Miscellaneous Verse (not mine)

In this post I’ll present some snippets of verse which I’ve accumulated in my peregrinations around the web.

This is an old vaudeville poem which Rebecca Butler and B.E. Berger brought to my attention via a post shared on Google+:

Lynn, Lynn the city of sin
You never come out, the way you came in

You ask for water, but they give you gin
The girls say no, yet they always give in

If your not bad, they won’t let you in
It’s the damndest city I’ve ever lived in

Lynn, Lynn the city of sin
You never come out, the way you came in.

Lynn, Massachusetts is where Frederick Douglass settled and wrote.

I was reading a Scottish crime novel by Ian Rankin called Set In Darkness the other day. Rankin is one of my favorite genre writers; his character development is exemplary. He used half of a quatrain from Victorian poet Sarah Williams as preliminary matter; the excerpt is from The Old Astronomer to his Pupil:

Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Frankly, the remainder of the poem isn’t as good — it could bear to be edited and generally “tightened up”. I did like the final stanza:

I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

You can read the entire poem here:

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil

Dave Bonta, an occasional commenter here, blogs from a rural place in Pennsylvania. Lately he’s been writing a brief poem every morning called The Morning Porch. The subject matter is what he sees while drinking coffee out on his porch in 140 characters or less. Sort of a Twitter feed from the Pennsylvania boonies.

Dave’s collaborator at the blog, Via Negativa, is a woman from Virginia named Luisa Igloria. Every morning Luisa responds to Dave’s Morning Porch images with a longer poem of her own. Amazingly, Luisa allows herself thirty minutes to complete her response. She has a family and work to deal with, after all. The interaction between Dave and Luisa is analogous to the “call and response” in American folk, jazz and gospel music. Here’s an example:

Dave’s Morning Porch post:

Rain and Fog. With the power out…

Rain and fog. With the power out, the world looms frighteningly close. Off in the
woods, a bright clearing where some tree came down.

Luisa’s response:

Bearing Fire

We get up to rain and fog; or rather,
smoke— the swamp still burning

in the month-long aftermath of
lightning strike. Not even a hurricane

could put it out. Whatever else one
might say, it is a form of dedication.

Name your materials, then: peat and fossils;
ethyl alcohol, grains soaked and swirled

in a silo of glass. Little clutch of wood
shavings; cone of paper, puff of breath.

Coals in a tempered dish. Some light
to take you past the midnight hour.

At a conference many years ago,
a Persian poet I didn’t even know

looked at me and said, Your stomach
is tight; don’t try too hard.

And it’s true. Don’t we want,
so many times every day, to unclench?

The world looms close. Only look up
at the brilliant fall sky

and the silver gleam of a plane
glancing off the buildings.

Somewhere in the woods, a bright
clearing where a tree came down.

—Luisa A. Igloria

Dave and Luisa have been carrying on this verse dialog for the past seventy-six days, barring the occasional hurricane-related hiatus. I’m impressed!

In closing, I’ll present a little verse I found somewhere:

My candle burns at both its ends.
It will not last the night.
But ah, my friends
And oh, my foes,
It gives a lovely light!

Dorothy Parker




Filed under Poetry

3 responses to “Miscellaneous Verse (not mine)

  1. Larry, thanks for the link! I just wanted to point out that my call-and-response collaboration with Luisa actually goes back to last November, and became a daily thing soon thereafter. Click on her name in the author line of a post to access all her poems, or to read them in order, find the Series section of the sidebar and start with Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11. She’s up to 264 poems now.

  2. Joan

    Larry thanks for the Luisa and Dave posts. Both are beautiful and amazingly prolific poets although Luisa, as Dave relates, wins the speed test. (Grin)

    I like Parker, but since I’ve been burning my candle at both ends most of my life; I pick “For a Lady Who Must Write Verse” as my favorite Parker poem. Following are two stanza from that poem that I like:

    Let your rhymes be tinsel treasures,
    Strung and seen and thrown aside.
    Drill your apt and docile measures
    Sternly as you drill your pride.

    Show your quick, alarming skill in
    Tidy mockeries of art;
    Never, never dip your quill in
    Ink that rushes from your heart.

    The rest of the poignant poem is found here:


  3. The line from “The Old Astronomer” touched off a memory of sorts. When I was at Field School, I was zappy about astronomy, telescope making, and the great telescope makers, including John Brashear. It seems I want to recall a book that came out about Brashear and his wife called “The Star Lovers” . . . and a mention of the epitaph on their memorial at the telescope at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburg: “We have loved the stars too much to be fearful of the night”. So I checked a bit ago and got this from Wilipedia: “His ashes are interred in a crypt below the Keeler Telescope at Allegheny Observatory, along with those of his wife. A plaque on the crypt reads: “We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”. It seems the Brashears were especially fond of the same poem you listed.
    Brashear made a mumber of larger telescopes, some are still in operation, for instance at the Chabot Observatory in Berkeley, CA.
    I never found the book Star Lovers (so I may be wromnng on that) . . . but I did find an interesting tale and artwork under the same name: http://childhoodreading.com/?p=35

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