Bye, Bye from John Poch

August 2, 2008

John Poch, guest blogger, was kind enough to write several blog posts. His guest blogging gig is almost over.

Here’s his final post. There will be more from me (Deborah) soon.


It was fun (or was it?) while it lasted, and I hope whatever ridiculous things I’ve written off the top of my head have inspired you to subscribe to 32 Poems or to get someone else to subscribe or to buy a gift subscription. I think most of us have been hit by the gas prices and the inflation that has come with it, so I’m grateful for anyone spending their hard-earned money on poetry. Just like most worthwhile ventures, ours has succeeded due to word-of-mouth, and not due to fancy advertising or some fad. So please spread the word and help us out.

I’ve been reading George Herbert’s “Outlandish Proverbs”. They first appeared in 1640, and then in 1651 some later additions were printed under the title, Jacula Prudentum. They’re aphorisms, and I was surprised to see so many that I recognized. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Man Proposeth, God disposeth.
32. When a friend asks, there is no to morrow.
37. At dinner my man appears.
55. A Lyons skin is never cheape.
75. The bird loves her nest.
88. A full belly neither fights nor flies well.
118. A child correct behind and not before.
166. Of all smells, bread: of all tasts, salt.
178. Thinke of ease, but worke on.
199. I wept when I was borne, and every day shewes why.
207. The river past, and God forgotten.
227. It is a great victory that comes without blood.
261. Good cheape is dear.
277. Prayers and provender hinder no journey.
327. A little with quiet is the only dyet.

#537 says “Helpe thy selfe, and God will helpe thee.” Now that’s quite different than “God helps those who help themselves,” the aphorism we usually hear. The original is clearly better.

#524 says “Living well is the best revenge.” You will note that this is the title of a recent R.E.M. tune. I saw R.E.M. on Austin City Limits recently and was sorely disappointed. They seemed too clearly to “have something to say.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when it gets in the way of art and invention and genius. Their performance reminded me what I dislike of most political poetry, and that is the rhetoric. When Yeats said “We make of our quarrels with others rhetoric; we make of our quarrels with ourselves poetry,” I think he was talking about the language that has made up its mind. You get it the first time. To me, good poetry is what I come back to again and again. I never “get it” the first time. But if you listen to the music of this single, you harken back to some of that very raw early R.E.M., and that’s not so bad, is it?

I could go on and on with my favorites from Mr. Herbert, but I won’t. Read them yourselves. You can find them if you wish.

Oh, and Herbert’s #548 says “Faire words make mee looke to my purse.” I hope you’ll think of 32 Poems when you read that. And subscribe.

OK, one more. #552 The shortest answer is doing.

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