Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
“…Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions,
binding together people who never knew each other,
citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles
of time. A book is proof that humans are capable
of working magic.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”
– William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s
Dream – Act V, Scene 1
Eleven poets born this week.
1931 – Emma Andijewska born in Stalino (now Donetsk), modern surrealist Ukrainian author, poet, and painter; suffered a serious illness during WWII while living in Germany and France; her family moved to New York in 1957; she became an American citizen, married a Ukrainian writer, then moved back to Munich, Germany. She became an announcer, scriptwriter, and editor in the Ukrainian department of Radio Liberty (1959-1995). Her poetry collections include Birth of an Idol; Songs Without Text; Clockless Time; and Landscapes in the Drawers.
“Jalapita” is a long poem, so here’s just the opening.
excerpt from Jalapita
by Emma Andijewska
“It only takes the shadow of a knife to kill me,” said Jalapita. “And yet you want to lunge at me with a knife.”
Jalapita feeds on clouds, and his paws are clouds, and his hands are clouds. And that is why each time Jalapita has a different name.
Jalapita is universal. He is every living object and person, but he is none of them, he is Jalapita. When two thousand years ago an attempt was made to write down Jalapita’s biography, it was abandoned because Jalapita could not be contained in words. He poured out of the word like rising dough, and people kept running around, looking for him in the sky and on the earth. It is impossible to describe Jalapita.
Jalapita’s name changes depending on mood, the weather, and also depending on his proximity to water.
Jalapita took an elevator to the top of the Tower of Babel and looked down. In the dust of one of the downtown streets there sat a chubby child, picking his nose. “This child can be my student,” thought Jalapita, “for the secret of life is open to him like a fresh seashell.” Jalapita dangled his spare leg from the tower to street and sat beside the child. “To be your student?” asked the child and stopped picking his nose. “No,” thought Jalapita, “this child is not consistent. No way will he be my student.”
Jalapita can be eaten. Jalapita can be walked on; he is the landscape.
Jalapita went to the races and sat in the first row. An old woman, who sat next to him and whose eyesight had begun to fail a little, raised a cry because she took Jalapita for a horse. Her attention was drawn to Jalapita because she left her glasses at home and wasn’t able to follow the race. All she could really see was Jalapita. Her scream went unnoticed because everyone was preoccupied with the horses. Jalapita meanwhile shut himself off from her behind his left hand and plunged deep into thought. He was thinking that horses run separately and that speed runs separately.
Jalapita wandered around the whole night and eventually fell asleep in a boiler room. A lazy Puerto Rican stoker, who was too indolent to fetch coal and firewood, noticed Jalapita and stoked the furnace with him. Jalapita became very surprised when his body started traveling throughout the skyscraper’s radiators. At first he was amused walking in the company of steam. But he soon got bored, so he broke the pipes and left. When the fire brigade and the emergency response crew arrived and surrounded the skyscraper with ladders, Jalapita, who by then had gathered his body from the pipes, pronounced: “Heating skyscrapers with Jalapita is dangerous.”
Jalapita trusted the word. And all of a sudden the word broke all of Jalapita’s bones and crushed his entire soul. The word threw Jalapita in a mortar and mixed him with cement and dirt. Poor Jalapita is lying torn to pieces; and the unfaithful word walks around, singing to itself: “Jalapita is imprudent: how can one trust the word?”
– translated by Roman Ivashkiv
Jalapita – © 1962 by Emma Andijewska
43 BC – Ovid born Sulmo, Italy, Roman Republic, as Publius Ovidius Naso into an equestrian family; a popular Roman poet during the reign of Emperor Augustus, who was banished by Augustus to Tomis on the Black Sea (now in Romania) for what Ovid called carmen et error (“a poem and a mistake”). Best known for Ars Amatoria (“The Art of Love”), a didactic elegiac poem in three books, and the Metamorphoses (“Transformations”), a 15-book catalogue written in dactylic hexameter about transformations in Greek and Roman mythology. Ovid died in exile in Tomis somewhere between 59-61 years of age.
(In part one of “Duplicity” Ovid swears his eternal faithfulness: “Is it likely that I’d approach such a trusted serving-maid? What would I get, but rejection and exposure? By Venus and by the bow of her swift boy I swear, you’ll never find me guilty of that crime.”)
Duplicity (part two)
Cypassis, expert at dressing the hair in a thousand ways
(but you ought to arrange the tresses of goddesses only)
you that I’ve found quite polished in stolen ecstasy,
fit for your mistress’s service, but fitter for mine,
whoever was it that told of our bodies joining together?
Where did Corinna learn of our affair?
Could I have blushed? Or slipped by a single word to give
some sign that has betrayed our furtive joys?
And what of it, if I argued that nobody could transgress
with a servant, except for a man who was out of his mind
The Thessalian burned with passion for lovely Briseis, a servant;
the Mycenean leader loved Apollo’s slave.
I’m no greater man than Achilles, or the scion of Tantalus.
How can what’s fine for kings be foul for me?
And yet, when your mistress turned her glowering eyes on you,
I saw a deep blush spread all over your face.
But how much more possessed I was, if you recall,
I swore my faith by Venus’s great godhead!
(You, goddess, bid, I pray, the warm Southwind to blow
those innocent lies across the Carpathian sea.)
Now give me a sweet return for the favor I did you then,
by bedding with me, you dusky Cypassis, today.
Don’t shake your head, you ingrate, pretending you’re still afraid:
you can please one of your masters, and that’s enough.
If you’re silly enough to refuse, I’ll confess all that we’ve done,
making myself the betrayer of my own crime,
and I’ll tell your mistress how often we met, Cypassis, and where,
and how many times we did it, and how many ways!
— translator not credited
1770 – Frederich Hölderlin born in the Duchy of Württemberg, Holy Roman Empire; German lyric poet and philosopher connected to the German Idealism movement. His father died when he was two years old, and his mother moved the family to Nürtingen, where she remarried when Frederich was four. When her second husband died five years later, Hölderin “felt, with incomprehensible pain, my orphaned state …” His mother wanted him to become a Lutheran minister, and he was educated in Greek, Hebrew, Latin and rhetoric. He started his formal training in 1784, but was already having doubts about his vocation, but nevertheless continued his training. After he obtained his magister degree in 1793, his mother expected him to enter the ministry. However, Hölderlin found no satisfaction in the prevailing Protestant theology, and worked instead as a private tutor. An affair with the wife of his employer led to his dismissal, and financial worries made his mental state even worse. By 1802, he had a mental breakdown, and was sent to clinic in Tübingen in 1806. A year later, he was pronounced incurable and discharged. He spent the remaining 36 years of his life in a room in the tower of a house owned by Ernst Zimmer, a carpenter in Tübingen. Hölderlin wrote poetry, and played the piano. His story attracted curious travelers and autograph seekers. Hölderlin’s family did not financially support him but petitioned successfully for his upkeep to be paid by the state. His mother and sister never visited him, and his stepbrother did so only once. When Holderin died at age 73 in 1843, the Zimmer family were the only mourners.
The Course of Life (Lebenslauf)
by Frederich Holderlin
You too wanted more, but love
Forces all of us under.
Pain’s necessary curve
Returns us to our beginnings.
Whether up or down, in the holiness of night,
Speechless nature determines all the days to come;
Yet in the labyrinths of death
You can find a straight path.
I know this—not once, like mortal instructors
Did you heavenly, all-knowing gods
Have the foresight to lead me
Along a level path.
Everything’s a test, say the gods.
Having found his strength, a man gives thanks
For everything he knows, and, knowing
His freedom, goes where he wants to go.
— translator not credited
1905 – Phyllis McGinley born in Ontario, Oregon; American poet, author, and essayist; winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Times Three: Selected Verse From Three Decades. After a brief career as a teacher, she worked in New York City as an ad copywriter and the poetry editor for Town and Country magazine. After her marriage in 1937, the couple moved to Larchmont, New York, a suburb which provided much subject matter for McGinley’s work. Her poetry collections include Confessions of a Reluctant Optimist, Stones from a Glass House, and A Pocketful of Wry. She died at age 72 in 1978 in New York City.
by Phyllis McGinley
The first thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men.
A girl has to keep it in mind.
They are dragon-seekers, bent on impossible rescues.
Scratch any father, you find
Someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors,
Believing change is a threat –
Like your first shoes with heel on, like your first bicycle
It took months to get.
Walk in strange woods, they warn you about the snakes there.
Climb and they fear you’ll fall.
Books, angular looks, swimming in deep water –
Fathers mistrust them all.
Men are the worriers. It is difficult for them
To learn what they must learn:
How you have a journey to take and very likely,
For a while, will not return.
“First Lesson” from Times Three: Selected Verse From Three Decades, © 1960 by Phyllis McGinley –Viking Press
1712 – Edward Moore born in Abington, Berkshire; English dramatist, author, and poet; noted for Fables for the Female Sex; The Foundling; and Gill Blas. David Garrick played the title role in the first production of Moore’s most produced play The Gamester. His poems were published in the collection Poems, Fables and Plays in 1756. He died at age 44 in 1757. His Dramatic Works were published posthumously in 1788.
FABLE III. The Nightingale and Glow-Worm
by Edward Moore
The prudent nymph, whose cheeks disclose
The lily and the blushing rose,
From public view her charms will skreen,
And rarely in the crowd be seen:
This simple truth shall keep her wise,
“The fairest fruits attract the flies.”
One night a glow-worm, proud and vain,
Contemplating her glitt’ring train,
Cry’d sure there never was in nature,
So elegant, so fine a creature;
All other insects that I see,
The frugal ant, industrious bee,
Or silk-worm, with contempt I view;
With all that low, mechanic crew,
Who servilely their lives employ
In business, enemy to joy.
Mean, vulgar herd! ye are my scorn,
For grandeur only I was born;
Or sure am sprung from race divine,
And plac’d on earth to live and shine.
Those lights, that sparkle so on high,
Are but the glow-worms of the sky;
And kings on earth their gems admire,
Because they imitate my fire.
She spoke. Attentive on a spray,
A nightingale forbore his lay;
He saw the shining morsel near,
And flew, directed by the glare;
Awhile he gaz’d with sober look,
And thus the trembling prey bespoke:
Deluded fool, with pride elate,
Know, ’tis thy beauty brings thy fate;
Less dazzling, long thou might’st have lain,
Unheeded on the velvet plain;
Pride, soon or late, degraded mourns,
And beauty wrecks whom she adorns.
1941 – Billy Collins born, dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, was a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), and has published many poetry collections, including Questions About Angels; The Art of Drowning; and Nine Horses: Poems. It was Questions About Angels, published in 1991, that put him in the literary spotlight. Collins says his poetry is “suburban, it’s domestic, it’s middle class, and it’s sort of unashamedly that.”
Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
“Introduction to Poetry” from The Apple that Astonished Paris, © 1996 by Billy Collins – University of Arkansas Press
Annette Marie Hyder born in an undisclosed year; American poet, author, editor, journalist, and founder-curator of the international feminist project, ‘Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know’. Her books include The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow and the consequence of wings.
Weather Report: Foggy, Rainy, Dark
by Annette Marie Hyder
It’s true that fog wrapped the buildings in its embrace
sweated the windows and lapped the necks
of every person in the city who was out and about today.
I’m sorry about that―but you made me hot.
And the darkness of the day? I closed my eyes
and the whole city closed its eyes with me.
But the rain was not my fault.
© 2012 by Annette Marie Hyder – appeared in the May 2012 edition of Thrush magazine
1876 – Ziya Gökalp born Diyarbakır, Ottoman Empire, nationalist revolutionary, reformer, politician, writer, poet and ‘founder of Turkish sociology.’ After WWI, he was arrested for his involvement in the Committee of Union and Progress and exiled to Malta (1919-1921). Upon his return, he began publishing a small weekly newsletter, Küçük Mecmua, which became influential and led to contributions in the major daily newspapers of Istanbul and Ankara. At the end of 1922, Gökalp was invited to direct the department of publication and translation at the Ministry of Education. He was selected to serve as a member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and he was on the Committee for Education which reformed the school system, curriculum and textbooks. He died at age 48 in Istanbul in 1924.
by Ziya Gökalp
Such a country where the call to prayer is read in Turkish in the Mosque,
The peasant understands the meaning of the prayer during worship…
Such a country where the Kuran is read in Turkish in its schools,
Young, old, everyone knows the commands of God…
Oh son of the Turk, there, that is your homeland!
