Category Archives: Poems

Beautiful Lake Baikal

I have stacks of unread books on various horizontal surfaces in several rooms. Every once in a while I stop and pick one up and start reading. This weekend I did just that. I picked up “Sacred Sea” by Peter Thomson. I was checking it out before handing it on to a young friend. It is a fascinating account of Thomson (who is an environmental journalist, formerly of NPR’s Living on Earth) journey to Lake Baikal with his younger brother. Then, of course, I needed to listen to a Russian male chorus singing “Holy Sea, Lake Baikal.” It wasn’t the same recording as Dale and Jim Ed used to play, but it was beautiful. That led me to wondering what the lyrics were, so I googled and found a translation. I was very surprised to learn it is a poem written in 1848 devoted to fugitives from prisons, “Thoughts of a Fugitive on Baikal” by Dmitri Pavlovich Davydov. The music was composed by unknown prisoners working in the Nerchinsk mines.

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный корабль – омулёвая бочка!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал, –
Молодцу плыть недалечко. 
Долго я тяжкие цепи носил,
Долго бродил я в горах Акатуя.
Старый товарищ бежать подсобил,
Ожил я, волю почуя.
Шилка и Нерчинск не страшны теперь,
Горная стража меня не поймала,
В дебрях не тронул прожорливый зверь,
Пуля стрелка миновала.

Шел я и вночь, и средь белого дня,
Близ городов, озираяся зорко,
Хлебом кормили крестьянки меня,
Парни снабжали махоркой. 

Славное море – священный Байкал!
Славный мой парус – кафтан дыроватый!
Эй, баргузин, пошевеливай вал,
Слышатся грома раскаты.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
Glorious ship – the omul fish barrel!
Hey, the Baikal wind, stir the billowing waves –
The lad doesn’t have far left to sail.
I’ve been wearing heavy chains for a long time
I’ve been  wandering in the mountains of Akatuy
An old pal helped me to escape,
And I returned to life, feeling the newly found freedom!
I’m not afraid of Shilka and Nerchinsk anymore –
The mountain guards didn’t manage to catch me,
The wild beasts didn’t touch me in the thickets,
And the shooter’s bullet passed me by…

I was going at night time and in the day time
Near the towns I was carefully looking around.
Country women fed me with their bread
And lads supplied me with tobacco.

Glorious sea the sacred Baikal!
My glorious sail – the caftan all in holes!
Hey, the Baikal wind stir the billowing waves –
The rumble of thunder can already be heard!

From http://www.lkharitonov.com/critical/glorious-sea-sacred-baikal-expanded-history/

Then the first comment below the lyrics:

Justus Naumann says:

August 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thank you, thank you. Finally the lyrics and a translation to this beautiful song I have listened to for nearly 30 years. A public radio program in Minneapolis, KSJN, had a “roots” and folk music show for many years. Every once in a while they would play Beautiful Lake Baikal by the Pyatnitsky chorus, and even without knowing the words it always brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Have you had any pleasant (or otherwise) surprises recently?

 

Poetic Lament

There are many sad things going on these days. Unfortunately as icons fall, some of their good works fall with them.  I have read Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on a daily basis for years.  Almost all of the poetry I read is inspired by the Almanac – either more poems by the featured poet or work of others mentioned in the “on this day” section.

When I heard the news about Garrison in November, the first thing I did was to search online to see if the archives were still around, hoping the APM (American Public Media) would publish them on their own. I’ve checked every week since then.  Nothing.  I even talked to Dale to see if he knew whether Garrison was going to continue on another platform.  Probably not.

So now I’m officially in mourning. I love poetry and I’m struggling to figure out where to get my poetry fix these days. I’m know there’s lots of poetry out there but the Almanac was such a perfect setting for me that I’m thinking that my world from here on in will just be a little sadder for the loss of it.

Two questions today:
Is there a product you’ve had to learn to live without?
Where do you recommend I go for my poetry fix?”

Bruce and I

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I found Bruce at an auction. At first I intended to give him to a friend of mine, but after purchasing, I liked him so well I decided to keep him.

Sometimes sculptures such as this are called “Green Man”. Or maybe he’s a gargoyle. Or he could just be a door knocker.

I hadn’t heard of Greenmen so I had to look that up. There are a lot of different looking versions of green man characters and multiple descriptions of what each means:

“The Leaf Man or Green Man of ancient pagan, druidic, and neo-pagan belief is a nature spirit of woodland places, plants, trees, & foliage. He represents fertility, springtime, and renewal and roams the woodlands of Europe in legend. Also called Green Jack, Jack-in-the-Green and Green George he is depicted as a face peering through leaves, usually Oak, which was sacred to druids, and a crown of leaves as a symbol of divinity.

I choose to think Bruce really is a spirit of woodland places and that he really does represent fertility and springtime.

At first I put him on the front wall of our well house so he could look across the yard and toward our house. That was OK, but eventually I moved him onto a tree. Now he can look down toward the chickens and a field. More tree’s and yard. Even a creek (in the winter when he can see through the trees).

He honestly looks much happier.

But DANG! He’s gotta be cold with that cast iron knocker in his cheeks.

Let the benevolent Leaf Man nature spirit greet guests to your home or garden with a mystical, architectural touch, and bring you good luck and prosperity!

Got a nature spirit?

PJ’s Sprite

How to choose…Post Script

I received permission from Robert Bly’s wife Ruth to post the poems I had chosen for my book club, the ones Renee suggested we not post because of not having permission.  But with permission, she suggested I share them now.  So…here they are:

Or Robert’s The Dark Autumn Nights…?

Imagination is the door to the raven’s house, so we are

Already blessed! The one nail that fell from the shoe

Lit the way for Newton to get home from the Fair.

Last night I heard a thousand holy women

And a thousand holy men apologize at midnight

Because there was too much triumph in their voices.

Those lovers, skinny and badly dressed, hated

By parents, did the work; all through the Middle Ages,

It was the lovers who kept the door open to heaven.

Walking home, we become distracted whenever

We pass apple orchards. We are still eating fruit

Left on the ground the night Adam was born.

St. John of the Cross heard an Arab love poem

Through the bars and began his poem. In Nevada it was

Always the falling horse that discovered the mine.

Robert, you know well how much substance can be

Wasted by lovers, but I say, Blessings on those

Who go home through the dark autumn nights.

 

I love the tiny book, Four Ramages, with illustrations & graphics by Barbara LaRue King.

Grief lies close to the roots of laughter.

Both love the cabin open to the traveller,

the ocean apple wrapped in its own leaves.

How can I be close to you if I am not sad?

There is a gladness in the not-caring

of the bear’s cabin; and in the gravity

that makes the stone laugh down the mountain.

The animal pads where no one walks.

Meanwhile, I found my Yeats collection and further inspired by Barbara in Rivertown, I also found “Now We Are Six” by A A Milne…and decided to do “Down by the Sally Gardens” and “He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace” by Yeats; “Wheezles and Sneezles” by Milne. But I still love Bly’s poems…

 

PS…I just changed my mind again, well, added one (I hope), “King John Was Not A Good Man” by Milne because it is about Christmas.

Enough of my favorites, please share more of yours.

How to choose?

Our Library book club has a “sort-a” December tradition of reading aloud a favorite poem or two. In the past I have read a Lady Gregory, plus several by Louis Jenkins, Mary Oliver and Yeats. This year I am at a loss, having covered many favorites.

So far, these are the books I have pulled off the shelf…

Galway Kinnell’s Body Rags, Mortal Acts Mortal Words, Selected Poems

 Lawrence Durrell’s Selected Poems

Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems

Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

 Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Robert Bly

Robert Bly’s Four Ramages

Olav Hauge’s Trusting Your Life to Water and Eternity translated by Robert Bly

Tomas Tranströmer’s 20 Poems translated by Robert Bly

Robert Bly’s My Sentence Was A Thousand Years of Joy

 A Julius Berg Baumann poem from his Fra Vidderne translated by Josh Preston

I can’t find my book of collected Yeats poems. Or the ever-so-old copy of D.H. Lawrence poems. But perhaps I have enough to sort through – though I’m afraid we might be limited to only one or two.

My favorite Rilke poem?

I live my life in growing orbits

which move out over the things of the world

Perhaps I can never achieve the last,

but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,

and I have been circling for a thousand years

and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,

or a great song.

 

Or Robert Bly’s The Dark Autumn Nights…?

 

I love the tiny Bly book, Four Ramages, with illustrations & graphics by Barbara LaRue King.

 

Okay, my decision has been made…I’m going for all three Bly poems!

(plus the other 3 Ramages)

 

Who (or what) are your favorite poets (or poems)?

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
unforgettable,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
sophisticated,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
considerate,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?