A Salo Garland of Verse: The Poetry Thread

10 posts

Heretics All
Hilaire Belloc

Heretics all, whoever you may be,
In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
You never shall have good words from me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

But Catholic men that live upon wine
Are deep in the water, and frank, and fine;
Wherever I travel I find it so,
Benedicamus Domino.

On childing women that are forelorn,
And men that sweat in nothing but scorn:
That is on all that ever were born,
Miserere Domine.

To my poor self on my deathbed,
And all my dear companions dead,
Because of the love that I bore them,
Dona Eis Requiem.

Gottfried Benn -- In einer Nacht

In einer Nacht, die keiner kennt,
Substanz aus Nebel, Feuchtigkeit und Regen,
in einem Ort, der kaum sich nennt
so unbekannt, so klein, so abgelegen,

sah ich den Wahnsinn alles Liebs und Leids,
das Tiefdurchkreuzte von Begehr und Enden,
das Theatralische von allerseits,
das niemals Gottgestützte von den Händen,

die dich bestreicheln, heiß und ungewaschen,
die dich wohl halten wollen, doch nicht wissen,
wie man den anderen hält, an welchen Maschen
man Netze flicken muß, daß sie nicht rissen –

ach, diese Nebel, diese Kältlichkeit,
dies Abgefallensein von jeder Dauer,
von Bindung, Glauben, Halten, Innigkeit,
ach Gott – die Götter! Feuchtigkeit und Schauer!

[English translation]

One night, that no one knows
Made out of mist, dampness and rain,
In a place with no name,
So unknown, so small, so out of the way,

I saw the madness of all love and sorrow,
The futility of desires and purposes,
The theatrical on all sides,
[I saw] how the hands had never been supported by God,

[Those hands], hot and unwashed, which want to caress you,
Want to hold you, yet do not know
How one should hold the other, on which stitches
One must sew nets so they don’t tear—

Ah, this mist, this coldness,
This falling away from all endurance,
From all bonds, faith, support, intimacy,
Ah, God—the gods! Dampness and shivering!

Thomas Carlyle - Cui Bono​
What is Hope? A smiling rainbow​
Children follow through the wet;​
’Tis not here, still yonder, yonder:​
Never urchin found it yet.​
What is Life? A thawing iceboard​
On a sea with sunny shore;—​
Gay we sail; it melts beneath us;​
We are sunk, and seen no more.​
What is Man? A foolish baby,​
Vainly strives, and fights, and frets;​
Demanding all, deserving nothing;—​
One small grave is what he gets.​
Each In His Own Tongue
by: William Herbert Carruth (1859-1924)

A FIRE-MIST and a planet,--
A crystal and a cell,--
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod,--
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,--
And all over the upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod,--
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in,--
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod,--
Some of us call it longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,--
A mother starved for her brood,--
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathways plod,--
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.
DH Lawrence, " And Oh--That The Man I Am Might Cease To Be--"

No, now I wish the sunshine would stop.

and the white shining houses, and the gay red flowers on
the balconies
and the bluish mountains beyond, would be crushed out
between two valves of darkness;
the darkness falling, the darkness rising, with muffled
obliterating everything.

I wish that whatever props up the walls of light
would fall, and darkness would come hurling heavily down,
and it would be thick black dark for ever.
Not sleep, which is grey with dreams,
nor death, which quivers with birth,
but heavy, sealing darkness, silence, all immovable.

What is sleep?
It goes over me, like a shadow over a hill,
but it does not alter me, nor help me.
And death would ache still, I am sure;
it would be lambent, uneasy.
I wish it would be completely dark everywhere,
inside me, and out, heavily dark

Evgeny Baratynsky, 'The Skull' [translated]

Departed brother, who has disturbed your sleep
And trampled on the sanctity of the tomb?
Into your house, all dug up, I stepped down —
I took your skull in my hands, dusty and yellow.

The remnants of your hair — it wore them still.
I saw the slow course of decay upon it.
Horrible sight! How powerfully it struck
The sensible inheritor of that ruin.

Along with me a crowd of mindless youths
Above the open pit laughed mindlessly.
If only then, if only in my hands
Your head had burst forth into prophecy!

If only it had taught us — rash, in bloom,
And menaced hourly by the hour of death —
The truths that lie within the ken of tombs,
Uttering them in its impassive voice!

What am I saying? A hundred times is blessed
That law which has embalmed its lips in silence.
And righteous is that custom which demands
Respect for the solemn sleep of the departed.

