goodbye NPM and Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day

Today is Poem in Your Pocket day. You have 30 poems from this blog alone to consider adding to your pocket today. I like some of the suggestions they provided to make poetry more public today:

In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a “poems for pockets” give-a-way in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  • Text a poem to friends
  • Share poetry. That’s all they ask. I’ve tried to do my part this month with my daily postings. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed them! I certainly had a fun time finding stuff to post, and of course, there are many others that I would have liked to add. Friends like Robt O’Sullivan Schleith or Daniel Weinshenker and classics like Edna St. Vincent Millay or Lorca. I encourage you to seek them out on your own.

    For the final poem this month, I chose this rather long piece, but one that I still find so fascinating. With wisps of nostalgia, sorrow, and hope, it seems a fitting way to wrap up. And it contains the phrase that is on this year’s National Poetry Month poster, something that I want to keep asking myself, to challenge myself and make life better.

    npm_poster_2009_2001

    The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
    by T.S. Eliot

    S’io credessi che mia risposta fosse
    a persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

    questa fiamma staria senza pi scosse.
    Ma per ci che giammai di questo fondo
    non torn vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
    senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

    Let us go then, you and I,
    When the evening is spread out against the sky
    Like a patient etherised upon a table;
    Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
    The muttering retreats
    Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
    And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
    Streets that follow like a tedious argument
    Of insidious intent
    To lead you to an overwhelming question.
    Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
    Let us go and make our visit.

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

    The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
    Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
    And seeing that it was a soft October night,
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
    And indeed there will be time
    For the yellow smoke that slides along the street
    Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
    There will be time, there will be time
    To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
    There will be time to murder and create,
    And time for all the works and days of hands
    That lift and drop a question on your plate,
    Time for you and time for me,
    And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
    And for a hundred visions and revisions,
    Before the taking of a toast and tea.

    In the room the women come and go
    Talking of Michelangelo.

    And indeed there will be time
    To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
    Time to turn back and descend the stair,
    With a bald spot in the middle of my hair–
    (They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
    My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
    My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin–
    (They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute win reverse.

    For I have known them all already, known them all–
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?

    And I have known the eyes already, known them all–
    The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
    And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
    When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
    Then how should I begin
    To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
    And how should I presume?

    And I have known the arms already, known them all–
    Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
    (But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
    Is it perfume from a dress
    That makes me so digress?
    Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
    And should I then presume?
    And how should I begin?

    Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
    And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
    Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?

    I should have been a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas…

    And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
    Smoothed by long fingers,
    Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
    Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
    Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
    Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
    But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
    Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in
    upon a platter,
    I am no prophet-and here’s no great matter;
    I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
    And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
    And in short, I was afraid.

    And would it have been worth it, after all,
    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
    Would it have been worth while,
    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
    To have squeezed the universe into a ball
    To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
    To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
    Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”–
    If one, settling a pillow by her head,
    Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
    That is not it, at all.”

    And would it have been worth it, after all,
    Would it have been worth while,
    After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
    After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along
    the floor–
    And this, and so much more?–
    It is impossible to say just what I mean!
    But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a
    screen:
    Would it have been worth while
    If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
    And turning toward the window, should say:
    “That is not it at all,
    That is not what I meant, at all.”

    No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
    Am an attendant lord, one that will do
    To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
    Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous–
    Almost, at times, the Fool.

    I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
    I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

    Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
    I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

    I do not think that they will sing to me.

    I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
    Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
    When the wind blows the water white and black.

    We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

    – from The Waste Land and Other Poems

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