Maggie Robinson

Apr 10
April Is the Cruelest Month

…especially in Maine, where it is due to SNOW this weekend. But it is also National Poetry Month. I’ve done the usual display in the high school library, and have posters up from and books ranging from Shel Silverstein to Edgar Allen Poe.

National Poetry Month gets knocked by some as a superficial attempt to lure people into poetry. That may be so, but one month is probably better than none. Even though I used to write it (badly), poetry is not really my favorite thing. I spent more than my fair share of time in school trying to figure out what the hell poets were trying to say when it seemed to my prosaic self they could have done far more efficiently without such obscure symbolism. I am a Philistine, I guess.

I found this really fun site (Magnetic Poetry Online Poetry Kit—just click onto the link) to tap into your creative side and kill some time at work.
Fool around with it (it’s like refrigerator magnet poetry but you’ll be clicking and dragging the little words onto the screen instead of the fridge), come back here and share your great poem. You have several choices from the the word kits—I picked the romance one, natch. I haven’t had a contest in ages, so it’s time. One poet will win a prize! Enter as many times as you want to bring culture (and amusement) to MRMR. Or you can post a poem you like. New post and winner announced on Friday, April 18.

Now I’ll leave you with my favorite poem, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold.
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

27 comments to “April Is the Cruelest Month”

  1. Maggie Robinson
     · April 10th, 2008 at 6:59 pm · Link

    I did a better one at work (!!!bad me) but here’s mine:

    We whisper.
    We worship
    This sacred touch
    Where my tongue tastes Paradise.

  2. Elyssa Papa
     · April 10th, 2008 at 8:26 pm · Link

    I loved the response to Matthew Arnold’s poem. I think it’s called “The Dover Bitch” or something equally snarky like that.

    I just got magnetic poetry, but these are special—it’s geared toward Romance!!! It has words like quivering member. LOL

  3. Tiffany Kenzie
     · April 11th, 2008 at 6:48 am · Link

    In my HS days, I won a poetry contest. I do not bore people with my double entendre and mysterious wording. Fiction is better for me.

    Now on reading poetry. I cannot get into new stuff… but the oldies (Byron, Blake–one of my favs, Coleridge, Catullus, Wilmot–you would have to know I’d read his stuff, Keats, Shelley, and so on) they tell a story with their poetry that I enjoy.

  4. Hvitveis
     · April 11th, 2008 at 8:10 am · Link

    See it like through opaque tinge
    Make your language fecund
    Ask the mind for opinion
    Influence can obscure
    Find a question
    Delve into an idea
    Know you
    And delight

    Using the brain-one.

  5. Maggie Robinson
     · April 11th, 2008 at 8:38 am · Link

    Wow, Hvitveis! What an unbelievable combination! Absolutely profound and thought provoking…and fecund! I didn’t check out the brain words and now must. I can see this poetry website will be a time-suck, LOL.

    Tiff, I had a character in a novella with a thing for Wilmot, way before the Depp movie came out. It went so nicely with his uptight persona…now I’m going to have to revisit that short and see if it holds up.

    Ely,quivering member? I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

  6. Hvitveis
     · April 11th, 2008 at 8:55 am · Link

    I am trying to erase the webpage from my memory. Exam period is looming in the horizon and I just KNOW that “inspiration” will hit in the worst moment..

    Also, the “unusual combinations” might be because I, umh, have not checked the diccionary, and so might think a word means something when it is really something else..

    I have not read that much poetry. I read some of Shakespeare´s sonnets, and some of Robert Browning, and some collections of norwegian contemp poetry. (oh, and the stuff we read at school, mostly 19th century, Henrik Wergeland and J. S. Welhaven and of course “Terje Vigen” by Henrik Ibsen. A tragic poem about a man who takes his row-boat crossing the sea to denmark to by grains for bread, because the british blocade of the norwegian coast durin the napoleonic wars was causing a famine in norway..)

    That was all for today in Helene´s norwegian history/litterature class..

  7. MsHellion
     · April 11th, 2008 at 10:49 am · Link

    Here’s one of my favorite poems. And it has daffodils…that flower of April.

    But I also like:

    An Argument by Thomas Moore

    I’ve oft been told by learned friars
    that wishing and the crime are one;
    And Heaven punishes desires
    As much as if the deed were done.

    If Heaven damns us, you and I,
    are damned to all our heart’s content.
    Come then at least we may enjoy
    some pleasure for our punishment.

  8. Stephanie J
     · April 11th, 2008 at 2:52 pm · Link

    I like poetry, but it brings up bad memories for me! (there was a time in middle school where I read my poem “Oodles of Noodles” while dressed like a fork and twirling toilet paper “noodles” around me… oh gawd) I really don’t have a talent for creating anything worth mentioning but there are some pieces that I’ve really loved in the past. I’ve collected Shel S. my whole life and I’m fan of William Blakely’s Inn.

