Poem Flow

Two recent finds have added some new poems (and some old acquaintances) to my poetry reading lately.  Poem Flow is an Iphone application that delivers a poem a day in an interesting visual video form as well as in the traditional text format if you like.

The free version gives you 30 days of poems in including some well known old favourites from Robert Frost and William Wordsworth.  After the 30 days is up you can order more poems, another 100 or so for $1.19 or something like that, which led to my first encounter with ‘The Wooing Song’ by Giles Fletcher, a poem from the late sixteenth century that I’d never seen before, and liked a lot. It’s nice to have a new poem every day to look at, old favourites and new discoveries.

And, I also downloaded the Guardian iphone application and its very good book section, which includes a poem of the week. This week the poem of the week was an old favourite I hand’t looked at for ages: Gerald Manly Hopkins’ The Windhover.

It’s interesting to see technology connecting me with four hundred year old poems I’ve never read before, and old friends I’ve lost track of. Kind of like Facebook for poetry perhaps! Anyway, here’s the Hopkins poem, a poem that I’ve always thought of as one of the first ‘modern’ poems.

The Windhover
To Christ Our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Gerald Manly Hopkins


The Plain Sense of Things


This week the NY Times reviewed Wallace Steven’s Selected Poems, including this nice quote from Stevens.

Individual poets, whatever their imperfections may be, are driven all their lives by that inner companion of the conscience which is, after all, the genius of poetry in their hearts and minds. I speak of a companion of the conscience because to every faithful poet, the faithful poem is an act of conscience.

Above: Wallace Stevens, right, with Robert Frost in Key West, circa 1940.