I went out to the hazel wood

A piece of whimsy here from WB Yeats, which looks like it is inspired by folk tales and old country traditions. It is the tale of a man who went fishing in a wood, where there was a stream, he catches a trout, the trout turns into a beautiful girl, the girl runs away, and then the poor fellow spends the rest of his life looking for her.
I have never seen the name Angus spelled like this anywhere else, perhaps it is an Irish variant.
The Song of Wandering Aengus


I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Source: The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)

From <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/244302&gt;

Perhaps not WB Yeats’s finest hour?

The Poetry Dude

Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches

I really like the scene portrayed in this short poem by Verlaine, a touching moment of the expression of love between two young lovers. Simple and touching… A good poem for the springtime when love and optimism is in the air.

(Paul Verlaine)


Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches
Et puis voici mon coeur qui ne bat que pour vous.
Ne le déchirez pas avec vos deux mains blanches
Et qu’à vos yeux si beaux l’humble présent soit doux.

J’arrive tout couvert encore de rosée
Que le vent du matin vient glacer à mon front.
Souffrez que ma fatigue à vos pieds reposée
Rêve des chers instants qui la délasseront.

Sur votre jeune sein laissez rouler ma tête
Toute sonore encor de vos derniers baisers ;
Laissez-la s’apaiser de la bonne tempête,
Et que je dorme un peu puisque vous reposez.

From <http://lyricstranslate.com/en/green-paul-verlaine-green.html&gt;

We can envision the poet out early in the morning to gather flowers and foliage to bring back to his lover, still asleep. He can think only of her, presumably after night of passion, which has now given way to tenderness. The poet thinks of his lovers gentle eyes welcoming him back with his floral offering.

In the second stanza it is as if we are with the poet in the cool morning air with fresh dew covering his face; he now wants to rest a while again with his lover – sleep with her again in loving togetherness.

Our equivalent today might be to go out early to Starbuck’s and bring back our lover’s favourite latte while she still sleeps – that can be romantic too.

The Poetry Dude

Me destierro a la memoria

Today’s poem is from the early twentieth century poet-philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno. It seems to be a reflection on achieving immortality through poetry and its effect on the reader, but there is, at least for me, considerable ambiguity in the poet’s attitude to this. The notion of posterity keeping alive the poet’s name, fame and reputation is tempered by bleaker references to sickness, death and the barren wastelands of history.

See what you think.
Me destierro a la memoria,
voy a vivir del recuerdo.
Buscadme, si me os pierdo,
en el yermo de la historia,

que es enfermedad la vida
y muero viviendo enfermo.
Me voy, pues, me voy al yermo
donde la muerte me olvida.

Y os llevo conmigo, hermanos,
para poblar mi desierto.
Cuando me creáis más muerto
retemblaré en vuestras manos.

Aquí os dejo mi alma-libro,
hombre-mundo verdadero.
Cuando vibres todo entero,
soy yo, lector, que en ti vibro.

From <http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/me-destierro-a-la-memoria.htm&gt;

The first two lines express a wish to live on in people’s memory, setting the tone for the fairly conventional artists desire for immortality achieved through artistic reputation. But the remainder of the first two stanzas talk of the poet becoming fused with the wastelands of history – life is full of sickness and death and the poet expresses a somewhat nihilistic wish to lose himself in a barren, uninhabited dead zone.

In the final two stanzas, the poet invites his readers to accompany him into that deserted, desolate place, where he or his poetry will live on, bringing positive vibrations to the place and to his readers. So it is not the survival of his name and art in the real world which is evoked here, it is the poet wanting his readers to join him in the twilight zone beyond which will ensure his immortality. This is, and is probably intended to be, a somewhat creepy twist to the more conventional artist’s aspiration for a place in history.

The Poetry Dude

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;

Most of the poems by Siegfried Sassoon posted here have been overtly pessimistic and bleak commentaries on the misery and futility of war – specifically World War One, in which Sassoon served, observing the senseless suffering and death of the soldiers on both sides. This poem is different, it is about the joy of song, and there is only a fleeting, oblique reference to the war. It is not even clear what is the context of the singing, but that makes us use our imagination…Mine tells me it might be a poem for Armistice Day, 1918, when the war finally ended,

Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on – and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

From <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/248290&gt;

There is indeed a sense of universal joy at the turning of a page, a moment of transformation. The repetition on the word’s “everybody” and “suddenly” at the beginning of the first and second stanzas signal this – there is a spontaneous and widespread coming together in the joy of song as the caged birds become free and as the horror drifted away.

The expression of joy is spontaneous and infectious, but there is also a great sense of optimism coming through in the final line, “the singing will never be done”.

The Poetry Dude

J’ai perdu ma tourterelle

The definition of a Villanelle is as follows:

a nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain, with the first and third lines of the opening tercet recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain

Hence the designation of this poem by sixteenth century French poet Jean Passerat. I posted another example of this form on November 26th 2015, from the twentieth century English poet, WH Auden, also, in that posy, drawing attention to the definition of the form. See which one you think works best.

Jean Passerat (1534–†1602)
J’AI perdu ma tourterelle;

Est-ce point celle que j’oy?