Let the living live! Let the dead decay in peace!
O man, worthless creation of the Almighty,
Recognize finally that you were made
Neither for wisdom nor for omniscience!

We need our passions as we need our dreams.
They are the law and nourishment of our being:
You will not bring under the selfsame laws
The noise of the world and the silence of the graveyard.

Wise men will not extinguish natural feelings.
The answer they search for no grave shall supply.
Let life bestow its joys upon the living —
And death itself will teach them how to die.

Bob Dylan Roof

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run


A Salo classic. This sort of "poetry of experience" is what I've aimed to mock in my own oeuvre. Keep in mind that this text is considered a masterpiece by some. It's enlightening to see it posted here, alongside real poetry.

“Your Dog Dies” by Raymond Carver–

It gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you’re almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you’d never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you’re writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on.

To make up for the previous junk:

Quatrain - Jorge Luis Borges

Others died, but it occurred in the past,
Which is the season (everyone knows) most propitious for death.
Is it possible that I, subject of Yaqub Almansur,
Die as roses and Aristotle had to die?

from Divan of Almotásim el Magrebi (12th century)

Phoebus with Admetus
George Meredith

WHEN by Zeus relenting the mandate was revoked,
Sentencing to exile the bright Sun-God,
Mindful were the ploughmen of who the steer had yoked,
Who: and what a track show’d the upturn’d sod!
Mindful were the shepherds, as now the noon severe
Bent a burning eyebrow to brown evetide,
How the rustic flute drew the silver to the sphere,
Sister of his own, till her rays fell wide.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Chirping none, the scarlet cicalas crouch’d in ranks:
Slack the thistle-head piled its down-silk gray:
Scarce the stony lizard suck’d hollows in his flanks:
Thick on spots of umbrage our drowsed flocks lay.
Sudden bow’d the chestnuts beneath a wind unheard,
Lengthen’d ran the grasses, the sky grew slate:
Then amid a swift flight of wing’d seed white as curd,
Clear of limb a Youth smote the master’s gate.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Water, first of singers, o’er rocky mount and mead,
First of earthly singers, the sun-loved rill,
Sang of him, and flooded the ripples on the reed,
Seeking whom to waken and what ear fill.
Water, sweetest soother to kiss a wound and cool,
Sweetest and divinest, the sky-born brook,
Chuckled, with a whimper, and made a mirror-pool
Round the guest we welcomed, the strange hand shook.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Many swarms of wild bees descended on our fields:
Stately stood the wheatstalk with head bent high:
Big of heart we labour’d at storing mighty yields,
Wool and corn, and clusters to make men cry!
Hand-like rush’d the vintage; we strung the bellied skins
Plump, and at the sealing the Youth’s voice rose:
Maidens clung in circle, on little fists their chins;
Gentle beasties through push’d a cold long nose.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Foot to fire in snowtime we trimm’d the slender shaft:
Often down the pit spied the lean wolf’s teeth
Grin against his will, trapp’d by masterstrokes of craft;
Helpless in his froth-wrath as green logs seethe!
Safe the tender lambs tugg’d the teats, and winter sped
Whirl’d before the crocus, the year’s new gold.
Hung the hooky beak up aloft, the arrowhead
Redden’d through his feathers for our dear fold.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Tales we drank of giants at war with gods above:
Rocks were they to look on, and earth climb’d air!
Tales of search for simples, and those who sought of love
Ease because the creature was all too fair.
Pleasant ran our thinking that while our work was good,
Sure as fruits for sweat would the praise come fast.
He that wrestled stoutest and tamed the billow-brood
Danced in rings with girls, like a sail-flapp’d mast.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

Lo, the herb of healing, when once the herb is known,
Shines in shady woods bright as new-sprung flame,
Ere the string was tighten’d we heard the mellow tone,
After he had taught how the sweet sounds came.
Stretch’d about his feet, labour done, ’twas as you see
Red pomegranates tumble and burst hard rind.
So began contention to give delight and be
Excellent in things aim’d to make life kind.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.

You with shelly horns, rams! and, promontory goats,
You whose browsing beards dip in coldest dew!
Bulls, that walk the pastures in kingly-flashing coats!
Laurel, ivy, vine, wreathed for feasts not few!
You that build the shade-roof, and you that court the rays,
You that leap besprinkling the rock stream-rent:
He has been our fellow, the morning of our days;
Us he chose for housemates, and this way went.
God! of whom music
And song and blood are pure,
The day is never darken’d
That had thee here obscure.