starlady: (run)
2014-04-24 03:33 pm

Peru: Day One Point Five

Well, we made it. I flew United for the first time in…eight years, and it wasn't actually as bad as I feared; the coffee is actually quite good. That said, we were still delayed an hour in San Francisco because of maintenance issues and then because of an inability to find a United crew to staff the spare United plane they found (where from, who knows; the previous plane and crew were Continental; reconciling seniority systems is the hardest part of airline mergers), with the result that I was running through Houston to make my connection to Lima. Considering that I got on the jetway of my arriving flight twenty minutes before our scheduled departure, and the flight to Lima was not in the same terminal, I felt pretty proud of that.

I'm in a hostel for the first time in…many years (I've been lucky enough to crash with friends, or to get travel grants to cover conference hotels), and it's weird. Fine, but weird. I slept about three hours, maybe, and I'm a little paranoid about my laptop and passport, though I have a private room. Lima seems nice so far, though admittedly we are in Miraflores, which is evidently a relatively ritzy part. I haven't seen much more of the city than walking from the hostel to the hotel to get the conference shuttle, which is what I did this morning.

Equally importantly, Pablo Neruda's "Canto XII from the Heights of Machu Picchu" came up in [community profile] poetry today, and it couldn't be more appropriate, given my travel plans.
starlady: (compass)
2013-04-23 10:20 pm
Entry tags:

NPM: William Shakespeare, Sonnets 81

Happy Birthday to [personal profile] recessional!

And Happy Birthday and Deathday to WS, the onlie begetter. Really given my druthers I would just repost Sonnet 107 ad infinitum, or more precisely to the grave, but novelty is the soul of fashion, and so we must on. Despite the fact that I have read the entire sonnet sequence at least three times, I had a really hard time choosing this year, until I remembered 81--


Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read;
And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead;
     You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen,
     Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.


Previous sonnets: 107, 77, 56, 65.
starlady: A typewriter.  (tool of the trade)
2013-04-22 12:00 am
Entry tags:

Dirty Latin poetry: needs more dirt. Also, a question

I am reading the epigrams of Martial for research for a fic (the XMFC Roman AU, to be precise). Martial is really not that great a poet. He keeps comparing himself to Catullus and implying he's better; he isn't. But the poems are a wealth of sociological and topographical information about Rome, Roman habits, and particularly Roman sexual habits and mores. So far the second half of book III, in which the poet is unabashedly dirty, is my favorite.

I'm reading the most recent Loeb edition because it's bilingual, and I've gotten to the point where I very much distrust not being able to compare the actual text with the translation. Bowdlerization is a longstanding problem in classics, and continues via the watering-down of the standard lexicons (i.e. Liddell for Greek and Lewis & Short for Latin) and even many contemporary translations--most of my dirty Latin I learned from my student's Catullus, and thank goodness for that.

So, here's what may be my favorite poem of them all thus far: 

Ut faciam breviora mones epigrammata, Corde.
"fac mihi quod Chione": non potui brevius. (III.83)
 
Cut for some rather NSFW translations and Latin )
starlady: A typewriter.  (tool of the trade)
2012-05-27 11:43 am

WisCon 36 Haiku Earrings Party Haiku

Space-Faring Tradition

Holds that there is naught
Between the stars, but the void
Tells other stories.
starlady: (compass)
2012-04-23 03:11 pm
Entry tags:

NPM: William Shakespeare, Sonnets 107

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] recessional!



Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes:
     And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
     When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.


107 is generally agreed to be the most impenetrable of the entire sequence - for that reason, among others, I like it a lot. I greatly enjoy the fact that all of Shakespeare's vaunting predictions of poetic immortality came true. Happy Birthday, Mr. WS.
starlady: "I can hear the sound of empires falling." (burning empires)
2012-04-02 10:32 am
Entry tags:

NPM: William Blake, from "America: A Prophecy"

I read this aloud in lecture last month, because it was my lecture and I got to do whatever I wanted. It's stuck in my mind since then. Philip Pullman fans may recognize this passage as one of the epigraphs to The Amber Spyglass.

