tuesday topics: six. poems

April 25, 2017

so april is national poetry month, don't you know. april seventeenth was national haiku day. i'm supposed to write one of those for this month's scavenger hunt. that's not happened yet.

one of the things i liked about that book everything everything that i was reluctant to include in the post because i didn't want to include spoilers there (but i'm going to do so here because it's my bloggy and i can if i want to) is that when maddy chooses to shut herself off from the world, olly knows her well enough to attempt to sway her back in it by using poetry. he likes limericks. she likes haiku. so the first poems he sends are limericks, but his last effort, his final attempt is a haiku, a very simple one:

five syllables here
and now here are seven more
i love you maddy
(page 260).

my parents have books all over the house. my father made a wall-length, floor-to-ceiling bookcase of cedar and glass. there must be thousands of books on it. there are books in every room of this house. this is what happens when you're raised by english teachers and choose to major in the subject yourself. our house is like a library.

so for this particular edition of tuesday topics, i made a quick study of those cedar shelves and the trunk of children's books in the den and will choose poems from my findings.

from brian wildsmith's mother goose: a collection of nursery rhymes. i want to say this is one of the books we had in my childhood, but my mother's the sort of woman to give things away once we'd outgrown them, so i can't be sure. it looks old, the pages have separated from the spine, and memory recognizes it, though, so maybe.

ride a cock-horse to banbury cross,
to see a fine lady upon a white horse;
with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
she shall have music wherever she goes
(page 8).

from the random house book of poetry for children: a treasury of 572 poems for today's child selected by jack prelutsky and illustrated by arnold lobel. i want to say this is one i bought -- er, had mom buy for me -- in a book fair during fifth or sixth grade, maybe. yep. just i just opened the page, and there on the cover is my notations for my "library".

mountain brook
because of the steepness,
the streamlet runs white,
narrow and broken
as lightning by night.

because of the rocks,
it leaps this way and that,
fresh as a flower,
quick as a cat
(elizabeth coatsworth, page 28).

from whitman's leaves of grass. my mother's, i'm sure. those cedar and glass shelves my father built? there's another set that rises on either side of their bed and meets high near the ceiling over it. bookcase and nightstands combined. i pulled this one off the shelves on her side. she's marked a couple of pages. i'll share one of those. there are two on this particular page. one is called to a pupil. i was inclined to share that one, but i'm liking this other one better...

unfolded out of the folds
unfolded out of the folds of the woman man comes unfolded,
and is always to come unfolded,
unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth
is to come the superbest man of the earth,
unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come the friendliest man,
unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman
can a man be form'd of perfect body,
unfolded only out of the inimitable poems of woman can come
the poems of man, (only thence have my poems come;)
unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman i love,
only thence can appear the strong and arrogant man i love,
unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled woman i love,
only thence comes the brawny embraces of the man,
unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain come all the folds
of the man's brain, duly obedient,
unfolded out of the justice of the woman all justice is unfolded,
unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sympathy;
a man is a great thing upon the earth and through eternity,
but every jot of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman;
first the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be shaped in himself
(page 307).

from an anthology of old english poetry translated by charles w. kennedy. also from my mother's side of the shelves.

the voyage of life
now is it most like as if on an ocean
across cold water we sail in our keels,
over the wide sea in our ocean-steeds,
faring on in our flood-wood. fearful the stream,
the tumult of waters, whereon we toss
in this feeble world. fierce are the surges
on the ocean-lanes. hard was our life
before we made harbor over the foaming seas.
then help was vouchsafed when god's spirit-son
guided us to the harbor of salvation and granted us grace
that we may understand over the ship's side
where to moor our sea-steeds, our ocean-stallions,
fast at anchor. let us fix our hope
upon that haven which the lord of heaven,
in holiness on high, has opened his ascension
(page 35).

from cleaning the well: poems old and new by paul ruffin. from my bookcase, by my professor at sam houston.

old woman in winter
it is because she does not
see me watching that she stops
and lifts some curious object
and holds it before her face,
this old woman on the street.
whatever worth she was does not show,
covered by a heavy coat
like some ancient deadly sin.
even the sun seems to refuse
to shine for her, lost in clouds
and cold wind. she pockets her prize,
turns her beaked face toward me,
then scuttles off to where she
doubtless was not going,
the coat snagging on a claw-like shrub
at the edge of the park,
where she disappears,
her humped form blending
in the cold woods and coming dark
(page 7).

what are some of your favorites? share them with me!


  1. This has always been my favorite sonnet (No. 55)
    Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
    But you shall shine more bright in these contents
    Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
    When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
    And broils root out the work of masonry,
    Not Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
    The living record of your memory.
    'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
    Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
    Even in the eyes of all posterity
    That wear this world out to the ending doom.
    So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
    You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

  2. I never read poetry. We did whole segments and semesters on it in school, but it's not something that usually crosses my radar- which is kind of sad. Thanks for this dose of poetry today!

  3. What I enjoyed most is imagining you walk around your home, pulling books from shelves, reading and finding some that connect with you.
    I am not a poetry reader. I actually tried, for this prompt, and I just didn't get anywhere with it :(