Friday, December 30, 2016

Dorothy Parker / The Sea


by Dorothy Paker

Who lay against the sea, and fled,
Who lightly loved the wave,
Shall never know, when he is dead,
A cool and murmurous grave.

But in a shallow pit shall rest
For all eternity,
And bear the earth upon the breas
That once had worn the sea.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kathleen Jamie / Moon

by Kathleen Jamie
Last night, when the moon
slipped into my attic-room
as an oblong of light,
I sensed she’d come to commiserate.
It was August. She travelled
with a small valise
of darkness, and the first few stars
returning to the northern sky,
and my room, it seemed,
had missed her. She pretended
an interest in the bookcase
while other objects
stirred, as in a rockpool,
with unexpected life:
strings of beads in their green bowl gleamed,
the paper-crowded desk;
the books, too, appeared inclined
to open and confess.
Being sure the moon
harboured some intention,
I waited; watched for an age
her cool glaze shift
first toward a flower sketch
pinned on the far wall
then glide to recline
along the pinewood floor
before I’d had enough. Moon,
I said, we’re both scarred now.
Are they quite beyond you,the simple words of love? Say them.You are not my mother;with my mother, I waited unto death.
 from The Overhaul  (Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2015)                                                                         
Jamie, KathleenKathleen Jamie’s The Overhaul, which won the Costa Prize for Poetry in 2012, has recently been published in the USA. These mid-life poems are deceptively simple, less ebullient than some of her earlier work – the feisty poems of The Queen of Sheba gave voice to a generation of Scottish women not prepared to be subdued; more conversational, full of questions. Thrifty with words when confronted by spendthrift nature, ‘Her poetry is to be admired as one might a winter garden for its outline, clarity and light’, wrote the Observer reviewer; ‘Reading the collection is, on one level, the equivalent of taking a Scottish walk, observing birds, deer, sheep and the sea.’
Jamie lives in Fife, and is Chair of the Creative Writing programme at the University of Stirling.Her fine essay collections, like her poetry, examine  with lyrical acuity the way humans dwell in, delight in and despoil the natural world. She is rarely as self-referential as in The Overhaul. The last lines of ‘Moon’ surprise us with their buried feeling brought to light, their deeply Presbyterian tone.

Robyn Marsack

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dorothy Parker / Indian Summer


by Dorothy Parker

In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Doroty Parker / Love Song

Love Song

Related Poem Content Details

My own dear love, he is strong and bold 
      And he cares not what comes after. 
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold, 
      And his eyes are lit with laughter. 
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled— 
      Oh, a girl, she’d not forget him. 
My own dear love, he is all my world,— 
      And I wish I’d never met him. 

My love, he’s mad, and my love, he’s fleet, 
      And a wild young wood-thing bore him! 
The ways are fair to his roaming feet, 
      And the skies are sunlit for him. 
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems 
      As the fragrance of acacia. 
My own dear love, he is all my dreams,— 
      And I wish he were in Asia. 

My love runs by like a day in June, 
      And he makes no friends of sorrows. 
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon 
      In the pathway of the morrows. 
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start, 
      Nor could storm or wind uproot him. 
My own dear love, he is all my heart,— 
      And I wish somebody’d shoot him.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Reading Seamus Heaney

Reading Seamus Heaney

by Matthew Howard

The Irish writer and 1995 Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who died on August 30 in Dublin, was for the last forty years both a contributor to The New York Review of Booksand one of its frequent subjects.
He first appeared in the Review in a 1973 article by Stephen Spender, who wrote on books of poetry by Heaney, Thom Gunn, W.S. Merwin, James Merrill, James Schuyler, Philip Levine, and Kenneth Koch. Of Heaney’s third collection, Wintering Out, Spender wrote:
It is difficult to know what to say about Seamus Heaney except that he is very good, very Irish, very honest. His poems are, I suppose, autobiographical and are direct reports on experience. Nothing, on the level of the experience, seems invented. At the same time, he is intoxicated with language, so that the event, almost cinematically described, is dense with the texture of the words.
Two years later, the Review published his poem “The Poet Crowned”:

I rode south through the petty kingdoms
(Belfast to Dublin on The Enterprise)

Resplendent in my emperor’s new bays.

Gods make their own importance! Metronomes
And metres, tattoos on the sacral drums
Of memory, etymologies
Superb as nations risen off their knees:
Our name is shouted and the influence comes.
While somewhere in the monotonous fields
The herdsman and his wife who kept the boy
Unawares through all his marvellous growing,
Bewildered now by this new name,
Think themselves forgotten and grow lonely
Heaney went on to publish many more poems, a review, and an introduction and excerpts from his acclaimed Beowulf translation in the Review. Fifteen of his books were reviewed in our pages, and we present several of the pieces below, in his memory.

Richard Murphy on North
SEPTEMBER 30, 1976
He was born on a farm in a townland called Mossbawn, near Lough Neagh between Belfast and Derry, thirty-seven years ago, the eldest of nine children in a Catholic family. After six years at St. Columb’s College, run by the Diocesan priests, in Londonderry, he studied English language and literature at Queen’s University in Belfast, where he began to write poetry under the spell of Gerard Manley Hopkins. His first volume, Death of a Naturalist, was published ten years ago in 1966. “Words as bearers of history and mystery began to invite me,” he has said about this period in his life. By birth and upbringing he belonged to the ancient world of the Irish countryside and traditional culture, with roots in a pre-Christian legendary past: but his education brought him into the modern world, where he discovered English poetry. The tension you can feel in Ireland between the two cultures, you also feel in his poetry.
Richard Ellmann on Station Island
MARCH 14, 1985
After the heavily accented melodies of Yeats, and that poet’s elegiac celebrations of imaginative glories, Seamus Heaney addresses his readers in a quite different key. He does not overwhelm his subjects; rather he allows them a certain freedom from him, and his sharp conjunctions with them leave their authority and his undiminished. There are none of Yeats’s Olympians about; the figures who appear in Heaney’s verse have quite human dimensions.
Helen Vendler on The Haw Lantern
APRIL 28, 1988
Heaney is a poet of abundance who is undergoing in middle age the experience of natural loss. As the earth loses for him the mass and gravity of familiar presences—parents and friends taken by death—desiccation and weightlessness threaten the former fullness of the sensual life.
James Fenton on The Spirit Level and The Redress of Poetry
JULY 11, 1996
The general praise that greeted his being awarded the Nobel Prize last year might tempt one to forget that this immensely popular poet has often had a bumpy ride, that he has not been short of critics, not least among his fellow poets.… Certainly in Heaney criticism there is a topos: Why does Heaney get all the attention, when poet X or Y is so much more this, so much more that? It seems Heaney was thought to have had a knack of soaking up all the available attention.
Fintan O’Toole on Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996
MARCH 4, 1999
That power to transform things as they are into things as they might be conceived is the poet’s true property. In a dark time, Heaney has held open a space for the imagination by showing that people are not necessarily prisoners of the physical reality that seems to doom them to conflict.
Anthony Hecht on Finders Keepers: Selected Prose, 1971–2001
DECEMBER 5, 2002
In the course of time a number of young poets have asked me what I would recommend that they read—apart from poems themselves—to help them understand their craft—not in a handbook way, but as informal discourse. And I have proposed a number of texts that provoke long and lively thought, most often among them the letters of Keats. I get asked that question less frequently these days, but if a young writer were to come up with the same question I would now happily and gratefully add Finders Keepers.
John Banville on Human Chain
NOVEMBER 11, 2010
The mourning bell tolls throughout Human Chain, Seamus Heaney’s twelfth collection of poems, but the sound it makes is a sonorous call to life and continuity: “The dead here are borne/Towards the future.”