Hello there, I made a little video YouTube.
Lines from L’Allegro
Here are my favorite lines from John Milton’s “L’Allegro,” published in 1645.
“L’Allegro” translates from Italian as “The Happy Man.” Milton wrote this and another poem, “Il Penseroso” (The pensive or thoughtful man) as a companion piece. Two moods are contrasted to pleasant effect by this pair of poems.
As with anything written so long ago, footnotes prove essential. One of the better online poetry resources I’ve encountered is The John Milton Reading Room, a project of Dartmouth College. For the full text with footnotes, click here.
Illustration is by William Blake, “Mirth and Her Companions.”
Why Persians Write such Great Poetry
Omar Khayyam and Hafiz – two poets who seem like old friends to me.
When I first encountered Persian poetry, I marvelled at how wonderful it was. One reason? It has an audience… a culture that celebrates, values — and funds –its expression:
— from “A Year with Hafiz” by Daniel Ladinsky. Excerpt from Henry S. Mindlin’s introduction. I highly recommend this book!
from Flowers of Evil
Charles Baudelaire is acknowledged as the greatest French poet of the 19th century, and Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du Mal) is his great work.
It’s regrettable that I can’t read French, but one thing that can provide lasting amusement is seeking out different translations for comparison.
Here are two stanzas from A Madigral of Sorrow. This translation is by F.P. Sturm, and appears in the New Directions edition pictured below.
Love note from Charles Baudelaire
Advice from a Persian Poet
Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
that may buy you just a moment of pleasure
but then drag you for days like a broken
man behind a farting camel.
— from A Year with Hafiz, Daily Contemplations.
Translated / rendered by Daniel Ladinsky
Returned within 30 days.
My love was an overly lavish
expenditure of emotion.
I’m sorry, I can’t accept this, she said.
Too extravagant, too soon.
And this, after she overwhelmed me
With her gifts.
John Keats and “negative capability”
This article provides a good summary of a concept developed by the poet John Keats: negative capability.
Some time ago, while taking a walk in a natural setting, I was seized by an irrational impulse — Poe would call it the “Imp of the Perverse” — to rid myself of my iPhone by hurling into a creek, or dropping it into a clear pool, and watching to see how long it would take for those glittering gem-like app icons to wink out of existence.
Like most healthy people, I have a love-hate relationship with technology, and I wish humanity would make greater attempts to question its utility. The romantic movement was a reaction against industrialization; I hope a new and similar movement will someday take hold in our digital age. There needs to be a backlash on technology’s dominance over our lives and a rediscovery of what it means to be human.
Anyway, this was a poetic attempt on this theme. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I do enjoy the idea of using traditional poetry to address modern subjects. Thanks for visiting!
“A Poet in Every Home”
Here’s a great Monty Python sketch featuring some of the great names of poetry. Enjoy!