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ravenous reader

POEMS (or other sundry quotes) that remind you of ASOIAF

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1 hour ago, ravenous reader said:

imagine Bran-Drogon and the comet cancelling each other out in outer space ('a condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything') as 'the tongues of flames in-folded into the crowned knot of fire...when the fire and the rose are one' and 'all manner of thing shall be well...'  (crackpot I know, both the theory and even more so my dubious poetic application thereof..but @LmL has already given my theory its own name 'Deep Impact Drogon' so maybe it's seeping into the archetypal subconscious)!

Personified Poetic Justice in prose form, I love it. I like your idea of "Deep Impact Drogon" and we all need a little bit of crackpot because how else will the light get in? George is all about strings and patterns and spirals and cracks and he has written a series where, every chapter, every passage and every sentence can lead to pearls of wisdom which imparts knowledge not only about his story but our own real life and all the blogs, forums, youtube videos, podcasts are walking those patterns and finding the golden apples on the road and fertilizing us the readers and fans of his work by making us seek out knowledge (while reminding us that knowledge is a double edge sword without a hilt) and I think by the end he will ask 'how does all of this relate to us'. 

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55 minutes ago, Blue Tiger said:

Well... That might be hard as in the contrary to my experience of English literature (I'm even planning to translate my new short story to it by the Christmas Eve - story well... first of all I have to actually finish it) - my knowledge of poetry in English is not great.

But... Tyger by William Blake is one of my favs (for obvious reasons)... I might say it was my inspiration - if you ever read sth mine, you'll surely notice :

 

Words of House Marbrand might be reference to it.

And when it comes to Polish poetry: My testament by Juliusz Słowacki - for us he's someone like Shakespeare for the English speakers.

Obviously, it's much better in the original version.

Just thought it was worth pointing out the idea of shooting stars as spears in the Blake poem. As I have tried to express many times to people, George Martin is on well-trodden ground with all of this mythical astronomy stuff he does. Heck, try reading the Biblical book of Revelation. It's over the top with it (pun fully intended).  

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1 hour ago, ravenous reader said:

Horses

From the window I saw the horses.

I was in Berlin, in winter. The light
was without light, the sky without sky.

The air white like wet bread.

And from my window a vacant arena,
bitten by the teeth of winter.

Suddenly, led out by a man,
ten horses stepped out into the mist.

Hardly had they surged forth, like flame,
than to my eyes they filled the whole world,
empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,
they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,
with manes like a dream of salt.

Their rumps were worlds and oranges.

Their color was honey, amber, fire.

Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride,
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged, like a prisoner.

And there, in the silence, in the middle
of the day, of the dark, slovenly winter,
the intense horses were blood
and rhythm, the animating treasure of life.

I looked, I looked and was reborn: without knowing it,
there, was the fountain, the dance of gold, the sky,
the fire that revived in beauty.

I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.

I will not forget the light of the horses.

I lived in Germany for a few years and you know the beauty of my German Shepard as a puff ball puppy playing in the snow was like this. She would beg me to come play with her in the snow and at least for a little while I wouldn't be so cold. And this is so apt today as I am sitting in my office at a dog kennel (I am a kennel mistress) I am watching the rain in this state of sunshine and my office assistant puppy is running around with a toy rope. Even in the dreariness there is vitality and like Neruda says I will carry the light of the warmth imparted to me. 

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If I may make a suggestion, we should be citing the poems with indent, not the quote feature, because if you put the poem in a quote, when someone else quotes your comment, the poem disappears.

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1 hour ago, LmL said:

If I may make a suggestion, we should be citing the poems with indent, not the quote feature, because if you put the poem in a quote, when someone else quotes your comment, the poem disappears.

good idea. :agree:

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22 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

good idea. :agree:

Besides, I have always found that

Indent with italics looks oh so lovely. Not like that...

 

Quote

ugly grey box :(

 

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If I'm felling especially fancy, 

I might indent, with italics, AND use a different font color.  I know, I know. It's indecent for classic poetry. But just look at the colors, man. Consider the Beats. 

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On 12/15/2016 at 4:35 PM, Blue Tiger said:

Tyger by William Blake is one of my favs (for obvious reasons)...

:)

Quote

I might say it was my inspiration - if you ever read sth mine, you'll surely notice :

 

Quote
Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 
 
In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand, dare seize the fire? 
 
And what shoulder, & what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 
 
What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 
 
When the stars threw down their spears 
And water'd heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 
 
Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Words of House Marbrand might be reference to it.

That's a classic and one of my favorites too!  Did you see the other Blake poems @Pain killer Jane and I were referencing and discussing upthread?

On 12/15/2016 at 5:34 PM, LmL said:

Just thought it was worth pointing out the idea of shooting stars as spears in the Blake poem. As I have tried to express many times to people, George Martin is on well-trodden ground with all of this mythical astronomy stuff he does. Heck, try reading the Biblical book of Revelation. It's over the top with it (pun fully intended).  

Sadly, I think your pun 'over the top' went over my head this time!

On one level this is a darkly scintillating poem about the fearsome majesty of a tiger; on another, this poem is actually Blake's Promethean anthem of defiance directed at the maker of this world (whom he did not necessarily hold synonymous with the Christian God).  

While ostensibly marvelling at the maker's creation of the tiger -- 'the framing of the fearful symmetry' -- Blake simultaneously sees himself as the maker or smith in his own right, who 'aspires on wings to seize the fire' (i.e. like Icarus or Lucifer, the Grey King or Lann the Clever 'stealing God's fire') for his own 'immortal' glory.  In the act of writing this poem, Blake is attempting to do just that, namely 'frame the tiger's fearful symmetry' in words and pictures (he also did his own etchings to illustrate the text); making the hand, eye and brain of the writer himself the 'immortal hand or eye' referenced in the last stanza.  According to Blake, the poet is the one who dares frame and thereby capture the creation by creating it using the power of his over-arching imagination.  Blake's hubris leads him to believe he can cage that tiger!

It's also a poem -- this will surely please you -- about stars!  In fact, the 'tyger burning bright' is a metaphor for a star burning in the heavens.  Isn't it strange how the first line 'Tyger tyger, burning bright' and the whole syllabic rhythm of the stanza is reminiscent of that lullaby 'Twinkle twinkle, little star'?  I wonder if the latter, which post-dates Blake's poem, was influenced by the former?  So when Blake references the 'distant deeps or skies in which burnt the fire of thine eyes?' and the 'furnace' which forged the tiger's 'brain,' he's also referring to what you and others such as @Seams have termed the 'womb-tomb of Kali' -- the Other; space -- in which the 'burning eyes of the tiger' -- i.e. the stars -- are forged.  

What Blake's also intimating in his poetics whereby the poet or poem reflexively 'becomes what it beholds,' is that the human brain, particularly that of the poet-artificer-made-in-the-maker's-image also ultimately derives its imaginative fire from the stars.  Blake's imagination is just as voracious as the 'tiger' inspiring it!  

Additionally, 'the forests of the night' can be read as a metaphor for space (and reciprocally human consciousness), both in this poem and in ASOIAF.  Since as I've identified the northern forests are frequently configured as an underworld or otherworldly sea (I'll prove this to you one day, if you'd like), the forests in which the weirwoods take root can be seen as a reflection -- to quote the alchemists' dictum 'as above; so below' -- of those 'forests' floating in the sea of space which spawned the 'sea-dragons' in the first place, who then violently seeded the earth in all their conflicted glory.

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya III

"I don't think I need to go after all." She went back to her blanket and pretended to sleep until she heard Hot Pie's footsteps going away. Then she rolled over and slipped off into the woods on the other side of the camp, quiet as a shadow. There were sentries out this way too, but Arya had no trouble avoiding them. Just to make sure, she went out twice as far as usual. When she was sure there was no one near, she skinned down her breeches and squatted to do her business.

She was making water, her clothing tangled about her ankles, when she heard rustling from under the trees. Hot Pie, she thought in panic, he followed me. Then she saw the eyes shining out from the wood, bright with reflected moonlight. Her belly clenched tight as she grabbed for Needle, not caring if she pissed herself, counting eyes, two four eight twelve, a whole pack . . .

One of them came padding out from under the trees. He stared at her, and bared his teeth, and all she could think was how stupid she'd been and how Hot Pie would gloat when they found her half-eaten body the next morning. But the wolf turned and raced back into the darkness, and quick as that the eyes were gone. 

The wolves -- like the 'tiger' -- are stars, or meteors ('bright with reflected moonlight').  It's also not coincidental that Arya is 'making water' to accompany the 'eyes shining' and the 'trees rustling,' considering the forest is figuratively a watery domain -- a sea!

Did you notice the 'fluid' quality to the stars again in the poem,  in line with the descriptions of 'meteor shower', 'bleeding stars,' akin to the ravens 'pouring'..?

