Friday, April 30, 2010

And so ends another Poetry month. It's amazing how time flies.

Aloha `Oe

Ha`aheo ka ua i nâ pali
Ke nihi a`ela i ka nahele
E hahai (uhai) ana paha i ka liko
Pua `âhihi lehua o uka

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again

`O ka hali`a aloha i hiki mai
Ke hone a`e nei i
Ku`u manawa
`O `oe nô ka`u ipo aloha
A loko e hana nei

Maopopo ku`u `ike i ka nani
Nâ pua rose o Maunawili
I laila hia`ia nâ manu
Miki`ala i ka nani o ka lipo

Ke nihi a`ela i ka nahele
E hahai (uhai) ana paha i ka liko
Pua `âhihi lehua o uka

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again

`O ka hali`a aloha i hiki mai
Ke hone a`e nei i
Ku`u manawa
`O `oe nô ka`u ipo aloha
A loko e hana nei

Maopopo ku`u `ike i ka nani
Nâ pua rose o Maunawili
I laila hia`ia nâ manu
Miki`ala i ka nani o ka lipo

- words and music by Queen Lili`uokalani


Proudly swept the rain by the cliffs
As it glided through the trees
Still following ever the bud
The `ahihi lehua of the vale

Farewell to you, farewell to you
The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace,
'Ere I depart
Until we meet again

Sweet memories come back to me
Bringing fresh remembrances
Of the past
Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
From you, true love shall never depart

I have seen and watched your loveliness
The sweet rose of Maunawili
And 'tis there the birds of love dwell
And sip the honey from your lips

- Translation by Queen Lili`uokalani

Even further inspired by the aforementioned Anglophone uses of this odd but fun meter, he thought he'd give Catullus himself a crack:

My exercise in hendecasyllabics. First the Latin, indicating the elisions you need to make it scan right:

Luget(e), O Veneres Cupidinesque,
et quantum (e)st hominum venustiorum:
passer mortuus est meae puellae,
passer, deliciae meae puellae,
quem plus ill(a) oculis suis amabat.
nam mellitus erat suamque norat
ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem,
nec ses(e) a gremi(o) illius movebat,
sed circumsiliens mod(o) huc mod(o) illuc
ad solam domin(a)m usque pipiabat.
qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.
at vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, qu(ae) omnia bella devoratis:
tam bellum mihi passer(e)m abstulistis
o factum male! o miselle passer!
tua nunc opera meae puellae
flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.

Latin and Greek poetry used various quantitative meters -- patterns of long and short syllables, in which the metrically prominent first syllables of feet (the "ictus") did not necessarily coincide with the stresses of words, which could make for complicated effects in a line. This meter of eleven syllables goes:
- - | - u u | - u | - u | - -
Rhyme was not a structural requirement, but it seems Catullus used a few internal rhymes intentionally.

I think this poem either tear jerkingly moving or comically overwrought, as my mood varies.

Now my English, with some attempts to reproduce something of the accidental rhymes and assonances and enjambments, and trying for colloqiuality. Judge for yourself whether this language really suits itself to this kind of meter.

Weep! all goddesses, gods of love, and all true
Ladies, gentlemen, found throughout the wide world!
Sparrow's gone to the grave. Her pet, my girlfriend's
Sparrow, light of her life, is gone. My girlfriend
Cared for him, even more than for her own eyes.
Sweet as nectar he was, and knew his mistress
Just as well as a baby knows her own ma.
Nor too far from his lady's lap he struck out
But, skip! hop! run-around, about, and non-stop
At his mistress alone he peeped his heart out.
Leaps and bounds 'long a shadow-road he goes now,
Gone down where they dun' letcha out, but no-how.
Curses light on you all, accursed phantoms,
Hell's devourers of all that's fine and lovely!
Such was Sparrow, the pet you ravished from me.
Deed most damnable! You -- pathetic sparrow --
It's all your doing now that makes my girlfriend's
Swollen, poor little eyes go red with weeping.

Go Pavel!
We'd been thinking about Catullus a fair bit recently - mainly his use of the Greek hendecasyllabic meter. It's a bit strange feeling at first, but actually puts kind of a spring in the step once one gets used to it. Anyway, Pavel got really inspired and found a couple English-language poems using this meter:


O you chorus of indolent reviewers,
Irresponsible, indolent reviewers,
Look, I come to the test, a tiny poem
All composed in a metre of Catullus,
All in quantity, careful of my motion,
Like the skater on ice that hardly bears him,
Lest I fall unawares before the people,
Waking laughter in indolent reviewers.
Should I flounder awhile without a tumble
Thro' this metrification of Catullus,
They should speak to me not without a welcome,
All that chorus of indolent reviewers.
Hard, hard, hard it is, only not to tumble,
So fantastical is the dainty meter.
Wherefore slight me not wholly, nor believe me
Too presumptuous, indolent reviewers.
O blatant Magazines, regard me rather -
Since I blush to belaud myself a moment -
As some rare little rose, a piece of inmost
Horticultural art, or half-coquette-like
Maiden, not to be greeted unbenignly.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(Next one's closer to home:)

For Once, Then Something

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

-Robert Frost

Try reading these aloud. What do you think? The rhythm's kind of tricky until you get used to it, isn't it?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Took a drive up to Cape Ann today. For a bit of a change, decided to take a look around Gloucester. Passed by the Gorton's World Headquarters, which prompted Pavel to comment that we'd made it to the "Fish Monger to the World."

It's sort of a long way to Chicago from the North Shore of Massachusetts geographically. In spirit, though, they're pretty close.


HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.


Fish Crier

I KNOW a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a
voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble
in January.
He dangles herring before prospective customers evincing
a joy identical with that of Pavlowa dancing.
His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish,
terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to
whom he may call his wares, from a pushcart.

-Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remember that original propos by Shakespeare from a few days ago?

Here's a bit more:

To his Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

-Andrew Marvell


To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

-Robert Herrick

Quand vous serez bien vieille

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise aupres du feu, devidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous esmerveillant :
Ronsard me celebroit du temps que j'estois belle.

Lors, vous n'aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Desja sous le labeur à demy sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s'aille resveillant,
Benissant vostre nom de louange immortelle.

Je seray sous la terre et fantaume sans os :
Par les ombres myrteux je prendray mon repos :
Vous serez au fouyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et vostre fier desdain.
Vivez, si m'en croyez, n'attendez à demain :
Cueillez dés aujourd'huy les roses de la vie.

-Pierre de Ronsard (Sonnets pour Hélène)

A number of translations for the above, along with some interpretation and explanations may be found here.


Amazing how convincing a fellow can get and what buttons he can push when there's something important enough at stake. Amazing how warlike love can be sometimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dad sent in a lovely, old favorite:

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

-Henry Wordsworth Longfellow


For those of you interested in Physics, Photography or notable Boston stuff, this is the epitaph on Harold Edgerton's grave in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This one came from a friend who remembers memorizing it as a kid back in elementary school. She particularly loved it due to its depiction of "the moon as an entity," and the connection she made with the stories she'd heard (She's half-Japanese) of the Rabbit in the Moon.


Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

-Walter de la Mare

The Jade Rabbit and the Monkey King, taken from Yoshitoshi's 100 Aspects of the Moon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just a short one. It's been a busy, kind of crazy, exhausting day and I've not the energy to stay up much longer:

First Fig

MY CANDLE burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

-Edna St. Vincent Millay