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Sea Calm -- Langston Hughes

Guest poem sent in by David Wright

I am so enjoying this time at the sea shore.  The Lotos-Eaters was
wonderful.  Here's a little palate-cleanser:
(Poem #990) Sea Calm
 How still,
 How strangely still
 The water is today,
 It is not good
 For water
 To be so still that way.
-- Langston Hughes
Terse in the extreme, yet resonant, these short poems of Hughes intrigue me.
Neither Haiku or Imagist, nor Epigrammatic like Pope or Porchia.  But
sharing in both the unspoken quality of the Imagism - the implicit mood, the
feeling of watching, brooding; words that just hint at the scene they
describe - and the effective, almost talismanic brevity and symbolic
implications of Epigram - a poem like a small stone to be carried in the
pocket.  And finally, a poem that might have been penned by a child, and
been no less striking for that.

     Here are a couple more, one many of us know from school, and another
we may not have encountered due to its subject:

    I loved my friend.
    He went away from me.
    There's nothing more to say.
    The poem ends,
    Soft as it began,--
    I loved my friend.

    'Suicide's Note'

    The calm
    Cool face of the river
    Asked me for a kiss.

By way of contrast, here is haiku poet Issa looking at the sea:

    looking at the mountain
    looking at the sea...
    autumn evening

    oh purple clouds
    when will I mount you?
    western sea

(a very Western haiku, if you ask me)

    watching the sea
    sitting on the lawn...
    roasted mushrooms

    my dead mother--
    every time I see the ocean
    every time...

    Hamamatsu beach--
    helping out the cicadas
    singing waves

and then, I can't resist, thanks, Issa, for these, apropos of nothing...

    ain't a devil
    ain't a saint...
    just a sea slug

    hey boatman
    no pissing on the moon
    in the waves!



  We've run one of Hughes' poems before, the famous "The Negro Speaks of
  Rivers", Poem #410 (Biography attached)

  Issa has, surprisingly, not featured on Minstrels, though Basho and Buson
  both have. Here's a page with some resources on the poet and his works:
    [broken link]

38 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Viagra Online said...

in this I find a poem dedicated to water, the element of the life and reborn, is too dangerous be away for this elemet for long time.

xlpharmacy said...

I am! yet what I am none cares or knows, My friends forsake me like a memory lost; I am the self-consumer of my woes, vanish in oblivious host, Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost; And yet I am! and live with shadows tost.......check my poem, it is my inspiration!

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