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Favourite poems

Discussion in 'The Cave' started by Gagnrad, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. b612

    b612 New Member

    I was trying to guess your age but your profile picture is too small.
    I can't see your eyes and that makes things even more difficult.
    Your neck looks like my boyfriend's neck. He is 38. So you might be around 40, probably a bit older.

    you are very old but you made the same thing as I did LOL. Upload a nice photo of yourself when you were young :rofl:
    The truth might be that now you are fat and old and me ... hummm ... I look like a panda.

    I just thought of a poem that I like very much. I think I posted it before somewhere on the forum but I don't know if you saw it.
    I love it's melody.

    You’re Beautiful

    because you’re classically trained.
    I’m ugly because I associate piano wire with strangulation.

    You’re beautiful because you stop to read the cards in newsagents’ windows about lost cats and missing dogs.
    I’m ugly because of what I did to that jellyfish with a lolly-stick and a big stone.

    You’re beautiful because for you, politeness is instinctive, not a marketing campaign
    I’m ugly because desperation is impossible to hide.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    You’re beautiful because you believe in coincidence and the power of thought.
    I’m ugly because I proved God to be a mathematical impossibility.

    You’re beautiful because you prefer home-made soup to the packet stuff.
    I’m ugly because once, at a dinner party,
    I defended the aristocracy and wasn’t even drunk.

    You’re beautiful because you can’t work the remote control.
    I’m ugly because of satellite television and twenty-four hour rolling news.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    You’re beautiful because you cry at weddings as well as funerals.
    I’m ugly because I think of children as another species from a different world.

    You’re beautiful because you look great in any colour including red.
    I’m ugly because I think shopping is strictly for the acquisition of material goods.

    You’re beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered planets
    lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay gifts of gravity and light
    at your miniature feet.
    I’m ugly for saying ‘love at first sight’ is another form of mistaken identity,
    and that the most human of all responses is to gloat.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    You’re beautiful because you’ve never seen the inside of a car-wash.
    I’m ugly because I always ask for a receipt.

    You’re beautiful for sending a box of shoes to the third world.
    I’m ugly because I remember the telephone of ex-girlfriends
    and the year Schubert was born.

    You’re beautiful because you sponsored a parrot in a zoo.
    I’m ugly because when I sigh it’s like the slow collapse of a circus tent.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    You’re beautiful because you can point at a man in a uniform and laugh.
    I’m ugly because I was a police informer in a previous life.

    You’re beautiful because you drink a litre of water and eat three pieces of fruit a day.
    I’m ugly for taking the line that a meal without meat is a beautiful woman with one eye.

    You’re beautiful because you don’t see love as a competition and you know how to lose.
    I’m ugly because I kissed the FA Cup and then held it up to the crowd.

    You’re beautiful because of a single buttercup in the top buttonhole of your cardigan.
    I’m ugly because I said the World’s Strongest Woman was a muscleman in a dress.

    You’re beautiful because you couldn’t live in a lighthouse.
    I’m ugly for making hand-shadows in front of the giant bulb, so when they look up,
    the captains of vessels in distress see the ears of a rabbit, or the eye of a fox, or the legs of a galloping black horse.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    Ugly like he is,
    Beautiful like hers,
    Beautiful like Venus,
    Ugly like his,
    Beautiful like she is,
    Ugly like Mars.

    – Simon Armitage
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015
  2. b612

    b612 New Member

    Oh my god. I had to google it.
    It's Tolkien!
  3. b612

    b612 New Member

    Gagnrad likes this.
  4. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member


    "You’re beautiful because for you, politeness is instinctive, not a marketing campaign". :rofl:

    The name's familiar. I wonder if this is the same Simon Armitage:


    That's a translation of a Middle English poem (which, incidentally has also been translated by J. R. R. Tolkien). IIRC, it was written in a North Midlands dialect of Middle English, and is set in the Wirral, which would have been a wild place in those days.

    Have you heard of the writer you might call the precursor to Tolkien and C. S. Lewis? I mean the Scotsman George MacDonald. He seems to have pretty much invented the "fantasy" work as a modern literary form. Like many nineteenth century writers he has a creaking and over-formal style. (We forget what English prose was, on the whole, like before people like Kipling and Hemingway.) However, it almost doesn't matter, because what he does with symbols transcends that. It's writing that hovers between allegory and myth. This means you're dealing with something that goes beyond words - which is why symbols are needed - and, of course, it can't really be "decoded" like a puzzle (which is the mistake people not familiar with such forms tend to make). If you've never come across his children's story The Princess and the Goblin you really should get hold of it and read it.

