Week Two of #PoetrySummer

I was delighted to see such a great response to my “memorize a poem every week” challenge. How did everybody do on the first week out? I memorized “High Waving Heather” by Emily Bronte, one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. The first time I read it the last line grabbed me–really jumped out and caught me–and when I recited it for my friend it caught him as well. I was pleased to be able to share the experience with someone. My friend recited “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” by John Milton, and my wife recited “Hug of War” by Shel Silverstein (she didn’t have much time last week, and went for a short one). It was a lot of fun, and even my two older children got in on the act, pulling out some of my old poetry collections. A great start to the summer.

Another of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings, and I already have one of his committed to memory: “who knows if the moon’s,” which I used for the epigram of I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU. It’s a wonderful poem, sweet and simple and kind of sad (at least in my interpretation), and would be a great choice if you’re looking for something to memorize. Since I already have that one, I’m going for a different cummings this week: “I carry your heart,” which is probably my favorite love poem. Men, memorize this one and recite it for your wife/girlfriend/chick you’re trying to pick up at a literary convention. You’ll thank me.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

It’s short, like last week’s, but it lacks the rhyme and meter and other structure that made last week’s poem so easy. I’ll branch into bigger stuff later, but for now I want to keep it simple. My wife is going for a similar length, choosing one of my very favorite Langston Hughes poems, Mother to Son”:

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

One of my favorite parts of this endeavor has been seeing what poems everyone picks, so please, share them here or link to your own blog on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #PoetrySummer so we can all find each other.

7 Responses to “Week Two of #PoetrySummer”

  1. I really like ee cummings. Robin Weeks http://robinweeks.blogspot.com/2011/06/poetry-challenge-week-2-bells-by-edgar.html has been posting about your challenge. Dang. With two of you doing this, I may have to think about it.

  2. Wendy says:

    I did a very short poem for the first week, What We Need is Here by Wendell Berry, and said it for my husband and my four-year-old daughter (who is used to being the performer in the family). Here it is:

    Geese appear high over us,
    pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
    as in love or sleep, holds
    them to their way, clear
    in the ancient faith: what we need
    is here. And we pray, not
    for new earth or heaven, but to be
    quiet in heart, and in eye,
    clear. What we need is here.

    I blogged about it. One of my friends plans on joining in next week and says she might post some videos of her recitations on her blog. (http://bethanyslettersfromhome.blogspot.com/)

    This week, I’m doing Edna St. Vincent Millay’s On Thought in Harness:

    My falcon to my wrist
    From no high air.
    I sent her toward the sun that burns
    Above the mist;
    But she has not been there.

    Her talons are not cold; her beak

    Is closed upon no wonder;

    Her head stinks of its hood, her feathers reek

    Of me, that quake at the thunder.

    Degraded bird, I give you back your eyes forever, ascend now whither you are tossed;

    Forsake this wrist, forsake this rhyme;

    Soar, eat ether, see what has never been seen; depart, be lost,

    But climb.

    If it starts with a falcon, I’m there. This is fun!

  3. Andrea says:

    I chose Tolkien’s “Where Now the Horse and the Rider”, which was fairly easy to memorize since I had written some music to it long, long ago.

    Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
    Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
    Where is the hand on the harp-string, and the red fire glowing?
    Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
    They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
    The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
    Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning?
    Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

  4. Kacey says:

    I was part of an honor choir that sang a choral arrangement of I Carry Your Heart With Me. It was arranged by Z. Randall Stroope, and the way the irregular structure was put to music was just beautiful. This is the best YouTube has to offer:


  5. admin says:

    Kacey, that song is gorgeous. Thanks for the link.

  6. Dude. Cummings is easily my favorite poet, and i carry your heart is my 2nd favorite of his poems. I have that printed on my cubicle wall.

    Clearly your tastes are excellent.

    I ended up doing a Basho Haiku, because I ran out of time, for the first week:

    the cicada’s cry
    drills into the rocks.

    It’s translated, but translated well and the image of the cicada’s cry drilling into the rocks is very apt, I thought.

    I was planning on finally committing anyone lived in a pretty how town to memory this week, but since I don’t want to be a copycat, I’ll go with Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain:

    O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
    The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
    For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
    Here Captain! dear father!
    This arm beneath your head!
    It is some dream that on the deck,
    You’ve fallen cold and dead.

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
    My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
    The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
    From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
    Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
    But I with mournful tread,
    Walk the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    Cool challenge.

  7. I have had a problem with remembering things, anything really, for as long as I can remember (haha, that’s a little ironic and completely accidental) but I did get inspired to write a poem while reading ‘I Am Not A Serial Killer’ and whether or not Dan Wells gets to read it, I wanted to share it with the world. Here goes:

    Hum, stab, bleed, yawn
    What do I – do I ask of you, minor injuries?

    I have nothing to think about
    But to think about you

    Bathe in my own atrocities
    I divulge, I divulge
    In this monstrocity

    Herd, herd
    Follow me

    What else will you follow?
    Who else is willing to lead what exists solely for my amusement?

    Forgotten, step forward
    Brick wall.
    Forget me not my dear

    Or I shall
    Move ahead

    Serpentine, I slither away
    Tighten ropes around your neck

    No fun in it, no play
    Just the part I know you all hate
    To see that it is but our soulless fates

    Ready? . . .

    Scream for your life

    I command it

    Let it pull away from you

    As you try hard to hold on to it

    Move, fumble, fall, limp

    Flinch. Flatline. The frenzy has begun.

    Who will be next? Maybe you. Maybe the one embroidered in your heart, – him? Her? It?

    Thanks for reading (and making it all the way to the end ha!) xo

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