No poem today.

It's been a long day.  No poem today. 


4/18-The Pythons-

In honor of my going to see Spamalot this evening, today's poem-of-the-day is a video.




Probably my favorite public intellectual/author is Voltaire. There's little I love more than thinking about the rivalry between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire. That's not really something that happens today. Sure Christopher Hitchens can take the piss out of Mos Def on national television, but it's not nearly as fun as thinking about two absolutely brilliant people publicly pronouncing their hatred for one another...especially when everyone likes Voltaire better because he wasn't such a grumpy old poop.

Anyway, on to the poetry!


by: Voltaire (Fran├žois Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)

      If you would have me love once more,
      The blissful age of love restore;
      From wine's free joys, and lovers' cares,
      Relentless time, who no man spares,
      Urges me quickly to retire,
      And no more to such bliss aspire.
      From such austerity exact,
      Let's, if we can, some good extract;
      Whose way of thinking with this age
      Suits not, can ne'er be deemed a sage.
      Let sprightly youth its follies gay,
      Its follies amiable display;
      Life to two moments is confined,
      Let one to wisdom be consigned.
      You sweet delusions of my mind,
      Still to my ruling passion kind,
      Which always brought a sure relief
      To life's accurst companion, grief.
      Will you forever from me fly,
      And must I joyless, friendless die?
      No mortal e'er resigns his breath
      I see, without a double death;
      Who loves, and is beloved no more,
      His hapless fate may well deplore;
      Life's loss may easily be borne,
      Of love bereft man is forlorn.
      'Twas thus those pleasures I lamented,
      Which I so oft in youth repented;
      My soul replete with soft desire,
      Vainly regretted youthful fire.
      But friendship then, celestial maid,
      From heaven descended to my aid;
      Less lively than the amorous flame,
      Although her tenderness the same.
      The charms of friendship I admired,
      My soul was with new beauty fired;
      I then made one in friendship's train,
      But destitute of love, complain.


4/16-Jon Agee-

I love Jon Agee. He's funny. His illustrations are bright and colorful. I couldn't resist using this for a Poem of the Day.

The title poem "Orangutan Tongs" is among the least tongue-twisty of all the poems in this collection (I actually made it through without a single mistake).

Here it is:
Orangutan Tongs

An orangutan went into Wong's.
He ordered the pork and the prawns.
But he couldn't eat pork with a knife and a fork,
So they brought the Orangutan tongs.
Orangutan tongs, orangutan tongs,
They brought the orangutan tongs.

The next day it happened at Kong's.
He ordered the prunes and the prawns.
But he couldn't eat prunes with a fork or a spoon,
So they brought the orangutan tongs.
Orangutan tongs, orangutan tongs,
They brought the orangutan tongs.
My favorite (because of the picture really--a little boy on the beach with his hands down his underpants):

There are lots of holes in Andy Bundy's undies.
His mom should get some thread and try to stitch 'em.
When Andy's at the beach, he's always cranky and upset,
'Cause Andy Bundy's sandy undies itch him.

Highly recommended book.



This is not a particularly good example of artistry or of the skill and effort most people put into poetry. But it's tax day (relevant) and it's been busy and it's getting late and I'm tired (and full of excuses, apparently).

The Tax Poem

Tax his land, tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.

Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
Teach him taxes are no joke.
Tax his car, tax his grass,
Tax the roads he must pass.

Tax his food, tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
If he cries, tax his tears.

Tax his bills, tax his gas,
Tax his notes, tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers, tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone, we won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance tax.

Note: I'm not bitter about taxes. I actually got a ton of money back this year.


4/12-by kids-

There are lots of great poetry sites for kids. When I was young (and the Internet was too) we had a writing contest. The winners' books were "bound" (spiral bound, as I remember) and were invited to attend a writing workshop where you could share and learn more. I wrote a book of poetry one year and won. I was soooo happy. I'm sure my mom kept it somewhere, I just have no idea where it went.

I illustrated it to, which would make it worth finding. Anyway, here's a great poem written by a (presumably) British girl:

I Was Going To Write A Poem Today by Maria English (aged 12)

I was going to write a poem today
But I'm afraid to say I can't.
My mind's as empty as a barrel
And every time the faintest trace of an idea appears in my head
It glides like a fish
And slips and slides its way out of my mind
Before I can grab it.

I'm tired of thinking
All through the day
And my brain has gone to bed
He's curled up in a bundle
Cosy, inside my head.

My intellect has gone a-wandering
Over the wide, blue sea of knowledge
And she's taken my memory as a boat
Sailing over the endless horizon
Bobbing up and down
On the waves.

I was going to write a poem today
But I'm afraid to say I can't.
My tap of words has run dry
And a greedy drought
Has soaked up my pool of thoughts



To the Oracle at Delphi
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Great Oracle, why are you staring at me,
do I baffle you, do I make you despair?
I, Americus, the American,
wrought from the dark in my mother long ago,
from the dark of ancient Europa--
Why are you staring at me now
in the dusk of our civilization--
Why are you staring at me
as if I were America itself
the new Empire
vaster than any in ancient days
with its electronic highways
carrying its corporate monoculture
around the world
And English the Latin of our days--

Great Oracle, sleeping through the centuries,
Awaken now at last
And tell us how to save us from ourselves
and how to survive our own rulers
who would make a plutocracy of our democracy
in the Great Divide
between the rich and the poor
in whom Walt Whitman heard America singing

O long-silent Sybil,
you of the winged dreams,
Speak out from your temple of light
as the serious constellations
with Greek names
still stare down on us
as a lighthouse moves its megaphone
over the sea
Speak out and shine upon us
the sea-light of Greece
the diamond light of Greece

Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,
Come out of your cave at last
And speak to us in the poet's voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter--
And give us new dreams to dream,
Give us new myths to live by!
Read at Delphi, Greece, on March 21, 2001 at the UNESCO World Poetry Day


4/11-Browning Sonnet-

Ladies can do the sonnet thing too. Eat this, Shakespeare:

Sonnet 43 by Elizabeth Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death



I told you at the beginning I wasn't going to make you suffer through my terrible poetry: I lied. From my VeryBadPoetry page here are 4 haikus:

You want a threesome?
You don't have a large enough
bed and I won't share.

I am a hero.
I am strong, smart, and can fly.
I'm perfect; love me.

I farted one time.
I hoped you didn't hear it.
It turned you on, though.

Rabbits can run fast,
and they think they're such tough guys,
but foxes can too.


4/9-Euripides- or -Translation problem fixed

This English translation, by Lord Byron, of 'Warning from the Evil Fortune of Medea' is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.


by: Euripides

      HEN fierce conflicting passions urge
      The breast where love is wont to glow,
      What mind can stem the stormy surge
      Which rolls the tide of human woe?
      The hope of praise, the dread of shame,
      Can rouse the tortured breast no more;
      The wild desire, the guilty flame,
      Absorbs each wish it felt before.
      But if affection gently thrills
      The soul by purer dreams possessed,
      The pleasing balm of mortal ills
      In love can soothe the aching breast:
      If thus thou comest in disguise,
      Fair Venus! from thy native heaven,
      What heart unfeeling would despise
      The sweetest boon the gods have given?
      But never from thy golden bow
      May I beneath the shaft expire!
      Whose creeping venom, sure and slow,
      Awakes an all-consuming fire:
      Ye racking doubts! ye jealous fears!
      With others wage internal war;
      Repentance, source of future tears,
      From me be ever distant far!
      May no distracting thoughts destroy
      The holy calm of sacred love!
      May all the hours be winged with joy,
      Which hover faithful hearts above!
      Fair Venus! on thy myrtle shrine
      May I with some fond lover sigh,
      Whose heart may mingle pure with mine--
      With me to live, with me to die!
      My native soil! beloved before,
      Now dearer as my peaceful home,
      Ne'er may I quit thy rocky shore,
      A hapless banished wretch to roam!
      This very day, this very hour,
      May I resign this fleeting breath!
      Nor quit my silent humble bower;
      A doom to me far worse than death.
      Have I not heard the exile's sigh,
      And seen the exile's silent tear,
      Through distant climes condemned to fly,
      A pensive weary wanderer here?
      Ah! hapless dame! no sire bewails,
      No friend thy wretched fate deplores,
      No kindred voice with rapture hails
      Thy steps within a stranger's doors.
      Perish the fiend whose iron heart,
      To fair affection's truth unknown,
      Bids her he fondly loved depart,
      Unpitied, helpless, and alone:
      Who ne'er unlocks with silver key
      The milder treasures of his soul, --
      May such a friend be far from me,
      And ocean's storms between us roll!


4/8-Shel Silverstein-

Okay, I waited 8 days to post this. I really wanted to post Shel the first day. He is quite possibly my most beloved Children's poet. He's funny, talented, and a little bit twisted. For example:

Wavy hair

I thought that I had wavy hair
Until I shaved my head. Instead,
I find that I have
straight hair
And a very wavy head.

Come Skating

They said come skating;
They said it's so nice.
They said come skating;
I'd done it twice.
They said come skating;
It sounded nice...
I wore roller---
They meant ice.

Of course each of these poems, as most of them are, are accompanied by line drawings by the author. I recommend his website for more fun, examples of his illustrative and poetic genius, and some games & stuff (

Both these selections were chosen randomly (lucky they were short ones) from A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.


4/7-F. Scott Fitzgerald-

Rain Before Dawn

The dull, faint patter in the drooping hours 
Drifts in upon my sleep and fills my hair 
With damp; the burden of the heavy air 
Is strewn upon me where my tired soul cowers, 
Shrinking like some lone queen in empty towers 
Dying. Blind with unrest I grow aware: 
The pounding of broad wings drifts down the stair 
And sates me like the heavy scent of flowers. 

I lie upon my heart. My eyes like hands 
Grip at the soggy pillow. Now the dawn 
Tears from her wetted breast the splattered blouse 
Of night; lead-eyed and moist she straggles o'er the lawn, 
Between the curtains brooding stares and stands 
Like some drenched swimmer -- Death's within the house!


4/6-Classical Poetry-or-Lost in Translation

I'm finding it difficult to find a classical poet (or a classical poem) I can use for this. I've looked through Ovid and just now through Horace. The particular selection I was looking for in Metamorphosis wasn't translated very Horace I again found the translations lacking. I'm fairly certain Horace never used the phrase "Holy Moses" for example.

So, wearily I give you this poem from a book of classical love poetry (wherein a verse by Plautus describes kissing that is well and truly French.  Annoying.)

From your lips darts lovliness, flowers from your face.
Love fires from both your eyes, your hands shoot music's grace.
With your looks you rob their sight, their ears you stop with song.
Poor men!  Pursued from every side, the hunt will not last long.

Macedonius, Anthologia Palatina v 231


4/5-Dorothy Parker-


Were you to cross the world, my dear,
To work or love or fight,
I coud be calm and wistful here,
And close my eyes at night.

It were a sweet and gallant pain
To be a sea apart;
But, oh, to have you down the lane
Is bitter to my heart.

Taken from:
The Portable Dorothy Parker; Penguin Classics 2006


4/4 -Dylan Thomas-

Dylan Thomas ( is described as Wales' greatest poet. Not knowing enough about either Wales or poetry, I cannot disagree.

I first heard this poem in High School. Being a typical angsty teen, I loved it. It has a particularly special meaning to me now still recovering from my mother's passing:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt is said to be the father of the English sonnet:

My heart I gave thee, not to do it pain;
But to preserve, it was to thee taken.
I served thee, not to be forsaken,
But that I should be rewarded again.
I was content thy servant to remain
But not to be paid under this fashion.
Now since in thee is none other reason,
Displease thee not if that I do refrain,
Unsatiate of my woe and thy desire,
Assured by craft to excuse thy fault.
But since it please thee to feign a default,
Farewell, I say, parting from the fire:
For he that believeth bearing in hand,
Plougheth in water and soweth in the sand.

He was also thought to be the lover of Anne Boleyn (before her marriage to King Henry VIII) and was later imprisoned for having carnal knowledge of the queen but released because of his friendship with those in the king's court. Upon witnessing the beheading of the queen he wrote this:

V. Innocentia
Veritas Viat Fides
me inimici mei

by Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder

Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.2

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

1. The Latin title adapts Psalm 16.9: "My enemies surround my soul."
Wyatt's name ("Viat") in the title is surrounded by Innocence, Truth,
and Faith.

2. "It thunders through the realms," Seneca, Phaedra, 1.1140.
The first two stanzas paraphrase lines from that play.

[AJ Note: It is generally thought Wyatt wrote this poem after witnessing
the execution of Anne Boleyn and her "accomplices" from the window
grate of his cell in the Bell Tower at the Tower of London.]

4-for1: Limericks

Last year I went to an Irish Pub in town and an Irish band was performing...not that any of them were Irish. They were performing Irish music, though. They had a thing where you could submit limericks to them and they'd read them between songs. The folks at my table and I decided to submit them as a group effort. They ended up being significantly less interesting than we had hoped.

But anyway, from The Penguin Book of Limericks, 1986:

Poor Ophelia sighed: 'I deplore
The fact that young Hamlet's a bore.
He just talks to himself;
I'll be left on the shelf,
or go mad by the end of Act IV.'
Frank Richards

I once knew a spinster of Staines,
And a spinster that lady remains;
She's no figure, no looks,
Neither dances nor cooks -
And, most ghastly of all, she has brains.

Said Old Father William: 'I'm humble,
And getting too old for a tumble,
But produce me a blonde,
And I'm still not beyond
An attempt at an interesting fumble.'
Conrad Aiken

If no Pain were, how judge we of Pleasure?
If no Work, where's the solace of Leisure?
What's White, if no Black?
What's Wealth, if no Lack?
If no Loss, how our Gain could be measure?
William Bliss


Sound and Sense--Alexander Pope

I thought I'd start off with a poem about the art of poetry:

Sound and Sense by Alexander Pope

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!