Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!
We’re back for the eighth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there’s no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle started, participants have selected and discussed 892 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.
Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, September 13 to discuss Dialogue Poems, a subject that’s sure to provoke lively dialogues.
Dialogue poems can be between people, concepts, or between the aspects of a single person. They often present different voices looking at the same situation, each with a distinctive point of view.
Here is George Herbert’s “A Dialogue-Anthem”:
Alas, poor Death! Where is thy glory?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?
Alas, poor mortal, void of story!
Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.
Poor Death! And who was hurt thereby?
The curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.
Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die
These arms shall crush thee.
Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before;
Thou so much worse, thou shalt be no more.
George Herbert, a cleric writing in the 1600s when the subject of body versus soul was popular, believed Christ could render death meaningless as once the body was dead, the soul could live eternally in Heaven. The poem resonates with biblical verses and evokes later poems that call on the same verses. The word “Anthem” indicates a rousing song identified with a particular group, such as Christians here, and a choral composition based on a biblical passage.
In W. H. Auden’s “O What Is That Sound,” two people exchange dialogue that builds from fear and reassurance to abandonment.
O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.
O what is that light I see flashing so clear
Over the distance brightly, brightly?
Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
As they step lightly.
O what are they doing with all that gear
What are they doing this morning, this morning?
Only the usual manoeuvres, dear,
Or perhaps a warning.
O why have they left the road down there
Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
Perhaps a change in the orders, dear,
Why are you kneeling?
O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care
Haven’t they reined their horses, their horses?
Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
None of these forces.
O is it the parson they want with white hair;
Is it the parson, is it, is it?
No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
Without a visit.
O it must be the farmer who lives so near
It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
They have passed the farm already, dear,
And now they are running.
O where are you going? stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore me deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.
O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,
O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning
Their feet are heavy on the floor
And their eyes are burning.
Twentieth century poet W. H. Auden, may be evoking a war-torn era when one culture’s relentless march destroyed another. Death is again close by as in Herbert’s poem, but in Auden’s poem death has a personal meaning: when death threatens the individual, it ruptures human bonds.
We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Dialogue Poems and to discussing them with you on September 13.
Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend and widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.
We hope you will blog with us here on these poems or others at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.
September 13, Dialogue Poems
October 4, A Poem for Your Pocket
November 1, Prose Poems
December 13, Endings
Abigail Burnham Bloom and
The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.