Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Favorite Poem of 2008

I use the Women Artists Datebook, and one of my quiet January pleasures is closing up last year's datebook and opening my new one. I transfer birthdays; I fill in travel plans; I take stock of the things I know about the year ahead. I also look over all the art and quotes and poems in the old datebook. I never love all the poems, but there's always one that knocks my socks off. Here's the poem I loved most in my datebook in 2008:

Soup and Bread
by Diane Swan

Christopher's girlfriend
has a green cockatiel
and he tells the family at dinner
that cuttlebone-- what the bird
sharpens its beak on--
comes from a squid.
I am startled. He knows more
than I have told him.

One lunchtime years ago
he called me an
instructicon
and often I did talk
as if my children were tall glass vases
formed to contain my twigs of trivia,
long branches of perennial wisdom.
What I wanted, though I didn't know it then,
was that clean clothes, knowledge,
bread, everything good
would come to them through me.

Now they are walking ahead
toward the theater, two young men
in gray jackets, a girl in a moss-gold
scarf, and where their shoulders touch
in heavy winter coats I see faint links
of light, the small chains they make.
And I feel my silence, old hungers
at the place of change, and hear their voices
down the flickering years ahead
telling me things I didn't know.


******
Feel free to share a favorite poem in the comments :o)

31 comments:

beth said...

That is a lovely poem. It's not what I thought it would be (it took me a stanza to realize it is the mother's voice), but the poet really paints quite a visual picture. I liked it!

Also, just thought that I'd mention that I reviewed Graceling on my blog. I run my blog for writers, so it's a bit different of a review, but if you care to see it: http://bethrevis.blogspot.com/2009/01/writers-review-kristin-cashores.html

stephanieburgis said...

Oh, wow. I love that poem, and as a new mom of a son, I found it really powerful. Thank you for posting it! I will definitely be looking for more of her work.

Jennifer Buehler said...

Hi Kristin, I finished Graceling last night and was blown away. What beautiful writing and what amazing characters. It helps to know that writing these days is killing you, as you put it, because that reminds me how much grit and labor must have been required to end up with such a gorgeous and moving book. I'll be watching for whatever you write, and I'm really happy you have a blog.

Jazz said...

The Veteran
by Dorothy Parker

When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
"Come out, you dogs, and fight!" said I,
And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say, "The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won --
The difference is small, my son."

Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called Philosophy.

I fell in love with this poem a few years ago, and have known it by heart ever since. One day I will publish a book with this poem in the front.

beth said...

Jazz:

AH! I LOVE THAT POEM! Thanks so much for sharing it....!!

tinkandalissa said...

EE Cummings is my favorite poet of all time! (I debated whether or not to capitalize his name since he doesnt). Here are 3 of my most favorites! I always overdo it...
__________________________________
anyone lived in a pretty how town(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
with by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

ee cummings
_____________________
l(a

le
af
fa
ll

s)
one
l

iness

ee cummings
________________________________
she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good

(it

was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

the
internalexpanding
&
externalcontracting
brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
-ling
to a:dead.

stand-
;Still)

ee cummings

Lula! said...

Diane Swan is new to me...but not for long.

I do not have a favorite poem, but I do have a favorite poet: Paul Simon. The man is genius personified. That he writes poetry in the form of lyrics makes me love him even more.

NoGrandmother said...

Here's one that goes with my username:

My Grandmother's Ghost,
James Wright

She skimmed the yellow water like a moth,
Trailing her feet across the shallow stream;
She saw the berries, paused and sampled them
Where a slight spider cleaned his narrow tooth.
Light in the air, she fluttered up the path,
So delicate to shun the leaves and damp,
Like some young wife, holding a slender lamp
To find her stray child, or the moon, or both.
Even before she reached the empty house,
She beat her wings ever so lightly, rose,
Followed a bee where apples blew like snow;
And then, forgetting what she wanted there,
Too full of blossom and green light to care,
She hurried to the ground, and slipped below.

Natasha said...

This is my first post on your blog. I loved Graceling, and am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for writing.

I enjoyed the Diane Swan poem very much. Here is one that means a lot to me, having been read at my mother's wedding, my own wedding and featured on my sister's wedding invitation. I hope you find it as lovely as I do.

