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Archive for the tag “World Literature”

“Get Up and Bar the Door”

For this week’s poem, I wanted to go back a little further than I’ve tended to in the past.  The poem “Get Up and Bar the Door” is an uncredited poem that is included in a collection of English poetry I have and was written sometime in the late 1700s.

This is a poem I first remember reading back in early high school and always makes me smile with its funny results and true relatability with modern times.  The whole tale, in all honesty, I could see as the basis for a plot in a sitcom.  I think truly great writing should function this way and be relatable and applicable to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Anyway, I’ll keep this brief and just get to the poem.  I’m transcribing the poem here without any editing from the draft within my book since it really is easy to follow.  The photo is a painting I found depicting the events of the poem.

Get Up and Bar the Door

It fell about the Martinmas time,
And a gay time it was then,
When our good wife got puddings to make,
And shes boild them in the pan.

The Wind sae cauld blew south and north,
And blew into the floor;
Quoth our goodman to our goodwife,
“Gae out and bar the door.”

“My hand is in my hussyfskap,
Goodman, as ye may see;
An it shoud nae be barrd this hundred year,
It’s no be barrd for me.”

They made a paction tween them twa,
They made it firm and sure,
That the first word whaeer shoud speak,
Shoud rise and bar the door.

Then by there came two gentlemen,
At twelve o’clock at night,
And they could neither see house nor hall,
Nor coal nor candle-light.

“Now whether is this a rich man’s house,
Or whether is it a poor?”
Be neer a word wad ane o them speak,
For barring of the door.

And first they ate the white puddings,
And then they ate the black;
Tho muckle thought the goodwife to hersel,
Yet neer a word she spake.

Then said the one unto the other,
“Here, man, tak ye my knife;
Do ye tak aff the auld man’s beard,
And I’ll kiss the goodwife.”

“But there’s nae water in the house,
And what shall we do than?”
“What ails thee at the pudding-broo,
That boils into the pan?”

O up then started our goodman,
An angry man was he:
“Will ye kiss my wife before my een,
And scad me wi pudding-bree?”

Then up and started our goodwife,
Gied three skips on the floor:
“Goodman, you’ve spoken the foremost word,
Get up and bar the door.”

Sylvia Plath – “The Swarm”

I usually post up a poem of my own on Thursdays, but a majority of my work (and believe me I have been writing a lot the past couple weeks) is well within what I like to call my revision stage. I’m not going to do the disservice of showing off first or second draft poems that need, in some cases, harsh revisions. Therefore, I thought I’d share a poem with you that holds a special place for me.

This poem, “The Swarm” by Sylvia Plath, was one of the first poems I ever analyzed on my own and wrote a paper over. The pages from this book that I’ve had since high school are covered with my notations and connections I made throughout the poems. I’m so proud of it I decided to include this picture:


This poem is from her collection Ariel,  her last collection of poetry published posthumously.  The entire book is very imagistic and is a book that I will undoubtedly review at some point when I can give it enough time.

The Swarm

Somebody is shooting at something in our town—
A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street.
Jealousy can open the blood,
It can make black roses.
Who are they shooting at?

It is you the knives are out for
At Waterloo, Waterloo, Napoleon,
The hump of Elba on your short back,
And the snow, marshalling its brilliant cutlery
Mass after mass, sahing Shh!

Shh! These are the chess people you play with,
Still figures of ivory.
The mud squirms with throats,
Stepping stones for French bootsoles.
The gilt and pink domes of Russia melt and float off

In the furnace of greed. Clouds, clouds.
So the swarm balls and deserts
Seventy feet up, in a black pine tree.
It must be shot down. Pom! Pom!
So dumb it thinks bullets are thunder.

It thinks they are the voice of God
Condoning the beak, the claw, the grin of the dog
Yellow-haunched, a pack-dog,
Grinning over its bone of ivory
Like the pack, the pack, like everybody.

The bees have got so far. Seventy feet high!
Russia, Poland and Germany!
The mild hills, the same old magenta
Fields shrunk to a penny
Spun into a river, the river crossed.

The bees argue, in their black ball,
A flying hedgehog, all prickles.
The man with grey hands stands under the honeycomb
Of their dream, the hived station
Where trains, faithful to their steel arcs,

Leave and arrive, and there is no end to the country.
Pom! Pom! They fall
Dismembered, to a tod of ivy.
So much for the charioteers, the outriders, the Grand Army!
A red tatter, Napoleon!

The last badge of victory.
The swarm is knocked into a cocked straw hat.
Elba, Elba, bleb on the sea!
The white busts of marshals, admirals, generals
Worming themselves into niches.

How instructive this is!
The dumb, banded bodies
Walking the plank draped with Mother France’s upholstery
Into a new mausoleum,
An ivory palace, a crotch pine.

The man with grey hands smiles—
The smile of a man of business, intensely practical.
They are not hands at all
But asbestos receptacles.
Pom! Pom! “They would have killed me.”

Stings big as drawing pins!
It seems bees have a notion of honour,
A black, intractable mind.
Napoleon is pleased, he is pleased with everything.
O Europe! O ton of honey!

—Sylvia Plath, Ariel

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