Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Wondering Minstrels

One of the finest mailing lists I subscribe to is The Wondering Minstrels, a poem-a-day list that magically pops a fine poem in my mailbox with trenchant commentary, and takes guest submissions as well.

The poetry-by-email service is run by Abraham Thomas and Martin DeMello off a server at Rice University maintained by Sitaram Iyer. The name comes from a W S Gilbert libretto, The Mikado,
"A Wandering Minstrel I
A thing of shreds and patches
Of ballads, songs and snatches
And dreamy lullaby."
The FAQ notes,
the pun on 'wondering-wandering' is meant to evoke a sense of the numinous - truly great poetry takes you on a journey of revelation and wonder, emotion and insight.

Poetry selections vary, from the well-known to the eclectic, rare, or absolutely unknown. For example, Pablo Neruda's "Saddest Poem"("I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her./Love is so short and oblivion so long./Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,/my soul is lost without her./Although this may be the last pain she causes me,/and this may be the last poem I write for her.") contrasts with Joni Mitchell's "The Fiddle And The Drum"("You say we have turned/Like the enemies you've earnedBut we can remember/All the good things you are/And so we ask you please/Can we help you find the peace and the star/Oh my friend
We have all come/To fear the beating of your drum"

Yesterday's poem was a visually rich piece titled "Monet Refuses the Operation" by Lisel Mueller - the link is to another poetry list, Panhala, with visual and audio images apposite the poem.

Today's mail was a reader request to identify the poet who composed the following lines, answered soon enough (43 minutes) by another subscriber.
"There are such parades, such pomp and art
That joy scarce ever reached their heart
Nights are filled with drink and whoring
Life next day isn't worth enduring."

Give it a shot - identify the poet. (I'll post the poet/poem soon)

To subscribe to The Wondering Minstrels, send a blank email to

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader