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Love: Beginnings -- C K Williams

Guest poem submitted by Raj Palaniswamy:
(Poem #1538) Love: Beginnings
 They're at that stage where so much desire streams between them,
   so much frank need and want,
 so much absorption in the other and the self
   and the self-admiring entity and unity they make --
 her mouth so full, breast so lifted, head thrown back
   so far in her laughter at his laughter
 he so solid, planted, oaky, firm, so resonantly factual
   in the headiness of being craved so,
 she almost wreathed upon him as they intertwine again,
   touch again, cheek, lip, shoulder, brow,
 every glance moving toward the sexual, every glance away
   soaring back in flame into the sexual --
 that just to watch them is to feel again that hitching in the groin,
 that filling of the heart,
 the old, sore heart, the battered, foundered, faithful heart,
   snorting again, stamping in its stall.
-- C K Williams
        from "Flesh and Blood" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987).

After reading "Breaking Up" in your anthology, when I found this one about
beginnings, thought it needed to be included as part of a cycle of sorts.

Notes about the author:

C. K. Williams was born in 1936 in Newark, New Jersey. He is the author of
numerous books of poetry, including The Singing (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,
2003); Repair (1999), which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize; The Vigil (1997); A
Dream of Mind (1992); Flesh and Blood (1987), which won the National Book
Critics Circle Award; Tar (1983); With Ignorance (1997); I Am the Bitter
Name (1992); and Lies (1969). Williams has also published five works of
translation: Selected Poems of Francis Ponge (1994); Canvas, by Adam
Zagajewski (with Renata Gorczynski and Benjamin Ivry, 1991); The Bacchae of
Euripides (1990); The Lark. The Thrush. The Starling. (Poems from Issa)
(1983); and Women of Trachis, by Sophocles (with Gregory Dickerson, 1978).
Among his many awards and honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters
Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, the
PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Pushcart Prize. Williams teaches in the
creative writing program at Princeton University and lives part of each year
in Paris.


Raj Palaniswamy

Good Gnus -- P G Wodehouse

Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian,
along with a longish prologue. Read on:

This poem is supposedly by Charlotte Mulliner, one of Mr Mulliner's endless
procession of relatives ... a poet and animal lover who comes under the
"spell" of Bludleigh Court, a country house full of avid hunters and one
poet boyfriend who suddenly starts to hunt rats with an umbrella when he's
at Bludleigh.  This spell makes even the most refined poet and animal lover
a ravening hunter after prey ranging from big game to rats and sparrows.

Charlotte thinks she hasn't been affected by the spell, till she gets a poem
that she sent to an animal rights magazine rejected: something that has
never, ever happened before. Here's the poem ...
(Poem #1537) Good Gnus
 (A Vignette in Verse)

 When cares attack and life seems black,
 How sweet it is to pot a yak,
       Or puncture hares and grizzly bears,
          And others I could mention;
 But in my Animals "Who's Who"
 No name stands higher than the Gnu;
       And each new gnu that comes in view
          Receives my prompt attention.

 When Afric's sun is sinking low,
 And shadows wander to and fro,
       And everywhere there's in the air
          A hush that's deep and solemn;
 Then is the time good men and true
 With View Halloo pursue the gnu;
       (The safest spot to put your shot
          is through the spinal column).

 To take the creature by surprise
 We must adopt some rude disguise,
       Although deceit is never sweet,
          And falsehoods don't attract us;
 So, as with gun in hand you wait,
 Remember to impersonate
       A tuft of grass, a mountain-pass,
          A kopje or a cactus.

 A brief suspense, and then at last
 The waiting's o'er, the vigil past;
       A careful aim. A spurt of flame.
         It's done. You've pulled the trigger,
 And one more gnu, so fair and frail,
 Has handed in its dinner-pail;
       (The females all are rather small,
          The males are somewhat bigger).
-- P G Wodehouse
(Attributed to Charlotte Mulliner, in the short story "Unpleasantness at
Bludleigh Court", from Wodehouse's book "Mr Mulliner Speaking").

Wonderfully funny, with just the right combination of bombastic poetry,
nonsense rhymes (who but PGW can rhyme "yak" with "black" when talking of
the blackness of life) and a liberal sprinkling of classic PGW like "handed
in its dinner pail", all of which is mixed in with the sort of sanctimonious
and didactic wording used by highbrow journals that cater to the "arts and
poetry" type of crowd that eats at "The Crushed Pansy" (the restaurant with
soul) and tends to read portuguese love sonnets bound in mauve leather.


Keeping with the title of the poem, this email has been written using gnus
on emacs 21.3. No gnus were harmed in the typing of this poem.

All in green went my love riding -- e e cummings

Guest poem submitted by VG:
(Poem #1536) All in green went my love riding
 All in green went my love riding
 on a great horse of gold
 into the silver dawn.

 four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
 the merry deer ran before.

 Fleeter be they than dappled dreams
 the swift sweet deer
 the red rare deer.

 Four red roebuck at a white water
 the cruel bugle sang before.

 Horn at hip went my love riding
 riding the echo down
 into the silver dawn.

 four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
 the level meadows ran before.

 Softer be they than slippered sleep
 the lean lithe deer
 the fleet flown deer.

 Four fleet does at a gold valley
 the famished arrow sang before.

 Bow at belt went my love riding
 riding the mountain down
 into the silver dawn.

 four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
 the sheer peaks ran before.

 Paler be they than daunting death
 the sleek slim deer
 the tall tense deer.

 Four tall stags at a green mountain
 the lucky hunter sang before.

 All in green went my love riding
 on a great horse of gold
 into the silver dawn.

 four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
 my heart fell dead before.
-- e e cummings
This poem begs to be recited, with its almost hypnotic rhythm and its
beautiful rippling phrases - 'dappled dreams' 'slippered sleep'. The scenes
evoked are dreamlike and misty, with the smiling hounds and the horse of
gold. I don't know how cummings does it, but whenever I read this poem I
give a deep sigh and go back to the beginning.


The Line-Gang -- Robert Frost

Guest poem submitted by Yashashree Kulkarni:
(Poem #1535) The Line-Gang
 Here come the line-gang pioneering by,
 They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
 They plant dead trees for living, and the dead
 They string together with a living thread.
 They string an instrument against the sky
 Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken
 Will run as hushed as when they were a thought
 But in no hush they string it: they go past
 With shouts afar to pull the cable taught,
 To hold it hard until they make it fast,
 To ease away -- they have it. With a laugh,
 An oath of towns that set the wild at naught
 They bring the telephone and telegraph.
-- Robert Frost
I came across this poem while browsing through a collection of Frost's poems
on the internet. What facinated me most about this poem is how Frost manages
to move back and forth, so effortlessly, between seemingly disjoint worlds -
the forest, the activities of the linemen, the world that'll come to exist
in the live wires and even the thoughts living in our brains as electrical
signals - and 'strings them together with a living thread', the poem.

Yashashree Kulkarni.

Fine Days -- Orhan Veli

Guest poem submitted by Sarah Korah:

How about starting a collection of poems on Monday morning blues? Here's a
poem which makes me wonder if going going to work is the best way to spend a
fine day..
(Poem #1534) Fine Days
 These fine days have been my ruin.
 On this kind of day I resigned
 My job in 'Pious Foundations'.
 On this kind of day I started to smoke
 On this kind of day I fell in love
 On this kind of day I forgot
 To bring home bread and salt
 On this kind of day I had a relapse
 In my versifying disease.
 These fine days have been my ruin.
-- Orhan Veli
        Translated by Bernard Lewis.

Prose and practicality win over the whimsical, and I get to work. But the
poet's description of his versifying disease and gleefully ruined life make
me smile. Yes, even on a Monday morning :-)

For the incorrigible, here's the original in Turkish:

 "Guzel Havalar

 Beni bu guzel havalar mahvetti,
 Boyle havada istifa ettim
 Evkaftaki memuriyetimden.
 Tutune boyle havafa alistim,
 Boyle havada asik oldum;
 Eve ekmekle tuz goturmeyi
 Boyle havalarda unuttum;
 Siir yazma hastaligim
 Hep boyle havalarda nuksetti;
 Beni bu guzel havalar mahvetti.


Turkish poet; born, 1914, Istanbul; died, November 14, 1950, Istanbul.

Orhan Veli Kanik was one of the founders of the Garip movement in Turkish
poetry. In 1941, he and two of his close friends -- Melih Cevdet Anday and
Oktay Rifat --burst on the scene with a joint book of poems entitled "Garip"
(Strange). Amid much vehement criticism from the traditionalists, the three
Garip poets vowed, in a manifesto that appeared in their book, to
revolutionize Turkish poetry. They sought, in their own words, "to alter the
whole structure from the foundation up. In order to rescue ourselves from
the stifling effects of the literatures which have dictated and shaped our
tastes and judgements for too many years, we must dump overboard everything
that those literatures have taught us. We wish it were possible to dump even
language itself, because it threatens our creative efforts by forcing its
vocabulary on us when we write poetry."

The Garip movement eliminated not only rigid forms and meters but also
metaphors, rhymes, conventional diction and stock epithets. Soon free verse
and an unlimited range of themes became the rule, while 'aruz' meter and
'the rose and the nightingale' became anachronisms.

Orhan Veli was more influenced by the sketch image of the Japanese haiku
than by Turkish or conventional Western poetic sources.