Archive for poetry

Happy Birthday Thomas Hardy!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, Authors I've read with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by echostains

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English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (2nd June 1840 – 11th January 1928) Dorset, England focused his work on the decline of rural society. He was a great fan of Charles Dickens and George Elliot. His romantic poetry was influenced by William Wordsworth. Hardy regarded himself foremost as a poet. His first poetry collection was published in 1898.   ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’  was published in 1874, – his first literary success  through his writing.

His novels, which include ‘Far from the Madding crowd ‘ (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895) were set in his semi fictional region of Wessex, based on an old medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the South West of England.

Hardy’s father Thomas was a stonemason and builder. His mother Jemima was a well read woman.  She educated young Thomas at home before he went to school aged eight years old in Bockhampton. He learned Latin and acquired academic potential at Mr Last’s Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester. When his  formal education ended at age 16 when he was then apprenticed to a local architect James Hicks in Dorchester where he trained as an architect before moving to London in 1862 and enrolling as a student in Kings College London.

Hardy, aware of class divisions and his own social inferiority, was never comfortable in London society and returned to Dorset five years later.

He met his future wife Emma Lavinia Gifford in 1870 whilst engaged in the restoration of the parish church of St Juliot in Cornwall and he married her in 1874. She died in 1912, and although he became estranged in life, he revisited Cornwall after her death visiting places they went to during their courtship.   Poems 1912-13 reflect upon her death. He married Florence Emily Dugdale (his secretary, nearly 40 years his senior) in 1914.

Hardy died at Max Gate on 11th January 1928 after becoming ill with pleurisy the year before and his funeral was held at Westminster Abbey. This proved to be controversia,l as Hardy and his friends and family wished him to be buried with his first wife Emma in Stinsford Dorset. It was insisted upon by his executor Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell that he be buried in the famous Poets Corner in the abbey.  A compromise was reached:  Hardy’s heart was buried with his first wife in Dorset and his ashes in Poet’s Corner Westminster Abbey.

Hardy has many admirers, among them were Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, John Cowper Powys and Robert Graves. He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910.

Although I have not read all Hardy’s novels, I have enjoyed the ones I have read ( Under the Greenwood tree (1872) Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), Jude the Obscure (1895),- I have not enjoyed them equally. The Woodlanders, left me somewhat unsatisfied with the ending which resulted in  the heroine Grace Melbury returning to her unfaithful husband.

But a happy ending does does always result in a good story.  Jude the Obscure, in my consideration – a masterpiece, left me with such an uncomfortable feeling that I have only been able to read the novel once and watch the well acted 196 film.  The story is about humble village stonemason Jude Fawley whose dream is to be educated., He studies Latin and Greek in his spare time whilst dreaming of going to university. Jude_PosterManipulated into a loveless marriage with a coarse and nasty local girl, who soon leaves him, Jude still dreams of entering the local University. He falls in love with his cousin Sue Brideshead. But although she is in love with the married Jude, she marries his former teacher and is very unhappy. Jude and Sue eventually set up house together and have children. Their life together is dire: ostracised by the villagers for not being married and having children out of wedlock, Jude loses his job and the poor family  travel from town to town seeking employment. The end of the story is really disturbing. there are no happy ending here. It is a fantastic novel, but is really emotionally heavy going.

Hardy is considered a Victorian Realist writer and his writing reflects the social restraints and limitations which ultimately lead to unhappiness (in his novels). My favorite novel is ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ which tells the story of shepherd Gabriel Oak and Bethsheba Everdean. Fate and bad choices interweave to construct a story of pride, betrayal and tragedy. Far-From-The-Madding-Crowd-Thomas-HardyLove wins out though and there is a happy ending, but that is not arrived at until Bethsheba herself has changed her attitude and her outlook.  Oak remains as steadfast to the end as from the beginning of the novel. The dastardly character is Sergeant Francis “Frank” Troy who is a flamboyant gambling show off with a cruel streak towards his wife Bethsheba. He loves another – the hapless and sweet Fanny Robin whose death is heartbreaking. In the middle of the storyline stands middle-aged Mr Boldwood, a rich farmer whose obsession with Bethsheba also leads to tragedy. Fate plays a massive part in this novel; throwaway gestures like the sending of a valentine fire up a strait laced bachelor to behave with passion and abandonment of reason. A flattering remark and a wild display of dashing swordsmanship persuade a young vain Bethsheba that she is in love. Situations and accidents all contrive to elevate Gabriel Oak into hero of the hour and prove his quiet devotion and steadfastness.

More information on the Poet/Novelist from here and The Thomas Hardy Society Thomas Hardy portrait from here Far from the Madding Crowd image from here  Jude the Obscure image from here Tess of the d’Urbervilles image here

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Poem ‘Orb Worship’

Posted in My Poetry with tags on April 13, 2013 by echostains

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Even the shite shines golden,

You can see why the Druids were beholden

And the pyramids were hewn

From those beads of sweat

and

The swastika shrugged

Lest we forget

The worshipping of this eternal orb

That drenches our natures

And which we absorb.

Zorba the Greek danced on

whilst bright  Helios shone down,

Cruel and relentless

melting the wings of Icarus

and bringing him down to earth

With a bang.

Lynda M Roberts 2005

Tyger, Tyger still burning bright

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by echostains

What I know about tigers could be written on one hand (and I certainly wouldn’t be putting that hand out to one, calling ‘here kitty kitty” )  I’ve had a few tigers by the tail in my time, but here’s a list about what I know about tigers;- they are big cats, they are striped, they live in the jungle and they hunt, kill and they eat their prey.  I’ve always found tigers fascinating creatures.  I  think that this probably stems back to being read a story of the tigers chasing each other around a tree so fast until all that was left of them was butter!  Then there was some unfortunate platform shoes I covered in tiger print in the 70s because I wanted to have ‘Tiger Feet’…but I digress.  The inspiration for this post came from a  painting I saw on the art blog Leslie White which features a wonderful painting of a white tiger – please check it out, – the tiger is just one of many great paintings painted by Leslie.

