SCHOLAR ISLAND

POETRY


"All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true poets must be truthful."

                 Wilfred Owen

 

"Three things that enrich the poet:

Myths, poetic power, a store of ancient verse."

(The Red Book of Hergest)

 

"The poet has no invention in him, until he has been inspired and is out of his senses and the mind is no longer in him....(Poets) are simply inspired to utter that to which the Muse impels them."

Plato

 

"No poems can please long or live that are written by water-drinkers"

Horace

 

"The spirit of the world comes not forth to the sorceries of opium and wine. he who shall sing of the gods must drink water out of a wooden bowl."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

"The poet speaks not with intellect alone but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. As the travelers who has lost his way throws the reins on his horse's neck and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through the world For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened into nature....This is the reason why bards love wine, mead, narcotics, coffee, tea, opium, the fumes of sandalwood and tobacco, or whatever other procurers of animal exhilaration."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

"The pride of 'bearing it out even to the edge of doom' that sustains a soldier in the field, governs a poet's service to the Muse. It is not masochism, or even stupidity, but a determination that the story shall end gloriously: a willingness to risk all wounds and hardships, to die weapon in hand."

Robert Graves

 

"Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea."

Dylan Thomas

 

Poet, never chase the dream.

Laugh yourself, and turn away. Mask your

hunger; Let it seem small matter if she come or stay,

Robert Graves

 

 " It takes fifty years for a poet's weapons to influence the issue."

W.B. Yeats

 

"The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses."

Arthur Rimbaud

 

"A poem....begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of 

wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.....it finds the

thought and the thought finds the words."

-Robert Frost

 

 

The legendary origin of Japanese poetry is an encounter between the Moon-Goddess and the Sun-God, as they walked around the pillar of the world in opposite directions, The Moon-Goddess spoke first, saying the verse:

WHAT JOY BEYOND COMPARE

TO SEE A MAN SO FAIR!

The Sun God was angry that she had spoke out of turn in this unseemly fashion; he told her to return and come to meet him again. On this occasion he spoke first:

TO SEE A MAID SO FAIR-

WHAT JOY BEYOND COMPARE !

 

This was the first verse ever composed. In other words, the Sun God took over the control of poetry from the muse and pretended that he had originated it. With that poetry becomes academic and decays until the MUSE chooses to reassert her power in what are called Romantic revivals.

"All the totem societies in ancient Europe were under the dominion of the Great Goddess, the Lady of the wild things. Dances were seasonal and fitted into an annual pattern from which gradually emerges the single grand theme of poetry: The life, death and resurrection of the spirit of the year, the Goddess' s son and lover. In ancient Ireland the 'Ollave' or Master-Poet was privileged to sit next to the King at the table and was privileged as none else but the queen, to wear six colours in his clothes,"

 

-Robert Graves

 

"My fiftieth year had come and gone

I sat, a solitary man,

In a crowded London shop,

\ An open book and empty cup

On the marble table-top

While on the shop and street I gazed

My body of sudden blazed;

And twenty minutes more or less

It seemed, so great my happiness,

That I was blessed and could bless."

W. B. Yeats

 

 

"In the drizzling mist, with the snow high-pil'd,

In the winter night, in the forest wild,

Shakespeare

 

 

"In the foggy drizzle, in the deep snow

I heard the brown owl."

I heard the wolves with their ravenous howl,

I heard the screaming note of the owl. "

Goethe

 

 

"Poetry still falls from the skies

into our sheets still open.

They haven ' t put up the barricades , yet ,

the streets still alive with faces,

lovely men & women still walking there,

still lovely creatures everywhere,

in the eyes of all the secret of all

still buried there,

Whitman' s wild children still sleeping

there

Awake and walk in the open air. "

 

Ferlinghetti

 

 

Where are Whitman' s wild children,

where the great voices speaking out

with a sense of sweetness and sublimnity,

where the great new vision,

the great world-view

the high prophetic song

of the immense earth

and all that sings in it

Poets descend

to the street of the world once more"

Ferlingetti

 

"Brigit. ..was a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her

sway was very great and very noble. And she was woman of healing along

with that, and a woman of smith's work, and she first made the

whistle for calling one to another through the night. And the one side

of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely."

Gods and Fighting Men

Lady Gregory

 

 

"We poets in our youth begin in gladness;

But thereof come in the end despondency and madness. "

Wordsworth

 

"....The desire shared by many human beings to assemble meaningful sounds into a gemlike utterance appears to result from maintaining into adulthood two childhood stages of language familiar to us all: babbling, or lallation, and the punning riddle. At some time after six months, a child begins to hear and say sounds in repetitive patterns that prepare the way for rudimentary nursery rhymes like "Hickory, Dickory Dock" and "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum." From about the age of six years on, the child revels in dumb riddles based on puns, on words that reveal the hidden interconnections and short circuits of our language. What's good for water on the brain? A tap on the head. When is a door not a door? Repetition (babbling) and transformation (punning) offer a whole universe to play with. Then the play becomes very serious. When these two instinctual responses to language combine and develop, they provide the territory of poetry...."

