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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive

 

Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library!
Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Antiquity and Modernity (pdf)

Please come for an hour of authentic conversation about poetry through the examination of works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry.

Join the circle on December 10 to discuss Poetry and Antiquity and Modernity.

Charles Baudelaire is said to have coined the term “modernity” (modernité) to signify the impermanence of our urban life, and the responsibility of art to represent it. Every generation receives inspiration from the classics. And what’s old is new again! Heroes are re-imagined by subsequent time periods so that many poetic depictions exist of Achilles, Odysseus, Medea, and others, while the Kennedy years are likened to Camelot and T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock states, “I am not Prince Hamlet.”

In his beautiful sonnet, “Ozymandias,” (Greek for Ramses), Percy Bysshe Shelley tells the story of finding a monolith of the great Pharaoh of ancient Egypt:

  • I met a traveller from an antique land
  • Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
  • Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
  • Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
  • And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
  • Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
  • Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
  • The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
  • And on the pedestal these words appear:
  • ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
  • Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
  • Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
  • Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
  • The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

For an even more contemporary take, the poet Morris Bishop replaces the last three lines with this playful twist:

  • I met a traveller from an antique land
  • Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
  • Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
  • Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
  • And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
  • Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
  • Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
  • The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
  • And on the pedestal these words appear:
  • ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
  • Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
  • Also the names of Emory P. Gray,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dukes, and Oscar Baer
  • of 17 West 4th Street, Oyster Bay.”

EVERYONE’S WELCOME to bring a single page of poetry by a known author related to the subject of Poetry and Antiquity and Modernity—with copies for others, if you can. To get started on your search, try poetryfoundation.org or poets.org.

And in between meetings please visit our blog to discuss these poems or anything about poetry: onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com

After an early snow, on November 12, OPPC attendees gathered to read and discuss poems about Youth.

AnnaLee found James Arlington Wright’s “Youth” in which the poet tells how his father was robbed of that wonderful time of life: “He worked too hard to read books./He never heard how Sherwood Anderson/Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself/From his hatred of factories.”

Hedy read William Butler Yeats’ “When You Are Old,” in which the poet reminds the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne of his bygone feelings for her: “How many loved your moments of glad grace,/And loved your beauty with love false or true;/But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you.”

Betsy read us “Coy Mistress,” an intriguing poem written as a reply to Andrew Marvell’s famous poem “To His Coy Mistress.” In her first line the poet Annie Finch makes a clever reference to her own name: “Sir, I am not a bird of prey:/a Lady does not seize the day.”

Ellen brought “To My Fifties,” from a past edition of the New Yorker, in which the poet speaks directly to his own mid-life decade: “… My Fifties! Answer me one question!/Were you the culmination or a phase? “Neither and both.” Explain!/ “No time. Farewell!” Since Ellen removed the poet’s name, we enjoyed discussing whether the work had the voice of a man or a woman. Here’s Kenneth Koch’s “To My Fifties.”

Maddie read “Walking Down Blanco Road at Midnight” by Naomi Shehab Nye in which the poet captures that time of life when a young person develops into an individual: “When everyone else goes to sleep/the house folds up/The windows shut their eyes./ If you are inside you are automatically folded./If you are outside walking by the folded house/you feel so lonesome you think you are going crazy./You are not going crazy./You are beginning to fold up in your own single way.”

Karen brought us full circle by reading “Yuba City School” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, with its vivid imagery of a child in a classroom who struggles to understand the language of the teacher: “Far up front the teacher makes word-sounds/Jagjit does not know. They float/from her mouth-cave, he says,/in discs, each a different color.”

The group was small, but we enjoyed the poetry so much we ran over our allotted time.

We look forward to seeing old friends and new on December 10 to discuss Poetry and Antiquity and Modernity. And, mark your calendars for spring 2014:

February 11: Poetry and the Law
March 11: Poetry and Hunger and Thirst
April 8: Poetry and Journeys
May 6: Poetry and Birds

Bring a friend and widen the circle!

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

 


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