    There's another he wrote for children called At the Back of the North Wind where the North Wind comes blowing into the hayloft where a little boy sleeps:

    You see the force and directness of his writing? The man has made himself into something like "an ash-pit". But I mention this story, because in it the boy finds a piece of paper on the beach, which his mother reads to him. It seems at first to be a poem, but there's no real sense to it. It's what you just called "the melody" that's the point, and it seems to have a healing effect.
    b612 likes this.
  5. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    As a doc we have an obligation to get as close to the natural truth as we can, and nothing gets in the way of truth as much as language does even in a poem.........maybe its just me.
  6. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    I think truthfulness is an obligation on us all.

    And I certainly think you're right to suggest that language is difficult. This is perhaps one of the uses of poetry: that it demands a very close attention to language (at any rate in the one who writes it). And then, of course, there's the problem that it may not even be possible to say some things in words.
  7. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    To follow on from that. This is interesting as an example of the difficulty, or impossibility, of expressing some things in words.

    Suffice to say, her explanation can be shown to fall down. See here:


    I think I can see a not-perhaps-very-obvious connection with an insightful comment elsewhere on these boards by Jack to the effect that current education in the U.S. (and I'd add the UK) is increasingly fixated on reading and writing (hence language) and arithmetic and neglectful of other areas. I'd add in the UK - unlike, for example, in Scandinavia - "forced learning" starts at what's known as "rising five". This means children are four when first going to school (not kindergarten). At this age, I have heard specialists in children's physical development say, most lack the fine motor control that would enable them to write easily. This, they say, leads to incredible physical contortions in the classroom - it does: I've seen it - and bad habits tied up with that that may, in the long run, cause lasting tensions and pain. But perhaps that's not all.

    One wonders what such an arid approach to education, and such a concentration on ways of interacting with the world that infants are not yet really able to understand or engage with does to their emotional and mental development. Music is something that is far more easily able to speak to them.

    The Austrian polymath and mystic Rudolf Steiner, mentioned elsewhere recently on these boards, interestingly regarded music and movement - eurhythmy - as to prime importance in the education of the young child. He was surely right here. I wonder how many schools still even dabble in country dancing, as they did in England under the influence of people like Cecil Sharp (Janáček did the same for Czechosovakia) only a few decades ago. Not many, I'd hazard a guess.
  8. b612

    b612 New Member

    Simon Armitage is the one who wrote

    I am very bothered when I think
    of the bad things I have done in my life.
    Not least that time in the chemistry lab
    when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
    and played the handles
    in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
    then called your name, and handed them over.

    O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
    as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
    then couldn't shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
    the doctor said, for eternity.

    Don't believe me, please, if I say
    that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
    of asking you if you would marry me.

    You know this one already. :rofl:

    He also wrote

    Cataract Operation

    The sun comes like a head
    through last night's turtleneck.
    A pigeon in the yard turns tail
    and offers me a card. Any card.

    From pillar to post, a pantomime
    of damp, forgotten washing

    on the washing line.
    So, in the breeze:

    the olé of a crimson towel.
    the cancan of a ra ra skirt,

    the monkey business of a shirt
    pegged only by its sleeve,

    the cheerio
    of a handkerchief.

    I drop the blind
    but not before a company

    of half a dozen hens
    struts through the gate,

    looks round the courtyard
    for a contact lens.


    I like his face and especially his haircut.
  9. b612

    b612 New Member




    It is important to have a big nose to write good poems.

    Attached Files:

  10. b612

    b612 New Member

    The Princess and the Goblin... No, I don't know it. :eek:
    How come it wasn't included in children's literature course?
  11. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    To hazard a guess, because people who write courses aren't always aware of what's signifiant and what isn't. I think perhaps in the past people used to know almost everything in a given area of something like literature, vast amounts of stuff, and have a good idea of where something sat in terms of its inherent qualities, its impact in its own time, and its influence. I'm not sure that would always be true nowadays. But I'm guessing.

    Interestingly, to take this on a slightly different tangent, it turns out that the kind of philological skills Tolkien had are pretty rare in English departments nowadays. He had an incredible technical understanding of language in terms of things like sound shifts and how different languages relate to each other and how words have changed their meanings over time. Interestingly, he worked at the Oxford English Dictionary for a time, before taking up academic posts in English departments at universities. (Books like the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings have many jokes about language and sources and so on that most of us are unaware of.) That kind of deep historical knowledge of language is important if you're going to know what any old text means. However, you'd be very hard put to find people teaching English in universities these days who have the kind of real philological understanding that Tolkien had. Lots of people who know about (essentially bogus) "theories" of literary criticism (which is not a theoretical matter anyway) such as semiotics or deconstruction or whatnot but next to nothing about how language really works.

