Friday, 30 January 2009

Call for end to Poet Laureate job

Link to article on BBC web site.

Wendy Cope, a favourite to succeed Andrew Motion as Poet Laureate, has called for the post to be abolished.

Last year, Motion said the job of writing verse for the Royal Family was "thankless" and gave him a case of writer's block.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Who we are for each other

She is my goddess
I am a source of amusement

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Inaugural Poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander

Inaugural Poem

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each
others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All
about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on
our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an
oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils.
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or
declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then
others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's
something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot
yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead
who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked
the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every
hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any
sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in
that light.

Elizabeth Alexander

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Lives of great men all remind us

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us father than today.

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
And our hearts though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future however pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act! Act in the living present!
Heart within, God overhead.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And in passing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints that perhaps another
Sailing over life's solemn main
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow