The Longly-Weds Know

It’s Valentine’s Day. So here’s a poem to all those lucky couples who like me and my wife have been married for decades. Many happy returns of the day!

The Longly-Weds Know

By Leah Furnas

That it isn’t about the Golden Anniversary at all,
But about all the unremarkable years
that Hallmark doesn’t even make a card for.

It’s about the 2nd anniversary when they were surprised
to find they cared more for each other than last year

And the 4th when both kids had chickenpox
and she threw her shoe at him for no real reason

And the 6th when he accidentally got drunk on the way
home from work because being a husband and father
was so damned hard

It’s about the 11th and 12th and 13th years when
they discovered they could survive crisis

And the 22nd anniversary when they looked
at each other across the empty nest, and found it good.

It’s about the 37th year when she finally
decided she could never change him

And the 38th when he decided
a little change wasn’t that bad

It’s about the 46th anniversary when they both
bought cards, and forgot to give them to each other

But most of all it’s about the end of the 49th year
when they discovered you don’t have to be old

to have your 50th anniversary!!!!


Dylan Thomas and Fern Hill

dylanthomas7-2 I was surprised to find I had never posted my favourite poem here. I had quoted a couple of lines a long time ago, but never posted the whole poem. The poem: Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas. I have loved it ever since I read it in my schooldays in Calcutta (Kolkata). That was a long time ago.

I just came across a website where the poem is explained. But I think the poem can be enjoyed on its own. Just read it aloud and visualise the scene. The last lines linger in your mind.

Further down is another favourite poem of mine: In My Craft Or Sullen Art, also by Dylan Thomas.

I have loved Dylan Thomas since my schooldays. It might have had something to do with growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Dylan Thomas can seem almost psychedelic at times. One of his poems which first made a deep impression on me was Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines. Those who remember the music of the Sixties will know what I am talking of. Not that Dylan Thomas had anything to do with psychedelia. He was born on October 27, 1914, in Swansea, Wales, and died on November 9, 1953, in Greenwich Village, New York, less than a fortnight after his 39th birthday.

I won’t pretend to understand all his words or allusions. But it is impossible to resist the magic of his words.

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.


p align=”center”>And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

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Sex and children: Two poems

One of these is a famous poem by one of the finest 20th century English poets, the other written by a contemporary American poet. Here are the opening lines from both poems. Guess which one is English, which one American. One is witty, the other… well, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.


We try to be discreet standing in the dark
hallway by the front door. He gets his hands
up inside the front of my shirt and I put mine
down inside the back of his jeans. We are crazy
for skin, each other’s skin, warm silky skin.
Our tongues are in each other’s mouths,
where they belong, home at last. At first

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John Fuller’s Valentine

John Fuller
John Fuller

 I posted Auden’s beautiful love poem last night from a selection of his verse edited by the poet, John Fuller. The name sounded familiar. I wondered if he was related to the poet, Roy Fuller, whom I read long ago in the ’70s. Checking on the net, I found, yes, John Fuller is Roy Fuller’s son. It’s remarkable both father and son became poets. I couldn’t find any of Roy Fuller’s poems online except at a website which one has to pay to access. So here’s just a love poem by John Fuller. It’s a little naughty but fun:


By John Fuller

The things about you I appreciate may seem indelicate:
I’d like to find you in the shower
And chase the soap for half an hour.
I’d like to have you in my power and see you eyes dilate.
I’d like to have your back to scour
And other parts to lubricate.
Sometimes I feel it is my fate
To chase you screaming up a tower or make you cower
By asking you to differentiate Nietzsche from Schopenhauer.
I’d like to successfully guess your weight and win you at a fete.
I’d like to offer you a flower.

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Romantic Auden




Nothing touches the heart more than a beautiful love poem. And here is WH Auden at his finest. He wrote it in 1940 when he was 32 or 33 years old. The poet John Fuller in his selection of Auden’s poems gives no further information, no annotations. But it is so simple, so beautiful, no explanations are needed.

If I Could Tell You

By WH Auden

Time will say nothing; but I told you so
Time only knows the price we have to pay
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

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A poem about a computer

I just came across this poem about a Mac (it had to be a Mac) but it could apply to a PC too. Anyone who blogs, surfs the Internet or is otherwise hopelessly addicted to computers will be able to identify with this poem. We can’t do without our computers. Trust a poet to articulate our feelings perfectly. The ending is beautiful.

The poet: Gary Snyder. (For more about the Pulitzer-winning American poet, see Wikipedia, Modern American Poetry and Blue Neon Alley

The poem: Why I Take Good Care of My Macintosh

Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon,   
Because it jumps like a skittish horse   
and sometimes throw me   
Because it is poky when cold   
Because plastic is a sad, strong material   
that is charming to rodents   
Because it is flighty   
Because my mind flies into it through my fingers   
Because it leaps forward and backward,   
is an endless sniffer and searcher,   
Because its keys click like hail on a boulder   
And it winks when it goes out,

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Sappho’s poem

Oddly enough, this surfaced in Yahoo! Odd News:

LONDON (Reuters) – A love poem written 2,600 years ago by Sappho, the greatest female poet of ancient Greece, was published on Friday for the first time since it was rediscovered last year.

Sappho’s verses expressing love for her female companions on the Greek island of Lesbos have either shocked or delighted generations of readers ever since they were first composed.

Her works once filled nine volumes and the ancients called her the "tenth muse", but little has survived to modern times.

The 12-line poem, only the fourth to have been recovered, was found on papyrus wrapped around an Egyptian mummy. It was published with an English translation in the Times Literary Supplement.

"She obviously had emotional relationships with women of her circle, quite possibly sexual," the poem’s translator, Oxford University academic Martin West, told Reuters.

"They seem to have had some sort of society in which they could be in each other’s company quite a lot, rather cut off from men," he said. "But the were clearly able to have plenty of fun."

The poem was rediscovered last year after researchers at Germany’s Cologne University identified a papyrus once wrapped round a mummy as part of a 3rd century BC roll containing poems by Sappho.

They noticed that some of the verse fragments on the crumbling Cologne material matched parts of lines already identified as Sappho’s on a papyrus discovered in 1922.

By combining the two they were able to reconstruct the original, adding likely missing words in the gaps that remained.

The Reuters report contained only the first four lines. So I toodled off to the Times Literary Supplement to read the full poem. It was part of an article by the translator, Martin West.

The poem

("The words in square brackets are supplied by conjecture", explained West.)

"[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:

[but my once tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark;

my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.

This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.

Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,

handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."

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