    Interesting book by Tom Shippey on him. Highly recommended for someone like you who knows more than one language and is interested in both language and literature (which I think can't really be separated, anyway, as I expect you'd agree):


    I tell the story partly because Tolkien already came up in conversation, but also to make the point that in academia it seems that real knowledge can quite easily get lost.

    Just because someone wrote a course about something doesn't mean they really have a good grasp of the development and significance of whatever they've written it on. And to link back again, if you'd asked Tolkien who the significant authors for children prior to him were, MacDonald would certainly have been on his list.

    But I've talked long enough. You could try the Princess and the Goblin in audio form, if you don't want to pick up a paper copy. There are a couple of versions available free at Librivox. The recordings at Librivox are offerings by amateurs, so they're of variable quality. But I recognise the name of the reader here, and he's better than many:

    b612 likes this.
  12. b612

    b612 New Member

    I don't know about the department of English but
    in the department of French girls adore Noam Chomsky. :D

    He's not French but... whatever. :love:

  13. b612

    b612 New Member

  14. b612

    b612 New Member

    Seriously, is he going to die one day??? He must be 100 years old now.
  15. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    Very good posts. I think you mock my pretensions to know anything about language, because after all it's become clear that you know several to put it mildly.
  16. b612

    b612 New Member

    OK OK I'm that girl fromFR department.
    I used to sleep with Chomsky's books.

    Glad I woke up at the right time, otherwise you would have found me dead half-eaten by alsatians like poor Bridget Jones.
  17. Gagnrad

    Gagnrad New Member

    @b612 Sylvia Plath:


    Any comments on her nose? ;)
  18. b612

    b612 New Member


    Typical Northern European face.
    Can you imagine Claudia Schiffer writing a poem?

    Sylvia was sad. Sadness can be very inspiring.
    Women with this kind of face/nose rely on their emotions to write literature.
    They can be very creative and good writers, of course.

    But they would never create something really deep.

    Like Chomsky did.
  19. b612

    b612 New Member


    You do not do, you do not do
    Any more, black shoe
    In which I have lived like a foot
    For thirty years, poor and white,
    Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

    Daddy, I have had to kill you.
    You died before I had time——
    Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
    Ghastly statue with one gray toe
    Big as a Frisco seal

    And a head in the freakish Atlantic
    Where it pours bean green over blue
    In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
    I used to pray to recover you.
    Ach, du.

    In the German tongue, in the Polish town
    Scraped flat by the roller
    Of wars, wars, wars.
    But the name of the town is common.
    My Polack friend

    Says there are a dozen or two.
    So I never could tell where you
    Put your foot, your root,
    I never could talk to you.
    The tongue stuck in my jaw.

    It stuck in a barb wire snare.
    Ich, ich, ich, ich,
    I could hardly speak.
    I thought every German was you.
    And the language obscene

    An engine, an engine
    Chuffing me off like a Jew.
    A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
    I began to talk like a Jew.
    I think I may well be a Jew.

    The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
    Are not very pure or true.
    With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
    And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
    I may be a bit of a Jew.

    I have always been scared of you,
    With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
    And your neat mustache
    And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
    Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

    Not God but a swastika
    So black no sky could squeak through.
    Every woman adores a Fascist,
    The boot in the face, the brute
    Brute heart of a brute like you.

    You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
    In the picture I have of you,
    A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
    But no less a devil for that, no not
    Any less the black man who

    Bit my pretty red heart in two.
    I was ten when they buried you.
    At twenty I tried to die
    And get back, back, back to you.
    I thought even the bones would do.

    But they pulled me out of the sack,
    And they stuck me together with glue.
    And then I knew what to do.
    I made a model of you,
    A man in black with a Meinkampf look

    And a love of the rack and the screw.
    And I said I do, I do.
    So daddy, I’m finally through.
    The black telephone’s off at the root,
    The voices just can’t worm through.

    If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——
    The vampire who said he was you
    And drank my blood for a year,
    Seven years, if you want to know.
    Daddy, you can lie back now.

    There’s a stake in your fat black heart
    And the villagers never liked you.
    They are dancing and stamping on you.
    They always knew it was you.
    Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
  20. b612

    b612 New Member

    Woohoo woohoo hooo wooo.

    She could have been a good musician.

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