William Blake: Songs of Innocence


Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’
So I piped with merry cheer.
‘Piper, pipe that song again.’
So I piped: he wept to hear.

‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

‘Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.’
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience was written and illustrated by English poet, painter and printmaker, William Blake in 1794.  This poem is the introduction to the book.  Seems pretty simple when you read it.  But if you stare at it long enough, it gets really interesting.

National Poetry Month – April 2010

It’s almost here.  April will be National Poetry Month, during which we celebrate the placement of words into various shapes, patterns and meanings that only a select few can decipher.  Don’t worry, if you saw the poetry reading at the most recent Presidential Inauguration, she was only placed at the podium to intercept bullets.  That has nothing to do with poetry.

For those of us fortunate and intelligent enough to avoid the study of poetry in a university, the month of April can be a strangely rewarding treat.  It’s an awkward and sort of a lame month of celebration, but it works.  Don’t ask me why.  Just think of yourself as being in the National Poetry Month and walk into a good bookstore and go to the poetry shelf to see what happens.  If you’re a total dumbass, nothing will happen of course.  But if you can read, you might start wondering why words make you want to have a coffee, or a piece of bread, or some wine, or cheese, or wear a hat, or some old boots.

I think I am going to celebrate Poetry Month by posting parts of my unfinished new video.  It mixes images, music, and words to make something that can really only be explained in terms of poetry anyway.  So I claim the right, during National Poetry Month, to be somewhat mysterious, cryptic, unfinished, insulting, fuzzy, indulgent, and unintelligible.

A Little Poetry Contest

Write a poem for National Poetry Month!  Just let your mind wander and write a poem of any kind in the comments area for this post.

Get your poem done by 12:00 am PST Friday April 24, 2009.

Your poem can be any length.  It can rhyme or not.  Just make a poem and let me read it.

I’ll pick my 3 favorites and do audio versions of them to post right here in the blog.

This painting is of a poor old poet trying to come up with his next poem.  Be exactly like him.

I Started Early: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

For National Poetry Month, here’s an Emily Dickinson poem rendered as a beautiful animation with a reading by actress Blair Brown. This is part of the Poetry Foundation’s series of videos known as Poetry Everywhere.
Here is the complete poem for you to read:

I started Early – Took my Dog –
And visited the Sea –
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me –

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands –
Presuming Me to be a Mouse –
Aground – upon the Sands –

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Bodice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Upon a Dandelion’s Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Upon my Ankle – Then my Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –