Saturday, December 22, 2012

Poetry in Movies: "Strong in will to strive..."

Recently, I saw the latest Bond film Skyfall , M recites the end of Tennyson's "Ulysses." Judy Drench's M only quotes the lines in bold below, but I couldn't resist these preceding lines. In poetry, lines build on one another like stones in a pyramid - here the conclusion resonates like its climatic apex.

Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought
               with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The scene in Skyfall juxtaposes the poetry with cutaways of violent scenes of armed assassins that are coming to kill M. In the wake of Newton, CT, the poem as well as the violence elicited unsettling feels yet consoling in the final lines. Indeed, hearing the words "heroic heart" made me think of the young teacher that shielded her students, sacrificing her life while saving theirs. While we are left in horror and sorrow, I hope we find our "will" for a way to end gun violence.

As families morn for lost loved ones, we all mourn for those innocent women and children in CT.
Which reminds me, there may be no finer elegy than...

W. H. Auden's "Funeral Blues"

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

My hope is that they will not have died in vain and we will not yield until we do more to make this a safer world for all children.

Auden's poem creates a powerful moment of grief and catharsis in one of the funniest films I have seen, Four Weddings and a Funeral - a moving commentary on love.

More movies with poetry.

More Gratitude for Sarah Kay

"So, I write poems to figure things out. Sometimes, the only way I know how to work through something is by writing a poem." - Sarah Kay

End of her poem, "Hiroshima":

When I meet you, in that moment, 
I'm no longer a part of your future. 
I start quickly becoming part of your past. 
But in that instant, I get to share your present. 

And you, you get to share mine. 
And that is the greatest present of all. 
So if you tell me I can do the impossible, 
I'll probably laugh at you. 

I don't know if I can change the world yet, 
because I don't know that much about it -- 
and I don't know that much about reincarnation either, 
but if you make me laugh hard enough, 
sometimes I forget what century I'm in. 

This isn't my first time here. 
This isn't my last time here. 
These aren't the last words I'll share. 
But just in case, I'm trying my hardest to get it right this time around.

Check out:

What are three things you know to be true?

Poetry - Continued

The course has ended... but the poetry goes on.
As will the posts.
I am sorry to see this class end, but much was learned. The final exam essays were inspiring and moving - the goal accomplished: poetry matters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Between the form of Life and Life
The difference is as big
As Liquor at the Lip between
And Liquor in the Jug
The latter -- excellent to keep --
But for ecstatic need
The corkless is superior --
I know for I have tried

I could bring You Jewels—had I a mind to

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I could bring You Jewels—had I a mind to


I could bring You Jewels—had I a mind to—
But You have enough—of those—
I could bring You Odors from St. Domingo—
Colors—from Vera Cruz—

Berries of the Bahamas—have I—
But this little Blaze
Flickering to itself—in the Meadow—
Suits Me—more than those—

Never a Fellow matched this Topaz—
And his Emerald Swing—
Dower itself—for Bobadilo—
Better—Could I bring? 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (254)

Audio recording software >>

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
-Emily Dickinson 

My Life had stood-- a Loaded Gun

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My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun
        By Emily Dickinson

My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
In Corners - till a Day
The Owner passed - identified -
And carried Me away -

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods -
And now We hunt the Doe -
And every time I speak for Him -
The Mountains straight reply -

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow -
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through -

And when at Night - Our good Day done -
I guard My Master's Head -
'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
Deep Pillow - to have shared -

To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
None stir the second time -
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
Or an emphatic Thumb -

Though I than He - may longer live
He longer must - than I -
For I have but the power to kill,
Without--the power to die--

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm sorry for the Dead—Today

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I'm sorry for the Dead—Today


I'm sorry for the Dead—Today—
It's such congenial times
Old Neighbors have at fences—
It's time o' year for Hay.

And Broad—Sunburned Acquaintance
Discourse between the Toil—
And laugh, a homely species
That makes the Fences smile—

It seems so straight to lie away
From all of the noise of Fields—
The Busy Carts—the fragrant Cocks—
The Mower's Metre—Steals—

A Trouble lest they're homesick—
Those Farmers—and their Wives—
Set separate from the Farming—
And all the Neighbors' lives—
A Wonder if the Sepulchre
Don't feel a lonesome way—
When Men—and Boys—and Carts—and June,
Go down the Fields to "Hay"— 

The Mountains

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The Mountains -- grow unnoticed --
Their Purple figures rise

Without attempt -- Exhaustion --

Assistance -- or Applause --

In Their Eternal Faces

The Sun -- with just delight

Looks long -- and last -- and golden --

For fellowship -- at night --

Emily Dickinson 


It Cannot be Changed

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All but Death, can be Adjusted —
Dynasties repaired —
Systems — settled in their Sockets —
Citadels — dissolved —

Wastes of Lives — resown with Colors
By Succeeding Springs —
Death — unto itself — Exception —
Is exempt from Change —

Emily Dickinson

Her Smile Was Shaped Like Other Smiles

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Her smile was shaped like other smiles—
The Dimples ran along—
And still it hurt you, as some Bird
Did hoist herself, to sing,
Then recollect a Ball, she got—
And hold upon the Twig,
Convulsive, while the Music broke—
Like Beads—among the Bog—

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

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If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Afraid! Of whom am I afraid? (608)

Afraid! Of whom am I afraid? (608)

Afraid! Of whom am I afraid?
Not Death—for who is He?
The Porter of my Father's Lodge
As much abasheth me!

Of Life? 'Twere odd I fear [a] thing
That comprehendeth me
In one or two existences—
As Deity decree—

Of Resurrection? Is the East
Afraid to trust the Morn
With her fastidious forehead?
As soon impeach my Crown! 

As I was flipping though the pages this poem stuck out because it made me think of FDR's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech. In my mind's eye, I could see soldiers in the heat of battle thinking of this poem to give them strength. From a soldier's standpoint, the poem emphasizes the idea that fear must not enter their minds; that they must be ready to lay down their lives without a second thought. 

"Mother Nature"

 "Mother Nature"
    By Emily Dickinson

Nature, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest, --
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill                                            
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon, --
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

       Emily Dickinson's poem "Mother Nature" gives a soothing and mild tone to Mother Nature. She is personified as a gentle care-taking mother, looking over her creations just as a mother would look over her children and protect them from potential threats, always being aware of every surrounding. "In forest and the hill/ By traveler is heard,/ Restraining rampant squirrel/ Or too impetuous bird." But, though her love may compare to motherly human affection, her elusive creations prove to be more spectacular than anything that could ever be created by a one of us.

I'm Nobody! Who are you? (288)

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!

I just love her satire on public figures, as the poem imagines them as loud frogs. These frogs have nothing important to say; instead, they advertise their own names to maintain their fame but not having any substance behind those advertisements. I think this is the reason why she published so few poems during her lifetime, to avoid the prospect of publishing her name.


The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --
And then -- Excuse from Pain --
And then -- those little Anodyness
That deaden suffering --

And then -- to go to sleep --
And then -- if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die --

This poem speaks on how death is more of a release , a freedom. How in different stages of people's life realisation's that people crave different feeling across a life time. When your very young happiness is easily conjured however, later in life happiness comes at a cost to some people. Dickinson says that in the end of a life the person is counting the hours they are awake. The poem on a whole is a bit depressing however i like how it confronts the complications with growing older. The rhythm in the poem gives it a short staged appearance again representing the stages in life.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I'm the little "Heart's Ease"!
I don't care for pouting skies!
If the Butterfly delay
Can I, therefore, stay away?

If the Coward Bumble Bee
In his chimney corner stay,
I, must resoluter be!
Who'll apologize for me?

Dear, Old fashioned, little flower!
Eden is old fashioned, too!
Birds are antiquated fellows!
Heaven does not change her blue.
Nor will I, the little Heart's Ease --
Ever be induced to do!

   A sense of relief rushed over me the minute after I handed in my senior thesis paper. 
Since Emily Dickinson didn't write any amazing poems about relief or satisfaction but
 instead death and sorrow, I had to be very picky when choosing a poem that depicted my emotions. 
This poem, "Heart's-ease", definitely fits my mood because my heart now doesn't beat as 
fast because I am no longer anxious. For being a sad person, Emily Dickinson includes 
many exclamation points in the poem, showing happiness. 

The Brain by Emily Dickinson

The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside -

The Brain is deeper than the sea -
For - hold them - Blue to Blue -
The one the other will absorb -
As Sponges - Buckets - do -

The Brain is just the weight of God -
For - Heft them - Pound for Pound -
And they will differ - if they do -
As Syllable from Sound.

     I found this poem very interesting because Dickinson compared the brain, an object that weighs no more than 5 pounds with the sky, the sea and then even with God, objects that are immeasurable due to their great size and breadth. She raises the argument that the brain is wider than the sky and deeper than the sea because the brain can incorporate the entire universe into itself. Humans can grasp the immensity of such large objects all within the brain, a much smaller object. In this way, the brain "contains" the sky and "absorbs" the sea. Dickinson finishes by arguing the brain to be on a level playing field with God. The only difference is that the brain can be seen and proven like a syllable while God is intangible like sound. Dickinson's extreme comparisons are what caused this poem to catch my eye, and ultimately, what caused me to gain such an appreciation for the poem.

The Master

The Master

He fumbles at your spirit
As players at the keys
Before they drop full music on;
He stuns you by degrees,
Prepares your brittle substance
For the ethereal blow,
By fainter hammers, further heard,
Then nearer, then so slow
Your breath has time to straighten,
Your brain to bubble cool, --
Deals one imperial Thunderbolt
That scalps your naked soul.
When Winds take Forests in their Paws -
The Universe - is still -

They say that "Time....

Emily Dickinson's They say that "Time assuages" 

They say that "Time assuages,"-
Time never did assuage-
An actual suffering strengthens,
As sinews do, with age-

Time is a Test of Trouble-
But not a Remedy-
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady

     When I first read the poem I had no idea what assuage meant and wrote it off as a rhyme with age. After looking it up and coming to find that it means "To make (something burdensome or painful) less intense or severe," I saw that Emily Dickinson was posing a contradiction against the accusation in her first line. She takes the opposite approach of the saying that time makes it easier, and says "No it doesn't". In which she refers to pigs and how aging only makes life worse, Dickinson proves a good point. With piggies the older they get, the closer they get to slaughter, and competition for food. We have all seen how aggressive pigs get around feedin' time. Additionally, she suggests that time gives people hardships and trouble. Time does not always heal. But in the end, Dickinson goes back and says there is no malignant disease. 

Seven Poetry Quotes

1.“The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.”
-James Fenton
2.“Poetry fettered fetters the human race.”
-William Blake
3."Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by 
singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording 
of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a 
-John Keats
4.“A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.”
-Salman Rushdie
5."All poetry is misrepresentation."
-Jeremy Bentham
6.“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
-Robert Frost 
7.“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

-Robert Frost