Emily Dickinson on Facebook – Pamela Milne

A U3A friend, Ian, introduced me to a very amusing poem by Pamela Milne that imagined Emily Dickinson on Facebook. He obtained it from this link.

In the poem Milne mentions Emily using a tinted/photo-shopped version of the one famous daguerreotype (early photographic process). Here’s just the thing By Debra Styer to go with the poem.

EmilyDickinson

Emily Dickinson on Facebook

She posts many times a day.
Often during the night and early morning.
Photos of spiders and flies on windowsills,
her garden seen through her bedroom window,
her new tulle dress, flowers in a simple vase.
No poems.
Anyone who requests to be her friend, she accepts,
but she never clicks the Like button.
She never comments.
She never responds to messages.
She joins no groups.
Every weekend she changes her cover photo:
leaves of trees and bushes, surfaces of water,
things seen so close up as to be abstract.
But her profile photo is always the same one.
Sometimes she does something to it in Photoshop –
a tint, a filter, sepia – but still, the same.
Emily.

Pamela Milne

Here are Ian’s comments from a recent U3A Poetry meeting –

The idea of the quintessential recluse Emily Dickinson choosing to be on Facebook sounds oxymoronic at first like … but of course social media, artfully used, is a godsend for the true recluse. Pamela Milne’s sense of how Emily would/wouldn’t use Facebook, how she’d make so much of small things in her necessarily small world, is exquisite. Perfect, even. I went “Gosh!” with admiration when I read it. I can’t find a biographical word anywhere about Milne…so if anyone knows anything about her…

I too could find nothing on the Internet so if I find out more about her this Post will be amended.

Well, seclusion is highly topical with the virus restricting many people to limited space. Emily Dickinson would have no problems adhering to the restrictions! Perhaps those poetically minded or those involved in writing that are in forced confinement can use the time to produce some work. Another thought is the maintenance of a diary. For all those reading this Post and in forced seclusion I wish you well.

Smile – A one Word Poem

Arthur Stace was an alcoholic but when he attended a Christianity meeting he was totally besotted by the word ‘Eternity’ and what this word represented. From then on he spread this word by writing it in copperplate with chalk on footpaths in and around Sydney. He did this for 35 years from 1932 to 1967 and became known as ‘Mr Eternity’.

A Wikipedia link

Awhile ago I was in a hurry to write a poem so I decided to choose just one word –

SMILE

But in order to spread this SMILE to the masses I have thought it wise not to embark on a similar promotion spree. As an alternative I thought some words might suffice for all to read – hence the following ….

My One Word Poem
(Dedicated to Arthur Stace who took ETERNITY to be understood)

The first and last line
starts and ends
at the next word.

SMILE.

Go back to the first line.

Short though it be, and like Arthur’s
this poem is an endless journey!
that’s right – you’ve got it
Smile!

But why are you down here,
Ok, you don’t like to read in circles
I guess I will have to repeat things
so – just for you
Smile!

Now, have you finally ingested it?
I mean – is it fully understood
analysed and sunk in
more than skin deep!
Smile!

Now that’s better!
if there’s one thing I hate
not to be fully understood
and have no response –
it is only the one word!

SMILE.

Richard Scutter

… and of course there is another way to disseminate my message when walking down the street!

… and interestingly what word would you choose (I guess love is already taken)

An Apology – F. J. Bergmann – Comments

An Apology

Forgive me
for backing over
and smashing
your red wheelbarrow.

It was raining
and the rear wiper
does not work on
my new plum-colored SUV.

I am also sorry
about the white
chickens.

F. J. Bergmann

F.J. Bergmann writes poetry and science fiction, often simultaneously. A lack of academic literary qualifications does not preclude friendship with those so encumbered. And as can be seen by this amazing poem she has a distinct humorous connection with the poetry of Wallace Stevens.

The two poems in question are ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ and ‘This is Just to Say’. These are detailed below for reference.

Well, it is about time that red wheelbarrow had a little mishap. It has been subject to so much poetic extension along with those white chickens. Readers continue to conjure up their own imaginative thoughts on both so it is getting a little tiresome. red= ?, compared to white = ? , wheelbarrow = man made compared to nature, Dead compared to living … and what about the wheelbarrow being glazed – what does that suggest? And why is the wheelbarrow affected by the rain and the chickens ignored? Why the word glazed? …

I know it is very difficult backing in the rain and I can understand the collision … a man made object new but not coming up to scratch – if you excuse the pun.

The plums are another thing Wallace Stevens is not sorry at all! They were obviously very enjoyable. They belonged to his partner or friend and he just wanted to state how nice they were – hoping I guess that more might be coming.

I am sure that new plum-colored SUV (sports-utility-vehicle) is great fun to drive (forgetting the little accident). I’m so glad FJB didn’t explain that she actually didn’t quite own it herself and had taken it for a spin for fun! Is ‘An Apology’ really necessary as she heads off down the street?

A link to info on F. J. Bergmann

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Wallace Stevens (1883 – 1963)

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) was an American poet during both the modernist and the imagist movements. Imagist poetry focuses on the objective representation of objects.

Wallace Stevens on Wikipedia

Humour and Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash and Humour

Humour is an important ingredient in any text. In the main it offers lightness and the ability to create a smile in the reader. This is not always the case of course – ‘black humour’ can invoke negative emotions as well as humour – especially if humour is at the expense of something or somebody. In such cases it can be quite damaging and if acceptable perhaps only acceptable at a cost and always at the discernment of the reader. Ogden Nash is always of an acceptable nature.

From Wikipedia … Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” (1913).

Song of the Open Road

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

Selecting more of his work …

The Turtle lives’ twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

There was an old man of Calcutta,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.

The Middle

When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born
.
Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

from Wikipedia …

Frederic Ogden Nash … was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.

On Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash is a humour-US poet I admire
His rhymes are often quite exemplar
For, if a word he cannot take
A new one he soon doth make
Yes, Ogden Nash is a poet quite unique-lar!

Richard Scutter

My Shadow – Robert Louis Stevenson – Comments

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)

We all remember ‘Treasure Island’, and ‘Kidnapped’ but few think of Robert Louis Stevenson in terms of poetry. I came across this poem as a child at primary school. A great example for children on personification. A very simple poem that is easy to memorise.

It made the children take an interest in their shadow if they had not already done so. And the fact that a shadow is always part of person and is a bit of a coward being unwilling to be independent – I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me! ‘Nursie’ speaks of the period when privileged children often had a nurse to care for them at home.

Looking back I think one appeal was because the shadow was allowed to be naughty. It was acceptable for the shadow to stay in bed and not be at school; what else could it do on a cloudy day. And the children in class were frequently told to behave so they liked the shadow and they liked the fact that it was a little lazy and stayed at home in bed.

Robert Louis Stevenson on Wikipedia

My Christmas Letter 2018 – First Edition

I would like to thank all those that read my words and have followed this Site over the years. I guess you have gleaned some insight into my very nature from my Posts; so this year I feel quite happy about sharing my family Christmas Letter. This first edition anyway!

Christmas Letter 2018

Stop Press – First Edition

Dear Reader,

Well it is that time of the year when we all think about our family and friends and of course sharing our Christmas Letter.

First and foremost, I must mention the most important things first. We are here and indeed if we were not here then you would not be able to have the privilege of this letter which I know you will enjoy so much. – so we must be thankful for small mercies – I could say hear hear to that – but that would be very droll!

That’s enough about talking of ourselves!

We do sincerely hope that you are there … because if you are not then I have wasted my time (there, there I didn’t mean to say that)! But if you aren’t there you will miss out on this letter – and unfortunately all our news!

Well a few people have died of course. This too is unfortunate but I always say one must look on the bright side of life – we won’t need to send a letter to them. It is unfortunate too as they will be missing out on our letter. But looking on the bright side again they won’t have to worry about all our comings and goings.

All the children and family have just got that little bit older and they are not the same as last year. I expect you can understand that, and in regards to that we too have followed the same path – so I must update you on that while I think about it!

Well coming to the New Year as I know you always take great interest in our plans. First and foremost I do hope we will be here again to send you all our news in our next Christmas letter. I must add too that we sincerely hope you are there too to receive it!

I see there is little space remaining so having covered the essentials and knowing that you appreciate the usual one page limit on our letters I do wish you all a very happy Christmas and prosperous New year!

(… and of course it goes without saying everyone here says hear, hear to that)!

Love Richard +

Best for Christmas and the New Year

Enjoy with Family and Friends

 

The humour of Ogden Nash

Looking at the humour of this well know player of the word …

– from Wikipedia …

Frederic Ogden Nash … was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.

Born: August 19, 1902, Rye, New York, United States
Died: May 19, 1971, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Some of his quotes …
A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
Middle age is when you’ve met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.
There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.
Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.
People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.

His poetic style … Nash was best known for surprising, pun-like rhymes, sometimes with words deliberately misspelled for comic effect, as in his retort to Dorothy Parker’s humorous dictum, Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses:

A girl who is bespectacled
She may not get her nectacled

He often wrote in an exaggerated verse form with pairs of lines that rhyme, but are of dissimilar length and irregular meter:

Once there was a man named Mr. Palliser and he asked his wife, May I be a gourmet?
And she said, You sure may,

Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” (1913):

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree

which becomes …

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree

And then he adds …

Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

He is such a witty, clever, fun-word fellow … or putting it in the Ogden smash-Nash vernacular –

Ogden Nash is a humour-US poet I admire
his rhymes are often quite exemplar
for, if a word he cannot take
a new one he soon doth make
yes, Ogden Nash is a poet quite unique-lar!

Ogden Nash on Wikipedia

Mrs Reece Laughs – Martin Armstrong – Commentary

Here is a very different poem from another soldier who fought in the Great War. Martin Armstrong was lucky to survive and was demobbed in 1919. As you can see from his poem below he exhibits great poetic skill in his characterisation.

I have broken the poem up into segments for my commentary. It is usually presented as one continuous stream of text.

Mrs Reece Laughs

Laughter, with us, is no great undertaking,
A sudden wave that breaks and dies in breaking.

Laughter with Mrs. Reece is much less simple:
It germinates, it spreads, dimple by dimple,
From small beginnings, things of easy girth,
To formidable redundancies of mirth.

Clusters of subterranean chuckles rise
And presently the circles of her eyes
Close into slits and all the woman heaves
As a great elm with all its mounds of leaves
Wallows before the storm.

From hidden sources
A mustering of blind volcanic forces
Takes her and shakes her till she sobs and gapes.

Then all that load of bottled mirth escapes
In one wild crow, a lifting of huge hands,
And creaking stays, a visage that expands
In scarlet ridge and furrow. Thence collapse,
A hanging head, a feeble hand that flaps
An apron-end to stir an air and waft
A steaming face. And Mrs. Reece has laughed.

Martin Armstrong (1882 -1974)

The title is Mrs Reece – Mrs Jones or Mrs Smith would just not do for Mrs Reece opens the face to a smile; so this was carefully chosen as the name of the lady.

Lines 1-2 … great rhythmic undulation in the rise and fall of the words … laughter an everyday occurrence as in the rise and fall of the sea … this sets the scene to give contrast on how Mrs Reece expresses mirth … no simple rise and fall!
Lines 3-6 … the slow germination as in a seed that grows in time … from ‘things of easy girth’ to ‘formidable redundancies’ … a nice way of describing the gradual uptake of movement of her constitution … or to put it another way the gradual rolling rumble, tumble of the tummy
Lines 7-11 … one imagines this lady to be of some size … the drama unfolds as laughter takes increasing possession of her body  … a great visual transformation before the eyes of any onlooker … likened to a huge elm tree under the authority of a great storm … I think we can all readily identify with a lady of such proportions and can easily picture a lady of such unfortunate circumstance
Lines 12 – 14 … but now there is great physical disturbance as in a volcanic eruption … the peak of her merriment as she explodes in shakes, sobs and gapes … quite a sight!
Lines 15 – 21 … the climax has been reached … all the bottled mirth has escaped … and the aftermath of such exertion now causes body collapse, and flapping of hands and Mrs Reece uses her apron string as a fan. I imagine her to be a homely domestic lady experiencing laugher in her kitchen because of the steaming face. And the final statement – Mrs Reece has laughed – something to witness in all its glory!

A wonderful poem as a performance piece that will surely generate a smile in the audience!

Martin Armstrong on Wikipedia