  9. Maggie Robinson
     · April 11th, 2008 at 4:21 pm · Link

    Stephanie, you’ve painted quite a picture! Try the Magnetic Poetry site—no forks or noodles.

    Hellion,you are one of my favorite poets, actually*w* but I like the one you quoted.

    Helene, I know. The Magnetic Poetry site is just a little addictive. But go study! And thinks for the Norwegian history lesson!

  10. Kelly Krysten
     · April 11th, 2008 at 7:41 pm · Link

    I’ve never really been able to connect with poetry. My English teacher in Highschool insisted we read tons of it and when she asked us to interpret it she always said we were wrong,but wouldn’t explain why. Alas, I still don’t understand

  11. Janga
     · April 11th, 2008 at 8:35 pm · Link

    Oh, Maggie, what a lovely way to procratinate you have given me.

    I used The Poet kit and played for thirty minutes. Here’s the best one:

    Naked star dazzled.
    I embraced night;
    translucent rhythms flower–
    heart exploring joy.
    Wake, child, look;

    I love poetry as much as I love romance. I count as favorites too many poems and poets to name. Emily Dickinson is the one I read most, but I am posting a favorite by another 19th-century woman poet. I love the voice in this one. Reading it, I always feel as if I am exchanging a smile with the poet.

    No, Thank You, John
    Christina Rossetti

    I never said I loved you, John:
    Why will you tease me day by day,
    And wax a weariness to think upon
    With always “do” and “pray”?

    You know I never loved you, John;
    No fault of mine made me your toast:
    Why will you haunt me with a face as wan
    As shows an hour-old ghost?

    I dare say Meg or Moll would take
    Pity upon you, if you’d ask:
    And pray don’t remain single for my sake
    Who can’t perform that task.

    I have no heart? – Perhaps I have not;
    But then you’re mad to take offence
    That I don’t give you what I have not got:
    Use your own common sense.

    Let bygones be bygones:
    Don’t call me false, who owed not to be true:
    I’d rather answer “No” to fifty Johns
    Than answer “Yes” to you.

    Let’s mar our pleasant days no more,
    Song-birds of passage, days of youth:
    Catch at today, forget the days before:
    I’ll wink at your untruth.

    Let us strike hands as hearty friends;
    No more, no less; and friendship’s good:
    Only don’t keep in view ulterior ends,
    And points not understood

    In open treaty. Rise above
    Quibbles and shuffling off and on:
    Here’s friendship for you if you like; but love,
    No, thank you, John.

  12. J.K. Coi
     · April 12th, 2008 at 2:27 am · Link

    Maggie, this is a great post. Thank you for introducing me to all these poets!

    I won’t torment you with my own attempts

  13. Maggie Robinson
     · April 12th, 2008 at 7:44 am · Link

    Jamga, I live to serve! And I know you can do quite well on your own and don’t need no stinkin’ refrigerator magnets, but what a dazzling poem you created!

    J.K. and Kelly, c’mon and play. All the words are there for you. Just scramble some up!

  14. Maggie Robinson
     · April 12th, 2008 at 7:45 am · Link

    Uh, that would be Janga, although Jamga sounds delicious. *w*

  15. Hvitveis
     · April 12th, 2008 at 9:01 am · Link

    I did another one.. this time with the “artist-kit”

  16. Santa
     · April 13th, 2008 at 4:32 pm · Link

    I am really loving what I am reading here. I am afraid I am not very well versed in poems and their poets. I bookmarked the magnetic poems location. I tried to create one using it and got frustrated.

    Here’s one I just did free hand. Mind you it’s been an age since I’ve tried my hand at poetry:

    Time and again I sought you
    And watched you turn away.
    I ached to have you hold me
    And kiss my tears away.

    I went through life seeking you
    In any who came my way.
    A conjured image – dashing and debonaire,
    Not the cracked and fissured shell behind all the glare.

    And now I find that I’ve wasted my life’s time away.
    Waiting and watching for one
    Who just flittered for a time
    And just as quickly flew away.

    More the fool, I.

  17. Maggie Robinson
     · April 13th, 2008 at 4:50 pm · Link

    Santa, I’m so honored to have your original poem! Thank you for posting.

  18. Santa
     · April 13th, 2008 at 4:55 pm · Link

    You’re quite welcome!

    You have some of the best posts!

  19. Janga
     · April 13th, 2008 at 7:00 pm · Link

    Today I came across a poem I love but haven’t read in years. This seemed the perfect place to share it.

