Thursday, January 31, 2013

Poetry Time

Dear All,

Poems can be used for basically anything - from trying to grasp and communicate philosophical ideas or insights into the mysteries of life to capturing important emotions and memories, from criticizing existing problems of a society or culture to simply playing with words and sounds for their own sake.

Please choose a poem you like and tell the rest of us why you like it and what it means to you - or write your own poem and tell us a bit about the background of when and where and  why you wrote it. If you choose someone else's poem, please let us know the name of the poet and the title of the poem - and if it's a poem by someone who is not so well known, please tell us also where we can find it (website, anthology, etc).

Thank you!



    Work never seems to end
    day in-n-out working goes.
    Please may I get a break some time
    in the break, work seems to grow.
    It is like the weeds I see
    in the soil, they seem to grow.
    How ever I may pluck them out;
    they find there way again and sow.
    Work-a-haloes is what my friend call me.
    to them work is easy cake
    But work in-n-out like me
    and you’ll be a hockey stick.
    Work-n-work-n-work I see
    even work in everyday chores.
    Oh! This work never seems to end
    with me it also grows.
    '17th June,2007'
    Gaurav Bhaduri
    Poems always seem to be irrelevant to me since they are boring and hard to understand. Also, people usually use social media to share their feelings now instead of sharing through well-constructed poems. After reading this poem, I have completely changed my perspective about this communication medium because it brings out my emotions because I can relate myself to it. This is something that Facebook statues or tweets don’t. This poem makes me sad yet happy at the same time. “Work work, and work……” I can totally relate myself to this. I feel so overwhelmed by the amount of projects, essays, assignments and midterms I face. I rarely have time to rest and do the things I enjoy. This does seem to describe the life of a university student after my first read, but I can assure you, stress and work may have an optimistic side to it.

    This is actually the most accurate description for students’ lives. Courses, student clubs, friends, volunteering or maybe even part time jobs….. this is work that grows fast in frequency and volume. Everyday I wake up then I work, and then I sleep. If life is shaped like this, there would be no meaning in life.

    Yet, all this work can bring happiness. Workaholic maybe? No, work just gives me a purpose to live, to make myself feel important and knowledgeable. My workload grows, but it’s not considered as weed invasion. I know my work is challenging, but I wouldn’t enjoy doing repetitive work like the way a robot or machine works. My situation is similar to the author, but the only difference is that I enjoy it.
    In my perspective, enjoying my work is actually the most important in order to differentiate myself from the rest of the people who has just as a large amount of work as I face but hate it. The work is not going to stop or go away, so why not face it with a positive attitude? I will elaborate more on this topic under the blog “Your turn to speak”.

  2. I chose a spoken word poem by Anis Mojgani called Shake the Dust. You can find a performance here: I encourage all of you to watch/listen to it- it’s only a few minutes long and it’s well worth the time.

    I wanted to pick a spoken word poem because I think oftentimes when we hear the word ‘poem’, written text first comes to mind, and hearing a poet perform their work as it is meant to be read is refreshing. I love how it sounds, how the words flow one after the other and convey something from the poet’s heart to mine- something that is difficult to put to exact words, but I’ll try my best.

    The first thing that draws me into this poem is that it is not exclusive. Anis states who the poem is for: from the “bus drivers driving a million broken hymns” to “the girl who loves somebody else” to “sexists” and “biggots” and lastly “This? This is for you.” He boldly urges his listener to “shake the dust”, to “grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours.”

    I can’t quite seem to put to words exactly what I take away from this poem every time I listen to it, but if I could say something to Anis, it would be this: I get it. I get what he is trying to say. I get that we all forget to live, that we forget “[our] heart[s] beat 100,000 times a day.” I can definitely say for myself that I often let time slip by in a monotonous blur- and I think we all let that happen one time or another- but if you do find yourself in one of those tides, catch yourself as soon as you can and do something about it; shake the dust and run full speed towards whatever beckons you.

