Tuesday, June 28, 2011

For Whome the Bell Tolls, the old and the new.

Devotions on Emergent Occasions by John Donne
Now, this bell tolling for another, says to me, thou must die

 ...No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; 
every man is a peece of the Continent, 
a part of the maine; 

if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, 
Europe is the lesse, 
as well as if a Promontorie were, 
as well as if a Mannor of thy friends
or of thine owne were; 

any mans death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in Mankinde; 
And therefore never send to know 
for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee...

Not originally written as a poem but part of a longer segment of prose, this scholarly piece of religious writing has taken on a life of its own. It's hard to think of it as anything other than a poem, although of course it has spawned more literary writing than could possibly be searched on google.  It of course spawned the very famous book For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway 1940) about Robert Jordan, a young American in the Spanish Civil War. Which of course led to another piece of "poetry" one that is even more famous than the other two, if google is to be believed.

But wait.  First - how did I find out about these pieces of writing?  I'm poorly educated in literature, after all school taught me literature is boring, there's no plot, and quite frankly honest I have the attention span best suited to children's books. The answer is of course, Metallica.  I knew nothing about Bells or tolling until I heard their song and in fact I dare say most people my age or younger would be the same.

 So here I am, about to be subversive.  I've heard that poets are.  Let's say that Metallica not only write poetry, but they are bloody good at it.  Almost undoubtedly the "real" Metallica fans would run screaming from the idea of poetry.  And to be fair, poets would run screaming from the idea of Metallica.  So now that I've annoyed pretty much everyone, and you're the only person reading, hopefully nobody will mind if I post a wee section of the lyrics up -- 

"...all is gone
except the will to be
Now they see what will be, 
blinded eyes to see

For whom the Bell Tolls..."

Burton, Clifford Lee; Hetfield, James Alan; Ulrich, Lars
If you want more, then google is your friend - although non metal-heads beware there's about two and a half minutes of guitar before the lyrics actually kick in. Which is ok if you like that sort of thing.  And I do.  Enough to go to their concert last year and be blown away by everybody from grannies to children exposed to lyrics that had a good deal of literary input.  In fact why don't I annoy a few more people and say Metallica are a bit like Shakespeare in terms of coalescing well known fragments of literature into a new whole designed entirely for the masses.
So all these people are being exposed to fragments of literature including a religious devotion whose essence was that when one person dies, we are the lesser; the importance of trust and following one's heart in "Nothing Else Matters," the complex lullabye "Enter Sandman" (I particularly love the Never Never Land reference, but the lyrics also encompass an old fashioned prayer, and use it in a delightfully sinister way.)  Magical is it not?  And these fragments are bound together by someone who has the ability to play with language at a level that is far more than skin deep.  This is the essence of poetry, is it not?  Albeit poetry produced with a sense of drama I as a writer have not even aspired to -- the music, the special effects, the sense of occasion, millions of fans pouring over the words to gather meaning, to find solace in their lives, deal with addiction, and identify with the emotions.  In fact I decided I should follow their example, and so for my next poetry reading there will be...

lasers and jets of fire... 

It'll be great. 

So there we have it, I dare you to take my hand...off to Never Never Land.  Peter Pan, Captain Hook and all the back Metallica tee-shirted lost-boys are probably still there, in the mosh pit almost a year later, and they're unlikely to come back either.  They had too much fun - with... poetry - and unabashed showmanship.  It might not be pretty, it might not be the best literature ever, but it is exciting.  And I dare say For Whom the Bell Tolls will inspire many others to read, write, listen and enjoy.


A.J. Ponder

(and yes this is a re-hash from something I wrote last year so I hope it's not too disjointed, but I'm always fascinated by how ideas move through different mediums, and how different shape and form can bring new meaning while still, to some extent, holding onto the old.  It also turned into a rather interesting conversation where - desperate to prove me wrong - Michael started naming Metallica songs he thought wouldn't be very poetical.  He had to stop himself - twice - before getting to a couple which we all agreed had no poetical merit - but by then he had rather proved the point.)

A.J. Ponder's work is available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Piano Twins

the piano twins

The pitter-patter of tiny skid missiles in the 
Black and white heads at the door.
Waking is easy
With this music
Ringing my ears.
No such thing as pianissimo -
Allegro and

A.J. Ponder

It's been one of those weeks, like running into a locomotive and finding two kittens inside.  Amelia has thoughtfully given them one of my last intact squares of felt - a particularly nice blue and white piece.  Sigh. 

Anyway I cannot judge the quality of the poem, it was written this morning on not enough sleep, and the sound of something not unlike a herd of tiny elephants, tinkling across the wooden floorboards of Michael's room.  The two have rather taken to Michael, and having refused to let him sleep, have been reassigned to temporary quarters at the last minute tonight.     

And the kitten's names?  Amelia called the little black and white one Simon (yes, Firefly reference) and Michael decided his would be Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory), after all he's definitely pretty white and skinny.  Although Amelia had the last laugh when she pointed out the actor who played Simon Tam also played Sheldon on Warehouse 13.  Michael gave the kittens their other nickname S and S sharp, because, of course, the terms "ebony" and "ivory" are banned - we are after all keen conservationists here, even if we do consort with cats.  

Lucy Sirvid
born? - 15/06/2011

A.J. Ponder's work is available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Portal to Fairy Tale Poetry

As a bit of a late birthday bash I decided to do a little Fairy Tale Poetry Portal this week - So here are a few links to Fairy Tale poems (alphabetical), and the portal poem is below

A Cloak for a Fairy by Anonymous
"Spider, Spider what are you spinning?"  An old favourite that might not precisely be a fairy tale, but still...

A Pict Song by Rudyard Kipling
To be fair, this may not be so much a "fair folk, or "little folk" poem, so much as one celebrating the power of the powerless

Elegy for Jabber, by A.J. Ponder
Lewis Carol got it wrong... a science fiction take on the original fantasy.

The Fair Folk/The Fairies, by William Allingham
Up the airy mountain, down the rushy glen... need I say more?

 Fairy Land, by William Shakespeare; If You See a Fairies Ring (Anon); and I'd Love to be a Fairy's Child by Robert Graves.

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this poem, but it's worth a visit.  Even though I'm not sure I've managed to wrap my brain around what exactly she was thinking when she wrote it.  

Fairy Song by John Keats
Shed no tear! oh, shed no tear!
The flower will bloom another year....

Fey by Helen Lowe 

This careful poem starts with an open door...

Frozen by A.J. Ponder
A poem referencing Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen and C.S. Lewis' White Witch as much, if not more than the Disney adaptation, Frozen.

Happily Never After parts one, two and three
Where the narrator and the characters of a play have very different ideas.

The First Chorus: by Catherine Bateson
Inspired by the little mermaid

In the Wood of Finvara, by Arthur Symons

"I have grown tired of sorrow and human tears..." 

Jabberwocke, by Charles Dodgeson (Lewis Carol)
Absolute favourite.  What can I say.  Utterly charming and brutal. 


Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, by Roald Dahl:

A famously twisted Little Red Riding Hood tale.

Not my Best Side: by U. A Fanthorpe
The Dragon the Princess, and the Warrior Saint all have a turn to talk in this witty poem. 

 Rapunzel’s lesson: by PS Cottier
 Rapunzel's story turned sideways

Robin Hood and Alan a Dale: Anon
True loves course ever runs, well let's just say this is a very sweet traditional ballad

The Sleeping Beauty
by Sir Alfred Tennyson, telegraphic really.  
A sweet image of Aurora sleeping.

Snow White, by A J Ponder
Snow White always seemed too sweet to be real, (although I admit I preferred Snow White and Rose Red, at least she wasn't just waiting around for some male to rescue her - she was too busy rescuing the male - and that's how I remember it even if it's not exactly true - so please no contradictions). So anyway this is the whole beauty and the beast side to the idea that white and pretty and sweet is good and we should not be seduced by such fantasy. Ask any diabetic.

The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats
WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake...

Stolen Time, by Alicia Ponder
...And twenty years, they rushed by

The night I passed that way...

Truths and Fairy Tales, by A J Ponder
Or should that be lies and fairy tales?


Tuesday: A Poem:
While some might argue it is not exactly a fairytale, it is a legend to celebrate Tyr, the Norse God of Tuesday, and left handed god of the sky. My lines were: "but the righteousness of battle; a sinister champion of single-armed combat, under the sky." - because of course, I couldn't resist the double meaning of the word "sinister" and was hoping like mad nobody else would put it in first.

This Way to Grandma's, by A J Ponder The wolf is taking you up the garden path, run along now.

The Portal

I hold the world in my hands
A portal to forgotten lands
Where prince and princess
Kind and able
Welcome the pauper to their table

Where Knights are brave and true and free
And lies are guilded falsity
Come open your Window
Of links and code
To discover a long forgotten Ode
A palace great and glittering
A magic bird upon the wing
And dare to stride
the forest dim
To save all that was lost within

Go now, I say, while you are able
Enjoy the rhyme or hate the fable
See picts and pixels,
Take my hand,
And come explore this wondrous land.

A.J. Ponder 

To me fairy tale and fantasy are almost synonymous, although of course the traditional legends and fairy tales are of marked importance because they have survived, and they have survived for a reason. They say something about life that is important, so important that it is best couched in metaphor, or in an enhanced setting. There is a romance attached to these pieces, but more than that they speak to the soul in a way that facts and reality so rarely do.

 A.J. Ponder's work is available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lament - otherwise known as Brains on Toast

Since I've been having rather a busy week - driving up to Auckland, meeting up with lots of writers and having fun here's a fun poem.  Next week I plan to compile links to fairy-tale poems.  I've got a couple in mind, but if anybody has any others that would be great.

The Zombie's Lament


The Teenagers Lament

Food mumble
Food mumble
Brains mumble

A.J. Ponder