    Little Women by Susan Ludvigson

    There in the playhouse
    making pies of flour and water
    and apples from the neighbor’s yard,
    we learned to handle anything—
    husbands who stopped in
    just long enough
    to sample cookies,
    gardens that washed away
    in the first spring storm,
    and babies crying,
    their mechanical wails
    stuck in their throats
    like dimes. Sometimes
    we thought we’d try something—I’d be
    a missionary in Africa,
    and a ballet dancer,
    and go to Mars.
    I remember standing on the sidewalk.
    hands raised to the sky,
    proclaiming I would not
    be married, have children,
    live in a neighborhood
    like this. But always
    we returned
    to the little house
    behind my real one.
    put on the long dresses
    with folds that wrapped us
    like gifts,
    the shiny high heels
    and the feathered hats.
    Then we practiced
    a dignified walk
    around and around the block.

  20. Maggie Robinson
     · April 13th, 2008 at 8:26 pm · Link

    Janga (altho now I’m thinking of you as Jamga), that brought me right back to the street I lived on and the Sullivan twins’ playhouse in their backyard. What a wonderful poem. Thank you! These poetic offerings are making my crusty old heart sing.

  21. terrio
     · April 14th, 2008 at 10:21 am · Link

    I’ve been keeping up with these lovely posts and just love that last one, Janga. I’m afraid I have no talent for poetry unless it’s song lyrics. Even that I haven’t done in quite some time.

    I have some very old poetry books that my grandmother used in school. They are practically falling apart but they contain all the classics and I love to open them every once in a while.

    This is a great blog and all of you have posted beautiful work.

  22. Santa
     · April 14th, 2008 at 11:24 am · Link

    Janga both the pieces you posted are marvelous. Thanks for sharing them.

  23. RevMelinda
     · April 14th, 2008 at 10:33 pm · Link

    Hi Maggie and friends,

    When each of my girls graduated from elementary school I gave them a charm bracelet and wrote them a poem–one stanza for each charm. Here’s some of the stanzas I came up with for my youngest:

    Blow Dryer

    A girl, her Dad, a purple chair;
    Blow dryer, bathrobe, dripping hair;
    Hair flying, drying, warm but not hot;
    Brush moving, smoothing each tangle and knot.

    Arc de Triomphe

    You’re already a star; attracting friends
    Who orbit you as Paris boulevards
    Accelerate, converge on Place d’Etoile.
    Your green eyes mesmerize. Your elfin grins
    Illuminate your singing, drama, art.
    Toward your creative brightness laughter bends
    Like avenues embrace l’Arc de Triomphe.
    In English and in French, with smiles, with hugs,
    Your pixie heart translates your native language, Love.

    Knitting Needles and Yarn

    Your hands are small, and yet they hold
    both knitting needles and suspended yarn,
    Moving up and over, through and off.
    As stitches whisper, needles click,
    The multicolored wool becomes a scarf,
    A teddy bear, a hat—while stitch by row
    Your skill, and your imagination, grow.

    Sand Dollar

    At every age the beach draws your delight;
    Wide eyed inside a Snugli, cradled close
    To Daddy’s chest; Or toddling hand in hand
    With Sophie, water squishing through your toes,
    Collecting shells and treasures on the shore;
    Or running with your cousins to explore,
    In sunset silhouette, pools left by tide;
    Or autographing “Leila” in the sand.

  24. Maggie Robinson
     · April 15th, 2008 at 6:54 am · Link

    RevM!!! What treasures you’ve given your girls. I’ve got tears in my eyes this morning. You’re a lucky mom and they are lucky daughters.

  25. irisheyes
     · April 16th, 2008 at 11:48 pm · Link

    I had to finally post. I’ve been checking in on the creativity throughout the week and am in awe. You ladies are really talented. I’m lucky I can get through a Roses Are Red poem.

    I had to sit down with my daughter today to outline her 4th quarter goals for Language Arts. She picked writing a poem as one of her goals and said it would be easy. She rattled off at least 3 different types and lost me after the first one.

  26. Ericka Scott
     · April 17th, 2008 at 12:42 am · Link

    I envy poets…such beautiful writing…but I’m a proser and I know it.

  27. Maggie Robinson
     · April 17th, 2008 at 7:53 am · Link

    Irish, when I taught, I’d get the kids to write haikus. It was amazing what they could do with 5-7-5. I got kind of addicted myself. The English teacher (who I got the Magnetic Poetry site from) has his kids doing about a dozen different poetry forms. He has them set up on his website. All month long we’ve gotten student poetry mistakenly sent to the library printer. Some of it is awesome.

    Ericka, prose here as well…some of it purple! It’s so nice to see you, Queen of the Gorgeous Covers!