I am content, I do not care

Once more, I have been lazy and allowed my blog to go completely dormant over the last month. Did you miss me? Perhaps you did, perhaps you didn’t — today, I am content not to care.

Now, now — don’t be offended. That sounds far more harsh than I actually mean it to. I’m just playing with words from a poem I’ve just discovered that is not only excellent, but will perhaps become my life’s mantra from this point, onward: Careless Content by John Byrom.

I must confess that, before this afternoon, I had no idea who John Byrom was, and would still be unaware of him now had I not been forced by considerable boredom to poke around my bookshelves looking for something to read. In scanning my shelves, my eye landed on an anthology I’d bought a few years ago (very cheaply, might I add) at a MESS book sale: The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse (sounds exhilarating, does it not?). I dusted it off and flung it on my bed, “Why not?” I thought.

And so, while waiting on my supper to cook, I started to flip through. I found some hilarious poems, some boring ones, and some that were too terribly long and tried my patience. I also, however, found this one poem — Careless Content — that I have now read ten times over I love it so much. It’s funny how pieces of literature, art, or music find their way into your life just as you need them, and this one fell into my life at so perfect a time that I am once again a little weirded out by the rule of serendipity that seems to reign my life.

Of course, I couldn’t help but share. Here it is:

I am content, I do not care,
Wag as it will the world for me;
When fuss and fret was all my fare,
It got no ground, as I could see:
So, when away my caring went,
I counted cost, and was content.
With more of thanks, and less of thought,
I strive to make my matters meet;
To seek, what ancient sages sought,
Physic and food in sour and sweet;
To take what passes in good part,
And keep the hiccups from the heart.
With good and gentle-humour’d hearts
I choose to chat where’er I come,
Whate’er the subject be that starts;
But if I get among the glum,
I hold my tongue to tell the troth,
And keep my breath to cool my broth.
For chance or change, of peace or pain,
For Fortune’s favour, or her frown,
For lack or glut, for loss or gain,
I never dodge, nor up nor down;
But swing what way the ship shall swim,
Or tack about, with equal trim.
I suit not where I shall not speed,
Nor trace the turn of ev’ry tide;
If simple sense will not succeed,
I make no bustling, but abide:
For shining wealth, or scaring woe,
I force no friend, I fear no foe.
Of Ups and Downs, of Ins and Outs,
Of “they’re i’ th’ wrong,” and “we’re i’ th’ right,”
I shun the rancours, and the routs;
And, wishing well to every wight,
Whatever turn the matter takes,
I deem it all but ducks and drakes.
With whom I feast I do not fawn,
Nor if the folks should flout me, faint;
If wonted welcome be withdrawn,
I cook no kind of a complaint,—
With none dispos’d to disagree;
But like them best, who best like me.
Not that I rate myself the rule
How all my betters should behave;
But fame shall find me no man’s fool,
Nor to a set of men a slave;
I love a friendship free and frank,
And hate to hang upon a hank.
Fond of a true and trusty tie,
I never loose where’er I link;
Tho’, if a bus’ness budges by,
I talk thereon just as I think:
My word, my work, my heart, my hand,
Still on a side together stand.
If names or notions make a noise,
Whatever hap the question hath,
The point impartially I poise,
And read or write, but without wrath:
For, should I burn or break my brains,
Pray, who will pay me for my pains?
I love my neighbour as myself,
Myself like him too, by his leave;
Nor to his pleasure, pow’r or pelf,
Come I to crouch, as I conceive;
Dame nature doubtless has design’d
A man the monarch of his mind.
Now taste and try this temper, sirs,
Mood it and brood it in your breast;
Or, if ye ween, for worldly stirs
That man does right to mar his rest,
Let me be deft and debonair:
I am content, I do not care.

John Donne made me cry!

It’s all Michael Collins’ fault! It’s his fault, and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it like the ludicrous sticky tack I found in my kitchen drawer that doesn’t work at all due to age, humidity, and its existence as ludicrous sticky tack. Which of course is to say that not only is that not my story, but that I couldn’t stick to it if I triedl. What I’m about to relate to you is only partially the doing of the delightful Michael Collins, and is really more due to my inability to resist love poetry that’s more than a few centuries old (that, and I am a giant nerd, in case anyone didn’t get that before now).

So, this evening I was left with little planned as a friend had to reschedule plans we’d made for another time. This was unfortunate, I thought, but it also left my night wide open to anything else that might come along. I’m a big fan of “anything else that might come along”, and so as I made supper I pondered the few things that I might most enjoy doing for the next few hours. While eating supper, I was chatting to another friend of mine who was in the thick of researching a paper on sonnets, and I noticed another one of Michael’s tweets about John Donne (he’s been reading a lot of Donne, evidently, and loving it), and at that point I decided to set about finding myself some sonnets, and perhaps some specifically written by Mr. Donne! “But wait!” I thought, “where would I best find these things?!”

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Yeah, what she said!

Completely agreeing with someone else’s opinion is a rare thing. I agree with poet Alice Fulton and what she recently said about poetry in an interview with The New Yorker’s Book Bench though.

Funny that I find so many things to love on The Book Bench.

Anyway, what Fulton says about poetry is right in line with how I see it, being a bit of a poet myself. And here it is, for all to see!

How do you define poetry? What distinguishes it from prose?

Poetry emphasizes music, rhythm, reticence, multiplicity. These qualities, present in prose to varying degrees, are intensified in poetry, framed and underscored by the poetic line. The language of poetry is more distilled and oblique than the language of prose, which tends to be purposeful. A newspaper, for instance, is written to convey information efficiently. We don’t linger over news stories, reveling in the language, mesmerized by the unsaid. A poem, on the other hand, invites readers to fill in the blanks. It lives in the space between words. Like a joke or a koan, a poem can’t be explained. It has meaning, but it doesn’t have a “message;” its stratas are too vast and complex to be neatly summarized. There are unspoken implications at every turn; you have to intuit it, “get it.” It’s recursive, an infinite regress.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2010/07/our-poets-on-their-poetry-alice-fulton.html#ixzz0v7mIHsw1

And that, my friends, is what she said.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

I had essentially forgotten this poem existed until I walked up to the poetry section in Chapters the other day (yes, I spend a lot of time at the bookstore, so sue me), and saw a very interesting illustrated copy of this one. I picked it up, read it, scoffed at the illustrations and said, “Huh, I actually kinda like that poem”.

So, here it is. Just because.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’
Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Sounds of Silence

Well, I never!

I woke up this morning only to be misinformed about something very important: the release date of a piece of music history. I receive a daily email that has an interesting fact and a so-called inspirational quote in it. I usually really love reading them first thing in the morning as it starts my day off on a positive note. My positive note went flat when I realized (after very little research) that this morning’s fact was wrong!

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