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The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 9th to discuss Poetry and Theft. We had a great turnout for our last program of the spring season.

Abigail opened our discussion with two poems, “Jenny Kiss’d Me” by Leigh Hunt, which employs the metaphor of time as a thief, and John MilSafe_Open_Emptyton’s “Sonnet 7,” in which Abigail believes she has found the origin of the metaphor. “How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,/Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!” We were impressed by Milton’s concern about how little he had accomplished by the age of 23 and how much he would eventually accomplish.

Roger read Wendy Videlock’s poem “Disarmed,” in which a mother views the evidence of her son’s stolen snacks as he sleeps, “how could I be uncharmed by this,/your secret world, your happy mess?”

Phil read “The Thieves” by Robert Graves which describes lovers who thieve, reciprocally, from each other, “After, when they disentwine/You from me and yours from mine,/Neither can be certain who/Was that I whose mine was you.”

Hazel and Terry brought the same poem, something that seldom happens, and examined in different ways Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 99”: “The forward violet thus did I chide:/Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,/If not from my love’s breath?”

Ken read Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”: “‘There must be some way out of here,’/Said the joker to the thief/‘There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief’” and we discussed different interpretations of who the joker and the thief represent and what the song means.

Elizabeth spoke about the theft of a civilization, something experienced by the Hmong people. She brought with her a piece of tapestry that tells (if we knew how to read it) the history of one family and a poem by Mai Der Vang “Cipher Song”: “It’s come to this. We hide the stories/on our sleeves, patchwork of cotton veins.”

Linda read “Ralph Rhodes,” a selection from the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters: “And you look up, and there’s your Theft,/Who waited until your head was gray,/And your heart skipped beats to say to you:/The game is ended./I’ve called for you.”

Salomé read “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, a poem describing a man who was rich and respected, “So on we worked, and waited for the light,/And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;/And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,/Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

Gail read Philip Larkin’s “Home Is So Sad,”

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

Karen read two poems from an anthology used to teach children that describe, as in the Larkin poem above, the emptiness in a home. “There Are Four Chairs Round the Table” by John Foster begins, “There are four chairs round the table,/Where we sit down for our tea./But now we only set places/For Mum, for Terry and me.” One of the authors in this anthology said he writes poetry because: “A. When you didn’t follow teacher’s directions to write a poem, you got the cane. B. Later, I thought that girls would realize what a sensitive and wonderful human being I was. They did not. C. Now, to entertain children.”

Stan read the work of a Cherokee poet, Santee Frazier, “The Robbery” which begins, “Red ambulance flicker, curbstone, wheels, a gurney. Down the breezeway a baby, crying out among the gawk-mouthed heads./Knifed, sliced, the man bleeding through the gauze and onto his belly.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “The Stealing Poems” by Robert Adamson, which compares the act of theft with sex:

It’s the way you feel
as you do it
it’s not good
or bad or anything
and you lose
the feeling as soon as
it’s over
it’s like sex a lot
that’s why when you steal
when you’re a kid
it’s so strange
because you haven’t got sex
to compare it to

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Fall 2017 Schedule:
September 12: Poetry and Commemoration
October 17: Poetry and Punctuation
November 14: Poetry and Power
December 12: Poetry and Windows

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

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.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library! On Tuesday, May 9, we’ll be reading and discussing the work of established poets on the theme of Poetry and Theft (see particulars below).

Stop thief! Whether someone steals your heart, your belongings, or your poetry, there is a lot of theft out there. While theft and losing things can be bad, poetic theft borrows from other poets to add to the conversation and that’s valuable — unless too much is stolen from one poet and then it’s piracy!

In the poetic form cento (collage), which goes back to Virgil and Homer, every part of a poem must be filched from a different poet. Simone Muench’s “Wolf Cento” begins with words from Anne Sexton’s “Frenzy” and ends with a line from Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness.”

Very quick. Very intense, like a wolf
at a live heart, the sun breaks down.
What is important is to avoid
the time allotted for disavowels
as the livid wound
leaves a trace    leaves an abscess
takes its contraction for those clouds
that dip thunder & vanish
like rose leaves in closed jars.
Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me.
This is a woman’s confession:
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago, a character who intends to ruin Desdemona and Othello, states something that is true, but his truthfulness disguises his intentions: 

Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
 
And makes me poor indeed.

In “Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard” Leigh Hunt wrote of the rewards of theft:

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

If you can’t make our free library event let’s hear from you anyway by telling us what poem you would have brought or commenting. To do so, click on the small gray speech balloon next to the date.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

Poetry and Theft
Tuesday, May 9, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor

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.

We met on March 7th to discuss Poetry and Anaphora, which is the repetition of initial words or phrases. AnnaLee reminded us that many poems also use epistrophe, the repetition of a final word or phrase, and symploce, the repetition of both initial and final words and phrases. Whew! We were delighted by the quality and variety of poems we discussed.

Abigail began by reading Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” which has all of the different forms of repetition, “Honour the charge they made!/Honour the Light Brigade,/Noble six hundred!”

Roger read from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells,” which reveals a lifetime through the ringing of different bells, “Hear the sledges with the bells–/Silver bells!/What a world of merriment their melody foretells!” This poem has been beautifully set to music by Phil Ochs — click on his name and listen!

Hazel read “I Dream I’m the Death of Orpheus” by Adrienne Rich, a poem that pays tribute to the great 1950 film by Jean Cocteau, “I am a woman in the prime of life, with certain powers/and those powers severely limited/by authorities whose faces I rarely see.”

Gail read “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee” by a Native American writer, N. Scott Momaday, “I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful/I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte/You see, I am alive, I am alive.”

Yasin read “On Living” by the exiled Turkish writer Hazim Hikmet, “Life’s no joke/you must live it in earnest/like a squirrel, for example,/expecting nothing outside of your life or beyond.”

Linda read two poems by Emily Dickinson, including the following in its entirety. The current exhibition of Dickinson at the Morgan Library takes its title from this poem:

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!

Terry read the frightening words of a fourteen year-old girl as written in “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde, “I have nothing to wear tomorrow/will I live long enough/to grow up/and momma’s in the bedroom/with the door closed.”

Mindy read the inspirational words of Maya Angelou in “Still I Rise,” Leaving behind nights of terror and fear/I rise/Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear/I rise/Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,/I am the dream and the hope of the slave./I rise/I rise/I rise.”

AnnaLee closed the circle by reading from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, “Let us go then, you and I,/When the evening is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherized upon a table./Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,/The muttering retreats…”

Elisabeth was not able to attend, but thought of “Tender Buttons” by Gertrude Stein, a prose poem: “A TIME TO EAT./A pleasant simple habitual and tyrannical and authorised and educated and resumed and articulate separation. This is not tardy.” It is hard to know what to say of it, but it is fascinating, and has the repetition of the word “and” like our poster for last month.

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Silence and to discussing them with you on April 18the. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2017 Schedule
April 18, Poetry and Silence
May 9, Poetry and Theft

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

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.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on February 7th to discuss Poetry and Snakes. Snakes had seemed like such an interesting topic because of their real and metaphoric possibilities. Yet, when we looked for snake poems, we found few that satisfied us. That said, everyone had snake stories and strong feelings about them!

Abigail began by reading Matthew Arnold’s “Cadmus and Harmonia” describing the rural life of two mortals who had been transformed into snakes, “Placed safely in changed forms, the pair/Wholly forgot their first sad life, and home,/And all that Theban woe, and stray/For ever through the glens, placid and dumb.”

Roger read “Dead Snake in the Middle of the Trail” by Fritz Crytzer which explores man’s natural antipathy to snakes, “Who else would wantonly kill the creatures of God/until the scent of their beauty, the taste of their bounty,/has dissolved into a wistful dream of barrenness?/Man, the hating antipathy of Nature’s burgeon.”

AnnaLee read “Fear of Snakes” in which Lorna Crozier describes a young woman confronting sexuality as the boys chase her with a snake, “the others yelling, Drop it down her back, my terror of its sliding in the runnel of my spine (Larry,/the one who touched the inside of my legs on the swing).”

Gail read from “Lamia” by John Keats, wherein he describes a woman transformed into a serpent, “She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,/Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;/Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,/Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d.”

Kim read Emily Dickinson’s “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” with its famous last image: “But never met this Fellow/Attended or alone/Without a tighter Breathing/And Zero at the Bone.”

Karen read the dark “No Reservation” by Poet Destroyer A, “Silently she swarms in like a leech,/Feeding and sucking from the wounds my pain left behind./She came inside: ‘Uninvited!’/Here have a drink, and die!”

Jan read “Man Dog” by Jim Harrison in which a man attempts to act like his dog but finds himself rejected, “Now I’m rather too near a thicket where/I saw a big black snake last week that might decide/to join me. I moved near the actual dog this time/but she got up and went under the porch. She doesn’t like/it when I’m acting weird.”

Terry read “The Boy and the Snake” by Charles Lamb in which a mother watches her innocent child talk to a snake and fears the worst, “The danger’s o’er–she sees the boy/(O what a change from fear to joy!)/Rise and bid the snake ‘good-bye;’/Says he, ‘Our breakfast’s done, and I/Will come again to-morrow day:’/Then, lightly tripping ran away.”

We look forward to seeing the works you select for Poetry and Anaphora and to discussing them with you on March 7. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up! And widen the circle! Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. And check back here for our notice for the next One Page Poetry Circle.

Spring 2017 Schedule
March 7, Poetry and Anaphora
April 18, Poetry and Silence
May 9, Poetry and Theft

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

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.

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
On December 13 OPPC met to discuss Poetry and Endings. At one point in the evening we wondered if everyone had brought in a depressing poem in what should be a time of hope and rebirth.

Abigail began by reading Edith Nesbit’s “On Dit” describing the flowers beneath the snow, the sun after the night and some say, “New life, divine beyond belief,/Somehow, somewhere, some day.” Yet Nesbit does not sound hopeful about the possibility of life after death.

Roger brought in the anonymous tune, “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.” Although there was an end of slavery, and the end of the abolitionist John Brown himself, there has been no end to this song, which became “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in its most famous manifestation.

Hazel read “January 22nd, Missolonghi” that encompassed Lord Byron’s thoughts on the day he completed his thirty-sixth year and seemed to foreshadow his death in his attempt to free Greece, “The land of honorable death/Is here,—up to the field, and give/Away they breath!”

Phil thought of our President-elect and read T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” with its famous final lines, “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Gail read Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 30” which begins, “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought/I summon up remembrance of things past” and ends with the upbeat, “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,/All losses are restored and sorrows end.”

Eileen read “O Captain! My Captain!,” Walt Whitman’s evocation of President Lincoln’s assassination just as the Civil War ended, “From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;/ Exult O shores, and ring O bells!/But I with mournful tread,/Walk the deck my Captain lies,/Fallen cold and dead.”

Terry read “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson which describes a man admired and even envied by all, “And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,/Went home and put a bullet through his head.”

Elizabeth read W.S. Merwin’s “Old Man at Home Alone in the Morning,” which ends, “I was old but this morning/is not old and I am the morning/in which the autumn leaves have no question/as the breeze passes through them and is gone.” Written without punctuation, the poem suggests the fluidity of existence and our multi-levels of reflection as we get older.

AnnaLee completed our circle with “Aristotle,” in which the poet Billy Collins shows us the structure of life’s stories through a string of beginnings, middles, and ends. “This is the end, according to Aristotle,/what we have all been waiting for,/what everything comes down to,/the destination we cannot help imagining,/a streak of light in the sky,/a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.”

Come blog with us at https://onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com .

Mark your calendars with our Spring 2017 Schedule:
February 7—Poetry and Snakes
March 7—Poetry and Anaphora
April 18—Poetry and Silence
May 9—Poetry and Theft

Enjoy the holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2017.

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

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.

humptydumpty_1213

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.

We chose the theme of Poetry and Endings not just because December 13 is our last meeting of the year, but also because the last lines of poems have special significance. As 2016 marches toward its end, we give you a stanza from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” describing the sound of church bells at the end of the year and the hope for what lies ahead after the poet has experienced a particularly difficult year:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

When we come to the last words of a fine poem we complete a journey. Ex-Poet Laureate Billy Collins relates his satisfaction when finding an ending to a poem, describing the silence that follows a poem’s last word as something new created between the reader and writer. In her poem “Endings” Mona Van Duyn writes that an end “lights up the meaning of the whole work.” Archibald MacLeish’s famous ending to “Ars Poetica” (here in its entirety) has lit up many a literary discussion:

 A Poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

Is there an ending of a poem that you have particularly enjoyed? Do you know a poem where the ending surprises because it takes a turn you didn’t expect? Let us know here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 with A Poem for Your Pocket.

pocketpoem_1004rHave you ever tucked a poem into your pocket or purse? Was it a poem with special meaning for you, or a poem you wanted to show to a friend, one you wanted to memorize, or perhaps a poem you didn’t completely understand and wanted to read again later? If not, don’t worry – choose a poem you would like to find in your pocket, that surprised you, or that you would like to share.

AnnaLee carried “The Span of Life” by Robert Frost around with her:

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

She still loves how much Frost packed into two simple lines and that she can read the poem from a slip of paper, or pull it from a pocket in her mind.

Abigail once put “Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher,” by Walter Savage Landor in her pocket hoping to embrace its peaceful and accepting philosophy:

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife:
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:
I warm’d both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart.

But she found life more complicated than that. Indeed, pockets themselves can have a complicated nature as explored by Howard Nemerov in

“Pockets”: 
Are generally over or around 
Erogenous zones, they seem to dive
In the direction of those

Dark places, and indeed
It is their nature to be dark
Themselves, keeping a kind

Of thieves’ kitchen for the things
Sequestered from the world
For long or little while,

The keys, the handkerchiefs,
The sad and vagrant little coins
That are really only passing through.

For all they locate close to lust,
No pocket ever sees another;
There is in fact a certain sadness

To pockets, going in their lonesome ways
And snuffling up their sifting storms
Of dust, tobacco bits and lint.