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

- Li-Young Lee

Melina said...

In The Event of My Demise by Tupac Shakur

In the event of my Demise
when my heart can beat no more
I Hope I Die For A Principle
or A Belief that I had Lived 4
I will die Before My Time
Because I feel the shadow's Depth
so much I wanted 2 accomplish
before I reached my Death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from My eyes
I Loved All who were Positive
In the event of my Demise

itdependsontheday said...

Lazy Jane
Lazy
lazy
lazy
jane
wants
a
drink
of
water
so
she
waits
and
waits
and
waits
for
it
to
rain

if you dont know who thats by you cant call youself a...........a............... i dont know what u would call yourself buts thats what youre not

"while she looks so sad in photographs, i absolutely love her when she smiles"-absolutely by nine days

kristin cashore said...

Oh, thank you for all the poems so far! I love the range of stuff. And to new people, welcome to my blog!

Beth, thanks for reviewing Graceling!

(And Owlet -- beautiful and sad -- thanks)

kristin cashore said...

P.S. Itdepends -- here's one I've always liked:

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh my,
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .

lindsiecmarie said...

I love seeing all these poems!! I collect the ones I like, storing them in a word document full of authors' names and quotation marks and I read them when I need inspiration or a change of pace... So here is one of my bunch that I want others to love too...

“To Love Life”
Ellen Bass

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you've held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it's like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it's heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.

beth said...

Thought of this one--Tattoo, by Ted Kooser:

Tattoo
What once was meant to be a statement—
a dripping dagger held in the fist
of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise
on a bony old shoulder, the spot
where vanity once punched him hard
and the ache lingered on. He looks like
someone you had to reckon with,
strong as a stallion, fast and ornery,
but on this chilly morning, as he walks
between the tables at a yard sale
with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt
rolled up to show us who he was,
he is only another old man, picking up
broken tools and putting them back,
his heart gone soft and blue with stories.

tinkandalissa said...

Kristin - That last one you put on there is a Shel Silverstein poem, isnt it? I've always loved him and almost put something of his down there but thought that would be way overdoing it (which I thought I had already done anyway). Where the Sidewalk Ends?

Sally said...

I'm partial to this one by Jack Prelutsky. It's so much fun to read aloud!

Bleezer's Ice Cream

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer
you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations
too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor,
try the flavors on my list:

COCOA MOCHA MACARONI
TAPIOCA SMOKED BALONEY
CHECKERBERRY CHEDDAR CHEW
CHICKEN CHERRY HONEYDEW
TUTTI-FRUTTI STEWED TOMATO
TUNA TACO BAKED POTATO
LOBSTER LITCHI LIMA BEAN
MOZZARELLA MANGOSTEEN
ALMOND HAM MERINGUE SALAMI
YAM ANCHOVY PRUNE PASTRAMI
SASSAFRAS SOUVLAKI HASH
SUKIYAKI SUCCOTASH
BUTTER BRICKLE PEPPER PICKLE
POMEGRANATE PUMPERNICKEL
PEACH PIMENTO PIZZA PLUM
PEANUT PUMPKIN BUBBLEGUM
BROCCOLI BANANA BLUSTER
CHOCOLATE CHOP SUEY CLUSTER
AVOCADO BRUSSELS SPROUT
PERIWINKLE SAUERKRAUT
COTTON CANDY CARROT CUSTARD
CAULIFLOWER COLA MUSTARD
ONION DUMPLING DOUBLE DIP
TURNIP TRUFFLE TRIPLE FLIP
GARLIC GUMBO GRAVY GUAVA
LENTIL LEMON LIVER LAVA
ORANGE OLIVE BAGEL BEET
WATERMELON WAFFLE WHEAT

I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
taste a flavor from my freezer,
you will surely ask for more.
______________
P.S. I used some of my Christmas money to treat myself to a signed copy of Graceling. :)

Juliana Dias said...

Hey sis!!! I just got a great gift - Your book!!! I'll not have to wait the Portuguese version to read it... I'm sooooo happy!!!! Thanks a lot!!! It's a gorgeous book... everybody in my family loved it!!!
Thanks one more time and congrets for the great job!!!
Miss ya!!!
Love from your Brazilian sister
Ju

Jeanne said...

