TCS: ‘The Poem You Made of Me’ – Valentine’s Week

Good Morning!


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on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
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“I wonder how many people don’t get the one they want,
but end up with the one they’re supposed to be with.”
― Fannie FlaggFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café

“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life
with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down;
perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through

quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose,
until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart

its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music …”
L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables


Nine poets with birthdays this week, and
nine poems about the many truths of love.


February 12

1567Thomas Campion born in London; English composer, lutenist, music theorist, poet, and physician. He also studied law, though he was never called to the bar. Campion wrote over a hundred lute songs, masques for dancing, and an authoritative technical treatise on music. Poemata, a collection of Latin panegyrics, elegies and epigrams, was published in 1595, winning him a considerable reputation. He died at age 53 in 1620.


by Thomas Campion

There is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
There cherries grow which none may buy
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.

Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds fill’d with snow;
Yet them nor peer nor prince can buy
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.

Her eyes like angels watch them still;
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat’ning with piercing frowns to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.


February 13

1879 Sarojini Naidu born, Indian author, poet, activist, politician; first woman to be President of the Indian National Congress; first woman to be Governor of Uttar Pradesh.

Indian Love Song

by Sarojini Naidu


Like a serpent to the calling voice of flutes,
Glides my heart into thy fingers, O my Love!
Where the night-wind, like a lover, leans above
His jasmine-gardens and sirisha-bowers;
And on ripe boughs of many-coloured fruits
Bright parrots cluster like vermilion flowers.


Like the perfume in the petals of a rose,
Hides thy heart within my bosom, O my love!
Like a garland, like a jewel, like a dove
That hangs its nest in the asoka-tree.
Lie still, O love, until the morning sows
Her tents of gold on fields of ivory.


1881Eleanor Farjeon born, English author, poet, and biographer; noted for lyrics to the hymn “Morning Has Broken” and the Martin Pippin series for children. Her father was a novelist and her other was the daughter of an actor. Though she never had a formal education, her family home was a place where artistic and literary figures met frequently, and she recounts the impact that had on her development in her best-selling memoir, A Nursery in the Nineties. When her father died when she was 22, Farjeon had to earn her living, and began publishing works for adults, but found greater success in writing for children, beginning with Martin Pippin in the Apple-Orchard, originally written in installments in letters she sent to Victor Haslam, a friend who was an officer serving in France during WWI. Her book The Little Bookroom won the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen medal.

Now That You Too

by Eleanor Farjeon

Now that you too must shortly go the way
Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
And in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
Striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
Or question of our parting and our greeting,
Is this the last of all? is this—or this?

Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
Even serving love, are our mortalities,
And cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
By immortal love, which has no first or last.


1911Faiz Ahmad Faiz born, Pakistani poet and author, one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language. He was the first Asian to be honored with the Lenin Peace Prize, in 1962

Before You Came

(original Urdu)

by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

tum jo naa aa’e the to har chiiz vahii thii kih jo hai
aasmaaN hadd-e-nazar, raahguzar raahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai,

aur ab shiishaah-e-mai, raahguzar, rang-e-falak
rang hai dil kaa mere, “khoon-e-jigar hone tak”
champaa’i rang kabhii, raahat-e-diidaar kaa rang
sur’ma’ii rang kabhii, saa’at-e-bezaar kaa rang

zard pattoN kaa xas-o-xaar kaa rang
surkh phuuloN kaa, dahakte hu’e gulzaar kaa rang
zahar kaa rang, lahuu rang. shab-e-taar kaa rang

aasmaaN, rahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai
koii bhiigaa hu’aa daaman, ko’ii dukhtii hu’ii rag
ko’ii har lahzaah badaltaa hu’aa aa’iinaah hai

ab jo aa’e ho to Thahro kih koii rang, koii rut ko’ii shai
ek jagah par Thahre
phir se ik baar har ik chiiz vahii ho ke jo hai
aasmaaN hadd-e-nazar, rahguzar rahguzar, shiishaah-e-mai,

Before You Came

by Faiz Ahmad Faiz

Before you came things were just what they were:
the road precisely a road, the horizon fixed,
the limit of what could be seen,
a glass of wine was no more than a glass of wine.

