Poetry Last Night

Last night I was glancing through and anthology edited by Billy Collins 180 more Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and happened upon a poem by Abigail Gramig which was absolutely lovely.  Because copyright does not allow for quotation of entire works and because one should not take so freely of an author's work, and because the whole thing is quite short and completely integrated, it would serve no purpose to try to post an excerpt; however, I encourage everyone to get the book from the library and read the poem.  It is simple and lovely and a truly fitting requiem.

On the other hand, excerpts from two other poems that I read (at least in part) are suitable.

from The Throne of Labdacus
Gjertrud Schnackenberg

The first warning passing through Thebes--
As small a sound

As a housefly alighting from Persia
and stomping its foot on a mound

Where the palace once was,
As small as a moth chewing thread

In the tyrant's robes;
As small as the cresting of red

In the rim of an injured eye; as small
As the sound of a human conceived

The Throne of Labdacus, in case the title did not betray it, is a book length poem examining the Oedipus story.  I have not yet read sufficiently in it to say more than this.

And one last little excerpt (yes, I'm aware that the citation is longer than the excerpt--ah well.)

from "Rest on the Flight into Egypt"
Debora Greger
in 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day
ed. by Billy Collins

And so to the fifteenth century, in a far corner
of the Louvre. where, when the Madonna and Child

stopped to rest on the flight into Egypt
they find themselves in the Netherlands


  1. I enjoy reading your blog, and am sorry this unwieldy and cumbersome post is my first comment here.

    I humbly disagree with your decision to not post the poem you so admire. I've included the legal reasons you need not fear breaching the law, but would also hope most poets would prefer to find readers for their work. Very few, if any, make a living at poetry. In terms of reward, finding a readership is the most the majority can reasonably expect. Considering the enthusiasm you express for her poem, I can't imagine the poet being offended.

    This final point relates to the factor 4 discussed below. If I have no intention of buying this anthology, and indeed have not heard of this poet until today, my reading the poem online can have had no negative impact upon the market for her work. Inversely, if I read the poem and admire it as much as you have, she may benefit from any future purchases I might make.

    So sorry for such an introductory post.



    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A [setting forth copyright owners' exclusive rights and visual artists' artistic rights], the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


    Regarding factor 4: "This factor is generally held to be the most important factor"

    Furthermore: "...for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

    Finally, since this blog is not a commercial enterprise, the burden of proof that copying a poem is a violation of fair use, rests with any complainant.

    Source: http://www.chillingeffects.org/fairuse/faq.cgi#QID817

  2. Mr. Riddle,

    I wish there was some way I could assure you and any other visitors to your site that I had nothing to do with the ignorance spewed forth by the individual responding to your post of February 9. Why this particular troll/cretin chose to use my name to hide behind is a mystery.


  3. Dear Jonathan,

    Please don't apologize. I appreciate the information and the insight offered. I waffle over whether such posting does help or harm, weal or woe. I suppose that if I posted it and the author did object I could always remove it. Moreover, if taken as part of a larger work, the chapbook of which it was originally part, then it would not seem like so much of the work.

    Perhaps then I need to reconsider my decision. Thank you for commenting and I'm glad you care enough to share what you know.

    As to the other--do not be troubled by it--when one posts things that could be controversial, one needs to consider that it is possible some will object. I haven't read that comment yet, but shall in due time. But thank you again for your courtesy and concern.



  4. Dear Jonathan,

    I took a look at the comment you reference and believe that you may have misinterpreted it. Written communication lacks much of the information of verbal speech--intonation, gesture, etc. My reading of the post referenced was a facetious tone. The author will correct me if I have gone astray--so there was neither intent to harm nor offense taken at the comment. But once again, thank you for your concern.



  5. Dear Steven,

    I agree that "Written communication lacks much of the information of verbal speech--intonation, gesture, etc. "

    I am hopeful that your reading is more accurate than mine. It says something about me (and also the nature of online communication, I think) that I assumed the worst of possible intentions. I am heartened, upon rereading, to consider the post I objected to was no more than clumsy facetiousness, rather than malignant sincerity.



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