When the stars threw down their spears 

And water'd heaven with their tears

Those are probably tears of 'blood'.

AGOT-Eddard X

"And now it begins," said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

"No," Ned said with sadness in his voice. "Now it ends." As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. "Eddard!" she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.

 A 'watery heaven' also implies that space is another 'sea'! 

A Clash of Kings - Daenerys IV

.Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars

Thus, flying is a kind of swimming, and venturing into space is like drowning underwater (since beyond the Dawn Lights and breaking through the atmosphere, there's no air and therefore no breath; funnily enough, space suits resemble old-fashioned diving suits)-- again lending further credence to your meteor-as-sea dragon hypothesis and my Bran-Drogon 'Deep Impact' contention -- dragons being fire-made-flesh sea creatures are adapted for deep space missions!  

A Clash of Kings - Prologue

Shireen was unconvinced. "What about the thing in the sky? Dalla and Matrice were talking by the well, and Dalla said she heard the red woman tell Mother that it was dragonsbreath. If the dragons are breathing, doesn't that mean they are coming to life?"

The answer to this is yes and no.  Yes, the dragons are breathing -- but they breathe flame without requiring oxygen.  To continue the analogy, meteors also 'breathe flame' in the void, even before coming into contact with the atmosphere, which ignites them even further.  To the second part of the question: No, they may be 'awakening', but they are not coming to life, because they're not truly alive, being 'undead'.

'Under the sea' could also be read as space, considering the planet is an island bobbing in a vast ocean.

A Clash of Kings - Jon IV

A thousand leaves fluttered, and for a moment the forest seemed a deep green sea, storm-tossed and heaving, eternal and unknowable.

Ghost was not like to be alone down there, he thought. Anything could be moving under that sea, creeping toward the ringfort through the dark of the wood, concealed beneath those trees. Anything. How would they ever know? He stood there for a long time, until the sun vanished behind the saw-toothed mountains and darkness began to creep through the forest.

Going ranging beyond the Wall, then, is analogous to breaching and exploring 'the final frontier' of space, to which we humans unlike sea-dragons are poorly adapted (that's why it helps to skinchange a dragon or alternatively a comet...) ;).

A Clash of Kings - Bran III

"Was there one who was best of all?"

"The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who fought with a blade called Dawn, forged from the heart of a fallen star. They called him the Sword of the Morning, and he would have killed me but for Howland Reed." Father had gotten sad then, and he would say no more. Bran wished he had asked him what he meant.

He went to sleep with his head full of knights in gleaming armor, fighting with swords that shone like starfire...

 

A Game of Thrones - Bran I

...the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

So, if a sword is made of 'starfire,' then 'swinging the sword' is equivalent to skinchanging one 'sea dragon' or another.  Your idea about skinchanging the comet may actually come to fruition.  Tell me more about what you meant by the Grey King skinchanging Nagga=the black moon meteor?  Although I personally prefer Bran skinchanging Drogon and for them together to take out the danger -- but GRRM rarely fully complies with my wishes for dramatic irony (I prefer Tywin as Tyrion's father instead of A+J=T for example).  It's far more poetic than Bran doing it on his own -- ice and fire working together and also sacrificing themselves together, purging the world of its magical excess.  

'Passing the sentence' is more than passing judgement; it's literally pronouncing the sentence -- literally singing the song of the earth -- the song of stone --just as Sam saying the Night's Watch vow opened the Black Gate, or Arya saying 'Valar morghulies' opened the 'yin-yang' doors of the House of Black and White. 

Putting it together now; if ravens are 'code' for meteors showers or meteor clouds, and they-- feared harbingers of doom that they are -- arrive unannounced on their 'dark wings' bringing 'dark words'; then the only way to avert disaster is to sing their 'dark words' right back at them (or perhaps one has to use auroral 'words of light')!

 

Quote

And when it comes to Polish poetry: My testament by Juliusz Słowacki - for us he's someone like Shakespeare for the English speakers.

Quote

I have lived with you, suffered and shed tears with you.
No noble person have I ever passed aside.
Today I leave you, ghosts in shadows to pursue,
And if happiness were here – in sorrow I stride.

I have not left behind me a single offspring
Either to play my lute or to carry my name;
My name has passed away like a flash of lightning,
And will last for generations like an empty strain.


But you that have known me, pass to all in legend
That I wore out my youth for the land of my fathers;
When the ship struggled – I stood at the mast to the end,
And when she was sinking – I too drowned in deep waters...

Yet some day, pondering about the destined lot
Of my poor homeland, any noble man will consent
That my spirit’s cloak was not by begging begot,
But as my ancestors’ glories shines resplendent.

Let my faithful friends at night gather together
And burn up my poor heart in die leaves of aloe,
Return it to die one who gave it to me later:
So the world pays mothers – giving them ashes to stow...

Let my friends sit down, each one holding a goblet,
And drown in wine my burial – and their own despair...
If I am a spirit, I’ll appear to them yet,
If God frees me from torment, I will not come there...

But I beg you – let the living not lose hope ever
And bear the torch of learning before their compatriots;
And when called, go to their death one after another,
Like the stones tossed by die Lord onto the ramparts...

As for me – I am leaving a small group of friends,
Those who were able to love my haughty spirit;
One can see I have fulfilled God’s hard assignments
And assented to have here – an unwept casket...

Who else would go on without the world’s accolades,
Such indifference to the world as I display?
To be the helmsman of a boat that’s filled with shades,
And fly off as quietly as the shade flies away?

And yet I leave behind me this fateful power,
Useless while I live... it just graces my temples;
But when I die, it will, unseen, press you ever,
Till it remakes you, bread eaters – into angels.

Obviously, it's much better in the original version.

Thank you for sharing a little bit of your culture with us.  I had never heard of Słowacki before.  I particularly like the last line 'remaking the bread eaters into angels' (what happens with the kielbasa-eaters..? :))

On 12/15/2016 at 4:51 PM, Blue Tiger said:

this one, by Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004): (He won the 1980th Nobel Prize in Literature)

The Message of Mr.Cogito

Quote

Go where those others went to the dark boundary 
for the golden fleece of nothingness
your last prize

go upright among those who are on their knees
among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust

you were saved not in order to live
you have little time you must give testimony 

be courageous when the mind deceives you be courageous 
in the final account only this is important

and let your helpless Anger be like the sea
whenever you hear the voice of the insulted and beaten

let your sister Scorn not leave you
for the informers executioners cowards - they will win
they will go to your funeral with relief will throw a lump of earth 
the woodborer will write your smoothed-over biography 

and do not forgive truly it is not in your power 
to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn

beware however of unnecessary pride
keep looking at your clown's face in the mirror 
repeat: I was called - weren't there better ones than I

beware of dryness of heart love the morning spring 
the bird with an unknown name the winter oak 
light on a wall the splendour of the sky 

they don't need your warm breath
they are there to say: no one will console you

be vigilant - when the light on the mountains gives the sign- arise and go 
as long as blood turns in the breast your dark star

repeat old incantations of humanity fables and legends 
because this is how you will attain the good you will not attain 
repeat great words repeat them stubbornly 
like those crossing the desert who perished in the sand

and they will reward you with what they have at hand 
with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap

go because only in this way you will be admitted to the company of cold skulls 
to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland 
the defenders of the kingdom without limit and the city of ashes

Be faithful Go

This one reminds me of Ned... and of Darkstar... And of Renly... And of all the people 'betrayed at dawn' by the Bloodstone Emperor, especially Nissa Nissa.

It's a very dark and stark vision.  The line 'no one will console you' is particularly heartbreaking.

 

For something lighter, also from a famous Polish poet:

I've been requested by @LmL and @Pain killer Jane that we in future indent and/or italicise/offset the poems in a different color, etc., so that when the post is re-quoted the poems are not lost, which is probably a good idea.

A Note

Life — the only way
to grow leaves,
catch a breath on the sand,
rise on wings;
 
to be a dog,
or to stroke a dog’s warm fur;
 
to tell pain
from everything that is not pain;
 
to inhabit events,
get lost in the sights,
look for the smallest among mistakes.
 
An exceptional chance
to remember for a while,
what was discussed 
when the lights were out;
 
and to trip over a stone 
at least once,
get drenched in some rain,
lose keys in the grass;
 
and let the eyes follow a spark in the wind; 

and perpetually not to know
something important.


 

-- Wisława Szymborska

~ Translated from the Polish by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka
 

 

Notatka

Życie – jedyny sposób, 
żeby obrastać liśćmi,
łapać oddech na piasku, 
wzlatywać na skrzydłach;

być psem, 
albo głaskać go po ciepłej sierści;

odróżniać ból
od wszystkiego, co nim nie jest;

mieścić się w wydarzeniach, 
podziewać w widokach, 
poszukiwać najmniejszej między omyłkami.

