only killing,
killing as a job,
a boring job with still some odd funny moments,
when the arrow takes a little kid at a funny angle
and it runs around dead but running;
but it's dull work for the most part, dull and always boring.
no rules at all,
no sensibilities,
no science and Voltaire
no Gandhi or vaccines...
So, the Mongols come.
A rumble, a rumor, color
then the first wave crashes
into your village: on a red dawn
the creaking of carts and then stumbling, crying, sobbing,
Turk-looking folk,
maddened with fear but only fleeing.
All month they pass through,
and they fight if anyone tries to stop them.
They are so afraid of what's behind them,
that nothing ahead, nothing westward,
can ever frighten them.
(What waits at last westward is Fresno, California - but that's much later.)
At the end of the thirtieth day
one these Turkic women
who has just reached the far edge of the village
falls forward and vomits blood,
an arrow in her neck.
And at last,

They are here.

Riding up quietly: The little men
on their little steppe ponies;
and they dance around the village, a swift horse-dance
closer and closer;
and the oldest woman in the village
goes out to talk to them
and falls down and dies,
and the circle gets smaller and smaller
like a circle of crows,
and everybody inside it lies dead,
and then the houses are burning,
and there is another and another village to take care of,
and then it's dark.
And at the village, a day's ride eastward,
it is dead silent now. Everyone, every man, woman, child
is forever quiet, and the village's name
will not even be remembered.

Well, it's true, it happened many times...
Doesn't the truth have some kind of rights?

The Mongols didn't even take casualties
they usually fought outnumbered;
and oh! how they danced
in the saddle, at the tip of bow-range,
and used up their arrows, with no emotion -
a day at the office, fire drill, point A to point B,
already practiced it across a three thousand miles,
a black arrow on the world map
inside which every village is dead.
By now, slaughter is only a kind of manual labor,
and they daydream as they cut down villagers,
vaguely wondering, as some Hungarian goes down,
gurgling with a feathered arrow in his throat,
musing, as some Russian who begged the saints
to take care of his kids
falls bleeding to the ground -
the horse-dancer draws his next arrow, vaguely wondering

What do they call this place here?
Good grazing...

end of story. Go among the dead,
and collect your arrows.
Let the Turk auxiliaries play with the women,
as long as they remember
to cut their throats afterward.

You have never thanked the villagers.
Instead, somehow,
you want this story to have a moral,
(or better yet, an anti-moral)
Ah, there isn't a God; but why?
The problem is not whether but how,
and it's not God,
but all the dead villagers you have slighted.
What will you get them for their birthdays?
What would be the perfect gift
for the old grandmother who stepped directly
in front of Descartes when the Mongol aimed at him?
What can you write on the thank-you card, with its picture of a kitten,
to the Tatar archer who delayed Subotai a minute or two,
so that Voltaire could write his dialogue?
What would satisfy the Russian spearman
who gave Hume enough time to wax facetiously?

If you could deal with the dead-villager problem,
you could feel good about your weight,
be nicer to people around you,
once you didn't have to feel inferior to
a dead short Ukrainian in the thirteenth century
who took an arrow for you,
like the Brooklyn kid in a World War 2 movie,
who died
so that...

So you father's father's father
could live on in relative safety
making his way through a squalid lice-ridden life
as a thirteenth-century peasant under the Norman knights
occupying their rain-swept scrap of Irish land;
so that, in turn, his son's son's son
could fill the same office 400 years later
to the ever-crueler retired Cromwellian lords
to whom were parceled out
land, daughter, stock and wife;
so that in turn, your father's father -
in the fullness of time, the goodness of time -
could eat the famine grass on the Cavan roadside and die
- but only after siring a son;
so that his son could punch Malthus' clock
for another forty years of filthy poverty and then die
after siring another, who -
and then his son -
and his, and at last,
in the fullness of time
could as reward for their extraordinary patience,
be allowed to pay steerage to Jersey city
and there work in the harbor
and feed ten kids, two of whom died,
so that your father could move to Colorado and then Oakland
(westward, ever westward) and then, finally,
at the end of all things, there is Fresno, California
so that you - you, the end and purpose of all things, the crown of creation,
could live in plenty and make worthwhile an eon of suffering!

- Argh.
You get the idea anyway.
2012 Sep 11 00:16
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Post: #12
RE: Post a Poem

Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: »Bitte, beuge mich!«

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

»Der Werwolf«, sprach der gute Mann,
»des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie mans nennt,
den Wenwolf, -- damit hats ein End.«

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
»Indessen«, bat er, »füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!«

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, dass er von ihr nichts wußte.
Zwar Wölfe gäbs in grosser Schar,
doch »Wer« gäbs nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind--
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

- Christian Morgenstern

And here are three extremely liberal translations, as Morgenstern was the German Lewis Carroll:

One night, a werewolf, having dined,
left his wife to clean the cave
and visited a scholar's grave
asking, "How am I declined?"

Whatever way the case was pressed
the ghost could not decline his guest,
but told the wolf (who'd been well-bred
and crossed his paws before the dead),

"The Iswolf, so we may commence,
the Waswolf, simple past in tense,
the Beenwolf, perfect; so construed,
the Werewolf is subjunctive mood."

The werewolf's teeth with thanks were bright,
but, mitigating his delight,
there rose the thought, how could one be
hypostasized contingency?

The ghost observed that few could live,
if werewolves were indicative;
whereat his guest perceived the role
of Individual in the Whole.

Condition contrary to fact,
a single werewolf Being lacked
but in his conjugation showed
the full existence, a la mode.

One night a Were-wolf slipped away
From his Were-wife and his Were-wolf child,
To the grave of a rotten schoolmaster
To decline himself as noun-beguiled.

Ghost-like gray the schoolmaster rose
From out of the gravestone's head,
And spoke to the Wolf, crossed paws suppose
To beseech a philologist long dead:

"The Were-wolf," spoke the spirited man,
"Of the Were-wolf, in the genitive penned,
To the Were-wolf, is the dative scan,
And objective, a Were-wolf; that's the end."

Such cases flattered the wolf called Were,
Its Were-wolf eyeballs rolling widely wide.
"However tense, all remains a blur;
What's singular? What's plural?" he cried.

Alas the corrupted schoolmaster confessed
"Incorruptible are most grammatical rules.
While wolves is plural, as you've guessed,
Wolf is singular, in most of our grammar schools."

With this, the Were-wolf howled and cried,
"I am not singular! I've a wife and child!"
And so the Were-wolf rushed home to bride
And Were-wolf child, tensely reconciled.

A Werewolf, troubled by his name,
Left wife and brood one night and came
To a hidden graveyard to enlist
The aid of a long-dead philologist.

"Oh sage, wake up, please don't berate me,"
He howled sadly, "Just conjugate me."
The seer arose a bit unsteady
Yawned twice, wheezed once, and then was ready.

"Well, `Werewolf' is your plural past,
While `Waswolf' is singularly cast:
There's `Amwolf' too, the present tense,
And `Iswolf,' `Arewolf' in this same sense."

"I know that--I'm no mental cripple--
The future form and participle
Are what I crave," the beast replied.
The scholar paused--again he tried:

"A `Will-be-wolf?' It's just too long:
`Shall-be-wolf?' `Has-been-wolf?' Utterly wrong!
Such words are wounds beyond all suture--
I'm sorry, but you have no future."

The Werewolf knew better--his sons still slept
At home, and homewards now he crept,
Happy, humble, without apology
For such folly of philology.

Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2012 Sep 11 00:27
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Post: #13
Thumbs Up RE: Post a Poem
(2012 Sep 10 23:58)Ville Wrote:  
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe

Which of course brings us to the greatest synthpop album ever released:

I like to look at the human self-model as a neurocomputational weapon, a certain data structure that the brain can activate from time to time.

Thomas Metzinger
2012 Sep 11 23:58
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Post: #14
RE: Post a Poem
Or. more originally, the Alan Parsons Project:

Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2012 Sep 12 00:41
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Post: #15
RE: Post a Poem
One of my favourite poems and poets of all time:

Quote:Emily Dickinson
Heart, we will forget him!
You and I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me
That I my thoughts may dim;
Haste! lest while you're lagging.
I may remember him!

Quote:I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

The first one is true for me on a few accounts.
2012 Sep 12 13:09
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Post: #16
RE: Post a Poem
Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost (1923)

Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2012 Sep 13 00:18
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Post: #17
RE: Post a Poem
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772–1834

Kubla Khan

IN Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills
Where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But O, that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she play'd,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me,
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
2012 Sep 13 16:50
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Crna Gora

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Post: #18
RE: Post a Poem
It is not by poet more by popular singer, is one of my favouritesSmile

Only Time

Who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows
only time
And who can say
if your love grows
as your heart chose
only time

Who can say
why your heart sighs
as your love flies
only time
And who can say
why your heart cries
when your love lies
only time

Who can say
when the roads meet
that love might be
in your heart
And who can say
when the day sleeps
if the night keeps
all your heart

Night keeps all your heart

Who can say
if your love grows
as your heart chose
only time
And who can say
where the road goes
where the day flows
only time

Who knows - only time
Who knows - only time
2012 Sep 14 11:43
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Post: #19
RE: Post a Poem

Horloge! dieu sinistre, effrayant, impassible,
Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit: "Souviens-toi!
Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton coeur plein d'effroi
Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible;

Le Plaisir vaporeux fuira vers l'horizon
Ainsi qu'une sylphide au fond de la coulisse;
Chaque instant te dévore un morceau du délice
A chaque homme accordé pour toute sa saison.

Trois mille six cents fois par heure, la Seconde
Chuchote: Souviens-toi! - Rapide, avec sa voix
D'insecte, Maintenant dit: Je suis Autrefois,
Et j'ai pompé ta vie avec ma trompe immonde!

Remember! Souviens-toi! prodigue! Esto memor!
(Mon gosier de métal parle toutes les langues.)
Les minutes, mortel folâtre, sont des gangues
Qu'il ne faut pas lâcher sans en extraire l'or!

Souviens-toi que le Temps est un joueur avide
Qui gagne sans tricher, à tout coup! c'est la loi.
Le jour décroît; la nuit augmente; souviens-toi!
Le gouffre a toujours soif; la clepsydre se vide.

Tantôt sonnera l'heure où le divin Hasard,
Où l'auguste Vertu, ton épouse encor vierge,
Où le Repentir même (oh! la dernière auberge!),
Où tout te dira Meurs, vieux lâche! il est trop tard!"

Charles Baudelaire
2012 Sep 14 12:04
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Post: #20
RE: Post a Poem
A Curse For A Nation

I heard an angel speak last night,
And he said 'Write!
Write a Nation's curse for me,
And send it over the Western Sea.'

I faltered, taking up the word:
'Not so, my lord!
If curses must be, choose another
To send thy curse against my brother.

'For I am bound by gratitude,
By love and blood,
To brothers of mine across the sea,
Who stretch out kindly hands to me.'

'Therefore,' the voice said, 'shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
From the summits of love a curse is driven,
As lightning is from the tops of heaven.'

'Not so,' I answered. 'Evermore
My heart is sore
For my own land's sins: for little feet
Of children bleeding along the street:

'For parked-up honors that gainsay
The right of way:
For almsgiving through a door that is
Not open enough for two friends to kiss:

'For love of freedom which abates
Beyond the Straits:
For patriot virtue starved to vice on
Self-praise, self-interest, and suspicion:

'For an oligarchic parliament,
And bribes well-meant.
What curse to another land assign,
When heavy-souled for the sins of mine?'

'Therefore,' the voice said, 'shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
Because thou hast strength to see and hate
A foul thing done within thy gate.'

'Not so,' I answered once again.
'To curse, choose men.
For I, a woman, have only known
How the heart melts and the tears run down.'

'Therefore,' the voice said, 'shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
Some women weep and curse, I say
(And no one marvels), night and day.

'And thou shalt take their part to-night,
Weep and write.
A curse from the depths of womanhood
Is very salt, and bitter, and good.'

So thus I wrote, and mourned indeed,
What all may read.
And thus, as was enjoined on me,
I send it over the Western Sea.

The Curse

Because ye have broken your own chain
With the strain
Of brave men climbing a Nation's height,
Yet thence bear down with brand and thong
On souls of others, -- for this wrong
This is the curse. Write.

Because yourselves are standing straight
In the state
Of Freedom's foremost acolyte,
Yet keep calm footing all the time
On writhing bond-slaves, -- for this crime
This is the curse. Write.

Because ye prosper in God's name,
With a claim
To honor in the old world's sight,
Yet do the fiend's work perfectly
In strangling martyrs, -- for this lie
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while kings conspire
Round the people's smouldering fire,
And, warm for your part,
Shall never dare -- O shame!
To utter the thought into flame
Which burns at your heart.
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while nations strive
With the bloodhounds, die or survive,
Drop faint from their jaws,
Or throttle them backward to death;
And only under your breath
Shall favor the cause.
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while strong men draw
The nets of feudal law
To strangle the weak;
And, counting the sin for a sin,
Your soul shall be sadder within
Than the word ye shall speak.
This is the curse. Write.

When good men are praying erect
That Christ may avenge His elect
And deliver the earth,
The prayer in your ears, said low,
Shall sound like the tramp of a foe
That's driving you forth.
This is the curse. Write.

When wise men give you their praise,
They shall praise in the heat of the phrase,
As if carried too far.
When ye boast your own charters kept true,
Ye shall blush; for the thing which ye do
Derides what ye are.
This is the curse. Write.

When fools cast taunts at your gate,
Your scorn ye shall somewhat abate
As ye look o'er the wall;
For your conscience, tradition, and name
Explode with a deadlier blame
Than the worst of them all.
This is the curse. Write.

Go, wherever ill deeds shall be done,
Go, plant your flag in the sun
Beside the ill-doers!
And recoil from clenching the curse
Of God's witnessing Universe
With a curse of yours.
This is the curse. Write.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2012 Sep 14 12:11
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