Saturday, November 19, 2011

52 Poems (week 35 & 36)

Week 35

I've somehow become a fan of Oscar Wilde without ever really reading any Oscar Wilde. I just hear snippets and intertextual references and love him by default. But having read some of his poems, including this one 'The Harlot's House', perhaps I like him even more.

We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot's house.
 
Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss.
 
Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.
 
We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.
 
Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.
 
The took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.
 
Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.
 
Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.
 
Then, turning to my love, I said,
"The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust."
 
But she--she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.
 
Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.
 
And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.

Week 36


Okay, so this poem from Alice in Wonderland is technically part of a novel, but I think it still counts as a Lewis Carroll poem. There was a quote from it at the front of a novel I was reading so I searched it out. The last line is a bit of a problem because Alice is interrupted in her recitation by the Mock Turtle, but the ending is generally assumed to be "...eating the owl"

'Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
"You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair."
As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark;
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.
I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon;
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by ---

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