Wyjątkowa okazja, 
żeby przez chwilę pamiętać,
o czym się rozmawiało 
przy zgaszonej lampie;

i żeby raz przynajmniej 
potknąć się o kamień, 
zmoknąć na którymś deszczu, 
zgubić klucze w trawie;

i wodzić wzrokiem za iskrą na wietrze;

i bez ustanku czegoś ważnego
nie wiedzieć. 

From the collection Chwila (Moment) Wydawnictwo Znak, Kraków 2002.

As embodied in its cheeky last line which defines life as the state or rather dynamic of 'perpetually not knowing something important,' yet nevertheless joyfully immersing oneself in the surprising, unfinished, loose-ended, messy experience anyway; this poem playfully reminds me of how we can never utterly exhaust the meaning, neither of life nor of the text -- particularly GRRM's which leaves us eternally seeking!  

Which reminds me to thank all of you 'thousand eyes and one' out there following GRRM's 'spark in the wind' with me...It's a pleasure. :)

 

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Thanks for clueing me in on this discussion, rr. Sorry I didn't think to take a peek earlier.

I see you and PKJane have had a good Blake-fest already. Just for the sake of tidiness, I'll link to a Blake insight from an old discussion - a possible allusion to Blake's A Poison Tree in the scene where dawn steals into the garden like a thief just before Sansa builds the snow castle.

As for the Rilke poem about the panther, Bironic, I think you sell yourself short:

On 12/15/2016 at 1:14 PM, Bironic said:

This poem doesn't remind me of ASOIAF but I like it quite a lot.

It's about a panther (black leopard) that is encaged in the Jardin des plantes (zoo/menagerie) of Paris. It's written originally in german by Rainer Maria Rilke.

This is a very good parallel for Summer and Shaggy Dog being trapped in the Winterfell godswood at the time of the Harvest Feast. They are very restless and feel trapped by the stone and iron and wood that surrounds them. Yet Bran is learning to warg and to open his third eye . . . this is very much like the "lifting curtain" of the panther's eyes.

Here's another poem that resonates with some of GRRM's imagery. From A. E. Housman:

With Rue My Heart is Laden
 
WITH rue my heart is laden  
  For golden friends I had,  
For many a rose-lipt maiden  
  And many a lightfoot lad.  
  
By brooks too broad for leaping          5
  The lightfoot boys are laid;  
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping  
  In fields where roses fade.

 

I associate Rhaegar's death with the ruby ford (even though he's not buried there) and roses are a symbol for Lyanna Stark. And many characters in the books look back on the loss of these two beloved people with regret. But here's a W. H. Auden poem with a similar image of "the tiny world of lovers' arms" that rallies for a more upbeat conclusion with a rebirth:

Warm are the Still and Lucky Miles

Warm are the still and lucky miles,
White shores of longing stretch away,
A light of recognition fills
    The whole great day, and bright
The tiny world of lovers' arms.

Silence invades the breathing wood
Where drowsy limbs a treasure keep,
Now greenly falls the learned shade
    Across the sleeping brows
And stirs their secret to a smile.

Restored! Returned! The lost are borne
On seas of shipwreck home at last:
See! In a fire of praising burns
    The dry dumb past, and we
Our life-day long shall part no more.

 

 

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@ravenous reader nice to meet someone who knows and likes Polish poetry :)

You know, it's hard fo find such people even here, in Poland...

Have you heard of Adam Mickiewicz, often regarded as our best poet ever? Słowacki was his contemporart and adversary - in artistic sense. They exchanged ideas, competed, polemised etc.

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Now that you mention Polish poetry... I only know one, and not in the Polish, but it is amazing and powerful and I know it by heart (not on purpose - it sears itself on your soul as you read it.)

Unforgettable in any context, it reminds me that Winter is coming. (even with the unburnt dead and the absence of terrors rising on the wings of the tempest and perching on the sept)

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Our fear
does not wear a night shirt
does not have owl’s eyes
does not lift a casket lid
does not extinguish a candle

does not have a dead man’s face either

our fear
is a scrap of paper
found in a pocket
‘warn Wójcik
the place on Dluga Street is hot’

our fear
does not rise on the wings of the tempest
does not sit on a church tower
it is down-to-earth

it has the shape
of a bundle made in haste
with warm clothing
provisions
and arms

our fear
does not have the face of a dead man
the dead are gentle to us
we carry them on our shoulders
sleep under the same blanket

close their eyes
adjust their lips
pick a dry spot
and bury them

not too deep
not too shallow
(Our Fear, Zbigniew Herbert)

Nasz strach
nie nosi nocnej koszuli
nie ma oczu sowy
nie podnosi wieka
nie gasi świecy

nie ma także twarzy umarłego

nasz strach
to znaleziona w kieszeni
kartka
"ostrzec Wójcika
locum na Długiej spalone"

nasz strach
nie polatuje na skrzydłach wichury
nie siada na wieży kościelnej
jest przyziemny

ma kształt pośpiesznie związanego tobołu
z ciepłą odzieżą
suchym prowiantem
i bronią

nasz strach
nie ma twarzy umarłego
umarli są dla nas łagodni

niesiemy ich na plecach
śpimy pod jednym kocem
zamykamy oczy
poprawiamy usta
wybieramy suche miejsca
i zakopujemy

nie za głęboko
nie za płytko

ETA: Just discovered, while looking for the Polish version, that Herbert created Mr Cogito, and it was his nick-name, too.

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The Lady of Shalott – Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

And by the moon the reaper weary,

Piling sheaves in uplands airy,

Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy

Lady of Shalott."

 

She knows not what the curse may be,

And so she weaveth steadily,

And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

 

All in the blue unclouded weather

Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,

The helmet and the helmet-feather

Burn'd like one burning flame together,

As he rode down to Camelot.

 

Out flew the web and floated wide-

The mirror crack'd from side to side;

"The curse is come upon me," cried

 

The Lady of Shalott.

"Who is this? And what is here?"

And in the lighted palace near

Died the sound of royal cheer;

And they crossed themselves for fear,

All the Knights at Camelot;

But Lancelot mused a little space

He said, "She has a lovely face;

God in his mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shalott."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lady_of_Shalott

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On 12/16/2016 at 3:22 PM, Blue Tiger said:

@ravenous reader nice to meet someone who knows and likes Polish poetry :)

You know, it's hard fo find such people even here, in Poland...

Have you heard of Adam Mickiewicz, often regarded as our best poet ever? Słowacki was his contemporart and adversary - in artistic sense. They exchanged ideas, competed, polemised etc.

It's nice to have encountered you too!  :)  It's fun swapping poems and I've also enjoyed our discussions on the other thread, where you are teaching me a great deal about Norse Mythology which has enriched my experience of the text.

I've always liked poetry, although not everyone sees the point of it:

Niektórzy lubią poezję

Niektórzy -  
czyli nie wszyscy.  
Nawet nie większość wszystkich ale mniejszość.  
Nie licząc szkół, gdzie się musi,  
i samych poetów,  
będzie tych osób chyba dwie na tysiąc.  

Lubią -  
ale lubi się także rosół z makaronem,  
lubi się komplementy i kolor niebieski,  
lubi się stary szalik,  
lubi się stawiać na swoim,  
lubi się głaskać psa.  

Poezję -  
Tylko co to takiego poezja.  
Niejedna chwiejna odpowiedź  
na to pytanie już padła.  
A ja nie wiem i nie wiem i trzymam się tego  
Jak zbawiennej poręczy. 

 
-- Wisława Szymborska

Some like poetry

Some - 
therefore not all. 
Not even a majority just a minority. 
Not counting schools where they have to, 
and the poets themselves, 
that's probably two per thousand. 

Like - 
but one also likes noodle soup, 
one likes compliments and the colour blue, 
one likes an old scarf, 
one likes to have one's way, 
one likes to pat a dog. 

Poetry - 
but what is poetry. 
There have already been 
several shaky answers 
to this question. 
But I don't know and I don't know and I hold on to this 
like a saving hand-rail.

translation Czerniawski, Adam

 

I had not heard of Adam Mickiewicz.  Do have any specific poem to recommend?

After you mentioned him, I found these two which remind me of ASOIAF:

 

The Calm of the Sea (from the heights of Tarkankut)

 

The flag on the pavilion barely stirs,

The water quivers gently in the sun

Like some young promised maiden dreaming on,

Half-waking, of the joy that shall be hers.

The sails upon the masts’ bare cylinders

Are furled like banners when the war is done;

The ship rocks, chained on waters halcyon,

With idle sailors, laughing passengers.

0 sea, among thy happy creatures, deep

Below, a polyp slumbers through the storm,

Its long arms ever lifted, poised to dart.

0 thought, the hydra, memory, asleep

Through evil days, in peace will lift its form

And plunge its talons in thy quiet heart.

 

-- Adam Mickiewicz

[Translated by Dorothea Proll Rodin.]

