Saturday, July 20, 2013

Off The Shelf Archive~July

It's been one of those summers, and for one reason or another I have been quite remiss about changing out the Off The Shelf page. It wasn't for lack of a new selection, though.

Months ago in a discussion of a poem, my blog friend Karin Gustafson (ManicDDaily) sent me an excerpt from Shakespeare's play about spirits of air and darkness, The Tempest, and I thought of all the lines in it that are part of our daily speech, that I've heard in every kind of context my whole life.

It made me realize that there is a force in poetry that really can't be explained intellectually--it's a part of the flesh and bone of who we as human beings are, a unique invention to express ourselves in ways outside of the obvious, that makes the obvious reveal its far more hidden true nature.

Anyway, the example Karin sent me is now  here in the Off The Shelf Archive, Ariel's 'nonsense' songs, penned by Will about 1610, over 400 years ago. While the language is not really the way we currently speak, and while much of it is fully intended to be fanciful, if not outright silly,  I nonetheless am confidant that at some point, in some conversation, you have used at least one phrase from these.

I've added an additional song from Ariel,  ('Where the Bee...' ) and a (perhaps over-) familiar snippet of Prospero speaking at the very end of the play, because I can.


And now for something totally different: a last chance to read the former selection before it goes into the vaults, a poem called The Far Garden, by the incomparable Fireblossom (Shay Simmons --unless you can't stand living without it, in which case you can buy her book here on Amazon. )

The Far Garden

When I was young I asked,
Why are my arms made of blackberry vines?
And why do I
Most love to sit
In the far garden filled
With strawberries and mint?

Why do I have
Cat-tail colored hair?
Why is the thunderhead
A black mother bear?
Why is my skin filled with restless blue lightning
And the pull of the moon?

You dreamed it, child--
Is all that I was told, and it's
A sin to lie
A sin to lie.

When I was young, I ran
Away through the wheat under bright summer sun
Until I was alone
Save for sparrow and crow
With south wind for sign post
And further to go.

I sang to the quicksilver
Dead in the earth
Who lay with the bear's teeth,
The strawberry red,
And the sweet things that were.

You dreamed it, child--
Was all I was told, but the
Far garden called and we
Grew up wild
Grew up wild.

© Shay Caroline Simmons, 
2008-2013,  All Rights Reserved.
Used with permission.

by Shay Caroline Simmons

Image:Garden of Spanish Farmhouse, by Joaquin Sorolla, 1909
Public Domain


  1. The Tempest is a marvellous play, and so easy to read, even if one is not well-versed in Shakespearean language. Some of my very favourite quotes come from that source ("Now I will believe that there are unicorns.." for one). Ariel, of course, represents the artistic, intellectual spirit of man, and his songs are whimsical and beautiful.

    Thank you for posting Shay's hauntingly lovely poem. It is such writing which I regard as a gift, when freely given and it strikes me once again how sad I feel to think of all the wonderful writing on blogs that goes unnoticed and appreciated by the literary world - now ruled by cliques and intellectual snobs, when poets have always been mavericks and penniless bards.

    1. Never truer than now. Academic poets are almost as little known as the rest of us, though, that's my consolation. ;_). Thanks for stopping by, Kerry.

  2. poetry is a force that really can not be explained...that whole para of yours attempts to capture a bit of what poetry is...and does it well...expressing ourselves in ways outside the obvious...i never would have thought like this 4 years ago, pre-poetry for me...its def a unique way of trying to bring together the seen and unseen in our world...

  3. Shakespeare is definitely in the bones of most English speakers, even those that don't know much about him.

    Shay's poem is so beautiful. Very poignant and a true song. Just lovely.

    Thanks for the mention, though musicality is something so inherent in your many poetic lines - I think I was just pointing that out. K.

  4. Thanks again for featuring my poem, Joy. It means a great deal to me that you wanted to.

    1. It was my pleasure Shay. Thanks for letting me do so.

  5. I adored The Far Garden, thank you for sharing.

  6. Shay's poetry is always magical. Just like she is. :)

  7. I have a number of poetry books packed in my suitcase ... Gemini/Scorpio/Capricorn is one of them. I will have to purchase this one too, it seems :) Surely, a poem to "fall into".

    Love, love the artwork you find.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. Have a great vacation.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats