Archives for posts with tag: Tennyson

We kick off the One Page Poetry Circle fall program with Commemoration Poetry, also called occasional poetry, which is composed for a particular occasion or after a significant event. Commemoration poems are frequently written to celebrate weddings and to enhance funerals, military victories, defeats and anniversaries. Early British poets often received patronage for writing commemoration verse and the Poet Laureate of England was originally appointed for the purpose of writing verse for significant national occasions, as Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Many people believe that Alfred Austin may have been the worst Poet Laureate as he commemorated the illness of the Prince of Wales with these lines, “Across the wires the electric message came, He is no better, he is much the same.”

Similar lines by Philip Larkin, erected at a memorial planter in Queen Square Gardens on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s 1977 Silver Jubilee, have an intriguing backstory:

In times when nothing stood
But worsened, or grew strange,
There was one constant good:
She did not change

Elizabeth Alexander read her commemoration poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” at the inauguration of Barack Obama as President in 2009 in a tradition that includes Robert Frost celebrating the inauguration of President Kennedy (1961), and Maya Angelou (1993) and Miller Williams (1997) celebrating Bill Clinton’s inaugurations.

Commemoration poems, although often lyric, can also take the form of elegy, epithalamion and ode. These are poems written for a public and often performed before an audience, which distinguishes them from any poem that may be written for an occasion. One of the most famous World War I commemoration poems is “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon, which contains this familiar verse:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In “Old South Meeting House,” a 2016 poem commissioned by the Academy of American Poets, January Gill O’Neil chose to commemorate a historical church now dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers along Boston’s Freedom Trail, “At this time of political divides, I wanted to end on a note of hope”:

In praise and dissent.
We draw breath from brick. Ignite the fire in us.
Speak to us:
the language is hope.

Do you have a commemorate poem you especially like? We invite you to post it on this blog and tell us why you liked it. Let’s hear from you.

To add a comment or post a poem, just click on the little speech balloon near the headline of this post.

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

One Page Poetry Circle

September 12, 2017
NYPL St. Agnes Branch, 444 Amsterdam Ave.
5:30 -6:30 PM.

One Page Poetry Circle sponsored by the New York Public Library 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

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.


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,

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

The One Page Poetry Circle completed its fall season on December 8 with Poetry and Marriage. For a peek at our spring season, see below.OPPC_KeyArt_Dec08

Abigail opened the circle by reading Robert Browning’s “Two in the Campagna” in which the narrator and his love enjoy Rome’s countryside and wrestle with the difficulty of mortal love, “Infinite passion, and the pain/Of finite hearts that yearn.”

Roger read the most famous marriage poem in Western culture, Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116,” which opens with words taken from the wedding ceremony. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/admit impediments.” The poem starts with the timelessness of love and ends with Shakespeare staking his reputation on it: “If this be error and upon me proved,/I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

read the beautiful words of America’s first published woman poet, Anne Bradstreet. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” evokes the strong and specific quality of love in her marriage that she hopes will survive the grave, “Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,/That when we live no more, we may live ever.”

Ralda read Wang Chien’s (768-830) “The New Wife” which is below in its entirety (and would work well for February’s topic):

One the third day she went down to the kitchen, 
Washed her hands, prepared the broth. 
Still unaware of her new mother’s likings, 
She asks his sister to taste.

Gail read couplets from “Locksley Hall” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, wherein the narrator expresses his contempt for his love’s husband, “He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,/Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.”

Eileen read Wilferd Arlan Peterson’s “The Art of a Good Marriage” which gives trite but good advice to the newlywed, “It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner./It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Deborah Landau’s “The Wedding Party ” describing the hectic scene and not always polite, but often hilarious, voices at the wedding celebration, “This part we’ll remember. Dull and easy./Before the spawning and apathy./Before the dementia nurse/and waiting for mama to die.”

Thank you, Larry, for posting poems about marriage on our blog. Read them there and make your own comments or make a post yourself at

Though winter hasn’t yet shown its face, we are already looking forward to seeing you February 9, for our first program of 2016: Poetry from Afar. Most of the poems we discuss stem from Great Britain or the United States, so this will be an opportunity to look outside our usual tradition. What poems from afar will you discover? There’s a world of poetry for us to explore!

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to All! And remember to blog with us at

Spring Schedule:

February 9: Poetry from Afar
March 8: Poetry and Science
April 12: Poetry and Identity
May 10: Poetry and Failure and Success

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! OPPC_20150310_Matador

We met on March 10th to discuss poetry involving the color red. We had never chosen a color as a theme before and didn’t know how it would turn out. Some people found it difficult to select a poem, but we loved the poems read.

Abigail began with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal” which involves a Victorian, and therefore subtle, depiction of passion as represented by the crimson petal, “Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves/A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.”

Roger read “Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe describing an adult looking back on his earlier self, “From childhood’s hour I have not been/As others were—I have not seen/As others saw.” Poe sees the demon from the red cliff while others see the blue of Heaven.

Gail read Anne Stevenson’s “To My Daughter in a Red Coat,” “You come so fast, so fast./You violate the past,/My daughter, as your coat dances.” Stevenson depicts the whirl of the coat against a background of fallen brown leaves and old women on park benches.

Anne read Marcia F. Brown’s “Pomegranate” with its sensual description of the inside of the luscious fruit: “near-pulsing jewels—a red/like blood or love/that suddenly exists/for you alone.”

Ellen read Roald Dahl’s “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.” In this version of the fairy tale the heroine ends up in quite different apparel, “No silly hood upon her head./She said, ‘Hello, and do please note/My lovely furry wolfskin coat.’”

Ralda read “She at His Funeral” by Thomas Hardy in which the female narrator watches others at her sweetheart’s funeral in proper funeral attire, “But they stand round with griefless eye,/Whilst my regret consumes like fire!”

AnnaLee completed the circle with Linda Hogan’s “The History of Red,” which takes us on a journey of multiple creations using images of the primordial color red, “and then the human clay/whose blood we still carry/rose up in us/who remember caves with red bison/painted in their own blood./after their kind.”

Larry posted Gillian Clarke’s “The Rothko Room” on our blog. This poem describes the effect of the paintings in this museum where “The Indian keeper nods to sleep, marooned/in a trapezium of black on red.”

We look forward to reading and discussing your selections for our next program, Lyric, on April 14th. Bring a friend and widen the circle!

Spring Schedule:

April 14: Lyric Poetry
May 12: Poetry and Health

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.