World War I Poetry by Women: Charlotte Mary Mew

May 1915
by Charlotte Mew

Let us remember Spring will come again
To the scorched, blackened woods, where the wounded trees
Wait with their old wise patience for the heavenly rain,
Sure of the sky: sure of the sea to send its healing breeze,
Sure of the sun, and even as to these
Surely the Spring, when God shall please,
Will come again like a divine surprise
To those who sit today with their great Dead, hands in their hands
Eyes in their eyes
At one with Love, at one with Grief: blind to the scattered things
And changing skies.

More at Behind Their Lines.

Charlotte Mary Mew

World War I Poetry by Women: Marian Allen

by Marian Allen

Out in a gale of fallen leaves,
Where the wind blows clear through the rain-soaked trees,
Where the sky is torn betwixt cloud and blue
And the rain but ceases to fall anew:
And dead leaves, in bud on your April flight,
Will whisper your name to the wind to-night
And the year is dying in which you died
And I shall be lonely this Christmas-tide.

Hyde Park, October 1917

   Marian Allen and Arthur Greg

Allen wrote this poem six months after the death of her sweetheart, Captain Arthur Tylston Greg:

Shortly after the First World War was declared in August of 1914, Arthur Greg left his law studies at Oxford and eagerly joined the British army. Serving with the Cheshire Regiment near Ypres, Belgium, he was seriously wounded when shot in the jaw in the spring of 1915. 

Recovering from his injuries, Greg rejoined the military and applied to the Royal Flying Corps. By April of 1917, he had been certified as a pilot and returned to France to join the 55 Squadron. Less than one month later, on April 23rd of 1917, returning from a bombing mission on an ammunition factory, Arthur Greg’s squadron was attacked by German aircraft…. Greg’s plane was shot down, and although he crash-landed near St. Quentin, both he and his mechanic died of their wounds.

More here: Behind Their Lines.

What Writers Really Do When They Write

An artist works outside the realm of strict logic. Simply knowing one’s intention and then executing it does not make good art. Artists know this. According to Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.” Gerald Stern put it this way: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking – then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.” Einstein, always the smarty-pants, outdid them both: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”

George Saunders: What Writers Really Do When They Write

                                      Gertrude Stein

And Yet More on “Patterson”


 I suppose the most common sort of characterization of “the artist” is the Irving Stone-type (van Gogh, Michelangelo), the grimacing, hyperventilating, tormented nut-job and outcast, railing at the heavens, suffering greatly at his enterprise. Another popular characterization is the drunk with an aggravated impulse-control disorder. This is a type that I’m very familiar with and actually exists in fair numbers; the other almost never at all. In fact, the standard-issue “poet-artist” in North America for the past couple of generations teaches in a master of fine arts program at a university and possesses the temperament of sales person or mid-level bureaucrat, but with an exalted opinion of himself.

(No women poets?)

August Kleinzahler, on Paterson.

More About the Film “Paterson”

… including two poems by Ron Padgett:

Theirs is a life lit by their own inner lights: the imaginative qualities they see in their living room, the pleasures of simple weeknight supper (and it’s not about the food), walking their dog in the neighborhood, or half-awake in bed telling of a dream from the night before.

Commentary: In ‘Paterson,’ a snippet of the poet’s life, by Thomas Devaney.

What You Need to Know About the Trump Inaugural Poem

First off, it’s not. No poetry will be read at the Trump inauguration, per the program.

The poem was written by a certain Joseph Charles MacKenzie (more on him later) and posted to a site he, whatever his real name is, obviosly runs (see the comments): Classical Poets, on January 15, 2017.

Somehow The Scotsman got word and reprinted it the following day: “Scotland-inspired poem created for Donald Trump inauguration.”

The day after that, The Independent covered it as “Poem celebrating Donald Trump inauguration describes Barack Obama as a ‘tyrant.’” Then the interwebs went nuts.

So far there’s no indication the Trump camp had anything to do with the writing, initial posting, and subsequent dissemination of the poem.

And who is this Joseph Charles MacKenzie? If he is real (and I suspect that name is an alias), he comes off as quite the troll and résumé padder. He writes in his site, Mackenziepoet, among other things:

For my translations of some important sonnets of the French Renaissance (into Middle English), I earned the Henry M. Austin Poetry Prize then sponsored by the Witter Bynner Foundation.

French into Middle English. Of course. Also, that prize does not seem to exist, though the Witter Bynner Foundation does. Also:

One of my professors, an Oxonian named Charles Bell, indicated that some of my sonnets surpassed many of Shakespeare’s. Indeed, a sequence of 154 sonnets I had then completed later received First Place in the Long Poem Section of the Scottish International Poetry Competition.

154 sonnets! Some surpassing many of Shakespeare’s! One can only gasp. Also, the referenced prize does not seem to exist. Also, Charles Bell was a prominent Scottish surgeon (nice touch), though he was not associated with Oxford.

However, I suspect Joseph Charles MacKenzie is not real — he’s an alias, a cover for a troll.

Here the man (he is a man) behind the screen gives his name as Joseph McKenzie (the name of a Scottish photography piooneer) and claims he “received his M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Studies. He is a humble librarian.” This picture is used:

                        Mr McKenzie, I presume?

Whereas here, the man in the shadows gives his name as Joseph Charles MacKenzie, and states “At St. John’s College, where I obtained my B.A. in Literae Humaniores, I read the Nine Lyric Poets of Greece in their original dialects.” Of course. 

He also claims he has an M.A. in French Studies with a minor in Italian from the University of New Mexico, and uses the same photograph as above (towards the bottom of the page), and this one at the top:

Well, it’s hard to say if they are the same person, but there is a tempting similarity, no? But I suspect the photos aren’t of the person behind the mask.

Fun and games.

I suspect the “real” McKenzie or MacKenzie (I think the former) has been having fun via his various aliases. A day’s search led me to a likely candidate, neither librarian nor linguist/poet, and perhaps belonging to a so-called higher calling. However, any further speculation on my part would be just that. 

I’ll close with the mission statement (scroll to the bottom) “Joseph Charles MacKenzie” (the linguist/poet, not the librarian incarnation) put forth, who first posted the Trump  poem:


You have boycotted modernist so-called “poetry” for over half a century, but arrogant publishers have ignored your rejection of pseudo-intellectual nonsense in chopped-up prose.

Backward old elites have censored traditional lyric poetry because it clashes with their Marxist-totalitarian world view. The result has been complete censorship of traditional lyric verse and the loss of the ability to produce it.

The only solution to the crisis is the triumphant appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie’s Sonnets for Christ the King, the first significant body of traditional lyric verse produced since the poems of W.B. Yeats and Charles Péguy.

“MacKenzie” is nothing if not modest. Oh, and he claims to be “New Mexico’s first traditional lyric poet.” Of course.

A “Cocoanut” Cake From Emily Dickinson

Dickinson discussed baking in many of her letters — evincing both her trademark wit and a zest for life that belies the common image of her as a depressed figure. Note the animation in her letter to a friend about some burnt caramel rule: “I enclose Love’s ‘remainder biscuit,’ somewhat scorched perhaps in baking, but ‘Love’s oven is warm.’ Forgive the base proportions.”

A Coconut Cake From Emily Dickinson: Reclusive Poet, Passionate Baker, by Nelly Lambert
      The “cocoanut” cake recipe in Dickinson’s own hand.