Archives for posts with tag: Wallace Stevens

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 8th to discuss Poetry and Choice. We all agreed that Choice was a wonderful theme for the last program of the spring season. We enjoyed the variety of poems even though two were by Robert Frost and three were sonnets. The poems reflected the myriad choices we make every day.

Abigail opened our discussion by reading the ending of Mathilde Blind’s drama in miniature, The Russian Student’s Tale,” in which a woman tells a man of her past and he realizes his own limitations, as well as the failure of society, “Poor craven creature! What was I,/To sit in judgment on her life,/Who dared not make this child my wife,/And lift her up to love’s own sky?”

Roger read Robert Frost’s The Armful” in which the poet reflects on keeping the aspects of his life in balance, “I had to drop the armful in the road/And try to stack them in a better load.” The poem appeared in the New York City subway series Poetry In Motion.

Hazel read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet XLIII,” “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” a celebration of the different ways the author chooses to love, ending with eternal love, “and, if God choose,/I shall but love thee better after death.”

Gail read Balance” by Alice B. Fogel, the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, “Balance is everything, is the only/way to hold on./I’ve weighed the alternatives, the hold/as harbor: It isn’t safe/to let go.” This poem generated much discussion about its line-by-line meaning although we all know the importance of keeping ourselves in balance in this crazy world.

Ken read Federico Garcia Lorca’s Qasida of the Dark Doves,” an enigmatic poem that generates a surrealistic mood, “Through the laurel branches/I spied two dark doves./One was the sun,/the other the moon.”

Linda read Sonnet XLV” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, telling of a fraught relationship, “I know my mind and I have made my choice;/Not from your temper does my doom depend;/Love me or love me not, you have no voice/In this, which is my portion to the end.”

Cate read Wallace Stevens’s Thirteen ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and let us choose which one we liked best. AnnaLee chose V: “I do not know which to prefer,/The beauty of inflections/Or the beauty of innuendoes,/The blackbird whistling/Or just after.”

Susan read One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop in which the narrator chooses to learn how to lose things or perhaps the things choose to be lost, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master;/so many things seem filled with the intent/to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

Carol read Allen Steble’s Choices,” which reminded her that we do have a choice in our perspective on life, “We all have a choice/to climb our highest mountain/or fall into our deepest hole/to drink from life’s fountain/or live life like a troubled soul.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Robert Frost’s beautiful Choose Something Like a Star,” “So when at times the mob is swayed/To carry praise or blame too far,/We may choose something like a star/To stay our minds on and be staid.” This poem was set to music in Randall Thompson’s Frostiana,” a 1959 choral work.

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

Fall 2018 Schedule (all Tuesdays)
September 11, Poetry and Disaster
Tuesday, October 9, Cowboy Poetry
Tuesday, November 13, Poetry and Simplicity
December 11, Poetry and Wine

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.

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Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at
St. Agnes Branch Library!
Tuesday, Nov. 14,  5:30 – 6:30 pm, St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave.
Theme: Poetry and Power

We’re back for the 10th season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine works of established poets. 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, 1010 poems have been selected and discussed. Countless others have been read in pursuit of poetry that speaks to us.

Power is everywhere: the power of poetry, the power of anything and everyone to change our world and ourselves. In Madge McKeithen’s memoir, Blue Peninsula, the author finds that the power in poetry’s messages gives her strength to cope with a son’s illness. The poet Wallace Stevens believed poetry had the power to take us beyond religion. In “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon, she ponders the effect of “a breath of passing air”

‘Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death. A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—
A word is but a breath of passing air. 

In this excerpt from “Power” by Adrienne Rich, the poet conflates multiple meanings of her title:

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

If you have a favorite poem on the theme of Power, we hope you’ll post it here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com . Let us know what you like about it.  

Abigail Burnham Bloom & 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.

 

All are welcome to attend the One Page Poetry Circle on May 6 to discuss Poetry and Birds.

green-bird-white-backgroundBirds have long been an inspiration to poets, perhaps because, like poets, they sing: Percy Bysshe Shelley refers to a skylark, “Like a Poet hidden/In the light of thought.” Birds and poets have the ability to defy gravity and soar above the earth: John Keats seeks to fly with a nightingale on “the viewless wings of Poesy.”

With a topic so rich as birds, it may be difficult to select just one poem. In “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Wallace Stevens’s strange title seems to say that there is no finite number of ways to view a blackbird. The author gives us thirteen, an odd number, because he knows there are many, many more.

Stevens begins with an all-seeing blackbird:

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

After a few stanzas he wonders about his many options:

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

He ends with the persistent blackbird:

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

What do you have to say about Stevens’s poem or another poem on the subject of birds?