I made an art thread here once, and then a Jazz thread. So perhaps a poetry thread would balance all that. Here's one of my favorite poems from probably my favorite poet -- he really doesn't need an introduction, but he and I have the same initials.
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
One more English Romantic poet, then must find something quite different.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed'and gazed'but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Maria, this poem by Lorca I encountered in a Spanish class long ago...
From the book "Campos de Castilla" by Antonio Machado
Al olmo viejo, hendido por el rayo
y en su mitad podrido,
con las lluvias de abril y el sol de mayo
algunas hojas verdes le han salido.
¡El olmo centenario en la colina
que lame el Duero! Un musgo amarillento
le mancha la corteza blanquecina
al tronco carcomido y polvoriento.
No será, cual los álamos cantores
que guardan el camino y la ribera,
habitado de pardos ruiseñores.
Ejército de hormigas en hilera
va trepando por él, y en sus entrañas
urden sus telas grises las arañas.
Antes que te derribe, olmo del Duero,
con su hacha el leñador, y el carpintero
te convierta en melena de campana,
lanza de carro o yugo de carreta;
antes que rojo en el hogar, mañana,
ardas en alguna mísera caseta,
al borde de un camino;
antes que te descuaje un torbellino
y tronche el soplo de las sierras blancas;
antes que el río hasta la mar te empuje
por valles y barrancas,
olmo, quiero anotar en mi cartera
la gracia de tu rama verdecida.
Mi corazón espera
también, hacia la luz y hacia la vida,
otro milagro de la primavera.
I know this poem is so popular that it is almost hackneyed, but it remains one of my favourites:
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats
And a nonsense poem by Spike Milligan (who could also hit the heartstrings)
was never ready,
But! Soldier Neddy,
Was always ready
When Soldier Neddy
Is-outside-Buckingham-Palace-on-guard-in -the-pouring-wind-and-rain-being-steady-and-ready ,
is home in beddy.
Sometimes there is no difference between poetry and musical prose. But I have a somewhat existential definition of poetry in which someone, anecdotally, says, "Nice poem; what does it mean?" to which the poet answers, "The poem is the explanation. If I could put it any better than that, that would have been the poem instead."
Poetry is interpretive dance with words. Prose is, in contrast, folk dancing. (Before someone bites my head off, both are terrific.)
Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.