  3. I chose to write about Dr. Seuss’ poem, and book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”. Dr. Seuss had an incredible ability to make a children’s book so much more than just a children’s book. His books are poems, they teach lessons and they inspire; best of all they do so in a hilarious way with newly invented words when an old one is simply not enough.
    I like “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” because it encourages the reader to do something, to be something. One of the most well known lines in “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” is, “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose.” So often we make up excuses about why we cannot do things, and that line reminds us that sometimes things aren’t as complicated as they seem if we just give them a try.
    This poem notes that things will not always go well. That we might get stuck waiting for something, that things might nock us down or that we might simply just mess up. Even though all those things may happen, the important part is that we tried something, started something, did something- became something.
    "Oh, The Places You'll Go" also relates well to the theme for the class conference because we may not see right away what it is that we want to change or what we can do to change it. Despite our doubts, there is something we can change, something we can do, something we can become, “Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way”.

  4. Seal Lullaby by Rudyard Kipling

    Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
    And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
    The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
    At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
    Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
    Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
    The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
    Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas!

    This poem has a special memory for me, because I sang this poem in an arrangement by Eric Whitacre in my high school choir.

    The original poem captures a moment between a mother and her child, in this case a seal and her pup. The mother seal is metaphorically singing a song to calm the baby seal down to sleep.

    The poem has beautifully imagery of dark waters at night, gently lapping at hollows. This is a peaceful state of being, compared to the green and lively water of the daytime. The moon shines overhead, over the waves (combers), and the sound of the water rustles. Although I’m not sure what billow refers to in this poem, the word for some reason reminds me of wind and air, giving the mental image of a billowing sail. There is a tender feeling between the mother and baby, as she soothes the “wee flipperling” (baby seal) by trying to get him or her to be at ease. The mother also tries to draw the baby seal into sleep by reassuring that no storms no sharks will harm him or her. The last line personifies the rocking waves of the sea as a mother’s arms.

    The emotions that this poem evokes are a certain tenderness of a mother’s love, and the memory of falling asleep in mom’s arms as a young child. Ever since being introduced to this poem through choir, I have always liked it.

    A link to us singing the song can be found here:

  5. Lyrics:


    The poem I chose is a rap by the Seattle-based artist Macklemore. I find this song really haunting because really hits close to home. His approaches drug abuse is very realistic and poetic at the same time. He brings attention to the fact that the majority of kids get into drugs because they think it's something all the pro rappers do because they sing about it, when in reality the rappers are only singing about it to seem cool. His raw emotion is very powerful; this isn't a song about not doing drugs because they're bad, it's about getting so far into something that you've got no escape, and the immense personal struggle involved with addiction. I guess I really like this song because it's very straightforward in it's message but still manages to bring forth a lot of imagery and emotion. I found his use of metaphors such as sailing in a sinking ship especially powerful.

  6. Dr. Suess

    You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

    I have chosen to write about this Dr. Suess poem because it was one of my favourites from childhood. I see another student has chosen to refer to this poem as well. As children, we did not see the significance of the lessons Dr. Suess was instilling within us. However, as I grow older and become independant I see the truth and meaning behind his poems.

    This specific poem speaks of life changes. Throughout your childhood and youth, your parents have worked to prepare you and educate you for the real world. When it is time to become independent and make important life decisions, such as moving out or going to university, the lessons we learn as children prepare us. Dr. Suess speaks of this in his poem, as he says, simply, that we have all the resources to choose our own paths in life. Our parents can no longer make decisions for us, or help us recover from our mistakes. It is up to every individual to make their own choices, and follow their own path throughout life. Dr. Suess' poem, as simple as it seems, delves into this complicated process of becoming an adult and becoming truly independent. By inspiring children to make their own choices and not always follow others, Dr. Suess teaches children to be leaders. Choosing your own path, forming your own opinions and making your own decisions is not always easy, but the most successful people are one's that have acquired these skills and perfected them.

    Looking back on this poem that I loved as a child, brings back memories of the simplicity of childhood. If making life decisions and "steering yourself in any direction you choose" was as easy as Dr. Suess makes it seem, becoming an adult wouldn't be such a big life change. It reminds me of how excited I was to grow up, but now that I am here, I sometimes wish to be a child again, with no worries, stressors or deadlines. This poem becomes very powerful when related to memories, current experiences and life changes.

