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Monday, April 17, 2006

Birches (Robert Frost)

this is an audio post - click to play

I just did an audiopost of the Robert Frost poem, Birches. It should be showing up soon, I hope. You can read the poem at this link.

Update: I had to redo Birches because the first version never showed up.

I've noticed that these posts don't work very well when I try to listen to them in my browser — they get truncated somehow. But they work just fine when I open the URL in a media player like QuickTime or Winamp. Ah well.


Humble Servant said...

So, I guess you didn't live too far from town to learn baseball?

You choose good poems--glad to hear from you once more.

It is very green here too, with purple lilics and blue crocuses and black sticks. What's that poem that says that green is the color of poetry? I learned green is for hope, when I was young.

MackJohnny said...

I lived too far from town to learn to play baseball. All I can do is think about it.

Good to hear from you, too.

I don't think I know the poem you're thinking of. I have an ongoing ambivalence towards green. It's a colour I often wear, think about, mention.

On another note — remember the Housman poem I audioposted quite a while back? Doesn't matter, but I was looking at A Shropshire Lad at Amazon today and found this fine little paroday an anonymous reviewer did in 2001:

I think I never want to see
Another stanza by A.E.
I pity now the friends of Terence,
And eke his siblings, pets and parents.

For oh, good Lord the verse he made--
Too grim and too much in the shade:
The doomstruck lad, the Severn missed,
The Ludlow fair where he got pissed,

The London blues, the snow-hung orchard,
Young life cut short in syntax tortured,
And, favorite of all his themes,
The Shropshire schoolboy's martial dreams.

Brave verse to stop a soldier shirking
By one whose work was patent-clerking.
"Stand up, be brave, lad, if you please,
So poets here may live at ease.

"And we shall rhyme and wring our hands
When you're cashiered in distant lands.
For really, 'tis not bad, the grave--
No care, no pain, no need to shave.

"So blah blah blah by Severnside,
And good for you, young suicide."
Well, he's dead too, now, old A.E.
Arrived where he most longed to be.

What's done is done, some good, much bad,
But still he toils, this Shropshire lad,
Producing yet from under plow
Some wholesome food for Shropshire cow.


Now that's some fine, well-constructed, and fun criticism. I like it so much I might audiopost it later.

Humble Servant said...

Hey!--I like it. I think, though, that the modern generalized disrespect for strong rhyme/rhythm goes too far--despite flaws (heh) everyone remembers stuff like The Raven, The Song of Hiawatha, Green Eggs and Ham.

Can't fine the "green" poem I'm thinking of--but I found a few others instead (to accompany Green Eggs and Ham):

MackJohnny said...

Thanks for the links. You know, I just can't get a handle on how to read Thomas aloud.

Lorca could write a bit, couldn't he? And knew how to end a poem too:

"Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain."

And damn Emily anyway. Did the woman ever miss anything?

mountainear said...

The audioblog worked just fine and Birches was a joy to hear. thank you.

I'm living in Housman's 'blue remembered hills' - and at this time of year they are greening by the day. That 'lovliest of trees the cherry' will be in bloom any day now. I am so fortunate to live here.

I don't know which Housman poem to which you refer but AE enjoyed parody himself. Frances Cordford wrote:

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

You may enjoy Housman's version:

O why do you walk through the fields in boots,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody shoots,
Why do you walk through the fields in boots,
When the grass is soft as the breast of coots
And shivering-sweet to the touch?

But anyway, thanks for 'Birches'

MackJohnny said...

You're welcome, hillbiddy. Glad you liked it. And glad you stopped by to say hello. Nice to hear from Britain.

The Housman parody isn't, I don't think, of a particular poem, but of A Shropshire Lad in general. I think it captures very well Housman's rhythmns, phrasings, and rhyming proclivities — "Terence" and "parents," and "Severnside" and "suicide" are brilliant choices.

Steve said...

Hi there, I'm jumping in rather late to this conversation, but just found it via Google. The reason is that I'm the one who wrote the review/parody back in 2001, and didn't have a copy of it anywhere on my computer, so I googled the first line and found your blog, among other things. Thanks so much for the kind words about it. It was fun to write, and it just seemed more natural to write that kind of review rather than a "normal" one. Also, I was proud to note that for a long time it was the top-rated negative review, for whatever that's worth! I enjoyed your blog, and thanks for re-posting my review.

John said...

Hi Steve,

I'm glad your parody has been preserved and that you now have a copy again. Reading it again just now, I find it stands up well to my impression of it 10 years ago. It's great little piece and I'm glad it exists. Thank you for writing it!

This blog has been inactive for a long time (as what posting I do these days is at my wordpress blog---, and I've sometimes wondered if I should get around to taking it down. Your finding your own old piece today makes me glad I haven't done that.

Steve said...

Hi John,

Thanks again--I'm glad this blog is still there too. I checked out your new one and enjoyed that as well. It's been a while since I've had much of a look at poetry (ha--maybe the Housman put me off!), so I think it's about time I read some new stuff and re-read some old favorites. Best of luck with your work, and I'll be sure to check in on it now and again.