A pocket with a hole in it
Drops out; from shame, is that, or pride?
What is a pocket but a hole? 

When we selected this topic we didn’t know that the Office of the Mayor of New York City initiated Poem in Your Pocket Day in 2002, which has been extended to all of the United States and Canada. We can celebrate this day again on April 24, 2017, the official Poem in Your Pocket Day.

We look forward to seeing the poems you select for Your Pocket and to discussing them with you on October 4. In the meantime, if you have a comment about any of the poems posted here, or pocket poems in general, please click the speech balloon symbol below our title at the top of the blog.

Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Widen the circle! And blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Without your support the library may find other uses for the spacious room they’ve given us.

Date: Tuesday, October 4
Theme: A Poem for Your Pocket
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue, 3rd Floor

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.

 

 

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. Dialogue_0913While 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.

Fall Schedule
September 13, Dialogue Poems
October 4, A Poem for Your Pocket
November 1, Prose Poems
December 13, Endings

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

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.

 

 

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 10th to discuss Poetry and Success and Failure.

Monopoly_JailCardsAbigail opened our discussion with her thoughts that success and failure were inherently linked, and that within each there were aspects of the other. For something to fail there must first be an attempt, which is a show of success, and often a success can feel like a failure. Later AnnaLee pointed out that many poems that begin by speaking of success, end up on a note of failure and vice versa.

Abigail read J. K. Stephen’s “After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)” a sardonic look at a marriage that appears perfect from the outside; however, the husband is oblivious to the feelings of his wife who thinks, “when beneath the turf you’re sleeping,/And I’m sitting here in black,/Engaged as they’ll suppose, in weeping,/I shall not wish to have you back.”

Roger read “Success and Failure” by the People’s Poet, Edgar Albert Guest, in which the narrator believes that an individual makes his own fate as failure is not undeserved and success is not just luck, “Most men, themselves, have shaped the things/they are.”

Hazel read two short poems by Leigh Hunt, “Rondeau” and “Abou Ben Adhem.” In both poems a man’s state of mind is successfully changed by an event. Here is “Rondeau” in its entirety:

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Gail read Richard Foerster’s “The Failure of Similes” on the impossibility of words and images to describe reality, “ In one image of the camps, the snow sifts down/like lime … or should it be the other way around?”

Delta read Noel Duffy’s “On Light & Carbon,” on the success of received wisdom versus scientific facts, “‘Where did it come from,/the world?’ I asked./‘It was born of God’s/Mercy and Love,’ the priest said./I trusted him.”

Rollene read “Child on Top of a Greenhouse” by Theodore Roethke, which describes the perception of a child in a precarious situation, “A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,/And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!”

Phil also read two poems: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias.” The poems were created in a contest between the two men as to who could write a better poem on a statue with the inscription, “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” Both poems show Ozymandias’ belief in his own greatness and a later perspective on his success.

Karen read Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory of My Mother,” in which the narrator remembers the golden moments of contact with his mother, “I do not think of you lying in the wet clay/Of a Monaghan graveyard, I see/You walking down a lane among the poplars.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert which concludes with the triumph of failure, “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,/but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

Larry uploaded two poems to our blog, “The Writer’s Wife” by Lucien Stryk and “Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

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.

Come to St. Agnes on Tuesday, May 10 to discuss Poetry and Failure and Success.

Date: Tuesday, May 10
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Failure and Success

OPPC_Poster_May10In the lyrics of a famous Bob Dylan song, “there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all,” we contemplate the attraction between the two words. Do some fail and through failure make a name for themselves, as Philip Schultz writes of his father in the beginning lines of “Failure”?:

To pay for my father’s funeral
I borrowed money from people
he already owed money to.
One called him a nobody.
No, I said, he was a failure.
You can’t remember
a nobody’s name, that’s why
they’re called nobodies.
Failures are unforgettable.
(read Schultz’s entire poem http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2007/12/05)

On the flip side of the question is the 1914 poem “To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing,” by William Butler Yeats:

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

Yeats doesn’t advise his friend to buck up after a failure, but to do the thing “most difficult”: accept, and by doing so, succeed as a human being.

Can anyone be labeled a success when the person is living and could fail in the future? What is success anyway? Robert William Service begins the old favorite “Success” with the words:

You ask me what I call Success –
It is, I wonder, Happiness?
It is not wealth, it is not fame,
Nor rank, nor power nor honoured name.
It is not triumph in the Arts –
Best-selling books or leading parts.
It is not plaudits of the crowd,
The flame of flags, processions proud.
The panegyrics of the Press
are but the mirage of Success.
You may have all of them, my friend,
Yet be a failure in the end.

What do these or other poems say to you about success and failure?

—Abigail and AnnaLee