The Tyger was published in one of Blake‘s collections ‘Songs of Experience in 1794 and is probably one of his best known poems.  The original archaic spelling that Blake uses for ‘tiger’ has been kept usually when the poem appears in anthologies, Though it appears as ‘tyger’ in the title, elsewhere the usual spelling applies.  ‘Tyger’ endows  the animal with more mystique and enhances its exotic qualities.  The tyger is also used a s a metaphor for many things and there have been many interpretations that seem to change with the years.  Here’s some analysis of this deep and powerful poem, some of them stemming from William Blakes’s own life experience.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?………….      (The rest of the poem can be found here with thanks)

Image from here thanks

The poem, beautifully read by Samuel West, video by Justaudio2008 with thanks

Happy Belated Birthday Samuel Taylor Coleridge!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by echostains

On 21st day of this month in 1772  the English poet and critic  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (died 25 July 1834) was born.  Along with his friend William Wordsworth he was a founder member of the Romantic movement and was also one of the Lake Poets.  His most well-known poems include Khubla Kahn and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘.  His acclaimed critical work about William Shakespeare was highly instrumental for in introducing German Idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture.

Coleridge also introduced many well coined expressions such as ‘suspension of disbelief’ and had an influence of American Transcendentalism.  He suffered a lot from anxiety and depression and may have been an undiagnosed bipolar sufferer in his adult life.  This coupled with bouts of physical illness – the aftermath of rheumatic fever and other childhood illness led to his eventual dependency and addiction to Opium.  Kublah Kahn, Coleridge claimed was written as a response to an opium dream.

Coleridge also wrote lots of ‘conversation poems’ The Eolian Harp’ 1795, ‘Reflections on having left a place of retirement’ 1795  ‘This Lime Tree Bower my Prison’ 1797, ‘Frost at Midnight’ 1798, ‘Fears in Solitude’ 1798, ‘The Nightingale: A conversation poem’ 1798 and ‘Dejection: An Ode’ 1802.

To get a more detailed idea of Coleridge, the man, his work and his contribution to Romanticism, you really must visit the fabulous website known as ‘Her Aeolian Harp‘.  There you can indulge in poetry and humanities dedicated to Romanticism  with beautiful videos.

Video by Her Aeolian Harp  with thanks!

More about this interesting poet from here

Happy Belated Birthday Sir Walter Scott!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by echostains

August 15th was  the birthday of Scottish poet, writer and playwright  (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) Scott was  a 1st Baronet who wrote poems and historical novels.  He has the distinction in being the first english language author to achieve international fame in his own lifetime. Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and the Lady of the Lake still remain classics both in English and Scottish literature.  

Sir Walter Scott by Rarburn

Privately educated, the young Scott  loved reading romantic adventure stories, history and travel books.  He began studying the Classics in 1783 at the age of 12 years old, becoming one of the youngest students to do so in Edinburgh University.   Lochinvar was a poem that my late father used to recite to me.  It is suitably romantic and Pre Raphealite like to appeal to a girl raised on fairy tales!    

The Knight Errant by Millias

Here it is read beautifully!

 Lochinvar
  O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied; —
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide —
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, —
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

.

Thanks to  for the video

Image and more about this interesting poet and novelist here

Poem from Poemhunter

The Knight Errant by Millias image from here

A beautiful walk

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , , , , on August 1, 2011 by echostains

It’s day 6 in my personal challenge to blog every day for a week on Bookstains. 

I heard a song ages ago.  It was one of those songs which keep going round and round in your head, but try as you may, you just can’t see to remember where it came from!  I couldn’t even remember many of the words, which would have at least given me a clue.  All I had was the tune – and the words ‘walk’ and  ‘beauty’.  However Eureka!  Here’s where it’s from:-

She walks in beauty, like the night
        Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
        Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
    Thus mellowed to that tender light
        Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 
                                   

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
        Had half impaired the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress,
        Or softly lightens o’er her face;
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
        How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 
                                    

    And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
        So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
        But tell of days in goodness spent,
    A mind at peace with all below,
        A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron

This is where I heard that tune that has been going round and round in my head –‘Vanity Fair’ a DVD which I watched ages ago.  The poem, written by Lord Byron was penned upon  see his cousin Lady Wilmot Horton in a mourning gown.  There are many YouTube versions of this poem and also narrations, but this one is the one that I originally heard.

Video from  with thanks

More beautiful poetry here 

Notes from the ‘The Life of Lord Byron’ by Thomas Moore 1835 here

Johnny Rhymes

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , , on July 31, 2011 by echostains

A very short post today (day 5 in the blog everyday on bookstains challenge) and I make no apology for featuring another John Cooper Clarke poem.  He is one of my favorite poets and has featured in a few posts of mine. 

A little bit of Burnley

This one is called  ‘I don’t want to go to Burnley’ and the poet very cleverly rhymes Northern towns – sometimes with the most incongruous words (yes I’m talking to you Elsa Lanchaster!)  I went to Burnley for the first time the other week – and it was great by the way!  I certainly don’t think the poet meant any offence to the towns mentioned (at least I think he didn’t 😀 )

Elsa Lanchaster

Vidoe by  with thanks

Elsa Lanchester image from here

Burnley images taken last week