Such a country that another state does not make claims on its lands
Every individual shares an ideal, language, tradition, and religion…
Its members of the assembly are honorable, where Boşo’s don’t have any say
At its borders its children gladly give their lives
Oh son of the Turk, there, that is your homeland!
Such a country where all the capital circulating in its bazaars,
The guide of its creativity, science and knowledge is the Turk.
Its citizens always protect one another
The dockyards, factories, boats, trains belong to the Turk;
Oh son of the Turk, there, that is your homeland!
– translated by Roberta Micallef
“Homeland” from Yeni Hayat (“New Life”) published in 1918.
1834 – William Morris born in the Waltham Forest Borough of London; British textile designer, poet, artist, fantasy writer, architectural conservationist, printer, translator, socialist activist, and major figure in the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He made substantial contributions to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. He was disgusted by the poor living conditions of the workers, and the pollution caused by industry, which led to his espousal of socialism. Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (1861-1875) produced furniture, architectural carving, metalwork, stained glass windows, and murals. Morris & Co. created stained glass windows and wallpaper and textiles (1875-1940), while Kelmscott Press (1891-1898) published 53 books designed and ornamented by Morris and printed by hand in limited editions of around 300. Kelmscott Press started a contemporary fine press movement, focused on the craft and design of bookmaking, often using hand presses. Morris died at age 62 in the Hammersmith district of London in 1896.
Love is Enough
by William Morris
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass’d over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti born in Bronxville NY; American poet, painter, bookseller, publisher, and social activist. He wrote poetry, fiction, theatre, art criticism, translations, and film narration. Best known for his poetry collection, A Coney Island of the Mind. During WWII, he served in the U.S. Navy as captain of a submarine chaser. After earning a degree in English literature at Columbia, he earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Paris. In 1951, he moved to San Francisco. He co-founded San Francisco’s City Lights (1953 to present). He bought out his partner in 1955, and City Lights Booksellers & Publishers began publishing the Pocket Poets Series. Though he never identified himself as a ‘Beat Poet,’ he published poetry collections by poets like Alan Ginsberg (including Howl, which caused a major court battle over what constituted obscenity), Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, and Jack Kerouac. Ferlinghetti lived to age 101, and died in San Francisco in 2021.
Don’t Let That Horse . . .
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Don’t let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall’s mother
kept right on
And became famous
And kept on painting
The Horse With Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across
And there were no strings
“Don’t Let That Horse…” from A Coney Island of the Mind, © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti – New Directions Publishing
1881 – Mary Webb born in Leighton, Shropshire; English novelist and poet; most of her work is set in Shropshire, where she was born and grew up. Best known for her novels Gone to Earth; The Golden Arrow; Precious Bane, which won the 1926 Prix Femina Vie Heureuse; and Armour Wherein He Trusted. Her poetry collections include Poems and the Spring of Joy and Fifty-One Poems. She suffered from Graves disease and died at age 46 in 1927.
The Happy Life
by Mary Webb
No silks have I, no furs nor feathers,
But one old gown that knows all weathers;
No veils nor parasols nor lace,
But rough hands and a tanned face.
Yet the soft, crinkled leaves are mine
Where pale, mysterious veins shine,
And laced larches upon the blue,
And grey veils where the moon looks through;
The cries of birds across the lawns
In dark and teeming April dawns;
The sound of wings at the door-sill,
Where grows the wet-eyed tormentil;
The ripe berry’s witcheries-
Its perfect round that satisfies;
And the gay scent of the wood I burn,
And the slap of butter in a busy churn.
“The Happy Life” from Poems and the Spring of Joy, published in 1928 by Jonathan Cape Publishing
Sorry this is so late – I finished writing late last night, and forgot to set it up to post at the usual time.