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eNOTHING has a mission: To bring poetry, arts and music to the streets via a growing artistic Twitter communicty.

Poem of the Day - "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" by Lewis Carroll (from Alice in Wonderland)

Alice Liddell (L) and Lewis Carroll (R)
Ah, the iconic masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland.  So much has been read into the story by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), a legendary work with so much speculation -- analysis of metaphors and hidden meanings.  The inspiration of so many pop culture iconic works of art and literature(James Joyce, Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, and yes, "I am the Walrus" by John Lennon and the Beatles was inspired by "Alice").

Did you know that "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" were inspired by a real girl, named Alice?  This is NOT conjecture.  Her name is Alice Pleasance Lidell, and she is well known as the little girl who inspired Carroll to write the story.

The following poem is an excerpt from the novel written by Lewis Carroll.  Notice that it is an "acrostic" poem, and read the first letter down to the bottom!

Cool!   

A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

By Lewis Carroll

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?

Top 100 Poems of all Time - "The New Poetry Handbook" by Mark Strand

Mark Strand's poetry certainly belongs in our Top 100 list, and I couldn't think of a better entry than "The New Poetry Handbook" - which has gained a wide audience over the years.  It's a tongue in cheek, delightful look at the plight of the being of an American Poet.

Mark Strand was born in Canada (Prince Edward Island) in 1934, and spent his formative years moving from location to location in Canada and the United States as well as Central and South America (to name a few places).  As a result, Strand matured feeling that he was "from nowhere" so to speak.  His summers were spent in Canada on Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and it is there that he developed his home roots or basic "home identity".  Strand began his collegiate career as a painter, but soon found a talent in poetry, citing such influences as Wallace Stevens, and the surrealist influences in his poetry derives from admiration of Max Ernst, de Cherico, and Rene Magritte.

Strand won the Pulitzer prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection "Blizzard of One", and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1990.  In his own words, 1971: "I feel very much a part of a new international style that has a lot to do with plainness of diction, a certain reliance on surrealist techniques, and a strong narrative element."

Enjoy this remarkable poem by Mark Strand!

The New Poetry Handbook

by Mark Strand 

1 If a man understands a poem,
he shall have troubles.


2 If a man lives with a poem,
he shall die lonely.


3 If a man lives with two poems,
he shall be unfaithful to one.


4 If a man conceives of a poem,
he shall have one less child.


5 If a man conceives of two poems,
he shall have two children less.


6 If a man wears a crown on his head as he writes,
he shall be found out.


7 If a man wears no crown on his head as he writes,
he shall deceive no one but himself.


8 If a man gets angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by men.


9 If a man continues to be angry at a poem,
he shall be scorned by women.


10 If a man publicly denounces poetry,
his shoes will fill with urine.


11 If a man gives up poetry for power,
he shall have lots of power.


12 If a man brags about his poems,
he shall be loved by fools.


13 If a man brags about his poems and loves fools,
he shall write no more.


14 If a man craves attention because of his poems,
he shall be like a jackass in moonlight.


15 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow,
he shall have a beautiful mistress.


16 If a man writes a poem and praises the poem of a fellow overly,
he shall drive his mistress away.


17 If a man claims the poem of another,
his heart shall double in size.


18 If a man lets his poems go naked,
he shall fear death.


19 If a man fears death,
he shall be saved by his poems.


20 If a man does not fear death,
he may or may not be saved by his poems.


21 If a man finishes a poem,
he shall bathe in the blank wake of his passion
and be kissed by white paper.


POEM OF THE DAY -- "Father Dear" by E E Cummings

E.E. Cummings is well recognized as one of the most influential and popular poets of the 20th Century.  His body of work encompasses more than 2900 poems, 2 Novels, four plays and several essays, as well as numerous drawings and paintings.  Despite his first novel being critically acclaimed by such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, it's his poetry and quotes which live on in infamy and popularity.

Cummings' work is most recognized by his inventive use of punctuation, grammar and syntax, as well as the first poet to experiment and perfect the actual placement and appearance of the words upon the page.  This actually became evident even at the remarkable age of 6 years old, in which what many believe was his very first poem, written to his father.

The picture on the right is of a young Cummings with his father and sister on a hammock...

It's actually remarkable that this poem was preserved or discovered!

Enjoy this precursor of things to come:


FATHER DEAR 

By EE Cummings (age 6)

FATHER DEAR. BE, YOUR FATHER-GOOD AND GOOD,

HE IS GOOD NOW, IT IS NOT GOOD TO SEE IT RAIN,

FATHER DEAR IS, IT, DEAR, NO FATHER DEAR,


LOVE, YOU DEAR,


ESTLIN

Top 100 Poems of All Time -- "I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman

There are so many great poems, great poets, undiscovered talent and surprises in the world of poetry, verse, and art.  You just need to have access to it all.  Today, we're very lucky.  With the accessibility of the internet, laptops, wireless everywhere and now cell phones - you CAN stay on top of everything.

Today's poem is one of Walt Whitman's all time great poems - forgotten by me since I began this blog 5 years ago.  But reading an article today in the London Times (online, of course) about poetry, this great poem was remembered as one of the 10 greatest poems ever (interesting opinion of an American poem in British culture).  So -- here it is for you to enjoy!

Oh yeah, don't forget the picture I choose of Whitman, which is the "middle-aged guy", they way he looked for most of his life, since I find the "bearded one" quite formidable.  Enjoy!

I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,

The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Poem of the Day -- "Sunday Morning" by Wallace Stevens

This is one of Wallace Stevens earliest poems - at the time it was an early breakthrough for Stevens; the poem was published in an early edition of "Poetry" magazine.  This poem is atypical of a Stevens poem; it is very structured and rhythm is just as important as his choice of wordplay in the abstract..in fact rhythm is far more important.

This emphasis on structure and rhythm is not really unusual though; many poets can look back at their earliest works and see more traditional approaches to the art, as they find their "wings" so to speak.

Stevens deeply contemplative, philosophical vision is there, though.  A poem about (and of doubt) the existence of God, paradise and the world of man that challenges traditional assumptions...it's a beautiful piece of work by a monumental poet!

Enjoy!

Sunday Morning

By Wallace Stevens

 
I


Complacencies of the peignoir, and late

Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,

And the green freedom of a cockatoo

Upon a rug mingle to dissipate

The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.

She dreams a little, and she feels the dark

Encroachment of that old catastrophe,

As a calm darkens among water-lights.

The pungent oranges and bright, green wings

Seem things in some procession of the dead,

Winding across wide water, without sound.

The day is like wide water, without sound,

Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet

Over the seas, to silent Palestine,

Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.



II


Why should she give her bounty to the dead?

What is divinity if it can come

Only in silent shadows and in dreams?

Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,

In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else

In any balm or beauty of the earth,

Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?

Divinity must live within herself:

Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;

Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued

Elations when the forest blooms; gusty

Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;

All pleasures and all pains, remembering

The bough of summer and the winter branch.

These are the measures destined for her soul.



III


Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.

No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave

Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.

He moved among us, as a muttering king,

Magnificent, would move among his hinds,

Until our blood, commingling, virginal,

With heaven, brought such requital to desire

The very hinds discerned it, in a star.

Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be

The blood of paradise? And shall the earth

Seem all of paradise that we shall know?

The sky will be much friendlier then than now,

A part of labor and a part of pain,

And next in glory to enduring love,

Not this dividing and indifferent blue.



IV


She says, “I am content when wakened birds,

Before they fly, test the reality

Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;

But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields

Return no more, where, then, is paradise?”

There is not any haunt of prophecy,

Nor any old chimera of the grave,

Neither the golden underground, nor isle

Melodious, where spirits gat them home,

Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm

Remote on heaven’s hill, that has endured

As April’s green endures; or will endure

Like her remembrance of awakened birds,

Or her desire for June and evening, tipped

By the consummation of the swallow’s wings.



V


She says, “But in contentment I still feel

The need of some imperishable bliss.”

Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,

Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams

And our desires. Although she strews the leaves

Of sure obliteration on our paths,

The path sick sorrow took, the many paths

Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love

Whispered a little out of tenderness,

She makes the willow shiver in the sun

For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze

Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.

She causes boys to pile new plums and pears

On disregarded plate. The maidens taste

And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.



VI


Is there no change of death in paradise?

Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs

Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,

Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,

With rivers like our own that seek for seas

They never find, the same receding shores

That never touch with inarticulate pang?

Why set the pear upon those river banks

Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?

Alas, that they should wear our colors there,

The silken weavings of our afternoons,

And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!

Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,

Within whose burning bosom we devise

Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.



VII


Supple and turbulent, a ring of men

Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn

Their boisterous devotion to the sun,

Not as a god, but as a god might be,

Naked among them, like a savage source.

Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,

Out of their blood, returning to the sky;

And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,

The windy lake wherein their lord delights,

The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,

That choir among themselves long afterward.

They shall know well the heavenly fellowship

Of men that perish and of summer morn.

And whence they came and whither they shall go

The dew upon their feet shall manifest.



VIII


She hears, upon that water without sound,

A voice that cries, “The tomb in Palestine

Is not the porch of spirits lingering.

It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.”

We live in an old chaos of the sun,

Or old dependency of day and night,

Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,

Of that wide water, inescapable.

Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail

Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;

Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;

And, in the isolation of the sky,

At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make

Ambiguous undulations as they sink,

Downward to darkness, on extended wings.