Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

30
Mar
08

A Man Said to the Universe

A man said to the universe:

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“Sir, I exist!
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
“A sense of obligation.”

-by Stephen Crane

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25
Mar
08

The Dimensions of Her Soul

She Considers the Dimensions of Her Soul

(Mrs. Morninghouse, after a Sermon Entitled,
“What the Spirit Teaches Us through Grief”)

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The shape of her soul is a square.
She knows this to be the case
because she sometimes feels its corners
pressing sharp against the bone
just under her shoulder blades
and across the wings of her hips.
At one time, when she was younger,
she had hoped that it might be a cube,
but the years have worked to dispel
this illusion of space. So that now
she understands: it is a simple plane:
a shape with surface, but no volume—
a window without a building, an eye
without a mind.
Of course, this square
does not appear on x-rays, and often,
weeks may pass when she forgets
that it exists. When she does think
to consider its purpose in her life,
she can say only that it aches with
a single mystery for whose answer
she has long ago given up the search—
since that question is a name which can
never quite be asked. This yearning,
she has concluded, is the only function
of the square, repeated again and again
in each of its four matching angles,
until, with time, she is persuaded anew
to accept that what it frames has no
interest in ever making her happy.

By Young Smith
Copyright © 2008 by Young Smith

15
Mar
08

Molecular Evolution

Most people remember James Clerk Maxwell for his equations relating electric and magnetic fields, which revolutionized 19th-century science. But the Scottish physicist and mathematician was also an amateur poet, and this small collection, hosted by the University of Toronto, offers a rare insight into his opinions and personality:

Gin a body meet a body
Flyin’ through the air,
Gin a body hit a body,
Will it fly? and where?

That’s a “Rigid Body,” “singing,” in Maxwell’s verse “In Memory of Edward Wilson, Who Repented of What Was in His Mind to Write After Section”—a pastiche of Maxwell’s countryman Robert Burns. (“Section” here probably refers to a meeting of the British Association devoted to mathematics and physics.) It’s said that Maxwell used to sing these lines while accompanying himself on a guitar.

Also here are the revealingly whimsical “Molecular Evolution”:

What combinations of ideas,
Nonsense alone can wisely form!
What sage has half the power that she has,
To take the towers of Truth by storm?

… and the regrettable “Lectures to Women on Physical Science” (“To mirror heaven those eyes were given / And not for methods of precision”), as well as three other poems. Together they give a telling glimpse into the reflective and playful inner life of a giant in the canon of physics.

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Molecular Evolution

At quite uncertain times and places,
The atoms left their heavenly path,
And by fortuitous embraces,
Engendered all that being hath.
And though they seem to cling together,
And form “associations” here,
Yet, soon or late, they burst their tether,
And through the depths of space career.
So we who sat, oppressed with science,
As British asses, wise and grave,
Are now transformed to wild Red Lions,
As round our prey we ramp and rave.
Thus, by a swift metamorphosis,
Wisdom turns wit, and science joke,
Nonsense is incense to our noses,
For when Red Lions speak, they smoke.
Hail, Nonsense! dry nurse of Red Lions,
From thee the wise their wisdom learn,
From thee they cull those truths of science,
Which into thee again they turn.
What combinations of ideas,
Nonsense alone can wisely form!
What sage has half the power that she has,
To take the towers of Truth by storm?
Yield, then, ye rules of rigid reason!
Dissolve, thou too, too solid sense!
Melt into nonsense for a season,
Then in some nobler form condense.
Soon, all too soon, the chilly morning,
This flow of soul will crystallize,
Then those who Nonsense now are scorning,
May learn, too late, where wisdom lies.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Notes
11] “The `Red Lions’ are a club formed by Members of the British Association, to meet for relaxation after the graver labours of the day.” (Note by Campbell.)
17] “Leonum arida nutrix.” — Horace. (Note by Campbell.)

© Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

07
Mar
08

The Measure

The Measure

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I cannot
move backward
or forward.
I am caught

in the time
as measure.
What we think
of we think of—

of no other reason
we think than
just to think—
each for himself.

What is the measure of the poem: words, phrases, metrical feet, lines, stanzas . . . or thought? Each line has its own separate gravity and yet connects, but with difficulty, to the next. We are caught in the between: in time, in a now we learn, each moment at a time, for ourselves only.

From Words- Robert Creeley, 1926-1975

22
Feb
08

I Had Planted A Sapling…

I Had Planted A Sapling…

Wish to share my literary mentor and prolifically Creative soul Max Babi‘s Urdu Poetry Transcreated In English by him..

Original in Urdu :

Pauda ek lagaya tha,
baghké banjarsé kauné mein-
ek billaski jaanko, badé chaavsé
qatra-ba-qatra zindagi pilayi thi :

kambakht jeeta rahaa martaa rahaa
sisasktaa rahaa mautké munh mein
lataktaa rahaa, koi ajeeb nashé mein
jhumtaa rahaa,
na jané kisko khaufzadaa shiddatsé
jhoortaa rahaa.
Kyaa anjaan taqat hai iss nanhi jaan mein-
kyaa zahur-o-jauhar hain yeh jamkar
reh gayé toofaan mein,
isské doh patté khilté hi bahaar phoonk deté

hain meri manhoos kahaani mein,
isskaa besharm nangaapan,
meré khwabonko bhi sukhaa deta hai.
Bina muskurayé, bina hadbadayé
mein dekh nahin saktaa usko.

(c) Max Babi

sapling-emerging-from-remains-of-tree-photographic-print-c10241172.jpeg

Trans created in English :

I had planted a sapling, in the arid corner of my garden,
I had made it quaff life itself drop by drop
The hapless being kept living, dying, moaning, with one foot
in the mouth of death, and kept swaying to some

weird intoxication all its own,
and God alone knows whom he kept yearning for
with a scared intensity.

What unknown forces it possesses, what intrepidity and aura
it commands, this frozen cyclone,
soon as it sprouts two leaves, it blows springtime in to
my hapless life-story, and when it strips completely,

it runs a famine through even my dreamscapes.
I can’t bear to look at it without a smile, or
without feeling all shaken up.

© 2008 by Max Babi
All rights reserved,
Copying without permission for non-personal use is forbidden

20
Feb
08

Between Going And Coming

Excerpts from Octavio Pazspeech at the Nobel Banquet, December- 1990

At the close of this century we have discovered that we are part of a vast system (or network of systems) ranging from plants and animals to cells, molecules, atoms and stars. We are a link in “the great chain of being”, as the philosophers of antiquity used to call the universe. One of man’s oldest gestures, repeated daily from the beginning of time, is to look up and marvel at the starry sky. This act of contemplation frequently ends in a feeling of fraternal identification with the universe. In the countryside one night, years ago, as I contemplated the stars in the cloudless sky, I heard the metallic sound of the elytra of a cricket. There was a strange correspondence between the reverberation of the firmament at night and the music of the tiny insect. I wrote these lines:

The sky’s big.

Up there, worlds scatter.
Persistent,
unfazed by so much night,
a cricket: brace and bit.

Stars, hills, clouds, trees, birds, crickets, men: each has its world, each is a world, and yet all of these worlds correspond. We can only defend life if we experience a revival of this feeling of solidarity with nature. It is not impossible: fraternity is a word that belongs to the traditions of Liberalism and Socialism, of science and religion.

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Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

-Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
Translated by Eliot Weinberger

14
Feb
08

Sublimation Point

One pleasure of poetry is in speed of movement. Another is in the slow curve of the mind in response to that speed: We gradually embrace, in the dreamy slow motion of thought, the meaning of each quick gesture. The word “quick” includes among its meanings the ideas “alive” and “sensitive.” And the word “ponder” connotes heaviness. The poem is quick, in all senses, and we enjoy pondering it.

For instance, we may read a poem like William Shakespeare’s “The Phoenix and the Turtle” or Frank O’Hara’s “In Memory of My Feelings” many times, deliberately relishing at our leisure each tricky phrase or lightning-cut of transition.

A book, Jason Schneiderman’s Sublimation Point, has the fast thinker’s brilliance, where the rapid movement is both funny and, like so much comedy, quick-stepping, a teasing dance of avoidance and engagement with fear

By Robert Pinsky
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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Sublimation Point

The answer is entropy—how smell works—
little bits of everything—always spinning
off from where they were—flying off at random
into the world—which is to say into air.
There are other ways of solid to gas—
they’re substance specific, like iodine,
or dry ice—how I felt when I saw you—
straight to a new state without passing
through expected ones—as though enough
of me left at the moment you appeared that
I could never be whole without you—apply
heat—I turn straight into ether…

© –By Jason Schneiderman




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