This reminds me of all the dangers lurking under the sea both literally and figuratively.  Among the former, the kraken, Euron with his tentacles 'his long arms ever lifted, poised to dart' and 'plunge his talons in thy quiet heart' and other legendary foes such as 'the deep ones,' whoever they may be.  

Figuratively, the poet is comparing the hydra to memory; in another translation of the poem it's termed 'the hydra of remembrances,' referring to thought's peculiar propensity to get its tentacles into one and not let go; also to how one thought tends to lead to many others, as well as how cutting off one thought gives rise to others, analogous to the renowned regenerative capacity of the hydra.  Thus, what really plagues the poet -- especially as an exile (from Poland) -- are his bitter memories and political grievances which give him no peace.  

More generally, I've previously interpreted the 'nennymoans' or anemones (related to the hydra) to represent the equivalent of the trade-off inherent in human consciousness, whereby the capacity of thought itself, with its excrescences like technology, both enhances as well as diminishes us.  As John Milton put it (in 'Paradise Lost'):

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

 

Now to the second of Mickiewicz's poems I happened upon which may relate to the discussion:

The Great Improvisation

(Part Three, Scene Two)

. . . Listen to me, God, and you, Nature! 
Here is music that is worthy of you, songs that are worthy of you. 
I am master!
Master, I stretch out my hands! 
I stretch them to the sky, I place my fingers on the stars. 
They are my musical glasses, my armonica.
Now swiftly, now slowly
My spirit turns the stars. 
Millions on millions of tones resound, 
It is I who called them forth, I know them all;
I combine them, I separate them, I reunite them,
I weave them into rainbows, into chords, into strophes, 
I scatter them in sounds and in ribbons of fire.

I raised my hands, 
I held them high above the ridge of the world, 
And the wheels of the armonica suddenly ceased to whirl.
I sing alone, I hear my songs
Long lingering like the breath of the wind,
They blow through all mankind,
They moan like pain, 
They roar like the storm. 
Tonelessly, the centuries accompany them; each sound resounds and burns, 
Is in my ear, is in my eye, 
As when the wind blows over the waves, 
In its whistlings I hear its flight 
And see it in its coat of cloud.

These songs are worthy of God, of Nature!
This is a mighty song, a creator-song. 
This song is force and power, 
This song is immortality! 
I feel immortality, I create immortality, 
And you, God, what more could you do? 
See how I draw my thoughts out of myself, 
I incarnate them, 
They scatter across the skies, 
They whirl, they sing, they shine, 
Already far away, I feel them still, 
Still feel their charm, 
I feel their roundness in my hand, 
I sense their movements in my mind: 
I love you, my poetic children! 
My thoughts! My stars! 
My feelings! My storms! 
Among you I am like a father in the midst of his family, 
All of you are mine .

. . . Not from Eden's tree have I drawn this power-
From the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil-
Not from books or tales that are told, 
Not from the solution of problems, 
Or the practice of magic. 
Creator I was born: 
I have drawn my powers from the source 
From which you drew yours: 
You did not search for your powers - you have them;
You do not fear to lose them and neither do I!
Was it you who gave me,
Or did I, like you, have to seize it,
This piercing and powerful eye:
When I raise my eyes toward the track of the clouds,
And hear the birds flying south on almost invisible wings,
Suddenly, only by willing, I hold them as in a net with my eyes;
The flock gives a cry of distress, but, till I release them,
Your winds cannot move them.
If I gaze at a comet with all the strength of my soul,
It cannot stir from the spot while my eyes are upon it

-- Adam Mickiewicz
Translated by Louise Varese

This reminds me of all the Promethean 'Azor Ahai'-'Last Hero' figures -- the greenseers, the moonsingers, the wood dancers, etc.  And of how the knack of stopping a comet in its tracks might actually come in handy pretty soon!

P.S.  I could not find the Polish language originals for the two Mickiewicz poems.  If you'd like to add them here, that would be nice!  Out of respect to the poet, and the readers who may be able to understand that particular language, I prefer as far as possible presenting translated poems alongside the original, as you may have noticed.

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Here it is:

Ty Boże, ty naturo! dajcie posłuchanie. —

Godna to was muzyka i godne śpiewanie. —

Ja mistrz!

SJa mistrz wyciągam dłonie!

Wyciągam aż w niebiosa i kładę me dłonie

750

Na gwiazdach jak na szklannych harmoniki kręgach.

To nagłym, to wolnym ruchem,

Kręcę gwiazdy moim duchem.

Milijon tonów płynie; w tonów milijonie

Każdy ton ja dobyłem, wiem o każdym tonie;

755

Zgadzam je, dzielę i łączę,

I w tęcze, i w akordy, i we strofy plączę,

 

Rozlewam je we dźwiękach i w błyskawic wstęgach. —

Odjąłem ręce, wzniosłem nad świata krawędzie,

I kręgi harmoniki wstrzymały się w pędzie.

760

Sam śpiewam, słyszę me śpiewy —

Długie, przeciągłe jak wichru powiewy,

Przewiewają ludzkiego rodu całe tonie,

Jęczą żalem, ryczą burzą,

I wieki im głucho wtórzą;

765

A każdy dźwięk ten razem gra i płonie,

Mam go w uchu, mam go w oku,

Jak wiatr, gdy fale kołysze,

Po świstach lot jego słyszę,

Widzę go w szacie obłoku.

770


Boga, natury godne takie pienie!

Pieśń to wielka, pieśń-tworzenie.

Taka pieśń jest siła, dzielność,

Taka pieśń jest nieśmiertelność!

Ja czuję nieśmiertelność, nieśmiertelność tworzę,

775

Cóż Ty większego mogłeś zrobić — Boże?

Patrz, jak te myśli dobywam sam z siebie,

(....)

 

I Mocy tej nie wziąłem z drzewa edeńskiego,

Z owocu wiadomości złego i dobrego;

Nie z ksiąg ani z opowiadań,

845

Ani z rozwiązania zadań,

Ani z czarodziejskich badań.

Jam się twórcą urodził:

Stamtąd przyszły siły moje,

Skąd do Ciebie przyszły Twoje,

850

Boś i Ty po nie nie chodził:

Masz, nie boisz się stracić; i ja się nie boję.


Czyś Ty mi dał, czy wziąłem, skąd i Ty masz — oko

Bystre, potężne: w chwilach mej siły — wysoko

Kiedy na chmur spojrzę szlaki

855

I wędrowne słyszę ptaki,

Żeglujące na ledwie dostrzeżonym skrzydle;

Zechcę i wnet je okiem zatrzymam jak w sidle —

Stado pieśń żałosną dzwoni,

Lecz póki ich nie puszczę, Twój wiatr ich nie zgoni.

860

Kiedy spojrzę w kometę z całą mocą duszy,

Dopóki na nią patrzę, z miejsca się nie ruszy.

Tylko ludzie skazitelni,

Marni, ale nieśmiertelni,

Nie służą mi, nie znają — nie znają nas obu,

865

Mnie i Ciebie.

Ja na nich szukam sposobu

Tu, w niebie.

Tę władzę, którą mam nad przyrodzeniem

Chcę wywrzeć na ludzkie dusze,

870

Jak ptaki i jak gwiazdy rządzę mym skinieniem,

 

 

This monologue is called 'The Great Improvisation' , and actually is only a fragment of "Dziady'' Part III, Scene II.

The main character, Conrad, accuses the God of not using his power to help the mankind and Poland, and finally says that The God is like Tsar, the greatest enemy of Poland (which at that time was divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia, since 1795, until 1918).

'Dziady' (The Forefather's Eve): Quote from Wikipedia:

 

'an ancient Slavic feast, commemorated the dead. Literally, the word translates as "Grandfathers".

The commemoration took place twice every year (in spring and in autumn). During the feast the ancient Slavs organized libations and ritual meals. In local mythologies such feasts were organized both for the living and for the souls of the forefathers who joined the dziady after dark.

In Poland the tradition survived in the form of Christian Zaduszki feast.

In Belarus, Dziady (Дзяды) usually took place on the last Saturday before St. Dmitry's day, at the end of October/beginning of November (Dźmitreuskija dziady, St. Dmitry's Dziady). There were also Trinity Day Dziady, Shrovetide Dziady, and some other dates. Today, it is celebrated on November 2.'

Mickiewicz was inspired by Byron and Shakespeare while writing it, it actually opens with Shakespeare quote in English: '

'There are more things in Heaven and Earth,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy '

The drama mixes pagan rituals, romantic ideas, messianism, Christianity and patriotsim.

