Two hundred years ago (and a month) Charles Harpur was born. Harpur is my favourite poet, an Australian colonial poet who was not of his time. Even back then, his tastes and influences were anachronistic. Given that Harpur and his influences are the largest influence on my own poetry two hundred years later, I'm not sure what that makes me.

Bicentennial. I was only planning to post my own poems here, but given the occasion I think I can make an exception. Or more than once exception, even.

The following two sonnets speak to me deeply. They speak to the best in me; they speak to the worst in me.

Two Sonnets by Charles Harpur )
This is a poem I should have posted long ago.

A forest with broad brushstrokes painted. Green
and blue and brown the palette of the day--
but there! within that sunbeam's golden ray
a flash of colour. Movement barely seen,
yet captivating. Breaking from routine
I move towards it, hoping that I may
more clearly see this colour in the grey.
Today with fondness I recall the scene:
The butterfly is dancing on the breeze
itself a world entire, when to the bland
surroundings is compared. Entranced, I freeze,
I hold my breath and gently raise my hand.
This beauty I would crush were I to seize...
My heart nears stops as down she comes to land.

Insistence

Jul. 15th, 2012 12:21 am
Looking through the poems I wrote on my laptop, this one jumps out as one that doesn't give away any secrets I'd rather were kept. More importantly, I like the way it flows. It was written last August.

The sonnet itself was wrriten as a response to the question "Because of course I could have given you all the warnings in the world, but answer me this: Would you have ended it to protect yourself? Would you have been any less hurt if it went wrong?"

All lives are filled with misery and pain.
Although from time to time we might feel joy
'tis rare and special. Pain does not destroy
our happiness, although it does constrain
and draw the bounds -- No, joy has not free rein
to leap and frolic so throughout a life,
but must be given edges, as a knife
is used to split the meat and bone in twain.
With all the warnings in the world what would
I do? Would I have any less been hurt?
a question once proposed I must subvert
(discussing this I'm oft misunderstood.)
Despite what others do, I must assert
that pain can be accepted for the good.
Haven't written much lately, but it's been on my mind to try more. Stories or non-fiction perhaps, or maybe more poems. Looking back over the recently written, there aren't exactly many to share. A couple poems writ with intended audience of one or less. But also this one, which I'd forgotten about. I was quite pleased, at the time (November?) that I'd written an invocation of sorts.

I pray some gentle rain to come and wash
away the week. The sweat of toil, the dirt
from travel to and fro. Rain down and quash
the weary heated thoughts, the ones that hurt
as through my tortured heart they run, aflame
with fear that feeds on loathing's fuel. My face,
once wet with tears, your waters shall reclaim.
Erode my furrowed brow, and leave no trace
thereon of guilt or pain. Then soon shall grow
a smile broad and deep and calm. A lake
of pure contentment I shall be. I know
your soothing rainfall shall once more awake
my vibrant side. Renewal and rebirth
within my soul just as it is on Earth.
Spent a few hours today "packing". By which I mean that I took all of the things out of half a dozen boxes and then organised them in stacks on the floor. Which is, like, the first step at least. Got my books sorted into a "keep" pile and a "don't keep" pile. Almost exactly 20% of them wound up in the "keep" pile, which I'm happy with.

And I'm very happy to have found a notepad I was searching for months ago. As well as the notes I was looking for, it contains a couple of poems I'd entirely forgotten writing. Both from first year lectures, first year maths I am guessing.

First a limerick:

"The limit as x nears to seven"
We did this stuff in year eleven!
It bores me to hell,
I don't take this well,
it's more fun to find rhymes like

And then what was maybe meant to be a sonnet, but it works like this:

It seems to me that if my chem and maths
curriculums did what they advertised
I would be spending more time making graphs
than making rhymes. I should not be surprised.
They said this knowledge they'd assume we knew
and yet I have to sit through it again;
I guess there are some people who are new.
But me? This is the best use of my pen.
Going through a pile of books for something specific today, I happened upon half a sonnet I'd completely forgotten trying to write. Followed by a sizable bundle of notes and lines and drafts from the summer before. Some quite nice lines, that deserve to be set in a complete poem. Some that were discarded because they weren't going anywhere and doing it awkwardly.

Plenty of ideas and notes that I wrote thinking 'I simply must turn this into a poem' but haven't, yet.

And spread over half a dozen sheets, written around and through a bunch of other poems, one that I did finish. It was the reason most of the other scraps made it to paper. I had an idea I wanted to impress upon someone, and figured putting it in verse would make it more convincing. Kept those pages in my pockets for weeks, agonising over a line at a time.

Except for the ocassional awkward - if earnest - line, I am and was pretty happy with it in the end.

Forty-eightish line poem after the cut. )
Here's another lazy sonnet, written in lectures to vent various frustrations. Not necessarily about a particular lecturer, it describes the incompetence of plenty of 'em.

These bite sized bits of content coupled with
this need for constantly repeating each
and every thing that's said; it seems as if
a lecturer is chosen not to teach,
for if they were these lectures would be worth
attending. Well, for more than just the jokes.
'Tis well that we can have a source of mirth,
for joy should ne'er be shackled by the yokes
of formal education. Nor by slides
from bloody Powerpoint. No surer way
to package things to deaden minds
has yet been found. To seriously convey,
the presentation of material
should rise above the managerial.

Thankfully, I have only a week or so of lectures left.
Wasn't planning on sharing this one, when I wrote it. I was planning, instead, to write a new poem (perhaps a sestina?) on the same theme, but using various references to Doctor Who instead of the references used loosely here. But on re-reading it four months after writing, I'm fairly happy with the way this flows.

