Happy Black Friday

For those who are out stampeding each other for flat-screen TVs, and for those forced to work so others can get their amazing deals, here’s my usual Black Friday post: When asked if the news of the day surprised him anymore, the poet Joseph Brodsky—who grew up in Soviet Russia and came to America in … Continue reading Happy Black Friday

Review: Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller

Originally posted on Riggwelter:
Miller, Tim, Bone Antler Stone, High Window Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780-2440-0959-5. £9.99 As the title might suggest, (pre)history and nature feature strongly in Tim Miller’s collection Bone Stone Antler (The High Window Press), but also song, fire, life. The collection has four sections: Landscapes & Rituals, Burials (which I found particularly moving), Artefacts… Continue reading Review: Bone Antler Stone by Tim Miller

The Great Myths #46: Sacred Language & Homer’s Poets (Greek)

Here are two passages from Homer’s Odyssey featuring the common household bard of prehistoric Greece. The first poet, the description of which probably lent to the legend that Homer himself was blind, performs stories of the Trojan war before a disguised Odysseus, bringing him to tears. The second is the bard at Odysseus’ own home … Continue reading The Great Myths #46: Sacred Language & Homer’s Poets (Greek)

The Great Myths #44: Sacred Language & Two Hymns to Speech (Hindu)

Rig Veda 10:71: The Origins of Sacred Speech Bṛhaspati! When they set in motion the first beginning of speech, giving names, their most pure and perfectly guarded secret was revealed through love.       When the wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve, then friends recognized their … Continue reading The Great Myths #44: Sacred Language & Two Hymns to Speech (Hindu)

The Great Myths #43 Sacred Language & the Story of Gwion Bach & Taliesin (Welsh)

One of the longer myths I’ll post here, the following story is well worth it, and is indeed a master-class in mythology and folklore. Containing shape-changes, chase scenes, mysterious births, borrowed identities, and competitions of all kinds, it is in the best sense a holy mess, including its sudden and (to us) perhaps unsatisfying ending. … Continue reading The Great Myths #43 Sacred Language & the Story of Gwion Bach & Taliesin (Welsh)

The Great Myths #42: Sacred Language & the Story of Caedmon (Christian)

A brother of the monastery is found to possess God’s gift of poetry [A. D. 680] In this monastery of Streanaeshalch lived a brother singularly gifted by God’s grace. So skilful was he in composing religious and devotional songs that, when any passage of Scripture was explained by interpreters, he could quickly turn it into … Continue reading The Great Myths #42: Sacred Language & the Story of Caedmon (Christian)

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 13: “The perfect image of a mighty mind, of one that feeds upon infinity”

Here are excerpts from the last book of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude.  Other excerpts  are here.   In one of these excursions, travelling then Through Wales on foot and with a youthful friend, I left Bethkelet’s huts at couching-time, And westward took my way to see the sun Rise from the top of Snowdon. Having reading … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 13: “The perfect image of a mighty mind, of one that feeds upon infinity”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 12: “making verse deal boldly with substantial things”

Throughout the summer I hope to post my favorite bits from Wordworth’s 1805 Prelude. Book 12 continues his meditations in Book 11, which was titled “Imagination, How Impaired & Restored.” Other excerpts are here.   Such benefit may souls of humblest frame Partake of, each in their degree; ’tis mine To speak of what myself … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 12: “making verse deal boldly with substantial things”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 11: “Habits of devoutest sympathy”

Excerpts from Book 11 of  Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, which he calls “Imagination, How Impaired and Restored.” Other excerpts are here.   Long time hath man’s unhappiness and guilt Defained us: with what dismal sights beset For the outward view, and inwardly oppressed With sorrow, disappointment, vexing thoughts, Confusion of the judgement, zeal decayed – And … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 11: “Habits of devoutest sympathy”

Cyril Edwards (Interview)

I’ve relied on many translators and scholars in the writing of To the House of the Sun, and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to correspond with a few of them. Their specialties vary widely—Greek religion, Hinduism/Indo-European studies, Egyptology, Arthurian romance, etc.—and it seems that their enthusiasm and love for language, history, and religion … Continue reading Cyril Edwards (Interview)

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 10: “In the very world which is the world of all of us, the place in which, in the end, we find our happiness, or not at all “

Excerpts from Book 10 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, where he concludes his story of being in France during the Revolution. Other excerpts are here.   A poor mistaken and bewildered offering, Should to the breast of Nature have gone back, With all my resolutions, all my hopes, A poet only to myself, to men Useless, … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 10: “In the very world which is the world of all of us, the place in which, in the end, we find our happiness, or not at all “

5 Poems by Robinson Jeffers: “Lend me the stone strength of the past”

The Maid’s Thought Why listen, even the water is sobbing for something. The west wind is dead, the waves Forget to hate the cliff, in the upland canyons Whole hillsides burst aglow With golden broom. Dear how it rained last month, And every pool was rimmed With sulphury pollen dust of the wakening pines. Now … Continue reading 5 Poems by Robinson Jeffers: “Lend me the stone strength of the past”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 9: “I saw the revolutionary power toss like a ship at anchor”

Excerpts from Book 9 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, where he begins his story of being in France during the Revolution. Other excerpts are here.   ’Tis mine to tread The humbler province of plain history, And, without choice of circumstance, submissively Relate what I have heard. Book 9, 642-645 Oft then I said, And not … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 9: “I saw the revolutionary power toss like a ship at anchor”

Books for Days

With June finally done and the rush of bringing out two books behind me, let me thank everyone who has purchased copies. There are still a few of each book left from my initial batch; if anyone is interested, I’m selling them myself much cheaper than Amazon etc., & they will be signed. If you … Continue reading Books for Days

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 8: “A weight of ages did at once descend upon my heart”

Excerpts from Book 8 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, which he titles “Love of Nature Leading to Love of Mankind.” Other excerpts are here.   With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel In that great city what I owed to thee: High thoughts of God and man, and love of man, Triumphant over all those loathsome … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 8: “A weight of ages did at once descend upon my heart”

The Island, the Museum, the Church: 3 Readings from “Bone Antler Stone”

My poetry collection Bone Antler Stone—a panorama of ancient Europe from the painted caves of Lascaux to contact with Greece and Rome—comes out on Thursday. You can order it here. Below are readings of three of those poems, inspired by a tidal island, a museum, and a Viking cathedral on the island of Orkney, all … Continue reading The Island, the Museum, the Church: 3 Readings from “Bone Antler Stone”

On “Bone Antler Stone”: Ancient Europe, the Narrow Book & Finding Poetry Again

My poetry collection Bone Antler Stone—a panorama of ancient Europe from the painted caves of Lascaux to contact with Greece and Rome—comes out on Thursday. You can order it here. Here’s an essay on how it came to be written: The poems of Bone Antler Stone go way back, as a book about ancient history … Continue reading On “Bone Antler Stone”: Ancient Europe, the Narrow Book & Finding Poetry Again

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 7: “This parliament of monsters”

  Excerpts from Book 7 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, on his time living in London. Other excerpts are here.   Above all, one thought Baffled my understanding, how men lived Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still Strangers, and not knowing each other’s names. Book 7, 117-120   Shall I give way, Copying the … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 7: “This parliament of monsters”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 6: “No absence scarcely can there be, for those who love as we do.”

Excerpts from Book 6 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, on his friendship with Coleridge. Other excerpts are here.   There is no grief, no sorrow, no despair, No languor, no dejection, no dismay, No absence scarcely can there be, for those Who love as we do. Book 6, 253-256 I too have been a wanderer, but, … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 6: “No absence scarcely can there be, for those who love as we do.”

Sympathy for Suicide

From Bearing the Names of Many/The Lonely Young & the Lonely Old, just as illness and war are spreading: People are committing suicide all over the place. I am enjoying this in part because the people killing themselves were the type, only a year ago, most likely to condemn suicides as evil, as cowards, as cruel … Continue reading Sympathy for Suicide

There are a lot of lonely people out there, & they deserve a book of stories

There are a lot of lonely people out there, and with my collection of stories The Lonely Young & the Lonely Old coming out on Monday (you can order it directly from the publisher, Square, Small Press Distribution, and Amazon), I want to write for a moment about why I devoted an entire book to … Continue reading There are a lot of lonely people out there, & they deserve a book of stories

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 4: “Need I say, dear friend, that to the brim my heart was full?”

  Excerpts from Book 4 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, on his time home from college. Other excerpts are here.   Why should I speak of what a thousand hearts Have felt, and every man alive can guess? Book 4: 33-34 Delighted did I take my place again At our domestic table; and, dear friend, Relating … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 4: “Need I say, dear friend, that to the brim my heart was full?”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 3: “Unknown, unthought of, yet I was most rich”

Excerpts from Book 3 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, on his years at Cambridge. Other excerpts are here.   Things they were which then I did not love, nor do I love them now: Such glory was but little sought by me, And little won. But it is right to say That even so early, from … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 3: “Unknown, unthought of, yet I was most rich”

Don Henley’s Mesopotamian Connection: “The Boys of Sumer”

I’ve tried submitting this to many prestigious journals of Ancient Near Eastern history, but no one seems to believe that the following pretty much a word-for-word translation from some dusty cuneiform tablets: Nobody on the road Cuz roads ain’t been invented yet I feel it in the air Babylon stinkin like a bitch Inundated river, … Continue reading Don Henley’s Mesopotamian Connection: “The Boys of Sumer”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 2: “The self-sufficing power of solitude”

Excerpts from Book 2 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude. Other excerpts are here.   Thus the pride of strength And the vainglory of superior skill Were interfused with objects which subdued And tempered them, and gradually produced A quiet independence of heart. And to my friend who knows me I may add, Unapprehensive of reproof, that … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 2: “The self-sufficing power of solitude”

Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 1: “Invigorating thoughts from former years”

Excerpts from Book 1 of Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude. Other excerpts are here.   Time, place, and manners, these I seek, and these I find in plenteous store, but nowhere such As may be singled out with steady choice – No little band of yet remembered names Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope To summon … Continue reading Wordsworth’s 1805 Prelude, Book 1: “Invigorating thoughts from former years”

“the shining days when the world was new”: Virgil Greets the Spring

From the second of Virgil’s Georgics, translated by David Ferry: It’s spring that adorns the woods and groves with leaves; In spring the soil, desiring seed, is tumid, And then the omnipotent father god descends In showers from the sky and enters into The joyful bridal body of the earth, His greatness and her greatness … Continue reading “the shining days when the world was new”: Virgil Greets the Spring

Voices behind the words : An interview series with writers (Interview #12, Jonah Finn of Crime Poetry)

Originally posted on Real Free – Flowing Words:
Welcome readers to another entry on “Voices behind the words: An interview series with words. This is the 2nd time I’ve had a trifecta of writer interviews on this series. The other time was in February. I digress, this time around I spoke with the poet Tim… Continue reading Voices behind the words : An interview series with writers (Interview #12, Jonah Finn of Crime Poetry)

“The sun sets into the sea to simmer”: 4 poems at The High Window

Many thanks as always to David Cooke over at The High Window, who just published four new poems of mine in their spring issue, and are the last batch before The High Window Press brings out my entire collection of poems from ancient Europe, Bone Antler Stone. Please also consider following them on WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook, … Continue reading “The sun sets into the sea to simmer”: 4 poems at The High Window

Wallace Stevens, “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”

Here’s the twenty-third psalm of American poetry, & the place where Wallace Stevens brought so much of his complexity (despite his usual high-falutin title) to a stunning simplicity. It’s also a great love poem:   Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour Light the first light of evening, as in a room In which we rest … Continue reading Wallace Stevens, “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”

The Great Myths #31: The Child Krishna & the Universe in His Mouth (Hindu)

One day when Rāma and the other little sons of the cowherds were playing, they reported to his mother, “Kṛṣṇa has eaten dirt.” Yaśodā took Krishna by the hand and scolded him, for his own good, and she said to him, seeing that his eyes were bewildered with fear, “Naughty boy, why have you secretly … Continue reading The Great Myths #31: The Child Krishna & the Universe in His Mouth (Hindu)

The Poet Speaks #13: Richard Wilbur & John Berryman: “The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him”

Even though I’ve never read a word of his poetry, John Berryman has been haunting me lately. Two friends who are also poets that I admire deeply have both praised his work, and recently I’ve come across remarks from a handful of Berryman’s peers, reflecting on his life and his suicide in 1972. Here are … Continue reading The Poet Speaks #13: Richard Wilbur & John Berryman: “The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him”

The Great Myths: Climbing the World Mountain (To the House of the Sun)

autographed copies of To the House of the Sun are always available directly from the publisher at 40% off (includes shipping), by clicking here   SELRES_1bdcfa3c-300a-48ef-b10e-893100acd61SELRES_1bdcfa3c-300a-48ef-b10e-893100acd& the mountain I ascended came from heaven: & the rock I walked on broke away once long ago from the vault of heaven— & so as I walked, I … Continue reading The Great Myths: Climbing the World Mountain (To the House of the Sun)

The Great Myths #30: The Holy Grail Appears (Middle High German)

The story of the Holy Grail’s appearance to a young man named Perceval/Parzival/Parsifal, is told in many places, and goes something like this: he comes by chance upon the Grail Castle, and is introduced to a wounded man, the Fisher King; during a feast that night, the Grail appears, and if only Parzival would ask … Continue reading The Great Myths #30: The Holy Grail Appears (Middle High German)

In Praise of Imperfection: Adolescent Whining, the Black Death, & How We Live Today

…here is a section (from a small book of essays) that one reader has asked me to post here, as I work on revising the entire thing… Like many of us, as a lonely and vaguely unhappy teenager I justified a natural tendency towards silence and social awkwardness with the thought, Why would I want … Continue reading In Praise of Imperfection: Adolescent Whining, the Black Death, & How We Live Today

The Poet Speaks #11: George Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Levine, Stephen King, Seamus Heaney: “struggling erring human creatures”

George Eliot, on empathy: The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies…. Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot. The only effect I … Continue reading The Poet Speaks #11: George Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Levine, Stephen King, Seamus Heaney: “struggling erring human creatures”

“Let my crooked face fall on you in life”: new poem at the Big Windows Review

Many thanks to Tom Zimmerman and the editors of the Big Windows Review, who just published my poem “The Seeress of Vix” on the website. It will also appear in issue 11 of BWR, and you can find subscription info on their page. For more information on the c. 480 BC French burial and archaeological site the … Continue reading “Let my crooked face fall on you in life”: new poem at the Big Windows Review

The Great Myths #29: Learning Poetry in the Giant’s Stomach (Finnish)

The poet/shaman Väinämöinen, in need of new poems and spells in order to build a boat, goes through an ordeal within the belly of a giant, the keeper of those stories. Here, the giant/ogre figure is more primordial and wise and not simply uncivilized and destructive: Steady old Väinämöinen when he got not words from … Continue reading The Great Myths #29: Learning Poetry in the Giant’s Stomach (Finnish)

The Poet Speaks #9: Geoffrey Hill, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, James Merrill, Ursula K. Le Guin: “We are difficult”

On the supposed “difficulty” of his poetry: We are difficult. Human beings are difficult. We’re difficult to ourselves, we’re difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most “intellectual” piece of work. … Continue reading The Poet Speaks #9: Geoffrey Hill, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, James Merrill, Ursula K. Le Guin: “We are difficult”

The Poet Speaks #8: Patti Smith, Toni Morrison, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane: “I shall make every sacrifice toward that end”

As even “nerd culture” and all the rest just becomes another snobby fad and pop culture corner to hide in, Patti Smith suggests where the real “next” actually is, out of view completely:…when people ask me Who’s the new people?, well to me the new people are the unknown people. The new people that I … Continue reading The Poet Speaks #8: Patti Smith, Toni Morrison, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane: “I shall make every sacrifice toward that end”

The Great Myths #27: The Monster Bear & the Making of Thunder (Miwok)

From the Miwok tribe of California, who are now “practically extinct”: Bear’s sister-in-law, Deer, had two beautiful fawn daughters. Bear was a horrible, wicked woman, and she wanted the fawns for herself. So this is what she did. One day she invited Deer to accompany her when she went to pick clover. The two fawns … Continue reading The Great Myths #27: The Monster Bear & the Making of Thunder (Miwok)

The Great Myths #26: Sigurd Kills the Monster Fafnir & Understands the Language of Animals (Norse)

What is the reason for gold being called otter-payment? It is said that when the Aesir went to explore the whole world – Odin and Loki and Haenir – they came to a certain river and went along the river to a certain waterfall, and by the waterfall there was an otter and it had … Continue reading The Great Myths #26: Sigurd Kills the Monster Fafnir & Understands the Language of Animals (Norse)

12 Contemporary Interpretations, Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion, with footnotes

Originally posted on Mythology:
This post you are about to view contain some nude photographs.  If you are offended by nudity, if you are younger than 18 years of age, or if viewing nude images is not legal where you live, please go back. Cesar Santos, (b. 1982) Three Graces (aka the Charities) Oil on linen… Continue reading 12 Contemporary Interpretations, Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion, with footnotes

Reading between the lines in early medieval England: Old English interlinear glosses

Originally posted on Dutch Anglo-Saxonist:
A great portion of the extant Old English corpus survives between the lines of Latin manuscripts, as interlinear glosses. Generally, these glosses provide a simple word-for-word Old English translation of the Latin text in order to aid the reader, but various alternative glossing methods existed.  This blog post takes a… Continue reading Reading between the lines in early medieval England: Old English interlinear glosses

The Great Myths #25: The Monster Kirttimukha & the Face of Glory (Hindu)

The Indian legend of the “Face of Glory” begins, like that of the Man-Lion, with the case of an infinitely ambitious king who through extraordinary austerities had gained the power to unseat the gods and was now sole sovereign of the universe. His name was Jalandhara, “Water Carrier,” and he conceived the impudent notion of … Continue reading The Great Myths #25: The Monster Kirttimukha & the Face of Glory (Hindu)

Go Ahead and Fuck Up

I’m not sure who the equivalent is for you, but Albert Camus was one of the first authors I found outside of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The high school teacher who introduced me to him also laid an egg it took years to get over: the apparently insurmountable gulf between “popular” and “serious” literature; … Continue reading Go Ahead and Fuck Up

“build it well, to bury it well, and wait”: Four New Poems at the High Window

Many thanks to David Cooke at The High Window, who has published four of my poems here. I‘m also pleased to note that the post officially announces that the High Window Press will be publishing my full collection of poems from ancient Europe, Bone Antler Stone, later this year.  The four poems posted today come from the … Continue reading “build it well, to bury it well, and wait”: Four New Poems at the High Window