Category Archives: Poetry

Julian Tuwim

Julian Tuwim.

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz - Portrait of Julian Tuwim, Polish poet, 1929

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz – Portrait of Julian Tuwim, Polish poet, 1929

Pardon me while I dig into my roots a little bit for today’s poem. I was born in Poland and I emigrated to Canada when I was four years old. I still speak Polish, although my vocabulary and grammar are somewhat stunted. Still, I like to keep my heritage alive by occasionally delving into the rich history of Polish literature. I’m proud to say that we have such a history. There are many Polish writers and poets who have written oodles of wonderful things. One of my favourites is Julian Tuwim.

He is the third poet that I am featuring that writes with Romantic characteristics, leading me to believe that I like Romantic poets most of all.

I first heard this poem shortly before my father passed away. I was staying with them in the early spring of last year and we got onto the subject of Polish writers. My father had his laptop open and he Youtubed this video. It blew my mind. I will always remember this moment–a calm, wonderfully poignant moment–in the midst of a really bad time in our lives. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my dad and so this poem is a salve on the grief that I’m still coming to terms with. I miss my dad everyday. I’m glad that he was a man of letters who loved words as much as I do.

While I don’t read a lot of Polish anymore, my childhood memories are filled with Polish verses. I have several books of children’s poems that entertained me immensely growing up. I’ll share more over the course of this project!

lokomotywa-julian-tuwim

Lokomotywa by Julian Tuwim

You don’t need to be Polish to understand this poem. All you have to have is ears. Julian utilized the language he wrote in to illustrate, not just write, this poem about a locomotive. In fact, “Lokomotywa” directly translates into The Locomotive. Just listen as the three speakers show you how a locomotive sounds when it pulls into a station. See how you don’t need to understand the words to get the picture? Awesome, isn’t it?

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Happy Robbie Burns Day!

robbie-burnsHappy Robbie Burns Day! Robbie Burns was a Scottish poet whose verses became famous worldwide. He was another Romantic poet like Lord Byron. Unlike Lord Byron, Robbie Burns is celebrated in Canada on his birthday, January 25th. It’s mostly a reason to drink good scotch and listen to fiddle tunes–which is what we’ll be doing tonight!

I won’t make you read any of Robbie’s Scottish poems, but here’s a nice one to go for our next letter: I!

I Dream’d I Lay
I dream’d I lay where flowers were springing
Gaily in the sunny beam;
List’ning to the wild birds singing,
By a falling crystal stream:
Straight the sky grew black and daring;
Thro’ the woods the whirlwinds rave;
Tress with aged arms were warring,
O’er the swelling drumlie wave.

Such was my life’s deceitful morning,
Such the pleasures I enjoyed:
But lang or noon, loud tempests storming
A’ my flowery bliss destroy’d.
Tho’ fickle fortune has deceiv’d me-
She promis’d fair, and perform’d but ill,
Of mony a joy and hope bereav’d me-
I bear a heart shall support me still.

robbie-burns-day

Household Chores

Household chores have never been my favourite past time. Yesterday morning I was forced to do an impromptu mop in the kitchen before my morning cup of coffee because I spilled an entire glass of water onto the ground. When life hands you a mop…

So I guess it was serendipitous that I found this poem on the same day. It’s called “Dust if You Must” and it’s by a woman named Rose Milligan. Not much else is known about Ms. Milligan. The poem was published in The Lady (“For Elegant Women with Elegant Minds”) on September 15th 1998.

I’ll keep this in mind next time I’m looking at the dust accumulating on the counters and surfaces at home (right before I wipe them off, of course.) Also, isn’t it funny where dust accumulates? I noticed the other day that the lotion bottle in the bathroom is starting to get dusty. The lotion bottle, for crying out loud!

Also, little known fact, my favourite band to clean to is Muse. What’s yours?

She Walks in Beauty

George Gordon’s AKA Lord Byron‘s birthday was today! Happy birthday, Lord Byron!

Thank God for the internet, because this is what I found today:

Via Facebook

Via Facebook

Ahh, Byron. Is there anyone else more romantic than Byron? No really, I’m asking, because I don’t know much about Romantic poets, and I’d love to learn more.

Byron was kind of a rockstar in the 19th century. He died kind of poorly from complications due to blood-letting and other quacky medical ideas. That’s why I strongly disapprove of blood-letting. If you’re gonna try and take my blood, there’s gonna be a fight waitin’ for you!

(Clearly the second cup of coffee I’ve had today is beginning to take effect.)

Before I get any sillier, here’s today’s poem, in honour of Lord B’s birthday. I’m sure he’s rocking the ascot and smoking jacket look up in heaven with other classy Romantic poets.

She Walks in Beauty

(Honestly, who wouldn’t swoon if someone started reciting you a poem that started with this line?)

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday was Edgar Allan Poe’s 209th birthday. While I have not read a lot of poetry in my life, I do count Poe’s The Raven as one of the few that I love. His capacity for rhyming couplets was extraordinary and I love the way that my eyes glide over his words rapidly and relish the sound of them as they react to each other.

This particular poem reminds me of a photo my sister took recently called hello weather, we missed you. I saw the photo first and then I found this poem. I feel like there might be fairies hiding somewhere in the shadows of that image.

Anyway, enjoy, a day late but not a dollar short. 🙂

passive-aggressive-raven

Fairy-Land

Dim vales—and shadowy floods—
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can’t discover
For the tears that drip all over:
Huge moons there wax and wane—
Again—again—again—
Every moment of the night—
Forever changing places—
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial,
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down—still down—and down
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain’s eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be—
O’er the strange woods—o’er the sea—
Over spirits on the wing—
Over every drowsy thing—
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light—
And then, how, deep! —O, deep,
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like—almost any thing—
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before,
Videlicet, a tent—
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again
(Never-contented things!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.

e e cummings

E e cummings

An interesting poet with his own style of writing that involved using the space on a page as much as the written word to get his point across. I’ve not read much of his work, but it’s always intrigued me. I can’t say that I always understand his poetry, but it’s definitely unique.

It’s January, but this poem made me feel hopeful about the coming warmer months:

spring!may–
everywhere’s here
(with a low high low
and the bird on the bough)
how?why
–we never we know
(so kiss me) shy sweet eagerly my

Destruction

Destruction by Charles Baudelaire

At my side the Demon writhes forever,
Swimming around me like impalpable air;
As I breathe, he burns my lungs like fever
And fills me with an eternal guilty desire.

Knowing my love of Art, he snares my senses,
Apearing in woman’s most seductive forms,
And, under the sneak’s plausible pretenses,
Lips grow accustomed to his lewd love-charms.

He leads me thus, far from the sight of God,
Panting and broken with fatigue into
The wilderness of Ennui, deserted and broad,

And into my bewildered eyes he throws
Visions of festering wounds and filthy clothes,
And all Destruction’s bloody retinue.

Doesn’t it feel sometimes like there’s a demon plaguing you, trying to make you forget about your artistic ambitions?