END RHYME (Lesson for elementary or middle-school children.)

Poetry Resources
NY Review of Books

Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat (1100?)


The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
10th Grade Poems
Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"  This poem I would read and teach on a unit of technical aspects of poetry.  For some reason it has traditionally been taught at a poem in which the speaker looks back on his life and how a single decision has made all the differences in his life.  But if you get a change to read Ivor Winters' essay on the poem

Anti-War Poems
1.  Fighting for Strangers by Steeleye Span.  Here is a video to the poem.

What makes you go abroad fighting for strangers
When you could be safe at home free from all dangers?
A recruiting sergeant came our way
To an Inn nearby at the close of day
He said young Johnny you're a fine young man
Would you like to march along behind a military band,
With a scarlet coat and a big cocked hat,
And a musket at your shoulder,
The shilling he took and he kissed the book,
Oh poor Johnny what will happen to ya?
The recruiting sergeant marched away
From the Inn nearby at the break of day,
Johnny went too with half a ring
He was off to be a soldier he'd be fighting for the King
In a far off war in a far off land
To face a foreign soldier,
But how will you fare when there's lead in the air,
-Oh poor Johnny what'll happen to ya?
What makes you go abroad fighting for strangers
When you could be safe at home free from all dangers?
The sun shone hot on a barren land
As a thin red line took a military stand,
There was sling shot, chain shot, grape shot too,
Swords and bayonets thrusting through,
Poor Johnny fell but the day was won
And the King is grateful to you
But your soldiering's done and they're sending you home,
Oh poor Johnny what have they done to ya?
They said he was a hero and not to grieve
Over two wooden pegs and empty sleeves,
They carried him home and set him down
With a military pension and a medal from the crown.
You haven't an arm and you haven't a leg,
The enemy nearly slew you,
You'll have to go out on the streets to beg,
Oh poor Johnny what have they done to ya?
What makes you go abroad fighting for strangers
When you could be safe at home free from all dangers?

Percy Bryce Shelley1792-1822.

The name "Fireside Poets" is derived from that popularity: their general adherence to poetic convention (standard forms, regular meter, and rhymed stanzas) made their body of work particularly suitable for memorization and recitation in school also at home, where it was a source of entertainment for families gathered around the fire.  The poets' primary subjects were the domestic life, mythology, and politics of the United States, in which several of the poets were directly involved.  The Fireside Poets did not write for the sake of other poets: they wrote for the common people.  They meant to have their stories told for families.  Mark Twain gave an infamous after-dinner speech in which he satirized the poets as uncouth drunkards. 

Civil War Poetry
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

Thanatopsis, 1817.

Here is a brief review of "Thanatopsis."  
"Thanatopsis" views death as part of the return to nature, claiming death as one phase of life rather than the end to life.  Bryant states, "Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again," (Bryant). This line says that as a person has lived upon the Earth, the Earth will now live upon him. The person shall live on but in another form.  "Surrendering up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix forever with the elements," (Bryant) states that one's ownership is self will be lost to the cosmos

"Thanatopsis" reminds the reader that he will not go to death alone.  In death's eyes, we are all equal.  And this is supposed to be comfort for the living. "and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe will share thy destiny" Insufficient to console the brilliance and excentricities of the individual. 

James Russell Lowell1819-1891.

The Present Crisis, 1844.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow1807-1882.

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport, 1852.  

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), a Quaker, was an out-spoken critic of President Andrew Jackson.   
Ichabod, 1820.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-1894.

Old Ironsides, 1830. 
"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” This is typical liberal drek.  What a terrible idea.  Reportedly said by Holmes in a speech in 1904. Alternately phrased as "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure", Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion (21 November 1927). The first variation is quoted by the IRS above the entrance to their headquarters at 1111 Constitution Avenue.

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892.

I Hear America Singing, 1860.
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, 
the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, 
or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.  

Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

51,000 died at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Lincoln's address justified and consecrated the slaughtered.

Julia Ward Howe,1819-1910

Julia Ward Howe, author of the murderous "Battle Hymn of the Republic"—written to glorify Lincoln's war—had the honesty and decency to reject war after she saw its results.  In 1870, she advocated the institution of a Mother's Day. Here is her radical and moving proclamation:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,

Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

The Man He Killed, 1902, Thomas Hardy

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.
I shot him dead because—
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although
He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like—just as I—
Was out of work—had sold his traps—
No other reason why.
Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

WWI Poetry, 1914-1918

Alan Seeger, 1888-1916.

