Posts tagged ‘1969’

Saturday, 7 May 2022

New Zealand by James Keir Baxter

(for Monte Holcroft)

These unshaped islands, on the sawyer’s bench,
Wait for the chisel of the mind,
Green canyons to the south, immense and passive,
Penetrated rarely, seeded only
By the deer-culler’s shot, or else in the north
Tribes of the shark and the octopus,
Mangroves, black hair on a boxer’s hand.

The founding fathers with their guns and bibles,
Botanist, whaler, added bones and names
To the land, to us a bridle
As if the id were a horse: the swampy towns
Like dreamers that struggle to wake,

Longing for the poets’ truth
And the lover’s pride. Something new and old
Explores its own pain, hearing
The rain’s choir on curtains of grey moss
Or fingers of the Tasman pressing
On breasts of hardening sand, as actors
Find their own solitude in mirrors,

As one who has buried his dead,
Able at last to give with an open hand.


Date: 1969

By: James Keir Baxter (1926-1972)

Monday, 24 January 2022

Letters to Live Poets (XII) by Bruce Beaver

Three anti-depressants and one diuretic a day
seven and five times a week respectively
save me from the pit.
I pray while I’m taking them and in between doses
because, as Dylan Thomas says, I have seen the gates of hell.

Once I drew back in distaste from the metho drinker
and his bleary lady friend — you’ve seen them
weaving a way through non-existent traffic.
He, swollen faced, with a backside kicked in
by what the tougher call life. She,
the terrible veteran doll of Pantagruel’s nursery.
Let them pass into the peaceful holocaust.

In Rushcutter’s park they congregated over bottles.
Walking, we avoided them as mined ground,
fearful of their implosions bloodying the day.
Later I fell so far into self-sickness
I envied them. My thoughts
haunted their submerged wreckage like a squid.
At their groaning subsidence I retreated
into a pall of ink.
Whatever I tell you,
you have heard before.
I remember Swift’s
fascination with the insane. I whistled
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
outside the grimy walls of Callan Park.
Inside — il miglior fabbro — the best of us all
chewing bloody knuckles, wept dry,
daft as a headless chicken circling dust.
Where are prayers said for him and the parkside horrors?
Some prayed for us, I know. I’m still here
partially, trying to live detachedly.
Is it only the exceptional ones, the broken battlers,
shred me into uselessness? Does it mean
I’d pick and choose in hell? Discriminative?
Like a dog in rut — no,
self-abasement’s out. So is complacency.
I’m never likely to forget
the day I walked on hands and knees
like Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar, scenting the pit.
So it’s one day at a time spent checking
the menagerie of self; seeing
the two-headed man has half as much
of twice of everything; curbing the tiger;
sunning the snake; taking stock of
Monkey, Piggsy, Sandy’s belt of skulls.


Date: 1969

By: Bruce Beaver (1928-2004)

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Winter Solstice by Hilda Auerbach Morley

A cold night crosses
our path
The world appears
very large, very
round now       extending
far as the moon does
It is from
the moon this cold travels
It is
the light of the moon that causes
this night reflecting distance in its own
light so coldly
(from one side of
the earth to the other)
It is the length of this coldness
It is the long distance
between two points which are
not in a line        now
not a
straightness       (however
straight) but a curve only,
silver that is a rock reflecting
not metal
but a rock accepting
(a scream in silence
where between the two
points what touches
is a curve around the world
(the dance unmoving).

New York, 1969


Date: 1969

By: Hilda Auerbach Morley (1916-1998)

Monday, 29 November 2021

Run the Film Backwards by Sydney Bertram Carter

When I was eighty-seven
they took me from my coffin;
they found a flannel nightshirt
for me to travel off in.

All innocent and toothless
I used to lie in bed,
still trailing clouds of glory
from the time when I was dead.

The cruel age of sixty-five
put paid to my enjoyment;
I had to wear a bowler hat
and go to my employment.

But at the age of sixty
I found I had a wife.
And that explains the children.
(I’d wondered all my life.)

I kept on growing younger
and randier and stronger
till at the age of twenty-one
I had a wife no longer.

With min-skirted milkmaids
I frolicked in the clover;
the cuckoo kept on calling me
until me teens were over.

Then algebra and cricket
and sausages a-cooking,
and puffing at a cigarette
when teacher wasn’t looking.

The trees are getting taller,
the streets are getting wider.
My mother is the world to me;
and soon I’ll be inside her.

And now, it is so early,
there’s nothing I can see.
Before the world, or after?
Wherever can I


From: Kitchen, David (ed.), Axed Between the Ears: A Poetry Anthology, 1987, Heinemann Educational: Oxford, p. 1.

Date: 1969

By: Sydney Bertram Carter (1915-2004)

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Obit by Robert Lowell

Our love will not come back on fortune’s wheel—

in the end it gets us, though a man know what he’d have:
old cars, old money, old undebased pre-Lyndon
silver, no copper rubbing through…old wives;
I could live such a too long time with mine.
In the end, every hypochondriac is his own prophet.
Before the final coming to rest, comes the rest
of all transcendence in a mode of being, hushing
all becoming. I’m for and with myself in my otherness,
in the eternal return of earth’s fairer children,
the lily, the rose, the sun on brick at dusk,
the loved, the lover, and their fear of life,
their unconquered flux, insensate oneness, painful ‘It was…’
After loving you so much, can I forget
you for eternity, and have no other choice?

From: Lowell, Robert and Hofmann, Michael (ed.), Robert Lowell: Poems, 2006, Faber and Faber Limited: London, p. 84.

