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Archive for March, 2008

My curiousity bested me when I turned to my friend google and began searching for Ides of March poems. I saw several offerings, but this one by Constantine Petrou Cavafy was most interesting.

It’s too bad some our politicians are unable to be fearful of their exalted ranks…

Ides of March

Be fearful of exalted rank, o soul.
And if you are unable to subdue
your aspirations – doubtingly pursue them
and with precautions. And the more you rise,
the more examining, the warier be.

And when you are arrived at the supreme
height of your glory – a Caesar, as it were:
when you are become a man so widely famed:
then specially be wary – at such time
as you come out into the thoroughfares,
a noted ruler with great following:
if peradventure, from the multitude,
some friendly person, an Artemidorus,
bringing a paper, should press near to you
and rap out sharp “Read this without delay;
herein are weighty matters touching you”,
fail not to tarry; fail not to postpone
all talk or business; fail not to turn off
the different hangers-on who bow and scrape,
(you will attend to them in time); let even
the Senate wait; – leave all, and learn at once
the grave things written by Artemidorus.

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piWell, silver linings can be found in most things. Being sidelined this entire week with the ague and otherwise malevolent malaise allowed me to flip on the TV at noon to follow the scintillating yet totally irritating fall of Eliot Spitzer as it unfolded in the local news. Yesterday, March 14, I ran a little behind schedule and tuned in as a weatherman was wishing me Happy Pi Day…huh?

 After a little googling, it all made sense. For all you non-mathematicians, 3/14 corresponds to the first three digits of that fascinating number pi 3.14. Hence, March 14 is known as Pi Day. If you really wanted to get into it, you could celebrate Pi Minute at 1:59 pm on 3/14 or Pi Second at 1:59:26 pm on 3/14.

So what does this have to do with poetry? Funny you should ask. As it turn out one of Frances’ favorite poets wrote a poem about pi. 

Pi
by Wislawa Szymborska

The admirable number pi:
three point one four one.
All the following digits are also just a start,
five nine two because it never ends.
It can’t be grasped, six five three five , at a glance,
eight nine, by calculation,
seven nine, through imagination,
or even three two three eight in jest, or by comparison
four six to anything
two six four three in the world.
The longest snake on earth ends at thirty-odd feet.
Same goes for fairy tale snakes, though they make it a little longer.
The caravan of digits that is pi
does not stop at the edge of the page,
but runs off the table and into the air,
over the wall, a leaf, a bird’s nest, the clouds, straight into the sky,
through all the bloatedness and bottomlessness.
Oh how short, all but mouse-like is the comet’s tail!
How frail is a ray of starlight, bending in any old space!
Meanwhile two three fifteen three hundred nineteen
my phone number your shirt size
the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three sixth floor
number of inhabitants sixty-five cents
hip measurement two fingers a charade and a code,
in which we find how blithe the trostle sings!
and please remain calm,
and heaven and earth shall pass away,
but not pi, that won’t happen,
it still has an okay five,
and quite a fine eight,
and all but final seven,
prodding and prodding a plodding eternity
to last.

Many thanks to Edward Byrne and the Valparaiso Poetry Review for pointing this out in yesterday’s blog post. Otherwise, this little gem would have slipped past me.

And for all you mathematical fans out there, note the irony in the fact that Albert Einstein celebrated his birthday on Pi Day, March 14.

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The theme for February’s meeting was food poems

Updated our little Web site be
With notes from our last reverie
Of dressing and undressing free
And of mystery that perplexes me.
Our next meeting already set
On February 24 at 4 don’t fret.
A light repast awaits, you can bet.
Have I disappointed yet?
Then while our appetites we sate
With abundance from the plate
We shall give over to our fate.
With poems about food, let us celebrate.
 Here are the poems that we read. Thank you for all your contributions. Here’s my tribute to you in the style of William Carlos Williams.
This Is What I Say
I have updated
the site
that is on
the Internet

and which
you were probably
waiting
to read

Thank you
Your poems were delicious
so sweet
and so bold

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) – bio
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) – bio
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) – bio
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) – bio
Laura Riding (1901-1999) – bio
Another Apple
Donald Hall, U.S. poet laureate  (1928- )
Wang Ping (1957- ) – bio
Robert Southey (1774-1843) – bio
Ogden Nash (1902-1971) – bio
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) – bio
Jack Prelutsky (1940- ) – bio
Kim Addonizio (1954- ) – bio
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) – bio
Frank Jacobs – bio
Carol Muske-Dukes (1945- ) – bio

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