Category Archives: poetry

Emily Dickinson’s Summer Reveries

(c) Copyright 2017 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved Summer, The Dickinson Homestead, Amherst, Mass. Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most beloved and misunderstood poets was an astute observer and student of the natural world.  Nature’s changing pageantry, big bold and … Continue reading

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“I’m Nobody/Who are You?” Emily Dickinson: Major New Book & Exhibit

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Is It Just Me, or that “The World Is too Much with Us?”

I woke up at two a.m. this morning with this well-known masterpiece by the incomparable English bard Wordsworth coiling through my mind. This sonnet was penned in Britain just as the Industrial Revolution was upending the trusted old courtesies and … Continue reading

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Baby, it’s cold inside …

The “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” Wallace Stevens was a seminal, groundbreaking American modernist poet.  A contemporary of Eliot, he flipped the archetype of the wan, pale, misunderstood verbal virtuoso.  Instead, he pursued a lucrative … Continue reading

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The Father’s Eye. . .

I clipped this beautiful poem from the New York Times years ago.  It still remains one of my all-time Christmas favorites. So subtle, understated and allusive.  Thought I’d share while wishing you the joy of this miraculous season! Pardon the … Continue reading

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Bob Dylan Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

Forever Young   From CNN today: Book Critic Jay Parini on “Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize” WORTH READING Bob Dylan Lyrical Genius Album: Blonde on Blonde [1966] All lyrics are property and copyright of their respective owners and … Continue reading

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Ben Lerner’s ‘The Hatred of Poetry’ Revels in Paradox

Heads up, Poets. This review in Flavorwire (6/9/16) of Ben Lerner’s recent book-length essay on the disappointments and shortcomings of poetry is worth reading. Says reviewer Jonathan Sturgeon, “The Hatred of Poetry is an important essay because it doubles as … Continue reading

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A Votive Light for Nabokov

  Ambushed, waylaid, ravished by an unexpected encounter tonight with Pale Fire, Nabokov’s powerful daemonic masterpiece. An oddity of a novel told in four cantos, 999 lines of seductive, sensuous verse.  A virtuoso piece, a showcase for the author’s extraordinary … Continue reading

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Whitman, Democracy’s Bard

Walt Whitman popped into my thoughts unannounced yesterday as I was listening to a nasty political discussion on NPR. Honestly, it’s hard to avoid the contentious, angry political noise in the air these days that’s camouflaged as debate and dialogue. People … Continue reading

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Of Poets and Poetasters: National Poetry Month

So what’s a poetaster? Most people are pretty sure they know what a poet is, but poetaster, first used by Ben Jonson in 1600, has fallen into disuse. Well, fact is, though we throw the word poet around with flippant … Continue reading

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What Rough Beast?

“William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.” The Poetry Foundation  And I certainly agree. At the risk of becoming a Yeats “bore,” I am going to provide my readers with … Continue reading

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“A Prayer for My Daughter” –William Butler Yeats

And now, dear friends, enjoy one of the greatest poets in the English language and one of his most highly regarded poems. I’ve been dipping into Yeats’ Collected Poems and savoring them for many years, but recently this one  really … Continue reading

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“A Child Was Born in a Cave to Save the World”

Joseph Brodsky was an emigre poet from the Soviet Union who lived in New York City, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987. He was an amazingly gifted, modest man.  He wrote in English after emigrating as an … Continue reading

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“A Poem Should Not Mean But Be” – William Carlos Williams

Few novice poets today are familiar with this major talent, the wholly original and inimitable physician William Carlos Williams. A medical doctor all of his days and exquisitely attuned to both the strengths and limitations of poetry in capturing and … Continue reading

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This Emily Dickinson poem is for our friends in the Northeast tonight– we hope they are warm!

It sifts from leaden sieves — It powders all the Wood. It fills with Alabaster Wool The Wrinkles of the Road — It makes an Even Face Of Mountain, and of Plain — Unbroken Forehead from the East Unto the … Continue reading

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This year’s National Poetry Month poster

National Poetry Month (is this an organization, an alliance or what?)  in this great land of ours is April and “it” has just released its annual poster which is rather cute.

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Cold? “The Snowman” by Wallace Stevens – that’s cold

The Snow Man WALLACE STEVENS One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The … Continue reading

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The Soul Selects Her Own Society – Emily Dickinson

(c) 2014 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved I recently had the rare and arduous experience of re-reading for the umpteenth time all of Emily Dickinson‘s 1,775 surviving “poems”–but this time straight through over a period of two weeks. I’m working … Continue reading

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“Satisfaction is a lowly thing, how pure a thing is joy.” — Marianne Moore

Need a lift or some inspiration to escape the gloom of winter and the doldrums of the winter heart? Here’s a short, beautiful poem that might impart the courage and resolve to get through the season (and life!) by the … Continue reading

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The Flood

After re-reading Emerson’s essay “The Poet” late last night, I became more convinced than ever that human beings have never been more miserable and unhappy than in the last century. This, despite more material abundance, security and personal freedom than … Continue reading

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“Thanks!” Let’s Mean It When We Say It!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, GUYS! A wee bit of social criticism on our Thanksgiving customs from a renowned poet– “Thanks” W. S. Merwin, 1927 Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow … Continue reading

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T.S. Eliot Reads “The Journey of the Magi” – Ancient Intonations

T.S. Eliot

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“The way hope builds his house” — Emily Dickinson (Manuscript)

Originally posted on Biblioklept:
Poet Emily Dickinson E.D. had difficult handwriting and wrote on anything handy. She did not leave polished manuscripts of her poems for publication in most cases.  This was eventually published as poem #1481 and dated c. 1879   “The way Hope … Continue reading

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This is Poetry – and one of my favs – a lagniappe for tonight!

