we are words on a journey
not the inscriptions of settled people
Time to sign up for the Winter Poem Swap!
Do you know how it works? Unlike the Summer Poem Swap, when people do up to five swaps, the Winter Poem Swap is just one swap. This time, though, you are asked to send a wee gift along with your poem. If you would like to participate, send me an email (tabatha @ tabathayeatts . com) by November 3rd. I will give you the name and address of someone to send a poem/gift to (let me know if you want the same person to be sending to you or if it doesn't matter). Then you have a month to write your poem and put your package together.
On to today's poem! I have a deep and abiding fondness for poems about poets (and others -- e.g. "Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven” by Hans Ostrom).
To the Ghost of John Milton
by Carl Sandburg
If I should pamphleteer twenty years against royalists,
With rewards offered for my capture dead or alive,
And jails and scaffolds always near;
And then my wife should die and three ignorant daughters
Should talk about their father as a joke, and steal the
Earnings of books, and the poorhouse always reaching for me,
If I then lost my eyes and the world was all dark and I
Sat with only memories and talk—
I would write “Paradise Lost,” I would marry a second wife
And on her dying I would marry a third pair of eyes to
Serve my blind eyes. I would write “Paradise Regained,” I
Would write wild, foggy, smoky, wordy books—
I would sit by the fire and dream of hell and heaven,
Idiots and kings, women my eyes could never look on again,
And God Himself and the rebels God threw into hell.
He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things ought himself to be a true poem.
Okay, one more Milton quote:
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out, and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.
Mistakes Anthology Submission Info
A Day in the Life has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Leigh Anne!
Tabatha, this is quite a poem. Thank you for introducing me to it. Now I want to read the one about Emily & Elvis in heaven. The truth of the Milton poem is so sharp. I really like it.
I would like to enter the winter poem swap. I will send the e-mail off to you. Thanks so much for organizing!
Thank you for sharing this poem. I did not know much about Milton other than he wrote Paradise Lost.
Well I got a good laugh from your Carl Sandburg poem on John Milton's Ghost! Love how it twists and turns and builds, I wonder what Milton thinks about it … BTW I have the words to "Love Me Tender"a sitting on my desktop, I'm using them to build a poem from. Serendipitously I also have a Carl Sandburg poem up, but mine isn't as lively as yours, thanks for all Tabatha! (ps count me in on your winter swap–I'll send an email)
I really enjoyed the poem. I remember a Joan Didion essay about her reading Paradise Lost. Heading to shoot you an email about the Winter Swap.
WHat a clever poem. thanks for sharing it and making me smile. I am off to sign off for the Winter swap, though where I live it is almost summer.
I don't know that I could endure the length of a Milton poem, but I might get into a biography of the man. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
What a fun poem! It brings back memories of struggling through Paradise Lost in college.
Yikes. Interesting to think about what he was writing in light of what he was experiencing.
The thoughts of others, when they share, amaze. It makes me wonder what others are not sharing? Thanks, Tabatha, and I do agree with Milton: "it were an injury and sullenness against Nature. . ."
Interesting poem, and reminds me of a great void in my education. I'm an English major who's never read Paradise Lost (shhh, don't tell anyone!).
This poem is new to me. Thanks for sharing it.
I really enjoyed the poem about the two As well as the one on Milton.the Milton quote on nature would be a splendid one for springtime.
Wow. This poem really does make you want to dig around and read up on things a bit, doesn't it. And I'm joining Sally in the summery-winter seasonal swap. :P
How perfect to share a poem-about-another-poet poem in your call for Winter Poem Swap post...since that's what many PF Poets seem to do! Love his quote about the "vernal seasons of the year," but I would add that it's just as fulfilling to go out in the gorgeous autumnal seasons, too!
Well, I guess Milton wasn't lacking life experiences to fuel his writing! Thanks for sharing this poem and also for including that fabulous quote about the "vernal seasons." I agree with Mary Lee that it's just as apt at this time of year. I'm off to read about Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley! Thanks for a great post and for the invitation. I always love reading about the swaps.
What a singular Sandburg. It reads like a chinwag in a coffee shop, yet Milton's history is moving and inspiring, too. And the two E spending an Eternity as just friends. Kind of eases my heart. No idea why. Good poetry touches you and leaves you changed, and you don't even know why. That is the beauty and magic of words.
I love the idea of a winter poetry swap - it certainly gets dark and gloomy here in the long, cold, Canadian winter, and there's nothing quite like opening the mailbox and finding a little package made with care and creativity, just for you!
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