I Have a Rendezvous with Death, 1916
Alan Seeger 

I have a rendezvous with Death  
At some disputed barricade,  
When Spring comes back with rustling shade  
And apple-blossoms fill the air—  
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.  
It may be he shall take my hand  
And lead me into his dark land  
And close my eyes and quench my breath—  
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death  
On some scarred slope of battered hill,  
When Spring comes round again this year  
And the first meadow-flowers appear.  
God knows ‘twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,  
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,  
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,  
Where hushed awakenings are dear...  
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,  
When Spring trips north again this year,  
And I to my pledged word am true,  
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.  

"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" by Morton Harvey, 1915  

Oh, What a Lovely War, 1969, ending sequence.

Randolph Bourne (1886-1918)  


Aftermath,  March 1919

Have you forgotten yet?…

For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same—and War’s a bloody game…
Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz—
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen-gray
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…
Look up, and swear by the slain of the war that you’ll never forget!
Thursday, November 13, 2014
from the Bionic Mosquito . . .  
Siegfried Sassoon, a veteran of the war, writes in “Blighters” that he:
…would like to see them crushed to death by a tank in one of their silly patriotic music halls, . . . 
and in “Fight to the Finish” he enacts a similar fantasy.  The war over, the army is marching through London in a Victory Parade, cheered by the “Yellow-Pressmen” along the way.  
Here is the poem:
The boys came back.  Bands played and flags were flying, 
  And Yellow-Pressmen thronged the sunlit street
To cheer the soldiers who'd refrained from dying.
  And hear the music of returning feet.
'Of all the thrills and ardours War has brought, 
This moment is the finest' (So they thought.)

Snapping their bayonets on to charge the mob,
  Grim Fusiliers broke ranks with glint of steel,
At last the boys had found a cushy job.

  I heard the Yellow-Pressmen grunt and squeal;
And with my trusty bombers turned and went
To clear those Junkers out of Parliament.
                                              . . .  
Suddenly the soldiers fix bayonets and turn on the crowd:
     "At last the boys found a cushy job."
Sassoon did not neglect the politicians:  
I heard the Yellow-Pressmen grunt and squeal:
And with my trusty bombers turned and went
To clear those Junkers out of Parliament.

Picasso's 1937 Guernica is always offered up as the painting to defer to as an indictment against slaughter, brutality, and atrocities by mankind during the 20th century.  
But consider Otto Dix's paintings, 1891-1969, as the strongest indictment against the horrors of WWI.  Here is a Google collection of Dix's work.
Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1869-1935
Mending Wall
By Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Frost's "Mending Wall" may indeed be a reply to Henry David Thoreau's question in "Brute Neighbors" of Walden on what makes a good neighbor.

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

"The Road Not Taken" has often been used at high-school commencement ceremonies to send seniors on their way with circumspection about their decisions.  The decision to use this poem as a caution is well-intentioned.  Though it is popular it may be the wrong poem to alert kids to portentousness of any single decision, for the poem, according to Yvor Winters, is about a guy who makes no decision at all.  Winters' essay is worth a read.  I have made the case several times that the speaker never makes a decision, but but suffers crippling doubt and hesitation that effectively renders his decision meaningless if non-existent.  Winters' essay is worth a read.   
Other favorite poems by Robert Frost.
Birches, 1929.  
Mending Wall, 1914.

Wallace Stevens, 1879-1955.
"Sunday Morning," 1915. And some evaluations of the poem from Illinois University.  
"Anecdote of the Jar," 1919. And evaluations on "Anecdote of the Jar."

"Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock," 1915. Wikipedia advances its own take on the poem.  Here are some critiques. Outside of "Sunday Morning," this is one of my favorite of Stevens' poems.

Find more of Stevens' poems and reviews here.  

A bit of trivia surrounding Wallace Stevens.  Wikipedia explains that "Weinman never disclosed the name of the model for the obverse, and no person ever claimed to have been her. The winged Liberty is widely believed, however, to have been based on a 1913 bust Weinman sculpted of Elsie Stevens, wife of Wallace Stevens.[23] A lawyer and insurance executive, Wallace Stevens later became famous as a poet; Wallace and Elsie Stevens rented an apartment from Weinman from 1909 to 1916. In a draft of his unpublished autobiography, Woolley wrote that Weinman refused to name the model, but told him it was the wife of a lawyer who lived above his Manhattan apartment. (Woolley, in a later version, omitted the location, saying only that Weinman said it was the wife of a lawyer friend.) Woolley recorded that he was told that the model wore the top of an old pair of stockings to simulate the cap. In 1966, Holly Stevens, Wallace and Elsie's daughter, noted in her edition of her father's letters that Elsie had been the model for Weinman's dime and half dollar."

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

John Dos Passos, 1886-1970. 
from John Dos Passos, The Grand Design (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1949), pp. 416–18.

At home we organized bloodbanks and civilian defense and imitated the rest of the world by setting up concentration camps (only we called them relocation centers) and stuffing into them American citizens of Japanese ancestry (Pearl Harbor the date that will live in infamy) without benefit of habeas corpus….

The President of the United States talked the sincere democrat and so did the members of Congress. In the Administration there were devout believers in civil liberty. "Now we're busy fighting a war; we'll deploy all four freedoms later on," they said…

War is a time of Caesars.

The President of the United States was a man of great personal courage and supreme confidence in his powers of persuasion. He never spared himself a moment, flew to Brazil and Casablanca, Cairo to negotiate at the level of the leaders; at Teheran the triumvirate without asking anybody's leave got to meddling with history; without consulting their constituents, revamped geography, divided up the bloody globe and left the freedoms out.

And the American People were supposed to say thank you for the century of the Common Man turned over for relocation behind barbed wire so help him God.

We learned. There were things we learned to do but we have not learned, in spite of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the great debates at Richmond and Philadelphia, how to put power over the lives of men into the hands of one man and to make him use it wisely.[3]

Ezra Pound, 1885-1972

Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot, 1888-1965.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 1915.  This site has decent review of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."  Here are some interesting critiques on Eliot.

"The Waste Land," 1922.
More T.S. Eliot poems here.  This page and this one have a decent background on Eliot.


In his Reclaiming the American Right, Justin Raimondo says "Archibald MacLeish, the 'poet laureate of the New Deal' and Librarian of Congress, gave the lunch party his blessings when he told the ANPA (the American Newspaper Publishers Association) that certain of their members were guilty of treason."

Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl.  The Dust Bowl was a 1930's ecological disaster brought on by easy credit that created an army of farmers who tore up the land.

Here Louis Satchmo Armstrong with the Mills Bros. make fun of the lack of incentive inherent in the Works Progress Administration, the largest of the New Deal's make-work programs, employing millions of men at taxpayer's expense.

Now wake up, boys, get out on the rock
It ain’t daybreak, but it’s four o’clock

Oh, no, no, no, Pops, you know that ain’t the play
What you talkin’ ’bout? It’s the W.P.A.

The W.P.A.
The W.P.A.

Sleep while you work, while you rest, while you play
Lean on your shovel to pass the time away
T’ain’t what you do; you can’t die for your pay

The W.P.A.
The W.P.A.
The W.P.A.

Now don’t be a fool; working hard is passe
You’ll stand from five to six hours a day
Sit down and joke while you smoke; it’s okay

The W.P.A.

I’m so tired, I don’t know what to do
Can’t get fired, so I’ll take my rest until my work is through

The W.P.A.
The W.P.A.

Don’t mind the boss if he’s cross when you’re gay
He’ll get a pink slip next month anyway
Three little letters that make life okay

The W.P.A.

Robinson Jeffers, 1887-1962

e.e. cummings, 1894-1962

WWII Poetry, 1941-1945

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Elizabeth Bishop poetry seems to be my favorite.  She was the US Poet Laureate.  Here is her poem "The Fish," published in 1946.  I made the argument, erroneous it turns out, that Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Fish" was addressing confessional poets who bared the rawness of their soul in print.  I was wrong.  The Confessional Poets came after Elizabeth Bishop in the 1950s and 1960s.  
A brief list of Bishop poems:
One Art  

Randall Jarrell1914-1965.
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell, 1945

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,            
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.     5

Randall Jarrell's note:
"A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose."