Je veux aller après elle.
Tu regrettes ta femelle,

Hélas! aussi fais-je moy.
J’ai perdu ma tourterelle.
Si ton amour est fidelle,

Aussi est ferme ma foy;

Je veux aller après elle.
Ta plainte se renouvelle,
Toujours plaindre je me doy;

J’ai perdu ma tourterelle.
En ne voyant plus la belle,

Plus rien de beau je ne voy;

Je veux aller après elle.


Mort, que tant de fois j’appelle,

Prends ce qui se donne à toy!

J’ai perdu ma tourterelle;

Je veux aller après elle.
From <http://www.bartleby.com/244/115.html&gt;


The poet has lost his turtle-dove (his lover). He misses her and wants to go after her, nothing is more beautiful.

Simple really…

The Poetry Dude

Continuarán viajando cosas

Written when the two major powers of the world were waking up to the potential of outer space, beginning to launch satellites and sputniks, talking of the possibility to put a man on the moon, the poet Pablo Neruda pts forward a counterpoint to this – on this earth there is beauty and fulfilment enough and he has no desire to travel towards another planet.

El perezoso, de Pablo Neruda

Continuarán viajando cosas
de metal entre las estrellas,
subirán hombres extenuados,
violentarán la suave luna
y allí fundarán sus farmacias.

En este tiempo de uva llena
el vino comienza su vida
entre el mar y las cordilleras.

En Chile bailan las cerezas,
cantan las muchachas oscuras
y en las guitarras brilla el agua.

El sol toca todas las puertas
y hace milagros con el trigo.

El primer vino es rosado,
es dulce como un niño tierno,
el segundo vino es robusto
como la voz de un marinero
y el tercer vino es un topacio,
una amapola y un incendio.

Mi casa tiene mar y tierra,
mi mujer tiene grandes ojos
color de avellana silvestre,
cuando viene la noche el mar
se viste de blanco y de verde
y luego la luna en la espuma
sueña como novia marina.

No quiero cambiar de planeta.

(Estravagario, 1958)

From <https://primeralluvia.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/el-perezoso-de-pablo-neruda/&gt;

The first stanza describes the emerging obsession of men to put metal into outer space, to conquer the moon and make it a place for human settlement.

The reset of the poem enumerates the rich and inspiring surroundings of Neruda’s own life in Chile, where the grapes are ripening to make fine wine, cherries are in bloom and girls sing to the sound of guitars under the sun. Each type of wine is different fro the previous one, and all bring great pleasure.

The poet describes his house, near the sea and the land, and his wife with beautiful hazel eyes. The sea outside at night has beautiful white surf and the moon is reflected on the waves.

All is beauty and harmony, hence the final line pulls it all together with the declaration that the poet does not want to change places for another planet.

Beautiful poem

The Poetry Dude

Mon violon est un grand violon-girafe

The Belgian-French poet, Michaux, wrote this poem about his violin. The imagery and associations are surprising, unexpected, beginning with the first line where the instrument is described as a giraffe-violin. Does that mean anything specifically? Maybe not, but it takes the reader outside his experience and leads us to focus on the words, their choice and juxtaposition, rather than any objective meaning. Its like looking at a painting to admire the shapes and the brush strokes rather than having to make sense of the overall scene.

Le Grand Violon , poème d’Henri Michaux


Mon violon est un grand violon-girafe ;
j’en joue à l’escalade,
bondissant dans ses râles,
au galop sur ses cordes sensibles et son ventre
affamé aux désirs épais,
que personne jamais ne satisfera,
sur son grand cœur de bois enchagriné,
que personne jamais ne comprendra.
Mon violon-girafe, par nature a la plainte basse
et importante, façon tunnel,
l’air accablé et bondé de soi, comme l’ont les gros poissons gloutons des hautes profondeurs,
mais avec, au bout, un air de tête et d’espoir
quand même,
d’envolée, de flèche, qui ne cèdera jamais.
Rageur, m’engouffrant dans ses plaintes, dans
un amas de tonnerres nasillards,
j’en emporte comme par surprise
tout à coup de tels accents de panique ou de bébé
blessé, perçants, déchirants,
que moi-même, ensuite, je me retourne sur lui,
inquiet, pris de remords, de désespoir,
et de je ne sais quoi, qui nous unit, tragique, et
nous sépare.

From <http://les-livres-sont-nos-maisons-de-papier.blogspot.com/2013/06/le-grand-violon-poeme-dhenri-michaux.html&gt;

Although the poet describes himself playing the violin, it is almost as if the violin itself is in charge – it cannot be understood, satisfied or dominated by any mere person.

In the middle of the poem, the violin seems to change its character from a giraffe to a deep-sea fish twisting and turning, perhaps on the end of a line. Is “hautes profondeurs” a paradox – high depths – or does it actually work as stated, I’m not sure.

The sense that the violin is in charge is reinforced in the final lines, which describe the unexpected sounds emerging from the violin, which the poet himself then plays back, almost involuntarily. The final paradox is that the violin and the violinist are bound together but separate, perhaps like the poet and his poem?

The Poetry Dude