Tag Archives: poems

Denise Levertov’s “An Ignorant Person”

Below is a glorious Denise Levertov poem, “An Ignorant Person”. The poem was written in 1959, and appeared in Horizon: A Magazine of the Arts in September of 1961 (pg. 120): Way out there where words jump in the haze is the land … Continue reading

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Thinking about Metaphor with Jan Zwicky

At the Huffington Post yesterday, Jason Derr referred to a book that sounds interesting: In her book Wisdom and Metaphor poet and philosopher Jan Zwicky argues for a poetic form of doing philosophy, one rooted in an understanding of metaphor. … Continue reading

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Michael Drayton’s Sonnet 14: Prometheus Contrasted with a Hottie

Below is a sonnet that appears to be one of the earliest references to Prometheus in an English language poem. In The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s—which is a pretty encyclopedic reference—the poem is the first … Continue reading

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A Poem for the Fourth of July

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Pity the Nation”:

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“The Prophet”: a poem by Santi Tafarella

Beauty is the first ugliness in line, making those behind blind. The candle’s orange tongue, declaring for God, assures darkness is elsewhere. Your truth is a mask for an undisclosed motive.

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“A Parable for Thomas”: a poem by Santi Tafarella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 . Beauty is noticing the lonely Boulder on yonder hill casting                                                                                                                                                                                                                               . In your way a long black Tongue declaring that, yes,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                . The sun is rising, and you Need not ascend yourself                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 . The hill, nor touch … Continue reading

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No Things but in Ideas: Elisa Gabbert, a Poetry Editor, Vents

William Carlos Williams’s famous poetic motto was “no ideas but in things,” but as someone who loves philosophy as well as poetry, I like what Elisa Gabbert recently wrote: Here’s what I’d like to see more of in submissions: IDEAS. … Continue reading

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Fight or Flight? Two Ways to Read Matthew Arnold’s Poem, “Requiescat” (1849)

If you’re a temperamentally anxious and emotionally tumultuous person, as I have been all of my life, the Matthew Arnold poem below might give you a bit of life perspective. But it also depends on how you read it. One of … Continue reading

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G.K Chesterton’s Defense of Mysticism and Poetry

The Catholic essayist, G.K. Chesterton, in the second chapter of his 1908 book, Orthodoxy , had the interesting and counterintuitive idea that mysticism and poetry do not cause a person to run the risk of going mad, but that doing mathematics … Continue reading

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Santi Tafarella’s Poem, “The Appearance of the Real”

. . . . . . .                                                                                                                                                                 . Beneath a dormant tree in brown eggshell crisp leaves a child found a white branch with a red blossom.                                                                                                                                                        . The branch bent at its middle and the child, to hold … Continue reading

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Christina Rossetti was Born on December 5, 1830

That would be 179 years ago today, wouldn’t it? Here’s Christina Rossetti’s sonnet, “In life our absent friend is far away”. It’s the 28th sonnet from a collection of her sonnets that she titled, “Later Life”: In life our absent … Continue reading

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Irony in a Good Poem: Christina Rossetti’s “Dirge”

I like this poem. It’s by Christina Rossetti and was published in an 1896 collection of her poems that I found at an outdoor book stall in London two summers back. Someone near to Rossetti’s heart appears to have died in … Continue reading

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Selfish Leaves: Why Do Maple Trees Rush to Such Vivid Reds in Autumn?

Not for human pleasure. Think Darwin. The Washington Post today on the subject: There are two contending ideas. One is that the red pigments are somehow involved in a Dunkirk-like operation mounted each fall in which the tree salvages useful chemical … Continue reading

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An Atheist Writes a Poem to the Dark Ontological Mystery: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” (1816)

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” (1816), is an extraordinary instance of an atheist addressing—or speaking to—the shadowy side of the ontological mystery (the mystery of being) as if it possessed a human persona, or was even a god. The poem … Continue reading

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Levi’s Abusing Walt Whitman?

I think I dislike this use of Walt Whitman. It feels like a debasement of his poetry—like using the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita to sell soda. And what’s up with the Leni Riefenstahl vibe and the fascist salutes (one toward the … Continue reading

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Daniel Dennett: the Vanquisher of “Deepity” Religion—and Poetry?

The Daniel Dennett deepity slide that Jerry Coyne took a picture of here is one that I wrote into my notebook (I was at the same conference). A deepity, according to Dennett, “is a proposition that seems to be profound … Continue reading

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Atheism, Reductionism, and Walt Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

The poem below by Walt Whitman expresses emotions akin to my own after I had recently spent a full day, and most of an evening, attending lectures by Richard Dawkins and other scientists at an atheist conference in Burbank, Ca.: When I heard … Continue reading

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Was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Canto 56, in Which He Calls Nature “red in tooth and claw”, the Product of His Reading Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species?

Nope. Canto 56 is part of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam, a long poem of 131 cantos, and it was written in 1850, fully nine years prior to the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species  (1859). Why, then, is … Continue reading

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Does Emily Dickinson Call Herself “the only kangaroo among the beauty” in One of Her Poems?

No. But she does in one of her letters. In Emily Dickinson’s letter (dated July, 1862) to Thomas Higginson, a chief editor of The Atlantic Monthly, she writes this delicious, somewhat erotically suggestive, and arguably even naughty, paragraph: Perhaps you smile at … Continue reading

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An Atheist Poem by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?

Something that people might not know about Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the 19th century author of the frequently assigned (in college) feminist short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), is that she was also a poet. In her lifetime she published well over … Continue reading

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