A bunch of terza rima once again... )
So according to New Zealand, it's Spring now. I hate spring, more than any other "season". Twelve months ago I tried to say why, in verse:

There must be something in the air
to make me see the world like this.
I tell you that it isn't fair -
There must be something in the air.
Her flashing eyes, her flowing hair,
Those subtle lips that tempt a kiss...
There must be something in the air
to make me see the world like this.
There, new poem for the first time in a couple of months. Since May, I think. Of course, it is a poem I started back in March. But still new.

Back in March I was arguing with someone who was being all Wrong On The Internet. Hours of pointless conversation later, I realised that time would have been better spent putting my thoughts into verse. And promptly started to do so (but less promptly finished.)

I'm not happy with it; there are too many unspecific pronouns, and the verse distorts the argument rather than supporting it. For a start. But it's done, and not complete rubbish, I think. I do like the eighteenth line.

Thirty three lines about an article I read, once. )
Tonight I've been reading up on various things. Mostly Hellenistic mathematics, which I have no poems for. But also partly some discussion on the art of pick-up, which was interesting, and which I can almost relate to the subject of a poem I've written. Almost:

I lie awake on cold and empty nights
and although sleep is yet to come, I dream.
Of how I wish things were. A single theme
pervades these thoughts, the same my pen now writes.
Oh, how I miss relationships! The heights.
The lows. A kiss. Embraces that just seem
to be too short. To talk 'til dawn does gleam.
I even envy other couples' fights -
There's naught that I don't wish that I still had.
and yet what foolish thoughts are these of mine,
For even not alone, I'd still be sad.
Were I together with a girl so fine
the merest sight of her could make men glad,
For sure I'd find some reason still to whine.
While occasionally I do try something a little different like that last one, I do enjoy writing sonnets. They are a nice size for a single idea. Whether or not it is a nice idea.

Here is another poem from a while ago.

A sonnet from some summer or other )
So I just handed in a thousand word paper that I'm pretty much ashamed of. Ashamed of because it was crap, not because it was late - it was that too, but not by much. It was late (in part) because I spent most of the day it was due trying to finish a poem. Which started out nice and vague and non-specific and then got way personal and about me and yeah, also crappy. Another thing to be somewhat ashamed of.

When I did finish it I knew it wasn't one I'd be sharing. And I realised there are a whole lot like that. I've written more than double the poems this year than I've put here. Looking at this little selection it's not even clear that most of the poems I write are terribly angsty and romantically themed (which was maybe a good thing?) and so I decided to fix that. Here is one such poem from about a year and a half ago. A poem that I'm not ashamed of.

Warning: slight chance of angst )

Lecturers.

May. 14th, 2010 10:23 pm
A while back I posted the first draft for an essay. While a sonnet was far less than the required three thousand words, the essay I ended up handing in... well, I didn't end up taking it more seriously than that. Still, I scored 90% somehow for my Frankenstein themed dialogue.

Not all lecturers are cool enough as to provide such marks, alas.

I recently found a sonnet and a half I wrote back in Autumn of last year (2009) complaining about a lecturer or two. Finished the second and here they are.

Well, 'here' being after this cut. )
I've been playing Fallout 3 lately, with a mod that increases the number of period (read: 50s) songs on the in game radio immensely. I shouldn't be surprised to find there are many popular 50s songs I love, including 'Dream a little dream of me'.

And speaking of dreams... )
So I got started on the second draft of my Physical Chemistry assignment today. 700 words written out of 3000. Three thousand words for an assessment item worth 6% of the final mark. Ugh. But I'm having fun with it - my current first line is "It was a dark and stormy night", and my first draft looked like this:

To understand electrochemistry
behaviour of solutions must be known,
not concentration, but activity
is used, because ions are not alone.
A way to model this has been proposed
by Debye and Hückel, who wrote a law
to find activity, where they supposed
it was Coulumbic forces, with a more
appropriate value for epsilon:
the permittivity of the solvent.
First they considered with no forces on
the ions, then with charges on, which meant
the chemical potential changes could
reveal the co-efficient. Which is good.
Oops. Over a month without posting a new poem. Was planning to do better than that. Obviously I'm writing the wrong kinds of poesy. This one was written instead of accepting a facebook request. It's a villanelle!

Nineteen line cut! )
Looking through old poems for something to put up last night made me think about what I was writing then. Which thoughts, I decided, might as well rhyme. This form seems quite suited to rambling on. To rambling on about rambling on, even.

Cut 'cause rambly makes for long. )
I've been loving the triolets lately. They are only little things, sure, but they're fun and I've written half a dozen so far in 2010. Here is probably the most lighthearted of them:

Now that Cupid has a gun
he is out with plans to kill.
So much damage can be done
Now that Cupid has a gun.
The bow and arrow was just fun
it caused a momentary thrill.
Now that Cupid has a gun
he is out with plans to kill.
Sure it's a couple of hours early, but what the hell. This one is for today / tonight.

The clock ticks over once again, another day is here.
And yet another day is gone, gurgled down the drain.
The countdown ends, the fires bloom, we mark it with a cheer:
the clock ticks over once again

As fireworks fade we can still hear that 'Auld Lang Syne' refrain:
This isn't just another day, it is a brand new year.
New decade too, a cleaner slate, and so we make it plain

how we expect to change ourselves, with all of these sincere
things we resolve, or insincere ones that we merely feign
that we will do. But either way there is no need to fear,
the clock ticks over once again.
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