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Favourite poems

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Re: Favourite poems

#161 Post by Heurismus » April 1st, 2008, 2:01 am

Latest post of the previous page:

I'm glad you're familiarising yourself with Hikmet whose poem 'I Come and Stand at Every Door' The Byrds used on their album 5th Dimension.

Again another favorite from a musical source, I had the album in 1976 but like many things, cannot remember where it went...

Between Nothingness and Eternity

Barren of events,
Rich in pretensions
My earthly life.

My real name.

Wholly unto myself
I exist.

I wrap no soul
In my embrace.

No mentor worthy
Of my calibre
Have I.

I am all alone
Between failure
And frustration.

I am the red thread
And Eternity.

-Sri Chinmoy

Mahavishnu Orchestra
The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power. - J.S. Mill

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Re: Favourite poems

#162 Post by DougS » April 24th, 2008, 3:15 pm

Some specifically atheist poetry

Divine Author by Michael Pain
Your book reeks of humanity
Each page soiled with the blood, sweat and ignorance of man
Best seller of the laity
Man authors divinity
Your god cannot bleed, so he must burn
How many must die before we learn?

The Cry by Michael Pain
Here I am,
doubting your existence, questioning your omnipotence.
To you they plead their case,
to all you refuse to show your face,
in the eyes of the believers, the congregation,
I am condemned to hell, deserved damnation.

Because I choose to think freely,
because I do not listen to the cries of the holy man.

Five Thousand Dead Gods by glennlogan
No god I know is still alive -
all five thousand and seven
appear to have died.

The great god Huitzilopochtli
led the Aztecs' divine pack -
but He departed awhile back.

Zeus was fun, and had His run,
but while disguised as a swan,
they say, His neck got wrung.

Pluto - God of the Underworld,
offended the ladies of Hades,
and got buried in his own Hell.

Thor, I'm told, was big and bold,
but going out without a cloak,
they say, He died of the cold.

And ghosts of dead Indian gods
can't even haunt a decent tepee,
and many die on late night T.V.

No prisoners tremble on the altar
when their beating hearts are torn
to join Tezcatlipoca in the sky.

And no children scream as they
are loaded onto the simple machine
that feeds them to Moloch's fire.

And for ancient Greece's Dionysus,
no drums sound, no flute plays -
but, oh, weren't those the days!

The goddesses, too, we must include,
for all were dear to some, and lived
in our hearts until the time had come.

There was Athena , Gaia, and Kore,
Xochiquetzal, Minerva, and Astarte,
Ixtab, Kuan Yin, and Kali of course.

Five thousand gods and goddesses -
maybe ten or a hundred fifty thousand
or more, there might have been.

But the goddesses and gods have all
gone, one by one, until there are none
but those that are still willed alive.

- Gods and goddesses kept alive
by people still believing - still
trusting - in their own creations.

Pinocchio becomes god of the wood,
while Pygmalion falls on his knees
before his goddess of stone, Galatea.

We remember the Loving Mother
and the Father the All-Mighty
looming large in an infant's eyes.

For each girl-woman makes the God
she craves and needs - then kneels
before Him and says, "Oh, please!"

And each boy-man makes himself
a Goddess that he wishes,
giving a Mother's hugs and kisses.

And older men and women tend
to make our gods with
wrinkled brow and constant pout.

Still we always make our gods
to look a lot like me and you -
one head, one mouth, two eyes.

But the god of songbirds flies,
and the gods of all the fishes
must swim through ocean skies.

The god of cattle may be a bull,
or just maybe it's a cow -
I can't hope to settle that now.

But I am well informed by
one who ought to know:
the god of dogs is a bitch!

God laughs? Not on your life!
The joke's on us - but I'm told
She's heard this joke before!

This poem is from "Prayers to a Dead God: 125 Poems,"

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Re: Favourite poems

#163 Post by Noggin » May 15th, 2008, 10:23 pm

One I like from Jorge Luis Borges

History Of The Night

Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness;
thorns raking bare feet,
fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word
for the interval of shadow
dividing the two twilights;
we shall never know in what age it came to mean
the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates
that spin our destiny,
they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock
who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses;
to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters
and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland
of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhaustible
like an ancient wine
and no one can gaze on her without vertigo
and time has charged her with eternity.

And to think that she wouldn't exist
except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.
It is the still and silent sea that drowns a man. -- Old Norse Proverb

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Re: Favourite poems

#164 Post by Curtains » May 16th, 2008, 5:42 pm

It's great, Noggin.

Here's one I read recently and liked:

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

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Re: Favourite poems

#165 Post by DougS » June 26th, 2008, 12:07 pm

I'm not sure Spike Milligan qualifies as a great poet some of it speaks to me.


There must be a wound!
No one can be this hurt
and not bleed.

How could she injure me so?
No marks
No bruise

People say 'My, you're looking well'
.....God help me!
She's mummified me -

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Re: Favourite poems

#166 Post by thundril » August 28th, 2008, 1:48 am

I normally think of Kingsley Amis is a poetic Victor Meldrew. A man too literary for the Daily Mail but otherwise perfectly suited to it.
A grumpy old git, in other and better words.

Here though, is another angle.


Between the Gardening and the Cookery
Comes the brief Poetry shelf;
By the Nonesuch Donne, a thin anthology
Offers itself.

Critical, and with nothing else to do,
I scan the Contents page,
Relieved to find the names are mostly new;
No one my age.

Like all strangers, they divide by sex:
Landscape Near Parma
Interests a man, so does The Double Vortex,
So does Rilke and Buddha.

"I travel, you see", "I think" and "I can read"
These titles seem to say;
But I Remember You, Love is my Creed,
Poem for J.,

The ladies' choice, discountenance my patter
For several seconds;
From somewhere in this (as in any) matter
A moral beckons.

Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart
Or squash it flat?
Man's love is of man's life a thing apart;
Girls aren't like that.

We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff
Can get by without it.
Women don't seem to think that's good enough;
They write about it.

And the awful way their poems lay them open
Just doesn't strike them.
Women are really much nicer than men:
No wonder we like them.

Deciding this, we can forget those times
We stay up half the night
Chock-full of love, crammed with bright thoughts, names, rhymes,
And couldn't write.

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Re: Favourite poems

#167 Post by thundril » August 28th, 2008, 1:56 am

The foregoing has long been a favourite poem, which I used to know by heart.
Spotted it in an anthology of English verse many years ago, and, exceptionally, took time to memorise it.
But today, not trusting my creaking memory, I googled it, and copied it from a blog by someone called Assistant.
But reading it through, I suspect Assistant has himself typed it in from memory, and got it not quite right.
Anyone got an actual copy?

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Re: Favourite poems

#168 Post by Lifelinking » May 13th, 2009, 9:39 pm

topical (well, nearly) bump

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Re: Favourite poems

#169 Post by jaywhat » May 14th, 2009, 6:48 am


She is such an accessible poet and as laureate will improve the world.

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Re: Favourite poems

#170 Post by Paolo » May 14th, 2009, 1:04 pm

My all-time favourite by Philip Larkin

This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

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Re: Favourite poems

#171 Post by Daniel P » May 18th, 2009, 8:17 pm

I always feel moved by the following poem. It's called "Alice". It's by David Mpetyane, and it's about the founding of the town of Alice Springs in the central Australian bush.

Alice lost her virginity
Witness by
The old man gum tree
While the dog sat confused
Patiently licking its wounds
She gave birth
To one stone room
Next a shed then a house

She then stepped one step south
Before the caterpillars knew
Alice grew
With the scenery so strong
The old man gum tree
Witness Alice lose her virginity
Far before me

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Re: Favourite poems

#172 Post by thundril » May 31st, 2009, 4:27 pm

This one's not a whole poem, just a few lines that were significant for me at the time I first heard them

God said to Abraham
'Kill me your son.'
Abe said 'Man you must be puttin' me on!'
God said 'No.'
Abe said 'What?'
God said 'Well you can do what you want Abe, but the
Next time you see me comin' you better run...'

from 'Highway 61 by Bob Dylan.

At the time I was a teenager, trying to get up the nerve to break with Catholicism.
This song really helped.

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Re: Favourite poems

#173 Post by Fizzle » July 11th, 2009, 5:33 pm

The fountains mingle with the river
Love's Philosophy, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea -
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

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Re: Favourite poems

#174 Post by Hestia » July 17th, 2009, 2:10 am

I love so many poems, but I guess I'd have to say my favorite is "That I Be Not a Restless Ghost" by Margaret Mead

That I be not a restless ghost
Who haunts your footsteps as you pass
Beyond the point where you have left
Me standing in the newsprung grass

You must be free to take a path
Whose end I feel no need to know
No irking fever to be sure
You went where I would have you go

Those who would fence the future in
Between two walls of well-laid stones
But lay a ghost walk for themselves
A dreary walk for dusty bones.

So you can go without regret
Away from this familiar land,
Leaving your kiss upon my hair
And all the future in your hands.

