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A Poet's Journal: February 4th, 2014

February 4th, 2014

It is in our nature to fashion understanding after intellect; from the first breath of consciousness it has been said that man is the thinking animal and whether we agree or not, the tradition with which our thoughts move is to place one object up against another, or one thought or memory up against another, and proceed through reasoning or logic to come up with a strategy that will invariably prove or not prove that one is better or worse than the other.  We place upon the scale of importance efficiency and fact, and hold with words those ideas and matters of thought that have not yet been fully understood.  To speak, or more generally, to use the senses, is our way to enlighten understanding, whereupon it is only those things that are left unsaid, or that have yet been revealed, that the intellect truly understands.  By the concept and definition of a word, we give boundary, by which is meant exclusion, so that the objective reality that we come to take as truth w…

Newly Published Translation!

We have left the solstice behind and our days are now guided by declining light and the heat of summer.  Let us take a moment then to step toward the pleasures of another world and warm ourselves with poetry.  Please scroll down or click on the following link to read the new translation:

A Translation of André Chénier’s ‘Elegy XX’ by Douglas Thornton
Art, feeble interpretation
Of the soul! Art and only verse,
While the heart alone is poet!
Oppressive to the fruitful mind
Are those adornments, which despite
Themselves, hide within such words
As truth and surety commit
To thought, the loss of thought itself.
The heart speaks, genius writes: master
To obey, his hand turns divine,
But only if loved and happy,
Freed of torment, only if joy
Light-hearted and ardent youth spread
Across his face their beaming glow,
Will his verse, as clear as amber,
Or as flowers blush, find renewed
With their fairest looks, a sweetness
To the world, and in ripe old age
A guide. But mild and generous
If his h…

Newly Published Poetry: The Wintering-Ground (With Audio)

As winter is finally coming to a close, let us reflect upon the passing season and find a place where we are truly alive.  Please click on the link below or scroll down to read this newly published poem:
The Wintering-Ground by Douglas Thornton


The Wintering-Ground

Within what hut,
My woodland maid,
May I remain awhile?
Next what fire may my chills
Be warmed? Be there
A path that leads
Past stony piles and tells
Us not to walk alone?

I do not think,
My woodland maid,
Deep sleep my dreams will find;
Nor will my coldness cede
To warm sunshine.
But if my steps
Should weary long, nor learn
My ways to scorn, that hut
Through lost defiles
I’ll find once more.
Douglas Thornton

A New Translation of Catullus!

Here is a new translation of Catullus: please scroll down to read or visit the Society of Classical Poets by clicking on the following link: A Translation of Catullus’s ‘Ad Sirmium Insulam’ by Douglas Thornton

The important events in the life of Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 B.C.) are recounted through the poems he has left.  The particular poem below was written on his return from Asia Minor, where he had attempted at a public career by following Memmius, the patron of the poet Lucretius, into the province of Bithynia.  But his hopes being dashed, he took refuge after the long journey at his home in the present-day village of Sirmione, in northern Italy, on Lake Garda.

Ad Sirmium Insulam

Of the islands which in stagnant
Waters and vast seas Neptune holds,
Sirmio--the pearl of islands!--
Now my heart with you rejoices
Safe and sound, still scarce believing
Thynia and Bithynian
Fields have gone.  What more fortunate
Care, after so many struggles,
When the mind shrugs off its burden,
Dr…

Anectahi's Chant

Here is an excerpt from a poem entitled Anectahi's Chant published in Woodland Poems.

Anectahi's Chant
The hearts of men rest Far from where they sleep And dream profusely In the night; absence Is the only joy That moves their spirits Closer to the form Each impression hides.
Obscure be the ways In which their visions Turn truth in the mind To rename its fate, And by this, conceive Of present worth, false Entangled judgements Not to be escaped.

Newly Published Poetry!

Please click on the link below to check out the latest work:

A Reply to the Inner-Self and Other Poetry by Douglas Thornton


Wapiniwiktha: The Prophet's Exile

Here are the opening lines of a poem entitled: Wapiniwiktha; The Prophet's Exile--published in Woodland Poems.


There is a force connects one to the end
Of all things, that before the end
We may learn of it, and to us define
Of beauty, love, philosophy;
To make of intelligence more than what
It is—divine—and by that broad
Effort leave a trace upon the present
Of which all must experience:
The loss thereof; a loss that we may count
As meaningless until it fools
The heart of a greater man; the repute
Wherewith, from his maternal tribe
Outcast, the prophet Wapiniwiktha
Was lately stung.

Douglas Thornton


NEWLY PUBLISHED TRANSLATIONS!!

Newly published at the Society of Classical Poets:  Translations of André Chénier’s Poetry, by Douglas Thornton

The Flute

Douglas Thornton

Ever tender and touching the moment,
When pressing himself the flute to my mouth,
Laughing and pulling me close to his breast,
He named me his rival and soon to be
Master.  My stiff and timid lips were shown
To breathe an air pure and harmonious,
And my young fingers, by his practiced hands,
Being raised and lowered a hundred times,
Though ever so trying, were taught to close
The different holes of the sonorous wood.

La Flûte

André Chénier

Toujours ce souvenir m'attendrit et me touche,
Quand lui-même, appliquant la flûte sur ma bouche,
Riant et m'asseyant sur lui, près de son coeur,
M'appelant son rival et déjà son vainqueur,
Il façonnait ma lèvre inhabile et peu sûre
A souffler une haleine harmonieuse et pure;
Et ses savantes mains prenaient mes jeunes doigts,
Les levaient, les baissaient, recommençaient vingt fois,
Leur enseignant ains…

Mineola: The Spirit of the War-Path

Here is the first act of a drama from Woodland Poems--feel free to comment!
Scene: A wood near an Indian Village (late evening) Enter: Two women (Mineola and Nakakowa) gathering wood Mineola: See you how this dark world in silence be? I think the evening awakes anxiousness Just as the morning delays it: Hear you? You may hear the birds, but they are far away; They sing, but their songs are echoes, long, faint; And yet they tell a truth, but it is scarce: That we are far from ourselves when we’d be The most intimate, and that our precious Moments are thoughts too lazy to be felt— And this, this, the worst sort of anxiousness! Nakakowa: And why? Mineola: Such times as this, when men are tired, I am awake, but cannot act myself, And being another, am an enemy To myself who was a friend, and un-friend The man who rises fresh to his passion.