When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,

There is plenty of research to say that laughing is good for you. It tones the muscles of your face, it relieves stress, it makes you feel good, it brings people together, it makes the world go round. Well, it turns out that none of that research was needed, because William Blake already told us all that in this poem.

 

Laughing Song
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha, ha he!’

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha, ha, he!’
William Blake

From <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/laughing-song/&gt;

So when the world is laughing, don’t be a curmudgeon, join in, laugh and be merry.

The Poetry Dude

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À la très chère, à la très belle

This wonderful poem by Baudelaire is entitled Hymn, but it could almost equally be entitled Prayer or Psalm, as he takes the form of religious praise of a deity and uses it as a vehicle for worship of his loved one.

Hymne

À la très chère, à la très belle
Qui remplit mon coeur de clarté,
À l’ange, À l’idole immortelle,
Salut en l’immortalité!

Elle se répand dans ma vie
Comme un air imprégné de sel,
Et dans mon âme inassouvie
Verse le goût de l’éternel.

Sachet toujours frais qui parfume
L’atmosphère d’un cher réduit,
Encensoir oublié qui fume
En secret à travers la nuit,

Comment, amour incorruptible,
T’exprimer avec vérité?
Grain de musc qui gis, invisible,
Au fond de mon éternité!

À la très bonne, à la très belle
Qui fait ma joie et ma santé,
À l’ange, à l’idole immortelle,
Salut en l’immortalité!

— Charles Baudelaire

From <http://fleursdumal.org/poem/311&gt;

Some things I like about this poem: the rhyme scheme is really well-constructed, with alternate lines rhyming in each stanza, this is very hard to achieve with this level of consistency and quality; vocabulary follows form, with words like “ange”, “immortalite”, “encensoir”, “idole” reinforcing the religious quality of this expression of love as adoration; the Baudelairean appeal to the senses, particularly the allusions to rich and heady scents and fragrances giving a heady impression of intoxication; the echo of the poetic style of Clement Marot, in phrases like “A la tres chere, a la tres belle”, and “A la tres bonne, a la tres belle” – the nineteenth century thus finding inspiration in one of the masters of the sixteenth century.

The Poetry Dude

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Time can say nothing but I told you so,

WH Auden wrote this poem. The title describes the rhyme scheme – so is this a poem written to convey meaning or feeling, or is it a poem written to illustrate the poet’s technique in this particular form? Well, everybody can make up their own mind, and I guess it depends whether you are more conscious of rhyme and structure, or the sense of the words themselves as you read it.

Here is a definition of the Villanelle form, found on Google:.
A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines.

 

 
Villanelle
Time can say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time can say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time can say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away?
Time can say nothing but I told you so.
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

 
WH Auden

From <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/villanelle-3/&gt;

 

I think the clue is in the title…

The Poetry Dude

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Updated Recap: Top 10 poets on this blog

On October 8th, I posted a recap of the top 10 poets posted on this blog, as adjudicated by the number of hits recorded on those poems, following a similar recap of the top 10 poems, posted on October 6th. Today I am following up by with an updated, expanded and slightly revised top 10, with more details of the postings and the top-ranking poem from each poet listed.

So here goes:

1. Anonymous Spanish romances and ballads: Of course, this is not one poet but these are ballads mostly from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with no attributed author. Many of them recount episodes from the border wars between the Castilian Spaniards and the North African Moorish invaders who settled in Spain for over 750 years. You can see these poems posted here on 11/7/2014, 12/1/2014, 1/2/2015, 2/11/2015, 3/22/2015, 5/12/2015, 7/19/2015, and 9/30/2015 (dates in US format, month, day, year). The most popular poem from this group has been the Romance de Abenamar, posted on 5/12/2015.

2. Rosalia de Castro: The late nineteenth century, post-Romantic Galician-Spanish poet, sometimes writing in Castilian Spanish, sometimes in Galician. Her poems have been posted here on 10/23/2014, 11/23/2014, 12/7/2014, 1/17/2015, 3/1/2015, 4/16/2015, 5/29/2015, 7/2/2015 and 9/26/2015. Her most popular poem here has been “Cuando sopla el norte duro”, posted on 4/16/2015.

3. WB Yeats: The great Irish poet and statesman from the first half of the nineteenth century. A wonderful poet, combining a great variety of themes with rich and rewarding language. His poems posted here were on the following dates, 10/11/2014, 11/5/2014, 11/27/2014, 1/31/2015, 2/16/2015, 4/10/2015, 6/30/2015, 8/17/2015 and 9/28/2015. His most popular poem of those posted here has been “An Irish airman foresees his death”, posted on 11/27/2014.

4. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz: Sor Juana was the last of the great poets of the Spanish Golden Age, although she lived her whole life in Mexico, first at the Viceroy’s court and then as a nun. I recommend the great biography written about her by Octavio Paz, called “Sor Juana o las trampas de la fe”. Her poems have been posted here on 10/6/2014, 11/9/2014, 12/22/2014, 1/8/2015, 2/9/2015, 3/27/2015, 5/26/2015, 7/25/2015 and 9/17/2015. Her most popular poem posted here has been “Verde embeleso de la vida humana”, posted on 10/6/2014.