I discovered the Li-Young Lee poem this summer and love it. Here's another poem I love:
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in the green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

–James Wright, 1963

kristin cashore said...

JU!!!! OH MY GOODNESS! MY PARENTS ARE IN TOWN AND WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT YOU AT DINNER AND WONDERING IF YOU'D GOTTEN THE BOOK!

(They're really hoping to go to your wedding, you know. Wouldn't that be grand?!!)

Yay! Thanks for letting me know you got it!!!

xoxoxoxox

kristin cashore said...

Okay, sorry everyone for that departure from my usual commenting style. But! Ju! *waves again at Ju*

Thanks so much for all the poems -- I'm loving them. And now I really feel like some avocado brussels sprout ice cream. And tink, yes, that was Shel Silverstein! :o)

Anonymous said...

Greetings! This is Kristine from NJ.

This might not be the best 'post' to comment on but I just finished reading "Graceling" and just had to tell you how remarkable it was. I enjoyed the story and got so into it that sometimes I laughed out loud, and at other times, especially at the end of some chapters, I had to put the book down and take a moment to absorb what happened.

It was a very well rounded book. There was action, drama, romance, and also issues that addressed girls and women in general.

I found Katsa's story thoroughly enjoying as well as inspiring. I'm telling my friends to read this book. Thank you again for your great storytelling. My only disappointment is that your next book won't be out until October, haha.

Thanks again (:

Anonymous said...

When I(Melina) posted a few days ago, I forgot one of my favourite poems(I know, I know. If it's my fav how could I forget it, right? But it slipped my mind). Even though it's a bit late, here's Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

kristin cashore said...

Aw, thanks Kristine! And Melina, I love that one, too.

I am definitely going to do poem posts again in the future. I love reading everyone's poems.

BeyondTheIcyWalls said...

Well I don't have a favorite poem from 08' but I do have a favorite quote so here it is: "This town deserves a better class of criminal and I'm going to give it to them" - Joker, The Dark Knight

kristin cashore said...

Beyond, my favorite line from that movie: "You completely me." I liked it because it was a parody of the same line in Jerry Maguire, and I didn't like it in Jerry Maguire, so I loved that they made fun of it in Dark Knight! Did you see JM?

Also -- Heath Ledger -- *sniff* :(

kristin cashore said...

aarrghh!! The line is, "You complete me," not "you completely me," which would make no sense whatsoever....

BeyondTheIcyWalls said...

No I've never seen Jerry Maguire. Im not a fan of Tom Cruise so I try to stay away from watching his movies(unless there isn't anything else on). Is it a good movie?

*pouts* I bet all Heath Ledger need was a good hug and an ear to listen to his issues. *sighs* It's always sad when we lose a great actor.

BeyondTheIcyWalls said...

*remembers the hospital scene with him in the nurse outfit* Haha.. that part was the best!

kristin cashore said...

I HATE TOM CRUISE, TOO. And no, it was not a good movie.

deirdrea said...

What a beautiful poem, Kristin! And I'm loving the other poems people are posting, too -- especially the ones by Richard Wright. What a feast this blog is!

As for me, I'm having a very hard time picking a poem. But I think I'll post one I just heard quoted this Easter. Because I have fond memories of it -- I come from a family where recitations are common, and people also burst into song at the drop of a hat. It's actually a very nice way to live (as long as people can carry a tune)!

One time, when I was little, I was sitting in the car with my dad on the way to the bank, when we saw a belted kingfisher flashing through the air beside (of all things!) a water treatment plant. And my dad recited this:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves -- goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells,
Crying _What I do is me: for that I came_.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is --
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

It's a very Catholic poem, but I hope you don't have to be Catholic to like it -- Hopkins was someone who saw god in the beauty of the natural world, and I hope that's universal.

And now, to make up for the religiosity, I'm going to cheat! I have about a thousand favorite poems, so here's another one. (Actually,I just set this one to music, and it'll be coming out in a compilation to benefit children's literacy!)

THE MICROBE
The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen -
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so....
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

-Hilaire Belloc

Enjoy!

~Deirdre