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Re: Favourite poems

#175 Post by Maria Mac » July 17th, 2009, 3:36 pm

Lovely poems everyone: :thumbsup:

Just to change the mood a bit, I've just come across this one for the first time and would like to park it here so I know where to find it:

Author: Dr. Seuss
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.

I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Grinch.

Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crockodile.

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.
You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.
Mr. Grinch.

You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool
With arsenic sauce.

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Re: Favourite poems

#176 Post by jdc » July 17th, 2009, 8:57 pm


WB Yeats, Ephemera:
‘Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’

Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’

The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.’
Too long to quote in full, but I like Tennyson's Ulysses:
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Slightly less serious

A bit of Betjeman:
Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!
Maybe a drop of Housman:
Say for what were hopyards meant.
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of English Brews
Livelier liquor than the muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think.
My Blog; Twitter.
Email: 325jdc325 (at)

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Re: Favourite poems

#177 Post by Daniel P » September 6th, 2009, 7:51 pm

The following was written by an autistic woman, Sondra Williams, and describes how the world feels like from her perspective. It closely resembles my own experience (as I've already written on this forum, I am autistic too).

Memories of school 1969

I see the hair brush coming remembering this pain, as it rips out my hair
I break free and run frantically, from my mother to catch me if she dare

I see the pants that will bind me and cause my thinking to go into a fog
Screaming loudly my protests, jumping and hopping wildly like a frog

I smell the breakfast she has set out for me to eat, gagging from the sight
Knowing inside of me I will be sick if I just eat one bite

I try to get to the food I wish I had instead
Only to spill over my breakfast milk instead

My sister yells and her words frighten me with fears
For her sudden loud words painfully rip at my ears

This confusion surrounds me as I try hard to cope and yet..
OHHHH no, now my under panties are wet

I see my mother coming with angry words as she shouts them from her head
In fear I wonder what I did and quickly retreat under my bed

In fear I freeze in silence, laying so still, wishing I didn't exist
No way to share with anyone the things I painfully need to resist

I hear the school bus coming down the road as the tears well in my eyes
Mother jerking me out from under the bed as angrily she says her good byes

I take a breath of air as I step out the door, knowing this in not the end of my day
For now I must go to school and be subjected to more confusion with no words to say

The teacher taking me firmly by the hand and setting me in my chair
Observing all of the other children's eyes on me, as they glare

Why does everyone react to me in such hostile attacking ways?
Laughing, scorning and setting my confusion ablaze

Confused by all this, I communicate quite clear my fear
But silently alone I sit saturated in unseen tear


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Re: Favourite poems

#178 Post by Maria Mac » October 23rd, 2009, 12:41 pm

I found this one in 10th edition of Poems on the Underground. It conjures up vivid memories of my childhood and my mother - a 'war bride' - who came to England to marry my father after the war. I've still got all the letters they sent each other from opposite ends of Europe.

Handbag by Ruth Fainlight

My mother's old leather handbag,
crowded with letters she carried
all through the war. The smell
of my mother's handbag: mints
and lipstick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened
and worn at the edges, opened,
read, and refolded so often.
Letters from my father. Odour
of leather and powder, which ever
since then has meant womanliness,
and love, and anguish, and war.

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Re: Favourite poems

#179 Post by jaywhat » October 23rd, 2009, 2:41 pm

Enjoyed the school memory poem and that Fainlight 'Handbag' is very strong, Maria.
Incidentally we often meet Gerard Benson at poetry workshops and readings - he edited/co-edited the Poetry on the Underground books.

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Re: Favourite poems

#180 Post by Lifelinking » October 23rd, 2009, 2:47 pm

I really enjoyed that, and in the resulting mood of nostalgia here are the words of a wee song by Matt McGinn.

The Magic Shadow Show

In and out, above, below
Phantom figures come and go,
Just a magic shadow show
Come love, watch with me.

It may be sad, it may be fun,
The leaves of life fall one by one,
The wine of life too soon is done
In this magic shadow show

A loaf of bread and you and me,
A jug of wine beneath the tree,
We will sit and we will see
A magic shadow show

A thousand blossoms of today
Will soon be scattered into clay,
Today becomes a yesterday-
Magic shadow show

Leave tomorrow and yesterday,
With old Khayyam come sip today,
Listen to my Rubaiyat,
Magic shadow show

Could you and I with fate conspire
remould the scheme of things entire
Nearer to the heart's desire,
What a magic shadow show.

If you go to the tribute site for Matt and leave it on the first page, you can here Matt sing it in his own inimitable style.
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

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Re: Favourite poems

#181 Post by Nick » October 24th, 2009, 12:58 am

Thanks for the link. That's just beautiful, Lifey, just beautiful.

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