The morning comes, the night decays, the watchmen leave their stations;
The grave is burst, the spices shed, the linen wrapped up;
The bones of death, the cov'ring clay, the sinews shrunk & dry'd
Reviving shake, inspiring move, breathing! awakening!
Spring like redeemed captives when their bonds & bars are burst.
Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field:
Let him look up into the heavens & laugh in the bright air;
Let the inchained soul shut up in darkness and in sighing,
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary years,
Rise and look out; his chains are loose, his dungeon doors  are open;
And let his wife and children return from the oppressor's  scourge.
They look behind at every step & believe it is a dream,
Singing: “The Sun has left his blackness, & has found a fresher morning,
And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night;
For Empire is no more, and now the Lion & Wolf shall cease.”

      --William Blake, "America: A Prophecy" (1793), plate 6
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
2011-09-11 06:48 pm
Entry tags:

Or, alternatively, this

Via[personal profile] peoppenheimer, Walt Whitman's "Mannahatta" in[community profile] poetry, also well worth the read.

And the "Remembering Sept. 11" concert, in full from The Temple of Dendur on NPR.

Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

1
FLOOD-TIDE below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.


2
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The simitudes of the past and those of the future, )
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
2011-09-09 09:55 am
Entry tags:

ten years ago, a Tuesday morning

This past spring, history—in the shape of a Navy SEAL team—seemed to provide the era with some closing punctuation. The death of bin Laden, coupled with the events of the Arab Spring, augured at least the possibility of a new age. Violent Islamism no longer seemed inevitable or indomitable. Events in North Africa and the Middle East promised, at the very least, a powerful alternative to both stagnant authoritarian governments and Islamist terror. There is no doubt that great struggles lie ahead—struggles among and within liberal modernity, religious fundamentalism, tribalism, and remnants of the old regimes—but little hope of human liberty ever resided with the regimes of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, or Muammar Qaddafi, to say nothing of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian mullahs, or, indeed, the Saudi royals.

But, for all the recent moments of promise, this tenth anniversary is a marker, not an end. It is a time to commemorate, consider, and reconsider. A decade later, we pay tribute to the resilience of ordinary people in the face of appalling destruction. We remember the dead and, with them, the survivors, the firemen and the police, the nurses and the doctors and the spontaneous, instinctive volunteers, the myriad acts of courage and kindness. A decade later, we also continue to reckon not only with the violence that bin Laden inflicted but with the follies, the misjudgments, and the violence that, directly or indirectly, he provoked—the acts of government deception, illegal domestic surveillance, “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced interrogation,” waterboarding.

-- David Remnick, "When the Towers Fell", The New Yorker


Or, have this poem, by way of [personal profile] kaigou:


Martín Espada: "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100"
for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,/like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium. )


Every September, without fail, no matter where I am, these blue skies and a certain cast of light make me think, "World Trade Center weather," and if the skies aren't blue, I think how they're not World Trade Center weather--and I wasn't even there. But I was closer than most other people around the world, close enough to resent the appropriation of those events and their meaning personally, however absurd that may seem. If the past ten years are any indication of what memory, unchecked, can do, no, I don't want to remember. But I can't forget, and even if I could, no, I wouldn't want to do that either. I hope it rains in New York on Sunday; it will make no difference. Memory is dangerous, but history--what we tell ourselves about the past--is no less perilous.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth Studios; you can comment there using OpenID or a DW account.
starlady: ((say it isn't so))
2011-09-09 09:55 am
Entry tags:

ten years ago, a Tuesday morning

This past spring, history—in the shape of a Navy SEAL team—seemed to provide the era with some closing punctuation. The death of bin Laden, coupled with the events of the Arab Spring, augured at least the possibility of a new age. Violent Islamism no longer seemed inevitable or indomitable. Events in North Africa and the Middle East promised, at the very least, a powerful alternative to both stagnant authoritarian governments and Islamist terror. There is no doubt that great struggles lie ahead—struggles among and within liberal modernity, religious fundamentalism, tribalism, and remnants of the old regimes—but little hope of human liberty ever resided with the regimes of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, or Muammar Qaddafi, to say nothing of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian mullahs, or, indeed, the Saudi royals.

But, for all the recent moments of promise, this tenth anniversary is a marker, not an end. It is a time to commemorate, consider, and reconsider. A decade later, we pay tribute to the resilience of ordinary people in the face of appalling destruction. We remember the dead and, with them, the survivors, the firemen and the police, the nurses and the doctors and the spontaneous, instinctive volunteers, the myriad acts of courage and kindness. A decade later, we also continue to reckon not only with the violence that bin Laden inflicted but with the follies, the misjudgments, and the violence that, directly or indirectly, he provoked—the acts of government deception, illegal domestic surveillance, “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced interrogation,” waterboarding.

-- David Remnick, "When the Towers Fell", The New Yorker


Or, have this poem, by way of [personal profile] kaigou:


Martín Espada: "Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100"
for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,/like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium. )


Every September, without fail, no matter where I am, these blue skies and a certain cast of light make me think, "World Trade Center weather," and if the skies aren't blue, I think how they're not World Trade Center weather--and I wasn't even there. But I was closer than most other people around the world, close enough to resent the appropriation of those events and their meaning personally, however absurd that may seem. If the past ten years are any indication of what memory, unchecked, can do, no, I don't want to remember. But I can't forget, and even if I could, no, I wouldn't want to do that either. I hope it rains in New York on Sunday; it will make no difference. Memory is dangerous, but history--what we tell ourselves about the past--is no less perilous.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
2011-08-13 06:22 pm
Entry tags:

I have successfully replaced running with climbing shrine mountains

For this week, at least.

Fushimi Inari: 233m (K: "I didn't realize we were going to be climbing a mountain today!" Me: "You should always expect to randomly climb a mountain with me in Japan!")
Konpira-san: 538m to the inner shrine

I should mention that both of these climbs took place in 33ºC+ heat.

Sanuki udon is delicious. No one is surprised. The ride over the Seto Ôhashi on JR is also gorgeous (but not for the agoraphobic).


Kobe always reminds me of Gondor:

Kobe! Kobe, between the mountains and the sea!
Salt breeze blew there; the aroma from the bakeries
Filled Sannomiya like incense in the days of old.
O wedding halls! Harbor tower! O Mt. Rokko and the cable car!
O Kobe, Kobe! Shall I there eat delicious bread,
Or salt breeze blow again between the mountains and the sea?


Originally posted at Dreamwidth Studios; you can comment there using OpenID or a DW account.
starlady: (run)
2011-08-13 06:22 pm
Entry tags:

I have successfully replaced running with climbing shrine mountains

For this week, at least.

Fushimi Inari: 233m (K: "I didn't realize we were going to be climbing a mountain today!" Me: "You should always expect to randomly climb a mountain with me in Japan!")
Konpira-san: 538m to the inner shrine

I should mention that both of these climbs took place in 33ºC+ heat.

Sanuki udon is delicious. No one is surprised. The ride over the Seto Ôhashi on JR is also gorgeous (but not for the agoraphobic).


Kobe always reminds me of Gondor:

Kobe! Kobe, between the mountains and the sea!
Salt breeze blew there; the aroma from the bakeries
Filled Sannomiya like incense in the days of old.
O wedding halls! Harbor tower! O Mt. Rokko and the cable car!
O Kobe, Kobe! Shall I there eat delicious bread,
Or salt breeze blow again between the mountains and the sea?

starlady: Aang with fire (aang can be asian & still save the world)
2011-08-04 12:10 am
Entry tags:

Flameo, Hotman!

I just finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with [personal profile] unjapanologist. HOW SO AWESOME, SHOW!? I just want it to go on forever and ever and ever, amen. At least Legend of Korra comes out (sometime) next year… I will have more to say at some point.

On the walk back to the subway I made up a completely unrelated poem.

Kyoto at night
The wind rustles the rice fields
Between frogs and stars.


It's metrical if you pronounce the long vowel in 'Kyoto.'

starlady: Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy foment a revolution in Narnia (once & always a king or queen in narnia)
2011-04-26 08:32 pm

NPM/3W4DW - Narnia poem-fic, "From the Collected Works of Solwing: 'England'"

I was saying to [personal profile] oliviacirce and [personal profile] epershand that I wanted to read epic Narnia fan poetry, and hadn't really found any…but then I took a stab at writing it myself, though in length at least it falls far short of the epic. So! This is 3W4DW content for the time being, but also a poem for National Poetry Month, written by yours truly. As some readers may realize immediately, it was inspired by and ties in with [personal profile] bedlamsbard's Warsverse timeline, and as such it relies on BB's seasonal associations and popular titles for the Pevensies.


From The Collected Works of Solwing, ed. Calpurnia Bright, published at Cair Paravel in the first year of the reign of King Tirian, first of that name.

Editor's Introduction

Although the Owls of Narnia have been noted more for their contributions as philosophers and, occasionally, historians, the eldest chick of the court historian Glimfeather, Solwing, was something of a renegade from the start,
choosing poetry over philosophy… )
starlady: (compass)
2011-04-23 10:59 am
Entry tags:

NPM - Shakespeare, Sonnets 77

Happy birthday, [personal profile] recessional!


Not exactly the most festal sonnet, but still one of my absolute favorites--I had to do a project on this one and recite it to the class in high school, and it's actually way more clever than it looks on first read.

It was either this or 72, which manages to be a lament and a string of sexual puns at the same time. And that is why Shakespeare is, 400 years later, still the best. Happy birthday, WS!

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear,
And of this book, this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know
Time's thievish progress to eternity.
Look what thy memory cannot contain,
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
     These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
     Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
starlady: Quorra fights CLU's black guard programs (for the users and for me)
2011-04-22 07:32 pm

NPM - Robert Lowell, "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket"

Someday I should make a post of all the weird things I've found on the Internet while looking for maps of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Hint: you can get porn before you can get a decent map of Pannonia (though technically that was my friend J's search, not mine).

This is one of my absolute favorite poems, and has been since I first read it in high school. Lowell's language is extraordinarily physical--do yourself a favor and read it aloud--but the austere New Englander worldview appeals to me too. Certainly it seems appropriate to post today.



The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket
by Robert Lowell

[FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA]

Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth,
and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.


I

A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket—
The sea was still breaking violently and night
Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet,
When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,
He grappled at the net
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs:
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites,
Its open, staring eyes
Were lustreless dead-lights
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk
Heavy with sand. We weight the body, close
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose
On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name
Is blocked in yellow chalk.
Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea
Where dreadnaughts shall confess
Its hell-bent deity,
When you are powerless
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste
In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute/To pluck life back. )
starlady: ((say it isn't so))
2011-04-21 11:40 pm

NPM: Catullus, Carmina 65

My mother died two years ago today. All day I've felt like I have nothing to say about it, caught between the feeling that I should feel more and the realization that, if I am not reconciled to her loss, I've become used to it in the past year in a way that I don't feel like I quite was before. And frankly I'm not sure I like that use. My mother would be fifty-nine right now; when I think about how I've lived nearly ten percent of my life without her already, and my younger sister even more, I just…no, I don't understand in any but the most superficial sense, and I don't think there is anything to understand.

By way of a tribute to my mother, here is my translation of Catullus 65, which the poet sends to his friend Hortalus as an accompaniment to his translation of some lines of Callimachus (Battides in the poem), one of the great Hellenistic poets whose work is mostly lost and whose influence Republican poets are thought to have felt greatly. Those lines are poem 66, one of Catullus' epyllions ('little epic'). Catullus' brother apparently died near Troy and was buried there; the poet visited his grave before composing poem 101. 'The Daulian' is Philomela, who killed their son Itylus in revenge for her husband Tereus' rape of her sister Procne; Zeus changed Procne into a swallow and Philomela into a nightingale so that they might escape Tereus' wrath. 'The learned maidens' in line 2 are the Muses, mentioned by name in the next line. The disjuncture of the simile that closes the poem is intentionally so, in the classic style of the Homeric simile.


Etsi me assiduo confectum cura dolore
  sevocat a doctis, Hortale, virginibus,
nec potis est dulcis Musarum expromere fetus
  mens animi, tantis fluctuat ipsa malis—
namque mei nuper Lethaeo in gurgite fratris
  pallidulum manans alluit unda pedem,
Troia Rhoeteo quem subter litore tellus
  ereptum nostris obterit ex oculis.
  numquam ego te, vita frater amabilior,
aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo,
  semper maesta tua carmina morte canam,
qualia sub densis ramorum concinit umbris
  Daulias, absumpti fata gemens Ityli--
sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Ortale, mitto
  haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae,
ne tua dicta vagis nequiquam credita ventis
  effluxisse meo forte putes animo,
ut missum sponsi furtivo munere malum
  procurrit casto virginis e gremio,
quod miserae oblitae molli sub veste locatum,
  dum adventu matris prosilit, excutitur,
atque illud prono praeceps agitur decursu,
  huic manat tristi conscius ore rubor.


Although being worn out by persistent painful distress
Summons me away, Hortalus, from the learned maidens,
It is not possible to expel the fruit of the sweet Muses
From my mind: it surges like a wave itself from such great evils--
For the running wave from the raging abyss
Of Lethe has recently washed my brother's pale foot,
Whom the Trojan earth crushes beneath
The Rhotean shore, torn away from my sight.

Shall I never see you, brother more lovable than life,
Hereafter? But certainly I will always love you,
I shall always sing sad songs on your death,
Such as those the Daulian sings beneath the dense shadows
Of the branches, lamenting the fate of Itylus gone away--
But despite such great griefs, Hortalus, I send
These translated songs of Battides to you,
Lest you should think your words to have flowed out
By accident from my mind to restless winds,
Just as an apple that has been sent as a secret pledge
From a fiancé rolls out of a pure maiden's lap
Because, placed and forgotten beneath the wretched girl's soft robe,
While she leaps up at her mother's approach, it rolls out,
And by its headlong course she is driven, stooping,
And self-conscious blush flows over her sad face.
starlady: (orihime)
2011-04-18 12:53 pm
Entry tags:

NPM - The Ballad of Pari Kongju (Princess Pari/Abandoned Princess)

I first heard about this oral epic Korean poem in my premodern Korea class last semester; our professor recounted the details of the ballad, which is first attested in the later Chosŏn period (i.e. 17thC), as an example of the incorporation of Buddhist and Daoist elements into commoner popular culture, which was much less neo-Confucian than aristocratic culture and thus allowed comparably expanded gender roles for women.

The epic is still performed today by mudang (shamans, often female) during funeral rites in South Korea. The excerpt that follows is from the translation that appears in Hyun-key Kim Hogarth's book Syncretism of Buddhism and Shamanism in Korea, working from contemporary transcriptions of the text; as far as I know, it's the only one of the few translations of this poem into English (for others, see [personal profile] thistleingrey's comment below).

The story goes that Princess Pari is the seventh daughter of the King and Queen of the realm, and that in rage at her not being a son her father the King orders her to be sacrificed to the West Sea Dragon King (a Daoist deity) immediately after her birth. But the infant Pari is saved by the Lord Buddha (Sakyamuni | Sŏkka) and brought up by a virtuous old couple as their daughter. But when Pari is fifteen both the King and the Queen fall ill and are told by a diviner that they will die on the same day unless they find their abandoned daughter, for their illness is a punishment for the King's sin. The Queen goes on a quest to find Pari and does so, who is brought back to her parents' palace in honor but finds that neither the King's scholar-officials (whose duty to the King is supposed to be like that of sons to fathers) nor her six older sisters (who say they are too clueless, since they've been raised to be proper court ladies) are willing to undertake the journey to the Netherworld to obtain the medicinal water that is guarded by Mujangsŭng.

Pari Kongju says:
"The obligation that I owe my parents
Stems from the nine months that I was inside my mother.
I will go."
She then asks for a warrior's costume
Made of silk and steel to disguise herself as a man,
and also a walking stick and shoes made of steel.
Alas, Pari Kongju! )
starlady: (compass)
2011-04-13 07:54 pm
Entry tags:

NPM: John Ashbery, "The Ecclesiast"

This is the poem I've been posting, very slowly, in the cut-text of my translation posts. Readers of Philip Pullman will recognize the last stanza as the epigraph to The Amber Spyglass.


"Worse than the sunflower," she had said.
But the new dimension of truth had only recently
Burst in on us. Now it was to be condemned.
And in vagrant shadow her mothball truth is eaten.
In cool, like-it-or-not shadow the humdrum is consumed.
Tired housewives begat it some decades ago,
A small piece of truth that is it was honey to the lips
Was also millions of miles from filling the place reserved for it.
You see how honey crumbles your universe
Which seems like an institution – how many walls?

Then everything, in her belief, was to be submerged/And soon. )
starlady: Uryuu & Ichigo reenact Scott Pilgrim (that doesn't even rhyme)
2011-04-07 03:57 pm
Entry tags:

NPM: "Beowulf Retold"

Normally I go in for more serious things during Poetry Month, but [personal profile] recessional posted a stanza from the third part of this poem, and IT IS MADE OF TOO MUCH AWESOME not to share.

So, excerpts from "Beowulf Retold" below the cut, and the full poem here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3

and Hrothgar is like well alright
but you know
you are not the first person to have this idea
shit has been going on for TWELVE YEARS
I cannot emphasize this enough
and beowulf is like BITCH DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
I CAN PUNCH A HORSE SO HARD IT TURNS TO GOLD
AND WHEN I COUGH
KILLER BEES SHOOT OUT OF MY MOUTH
I'M BEOWULF
DO I NEED TO SPELL IT FOR YOU
I HOPE NOT
BECAUSE I NEVER LEARNED TO READ

and Hrothgar is like
well shit
let's party

dragons setting shit on fire is kind of par for the course in old europe )

part 1 | part 2 | part 3
starlady: (compass)
2011-04-05 10:53 pm
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NPM: Agha Shahid Ali, "Lenox Hill"

Between T.S. Eliot and my mother, I spend a lot of my time in April thinking about death, and also looking for poems to post that may or may not be related. This one definitely is--found by way of my sister last year, whose comment was, "it's kind of like that," and which I cannot better.

Let us be excellent to each other, dear readers; life is too important and too short.


Lenox Hill
by Agha Shahid Ali

(In Lenox Hill Hospital, after surgery, my mother said the sirens sounded
like the elephants of Mihiragula when his men drove them off cliffs
in the Pir Panjal Range.)


The Hun so loved the cry, one falling elephant's,
he wished to hear it again. At dawn, my mother
heard, in her hospital-dream of elephants,
sirens wail through Manhattan like elephants
forced off Pir Panjal's rock cliffs in Kashmir:
the soldiers, so ruled, had rushed the elephant,
The greatest of all footprints is the elephant's,
said the Buddha. But not lifted from the universe,
those prints vanished forever into the universe,
though nomads still break news of those elephants
as if it were just yesterday the air spread the dye
("War's annals will fade into night / Ere their story die"),

the punishing khaki whereby the world sees us die/out )