Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthdays and Poetry

Look who I share my birthday with: Melancholy Charles. He's looking rather fine and dandy, don't you think? I like a man who knows how to dress for the occasion. I'm planning on dressing for the occasion myself.

Plus, I've always been rather partial to deep red and gold cording.

(I like that chair too)

I was googling around last night, using "birthday" and "poems" as my search parameters. The cast of characters who wrote birthday poetry was intriguing: another Gloomy Charles came up — Mr Bukowski. Apparently he wrote himself a poem on his 43rd birthday. I took a look at it but really, the first lines were far too depressing for me to use in conjunction with my own birthday:

To end up alone
in a tomb of a room
without cigarettes
or wine--
just a lightbulb
and a potbelly,
grayhaired,
and glad to have
the room.

Cheery, wasn't he? Sorry Charles, but if I was potbellied and grayhaired, along in a tomb of a room on my 43rd birthday without anything to drink I think I'd rather cry rather than read your poem. I need to laugh at my demons, not mourn them. Yegods.

Then I found an old favourite: Christina Rossetti. I love her. We all have her Caterpillar poem memorized, along with our Toffee variation. Her poem is less, err, physical, shall we say. More joyful. And wonderful etheric.

Just in case you're wondering,
vair is squirrel fur.

My Birthday
Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

Now that's more like it. Who wouldn't want a few halcyon seas and rainbow shells around on their birthday? Plus, I've always been partial to the idea of reclining on a dias, carved with pomegranates and doves.

And for Charles? I found a perfect one for him. A touch of melancholy, a pinch of worry and frustration, a stiff Scotch, and some perfect inner turmoil.

On The Eve of a Birthday
Timothy Steele

As my Scotch, spared the water, blondly sloshes
About its tumbler, and gay manic flame
Is snapping in the fireplace, I grow youthful:
I realize that calendars aren’t truthful
And that for all of my grand unsuccesses
External causes are to blame.

...

Such fears and dreams, however, always pass.
And gazing from my window at the dark,
My drink in hand, I’m jauntily unbowed.
The sky’s tiered, windy galleries stream with cloud,
And higher still, the dazed stars thickly mass
In their long Ptolemaic arc.

For the rest of the poem, click here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted over at Yat-Yee Chong's blog. Head on over for yet more poetry!

8 comments:

Heather said...

Happy birthday, Shelia. Best wishes for a wonderful year.

Another thing you have in common with Charles - a love of organic gardening. ;-)

Kate said...

Happy Birthday, Sheila. Wishing you excellent health, fine soil, and plenty of fuel for the blog.

Nicola said...

Happy Birthday! Make the most of it. Recline and be served tea and chocolate chip cookies - or something! All the best for the coming year too.

sheila said...

Thank-you so much, Heather, Kate, and Nicola!

Yup, me and Charles have a lot in common. I also walk around talking to myself. And I'm frequently tetchy! Haven't started my own line of biscuits though. And I hope I'm more photogenic (but I fear I'm not).

this is my patch said...

I share my birthday with Hank Marvin from The Shadows, remember him! A happy belated birthday to you Sheila. I hope it was a good one. Talked to any plants lately! x

Suji said...

Happy, happy birthday sheila! Wishing you bountiful harvests and many, many, many more happy, healthy years ahead :) I share a birthday with Bill Gates and Julia Roberts...and have no money nor the looks to speak for it LOL! Have a blast!

Becky said...

Happy belated birthday wishes, my dear, and many happy returns!

I love the tablecloths and pans on the wall at the restaurant -- what a fun place to spend some time on the Big Day!

sheila said...

Thankyou everyone! I'm officially in my dotage now! Hurray!