slammerkinbabe: (!confused (wembley))
It's the first day of National Poetry Month and I'm frustrated with the Internet/the world, so have an excerpt from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents:

All too often,
We say
What we hear others say.
We think
What we’re told that we think.
We see
What we’re permitted to see.
Worse!
We see what we’re told that we see.
Repetition and pride are the keys to this.
To hear and to see
Even an obvious lie
Again
And again and again
May be to say it,
Almost by reflex
Then to defend it
Because we’ve said it
And at last to embrace it
Because we’ve defended it
And because we cannot admit
That we’ve embraced and defended
An obvious lie.
Thus, without thought,
Without intent,
We make
Mere echoes
Of ourselves—
And we say
What we hear others say.


Butler doesn't write the most stunning verse in the world (and freely acknowledges it), but this bit is so on point.
slammerkinbabe: (sexy legs and feet)
So today is apparently National Poetry Day -- at least, it will be for twenty more minutes. I was sort of half-conscious of that all day and I sort of meant to post some of my favorite poems but I never got around to it. Then I realized that there were twenty more minutes in the day and, instead of just doing this a day late and posting a really thoughtful selection, got stubborn and posted the first few poems that came to mind. BUT I DID IT WITH SEVENTEEN MINUTES LEFT ON THE CLOCK, FOLKS

Anyway, I can tell you right off that this list demonstrates an obvious lack of sophistication and also a prejudice towards lesbians. That's okay by me. It's my list.

Fragment -- Sappho, tr. Anne Carson:

Eros shook my
mind like a mountain wind falling on oak trees

This little fragment demonstrates two things to me: a.) how much power you can pack into just a couple of lines of poetry, and b.) how much a specific translation can make or break a poem. I think it's the Mary Barnard version of that that takes what Carson translates as "Eros shook my mind" and renders it as "Love shook my heart". Blecch.

* * *

Elizabeth Bishop: 'One Art' )

* * *

Amy Lowell: 'A Tree of Scarlet Berries' )

* * *

Edna St. Vincent Millay: 'If I should learn, in some quite casual way' [Sonnet V from Renascence and Other Poems] )

* * *

Alfred Lord Tennyson: 'Crossing the Bar' )

A final one I continue to love dearly is Federico Garcia Lorca's La balada del agua del mar, but all I've got is the Spanish and my own shitty translation, so I'll link to that but not repost it.

Happy National Poetry Day. You can consider the comments an open share space for your own favorite poems if you like.
slammerkinbabe: (book whore)
So earlier, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] inowhaveasn, I re-found a poem. Specifically, [livejournal.com profile] inowhaveasn had asked if I had any Spanish poems to recommend to her, and I went hunting for this one, which I wrote a paper on ages ago in high school. It's a really simple poem, but I always found it powerful in its simplicity, and though it is online as part of the Lorca Concordance, that site is the most confusing thing I've ever seen in my life. Thus I decided to recopy the poem to my LJ, so I won't lose it again. (See my nifty tags.)

And I would have posted it privately, but it is National Poetry Month... so. Y'all get the poem instead. The Spanish is the original, natch; the translation is, erm, by me. Despite the fact that I have not studied a word of Spanish since I received my high school diploma*, and despite the fact that I am a terrible poet myself, I have attempted to translate a poem by Lorca. Those of you who actually know a lick of Spanish -- or who have a better poetic sensibility than I and thus are offended at my stumbling rendition of what was once a fine poem -- please don't throw things at my head. There weren't any better translations online.

I like this poem. Happy (bitter?) April.

La balada del agua del mar
Federico García Lorca

El mar,
Sonríe a lo lejos.
Dientes de espuma,
Labios de cielo.

-¿Qué vendes, oh joven turbia,
Con los senos al aire?

-Vendo, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-¿Qué llevas, oh negro joven,
Mezclado con tu sangre?

-Llevo, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-¿Esas lágrimas salobres
De dònde vienen, madre?

-Lloro, señor, el agua
De los mares.

-Corazòn, y esta amargura
Seria, ¿de dònde nace?

- ¡Amarga mucho el agua
De los mares!

El mar,
Sonríe a lo lejos.
Dientes de espuma,
Labios de cielo.

* * *

The sea
Smiles at a distance.
Teeth of foam,
Lips of sky.

What do you sell,
oh turbid youth,
with your breasts to the wind?

I sell, sir, the water
of the seas.

What do you bear,
oh black youth,
mingled with your blood?

I bear, sir, the water
of the seas.

These salt tears --
Mother, whence do they come?

I weep, sir, the water
of the seas.

Heart, and this great bitterness,
From whence was it born?

Very bitter is the water
of the seas!

The sea
Smiles at a distance.
Teeth of foam,
Lips of sky.

*Not quite true, I suppose; I did take one course in Spanish in college. I skipped over all the learning-the-language stuff, figuring I was above all that -- I had taken AP Spanish Literature! -- and jumped straight into the Spanish-immersion course El poder y lo sagrado, in which we studied the philosophical and historical intersection of the concepts of power and the sacred, and in which we read two full-length Spanish novels a week. Or were supposed to read two full-length Spanish novels a week. I did not read two full-length Spanish novels a week. I read half of the full-length novels we were supposed to read. In translation. Harvard can rescind my degree now, I guess.

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