felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I post this poem every year for Remembrance Day. But I think it's a more honest poem than "In Flanders Fields" - more reflective of what it felt like for a farmboy to be dragged by conscription from his home and everything he knew, and tossed into the meatgrinder of World War I.

I doubt many of them would have been urging from beyond the grave the farmboys who came after the not to "break faith" with the dead, and carry the torch. Certainly not Owen himself, who died in the last days of the war.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The weird recent assaults on red-headed kids because some morons thought it'd be great to invent a new hate crime got me thinking about the old A. E. Houseman poem. Houseman was gay, and it was reportedly inspired by Oscar Wilde's trial.

Of course, the force of the conceit -- how absurd it would be to attack someone just based on hair colour -- is somewhat lost in the wake of recent news:


Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after, that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they’re taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.

'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his;
In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is;
Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair
For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair.

Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid
To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade;
But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare,
And they’re taking him to justice for the colour of his hair.

Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet,
And the quarry-gang on portland in the cold and in the heat,
And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare
He can curse the god that made him for the colour of his hair.
Other than that, I'm nearly done my fifth edit of the novel. The sixth and last will take maybe three or four days. I expect to have it done by Sunday.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So last week I visited Indigo Books' Canadian Poetry section.

(Always a difficult prospect -- there's always such a crowd, it's a struggle to slip in. It's difficult, I'll tell you, to slip past the Margaret Atwood fangirls, the bpNichol cosplayers, and the kids lined up for the Lorna Crozier action figures -- though these are especially bad during the midnight release of her books.)

There I picked up a book of bill bisset's poetry, and a book of tribute poetry.

You know what's better than the fact that you can become a major Canadian poet by writing emo poems about gay sex in lolcat?

The fact that the crème de la crème of the Canadian poetry establishment will write tribute poems in your name, and often in your style.

(Curse your perfect grammar, Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood! Couldn't you have given us one poem in lolcat?)

You know what's better than buying two books of emo poems about gay sex in lolcat?

The little notice on the copyright page of both of them that each was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Your tax dollars at work ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
From bill bisset's "i was on beech avenue in vancouver":

wher th canada gees gathr with a boom
mike intrviewing th canada gees abt
theyr life styles if yu show feer they
hiss n honk you away

i was asking them how they choos to
mate for life n what happns whn n if
tranguls develop dew they have divors
n trial separayshuns
And there you have it folks -- bill bisset, first Canadian poet to write entirely in lolcat. That poem dates to 1974.

Actually, his stuff is really emo, and is largely compromised of hardcore gay sex scenes, so he's also been a LiveJournaler since before Frank was born.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'm not entirely sure where I'm getting poetic inspiration, but it's just getting better and better. Maybe I'll be a published poet before I'm a novelist. If I can gather together six pages of prime poetry, The Antigonish Review will deign to look at it ^_^

I'm getting better at working in traditional forms, but I want to branch beyond iambs. My one foray into Old English styles worked well.

I went to Matt R's graduation this morning (waves at [livejournal.com profile] metawidget, who was also graduating, along with a certain Jesse whom [livejournal.com profile] foi_nefaste knows). It was much better than my own. Instead of raging homophobe, this time they gave the honourary degree to Heather Menzies, the Canadian activist, who gave a wonderful little anti-war speech in time for Remembrance Day.

(It was a nice little reminder that if we really remembered, we wouldn't be rushing headlong to support Bush's imperial wars.)

Oh, and on [livejournal.com profile] maidenofirisa's recommendation, I picked up Phoenix Wright. Couldn't find the first, so I jumped to the second. That game is campier than William Shatner in a production of Rocky Horror. My favourite line so far is "A lawyer is someone who smiles even when they're down."
felis_ultharus: (Hisoka)
Okay, I just purchased two volumes of Byron's work that date to 1885. They aren't in perfect condition, but they're in damn good shape, especially at age 122. And they cost me $12.95. Add this to the 19th-century Tennyson I picked up not too long for less than $10.

That's the one good thing about living in an age that only cares about crap and doesn't read. Good, old books come cheap.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
On a completely other topic, nothing will make a poet feel more like a manic-depressive than writing a piece heavy on the spondees (--) and pyrrhics (//), rather than the nice, safe, boy-next-door that is the iamb (-/) or even that invert, the trochee (/-).

Yes, I'm trying to master metre, in preparation for working on my long-ignored poetry. I know that most respected poets these days turn up their nose at the stuff, but I strongly suspect that's why the literate general public stopped buying current poetry about a hundred years ago.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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