some advice remains good across the eons…

If you are squeamish

Don’t prod the
beach rubble

Sappho, fragment 84 in the Barnard translation.

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one of the privileges of considering poetry

from the Footnote to the Translations in Mary Barnard’s Sappho translation, in which she is reviewing critical writing about Sappho’s life:

“…However, when we come to consider the sense of the poetry and the human relationships, we should, I feel, have the privilege of tentatively rejecting any theory which outrages common sense.”

I would argue that we should, in general, reject theories that outrage common sense, and not just tentatively. But maybe that’s just me.

Unless you are at home in metaphor

Unless you are at home in metaphor, unless you have had your proper education in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with figurative values: you don’t know the metaphor in its strength and in its weakness. You don’t know how far you may expect to ride it and when it may break down with you. You are not safe in science; you are not safe in history.

Robert Frost

Introduction to Poetry

so, I’ve still not really forgiven Billy Collins for the Emily Dickinson poem, but I love this closing image. And it has bees…

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.

you can’t take a political meeting to bed

from A Couple of Questions
by June Jordan

I have someplace to go
and candles to light
and I live 3,500 miles and 3 time zones away
from the only lover in the world
who can keep me
awake when I’m actually fast
asleep

And all of this hatred sorely aggravates my soul
all of this hatred aggravates my soul
and hate will not obliterate
3 time zones
plus 3,500 miles
of Unadulterated Baby I’m Here By My Lonesome Self Reality
and so I’m trying to handle this math
I know
it’s a fact
you can’t take a political meeting
to bed
it’s a fact
and there are these other
several happy things I want to find out about
instead
like
when will you love me enough
to move
just a little bit closer

Winter Honey

Winter Honey
June Jordan

Sugar come
and sugar go
Sugar dumb
but sugar know
ain’ nothin’ run me for my money
nothin’ sweet like winter honey

Sugar high
and sugarlow
Sugar pie
and sugar dough
Then sugar throw
a sugar fit
And sugar find
a sugar tit
But never mind
what sugar find
ain’ nothin’ run me for my money
nothin’ sweet like winter honey

Sugar come
and please don’ go
Sugar dumb
but oh-my: Oh!
Ain’ nothin’ run me for my money
nothin’ sweet like winter honey