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The Boston Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › Secular Poetry Out Loud.

Secular Poetry Out Loud.

A former member
When I was in high school, I had a literature teacher and her name is Mrs. O’Malley. Mrs. O’Malley did this thing where the entire class would set around and drink hot coco and read poetry out loud (there was finger clapping and funny sweaters involved). Well, anyway I thought that it would be cool if we did something like that (maybe without the sweater part, although it was fun), and we wrote our own or recited atheist/secular poetry. It will expose us to some of the very fine atheist/secular poets of our time and of times past. If your interested email back with what poem you would like to read or if you want to write your own poem. This would be a meet-up for a Sat/Sunday, hopefully this up coming weekend.

Here is a taste of some good poetry that can be read.

Aubade, By Philip Larkin (1922 - 1985)

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Let me know if you would attend, and don’t worry we can substitute the coco for beer/wine.
Zachary B.
Boston, MA
Post #: 120
The Atheist's Grave

I wandered among the churchyard dead
On a sunny Sabbath day,
And I marked a grave where the sexton said
An atheist's ashes lay.
A headstone pointed the lowly spot,
Inscribed with his age and name;
But other memorial there was not
To draw either praise or blame.
Yet the daisy there was as fresh in its hue,
The elm did as lightly wave,
And the springtide grass as greenly grew
As o'er the Christians grave.
And I marked that the sunbeams through the trees
Fell as lightly on the sod,
As if its inmate had been of these
Who had lived in the faith of a God.
And o'er my mind the reflection came
Of a new and startling kind:
T'was whispered within me that man may blame
Where Nature can no fault find;
The bigot's curse from the Gothic pile
On the skeptical few may fall,
But Nature extends with a mother's smile
Her pity and love to all.
A former member
Post #: 7
Alas, I could not come. Here is a poem about fish heaven by Rupert Brooke. You may remember it from Carl Sagan's posthumous book, The Varieties of the Scientific Experience:


FISH (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat'ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.

Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!

One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A purpose in Liquidity.

We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud!--Death eddies near--
Not here the appointed End, not here!

But somewhere, beyond Space and Time,
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One,
Who swam ere rivers were begun,

Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.

Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;

Fat catepillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.

And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.
Boston, MA
Post #: 7
I love this poem by A.E. Housman ... it is not atheistic, but definitely secular and filled with a wonder ...

Smooth between sea and land
Is laid the yellow sand,
And here through summer days
The seed of Adam plays.

Here the child comes to found
His unremaining mound,
And the grown lad to score
Two names upon the shore.

Here, on the level sand,
Between the sea and land,
What shall I build or write
Against the fall of night?

Tell me of runes to grave
That hold the bursting wave,
Or bastions to design
For longer date than mine.

Shall it be Troy or Rome
I fence against the foam,
Or my own name, to stay
When I depart for aye?

Nothing: too near at hand,
Planing the figure sand,
Effacing clean and fast
Cities not built to last
And charms devised in vain,
Pours the confounding main.
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