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English Society Literary Magazine

Mar-Apr 2013 Issue

World Poetry Day & National Poetry Month

"Poetry is one of the purest expressions of linguistic freedom. It is a component of the identity of peoples and it embodies the creative energy of culture, for it can be continuously renewed" Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO Message for the World Poetry Day

Poetry contributes to creative diversity through the questioning of our use of words and things, our modes of perception and understanding of the world. World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities. Every year on 21 March UNESCO celebrates the World Poetry Day. The main objective of this World Poetry Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Moreover, this day is meant to support poetry by returning to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promoting the teaching of poetry, restoring a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music, painting and so on, supporting small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art.

World Poetry Day is an opportunity for children to be introduced to poetry in the classrooms. It is a time when classrooms are busy with lessons related to poetry b studying different poets and learning about different types of poetry. Poets may be invited to read and share their work to audiences at book stores, cafes, universities and schools. Awards and other forms or recognition are given out to honor poets and their work.


National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets in every April ever since 1996. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media - to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. It is hoped to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated. The Academy of American Poets has led this initiative from its inception in 1996 and along the way has enlisted a variety of government agencies and officials, educational leaders, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations to help. In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, the Academy chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women's History Month (March), and on the advice of teachers and librarians, April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry - in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.

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Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day – The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with co-workers, family, and friends. Put a poem on the pavement – Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk. Put poetry in an unexpected place – Books should be delivered to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities. Bring a poem to your place of worship – We define poetry as the unofficial view of being, and bringing the art of language in contact with your spiritual practices can deepen both. Put a poem in a letter – It's always a treat to get a letter, but finding a poem in the envelope makes the experience extra special.


A Dice Throw (Translated, Compressed and Punctuated Version) A THROW OF THE DICE NEVER, EVEN WHEN TRULY CAST IN THE ETERNAL CIRCUMSTANCE OF A SHIPWRECK’S DEPTH, Can be only the Abyss raging, whitened, stalled beneath the desperately sloping incline of its own wing, through an advance falling back from ill to take flight, and veiling the gushers, restraining the surges, gathered far within the shadow buried deep by that alternative sail, almost matching its yawning depth to the wingspan, like a hull of a vessel rocked from side to side THE MASTER, beyond former calculations, where the lost manoeuvre with the age rose implying that formerly he grasped the helm of this conflagration of the concerted horizon at his feet, that readies itself; moves; and merges with the blow that grips it, as one threatens fate and the winds, the unique Number, which cannot be another Spirit, to hurl it into the storm, relinquish the cleaving there, and pass proudly; hesitates, a corpse pushed back by the arm from the secret, rather than taking sides, a hoary madman, on behalf of the waves: one overwhelms the head, flows through the submissive beard, straight shipwreck that, of the man without a vessel, empty no matter where ancestrally never to open the fist clenched beyond the helpless head, a legacy, in vanishing, to someone ambiguous, the immemorial ulterior demon having, from non-existent regions, led the old man towards this ultimate meeting with probability, this his childlike shade caressed and smoothed and rendered supple by the wave, and shielded from hard bone lost between the planks born of a frolic, the sea through the old man or the old man against the sea, making a vain attempt, an Engagement whose dread the veil of illusion rejected, as the phantom of a gesture will tremble, collapse, madness, WILL NEVER ABOLISH AS IF A simple insinuation into silence, entwined with irony, or the mystery hurled, howled, in some close swirl of mirth and terror, whirls round the abyss without scattering or dispersing and cradles the virgin index there AS IF a solitary plume overwhelmed, untouched, that a cap of midnight grazes, or encounters, and fixes, in crumpled velvet with a sombre burst of laughter, that rigid whiteness, derisory, in opposition to the heavens, too much so not to signal closely any bitter prince of the reef, heroically adorned with it, indomitable, but contained by his petty reason, virile in lightning anxious expiatory and pubescent dumb laughter that IF the lucid and lordly crest of vertigo on the invisible brow sparkles, then shades, a slim dark tallness, upright in its siren coiling, at the moment of striking, through impatient ultimate scales, bifurcated, a rock a deceptive manor suddenly evaporating in fog that imposed limits on the infinite

