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Classics

W. H. Auden

Members

Auden Mckenzie
Serene Laudene Lee
I love rhymes, seahorses, slightly sweetened iced tea, gadgets, and soft & inanimate objects. I have an incurable obsession with nightlights, timers and air fresheners. ...
Veronica Gaudenzi
Italy    "I became a poet the day I wrote your name"

Poems

Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Athena takes me
sometimes by the hand

and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands

where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting

and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting

and all I remember
,upon awaking,

is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking

one’s Being—to drift
heroically beyond thought,

forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.



O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!

To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking

rain down red scabs
on the earth’s mudpuddle ...

Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle ...

Flocculent sheep,
O, and innocent lambs!,

I will rock me to sleep
on the waves’ iambs.



To Sleep, that is Bliss
in Love’s recursive Dream,

for the Night has Wings
pallid as moonbeams—

they will flit me to Life;
like a huge-eyed Phoenix

fluttering off
to quarry the Sphinx.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Quixotic, I seek Love
amid the tarnished

rusted-out steel
when to live is varnish.

To Dream—that’s the thing!
Aye, that Genie I’ll rub,

soak by the candle,
aflame in the tub.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Somewhither, somewhither
aglitter and strange,

we must moult off all knowledge
or perish caged.

*

I am reconciled to Life
somewhere beyond thought—

I’ll Live in the There,
I’ll Dream of the Naught.

Methinks it no journey;
to tarry’s a waste,

so fatten the oxen;
make a nice baste.

I’m coming, Fool Tom,
we have Somewhere to Go,

though we injure noone,
ourselves wildaglow.

This odd poem invokes and merges with the anonymous medieval poem “Tom O’Bedlam” and W. H. Auden’s modernist poem “Musee des Beaux Arts,” which in turn refers to Pieter Breughel’s painting “The Fall of Icarus.” In the first stanza Icarus levitates with the help of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, through “strange dreamlands” while Apollo, the sun god, lies sleeping at night. In the second stanza, Apollo predictably wakes up and Icarus plummets to earth, or back to mundane reality, as in Breughel’s painting and Auden’s poem. In the third stanza the grounded Icarus can still fly, but only in flights of imagination through dreams of love. In the fourth and fifth stanzas Icarus joins Tom Rynosseross of the Bedlam poem in embracing madness by deserting “knowledge” and its cages (ivory towers, learning, etc.). In the final stanza Icarus, the former high flier, agrees with Tom that it is “no journey” to wherever they’re going together and also agrees with Tom that they will injure no one on the way, no matter how intensely they glow and radiate.

Keywords/Tags: Icarus, Tom O’Bedlam, bedlam, bedlamite, beggar, mad song, Apollo, welkin, Rynosseros, limerick meter, ballad, hag, goblin, maudlin, chains, whips, dame, maid, afraid, dotage, conquest, cupid, owl, marrow, drake, crow, gypsies, Snap, Pedro, comradoes, punk, cutpurse, panther, fancies, commander, spear, horse, wilderness, knight, tourney, world’s end, journey, Phoenix, Sphinx, Genie, Don Quixote, Quixote, quixotic, cage, prison, glitter, strange, molt, knowledge, oxen, baste, Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts, Breughel, Fall of Icarus
RAJ NANDY Jul 2018
Dear Readers, concept of Time has bewildered our ancient sages, philosophers, poets, artists,  including our famous scientists and physicists even to this day. It has no doubt also impacted my    
mind in several ways! Therefore, this series about the ‘Enigma of Time In Verse’ is now being composed and posted to share my thoughts with my Poet friends on this Site. If you like it kindly re-post this poem. Thanking You, - Raj Nandy from New Delhi.
             

   THE ENIGMA OF TIME IN VERSE : PART ONE
                           BY RAJ NANDY

                 A  SHORT  INTRODUCTION

During my childhood days, time appeared to be joyful and endless.
Though my parents had observed the clock all the while,
Telling me when to rise, when to eat, play, do my homework, -
till it was my bed time.
Alas, my childhood days as cherished memories are now left behind.
With rest of the world  I am now chasing that winged arrow of Time!

Those Management Gurus say, that our twenty four hours day,
Is time enough for those who can manage time from day to day.
Yet I do find, that I am generally chasing time, not to be left behind!
Hoping that a full time job will provide, some quality time, with the desired comforts of life.
Therefore, I abide my time, hoping to have the time of my life one day, with some quality time coming my way.
But in this mad race against time, while chasing that butterfly of happiness,
I must learn to cool down and breathe, before time decides to elude me!
For with patience and perseverance, that butterfly of happiness, will alight gently on my shoulder in good time, and perhaps at
the right time!
While time is universally regarded as the fourth dimension by our physicists,
It is said to flow at different rates for different individuals as mentioned by Shakespeare the English dramatist.

