Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is the Cruelest Month

April is National Poetry Month, the fiesta that, perhaps, is the source for T.S. Eliot's opening to The Waste Land (and the title of this post.) For an updated version of that line, go to http://www.poetryfoundation.org/, click on gallery, click on view archive, and go to the Roz Chast cartoon from a 1994 New Yorker. Then celebrate National Poetry Month by looking at all of the other cartoons -- the one with the cat looking in the mirror is particularly funny. Your culture-vulture merit badge will arrive in the mail.

Every couple of years I celebrate by sending out a poem (not by me) to friends, who, to prove they are friends, remain so despite having to at least look at a poem (not necessarily to read it) once a year. This year I thought I would spare them all the terror of receiving a piece of mail from me by posting links to some poems I like. No need to tactfully avert one's eyes from lines/stanzas/who knows what else. Just don't click on the connections.

So, here are some poems, with the occasional note.

The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes. My mother used to read this to us, very melodramatically.

Concord Hymn, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I remember this from elementary school.

Shield of Achilles, by W.H. Auden. I liked this in high school.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/ Click on reading guides for both a poem and commentary. I like "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning, and "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith.

Booker T and W.E.B, by Dudley Randall. I discovered this today. Happy National Poetry Month to me!

Child on top of a Greenhouse and My Papa's Waltz, both by Theodore Roethke.

The Revenant by Billy Collins. He was the keynote speaker at the California Library Association's conference in, I think 2007 or 2006, and read this poem among others. I particularly like the last two lines.

Deathfugue, by Paul Celan; translator John Felstiner. Extremely dark; extraordinarily moving. Felstiner's translation is magnificent. I've read other translations, which pale by comparison with his.

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