Gong xi fa cai! And a poem on Singapore

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Chinese New Year message says:

Ultimately we all want to make Singapore the best home in the world for ourselves, our families and our children. We all want ours to remain an inclusive, meritocratic society where every child has the chance to realise his dreams and aspirations. We all want our children and grandchildren to enjoy many opportunities in Singa­pore and beyond, even as they remain rooted by a deep sense of belonging in Singapore.

He could have been speaking for everyone in Singapore — and for everyone who loves Singapore.

Gong xi fa cai! It’s the Year of the Dragon from tomorrow.

“The Year of the Dragon is likely to see more uncertainty in the global economy,” said PM Lee. So, here’s wishing everyone good luck.

To sign off, what could be better than a poem on Singapore? Continue reading “Gong xi fa cai! And a poem on Singapore”

World Cup poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy

A new poem by the poet laureate in response to England’s dismal Fifa World Cup run.

The Shirt by Carol Ann Duffy

Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar and asked him what went wrong. It’s the shirt, he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back like a shroud, or a poisoned jerkin from Grimm seeping its curse on to my skin, the worst tattoo.

I shower and shave before I shrug on the shirt, smell like a dream; but the shirt sours my scent with the sweat and stink of fear. It’s got my number.

I poured him another shot. Speak on, my son. He did.

I’ve wanted to sport the shirt since I was a kid, but now when I do it makes me sick, weak, paranoid.

All night above the team hotel, the moon is the ball in a penalty kick. Tens of thousands of fierce stars are booing me. A screech owl is the referee.

The wind’s a crowd, forty years long, bawling a filthy song about my Wag. It’s the bloody shirt! He started to blub like a big girl’s blouse and I felt a fleeting pity.

Don’t cry, I said, at the end of the day you’ll be back on 100K a week and playing for City.

Auden’s September 1, 1939

auden1 If asked to name my favourite poem by WH Auden, I would probably say In Memory of WB Yeats though I like any number of his poems: The Unknown Citizen, Lay Your Sleeping Head My Love, O Tell Me the Truth about Love, Funeral Blues, Refugee Blues, Night Mail

See, the list doesn't include one of his most famous poems, September 1, 1939, marking the day when Germany invaded Poland, starting World War II, when he was in America.

To be honest, I never particularly liked the opening lines, which are the ones most often quoted. But, while reading an article on him in the Guardian, I looked up the poem again and was moved by the way it rose from despair to anger to the ringing affirmation of faith in humanity in the last lines. 

Continue reading “Auden’s September 1, 1939”

On Julia’s Clothes and 99 other most popular poems

This must be one of the shortest, heavily anthologized poems in the English language. On Julia's Clothes, by Robert Herrick, runs to only six lines. But, witty and playful, this 17th century poem is one of the 100 most anthologized poems in the English language, according to the Columbia Granger's World of Poetry. Here are links to the top 100. But first…

On Julia's Clothes
By Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

Continue reading “On Julia’s Clothes and 99 other most popular poems”

Poems for Valentine’s Day

Here are some wonderful love poems for Valentine's Day. It is an eclectic collection, ranging from Ben Jonson to John Donne, Andrew Marvell and Robert Burns and going on to WH Auden, John Betjeman, Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Wendy Cope, James Fenton, Adrian Henri, Brian Patten, Leah Furnas and Debra Spencer.

What's the connection?

Well, I love these poems.

Click on the plain-vanilla hyperlinked scroller to go from first love through the various phases to marriage and old age. You can also view it as a slideshow. Click on the view mode to change from "scroll" to "slide".

Poems for Valentine’s Day http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=26824124&access_key=key-sblpmodxfz7tsa5rsmb&page=1&viewMode=list

Essential Pleasures: Homage to Hips

I have been reading Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud, edited by Robert Pinksy. Readers will find plenty of old masterpieces here, such as Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Ulysses by Tennyson; but, as Pinsky says in his introduction: "I have also worked hard to come up with good poems that will be new to most readers."

I really liked Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word Sleep, which I had never read before. Another poem which made a terrific impression on me was Allen Ginsberg's A Supermarket in California.


Originally uploaded by hyperscholar

Now here's a naughty poem that's mercifully brief and unabashedly physical.

Continue reading “Essential Pleasures: Homage to Hips”