          FEW  LITERARY  QUOTES  ABOUT  TIME

In ‘As You Like It’ Act 3, Shakespeare refers to ‘the swift steps’ and the ‘lazy foot’of time  in a relativistic way.
Time ‘trots’ for a young woman between her engagement and marriage when a week feels like seven years for her every day!
Time ‘ambles’ for a priest who doesn’t know Latin and a rich man without gout;
Since the priest is spared the burden of exhausting study, and the rich man is spared the burden of exhausting poverty - no doubt.
But time ‘gallops’ for a thief walking to the gallows, for even if he walks slowly, he happens to gets there too soon!
While time ‘stands still’ for lawyers on vacation, since he sleeps his holidays away!

Now moving forward to Einstein who once described his ‘Theory of Relativity’ very humorously in the following way; -
“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours,” he had said with a chuckle!

Getting back to Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ Act One on that blasted heath,
Macbeth asks the three witches, “If you can look into the seeds of Time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear…”
And finally that brilliant piece of soliloquy about Time by Macbeth in Act 5:
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
  Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
  To the last syllable of recorded time,
  And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
  The way to dusty death….”

John Milton’s poem ‘On Time’ composed in 1930 ends with his optimistic lines:
“Fly envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
  Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
  Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets pace …..
  When once our heavenly-guided soul shall clime,
  Then all this Earthly grossness quit,
  Attired with Stars, we shall forever sit
  Triumphing over Death and Chance, and thee O Time.”

Alexander Pope in his ‘Imitations of Horace’ (1738) writes:
“Years following years steal something every day,
  At last they steal us from ourselves away.”
Romantic poets have dealt with the transience of time, which got popularised by the Latin phrase ‘Carpe diem’ which tells us to ‘seize the day’;
This Latin phrase has been borrowed from the Roman lyrical poet Horace of ancient days.

Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Hard Times’ is an autobiography describing his difficult childhood days.
While the famous opening lines of his historical novel ‘A Tale of Two Cites’ take us back to 18th century London and Paris under times sway.
I quote Dickens’ memorable opening lines:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us ......”

We have the Nobel Laureate Tagore’s well known poetic lines on the subject of Time:
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of leaf.”
He described the Taj Mahal as “a tear drop on the cheek of Time,” in his unique poetic style!

TS Eliot’s ‘Four Quarters’ of 1935,  include extended rumination on the nature of Time:
“Time present and time past,
  Are both perhaps present in time future.
  And time future contained in time past.
  If all time is eternally present,
  All time is unredeemable.
  What might have been is an abstraction
  Remaining a perpetual possibility,
  Only in a world of speculation….”
(Notes: This concept will become clearer in my Part Two, presently under construction.)

Next I have a quote from WH Auden’s poem ‘As I Walked Out One Evening’composed in 1937:
“But all the clocks in the city
  Began to whirr and chime:
  O let not Time deceive you.
  You cannot conquer Time.”

Subject of Time forms an important part of science fiction even to this day.
HG Well’s ‘The Time Machine’ (1895) interests both the layman and the Scientific community even today!
Finally, I would like to conclude my Part One on ‘The Enigma of Time in Verse’ with my favourite poem composed by the British poet Ralph Hodgson:
  
TIME, you old gipsy man,
  Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
  Just for one day?
  
All things I'll give you
Will you be my guest,
Bells for your jennet
Of silver the best,
Goldsmiths shall beat you
A great golden ring,
Peacocks shall bow to you,
Little boys sing,
Oh, and sweet girls will
Festoon you with may.
Time, you old gipsy,
Why hasten away?
  
Last week in Babylon,
Last night in Rome,
Morning, and in the crush
Under Paul's dome;
Under Paul's dial
You tighten your rein—
Only a moment,
And off once again;
Off to some city
Now blind in the womb,
Off to another
Ere that's in the tomb.
  
Time, you old gipsy man,
  Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
  Just for one day.

In Part Two I shall cover the Concepts of Time along with its Philosophical speculations.
Before moving on to Einstein’s concept of Time, and its present Scientific interpretations.
Thanks for reading patiently, from Raj Nandy of New Delhi.
Michael R Burch Mar 2020
US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

Published by The Raintown Review, The Barefoot Muse and Poetry Life & Times

The Unisphere mentioned is a spherical stainless steel representation of the earth constructed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age and dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe." The lines quoted in the epigraph are from W. H. Auden’s love poem “Lullaby.” Keywords/Tags: Auden, unisphere, lullaby, verse, revelation, cryptic, legislate, enumerator, sins, dreams, value, love, sings, quaint, quaintly, lesser, greater