Archives for posts with tag: William Carlos Williams

The One Page Poetry Circle (at St. Agnes Branch Library) met on March 6th to talk about Poetry and Enjambment. The word comes from the French meaning “legs straddling,” as the thought in a poem can flow beyond a line.

Abigail opened the circle with Núala Ni Dhomhnaill’s “The Language Issue,” her answer to why she writes in Irish (the poem was translated into English by Paul Muldoon) and begins, “I place my hope on the water/in this little boat/of the language, the way a body might put/an infant/in a basket of intertwined/iris leaves.” The poem reflects the flowing water with enjambment.

Roger read “The Poet of Bray” by John Heath-Stubbs, a humorous history of a poet’s changing political views. His excitement is captured with enjambment, “Back in the dear old thirties’ days/When politics was passion/A harmless left-wing bard was I/And so I grew in fashion.”

Hazel read Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” speech from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. We were delighted to revisit this poem and examine how the thoughts move forward, “To be, or not to be—that is the question:/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

Gail read “The Good Life” by the current American Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, a poem that captures shifting images in a single sentence and is given in its entirety here:

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

Ken read the start of “Endymion” by John Keats, with its many beautiful images created through enjambment, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:/Its loveliness increases; it will never/Pass into nothingness; but still will keep/A bower quiet for us, and a sleep/Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”

Christiana read Marianne Moore’s “The Fish,” which proceeds in ocean-like waves, “wade/through black jade/Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps/adjusting the ash heaps;/opening and shutting itself like/an/injured fan.”

Linda read Sylvia Plath’s “Edge,” written just six days before she died, in which the sentences run on into the next verse, “The woman is perfected./Her dead/Body wears the smile of accomplishment,/The illusion of a Greek necessity/Flows in the scrolls of her toga.”

Cate read Ted Kooser’s “Gyroscope,” which creates a beautiful image in one sentence, “I place this within the first order/of wonders: a ten-year-old girl/one on a sunny, glassed-in porch/in February, the world beyond/the windows slowly tipping forward into spring.” We noted that when you first read the line ending “the world beyond” there seems to be a natural stop, but the thought continues into the next line and the thought changes.

Susan read “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams in which a husband apologizes for eating the plums in the icebox that his wife was saving for breakfast, “Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so cold.”

AnnaLee read Archibald MacLeish’s “The End of the World” in which a mad circus disappears when the top blows off, “There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,/There in the sudden blackness the black pall/Of nothing, nothing, nothing—nothing at all.”

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. And join us for our next program at the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, 81st and Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan. Dates and times follow:  

Spring 2018 Schedule
April 17: Poetry and Timing (5:30 – 6:30 pm)
May 8: Poetry and Choices (5:30 – 6:30 pm)

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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Find a poem! Show up! Read a poem! Discuss a poem!

Join us Tuesday, March 6, 5:30 – 6:30 pm at St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Ave. at 81st St. for the theme of Poetry and Enjambment

Sometimes we like to choose a theme that teaches us something about poetry. Recently we looked at poetry and punctuation, and since then we’ve noticed that we are paying more attention to how punctuation is used in poetry. And now for March we’ll explore enjambment, a technique where one poetic line moves to the next, without punctuation at the end of the line; it is the opposite of an end-stopped line. Enjambment creates tension as we are used to pausing at the end of poetic lines, and yet we must read on to the next line in order to complete the sentence or thought. Homer used enjambment as did John Milton in Paradise Lost, calling it “sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.” The start of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land uses enjambment in lines 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6, and end stops in lines 4 and 7:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

In the ten enjambed lines of “Between Walls” by William Carlos Williams, the poet forces us to both speed up to complete the thoughts, and slow down to consider words at the end of lines:

The back wings
of the

hospital where
nothing

will grow lie
cinders

in which shine
the broken

pieces of a green
bottle

In rereading our blog post before hitting the “publish” button, I’m intrigued with the line endings of Eliot’s The Waste Land. Taken together, the last words make up a little rhythmical chant poem of their own:

Breeding, mixing, stirring, rain.
Covering, feeding, tubers.

Blog your thoughts on the poems you find here, or post an enjambed poem of your choice and say why you like it.

 

Please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. If you know someone who might be interested in our program, please pass this on. And like us on Facebook!

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.

Mankind is never satisfied. As Eve yearned for the forbidden fruit, and Tantalus for the water he could not drink, we all hunger or thirst for something more than we have whether it’s food or love or adventure or poetry.

One of the most horrific accounts of hunger occurs in Canto 33 of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Count Ugolino has been imprisoned with his sons, in what came to be called the Hunger Tower in Pisa, and left to starve: 

 . . . And I 
Already going blind, groped over my brood 
Calling to them, though I had watched them die, 
For two long days. And then the hunger had more 
Power than even sorrow over me

Sometimes the slaking of our desire transports us to poetic heights as in William Carlos Williams’s “This is Just to Say”: 

I have eaten 
the plums 
that were in 
the icebox

and which 
you were probably 
saving 
for breakfast

Forgive me 
they were delicious 
so sweet 
and so cold

What do you think about Williams’s poem? You can also post another poem about Hunger and Thirst!