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    This poem by Joy Kogawa is one of my favorites because this poem taught me to pursue my dream and not giving up no matter what, even if there is an obstacle in my path. This poem reminds me the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way” as if something is possible to do, we could always find a way to do it as long as those obstacles do not prevent us from reaching our goals.

    The poet uses a lot of techniques and literary devices in this poem. The poet creates the images of passageways and implies that no matter how large or significant an obstacle might be, there is always some way to get through and pass it. Then she uses "helicopters, rockets, or bombs" to tell the reader that there are different possibilities of how to overcome the wall. It shows that everyone is willing to give up when an obstacle appears, so having faith will give people all the possible ways to overcome the difficulties. The "gate" and "ladder" are used to represent the barriers and roadblocks that people face in their life. And the wall is symbolizing any obstacle in one’s life that may prevent them from continuing in their search for what they desire. The poet uses alliteration in this poem, some harsh sounds like “bombs, battering rams,” and then softer sounds like “Where there’s a wall there are, words to whisper by loose bricks, wailing prayers…” This creates a contrast between stanzas, and it is used to capture meaning and create some imagery in the poem.

  9. I chose the poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas. You can access the poem through the following link:

    Music has always played an important role in my life. I was very involved with the music program at my high school. One piece we played in Wind Ensemble was an adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Elliot del Borgo ( There was something special about listening to the poem accompanied with the music. Poetry has never been my favorite style of writing, and I often find it difficult to interpret poetry, let alone understand it well enough to make a connection with my life and the text. Hearing this poem along with the song greatly furthered my understanding of the text because it made the experience more powerful and accessible. The poem evokes intense emotions, which for me were magnified when the poem was paired with the music. The recurrence of the lines ‘do not go gentle into that good night, and ‘rage, rage against the dying of the light’, emphasize the urgency of Thomas’ plea to fight death. This feeling of urgency and desperation is reinforced by the frantic nature of the music. The layers of the music are representative of the struggles and persistence of human’s refusal to not ‘go gentle’. The message I took from this poem is that although death is inevitable, it should still be fought. One should not die with out fighting for their life, or perhaps for what will come after life.

  10. "Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self" - George Watsky


    WARNING: Profanities used by George Watsky.

    I chose this poem for his humour, his wit, and his honest words. As the title suggests, he is speaking to himself in retrospect. Some may believe that it is rather pointless to reflect on their past, yet I strongly believe that reflection is a great way for people to build themselves towards becoming significant beings. I define "significant beings" as people who pursue their passion in a way that makes them happy, because significance lies, not in monetary success or fame, but in the fact that people spent a great amount of time working towards their goal.

    At the age of sixteen, most of us, whether we were shy or outgoing, always had insecurities. Some may have handled their inner doubts better than others, but George Watsky’s spoken poem summarizes, in 3 minutes 19 seconds, the exact words that such insecure 16 year olds must hear. Watksy tells his 16 year old self that he should remember the fact that he is the newest member in a line of great ancestors who have successfully expanded the family tree throughout the history of time, and thus act in such a way that reflects the history of greatness. He says this to convey to the young adults that they are all important, whether they feel like it or not. As he speaks to himself, he also appeals to similar 16 year olds who feel that they are just another “crab in a bucket.” He says that people who feel such a way should “create a crab rope out the window made only of crab homies,” suggesting that more young adults should learn to open up to their peers and become interdependent during the most doubtful, mystified years of their early lives. He continues to present his ideas in a very hectic way, to create an atmosphere where the listeners or readers can also be shrouded in confusion. He then emerges through the mist of uncertainty and says, “you’re going to be fine,” providing reassurance.

    This poem is significant to me because I realized that, whether we’re 16 or 46, we, as human beings want nothing more than support from others, but more importantly from themselves. To rid of self doubt, in my opinion is one of the most difficult things to do. However, what’s more satisfying than knowing that we have enough confidence to pursue that passion that makes us significant?