Part II is about group of villagers who gather at cementery at All Hallow's Eve, to bring back the spirits of the dead, and the damned souls  come, so they try to somehow help them achieve the Salvation at Heaven. First come two children, who never suffered in life, and because of that can't go to the heaven, they're given two mustrad seeds and dissapear. Than comes a shadow of an evil noble, the previous owner of the village. Once he ordered his servants to beat a beggar woman who came at Christmas Eve asking for help, and for all his sins he must eternaly wander the Earth at night. He'll achieve Salvation when someone willingly gives him bread and water, but this will never happen, as he's always followed by flock of birds - the souls of his former subjects, who will always steal it. Than a shadow of young and beautiful shepherdess appears. She never returned feelings of people who loved her, so she'll be always be blown around the world by the winds. Than, the man (sth like a druid/pagan priest) who's leading the ceremony wants to end it, but suddenly, a spectre of young man comes, uncalled .

He can't talk, instead just stand there, pointing at his wounded heart (most likely he's cursed because he commited suicide). He points his finger at one of the gathered women, she stands up and tries to walk away, but he follows. Then it ends.

 

But I'd say that Mickiewicz's most famous work is 'Pan Tadeusz' - 'Sir Thaddeus, or the Last Lithuanian Foray: A Nobleman's Tale from the Years of 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse'. The title suggests it's long... and it's long. 12 books, over 68 000 words in over 9200 verses...

And at school we've learned this part by heart:

O Lithuania, my country , thou
Art like good health ; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee.

O Holy Maid, who Czestochowà'a shrine
Dost guard and on the Pointed Gateway shine
And watchest Nowogrodek's pinnacle !
As Thou didst heal me by a miracle
(For when my weeping mother sought Thy power,
I raised my dying eyes, and in that hour
My strength returned, and to Thy shrine I trod
For life restored to offer thanks to God),
So by a miracle Thou'll bring us home.
Meanwhile, bear off my yearning soul to roam
Those little wooded hills, those fields beside
The azure Niemen, spreading green and wide,
The vari-painted cornfields like a quilt,
The silver of the rye, the wheatfields' gilt ;
Where amber trefoil, buck-wheat white as snow,
And clover with her maiden blushes grow,
And all is girdled with a grassy band
Of green, whereon the silent pear trees stand.
Such were the fields where once beside a rill
Among the birch trees on a little hill
There stood a manor house, wood-built on stone ;
From far away the walls with whitewash shone,
The whiter as relieved by the dark green
Of poplars, that the automn winds would screen.

 

 

 

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@Blue Tiger  Thanks for adding the Polish version.  The 'Pan Tadeusz' is very beautiful, even in English.  You can really feel the nostalgia of the poet as he longs for the place of his birth.  It reminds me of this one -- in ASOIAF terms 'the bones remember':

XXXI.
Whom can I ask what I came
to make happen in this world?

Why do I move without wanting to,
why am I not able to sit still?

Why do I go rolling without wheels,
flying without wings or feathers,

and why did I decide to migrate
if my bones live in Chile?

From 'The Book of Questions' by Pablo Neruda

 

XXXI

A quién le puedo preguntar 
qué vine a hacer en este mundo?

Por qué me muevo sin querer, 
por qué no puedo estar inmóvil?

Por qué voy rodando sin ruedas, 
volando sin alas ni plumas,

y qué me dio por transmigrar 
si viven en Chile mis huesos?

Translated by William O'Daly

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Vale, Eddard Stark

Quote

He is gone on the mountain,
He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,
When our need was the sorest.
The font, reappearing,
From the rain-drops shall borrow,
But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow!

The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
But the voice of the weeper
Wails manhood in glory.
The autumn winds rushing
Waft the leaves that are searest,
But our flower was in flushing,
When blighting was nearest.

Fleet foot on the corrie,
Sage counsel in cumber,
Red hand in the foray,
How sound is thy slumber!
Like the dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain,
Thou art gone, and for ever!
(Coronach from Lady of the Lake, Canto III, Sir Walter Scott)

And for the long wait

Quote

As you set out on the way to Ithaca
hope that the road is a long one,
filled with adventures, filled with understanding.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,
you’ll never come across them on your way
as long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them
unless you carry them within your soul,
unless your soul sets them up before you.
 
Hope that the road is a long one.
Many may the summer mornings be
when—with what pleasure, with what joy—
you first put in to harbors new to your eyes;
may you stop at Phoenician trading posts
and there acquire fine goods:
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and heady perfumes of every kind:
as many heady perfumes as you can.
To many Egyptian cities may you go
so you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.
 
Always keep Ithaca in your mind;
to reach her is your destiny.
But do not rush your journey in the least.
Better that it last for many years;
that you drop anchor at the island an old man,
rich with all you’ve gotten on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
 
Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey;
without her you’d not have set upon the road.
But she has nothing left to give you any more.
 
And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not deceive you.
As wise as you’ll have become, with so much experience,
you’ll have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean

(Ithaca, C.P Cavafy)


Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,
αν μέν’ η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωιά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
να σταματήσεις σ’ εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν’ αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ’ έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
σε πόλεις Aιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ’ τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
Aλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε τ’ ωραίο ταξείδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Άλλα δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.

(K Π Καβάφη, Ιθάκη)

 

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On 12/16/2016 at 2:18 PM, Seams said:

Thanks for clueing me in on this discussion, rr. Sorry I didn't think to take a peek earlier.

Hi @Seams -- It's fair to say that you above any other has introduced me to, and quite convinced me of, the staggering depth and extent of GRRM's poetic punning and other witty wordplay, so I'm glad you popped by!  :)

Quote

I see you and PKJane have had a good Blake-fest already. Just for the sake of tidiness, I'll link to a Blake insight from an old discussion - a possible allusion to Blake's A Poison Tree in the scene where dawn steals into the garden like a thief just before Sansa builds the snow castle.

I've taken the liberty of reproducing the poem in question and part of your previous discussion here:

A POISON TREE

I was angry with my friend; 

I told my wrath, my wrath did end. 

I was angry with my foe: 

I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

 

And I waterd it in fears, 

Night & morning with my tears: 

And I sunned it with smiles, 

And with soft deceitful wiles. 

 

And it grew both day and night. 

Till it bore an apple bright. 

And my foe beheld it shine, 

And he knew that it was mine. 

 

And into my garden stole, 

When the night had veild the pole; 

In the morning glad I see; 

My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

WILLIAM BLAKE

 

Quote

@Seams said:  Speaking of poison. But it seems as if there are a number of parallels - as well as contrasts - between Sansa's awakening scene and this poem - she is in a garden; she finds the courage to tell Littlefinger why she is mad at him. But she has noticed that no Godswood can grow on this ground, so there is no tree to water with her tears and no apple for her foe to covet and attempt to steal. Unless Littlefinger is both her friend and her enemy? Maybe stealing a kiss is like stealing the apple in the poem? Both could be interpreted as symbols of the fall from innocence.

Entering a woman's 'garden' or 'castle' -- as Littlefinger requests to do, and then without waiting for an answer, proceeds to straddle in a sexually and politically provocative symbolic manoeuvre -- is an old trope euphemistically describing the loss of a woman's virginity.  

Likewise, 'plucking' a flower or fruit, particularly apple, is a metaphor for conquering a woman sexually.  The 'bloody gate' and so-called 'impregnable castle' of the Eyrie are also thinly-veiled metaphors for taking and guarding a woman's virginity respectively.  

What's interesting, however, is that stealing into the garden and stealing the apple in the case of Blake's poem has the effect of turning the tables on the encroacher and backfiring on the thief -- which also doesn't bode well for Baelish considering GRRM too enjoys this characteristic switcheroo whereby the hunters are liable to becoming the hunted, and the consumers the consumed, the predator hoisted by his own petard.  It's ironic that Theon for example who early on sets much store on his own sexual prowess, closely associated with his nascent political power and Greyjoy identity, comes to lose this faculty in such a devastating way, foreshadowed here:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Theon IV

"We must go after them," Black Lorren said.

"Not in the dark." Theon did not relish the idea of chasing direwolves through the wood by night; the hunters could easily become the hunted. "We'll wait for daylight. Until then, I had best go speak with my loyal subjects."

 

A Clash of Kings - Theon V

The night before, it had been the miller's wife. Theon had forgotten her name, but he remembered her body, soft pillowy breasts and stretch marks on her belly, the way she clawed his back when he fucked her. Last night in his dream he had been in bed with her once again, but this time she had teeth above and below, and she tore out his throat even as she was gnawing off his manhood. It was madness. He'd seen her die too. Gelmarr had cut her down with one blow of his axe as she cried to Theon for mercy. Leave me, woman. It was him who killed you, not me. And he's dead as well. At least Gelmarr did not haunt Theon's sleep.

If the 'moon door,' like the 'bloody gate' and 'gates of the moon,' can be considered a metaphor for a woman's maidenhead, then Baelish ought to bear in mind it predominantly figures as an an exit for 'bad men,' not an entry.  Sansa represents his poison apple, ironically cultivated by him.  

With the poison apple motif and the recurrent comparison of Sansa to a 'snow maid,' a 'maid in a castle of snow,' etc., there's also an allusion to the fairy tale 'Snow White' in which a poison apple plays a prominent role:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Sansa VII

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free. "What are you doing?"

Petyr straightened his cloak. "Kissing a snow maid."

"You're supposed to kiss her." Sansa glanced up at Lysa's balcony, but it was empty now. "Your lady wife."

 

Quote

From Wikipedia:

Alternate fates

In the classic ending of "Snow White", the Queen is tricked into attending Snow White's wedding and put to death by torment; this is often considered to be too dark and potentially horrifying for children in modern society. Sara Maitland wrote that "we do not tell this part of the story any more; we say it is too cruel and will break children's soft hearts." Therefore, many (especially modern) revisions of the fairy tale often change the gruesome classic ending in order to make it seem less violent. In some versions, instead of dying, the Queen is even just merely prevented from committing further wrongdoings. However, in the same 2014 nationwide UK poll that considered the Queen from "Snow White" the scariest fairy tale character of all time (as cited by 32.21% of responding adults), around two thirds opined that today's stories are too "sanitised" for children.

Already the first English translation of the Grimms' tale, written by Edgar Taylor in 1823, has the Queen choke on her own envy upon the sight of Snow White alive. Another early (1871) English translation by Susannah Mary Paull "replaces the Queen's death by cruel physical punishment with death by self-inflicted pain and self-destruction" when it was her own shoes that became hot due to her anger. Other alternative endings can have the Queen just instantly drop dead "of anger" at the wedding or in front of her mirror upon learning about it, die from her own designs going awry (such as from touching her own poisoned rose) or by nature (such as falling into quicksands while crossing a swamp on her way back after poisoning Snow White), be killed by the dwarfs during a chase, be destroyed by her own mirror, run away into the forest never to be seen again, or simply being banished from the kingdom forever.

Analysis

Origins and evolution

The Queen's origins can be traced to the character of Silver-Tree, a jealous queen who threatens her daughter, in the Celtic oral tale "Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree". According to Kenny Klein, the enchantress Ceridwen of the Welsh mythology was "the quintissential evil stepmother, the origin of that character in the two tales of Snow White and Cinderella". Oliver Madox Hueffer noted that the wicked stepmother with magical powers threatening a young princess is a recurring theme in fairy tales; one similar character is the witch-queen in "The Wild Swans" as told by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Queen in disguise, offering a poisoned apple to Snow White (a late 19th-century German illustration)

Rosemary Ellen Guiley suggests that the Queen uses an apple because it recalls the temptation of Eve; this creation story from the Bible led the Christian Church to view apples as a symbol of sin. Many people feared that apples could carry evil spirits, and that witches used them for poisoning. Robert G. Brown of Duke University also makes a connection with the story of Adam and Eve, seeing the Queen as a representation of the archetype of Lilith. The symbol of an apple has long had traditional associations with enchantment and witchcraft in some European cultures, as in case of Morgan le Fay's Avalon ("Isle of the Apples").

Likewise, Sansa has her share of jealous 'wicked queens' who threatened by Sansa's youth and beauty try to kill her, including Cersei and Lysa.  However, the additional element of coming into someone's garden or entering their gate is usually associated with a male villain, with sexual overtones.  The serpentine procession of an army through a gate is an undeniable phallic image, additionally conjuring up the snake slipping into the garden of paradise:

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A Game of Thrones - Catelyn IX

"I consent," Robb said solemnly. He had never seemed more manly to her than he did in that moment. Boys might play with swords, but it took a lord to make a marriage pact, knowing what it meant.

They crossed at evenfall as a horned moon floated upon the river. The double column wound its way through the gate of the eastern twin like a great steel snake, slithering across the courtyard, into the keep and over the bridge, to issue forth once more from the second castle on the west bank.

Catelyn rode at the head of the serpent, with her son and her uncle Ser Brynden and Ser Stevron Frey. 

Baelish is given a lot of phallic imagery, for example in his nickname 'Littlefinger' and the lewd quips made about his 'little finger,' with the implication that the brothelkeeper is getting his little 'finger' stuck into many 'pies.'  

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AFFC--Alayne I

Alayne felt as though she had swallowed her tongue, but Lord Nestor rescued her. "Alayne is the Lord Protector's natural daughter," he told his cousin gruffly.

"Littlefinger's little finger has been busy," said Lyn Corbray, with a wicked smile. Belmore laughed, and Alayne could feel the color rising in her cheeks.

He's also associated with apples, as we've previously identified:

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard IV

Ned studied the rocky face of the bluff for a moment, then followed more slowly. The niches were there, as Littlefinger had promised, shallow cuts that would be invisible from below, unless you knew just where to look for them. The river was a long, dizzying distance below. Ned kept his face pressed to the rock and tried not to look down any more often than he had to.

When at last he reached the bottom, a narrow, muddy trail along the water's edge, Littlefinger was lazing against a rock and eating an apple. He was almost down to the core. "You are growing old and slow, Stark," he said, flipping the apple casually into the rushing water. "No matter, we ride the rest of the way." He had two horses waiting. Ned mounted up and trotted behind him, down the trail and into the city.

'Flipping the apple casually into the rushing water' and his 'lazy' predatory manner mimics how flippantly Baelish dispenses with other people's lives once he's ruined them 'down to the core' -- in this scene in particular as he leads Ned down the precipitous slope, there's heavy foreshadowing of Ned's demise at Baelish's instigation.

Quintessentially, I see Baelish as a snake only pretending to be a bird; hence the 'mocking' aspect of the 'bird'.  He's breached the castle walls, invaded the garden, and infiltrated the nest (the Eyrie), with the intention of picking off the eggs, one by one; and Sansa is his prime target.  He killed the father in order to steal the daughter and make her his.

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A Game of Thrones - Sansa I

Sansa shuddered. They had been twelve days crossing the Neck, rumbling down a crooked causeway through an endless black bog, and she had hated every moment of it. The air had been damp and clammy, the causeway so narrow they could not even make proper camp at night, they had to stop right on the kingsroad. Dense thickets of half-drowned trees pressed close around them, branches dripping with curtains of pale fungus. Huge flowers bloomed in the mud and floated on pools of stagnant water, but if you were stupid enough to leave the causeway to pluck them, there were quicksands waiting to suck you down, and snakes watching from the trees, and lizard-lions floating half-submerged in the water, like black logs with eyes and teeth.

I've interpreted the hazards in the swampy garden as an allegory for Sansa's stagnant love affairs and treacherous suitors, with the 'snake watching from the tree' representing Littlefinger.  In particular, he's often depicted surreptitiously 'watching over her' in a less than protective fashion:

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"Pack the snow around a stick, Sansa."

She did not know how long he had been watching her, or when he had returned from the Vale. "A stick?" she asked.

A predatory gaze.  He's always lurking or looming (I have no doubt he's the shadow looming over all the rest in Bran's 'coma-dream' prophetic vision).

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A Game of Thrones - Sansa II

To the other maidens he had given white roses, but the one he plucked for her was red. "Sweet lady," he said, "no victory is half so beautiful as you." Sansa took the flower timidly, struck dumb by his gallantry. His hair was a mass of lazy brown curls, his eyes like liquid gold. She inhaled the sweet fragrance of the rose and sat clutching it long after Ser Loras had ridden off.

When Sansa finally looked up, a man was standing over her, staring. He was short, with a pointed beard and a silver streak in his hair, almost as old as her father. "You must be one of her daughters," he said to her. He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did. "You have the Tully look."

"I'm Sansa Stark," she said, ill at ease. The man wore a heavy cloak with a fur collar, fastened with a silver mockingbird, and he had the effortless manner of a high lord, but she did not know him. "I have not had the honor, my lord."

 

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"That will give it strength enough to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady?"

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be . . . "

A blatant sexual metaphor... 

'Breaking it' is a euphemism for breaking the hymen.

Also notice the ellipsis (...) pregnant with meaning, showing that Baelish did not wait for her approval, nor did he feel the need to attempt to charm her, before he strode in and took charge. 

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" . . . gentle?" He smiled. "Winterfell has withstood flercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?"

Another flagrant lie on all levels.  He's anything but 'gentle' and less than a 'gentleman.'

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"Yes," Sansa admitted.

He walked along outside the walls. "I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold."

He reveals he's been fixated on Winterfell for some time.  The implication is he's 'dreamt' of Winterfell in an envious, covetous way, as he dreamt of Cat all those years and is now claiming Sansa -- the symbol of Winterfell as its last remaining heir as far as anyone knows-- as his own.

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"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer." She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens."

Littlefinger stroked his chin, where his beard had been before Lysa had asked him to shave it off. "The glass was locked in frames, no? Twigs are your answer. Peel them and cross them and use bark to tie them together into frames. I'll show you." He moved through the garden, gathering up twigs and sticks and shaking the snow from them. When he had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard.

It's like he's squatting and defecating in the middle of her garden!  Hardly the charming lover...

Just as Tyrion remarked, in one of my favorite quotes of all:

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A Game of Thrones - Tyrion IV

Just for a moment, he thought he saw a flicker of doubt in her eyes, but what she said was, "Why would Petyr lie to me?"

"Why does a bear shit in the woods?" he demanded. "Because it is his nature. Lying comes as easily as breathing to a man like Littlefinger. You ought to know that, you of all people."

She took a step toward him, her face tight. "And what does that mean, Lannister?"

Shitting in someone's garden or neck of the woods -- the 'wood' in question could also refer to the godswood or wolfswood, particularly that of the Starks who are associated with being the caretakers of the trees -- is akin to defiling them sexually and spiritually.  Additionally, it's a method of marking ones territory and taking ownership.  Ultimately, this is Baelish's purpose -- to spoil what other people love, whilst simultaneously elevating himself as king of the ashes.

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AFFC--Alayne I

"How old are you, child?" asked Lady Waynwood.

"Four-fourteen, my lady." For a moment she forgot how old Alayne should be. "And I am no child, but a maiden flowered."

"But not deflowered, one can hope." Young Lord Hunter's bushy mustache hid his mouth entirely.

 "Yet," said Lyn Corbray, as if she were not there. "But ripe for plucking soon, I'd say."

Since the invasion of her garden or castle by Littlefinger is presented as sexually coercive, seeing as Sansa didn't really give her full consent for the intrusion into her private reverie, that might be foreshadowing that he will be instrumental either directly or indirectly in violating her in some fashion, perhaps even raping her.

Sansa represents sexual and therefore political currency to him, as is evidenced by him seizing every opportunity to take charge of her reproductive potential for his own benefit-- by cloistering her in the Eyrie and negotiating marriage contracts and the like.  Ultimately, though, it's clear he's not dispassionate on the subject and quite apart from playing the game at large, desires to take charge of her sexuality in a very real physical way to satisfy his own long- and deeply-held psychological need to prove himself and thereby avenge the narcissistic slight he suffered as a young man when Hoster Tully rejected him as a worthy suitor for a Tully female on account of his lowly birth.  

Since then -- and being a psychopath of note -- he's been on a seething vindictive mission to eliminate her family on both sides, his former rivals for social dominance (Tullys and Starks), coincident with his cooler political designs.  His attitude towards Sansa, a younger, more beautiful version of his idealized child 'love' Cat, is also quite simply lecherous on a base physical level, although overlooking the deeper psychological motivation driving him would be missing out on what makes Baelish tick.

Littlefinger, like so many other characters, is an amalgamation of fire and ice.  While his 'icy' components keep him one step ahead of others, I predict his 'fiery' components will be his undoing.  Ironically, Sansa the 'snow maid' awakes the fire in him, causing him to act precipitously on occasion, e.g. murdering Lysa in front of Sansa, effectively delivering himself and his own security into her hands; although Sansa may not yet recognise the power she holds in this regard.

With respect to Blake's poem, Littlefinger is associated both with apples -- whereby he's configured as the tempting serpent in the garden enticing Eve (a Sansa analog) -- and a number of poisons some of which are derived from poisonous trees or plants, including the 'Tears of Lys' he used by proxy to kill Jon Arryn and the 'Strangler' the poison he used to kill Joffrey, the indecently purple crystals being originally derived from a plant from Asshai, the proper name of which has been forgotten.

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@Seams said:  I like your interpretation of the dawn stealing Sansa's black and white world by bringing color back into the day, but I think the meaning is different. Weirwood trees are white. Stark "colors" are grey and white. When the rising sun reveals the green in the trees and shrubs, I think Sansa feels the loss of her dream of waking at Winterfell. Green trees, in this case, may signal the departure of the old gods.  On his trip north, there is a passage where Bran describes the bare mountaintops as "stark". Maybe Sansa was reveling in the "starkness" of the mountain setting before the light came to ruin her daydream.

Yes, and as @Isobel Harper has noted, the dawn light stealing into Sansa's garden tellingly takes on the hue of Baelish's sigil and eyes: grey-green.  What's your take on the symbolism of that particular color combination, by the way?  Please see our discussion in that regard, particularly here where Isobel has outlined some key points of interest.

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A Storm of Swords - Sansa VII

Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow. 

In light of your 'garden' and 'castle' observations, I have the following poem to contribute.  It's about a would-be lover, growing increasingly frustrated by his 'coy mistress' who jealously guards her virginity, prompting the poet to devise a deviously clever argument, at times abusing his object by frightening her with her mortal decay and posthumous 'rape' by grave worms, as a tactic to try and get into the lady's panties ('bloomers'...'knickers'..?).  It reminds me that sooner or later Littlefinger will get tired of biding his time and make a rash move that will be his undoing.  The evocative description of 'amorous birds of prey making sport' also naturally reminds me of Littlefinger cavorting in the falcon's nest and cuckolding Jon Arryn in the first place.  

In particular, the stunningly memorable last four lines, including the sexually-laden invocation 'to tear our pleasure with rough strife through the iron gates of life' encapsulates Littlefinger's ironclad resolve to remake the world in his image, instead of being dictated to by circumstance and social convention-- though I wonder when he says 'though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run,' how long Littlefinger's hubris will allow him to outrun his own shadow.

The 'iron gates' also reminds me that we haven't yet satisfactorily solved the 'iron rings' question, although you made great progress!  The symbolic significance of finding rubies in the river brings to mind Rhaegar falling at the Trident and the regurgitated 'gifts' of history washed up on the Quiet Isle.  Interestingly, rubies especially those found in the Ganges are associated with the arrival of a savior and securing immortality -- which the speaker in the poem is directly disavowing by confronting the recalcitrant object of his affections with the evanescence of her fleeting existence.  Via a neat rhetorical trick, he sounds the alarm warning her of her dwindling desirability, while in actual fact it is he who is the desirous party and whose desirability has been found wanting!  

 

To His Coy Mistress 

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love would grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vaults, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball,
And tear our pleasure with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Andrew Marvell

 

 
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Here's another poem that resonates with some of GRRM's imagery. From A. E. Housman:

With Rue My Heart is Laden
 
WITH rue my heart is laden  
  For golden friends I had,  
For many a rose-lipt maiden  
  And many a lightfoot lad.  
  
By brooks too broad for leaping          5
  The lightfoot boys are laid;  
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping  
  In fields where roses fade.

 

I associate Rhaegar's death with the ruby ford (even though he's not buried there) and roses are a symbol for Lyanna Stark. And many characters in the books look back on the loss of these two beloved people with regret.

That lyrical poem evokes the 'knights of Summer' and how it's 'always Summer in the songs.'  And this poem, which also looks to a mythic past with longing:

 

Who goes with Fergus?

Who will go drive with Fergus now, 
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade, 
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow, 
And lift your tender eyelids, maid, 
And brood on hopes and fear no more. 

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars, 
And rules the shadows of the wood, 
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

--W. B. Yeats

(Fergus was a king in many of the ancient mythological cycles of the Irish. He was the lover of Queen Mebh, a protagonist in the Tain Bo Cuailange (Cattle Raid of Cooley), whose name means "fertility" and is synonymous with male potency in Gaelic. High Kings of Ireland in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD were named after him.  

ETA: He attained the status of a sacrifical male fertility god in the horned god tradition, who also underwent resurrection; for more, see Fergus (Feargus) Irish hero)

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But here's a W. H. Auden poem with a similar image of "the tiny world of lovers' arms" that rallies for a more upbeat conclusion with a rebirth:

Warm are the Still and Lucky Miles

Warm are the still and lucky miles,
White shores of longing stretch away,
A light of recognition fills
    The whole great day, and bright
The tiny world of lovers' arms.

Silence invades the breathing wood
Where drowsy limbs a treasure keep,
Now greenly falls the learned shade
    Across the sleeping brows
And stirs their secret to a smile.

Restored! Returned! The lost are borne
On seas of shipwreck home at last:

See! In a fire of praising burns
    The dry dumb past, and we
Our life-day long shall part no more.

A note of hope, if even for one numinous fleeting moment.  The personified 'breathing wood...drowsy limbs a treasure kept...greenly falls the learned shade and stirs their secret...' also reminds me of the greenseers keeping watch and animating the trees.

Thanks for all your contributions, now and ever!  :)

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On 12/17/2016 at 2:46 AM, Walda said:

Now that you mention Polish poetry... I only know one, and not in the Polish, but it is amazing and powerful and I know it by heart (not on purpose - it sears itself on your soul as you read it.)