Date: 1969

By: Robert Lowell (1917-1977)

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Booker T. and W.E.B. by Dudley Randall

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“It shows a mighty lot of cheek
To study chemistry and Greek
When Mister Charlie needs a hand
To hoe the cotton on his land,
And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,
Why stick your nose inside a book?”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“If I should have the drive to seek
Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,
I’ll do it. Charles and Miss can look
Another place for hand or cook.
Some men rejoice in skill of hand,
And some in cultivating land,
But there are others who maintain
The right to cultivate the brain.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“That all you folks have missed the boat
Who shout about the right to vote,
And spend vain days and sleepless nights
In uproar over civil rights.
Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,
But work, and save, and buy a house.”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“For what can property avail
If dignity and justice fail.
Unless you help to make the laws,
They’ll steal your house with trumped-up clause.
A rope’s as tight, a fire as hot,
No matter how much cash you’ve got.
Speak soft, and try your little plan,
But as for me, I’ll be a man.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.—
“I don’t agree,”
Said W.E.B.

*“Booker T.” – Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) was a key proponent of the Atlanta compromise which was an agreement that Southern Blacks would submit to white political rule (in return for Southern whites supplying basic education and due process in law).
“W.E.B.” – William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) opposed the Atlanta compromise and insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation for all African-Americans.


Date: 1969

By: Dudley Randall (1914-2000)

Saturday, 15 December 2018

An Exchange of Gifts by Alden Albert Nowlan

As long as you read this poem
I will be writing it.
I am writing it here and now
before your eyes,
although you can’t see me.
Perhaps you’ll dismiss this
as a verbal trick,
the joke is you’re wrong;
the real trick
is your pretending
this is something
fixed and solid,
external to us both.
I tell you better:
I will keep on
writing this poem for you
even after I’m dead.


Date: 1969

By: Alden Albert Nowlan (1933-1983)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Spirit Is Too Blunt an Instrument by Anne Stevenson

The spirit is too blunt an instrument
to have made this baby.
Nothing so unskilful as human passions
could have managed the intricate
exacting particulars: the tiny
blind bones with their manipulating tendons,
the knee and the knucklebones, the resilient
fine meshings of ganglia and vertebrae,
the chain of the difficult spine.

Observe the distinct eyelashes and sharp crescent
fingernails, the shell-like complexity
of the ear, with its firm involutions
concentric in miniature to minute
ossicles. Imagine the
infinitesimal capillaries, the flawless connections
of the lungs, the invisible neural filaments
through which the completed body
already answers to the brain.

Then name any passion or sentiment
possessed of the simplest accuracy.
No, no desire or affection could have done
with practice what habit
has done perfectly, indifferently,
through the body’s ignorant precision.
It is left to the vagaries of the mind to invent
love and despair and anxiety
and their pain.


Date: 1969

By: Anne Stevenson (1933- )

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Letters from America by Jyotirmoy Datta

I have been intrigued by much
That I came across in this bewildering land
But by none more than the winged corkscrew
Bottle openers I bought at our neighborhood store.

The object looks like the skeleton
Of a man without legs
Whose spinal column
At turns of its hollow skull
Becomes its penis, which penetrates the cork.

Punctured, with loss of a little wine,
The cork is evicted from the bottle
Following a manly pumping of the outstretched
Metal arms
Which is why in the local tongue
Making love is called “screwing.”
But it’s a love even more heartless
Than that of the caliph in the Arabian Nights.

I think of all the empty spaces in the world:
The slits of my shirtsleeve buttonholes,
The hollows in the breasts of shoes
Waiting in cardboxes in the stores.
But in all the earth there is nothing emptier
Than the hole in the punctured virgin cork
Pierced by a ravisher who was cold as steel.


Date: 1969 (original in Bengali); 1969 (translation in English)

By: Jyotirmoy Datta (1936- )

Translated by: Jyotirmoy Datta (1936- )

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Sympathy of Peoples by Robert Stuart Fitzgerald

No but come closer. Come a little
Closer. Let the wall-eyed hornyhanded
Panhandler hit you for a dime
Sir and shiver. Snow like this
Drives its pelting shadows over Bremen,
Over sad Louvain and the eastern
Marshes, the black wold. It sighs
Into the cold sea of the north,
That vast contemptuous revery between
Antiquity and you. Turn up your collar,
Pull your hatbrim down. Commune
Briefly with your ignorant heart
For those bewildered raging children
Europe surrenders her old gentry to.

All their eyes turn in the night from
Your fretfulness and forgetfulness,
Your talk; they turn away, friend.
Their eyes dilated with dreams of power
Fix on the image of the mob wet
With blood scaling the gates of order.
Anarchist and incendiary
Caesar bind that brotherhood
To use and crush the civil guard,
Debauch the debauché, level
Tenement and court with soaring
Sideslipping squadrons and hard regiments,
Stripped for the smoking levée of the
Howitzer, thunderstruck under the net.

The great mouth of hunger closes
On swineherd and princess, on the air
Of jongleur and forest bell; Grendel
Swims from the foul deep again.
Deputy, cartelist, academician
Question in haste any plumeless captain
Before the peremptory descent
Of mankind, flattered and proud.
With whitening morning on the waste
You may discern through binoculars
A long line of the shawled and frozen,
Moving yet motionless, as if those
Were populations whom the sun failed
And the malicious moon enchanted
To wander and be still forever
The prey of wolves and bestial mazes.


Date: 1969

By: Robert Stuart Fitzgerald (1910-1985)