IT WAS THE NUMBER, stellar outcome, WERE IT TO HAVE EXISTED other than as a fragmented, agonised hallucination; WERE IT TO HAVE BEGUN AND ENDED, a surging that denied, and closed, when visible at last, by some profusion spreading in sparseness; WERE IT TO HAVE AMOUNTED to the fact of the total, though as little as one; WERE IT TO HAVE LIGHTED, IT WOULD BE, worse no more nor less indifferently but as much, CHANCE Falls the plume, rhythmic suspense of the disaster, to bury itself in the original foam, from which its delirium formerly leapt to the summit faded by the same neutrality of abyss NOTHING of the memorable crisis where the event matured, accomplished in sight of all non-existent human outcomes, WILL HAVE TAKEN PLACE a commonplace elevation pours out absence BUT THE PLACE some lapping below, as if to scatter the empty act abruptly, that otherwise by its falsity would have plumbed perdition, in this region of vagueness, in which all reality dissolves EXCEPT at the altitude PERHAPS, as far as a place fuses with, beyond, outside the interest signalled regarding it, in general, in accord with such obliquity, through such declination of fire, towards what must be the Wain also North A CONSTELLATION cold with neglect and desuetude, not so much though that it fails to enumerate, on some vacant and superior surface, the consecutive clash, sidereally, of a final account in formation, attending, doubting, rolling, shining and meditating before stopping at some last point that crowns it All Thought expresses a Throw of the Dice.

StĂŠphane MallarmĂŠ

(Please visit for the original version of the poem.)

Of all the major poets of the 19th century, Mallarme remains the most intimidating. The 19th century was a golden age for literature and poetry: to name a few, there were Baudelaire and Rimbaud in France, Pushkin and Lermontov in Russia and Hölderlin and Rilke in Germany. However, compared to such great poets, Mallarme’s influence on postmodern thought was still the greatest. Mallarme has been a popular topic for thinkers as diverse as Derrida and Badiou. Here I want to focus on the emotions a typical Mallarmean poem would stimulate. Mallarme’s most famous poem was A Dice Throw, itself a revolution in literature. Breaking from traditional spatial layout from a page, A Dice Throw ordered the words according to the symbolic meaning it brought out without the use of punctuation. Mallarme was a famous symbolist poet. His poetry differs from traditional poetry in that it is most of the time obscure, totally neglecting syntax and punctuation. One would have to read very carefully in order to decipher the true meaning behind his poem. This method of presentation effectively brings out the existentialist themes of Mallarme, for it arouses the existential uncertainty within every person: that the future is a huge void with an inescapable fate which is death. After all, what is the meaning of life? “Void” is a constant preoccupation of Mallarme. In A Dice Throw as well as other poems, a sunken ship is symbolic of such a void, expressing the unknown we are being sucked into, the future. Mallarme makes this existential despair of man into a sublime artwork, transforming destitution to exaltation. When one reads Mallarme’s poems, one feels immediately that existence is weighing you down. You enter a state of immobility, paralyzed by the beyond. It is a magnificent feeling, but also one of intense anguish. Only a poet of supreme ability can induce such a feeling in readers. Literature is an emotion; it embodies a spirit. In the age after the death of God and truth, Mallarme used this emotion to its fullest in his verses. One could feel emotion manipulated, magnified and praised at the same time within a single poetic work. A profound feeling of resignation permeates Mallarme’s poems; but it is not a pessimistic fatalism. Rather, one can feel an energy working within this resignation which transformed it not only into art but also a conflagration. “The sun” which is always on the horizon of the sunken ship, drives Mallarme’s poems on. Neglecting even usual rules of grammar to achieve the divinity of human feeling, and sacrificing all for it alone, Mallarme wrote poems no other poet was capable of. There is no other concern for Mallarme other than man and art. His poems will remain a monument. Here I invite every true lover of literature to read the collected verses of Stephane Mallarme to get the true feeling of reading.

The Killer The day was clear as fire, the birds sang frail as glass, when thirsty I came to the creek and fell by its side in the grass. My breast on the bright moss and shower-embroidered weeks, my lips to the live water I saw him turn in the reeds. Black horror sprang from the dark in a violent birth, and through its cloth of grass I felt the clutch of earth.



O beat him into the ground. O strike him till he diesor else your life itself 15 drains through those colourless eyes. I struck again and again Slender in black and red he lies, and his icy glance turns outward clear and dead.


But nimble my enemy as water is, or wind. He has slipped from his death aside and vanished into my mind He has vanished whence he came, my nimble enemy; and the ants come out to the snake and drink at his shallow eye. Judith Wright


‘The Killer’, by Judith Wright, describes the speaker going to drink at a creek and encountering a snake, which the speaker violently kills, yet finds that even though the snake is dead, the speaker’s innate fear of snakes has not been resolved. The poem explores the theme of inherent, unreasoning paranoia in us all, shown through the title, structure and imagery. The title, ‘The Killer’, is ambiguous, with several possible meanings or beings (including the snake and the speaker) that could be killers; arguably, however, the true killer is the innate sense of human fear, which is the killer in us all. While ‘The’, a definite article, suggests that there is a specific killer, there is a level of ambiguity to who or what the ‘killer’ is. At first, the snake seems to be the killer, being known to be a dangerous creature and stereotyped as a predator, and the speaker’s great fear seems to back up this assumption. As the poem progresses, the speaker turns out to be the literal killer, beating the snake to death (as stated in stanzas four and five). However, the real killer is in fact the innate paranoia of human beings, and human nature’s predisposition to fear - as revealed in stanzas six and seven, the speaker still feels the snake’s presence and the strong fear of snakes. The fear is the catalyst behind the speaker’s killing the snake, and is the eponymous killer in the poem. Imagery is also used as a way of building up the nature of the paranoia, by creating a sinister, almost devilish supernatural picture of the snake, and fleshing out the speaker’s attitude towards the snake, revealing the extent of the speaker’s fear of snakes. A level of ambiguity is also present, with ‘Black horror sprang from the dark/in a violent birth’ in stanza three, which can either be describing the movement of the snake slithering towards the speaker, or the fear with the speaker welling up and overwhelming her, the speaker being attacked by her paranoia. The snake is described as being an unnatural, terrifying creature. The recurring motif of the snake’s eyes is one way of projecting the eerie nature of the creature and the speaker’s terror: in line 16, ‘colourless’ eyes seem to imply that the snake is abnormal, that its eyes can drain one’s soul, suck one’s life-force through the eyes; ‘icy glance’ and ‘shallow eye’ further emphasise the sinister, almost unfeeling, cold-blooded nature of the snake. ‘Slender in black and red’ of stanza five is another ambiguous point - it may be describing the red and black markings of the snake, which appears to imply that the snake, despite being ‘slender’ and small, is either poisonous or fairly dangerous. Regardless, ‘red and black’ are colours usually representing death, blood, destruction or Hell, which reinforces the idea of the snake being an unnatural, deadly being and the speaker being justified in killing it. The speaker’s attitude - that of near-hysterical fear - towards the snake is evident not only through the descriptions of the snake, but also the speaker’s reaction to it. In stanza four, the speaker kills the snake with ‘O beat him into the ground/O strike him till he dies - ’ which, with the use of anaphora for emphasis, clearly shows the speaker’s desperation to get rid of the snake and the unreasoning fear that grips her - the snake has shown no signs of attack, yet the speaker immediately beats it to a pulp. ‘I stuck again and again’ in stanza five further displays the sort of violence that the speaker’s irrational paranoia incites, and how the speaker fears the snake.

While the imagery serves to build up the sense of the speaker’s fear, lines 21-26 serve as a turning point, revealing the true essence of the poem and the real identity of the killer. ‘But’ signposts the turning point; the snake described as ‘nimble my enemy as water is, or wind’ suggests that it is almost intangible, giving it an extra eerie quality; ‘slipped from his death aside/and vanished into my mind’ further makes the snake seem something supernatural. Physically, the snake is dead; to describe it as able to ‘slip’ and ‘vanish’ fluidly and insidiously shows the deep extent of the speaker’s fear of snakes, such that he feels a physical sense of horror and threat, and his terror manifests as a psychological snake which cannot be banished. Prior to the lines 21-26, it seemed as though ‘the killer’ was the speaker; these lines reveal the true killer to be the irrational paranoia of the speaker. ‘He has vanished whence he came/my nimble enemy’ further implies that, despite the fact that ‘he’ appears to refer to the snake, the ‘he’ really means the speaker’s fear, and ‘whence he came’ refers to the speaker’s mind, where the paranoia exists, and where it can never be conquered. The structure of the poem helps to tie the themes and imagery together, complementing one another, and also helps to highlight the idea of human paranoia. In terms of thyme, the structure is regular, with stanzas of four lines throughout, and are irregular, and an alternate rhyme scheme of ABCB; exceptions to this are stanzas six and seven, which are irregular, possibly exemplifying the turning point of the poem, where the meaning turns from a literal level (the killing of the snake) to the psychological level (the pervading sense of fear). On the matter of theme, the poem has a circular structure, with the idea of drinking coming up both at the beginning and the end, staring with the speaker going to the creek for a drink and encountering the snake, to the ants coming to ‘drink’ from the snake’s eye. This symbolises the interconnectedness of nature, the cycle of life with predator and prey (the human, usually the victim, killing the snake, which seems to be a predator, is a reversal of the usual predator-prey relationships; the predation of fear the speaker suffers also refers to this theme). The climax in the poem is in stanzas four and five, when the speaker strikes the snake in quite a frenzied and violent manner; the turning point lies in stanza six, with ‘But...” and the revelation of the real ‘killer’ of the title. Thus it is that such ideas of inescapable fear, overwhelming a human being and becoming the motivation for a killing are brought out, through vivid imagery, a startling turning point that carries traces of the supernatural and eeriness, a structure that holds the themes tightly together, and an ambiguous title that leaves room for debate. In the end, it is the unreasoning, irrational fear, present in every human being that is the true killer among us.

In the Wink of an Eye By Mark J. Howard Chapter 5 “I have no idea, but it’s the only thing that makes any sense. From the ignition point, the explosion travelled through time and not over it, that would have twisted the localised space-time continuum and everything in it, the transmitter and anything near it would have been twisted around like it was made of rubber. The bubble you saw was most likely the flashpoint of the explosion, but you must have been in a fold of space-time, so the main force of it missed you. When the continuum snapped back into shape, it just tore everything near the transmitter to pieces. I never predicted anything like this. Beck, Beck I’m so sorry.” Palmer shook her head, even though it hurt her to do so. “Don’t be, there’s no way anybody could have predicted something like this.” “But it’s so damned obvious! I should have designed more tests, run more simulations...” Tears were beginning to well up in Eileen’s eyes, though she fought well to contain them. “One of the first things you told me was that the crystals you made couldn’t occur naturally anywhere in the universe, you said that it was impossible for the universe to make them at all. You have made something that God Himself could not make, it’s not surprising that it’s difficult to understand. But, you have learned a lot here today. Next time... next time...” Palmer groaned and slumped against the armoured wall for support. Vertigo filled her mind with whirlpools and her legs felt weak and uncertain. “Beck!” Eileen called, pressing her hand to the diaglass. “I’m... I’m fine. Just a little. Dizzy, is all,” Palmer said, her voice weak and raw. “Just need to... catch my breath. Be okay.” “Beck,” Eileen’s voice again, softer this time, forced Palmer to look up. “Your neck,” Eileen said, “What’s wrong with your neck?”


Which poem is your source of inspiration? Ms. Amanda Hsu, “This poem always offers me peace when I am in frustration.”

Gift by Czeslaw Milosz A day so happy. Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no one worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me. In my body I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails. Berkeley, 1971

Students’ Poems

Barefoot at Sunset 5F Hampton Tao

Dazzles at Dusk 5E Abeeto Ip

Dragging, gliding on glistening gossamer strands damp massage for soles.

Clear clouds evanesce Twilight twists, I reminisce Still stars luminesce

Poetry Crossword



2 A group of lines of poetry forming a unit

1 A situation in which something which was intended to

6 A series of Confucianism collections of Chinese poetry dating from as early as 1100 BCE and complied in about 600 BCE 10 Words that have the same last sound 13 The use of symbols in art, literature, films, etc. to represent ideas 14 The use, especially in poetry, of the same sound or sounds, especially consonants,

have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result 3 A pattern of words that contain similar sounds within or at the end of the line 4 Poet of "I wandered lonely as a cloud" 5 The act of creating or using words that include sounds that are similar to the noises the words refer to

at the beginning of several words that

7 A short Japanese poem in 17 syllables

are close together

8 A piece of writing in which the words are arranged in

15 Poet of "the road not taken"

separate lines, often ending in rhyme, and are chosen

17 The use of pleasing, agreeable sound effects of poetry

for their sound and for the images and ideas they

18 Writing that is arranged in short lines with a regular


rhythm 19 An expression, often found in literature, that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics to that person or object

9 Poet of "I know why the caged bird sings" 11 A lengthy, revered narrative poem about some fictional or nonfictional great or heroic deed 12 An expression comparing one thing with another, always including the words like ‘as’ 16 A poem that has 14 lines and a particular pattern of rhyme

Poetry Phrases

Epic: A lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Examples: Two of the most famous epic poems are the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, which tell about the Trojan War and the adventures of Odysseus on his voyage home after the war.

Conceit: A fanciful poetic image or metaphor that likens one thing to something else that is seemingly very different. In English literature the term is generally associated with the 17th century metaphysical poets, an extension of contemporary usage. Helen Gardner observed that "a conceit is a comparison whose ingenuity is more striking than its justness" and that "a comparison becomes a conceit when we are made to concede likeness while being strongly conscious of unlikeness." Examples: “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?” in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 “There is no frigate like a book.” Emily Dickinson's poem

Enjambment: The continuation of a complete idea (a sentence or clause) from

one line or couplet of a poem to the next line or couplet without a pause.

Example: “I think that I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree.” in Joyce Kilmer's Trees

Literary Magazine (MarApr)  

This is the 5th issue of the English Society's Literary Magazine! It is also a combined version for 2 months. Hope you will enjoy reading it...

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