Thursday, 4 November 2010

a sample

Back when I first started this blog, I quite frequently posted poems I'd written, or extracts from creative writing, either that I'd just written or more amusing pieces from my childhood.

I don't do this any more, not because the feedback I got was anything but wonderfully sweet and encouraging (because it was wonderfully sweet and encouraging) but because I rarely find myself writing creatively recently. It's either critical or autobiographical emotional outpourings, and I fear the first would bore you to death and the second would embarrass me to death.

The creative stuff I AM doing more of is reading poetry. I think reading poetry is a creative act, because unlike an episode of TV or a simple narrative, every reader brings a million elements to it which provides them with a personal experience of the poem. I'm not just talking about an emotional connection which can often come from a very short quote as well as a long poem, but the details you notice, the rhythm in your own ears, the different images and meanings which the same word can create in a mind made up of different life experiences, different pools of intellectual knowledge.

For that reason, I love reading poetry even if it's about old age, or murder, or a Tudor courtship, or any other experience totally alien to me. I don't think it would be very easy to enjoy much many pieces of poetry if you were searching for one of the great canonical masters of poetry, a dead white male, to put words in an order which feel like you should have written them.

But you still treasure the pieces that do. A sample:


Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I'm drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I'm nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look

- Kim Addonizio

My Love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown,
But vainly flapt its Tinsel Wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And alwaies crowds it self betwixt.

For Fate with jealous Eye does see
Two perfect Loves, nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruin be,
And her Tyrannick pow'r depose.

And therefore her Decrees of Steel
Us as the distant Poles have plac'd,
(Though Loves whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac'd.

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to joyn, the World should all
Be cramp'd into a Planisphere.

As Lines so Loves oblique may well
Themselves in every Angle greet:
But ours so truly paralel,
Though infinite can never meet.

Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debarrs,
Is the Conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars.

-Andrew Marvell
From LYCIDAS (the last two sections)

Weep no more, woful Shepherds weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar,
So sinks the day-star in the Ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new spangled Ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the waves;
Where other groves, and other streams along,
With Nectar pure his oozy Locks he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptiall Song,
In the blest Kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the Saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet Societies,
That sing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now Lycidas the shepherds weep no more;
Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th' Okes and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals gray,
He touch'd the tender stops of various Quills,
With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay:
And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the Western bay.
At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blew:
To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new.

-John Milton

I would love it if you shared a sample of your favourite poems with me. And if you would like, I would love to carry on posting up little samples of poems I love.

Note: some of you may find it amusing/shamefully nerdy to know that while I copied and pasted the text of these poems from sites I found on google search, I then went through the latter two in my original punctuation/spelling Penguin Classics poetry book to revert all the modernisations. Wow, I'm cool.


  1. For Desire may just be my new favorite poem. LOVE the bold, rich, sensual and assaultingly unapologetic decadence of that poem. My favorite, that I go back to over and over is:
    p.s. Yes you are cool!

  2. Wow, these are utterly incredible.

  3. Belette, thank you for that poem, I really enjoyed it! xx

  4. hm, feel a bit strange commenting on a post about poetry!

    but in any case, thank you for your comment. yes, i guess i do have a jekyll/hyde thing when it comes to my wardrobe. the strange thing is, although i love pretty things, it's mostly a visual appreciation. when i get dressed there's actually some emotional detachment - even when i wear the loudest clothes it's in complete opposition of my decidedly non-outsized personality.

    well, food for thought! i can't believe you still have my blog as Odi et Amo (i hate and i love). originally i was going to blog about other things besides fashion, but then i decided to keep the focus as fashion. plus i don't hate enough things to blog about, hehe. same blog, just different title.

    i do have a tumblr that's not all about fashion, but it's in the very early stages.

    thanks again!