Roger Shattuck

Forbidden Knowledge

 

 

"True poets will agree that poetry is spiritual illumination delivered by a poet to his equals, not an ingenious technique of swaying a popular audience or enlivening a Scottish dinner party."

Robert Graves

 

"after all, commonplaces are the great poetic truths."

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

"What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music."

Soren Kierkegaard

Either/Or Vol I

 

 

 

"So they had the boy baptized, and as they baptized him he plunged into the sea. And immediately when he was in the sea, he took its nature, and swam as well as the best fish that was therein. And for that reason he was called Dylan, the son of the Wave. Beneath him no wave ever broke. "

Robert Graves

The White Goddess

(recounting the Celtic romance of "LLew LLaw Gyffes")

 

-

 

No muse poet grows conscious of the MUSE except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident. NONE GREATER THAN THE TRIPLE GODDESS has been made implicitly or explicitly by all true Muse-Poets since poetry began."

Robert Graves

 

 

"I cannot think of any true poet from Homer onwards who has not independently recorded his experience of her. The test of a poet's vision, one might say, is the accuracy of his portrayal of the White Goddess and of the island over which she rules. The reason why the hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the . skin crawls and a shiver runs down the spine when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation of the 'White Goddess'. or Muse, the mother of all living, the ancient power of fright and lust - the female spider or queen bee whose embrace is death."

Robert Graves

 

 

The single poetic theme of life and death-. .The Night Mare is one of the cruelest aspects of the White Goddess. Her nests, when one comes across them in dream, lodged in rock-clefts of the branches of enormous hollow trees, are built of carefully chosen twigs, lined with white horse-hair and the plumage of prophetic birds and littered with the jaw-bones and entrails of poets.

Robert Graves

 

   "In a world ruled by the logic of the marketplace, or in Communist countries by state planning, poetry is an activity that brings no return whatsoever. Its products are scarcely salable and very nearly useless (except as propaganda in dictatorships and totalitarian ideocracies). To the modern mind, even though it will not admit this to itself, poetry is energy, time, and talent turned into superfluous objects. Yet against all odds, poetry circulates and is read. Rejecting the marketplace, costing almost nothing at all, it goes from mouth to mouth, like air and water. Its value and usefulness cannot be measured; a man rich in poetry may be a beggar. Nor can poems be hoarded: they must be spent. That is, they must be voiced. A great mystery: the poem contains poetry only if it doesn't keep it; the poetry must be given, shared, poured out like the wine from a bottle and water from a pitcher. All the arts, painting and sculpture in particular, being forms, are things; they can be kept, sold, and used as objects of financial speculation. Poetry, too, is a thing, but a thing that amounts to almost nothing: it is made of words, it is a puff of air that takes up no room in space. Unlike a painting, a poem shows no figures: it is a verbal incantation that provokes in the reader or hearer a spray of mental images. Poetry is heard with the ears but seen only with the mind. Its images are amphibious creatures: both forms and ideas, both sounds and silence."

Octavio Paz

The Other Voice

 

"If human beings forget poetry, they will forget themselves. And return to original chaos."

Octavio Paz

             

           "When I was irrevocably committed to finish my poem or die, there came the most trancelike state of all....I found myself, of all places, on a leathern couch in the cold, musty, little-used room that had been my grandfather's study. On that couch I lay prone in a kind of reptilian freeze, one arm dangling....When next I came out of that trance, my arm was still dangling, but now I was prostrate on the edge of a rickety wharf....I relapsed into my private mist, and when I emerged again, the support of my extended body had become a low bench in the park....various sounds reached me in my various situations. I could hear the family phonograph through my verse....a tambourine, still throbbing, seemed to lie on the darkening moss. For a spell, the last notes of the husky contralto pursued me through the dusk. When silence returned , my first poem was ready.."

Vladimir Nabokov

         ********************************

Book: "The Story of Poetry: Vols" by Michael Schmidt

Book: "Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation" by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Book: "The White Goddess" by Robert Graves

Book: "The Faerie Queene" by Edmund Spenser

Book: "Dante in Love: The World's Greatest Poem and How it Made History" by Harriet Rubin

Book: "Inferno" by Dante Alighieri

Book: "Lightning: The Poetry of Rene Char" by Nancy Kline Piore

Book: "The Best Poems Of The English Language: From Chaucer Through Frost" Selected by Harold Bloom

Book: "Break, Blow,Burn" by Camille Paglia

 

 

 

2001

E-MAIL@SCHOLAR

ABOUT SCHOLAR ISLAND

Back to Chrestomathy           Next Page