The 1990, star-filled cast of Memphis Belle is about a B-17 bomber with a ball turret gunner. Here' s a little background on the Memphis Belle.
A ball turret with gunner inside. 
Here is the Poetry Speaks series where poets read their own works.  Might be worth having if you're going to create some YouTube poetry videos.

Cold War Poetry

Charles Bukowski, 1920-1997.  His poems.

Denise Levertov1923-1997.
Denise Levertov
In Thai Binh (Peace) Province for Muriel and Jane, 1972. 
by Denise Levertov 

I’ve used up all my film on bombed hospitals, 
bombed village schools, the scattered 
lemon-yellow cocoons at the bombed silk-factory, 
and for the moment all my tears too 
are used up, having seen today 
yet another child with its feet blown off, 
a girl, this one, eleven years old, 
patient and bewildered in her home, a fragile 
small house of mud bricks among rice fields. 
So I’ll use my dry burning eyes 
to photograph within me 
dark sails of the river boats, 
warm slant of afternoon light 
apricot on the brown, swift, wide river, 
village towers – church and pagoda – on the far shore, 
and a boy and small bird both 
perched, relaxed, on a quietly grazing 
buffalo.                   Peace within the 
long war. 
It is that life, unhurried, sure, persistent, 
I must bring home when I try to bring 
the war home, 
                               Child, river, light. 
Here the future, fabled bird
that has migrated away from America,
nests, and breeds, and sings,
common as any sparrow.

Posted Monday, June 10, 2013
What Were They Like?, 1966

1)  Did the people of Vietnam 
     use lanterns of stone?
2)  Did they hold ceremonies 
     to reverence the opening of buds?
3)  Were they inclined to quiet laughter?
4)  Did they use bone and ivory, 
     jade and silver, for ornament?
5)  Had they an epic poem?
6)  Did they distinguish between speech and singing?

1)  Sir, their light hearts turned to stone.  
     It is not remembered whether in gardens 
     stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways.
2)  Perhaps they garthered once to delight in blossom, 
     but after the children were killed 
     there were no more buds.
3)  Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth.
4)  A dream ago, perhaps.  Ornament is for joy.  
     All the bones were charred.
5)  It is not remembered.  Remember, 
     most were peasants, their life 
     was in rice and bamboo.  
     When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies 
     and the water buffalo stepped surely along terraces, 
     maybe fathers told their sons odd tales.  
     When bombs smashed those mirrors 
     there was time only to scream.
6)  There is an echo yet 
     of their speech which was like a song.  
     It was reported their singing resembled 
     the flight of moths in moonlight.  
     Who can say?  It is silent now.

Theodore Roetke (1908-1963)
Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

"Mirror," 1961.

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Anne Sexton1928-1974.

Ted Hughes, 1930-1998.

Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1997.

"Capitol Air," 1980.

I don’t like the government where I live
I don’t like dictatorship of the Rich
I don’t like bureaucrats telling me what to eat
I don’t like Police dogs sniffing round my feet

I don’t like Communist censorship of my books
I don’t like Marxists complaining about my looks
I don’t like Castro insulting members of my sex
Leftists insisting we got the mystic Fix

L don’t like capitalists selling me gasoline Coke
Multinationals burning Amazon Trees to smoke
Big Corporation takeover media mind
I don’t like the Top-bananas that’re robbing Guatemala banks blind

I don’t like K.G.B. Gulag concentration camps
I don’t like the Maiosts’ Cambodian Death Dance
15 Million were killed by Stalin Secretary of Terror
He has killed our old Red Revolution for ever

I don’t like Anarchists screaming Love Is Free
I don’t like the C.I.A. they killed John Kennedy
Paranoiac tanks sit in Prague and Hungary
But I don’t like counterrevolution paid for by the C.I.A.

Tyranny in Turkey or Korea Nineteen Eighty
I don’t like Right Wing Death Squad Democracy
Police State Iran Nicaragua yesterday
Laissez-faire please Government keep your secret police offa me

I don’t like Nationalist Supremacy White or Black
I don’t like Narcs & Mafia marketing Smack
The Generals bulling Congress in his tweed vest
The President building up his Arimies in the East & West

I don’t like Argentine police Jail torture Truths
Government terrorist takeover Salvador news
I don’t like Zionists acting Nazi Storm Troop
Palestine Liberation cooking Israel into Moslem soup

I don’t like the Crown’s Official Secrets Act
You can get away with murder in the Government that’s a fact
Security cops teargassing radical kids
In Switzerland or Czechoslovakia God Forbids

In America it’s Attica in Russia it’s Lubianka Wall
In China if you disappear you wouldn’t know yourself at all
Arise Arise you citizens of the world use your lungs
Talk back to the Tyrants all they’re afraid of is your tongues

Two hundred Billion dollars inflates World War
In United States every year hey’re asking for more
Russia’s got as much in tanks and laser planes
Give or take Fifty Billion we can blow out everbody’s brains

School’s broken down ’cause History changes every night
Half the Free World nations are Dicatorships of the Right
The only place socialism worked was in Gdansk, Bud
The Communist world’s stuck together with prisoners’ blood

The Generals say they know something worth fighting for
They never say what till they start an unjust war
Iranian hostage Media Hysteria sucked
The Shah ran away with 9 Billion Iranian bucks

Dermit Roosevelt and his U.S. dollars overthrew Mossadegh
They wanted his oil then they got Ayatollah’s dreck
They put in the Shah and they trained his police the Savak
All Iran was our hostage quarter-century That’s right Jack

Bishop Romero wrote President Carter to stop
Sending guns to El Salvador’s junta so he got shot
Ambassador White blew the whistle on the White House lies
Reagan called him home cause he looked in the dead nuns’ eyes

Half the voters didn’t vote they know it was too late
Newspaper headlines called it a big Mandate
Some people voted for Reagan eyes open wide
3 out of 4 didn’t vote for him That’s a landslide

Truth may be hard to find but Falsehood’s easy
Read between the lines our Imperialism is sleazy

But if you think the People’s State is your Heart’s Desire
Jump right back in the frying pan from the fire

The System the System in Russia & China the same
Criticize the System in Budapest lose your name
Coca Cola Pepsi Cola in Russia & China come true
Khrushchev yelled in Hollywood “We will bury You”

America and Russia want to bomb themselves Okay
Everybody dead on both sides Everybody pray
All except the Generals in caves where they can hide
and fuck each other in the ass waiting for the next free ride

No hope Communism no hope Capitalism Yeah
Everybody’s lying on both sides Nyeah nyeah nyeah
The bloody iron curtain of American military Power
Is a mirror image of Russia’s red Babel-Tower

Jesus Christ was spotless but was Crucified by the Mob
Law & Order Herod’s hired soldiers did the job
Flowerpower’s fine but innocence has got no Protection
The man who shot John Lennon had a Hero-worshipper’s connection

The moral of this song is that the world is in a horrible place
Scientific Industry devours the human race
Police in every country armed with tear Gas & TV
Secret Masters everywhere bureaucratize for you and me

Terrorists and police together build a lowerclass Rage
Propaganda murder manipulates the upperclass Stage
Can’t tell the difference ‘tween a turkey & a provacateur
If you’re feeling confused the Government’s in there for sure

Aware Aware wherever you are. No Fear
Trust your heart Don’t ride your Paranoia dear
Breathe together with an ordinary mind
Armed with Humor Feed & Help Enlighten Woe Mankind
Frankfurt-New York, December 15, 1980 By Allen Ginsberg

Vietnam War Poetry
Here is a reprise of "War Pigs" done by a Sacramento band called Cake.

Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is a bit of a pacifist's song and not so much a pro-peace song.  One line of the lyrics reads "Battle lines are bein' drawn, and nobody's right, if everybody's wrong."  Problem with that is that not everybody is wrong, and that not nobody is right.  The melody is beautiful.  The singers are high-profile and representatives of a party lifestyle.  They were not serious social philosophers or fantastic poets for that reason.  They were the troubadours for a liberal, pot-smoking, booze-drinking, psychedelic-experimenting culture.
Edwin Starr's 1970's "War!  What Is It Good For?"  
John Lennon's "Happy Xmas"  
Bob Marley "War No More"  
Bob Dylan's "Masters of War"  

"Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?!"

Porter Robinson's "The State."
Murray Rothbard's "The Anatomy of the State," 1974.

Poems Outside the Canon

Sunday, June 9, 2013
I found an interesting poem this morning, quite by accident.  Is there any other way to find a poem?  It is written by Ann Darr, 1920-2007.  This poem reads almost like an Emily Dickinson poem but better.

Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me, 1971
by Ann Darr

Be strange if it is necessary, be
quiet, kindly as you can without
feeling the heel marks on your head.
Be expert in some way that pleasures
you, story-telling, baking, bed;
put truth and people in their right-
ful angle in the sun . . . find the shadow,
what it falls upon.
Trust everyone a little, no one much.
Care carefully.
Thicken your skin to hints and hurts, be
allergic to the soul scrapers.

Monday, June 10, 2013 
I Sing of That Which I Would Rather Hide (before 1200)
by Countess of Dia (born about 1140)

I sing of that which I would rather hide:
Where is the one who should be at my side
And whom I dearly love, come ebb or tide?
My kindness and sweet grace he has denied,
My beauty and good sense and goodly show.
I am betrayed, deceived, my love defied,
As if I were the lowest of the low.

Yet I take heart: I never brought you shame
Nor ever did the least to hurt your name.
My love surpasses loves of greater fame,
And I am pleased I beat you at love's game--
Outscored you when devotion was the test.
Your cold words and your slights all speak the same--
And yet you play the charmer with the rest.

Friday, November 14, 2014
One Tin Soldier

Writes Daniel Mahaffey: Lew, There’s a lot of anger, and a lot to be angry about, in the antiwar songs you’ve place in the blog. Given the empty reasons for war, and the hypocritical support for war from our neighbors and friends, I can’t help but recommend “One Tin Soldier,” my favorite antiwar message. The suicidal folly of it all comes through clearly, and without anger—just shame. 

Writes Bill: Interesting being reminded of the different sources of antiwar songs. Thanks for the posts. 

Here’s a few more. From the 1930s, Bill Monroe on the Forgotten Soldier Boy.  Writer of Universal Soldier was Buffy St Marie. Her version with her introduction explaining writing it.  Gary North did an LRC article on Earl Scruggs when he died a couple years ago.  Flatt and Scruggs also did a version of Universal Soldier in the 60s I think. Hard to imagine this from country music today.  

A more modern song about W's war, "Man of God" by Eliza Gilkyson

Universal Soldier Flatt & Scruggs with Doc Watson - Topic 

BuffySainte-Marie, Universal Soldier  The Forgotten Soldier Boy

The Forgotten Soldier Boy
The Forgotten Soldier Boy
 (Bert Layne)

 I'm just a poor ex-soldier that's broken down and blue,
 Fought out in the Great War for the old red, white, and blue.
 I left my parents and my girl I loved, to France did go
 And fought out on the battlefield through hunger, sleet, and snow.

 I saw my buddies dying, and some shellshocked and torn
 Although we never faltered at the battle of Amarne
 And we were told when we left home we'd be heroes of the land,
 So we came back and found no one would lend a helping hand.

 They promised gold and silver, and bid us all adieu.
 They said they'd welcome us back home when the terrible war was through.
 We fought until the war was o'er, they said we'd won the fight,
 But we have no job or money, no place to sleep at night.

 They called us wandering boys bums, asking for shelter and bread
 Although we fought in no man's land and a-many poor boy is dead.
 So listen to my story and lend a helping hand
 To the poor forgotten soldier boy who fought to save our land.

Somebody asked about whether there were any serious bluegrass songs. This is very early, from the Monroe Brothers, Charlie and Bill, 1936. I am not sure it is available anywhere at the moment. It was on a old (great) vinyl collection, Country Music South and West from New World Records.

recorded by the Monroe Brothers, October 12, 1936

I appreciate all you do and I love your antiwar, non-interventionist stance. I was a war mongering right wing Christian for many years and hated anyone who was Anti-American.

Through God’s grace and the influence of men like you and Ron Paul, I have since repented and changed direction.

When you talk about anti war songs, you should also include the Rise Against song, “Hero of War”. It is about a soldier whose eyes are opened during his destructive tour for America’s military machine.

Once again, thanks for all you do. Blessings.
Here are the lyrics.  
And the beat rolls on . . . . 

Songs of war-weary soldiers by Will Grigg.

1.  The Lego Movie with Will Ferrell, 2014. 
Eva Marie Saint.  One of my favorite actresses when growing up was Eva Marie Saint.  I loved her look.  I loved her voice.  I loved the empathy in her voice.  I loved her in On the Water Front, 1954, and I loved her in the How the West Was Won, 1977.

This shows the advantages of technology exquisitely.

No comments: