Well-known member
Any fans of Conrad Aiken? I can't work out if he's overlooked because he's just a bit dull and not flashy. Or if I like his take on dark romantic. Either way, he always weaves musical elements in there with the early psychology.


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The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.

And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.

'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams,
I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins . . .'
The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness,
Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest,
Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.

We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music,
Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard;
We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight,
We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair,
With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word;
We flow, we descend, we turn . . . and the eternal dreamer
Moves among us like light, like evening air . . .

Good-night! Good-night! Good-night! We go our ways,
The rain runs over the pavement before our feet,
The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride. We turn our faces
To what the eternal evening brings.

Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid,
We have built a tower of stone high into the sky,
We have built a city of towers.

Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours . . .
What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? . . .
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam . . .
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain;
Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands;
And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.


Well-known member
Aiken seens fairly singular in poetry. I don't know of any other romantics that put music as the centre of the indiviudal and viewed nature as a dark lonely place in the midst of internal stuggle. What do you reckon? Bland? Turgid? I reckon he is stronger with imagery than he is with his diction.
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Well-known member
It's almost like I want him to be my favourite Poet

Palimpsest: The Deceitful Portrait hints that artistic uncertainty and self-doubt.

What do yon know of me, or I of you?
Little enough . . . We set these doors ajar
Only for chosen movements of the music:
This passage (so I think—yet this is guesswork)
Will please him,—it is in a strain he fancies,—
More brilliant, though, than his; and while he likes it
He will be piqued ... He looks at me bewildered

And thinks (to judge from self—this too is guesswork)
The music strangely subtle, deep in meaning,
Perplexed with implications; he suspects me
Of hidden riches, unexpected wisdom.
Or else I let him hear a lyric passage,—
Simple and dear; and all the while he listens
I make pretence to think my doors are closed.

He has gothic tendencies which can be a bit cliche but I think he was strong enough to find a voice.


in je ogen waait de wind
because autumn is almost there:

Herbsttag, Rainer Maria Rilke

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.


there are some english translations here http://www.thebeckoning.com/poetry/rilke/rilke4.html but they are all not that good.


bandz ahoy
At the moment I'm reading Louis MacNeice's 'Autumn Journal' and I've been discovering R.S. Thomas.

Both these poets make me feel I could write poetry, unlike - say - Eliot.


bandz ahoy
"I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
Driv’n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world
And all her train were hurl’d."


Beast of Burden
A flea flew by a bee. The bee
To flee the flea flew by a fly.
The fly flew high to flee the bee
Who flew to flee the flea who flew
To flee the fly who now flew by.

The bee flew by the fly. The fly
To flee the bee flew by the flea.
The flea flew high to flee the fly
Who flew to flee the bee who flew
To flee the flea who now flew by.

The fly flew by the flea. The flea
To flee the fly flew by the bee.
The bee flew high to flee the flea
Who flew to flee the fly who flew
To flee the bee who now flew by.

The flea flew by the fly. The fly
To flee the flea flew by the bee.
The bee flew high to flee the fly
Who flew to flee the flea who flew
To flee the bee who now flew by.

The fly flew by the bee. The bee
To flee the fly flew by the flea.
The flea flew high to flee the bee
Who flew to flee the fly who flew
To flee the flea who now flew by.

The bee flew by the flea. The flea
To flee the bee flew by the fly.
The fly flew high to flee the flea
Who flew to flee the bee who flew
To flee the fly who now flew by.

Simon silverdollarcircle

Well-known member
I read this one by Ivor Gurney the other day and liked it very much. I like the way it's not trying to be clever at all. It's a howl.


Why have you made life so intolerable
And set me between four walls, where I am able
Not to escape meals without prayer, for that is possible
Only by annoying an attendant. And tonight a sensual
Hell has been put on me, so that all has deserted me
And I am merely crying and trembling in heart
For Death, and cannot get it. And gone out is part
Of sanity. And there is dreadful Hell within me,
And nothing helps, forced meals there have been and electricity
And weakening of sanity by influence
Thats dreadful to endure, and there is orders
And I am praying for death, death, death
And dreadful is the indrawing or out-breathing of breath
Because of the intolerable insults put on my whole soul
Of the soul loathed, loathed, loathed of the soul.
Gone out every bright thing from my mind.
All lost that ever God himself designed.
Not half can be written of cruelty of man, on man,
Not often such evil guessed as between Man and Man.


bandz ahoy
Is it just Ozymandias though?

Are there any poems that the average 15 year old might like? I don't blame them for finding Ozymandias dull and distant.

Simon silverdollarcircle

Well-known member
I remember finding poetry very "difficult" when I was 15 or so. I think the way it's taught in schools is to try and get you to translate the poem. What does the poet mean, in literal / no poetic phrasing etc? It becomes a (joyless) game of trying to crack a code.

So generally I think that school destroys poetry for teenagers, for years.


bandz ahoy
I didn't like it at all until I was about 30!

It's hard to believe there was a time when poets were hugely famous and influential on the youth.

I suppose reading has generally been superceded by other more instantly captivating forms like music, movies and games.

The literature that appealed to me when I was 16 was the Beats - cos it was about sex and drugs and rebellion. I wasn't interested in the romantic sublime at that time, although I DID have a sort of romantic view of nature and the world (still hadn't lost the vague religiosity I had had throughout primary school).

Simon silverdollarcircle

Well-known member
I reckon teenagers are too deep for poetry in a way. Too full of conviction, looking for answers and credos to live by (e.g the beats)

As I've got older I've got more comfortable in uncertainty , and letting the surface play of things wash over me. More comfortable with not knowing and taking enjoyment in the thing for its own sake rather than what it's telling me. So, more into poetry.

So err constant shallowness = poetry.


Well-known member
I don't know where people get this funny idea of the poem as a riddle you need to solve and then discard it.

It's an experience and an event. Things happen. And it does stuff to you.

Simon silverdollarcircle

Well-known member
A fear and distrust of the inexpressible innit. A need to codify and reduce art to information flows. A counter revolutionary strike against its weird power.

Same impulse is behind artspeak and endless gallery blubs about "the piece explores the relationship between x and y and asks the audience to question z" etc etc

They're just running scared