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Best Famous Robert Duncan Poems

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Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem


 for Jim Cummins 

In Iowa, Jim dreamed that Della Street was Anne Sexton's
Dave drew a comic strip called the "Adventures of Whitman," about a bearded beer-guzzler in Superman uniform.
Donna dressed like Wallace Stevens in a seersucker summer suit.
To town came Ted Berrigan, saying, "My idea of a bad poet is Marvin Bell.
" But no one has won as many prizes as Philip Levine.
At the restaurant, people were talking about Philip Levine's latest: the Pulitzer.
A toast was proposed by Anne Sexton.
No one saw the stranger, who said his name was Marvin Bell, pour something into Donna's drink.
"In the Walt Whitman Shopping Center, there you feel free," said Ted Berrigan, pulling on a Chesterfield.
Everyone laughed, except T.
I asked for directions.
"You turn right on Gertrude Stein, then bear left.
Three streetlights down you hang a Phil Levine and you're there," Jim said.
When I arrived I saw Ted Berrigan with cigarette ash in his beard.
Graffiti about Anne Sexton decorated the men's room walls.
Beth had bought a quart of Walt Whitman.
Donna looked blank.
"Walt who?" The name didn't ring a Marvin Bell.
You laugh, yet there is nothing inherently funny about Marvin Bell.
You cry, yet there is nothing inherently scary about Robert Lowell.
You drink a bottle of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, as thirsty as Walt Whitman.
You bring in your car for an oil change, thinking, this place has the aura of Philip Levine.
Then you go home and write: "He kissed her Anne Sexton, and she returned the favor, caressing his Ted Berrigan.
" Donna was candid.
"When the spirit of Ted Berrigan comes over me, I can't resist," she told Marvin Bell, while he stood dejected at the xerox machine.
Anne Sexton came by to circulate the rumor that Robert Duncan had flung his drink on a student who had called him Philip Levine.
The cop read him the riot act.
"I don't care," he said, "if you're Walt Whitman.
" Donna told Beth about her affair with Walt Whitman.
"He was indefatigable, but he wasn't Ted Berrigan.
" The Dow Jones industrials finished higher, led by Philip Levine, up a point and a half on strong earnings.
Marvin Bell ended the day unchanged.
Analyst Richard Howard recommended buying May Swenson and selling Anne Sexton.
In the old days, you liked either Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton, not both.
Ted Berrigan changed that just by going to a ballgame with Marianne Moore.
And one day Philip Levine looked in the mirror and saw Marvin Bell.

Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

55. The Twa Herds; or The Holy Tulyie

 O A’ ye pious godly flocks,
Weel fed on pastures orthodox,
Wha now will keep you frae the fox,
 Or worrying tykes?
Or wha will tent the waifs an’ crocks,
 About the dykes?

The twa best herds in a’ the wast,
The e’er ga’e gospel horn a blast
These five an’ twenty simmers past—
 Oh, dool to tell!
Hae had a bitter black out-cast
 Atween themsel’.
O, Moddie, 1 man, an’ wordy Russell, 2 How could you raise so vile a bustle; Ye’ll see how New-Light herds will whistle, An’ think it fine! The L—’s cause ne’er gat sic a twistle, Sin’ I hae min’.
O, sirs! whae’er wad hae expeckit Your duty ye wad sae negleckit, Ye wha were ne’er by lairds respeckit To wear the plaid; But by the brutes themselves eleckit, To be their guide.
What flock wi’ Moodie’s flock could rank?— Sae hale and hearty every shank! Nae poison’d soor Arminian stank He let them taste; Frae Calvin’s well, aye clear, drank,— O, sic a feast! The thummart, willcat, brock, an’ tod, Weel kend his voice thro’ a’ the wood, He smell’d their ilka hole an’ road, Baith out an in; An’ weel he lik’d to shed their bluid, An’ sell their skin.
What herd like Russell tell’d his tale; His voice was heard thro’ muir and dale, He kenn’d the L—’s sheep, ilka tail, Owre a’ the height; An’ saw gin they were sick or hale, At the first sight.
He fine a mangy sheep could scrub, Or nobly fling the gospel club, And New-Light herds could nicely drub Or pay their skin; Could shake them o’er the burning dub, Or heave them in.
Sic twa-O! do I live to see’t?— Sic famous twa should disagree’t, And names, like “villain,” “hypocrite,” Ilk ither gi’en, While New-Light herds, wi’ laughin spite, Say neither’s liein! A’ ye wha tent the gospel fauld, There’s Duncan 3 deep, an’ Peebles 4 shaul, But chiefly thou, apostle Auld, 5 We trust in thee, That thou wilt work them, het an’ cauld, Till they agree.
Consider, sirs, how we’re beset; There’s scarce a new herd that we get, But comes frae ’mang that cursed set, I winna name; I hope frae heav’n to see them yet In fiery flame.
Dalrymple 6 has been lang our fae, M’Gill 7 has wrought us meikle wae, An’ that curs’d rascal ca’d M’Quhae, 8 And baith the Shaws, 9 That aft hae made us black an’ blae, Wi’ vengefu’ paws.
Auld Wodrow 10 lang has hatch’d mischief; We thought aye death wad bring relief; But he has gotten, to our grief, Ane to succeed him, A chield wha’ 11 soundly buff our beef; I meikle dread him.
And mony a ane that I could tell, Wha fain wad openly rebel, Forby turn-coats amang oursel’, There’s Smith 12 for ane; I doubt he’s but a grey nick quill, An’ that ye’ll fin’.
O! a’ ye flocks o’er a, the hills, By mosses, meadows, moors, and fells, Come, join your counsel and your skills To cowe the lairds, An’ get the brutes the power themsel’s To choose their herds.
Then Orthodoxy yet may prance, An’ Learning in a woody dance, An’ that fell cur ca’d Common Sense, That bites sae sair, Be banished o’er the sea to France: Let him bark there.
Then Shaw’s an’ D’rymple’s eloquence, M’Gill’s close nervous excellence M’Quhae’s pathetic manly sense, An’ guid M’Math, Wi’ Smith, wha thro’ the heart can glance, May a’ pack aff.
Note 1.
Moodie of Riccarton.
[back] Note 2.
John Russell of Kilmarnock.
[back] Note 3.
Robert Duncan of Dundonald.
[back] Note 4.
Peebles of Newton-on-Ayr.
[back] Note 5.
Auld of Mauchline.
[back] Note 6.
Dalrymple of Ayr.
[back] Note 7.
M’Gill, colleague of Dr.
[back] Note 8.
Minister of St.
[back] Note 9.
Andrew Shaw of Craigie, and Dr.
David Shaw of Coylton.
[back] Note 10.
Peter Wodrow of Tarbolton.
[back] Note 11.
John M’Math, a young assistant and successor to Wodrow.
[back] Note 12.
George Smith of Galston.