Poetry in the News



Here’s your poetry in the news for this week:

Helena Bonham Carter on the power of poetry: It’s the time for badass rebel women like us

The Letters of Sylvia Plath and the Transformation of a Poet’s Voice

How Fatima Al Qadiri Uses the Internet to Create Multidisciplinary Protest Poetry

This Palestinian poem on Jerusalem is finding new life

How the American Sappho Published the First Book of Lesbian Love Poetry


Hanukkah Lights – Philip M Laskin


Hanukkah Lights

I kindled my eight little candles,
My Hanukkah candles, and lo!
Fair visions and dreams half-forgotten
Were rising of years long ago.

I musingly gazed at my candles;
Meseemed in their quivering flames
In golden, in fiery letters
I read the old, glorious names;

The names of our heroes immortal,
The noble, the brave, and the true;
A battlefield saw I in vision,
Where many were conquered by few;

And mute lay the Syrian army,
Judea’s proud foe, in the field;
And Judas, the brave Maccabaeus,
I saw in his helmet and shield.

His eyes shone like bright stars of heaven,
Like music resounded his voice:
“Brave comrades, we fought and we conquered,
Now let us in God’s name rejoice!

“We conquered; but know, my brave comrades,
No triumph is due to the sword;
Remember our motto and watchword,
‘For the people and towns of the Lord.’”

He spoke, and from all the four corners
An echo repeated each word;
The woods and the mountains re-echoed:
“For the people and towns of the Lord.”

And swiftly the message spread, calling:
“Judea, Judea is free!
Rekindled the lamp in the Temple,
Rekindled each bosom with glee!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

My Hanukkah candles soon flickered,
Around me was darkness of night;
But deep in my soul I felt shining
A heavenly, wonderful light.

Poem of the Week: A Christmas Carol, George Wither


So now is come our joyful feast,
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed,
And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine,
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
And let us all be merry.

Now all our neighbors’ chimnies smoke,
And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with baked meats choke,
And all their spits are turning.
Without the door let sorrow lie,
And if for cold it hap to die,
We’ll bury it in a Christmas pie,
And evermore be merry.

Now every lad is wondrous trim,
And no man minds his labor;
Our lasses have provided them
A bagpipe and a tabor.
Young men and maids, and girls and boys,
Give life to one another’s joys;
And you anon shall by their noise
Perceive that they are merry.

Rank misers now do sparing shun,
Their hall of music soundeth;
And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
So all things aboundeth.
The country-folk themselves advance,
For crowdy-mutton’s come out of France;
And Jack shall pipe and Jill shall dance,
And all the town be merry.

Ned Swatch hath fetched his bands from pawn,
And all his best apparel;
Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
With droppings of the barrel.
And those that hardly all the year
Had bread to eat or rags to wear,
Will have both clothes and dainty fare,
And all the day be merry.

Now poor men to the justices
With capons make their errands;
And if they hap to fail of these,
They plague them with their warrants.
But now they feed them with good cheer,
And what they want they take in beer,
For Christmas comes but once a year,
And then they shall be merry.

Good farmers in the country nurse
The poor, that else were undone;
Some landlords spend their money worse,
On lust and pride at London.
There the roisters they do play,
Drab and dice their land away,
Which may be ours another day;
And therefore let’s be merry.

The client now his suit forbears,
The prisoner’s heart is eased;
The debtor drinks away his cares,
And for the time is pleased.
Though others’ purses be more fat,
Why should we pine or grieve at that;
Hang sorrow, care will kill a cat,
And therefore let’s be merry.

Hark how the wags abroad do call
Each other forth to rambling;
Anon you’ll see them in the hall,
For nuts and apples scrambling;
Hark how the roofs with laughters sound,
Anon they’ll think the house goes round;
For they the cellar’s depths have found,
And there they will be merry.

The wenches with their wassail-bowls
About the streets are singing;
The boys are come to catch the owls,
The wild mare in is bringing.
Our kitchen boy hath broke his box,
And to the dealing of the ox
Our honest neighbors come by flocks,
And here they will be merry.

Now kings and queens poor sheep-cotes have,
And mate with everybody;
The honest now may play the knave,
And wise men play at noddy.
Some youths will now a mumming go,
Some others play at rowland-hoe,
And twenty other gameboys moe;
Because they will be merry.

Then wherefore in these merry days
Should we, I pray, be duller?
No, let us sing some roundelays
To make our mirth the fuller.
And whilst we thus inspired sing,
Let all the streets with echoes ring;
Woods, and hills, and everything
Bear witness we are merry.

A Christmas Carol

I Fold


I’m no card player, but I fold.
This game has gone on for longer than eternity.
There’s nothing in the hand that I hold.
And the illusion shimmered back into reality.
This night has drawn in far too cold
And cracks are appearing on this poker face.
Not the first time, I have been told
That this was never mine, that someone’s in my place.
I’m no card player, but I fold.
This game has lost all meaning for me.
No ace up my sleeve, no flush do I hold,
I can’t gamble on just a memory.



Sunday mornings.
The not-quite-a-hangover fuzzy feeling on the inside of your temples,
Not quite nausea, but enough to suppress your appetite,
Not quite tired, but batteries down to their red percent.

Monday mornings.
Not quite anxious, but running on dread.
Not quite hopeless, but no objection if dead.
Although not quite defeated, no desire to win just yet.

Fog day mornings
All of the above but blended, churned, blitzed into one.
Foggy in all your decisions, foggy about all you’ve done.
Fogginess clouds your feelings, fog shrouds all you’ve become.