Friday, 26 April 2013

May 1 Meeting

Hi Stort Poetry Group members!

The next meeting will be at 7.30, Wednesday, May 1, at Coffee Corner. My original plan had been to see if we could conduct an investigation of what is or isn’t poetry, coming from last month’s workshop. The workshop didn’t quite work as I hoped, though I think it was fun. Mark Shakespeare kindly provided at the event, though, an article about this question of what is a poem, which I link to below, together with the poems referred to in it. This might be interesting to discuss, and also of course the poems. I think we can move on from this to share other poems we have read or written recently.

Poetry Guardians Reject Modern Verse, Anushka Asthana, TheObserver, Sunday 13 April 2008

Michael Schmidt, Pangur Bàn

Jerome has his enormous dozy lion.
Myself, I have a cat, my Pangur Bàn.

What did Jerome feed up his lion with?
Always he's fat and fleecy, always sleeping

As if after a meal. Perhaps a Christian?
Perhaps a lamb, or a fish, or a loaf of bread.

His lion's always smiling, chin on paw,
What looks like purring rippling his face

And there on Jerome's escritoire by the quill and ink pot
The long black thorn he drew from the lion's paw.

Look, Pangur at the picture of the lion –
Not a mouser like you, not lean, not ever

Chasing a quill as it flutters over parchment
Leaving its trail that is the word of God.

Pangur, you are so trim beside the lion.
- Unlike Jerome in the mouth of his desert cave

Wrapped in a wardrobe of robes despite the heat,
I in this Irish winter, Pangur Bàn,

Am cold, without so much as your pillow case
Of fur, white with ginger tips on ears and tail.

My name is neither here nor there, I am employed
By Colum Cille who will be a saint

Because of me and how I have set down
The word of God. He pays. He goes to heaven.

I stay on earth, in this cell with the high empty window,
The long light in summer, the winter stars.

I work with my quill and colours, bent and blinder
Each season, colder, but the pages fill.

Just when I started work the cat arrived
Sleek and sharp at my elbow, out of nowhere;

I dipped my pen. He settled in with me.
He listened and replied. He kept my counsel.

Here in the margin, Pangur, I inscribe you.
Almost Amen. Prowl out of now and go down

Into time’s garden, wary with your tip-toe hearing.
You’ll live well enough on mice and shrews till you find

The next scriptorium, a bowl of milk. Some scribe
Will recognise you, Pangur Bàn, and feed you;

You’ll find your way to him as you did to me
From nowhere (but you sniffed out your Jerome).

Stay by him, too, until his Gospel’s done.
 (I linger over John, the closing verses,

You’re restless, won’t be touched. I’m old. The solstice.)
Amen, dear Pangur Bàn. Amen. Be sly.

more familiar version, and closer as an actual translation is the following:  

The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán
(from the Irish by Robin Flower)
I and Pangur Ban my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.
'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.
Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.
'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.
When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!
So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

by John Donne

        BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
        Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
        Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
        Late school-boys and sour prentices,
    Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
    Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

        Thy beams so reverend, and strong
        Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
        If her eyes have not blinded thine,
        Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
    Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
    Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

        She's all states, and all princes I;
        Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
        Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
        In that the world's contracted thus;
    Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
    To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

& the following provides somecomment on The Observer article, plus the Gaelic text of "Pangur Ban":

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