Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 10: A far and mighty visage

Back to the future
It's not as if we'd actually use the word 'visage' in a poem -- or any writing, for that matter -- but when we're hanging with our boyfriend Percy Bysshe Shelley, our vocabulary expands. More in a sec. And I think I get bonus points today for mashing up children's poetry, the Book of Revelation, Percy Shelley, and Jackson Browne in one post.
CathyBlogs: Exploding your head so you don't have to.

It's Throwback Thursday, so we're going retro with our poem of the day: 'The Swing,' from Robert Louis Stevenson's 'A Child's Garden of Verses.' It's the first poetry book I ever read, and 'The Swing' might be the first poem I memorized.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!

Robert Louis Stevenson was a really interesting guy -- just last night at book club we talked about 'Under the Wide and Starry Sky,' by Nancy Horan, a work of historical fiction about his life and marriage to Fanny Osbourne. I thought the style of the book was a little flat, but it's a worthwhile read to learn a little about a guy who I thought was boring but who died in Samoa -- there's a bucket list accomplishment, huh? I admit I was wrong, Lou.

We end tonight with our pale effort for the Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge. Today's prompt:
...write a future poem. The future might mean robots and computer chips. The future might mean apocalyptic catastrophes. The future might mean peace and understanding. The future might mean 1,000 years into the future; it might mean tomorrow (or next month). I forecast several poems in the near future to be shared below.
What's more futuristic than the Book of Revelation? It's a couple thousand years old and still sounds crazy. And how about that Ozymandias -- he learned a little about the future, by screwing up the past. And there's nothing like the reality of today to keep us down to earth. So we tried a mash-up poem with verses from Revelation, lines from Shelley, and some late-breaking headlines.

The Revelation of Percy, 2014
(Apologies to the Book of Revelation, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and [today’s headlines])

I, John, your brother and companion,
met a traveller from an antique land
[Everyone remains a suspect in airplane search ]
who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
-- his feet were like bronze  --
stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
the First and the Last -- who died and came to life again --
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, with frown
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command.
[Sebelius exits, battered and blamed]
These are the words of the Amen, the faith and true witness.
[Florida suspect surrenders to authorities]
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
I will give the right to sit with me on my throne.
Four living creatures, they were covered
with eyes, in front and in back;
[Police have pattern of excessive, deadly force]
they yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things;
they never stop saying --
Holy, Holy Holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
[Dad kidnapped in elaborate plot]
And I saw a mighty angel, and I saw a lamb,
and there before me was a throne in heaven.
[Prosecutor: “Your version is a lie”]
On the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
[Rest in peace, warrior]
look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
[But that’s not the same as peace]
Woe, woe, O great city
nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
the lone and level sands stretch far away.
[Human trafficking is a crime against humanity]
He who testifies these things says,
Yes, I am coming soon.
[Students saw blood everywhere]

The slow parade of tears:

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