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books'n'junk

Category: poetry

dance like i’ve got diamonds

still i rise

you may write me down in history
with your bitter, twisted lies,
you may trod me in the very dirt
but still, like dust, i’ll rise.

does my sassiness upset you?
why are you beset with gloom?
’cause i walk like i’ve got oil wells
pumping in my living room.

just like moons and like suns,
with the certainty of tides,
just like hopes springing high,
still i’ll rise.

did you want to see me broken?
bowed head and lowered eyes?
shoulders falling down like teardrops.
weakened by my soulful cries.

does my haughtiness offend you?
don’t you take it awful hard
’cause i laugh like i’ve got gold mines
diggin’ in my own back yard.

you may shoot me with your words,
you may cut me with your eyes,
you may kill me with your hatefulness,
but still, like air, i’ll rise.

does my sexiness upset you?
does it come as a surprise
that i dance like i’ve got diamonds
at the meeting of my thighs?

out of the huts of history’s shame
i rise
up from a past that’s rooted in pain
i rise
i’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
welling and swelling i bear in the tide.
leaving behind nights of terror and fear
i rise
into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
i rise
bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
i am the dream and the hope of the slave.
i rise
i rise
i rise.

maya angelou
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up the wooden hill

i inherited a little book of w.h. auden’s poems from my nanny a couple of years ago. i kept it on my bedside table for ages and would read them if i didn’t have anything else to hand. some of my favourite poems stem from her – from auden to burns and odd ones collected from the nations best loved poems books. i’d forgotten how much she influenced my love of poetry until i heard this reading….

they flee from me

this is the poem that we read in my first lecture on my first day of studying literature at university. this lecturer was the best and whenever he read anything aloud i would just be completely transfixed.
they flee from me that sometime did me seek
with naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
i have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
that now are wild and do not remember
that sometime they put themself in danger
to take bread at my hand; and now they range,
busily seeking with a continual change.
thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
twenty times better; but once in special,
in thin array after a pleasant guise,
when her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
and she me caught in her arms long and small;
therewithall sweetly did me kiss
and softly said, “dear heart, how like you this?”
it was no dream: i lay broad waking.
but all is turned thorough my gentleness
into a strange fashion of forsaking;
and i have leave to go of her goodness,
and she also, to use newfangleness.
but since that i so kindly am served
i would fain know what she hath deserved.
sir thomas wyatt

the lobster quadrille

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle—will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance? 

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied, “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance—
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not,would not, could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

 

“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied. “There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France—
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”

vade mecum

i want the scissors to be sharp
and the table to be perfectly level
when you cut me out of my life
and paste me in that book you always carry.

billy collins

i carry your heart

this is one of my favourite poems of all time:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
e.e. cummings

mapping the marvellous

(from the book of illusions)
by Sjón
reykjavík 11.03.’80

dear f.
last night I dreamed you cut
all your hair off and used it to make a bed in which we
made love, an the facing wall was a mirror
and when I came I saw in
it that you were no longer with me.
you sat in a chair lacquering your fingernails
with green nail polish made out of grasshoppers.
you said: red houses are your wives.
then I woke up because I had bit myself in the
shoulder. it was half past six.
otherwise everything is fine, it is
cold here but warm enough for an old
tiger.
bye, your friend
sigurjón

found on one of my favourite (sporadically posting) blogs: mapping the marvellous. i found this blog whilst doing my dissertation on the pursuit of the marvellous in surrealism. it didn’t help me dissertation-wise, but gave me some welcome procrastination. the poem feels like a dream that angela carter would write…