Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

June 14, 2008

Ten Thousand Thanks

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Thank you ten thousand times.

Just a few hours ago, the most popular post yet here at Clattery MacHinery on Poetry, Alley War Poetry, received its 10,000th hit. That’s a lot of readers for a poetry blog post.

I’ve had ten thousand thoughts come and go, about how good or how bad it may be; ten thousand hopes that the people portrayed or cited in the article are happy with their portrayals, and that it adds to their lives or legacies; ten thousand concerns that the article does not disappoint the seeker or surfer who just might be reading at that moment, and once in a while I read along to be sure, thankful that the embedded videos of Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns, Brian Turner, and Carl Jung, still play.

There are posts on sports blogs and local sports forums that reach 10,000 in a relative snap. And what’s nine months worth of ten thousand hits to a sports star or rock star–other than one night’s work at a stadium? Or the tens of millions who have watched Marvelous Marvin Hagler or Tommy Hearns on a screen?

If I had a dollar for each click into Alley War Poetry, I would have $10,000. If I had a nickel for each, I would have $500. But I don’t. I have these ten thousand thanks tonight. Thank you, ten thousand times.

To celebrate, I have selected two songs to embed, each of which has sold many more than ten thousand records, and two poems that have been read from many more than ten thousand books. Enjoy. And again, ten thousand thanks.

   

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            by “silver-tongued” Joshua Sylvester (1563—1618)
   

            Love’s Omnipresence
   

            Were I as base as is the lowly plain,
            And you, my Love, as high as heaven above,
            Yet should the thoughts of me your humble swain
            Ascend to heaven, in honour of my Love.

            Were I as high as heaven above the plain,
            And you, my Love, as humble and as low
            As are the deepest bottoms of the main,
            Whereso’er you were, with you my love should go.

            Were you the earth, dear Love, and I the skies,
            My love should shine on you like to the sun,
            And look upon you with ten thousand eyes
            Till heaven wax’d blind, and till the world were done.

            Whereso’er I am, below, or else above you,
            Whereso’er you are, my heart shall truly love you.

   

   

                  by William Wordsworth (1770—1850)
   

                  The Daffodils
   

                  I wander’d lonely as a cloud
                  That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
                  When all at once I saw a crowd,
                  A host of golden daffodils,
                  Beside the lake, beneath the trees
                  Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

                  Continuous as the stars that shine
                  And twinkle on the milky way,
                  They stretch’d in never-ending line
                  Along the margin of a bay:
                  Ten thousand saw I at a glance
                  Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

                  The waves beside them danced, but they
                  Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:—
                  A Poet could not but be gay
                  In such a jocund company!
                  I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
                  What wealth the show to me had brought;

                  For oft, when on my couch I lie
                  In vacant or in pensive mood,
                  They flash upon that inward eye
                  Which is the bliss of solitude;
                  And then my heart with pleasure fills,
                  And dances with the daffodils.

   

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10000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant: Hey Jack Kerouac

   

10000 Maniacs with Mary Ramsey: More Than This

   

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October 11, 2006

Ko Un

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Born in 1933, Ko Un is a former Zen monk, a former prisoner, and a poet. Here we sample from, his web site:
   

Ko Un

   

There, on the page called “Ko Un on Ko Un“, he writes:

For instance, who today would contradict someone who insists that the death of codes brings life to a poem, as in the case of the different numbers on freight trains waiting in line at Daejeon Station, whose numbers are no longer a code but a poem.

It is in this context that I reject the recent trend of interpreting a poem as text. There is no such thing as a poem that can simply be seen as a text. No poem can stay on a desk or an Internet screen. Poems do not exist in material anthologies.

The universe and space, the imensities of time are the stage for poems. Even a very short love song or elegy is a poem of the universe. That explains why poems should faithfully fulfill their public obligations to the world.

On the page “Who is Ko Un?“, Robert Hass has written:

Ko Un is a remarkable poet and one of the heroes of human freedom in this half century, a religious poet who got tangled by accident in the terrible accidents of modern history. But he is somebody who has been equal to the task, a feat rare among human beings.

On the “Chronology” page, after a section on Ko Un’s former lives, we find this for the year 1942:

By the time he was eight, he had already studied classical Chinese texts that even much older children usually had difficulty in mastering. In 1942 when he was in grade three, his Japanese headmaster asked him what he hoped to become in the future and got the answer, ‘The Emperor of Japan.’ Ko Un was severely punished for this effrontery.

And this for the year 1952:

Before the war was over, in 1952, he joined the Buddhist clergy and became the recognized disciple of the great monk Hyobong. For the next ten years he lived a life of Zen meditation, always on the move. He traveled the whole country, living by alms.

From his page “What They Say About Ko Un“, we are linked here to discover three of his poems:
   

Words Without Borders: Ko Un

   

and find a link to this, copied from Korean Culture Magazine from Spring 1999 (click to enlarge):


   

and this, copied from The Washington Post’s “Poet’s Choice” of January 4, 1998; which contains the poem “The woman from Sonjae” by Ko Un, translated by Brother Anthony of Taiza and Young Moo-Kim, and with discussion by Robert Hass:


   

He has several more sections, but the one I especially want to note is “Works in Translation” where at each translated compilation’s page, there are poems that pop up with a click into windows that perfectly fit the poem on its nicely done background. For instance, from Beyond Self–108 Korean Zen Poems pops
   

Echo

   

and from Morning Dew pops
   

Sunlight

   

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Here are his most recent poetry volumes, translated into English:

Flowers of a Moment (2006)

   

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The Three Way Tavern: Selected Poems (2006)

   

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Ten Thousand Lives (2005)

   

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