5. Pierre de Ronsard: The French poet of the mid to late 1500s, along with Joachim du Bellay he was credited with reviving French poetry and giving it a real identity different from the influence of the Italian poets. I find his poems to be beautiful, touching and poignant, whether they be about nature, love or his own aging. His poems have been posted here on 10/4/2014, 11/6/2014, 11/22/2014, 12/5/2014, 1/7/2015, 2/18/2015, 4/9/2015, 5/23/2015, 7/16/2015 and 9/25/2015. His most popular poem posted here has been “A la Fontaine Bellerie”, posted here on 11/22/2014.

6. Gerard de Nerval: The mid nineteenth century French romantic, famous for his flamboyance, such as taking his pet lobster for walks on a leash. His poems are a mix of the portentous/pretentious and simpler more lyrical pieces. His poems have been posted here on 10/21/2014, 11/20/2014, 1/3/2015, 2/1/2015, 3/2/2015, 4/17/2015, 5/17/2015, 7/24/2015 and 9/29/2015. His most popular poem posted here has been “El desdichado”, posted here on 10/21/2014. Despite the title, it is written in French.

7. Antonio Machado: From the first half of the twentieth century, this Spanish master is well known as the poet of Castille, although he was actually born in Andalusia and refers back to his origins quite often in his poems. His poems have been published here on 10/19/2014, 11/4/2014, 11/28/2014, 12/31/2014, 1/30/2015, 4/5/2015, 5/24/2015, 6/8/2015, 8/8/2015 and 9/22/2015. His most popular poem has been “A un olmo seco”, posted on 12/31/2014.

8. Paul Verlaine: The late nineteenth and early twentieth century is generally well known for being the older lover of teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud, but he was of course a very fine poet himself, and much more prolific. His poems have been published here on 12/2/2014, 1/5/2015, 2/27/2015, 3/29/2015, 5/19/2015, 7/20/2015, and 9/20/2015. His most popular poem posted here is ” Mon reve familier”, posted on 12/2/2014.

9. Charles Baudelaire: The mid nineteenth century French romantic poet is in my view one of the finest poets of any time and any tradition. His poems have been posted here on 10/8/2014. 10/29/2014, 11/15/2014, 12/11/2014, 1/29/2015, 3/3/2015, 4/14/2015, 5/10/2015, 7/1/2015 and 9/21/2015. His most popular poem posted here has been “Harmonie du Soir”, posted on 1/29/2015.

10. Francisco de Quevedo: One of the great Spanish Golden Age poets of the sixteenth century, mixing satire, social commentary along with the more conventional themes of love and nature. His poems have been posted here on 11/21/2014, 12/4/2014, 1/4/2015, 2/15/2015, 3/19/2015, 4/25/2015, 6/17/2015, 8/22/2015 and 9/27/2015. His most popular poem published here has been “Definicion del amor”, posted on 1/4/2015.

 
The Poetry Dude

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¿Qué linfa esbelta, de los altos hielos

Here is a sonnet, a tribute from a fine poet of the twentieth century to one of the finest poets of the mid-sixteenth century, a recognition of the continuity of Hispanic poetic tradition, and a reminder of the way in which poets see their work as developing out of that whole tradition, not just as personal endeavour. Vicente Aleixandre was a Nobel prize winner in literature for his poems, but Fray Luis de Leon’s poems have been read and appreciated for 450 years. A winning combination, indeed.

A Fray Luis de Leon

¿Qué linfa esbelta, de los altos hielos
hija y sepulcro, sobre el haz silente
rompe sus fríos, vierte su corriente,
luces llevando, derramando cielos?

¿Qué agua orquestas bajo los mansos celos
del aire, muda, funde su crujiente
espuma en anchas copias y consiente,
terso el diálogo, signo y luz gemelos?

La alta noche su copa sustantiva
—árbol ilustre— yergue a la bonanza,
total su crecimiento y ramas bellas.

Brisa joven de cielo, persuasiva,
su pompa abierta, desplegada, alcanza
largamente, y resuenan las estrellas.

From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/vicente-aleixandre-a-fray-luis-de-leon.htm&gt;

The poem depicts the great Fray Luis as a force of nature, a clear stream running down the mountain, bringing light and changing the world; water pouring from the heavens, transforming its energy into verse, bringing both meaning and light. And the trees flourish and grow on this sustenance, which is then carried forth by the wind and resonates as far as the stars. Indeed this poem conveys the transcendent, uplifting quality of Fray Luis’s best poems, such as La Vida Retirada and Oda a Francisco de Salinas and Al Apartamiento.

A very nice tribute indeed

The Poetry Dude

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Yo no quiero más luz que tu cuerpo ante el mío:

This poem from Miguel Hernandez is a love poem, one of those where the poet expresses his complete absorption and self-effacement in the presence of his or her loved one. In this case, the image is of light itself – the poet’s lover gives all the light the poet needs by her presence, nothing else is required for the complete fulfilment of the poet. This is love as a life-force, a source of complete nourishment and plenitude for the poet-lover.

 
YO NO QUIERO MÁS LUZ QUE TU CUERPO ANTE EL MÍO

Yo no quiero más luz que tu cuerpo ante el mío:
claridad absoluta, transparencia redonda.
Limpidez cuya extraña, como el fondo del río,
con el tiempo se afirma, con la sangre se ahonda..

¿Qué lucientes materias duraderas te han hecho,
corazón de alborada, carnación matutina?
Yo no quiero más día que el que exhala tu pecho.
Tu sangre es la mañana que jamás se termina.

No hay más luz que tu cuerpo, no hay más sol: todo ocaso.
Yo no veo las cosas a otra luz que tu frente.
La otra luz es fantasma, nada más, de tu paso.
Tu insondable mirada nunca gira al poniente.

Claridad sin posible declinar. Suma esencia
del fulgor que ni cede ni abandona la cumbre.
Juventud. Limpidez. Claridad. Transparencia
acercando los astros más lejanos de lumbre.

Claro cuerpo moreno de calor fecundante.
Hierba negra el origen; hierba negra las sienes.
Trago negro los ojos, la mirada distante.
Día azul. Noche clara. Sombra clara que vienes.

Yo no quiero más luz que tu sombra dorada
donde brotan anillos de una hierba sombría.
En mi sangre, fielmente por tu cuerpo abrasada,
para siempre es de noche: para siempre es de día.

From <http://www.los-poetas.com/a/miguel1.htm&gt;

There is a musicality about the poem, stemming from the repetitions of key words and images, reinforced by both rhyme and rhythm between lines and within lines, which makes this a joy to recite out loud. And the constant association of light with love, passion, attraction, even obsession seems to capture the intensity of that brief but wonderful phase of a love affair when everything is perfect and understanding is complete.

The Poetry Dude

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Le temple enseveli divulgue par la bouche

Here we have a poem from Mallarme, which, from the title, could be expected to be a retrospective tribute to the poetic genius of Baudelaire, and I guess it is in a way. But it is a tribute which, through the metaphor of Baudelaire’s tomb, emphasises the grotesque, disturbing aspects of Baudelaire’s poetry. It reminds me of a gothic horror movie, or perhaps a poem or story by Edgar Allan Poe.

The images are of decrepitude and decay, of ugliness and distortion. If you ever go and visit Baudelaire’s real tomb in the Montparnasse cemetery, it isn’t like that at all, of course.

 
Stéphane MALLARME   (1842-1898)

 
Le tombeau de Charles Baudelaire

 
Le temple enseveli divulgue par la bouche
Sépulcrale d’égout bavant boue et rubis
Abominablement quelque idole Anubis
Tout le museau flambé comme un aboi farouche

Ou que le gaz récent torde la mèche louche
Essuyeuse on le sait des opprobres subis
Il allume hagard un immortel pubis
Dont le vol selon le réverbère découche

Quel feuillage séché dans les cités sans soir
Votif pourra bénir comme elle se rasseoir
Contre le marbre vainement de Baudelaire

Au voile qui la ceint absente avec frissons
Celle son Ombre même un poison tutélaire
Toujours à respirer si nous en périssons.

 

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/stephane_mallarme/le_tombeau_de_charles_baudelaire.html&gt;

 

I am wondering if this sonnet was inspired as much by Baudelaire’s reputation as his actual poetry, given that “Les Fleurs du Mal” was banned for several years on the grounds of obscenity and several of its poems are indeed somewhat grotesque. When the collection was eventually published, several poems were even then left out in order for publication to be allowed.

So, in that spirit, this poem portrays Baudelaire’s tomb as a sewer-like place where shadows and malevolent spirits roam by the shaky light of a gas lamp, and where the shadow of Baudelaire lies in wait to poison passers-by and onlookers. Creepy stuff…

I found a translation of this poem into English, see below. Its actually quite good…

 
The Tomb of Charles Baudelaire

BY STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ
TRANSLATED BY HENRY WEINFIELD

The buried temple empties through its bowels,
Sepulchral sewer spewing mud and rubies,
Abominably some idol of Anubis,
Its muzzle all aflame with savage howls.

Or if the recent gas the wick befouls
That bears so many insults, it illumines
In haggard outline an immortal pubis
Flying along the streetlights on its prowls.

What wreaths dried out in cities without prayer
Of night could bless like that which settles down
Vainly against the marble of Baudelaire

In the fluttering veil that girds her absence round,
A tutelary poison, his own Wraith,
We breathe in always though it bring us death.

From <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/241188&gt;
The Poetry Dude

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