Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

Location: North Carolina, United States

Monday, February 26, 2007

Reading Carmen, Searching Dulce

Firstly, here's the recording of "Reading Someone Else's Love Poems" that I had to redo (apparently YouTube cuts the last couple seconds off uploaded videos). I need to redo "Carmen de Boheme" also. For your viewing pleasure today, Characters Searching for Authors, courtesy of the Cosmoetica mailing list, this interesting presentation of Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and this war poem:


Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

By Wilfred Owen


Great poem. Thick language, shocking imagery, and a stylish but powerful ending. In fact, the ending to this poem influenced the ending of my Ou La Mort. Also, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" roughly translates to "It is sweet and becoming to die for one's country" and is pronounced "DUL-kay et dec-OR-um est pro puh-TRI-uh MOR-ee". If I didn't do that in the "proper" way, no matter~ You get the idea. Take care 'til next,


LAEvaside: I recently hit 3,333 posts~ 3 is my favorite number, so hey, exciting. As of now, this blog averages 20-25 hits and 30-35 page views a day. Savvy. [/laevaside]

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Jealousy, Lily, Ballroom, Rose

Firstly, let us note this great entry on jealousy among artists. If this ails you, get over it! Art is collaborative, not competitive. Secondly, Anonick featured an enjoyable parody of "Walrus and the Carpenter". Check it out. Also, the song Once Upon a December from Anastasia has become a favorite; it popped up while I was watching a ballroom dancing show on PBS. Speaking of which, I might take up ballroom dancing as a hobby this summer. Go me.

Now, once again, a painting poem. The previous entry of this sort talks about the benefits of combining different artforms to heighten or alter the effect on both ends. Right now I'm doing a series on John Singer Sargent, though I'm probably going to touch on Monet soon. Here's the painting, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Also, the story behind its creation is very interesting; scroll down for that. Painting 2-3 minutes a day to capture a certain twilight effect is intense. Now, the poem:


Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
               ~John Singer Sargent

Lit-garden spell, the spell of white
Is beyond smiles; in awe, and fire
Flying to touch, the two
Design light paper stars,
Twilight mirrors in soft glory
Rivaled only by their keepers.
Singing lilies, choir-petals
Pink in rapture; red rings
Dress-bells for thrice-felt beauty
Flush in, around, and everywhere.

By Neil Hester


Compare the above to this poem. Notice any similarities? Every poem in this series will be 10-line free verse with couplets of matching lengths that vary from couplet to couplet: a brief, but intricate observation of the painting. That said, the painting is beautiful, the lighting in particular; matching twilight and lantern light is a beautiful and evanescent thing. Evanesce...nt.

Take Care,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hearts! Red! Everywhere!

Yeah, high school was prett(il)y filled with hearts, flowers, and red/white variants, among other things. It was nice; I've never really had anything against Valentine's Day (I remember in elementary when we used to all buy those little valentines with different sports, characters, etc. on them and exchange). In spirit of the holiday, I did a recording of Reading Someone Else's Love Poems (first poem down, scroll down for more love poems).

LAEvaside: The last word of the poem got cut off somehow (I probably just cut the recording by accident), so I'll get another run up soon. [/laevaside]

I'll probably start doing more readings via YouTube (very convenient website) to add another element to this blog. Plus, it's fun reading poetry out loud. Now you know what my voice sounds like! But not what I look like; I'd rather not show myself, for security and mystery (the latter moreso). Plus, I don't need people bothering me in the streets, asking for autographs. Ha!

Oh, on another note, I switched to the new Blogger, finally. I probably won't tag things, though. It causes itching. Oh, also; Two Love Poems, courtesy of Jessica. Noone else has put up a Valentine's entry yet, so... no link for them. Yep~

Addendum: Okay, so I just finished writing a "love" poem; figured I'd go ahead and put it up here so that something of my own hits the theme. Here ya go:


I Love Her!
              “You don't get to choose. You just fall.” ~Anonymous

              “WHAT?! I differ, Sir Anonymous,
I chose her just last week.
She’s giddy and she’s gorgeous
And I love it when she speaks.”

              “What color are her eyes?”
              “They’re brown– no, blue!
Or at least, I should surmise
That they’re a pretty hue.

Anyhow, she’s great! I love
How wonderful I feel with her
Beside me.”
                         “But what of
Her interests? Does she prefer

A dance, a dinner movie,
Or a picnic with the stars?”
              “Well, Anon, you see,
We’re really not that far.”

              “You love her?”
                                               “Yes, I love the dame!
Stop nagging, let me go!”
              “One more question: what’s her name,
young lover?”

                                          “I... don’t know.”

By Neil Hester


Boy, formatting that in HTML was rough. Anyhow, that's it for today; take care 'til next time,


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Alpha, Beta, Gamma...

A brief entry today that almost totally consists of a recent sonnet of mine. Before that, please note the addition of Anthony Zanetti's Very Nice, Very Nice on the sidebar. Check it out! Now, a couple Plath-related responses to my article: Bloom & Plath with Anthony and Ted (Hughes) Kicks Ass! with Jessica Schneider. Oh yeah. Now, the sonnet:


Omega is Lovely
              ~"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Omega! The grand and glorious
End of beginnings and end of ends–
Behold! It stands victorious;
Grinning from Alpha to self, it bends
Little sis Omicron in dashing form
And carries Pi by infinite grace!
Omega whittles Iota to whit
And balances Delta to stunning lukewarm!
The soul of Psi is wholly lit
And buried is Theta, by lethal embrace
Of self (not Omega; Omega is lovely
And endlessly fair), and golden is Phi–
   And yet, I should honestly doubt as to whether
   Omega is endless or ends altogether.

By Neil Hester


Better brush up on your Greek alphabet, no? Just to point out a few of the harder ones: Omicron means "little O" in contrast to Omega "big O", Theta stood for death in biblical times (with Tau in opposition as a symbol for life), and Phi stands for the golden ratio (i.e. the golden rectangle). A large deal of the sonnet doesn't hold great meaning as single lines, but as a whole paints a general attitude towards Omega. Plus, it's fun. There are a couple possible clichés in the first couple lines, such as "grand and glorious" and "end of ends" (which I would argue is inverted by the subject matter), but I don't think it's that bad (and the rest of the poem is utterly clean).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Well Now~ And Plath

...There goes the 2-5 day posting. 'Course, that was somewhat of a strange way to do things anyhow, so how about this; I'll post when I can, but generally strive for at least once a week.

That said, let's move on to the Plathster, the idol of melodramatic women around the world (keep in mind, Plath also committed suicide). Don't shudder at that statement, though; if you happen to not know Plath, she's a great poet and is notable for particularly unique images and phrases (Plathian!), phrases that pop up in inferior form in many a poetess' work. Honestly, I haven't read a whole lot of Plath (probably 8-9 poems worth), but notable qualities (other than Plathian images) are strong internal rhyme that help build momentum, interesting enjambment and syntax, and the effective employment of repetition. Here's a poem (my favorite as of now) that displays her strengths very well:



You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

By Sylvia Plath


Great power through repetition, coupled with unique imagery and phrases typical of Plath; more on the former from Jessica Schneider in the article Mature Poets Steal. I promise you students would be more interested in the poetry unit if we read poems as aggressive as this one, but just the word "bastard" in the last line (not to mention the rest of the poem) is enough to make it ineligible for consideration, most likely. We read "Jilted" in 9th grade, actually; a good poem, but lacking the greatness and sheer intensity of "Daddy" or other select Plath poems.

Also by Jessica Schneider, here's a This Old Poem for Sylvia Plath. Like said, sometimes Plath overwrites, but no matter; she has plenty of good poems worth reading. Here's a 230-poem online compilation if you'd like to delve.

Take Care,

Thursday, February 01, 2007


You know the drill; as we enter into the latter half of winter, let's look at some trivia on its corresponding month:


  • January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period.
  • Historical names for February include the Anglo-Saxon terms Solmoneth (mud month) and Kale-monath (named for cabbage) as well as Charlemagne's designation Hornung. In Finnish, the month is called helmikuu, meaning "month of the pearl".
  • It is the shortest month and the only month with fewer than 30 days. The month has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar).
  • On a few occasions in history, February has had 30 days.
  • February is National Hot Breakfast Month.
  • February begins on the same day of the week as March and November in a common year, and on the same day of the week as August in a leap year.
  • February's birth flower is the violet or primrose.

  • ~~~~~~~

    Exciting, isn't it? With February also comes the chaos of Valentine's Day, which always tends to be fun. Now, the couplet for the month:



    Fairies brew his arrows’ toxin;
    February’s calm ‘til Cupid walks in.


    That one took longer than usual~ Cupid's a devil, ain't he? Er, angel...

    Take Care,