With you the world took on the spectrum
radiating from my heart: your eyes gold
as they open to me, slate the color
that falls each time I lost all hope.

With your advent roses burst into flame:
you were the artist of dried-up leaves, sorceress
who flicked her wrist to change dust into soot.
You lacquered the night black.

As for the sky, the road, the cup of wine:
one was my tear-drenched shirt,
the other an aching nerve,
the third a mirror that never reflected the same thing.

Now you are here again—stay with me.
This time things will fall into place;
the road can be the road,
the sky nothing but sky;
the glass of wine, as it should be, the glass of wine.

– English translation by Naomi Lazard


February 14

1949 Skip Renker born, American poet and educator who lives in Michigan. His books include Birds of Passage, Sifting the Visible, and Bearing the Cast.

 A Momentary Obedience

by Skip Renker

How the laws must love us, my sweet––
Gravity, thermodynamics, whatever
Makes sunlight slant and creates
The splayed shadow of an aging oak,
This exact, never-to-be-repeated
Invitation to come out of the heat,
To look up through sober obedient
Branches, their leaves, I like to think,
Pleased by the wind, and a blue swath of sky
Sentient as you or me.  The implacable

Laws love one another, too–
No light without weight, no movement
Without time.  Though we will succumb
To the brutality of accident, or
To cancer, weakened hearts, even
Inner demons obeying the dictates
Of their natures, right now there’s this
Never-to-be-repeated moment,
So let us, love, lie down on the grass
In the cool shade of its mercy.

“A Momentary Obedience” from Bearing the Cast, © 2017 by Skip Renker – Saint Julian Press


February 15

1638Zeb-un-Nissa born, Mughal princess and poet who wrote under the pseudonym Makhfi (Hidden One). She was carefully educated by Hafiza Mariam, and by age seven, she had become a Hafiza (female title for one who has memorized the Quaran). She also studied the sciences of the day with Mohammad Saeed Ashraf Mazandarani, and  learned mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, literature, the Persian, Arabic and Urdu languages, calligraphy and music. Zeb-un-Nissa had a large library of her own, and was a patron of several scholars. She was noted for both her poetry and her song lyrics. When her father became emperor after Shah Jahan, he sometimes discussed political affairs with her, but in 1681 or 1682, her father had her imprisoned at Salimgarh Fort, Delhi, but there are conflicting accounts of why. Sources variously claim she had an affair (a rumour which may have started because she rejected all her suitors and never married), became too public with her poetry and music, or supported her younger brother during a conflict over the succession. She died after about 20 years in prison, either in 1701 or 1702. In 1724, her surviving writings were collected in the Diwan-i-Makhfi, (Book of the Hidden One). There are four hundred and twenty-one ghazals (an Abrabic form of ode, using couplets) and several ruba’is (a four-line poem form in Persian poetry).

O Idle Arms

by Zeb-un-Nissa

O idle arms.

Never the lost Beloved have ye caressed:
Better that ye were broken than like this
Empty and cold eternally to rest.

O useless eyes.

Never the lost Beloved for all these years
Have ye beheld : better that ye were blind
Than dimmed thus by my unavailing tears.

O foolish springs,

That bring not the Beloved to my abode;
Yea, all the friends of youth have gone from me.
Each has set out on his appointed road.

O fading rose.

Dying unseen as hidden thou wert born;
So my heart’s blossom fallen in the dust
Was ne’er ordained His turban to adorn.

– translated by Magan Lal and Jessie Duncan Westbrook


February 17

1836 Gustavo Adolfo Becquer born in Seville as Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez Bastida; major Spanish Romantic poet, short story writer, and playwright. He adopted the alias of Bécquer as his brother Valeriano Bécquer, a painter, had done earlier. Bécquer is considered the founder of modern Spanish lyricism. He lost his father at age 5, and his mother only 6 years later. After briefly attending San Antonio Abad school, he and his siblings were taken in by their uncle Don Juan de Vargas, but Gustavo later went to live with his godmother, Doña Manuela Monahay, where he made good use of her extensive library. Doña Manuela supported his passion for study of the arts and history, but sent him to be trained by the painter Don Antonio Cabral Bejarano. He left in 1853, at age seventeen, and moved to Madrid to follow his dream of making a name for himself as a poet, but was unable to earn enough to live on, and moved to Toledo to live with Valeriano. He had an unhappy marriage, and worked as an editor of an arts magazine. He died at age 34. After his death, his friends organized his manuscripts for publication, as a way to help his widow and children. They published the first edition of his work in 1871, and a second volume was published six years later. Further revisions came out on the editions released in 1881, 1885, and 1898.


by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer

For one look, one world,
for a smile, a sky,
for a kiss… I don’t know
What would I give you for a kiss.

1864‘Banjo’ Paterson born as Andrew Barton Paterson in New South Wales; Australian bush poet, journalist, author, and songwriter, He is best known for his poems “The Man from Snowy River” and “Waltzing Matilda.”  He was the eldest son of a Scottish immigrant and an Australian-born mother. His education began with a governess, but once he was old enough to ride a pony, he went to the bush school at Binalong.  In 1874 Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School, but left the school at 16 after failing an examination for a scholarship to the University of Sydney. Paterson became a law clerk with a Sydney-based firm, and was admitted as a solicitor in 1886. He wrote poetry in his spare time, much of it published under the pen name ‘Banjo’ in The Bulletin, an Australian literary journal with a nationalist focus. Paterson became a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the Second Boer War, sailing for South Africa in October 1899. He met fellow war correspondents Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling, as well as British army leaders Kitchener, Roberts, and Haig, and his accounts of the battles he witnessed attracted the attention of the British press.  He was also a correspondent in China during the Boxer Rebellion, and then became editor of the Sydney Evening News (1904-1906) and of the Town and Country Journal (1907-1908).  In 1908, he resigned, and moved his family to a 16,000-hectare (40,000-acre) property in New South Wales. During WWI, he was an ambulance driver with the Australian Voluntary Hospital, in Wimereux, France. He died at age 76 in 1941. Banjo Paterson’s image appears on the Australian $10 note, along with an illustration inspired by “The Man From Snowy River” and, as part of the copy-protection microprint, the text of the poem itself.

 The Road to Gundagai

by ‘Banjo’ Paterson

The mountain road goes up and down,
From Gundagai to Tumut Town.

And branching off there runs a track,
Across the foothills grim and black,

Across the plains and ranges grey
To Sydney city far away.

.            .            .            .            .

It came by chance one day that I
From Tumut rode to Gundagai.

And reached about the evening tide
The crossing where the roads divide;

And, waiting at the crossing place,
I saw a maiden fair of face,

With eyes of deepest violet blue,
And cheeks to match the rose in hue–

The fairest maids Australia knows
Are bred among the mountain snows.

Then, fearing I might go astray,
I asked if she could show the way.

Her voice might well a man bewitch–
Its tones so supple, deep, and rich.

‘The tracks are clear,’ she made reply,
‘And this goes down to Sydney town,
And that one goes to Gundagai.’

Then slowly, looking coyly back,
She went along the Sydney track.

And I for one was well content
To go the road the lady went;

But round the turn a swain she met–
The kiss she gave him haunts me yet!

.            .            .            .            .

I turned and travelled with a sigh
The lonely road to Gundagai.

“The Road to Gundagai” from Banjo Paterson: Complete Poems – A & R Classics, 2003 edition


February 18

1934Audre Lorde born, American poet, author, essayist, feminist, and activist for women’s rights and civil rights. She described herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her poetry and prose largely deal with issues related to civil rights, feminism, lesbianism, illness and disability, and the exploration of black female identity. “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t…” Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977, and wrote The Cancer Journals about her fight with the disease, published in 1980. But six years later, she was diagnosed with liver cancer, which she also fought, but lost the battle at age 58 in 1992.


by Audre Lorde

Coming together
it is easier to work
after our bodies
paper and pen
neither care nor profit
whether we write or not
but as your body moves
under my hands
charged and waiting
we cut the leash
you create me against your thighs
hilly with images
moving through our word countries
my body
writes into your flesh
the poem
you make of me.

Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat
I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
into me.

“Recreation” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, © 1997 by Audre Lorde, W.W. Norton & Company


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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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