Thursday, 12 February 2009

Poetry post

There are many things I miss about varsity, and as TSC embraks on his studies, I am reminded of this. One of the things I really enjoyed when I was at UCT was a poetry seminar given by Stephen Watson. I have always written poetry, but he taught me about rhythm and style and introduced me to poetry masters.

One of the poems we studied that struck a chord with me was Pablo Neruda's Ode to Tomatoes:
Here it is, translated from the original Spanish:

The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its giftof fiery color
and cool completeness.

We were asked to write a similar ode to an everyday object. Here is mine that I wrote then, followed by one written this morning:

Ode to the Coat Hanger

Of the cupboard
Is the coat hanger,
That great isosceles triangle
Forces clothes into
Neat rows
And dictates wardrobe hierarchy.
A knight -
Guardian of our most precious wear:
Christening gown,
Wedding dress
And cherished Levi low-cuts.
With metal claw,
He rules each one,
Captain Hook coat hanger.
When disaster strikes,
Our wiry hero
Bends to
Lend his tongue,
Slipping it through
The vehicle door
To rescue
Stranded keys.
Never do his shoulders sag.
Sturdily he bears
The weight
We lay.
Timid is our
Helpful friend,
And content to take his
Quiet place
On a dark and

Ode to my pillow

Every morning as I wake
Your softness caresses my cheek,
And at the long day's finish
You wait for me under the covers,
To cradle my tired head
And listen to my breathing ease.

When trouble comes to visit me
I turn to your embrace,
Clutching at you desperately,
Holding you close and
Staining your pale face
With my own tears.
And yet you stay.
Cushioning the blows,
Comforting me.

As my day draws out like a long, winding thread,
My thoughts turn to you and I long to return to our bed.

I'd love it if any of you were to take a bash at writing a poem of praise to an everyday object in my comments section or on your blogs. And if you have any favourite poems, please do share!


The Jackson Files said...

Pablo Neruda is one of my most favourite poets ever, ever, EVER.

And my favourite poem of his is If you forget me, possibly one of the most beautiful poems ever. And if I were to ever get married, I would like this poem to be read at my wedding.


The Jackson Files said...

PS. Have you ever seen the movie Il Postino? If you like Pablo Neruda then you should see it.

Being Brazen said...

Love Pablo Neruda....truly.

I am having writers block today - So i will not torture you by attempting to write a bad peome here :)

Helen said...

"If you forget me" is beautiful! Although I don't know if I would have it read at my wedding... Although maybe... hmmm...

dizzblnd said...

Great job on both poems. I like how you incorporated "tongue" into the poem of the hanger. I will never look at one the same again ;)

Shania said...

I'm quite jealous of TSC. It's long been my dream to be a professional student. And your poems are very lovely!

Poetry Sue said...

wow... What a great ode! both of them! I have to many to share just one. You can check them all out on my other blog Now I'm off to write and ode to something...

Slyde said...

those were great! you've got some talent, girl..

Tamara said...

Jackson's Mom: He is awesome. Although "If you forget me" is a bit sad for me.

I haven't seen that movie. Thanks for the heads up.

Brazen: I'll harass you for a poem on another day then.

Helen: I feel the same.

Dizzblnd: Your coathangers will all pull tongues at you from now on ;-)

Shania: I'm jealous too. But I had my three years, now he can have his.

Sue: I look forwrad to reading it.

Slyde: thanks. *blush* Compliments from you mean the world.

Dash said...

i love how well you made them flow. so nice to read, some people don't think about that when they are writing a poem - too many actually.

Tamara said...

Thanks, Dash. Appreciate your compliment.

po said...

I love your hanger one. Maybe I will give this a bash this weekend. But I feel a bit intimidated, yours are so good!

Katia Shtefan said...

Wow--that must have been a great poetry workshop because your poems are fantastic! I especially like the one about the pillow. It definitely comes to replace certain things in our lives.

If you really like Neruda, check out Red Poppy at It's a non-profit set up to create a documentary biographical film about Neruda and to translate his works into English.

Here is an ode that I wrote a few months ago. It was not inspired by Neruda's odes, so the style is very different.

An Ode to Peanut Butter (11/24/08)

Smooth as a newly paved street
or scabrous as the Andes.
Enticer of grains,
and black jewels.
Oh, do Thou chain me to thy cliffs,
that as Prometheus,
counting daily,
I may one day
—the first and last day of light!—
discover the full measure
of my despicable humanity,
the mud
from which my murky form didst come.
Oh Thou that gratifieth all desires,
pour out Thyself
into this aching cavity,
or rather let me swim
in Thy viscid brown expanse,
of Thy sweetly saline waters,
Thy fragile pebbles,
and finally
finding repose on your waves,
as does Vishnu
on the sea
of nothingness.

Eternally Curious said...

Alas! As much as I love to write, I have never loved to write poetry. I do love to read it. Just never could write it well at all. Thanks for sharing yours though! Very enjoyable.

Tamara said...

Po: Please do!

Katia: Welcome, fellow peanut butter admirer ;-) Thanks for sharing your awesome ode.

Eternally Curious: Thanks. Hoping I can access your blog today. it gave me bat last week.

angel said...

i like the pillow one!

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