    -Andrew Moon

    Invictus, by William Earnest Henley
    This poem stands out to me for two reasons, tone and message. Henley exemplifies a great mastery of Tone. The tone of this poem is overwhelming and acts as a driving force pushing the reader forward. The first stanza is packed with cold imagery such as “black, night, Pit,” and “soul”. Never have I read something that so vehemently illustrates life’s cruelties.
    This dark, fighting tone serves to propel the message of this poem. Through this poem Henley grapples with some of life’s biggest questions while remaining down to earth. Often poems highlight only the best moments of life, in a glossy unrealistic view. In contrast to this Invictus doesn’t paint over the pain or lows of life. Instead it grabs them by the thorns. This poem doesn’t end on an optimistic note, but it does end with a message of control and agency. The narrator concludes that throughout all of life’s chaos he will always have complete control of his “fate” and his “soul”, and that this sliver of control is enough to hold onto.
    In an initial reading of this poem, one might conclude that it is pessimistic and cynical. However with careful analysis it is possible to uncover a deeper message, a message of defiance. Through defiance there is optimism and hope. Henley uses rhyme to emphasize this. He declares that he has not “cried aloud”, his head is “unbowed”, his soul is “unconquerable”, and he is “unafraid”. By highlighting key words of transition with rhyme, and placing them at the end of each stanza, Henley transfers the focus of this poem from life’s brutalities, to his relentless attitude. The product is a poem that recognizes life’s hardships and yet exults the human spirit for being able to weather it all.
    The conclusion I take away is one of hope. If it’s possible for humans to exist in this absurd universe, there must be something truly special about the human spirit.

  12. The Rodin Museum after the Lonely Planet Guide to Paris
    By Conor MacDonald

    The Rodin Museum is one
    of the most relaxing
    spots in the city, with its garden bespeckled
    with sculptures and trees
    in which
    to contemplate The Thinker.
    Rooms on two floors of the 18th-century
    Hotel Biron displays vital
    bronze and marble sculptures by Auguste Rodin,
    including casts of some
    of his most celebrated
    works: The Hand of God, The Burghers of Calais,
    that perennial crowd-pleaser
    The Thinker and the sublime, the incomparable, that romance-hewn-in-marble called The Kiss.
    There are also some
    15 works by Camille Claudel (1864-1943), sister
    to the writer Paul and Rodin’s
    The garden closes its gates
    later than the museum: at 6:45pm
    April to September
    and at 5pm October
    to March. Buy
    tickets online to save

    Notes on the poem:

    My poem has been constructed out of a passage on the Musee Rodin from the 2011 Lonely Planet guide to Paris, Discover Paris: Experience the Best of Paris. I took the passage word for word and inserted line breaks where I deemed appropriate. Earlier I would not have recognized this as poetry, but after recently reading William Carlos Williams’ poem “This Is Just to Say,” my ideas about poetry have changed. Williams writes a poem that resembles a note tacked on the fridge about eating plums. The poem showed me that anything can be made poetic if it is framed in certain ways and treated as poetry.

    For my poem, I decided to use the Lonely Planet book because guide books are primarily designed to communicate information to tourists. No one reads a guide book as poetry, but quickly flip through it. By presenting it as poetry, I am drawing attention to the beauty of the words themselves. For example, there is alliteration with “spots in the city” and imagery in the colours of the garden and bronze and marble sculptures. In addition, the inclusion of certain months and not others creates a sense of warmth and colour: April, September, October and March are all months in the fall or spring.

    Introducing line breaks changes the sense of the sentences in interesting ways. The sentence “Rooms on two floors of the 18th-century Hotel Biron” etc. becomes “Rooms on two floors of the 18th-century,” which almost makes the century itself sound like a hotel or a house with floors and rooms. With each line break, different interpretations are revealed.

    I wrote this poem in my room on a Saturday with my mother’s Paris guide book for this assignment. It was an interesting process and emphasized the fact that poetry is potentially everywhere if you know how to see it.

  13. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
    There is a place where the sidewalk ends
    And before the street begins,
    And there the grass grows soft and white,
    And there the sun burns crimson bright,
    And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
    To cool in the peppermint wind.

    Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
    And the dark street winds and bends.
    Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
    We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
    And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
    To the place where the sidewalk ends.

    Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
    And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
    For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
    The place where the sidewalk ends.

    I chose this poem because I found as I was reading it I was no longer just reading words off of a page, but more so I was making a personal connection with the authors work. The words seemed to flow perfectly one after another as if the words belonged together, as opposed to just placed together to fulfill a purpose. I imagined the poem like an artist painting; the sentences flowed together like a brush on a canvas. A piece of art the poet was able to share with me.

    Another thing that drew me into the poem was the strong imagery the poet created. The words the poet used painted a clear picture in my mind; I found myself standing in the middle of the scenario that was being described. Also I found that the strong imagery was able to create stronger contrasts in the poem for example ``the sun burns crimson bright`` describing where the sidewalk ends, a very positive image as opposed to ``smoke blows black`` describing the city we live in. I found these contrasts to have emotional meaning to me as I was able to picture these places in my own life. Having an emotional connection with a piece of work makes it infinitely more significant.

    What really made this poem meaningful to me however was the content of what the author was talking about. I thought of the end of the sidewalk as the line in between our reality and imagination. The image of a wonderful place such as the end of the sidewalk is like our imagination in the way that we can create anything we want with no limitations. ``grass grows soft and white`` we obviously know that grass does not grow white, and is often not soft, but rather makes us itchy. This place may not exist in reality, but in our imagination we can create anything we want. The urgency the poet has to find this place shows to me the importance of maintaining our imagination throughout our life. Without it we are trapped in the land of black smoke and dark streets.

  14. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

    I was in grade 7 when I first read this poem and ever since, the poem’s message has stuck with me. The message in the poem discusses life and the various hardships and struggles that we must face daily since life, as the poem puts it, “ain’t been no crystal stair”. Life has often be compared to journeys, mountains, and many various paths that can take us in different directions, but in this poem, Hughes uses stairs as an analogy for life. One of the aspects of this poem that draws my attention is the use of imagery, such as describing the stairs as having tacks, splinters, and being torn up. This image is contrasted with the mention of crystal stairs, which can be imagined as being pristine with sunlight sparkling off the crystals. At the heart of the poem, the poem shows readers never to give up and that life will have its obstacles. Although the message may seem cliché, the intimacy of a mother telling her son a life lesson emphasizes the sincerity of the message and a lesson that should be taken to the heart.

    To me, this poem reminds be a lot about Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. At the mention of how the mother keeps climbing the stairs of life and reaching landings and turning corners, it illustrates how Terry Fox, despite his cancer, kept fighting to make a change in the world by running across Canada. Every corner and every landing in life is like a goal that we strive to reach and once we do reach it, we continue on and set even more challenging goals. Terry Fox would, day by day, set a goal of completing a marathon a day to eventually run across Canada, with his ultimate goal of raising awareness about cancer.

  15. A Dream Within A Dream

    Take this kiss upon the brow!
    And, in parting from you now,
    Thus much let me avow-
    You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?
    All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

    I stand amid the roar
    Of a surf-tormented shore,
    And I hold within my hand
    Grains of the golden sand-
    How few! yet how they creep
    Through my fingers to the deep,
    While I weep- while I weep!
    O God! can I not grasp
    Them with a tighter clasp?
    O God! can I not save
    One from the pitiless wave?
    Is all that we see or seem
    But a dream within a dream?
    Edgar Allan Poe

    I really like this poem, its captivating and engaging. This poem could be viewed as a reflection of his own life, at the time. It appears that he exaggerates his confusion in watching the people in his life slip away . He can not even hold nto a grain of sand and states so strongly in his last question,comparing people to the notion of a wrinkle in time.

  16. Few years ago, I along with several of my friends volunteered in East Hastings in order to give back to our community and support others that are in need. I was shocked by the difference between West Side Vancouver and East Side Vancouver as it seemed like I was entering a different city as a whole. I wrote a poem below to show what is currently happening between the East and West!

    Stop the alienation
    Animals like degradation
    West side high rises
    East side slums
    No surprises
    Treated like they don't have thumbs
    Undereducated undervalued
    West side people gated
    Eastside people hated
    Protection for the masses
    Give'em all bus passes
    Send them away from here
    So we the majority can be free from fear
    No chances for rehabilitation
    Leave the drug addicted nation
    Up with the walls down with their rights
    Stop the press, cut the welfare
    And political fights
    Life is a game of bowling ,every now and then let a gutter ball slip