In a Dark Time By Theodore Roethke In a dark time, the eye begins to see, I meet my shadow in the deepening shade; I hear my echo in the echoing wood— A lord of nature weeping to a tree. … Continue reading

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Fictive Things Wink as They Will

Needed some sere severe poetic discourse (to replace one headache with another).  Don’t fret over what seems obscure here but relish the nuggets that hit you where you live. The bold type is my emendation. For all his pompous learning, … Continue reading

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“The Second Coming”–Circles or Lines? Cyclical or Linear? – History, Life and “Us”

I had a fascinating exchange of emails with a gifted poet recently about a poem he had written entitled “Circles.”Initially, I had mis-read the poem, missed his intent and allusions (happens to all of us on off days ;). And … Continue reading

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The Music of Poetry: Prosody

OK, soapbox time. Maxed out. Had my fill of the effulgence of tone deaf poetry lately. Most poetry written today exhibits a tin ear on the part of the poet and dooms it from the get go. The problem with … Continue reading

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“Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads in Them” – Why Bother with Poetry?

This poem by the contentious, straightforward major American poet Marianne Moore came to mind tonight and I thought it was worth sharing. Cogently and succinctly she takes on the common objections and antipathy of the general public to the reading … Continue reading

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The Anonymous Ancient Poets Often Said it Better and More Memorably

Haunted by these lines tonight, their rawness and honesty. A straight shot of the unvarnished longing in everyone’s heart.  No dodges, frills, or confounding metaphors. Said to date from 16th century, but it feels earlier, more primal than than that … Continue reading

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Have Hit a Major Roadblock – POETS ON POETRY – No “Emotional Slither!”

My library is fated to swell and I to be buried in the falling, cascading books from the shelves. An appropriate end for a misspent life, I suppose, monomaniacally focused on books. Have unearthed a modest looking old paperback anthology … Continue reading

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Apropos of Byron (previous post) and his Romancing …

What woman could withstand the following blandishments and adulation? [ Byron did, after all, write an epic poem about Don Juan (considered his masterpiece)–and no one challenged his qualifications to speak with authority on Don Juan, either ;)] But back … Continue reading

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Slaying Monsters: How Our Notions of Heroes Have Changed – Beowulf

Above: Grendel “He seized one sleeping man, ‘biting the bone-joints, drinking blood from veins, great gobbets gorging down. Quickly he took all of that lifeless thing to be his food, even feet and hands.’” This from the first epic in … Continue reading

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Grey Eyed Athena and the Wine Dark Sea

Tonight I’m homing in on Homer (Robert Fitzgerald’s incomparable translation of the Odyssey). Poetry’s omphalos and progenitor.  Where have all the heroes gone? Sing to me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways contending, the … Continue reading

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Poetry Dare – Can You Poetaster Wags Rise to the Occasion?

I found this in a box of antique ephemera today.  It’s for the old timey 18th-19th century binocular viewer, stereopticon thingy or something. One inserted it and voila! a 3-D tableau of a camel caravan headed for Egypt right before … Continue reading

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The Force That Through the Green Fuse ….

I am so easily side-tracked and waylaid from my plans for any given day, particularly by the mysterious and beautiful effulgence of the natural world–and (no surprise to my fellow bloggers here) by poetry. This morning a dew speckled massive … Continue reading

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Behinder and Behinder: Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain

Rather than feel ridiculous and un-horsed, I’d prefer to “feel” (in public at least) as “tested” and perhaps “tried.”  Hence the henceforth herewith. (Something like that, anyway). I am so far behind with work, not only with blogging, as a … Continue reading

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Oh, Eliot, You Wonderful, Infernal, Old Dog of My Heart

       (c) Copyright 2014, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ― T.S. Eliot I received a jolt, as I always do, when I opened … Continue reading

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“I will drink life to the lees” – Tennyson’s “Ulysses”

Poor Tennyson, like so many of the Victorians today, he can come across as pompous, grandiose, even corny.  Or, worse, quaint. That is our loss, I think, and a result of our own myopia and a contraction of our brains … Continue reading

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Into the Silver Dawn -“All in green went my love riding” – e.e. cummings

  I’m on a poetry trip here lately, and not that I go looking for trouble, or even that I am actually reading poetry (that’s a trap and routine buster for me, to tell the truth, everything inconsequential – not … Continue reading

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On a Darkling Plain – “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold

I stumbled on this wonderful old poem today and was wracked  once more by its beauty – in structure, meter, image, theme, everything in the poetics toolkit-so masterfully melded, pulled together, so plaintively and  profoundly phrased,no wonder that it’s a … Continue reading

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“I Hear America Singing” – Walt Whitman

[Actually what I’m hearing right now is America ka-powing, bombing! The good ole boys around here love their fireworks and beer. It’s a little like Beruit under siege. Hope the horses don’t run through the fences. Six dogs in my … Continue reading

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