Unforgettable in any context, it reminds me that Winter is coming. (even with the unburnt dead and the absence of terrors rising on the wings of the tempest and perching on the sept)

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Our fear
does not wear a night shirt
does not have owl’s eyes
does not lift a casket lid
does not extinguish a candle

does not have a dead man’s face either

our fear
is a scrap of paper
found in a pocket

‘warn Wójcik
the place on Dluga Street is hot’

our fear
does not rise on the wings of the tempest
does not sit on a church tower
it is down-to-earth

it has the shape
of a bundle made in haste

with warm clothing
provisions
and arms

our fear
does not have the face of a dead man
the dead are gentle to us
we carry them on our shoulders
sleep under the same blanket

close their eyes
adjust their lips
pick a dry spot
and bury them

not too deep
not too shallow

(Our Fear, Zbigniew Herbert)

Nasz strach
nie nosi nocnej koszuli
nie ma oczu sowy
nie podnosi wieka
nie gasi świecy

nie ma także twarzy umarłego

nasz strach
to znaleziona w kieszeni
kartka
"ostrzec Wójcika
locum na Długiej spalone"

nasz strach
nie polatuje na skrzydłach wichury
nie siada na wieży kościelnej
jest przyziemny

ma kształt pośpiesznie związanego tobołu
z ciepłą odzieżą
suchym prowiantem
i bronią

nasz strach
nie ma twarzy umarłego
umarli są dla nas łagodni

niesiemy ich na plecach
śpimy pod jednym kocem
zamykamy oczy
poprawiamy usta
wybieramy suche miejsca
i zakopujemy

nie za głęboko
nie za płytko

ETA: Just discovered, while looking for the Polish version, that Herbert created Mr Cogito, and it was his nick-name, too.

Thank you for your further contributions!  I apologize for the delay in responding; I am behind in my replies to some of you, yet know that I like to consider each contribution carefully, and all your shared thoughts are always valued.  :) 

Indeed, this is a striking expression of 'Winter is coming', or rather an interminably 'Long Night' enduring, made even more horrible by the 'down to earth' fear from which there's no place to hide.  This is not a fear which dramatically 'rises on the wings of the tempest' like Euron, or perches as one might somewhat romantically visualize Drogon doing 'on a church tower.'

This fear comes in the nondescript shape of an amorphous 'bundle made in haste', which eviscerates the poetic aesthetic itself and its ability to transcend, rendered moot by the prosaic banality of a hastily scribbled note in a scruffy pocket, holding the difference between life and death.  

In response to this crisis of faith, the poet avoids nihilism by choosing a place to stand 'not too shallow, not too deep' and steadfastly bearing witness, rather heroically despite the abject circumstances.

Zbigniew Herbert, among others commenting on him, had this to say about the role of the poet, including poetry's limitations:

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Although Herbert's poetry is preoccupied with the nightmares of recent history . . . it is not public speech. Subdued and casual, his poems shun both hysteria and apocalyptic intensity." Robert Hass, writing in the Washington Post Book World, calls Herbert "an ironist and a minimalist who writes as if it were the task of the poet, in a world full of loud lies, to say what is irreducibly true in a level voice." According to A. Alvarez in Beyond All This Fiddle, Herbert "is political by virtue of being permanently and warily in opposition. . . . His opposition is not dogmatic: during the Nazi occupation he was not, to my knowledge, a Communist, nor during the Stalinist repression was he ever noticeably even Catholic or nationalist. Herbert's opposition is a party of one; he refuses to relinquish his own truth and his own standards in the face of any dogma." 

Perhaps Herbert's "political" attitude can be found in his interpretation of the role of the poet. "In Poland," Herbert once stated, "we think of the poet as prophet; he is not merely a maker of verbal forms or an imitator of reality. The poet expresses the deepest feelings and the widest awareness of people. . . . The language of poetry differs from the language of politics. And, after all, poetry lives longer than any conceivable political crisis. The poet looks over a broad terrain and over vast stretches of time. He makes observations on the problems of his own time, to be sure, but he is a partisan only in the sense that he is a partisan of the truth. He arouses doubts and uncertainties and brings everything into question." Still, poetry has limited influence. Speaking to Jacek Trznadel in Partisan Review, Herbert explained: "It is vanity to think that one can influence the course of history by writing poetry. It is not the barometer that changes the weather."

From Poetry Foundation

On 12/18/2016 at 1:14 AM, Walda said:

Vale, Eddard Stark

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He is gone on the mountain,
He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain
,
When our need was the sorest.
The font, reappearing,
From the rain-drops shall borrow,
But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow!

The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary,
But the voice of the weeper
Wails manhood in glory.
The autumn winds rushing
Waft the leaves that are searest,
But our flower was in flushing,
When blighting was nearest.

Fleet foot on the corrie,
Sage counsel in cumber,
Red hand in the foray,
How sound is thy slumber!
Like the dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain,
Thou art gone, and for ever!

(Coronach from Lady of the Lake, Canto III, Sir Walter Scott)

That's beautiful.

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And for the long wait

Long wait?

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As you set out on the way to Ithaca
hope that the road is a long one,
filled with adventures, filled with understanding.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,
you’ll never come across them on your way
as long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them
unless you carry them within your soul,
unless your soul sets them up before you.
 
Hope that the road is a long one.
Many may the summer mornings be
when—with what pleasure, with what joy—
you first put in to harbors new to your eyes;
may you stop at Phoenician trading posts
and there acquire fine goods:
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and heady perfumes of every kind:
as many heady perfumes as you can.
To many Egyptian cities may you go
so you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.
 
Always keep Ithaca in your mind;
to reach her is your destiny.
But do not rush your journey in the least.
Better that it last for many years;
that you drop anchor at the island an old man,
rich with all you’ve gotten on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
 
Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey;
without her you’d not have set upon the road.
But she has nothing left to give you any more.

 
And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not deceive you.
As wise as you’ll have become, with so much experience,
you’ll have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean

(Ithaca, C.P Cavafy)


Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,
αν μέν’ η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωιά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
να σταματήσεις σ’ εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν’ αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ’ έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
σε πόλεις Aιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ’ τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
Aλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε τ’ ωραίο ταξείδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Άλλα δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.

(K Π Καβάφη, Ιθάκη)

Thanks for introducing me to this poem and poet, of whom I'd never heard before.  Particularly, the last line appeals to me in the statement of its humble and mysterious simplicity, reassuring without assuring us of 'what these Ithacas' -- plural -- 'mean.'

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As the Winter Solstice approaches in the northern hemisphere --

This poem reminds me of the relentlessness of time passing, the change of the seasons, 'Winter coming', and various painful rebirths, including all manner of walking shadows such as the White Walkers -- and above all, Jon's death and subsequent resurrection:

 

Shadows 

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon
my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom
pervades my movements and my thoughts and words
then I shall know that I am walking still
with God, we are close together now the moon’s in shadow.

And if, as autumn deepens and darkens
I feel the pain of falling leaves, and stems that break in storms
and trouble and dissolution and distress
and then the softness of deep shadows folding,
folding around my soul and spirit, around my lips
so sweet, like a swoon, or more like the drowse of a low, sad song
singing darker than the nightingale, on, on to the solstice
and the silence of short days, the silence of the year, the shadow,
then I shall know that my life is moving still
with the dark earth, and drenched
with the deep oblivion of earth’s lapse and renewal.

And if, in the changing phases of man’s life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me

then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.

 

--D.H. Lawrence

 

 

 

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On ‎15‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 0:28 AM, ravenous reader said:

I have two poems to contribute in response, which I dedicate to you my partner in all things winds, wolves, (weir)woods and winter!

Thank you so much.  :D  I can see why those two in particular inspired such a dedication, you even got the caves in there.  Good work.  ;)  Very enjoyable reading.

Here's another of the poems I stumbled across during my research...

TREE AT MY WINDOW – ROBERT FROST

 

Tree at my window, window tree

My sash is lowered when night comes on;

But let there never be curtain drawn

Between you and me

 

Vague dream head lifted out of the ground,

And thing next most diffuse to cloud,

Not all your light tongues talking aloud

Could be profound

 

But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,

And if you have seen me when I slept,

You have seen me when I was taken and swept

And all but lost.

 

That day she put our heads together,

Fate had her imagination about her,

Your head so much concerned with outer,

Mine with inner, weather.

Frost was reluctant to parse any of his own poetry, leading to many an opinion on his work.  But the relationship between man, tree and nature in this particular poem reminds me of Bran.  In particular Bran 'watching/seeing' events unfold through his window at Winterfell in AGOT [WF being described as a 'monstrous stone tree']  There are also the 'dreams' and the trees being 'taken and tossed', [rustling leaves] plus Bran could also be seen as have being 'taken, swept and lost' while in his coma state, and if Bloodraven was present then so was the weirwood tree, 'watching as he slept'. 

Sorry for the delayed reply, and thank you for having me delve deeper into poetry than I ever have before.  Having caught up with the thread, and read some of the analysis on the poems I have come across, I can honestly say I've enjoyed every minute of it.  So again my thanks go out to you, my most poetic friend.  :)  

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