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Enjoying Poetry

By jolly st nick in Culture
Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:53:33 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Currently only a small fraction of literate readers regularly read poetry. As recently as the 1800s nearly all literate people would have read and enjoyed poetry, and memorized verses would not be uncommon among the illterate. Go back even further, and poetry becomes a dominant form of entertainment, along with music and story telling.

So, what exactly are we missing?

I think, like many things we learn about in school, we have lost the sense that we can obtain pleasure from something that admittedly requires some effort to understand. More people I know derive pleasure from calculus than from poetry. People today have to be introduced to poetry because it is no longer part of our daily experience.

What is Poetry?

Most people are probably aware that poems do not need to rhyme, and probably know that poems needn't be in a strictly ordered rhythmic form like iambic pentameter. However this does not explain exactly what makes one thing poetry and another thing prose. Poetry differs from prose in structure and content. In structure, poetry is much more condensed than prose. If it were matter, it would be neutron star material. More attention is paid to how words and sounds fit together into a pattern of syllables and sounds. There is a kind of condensation and association of ideas or content in the poem that goes hand in hand with this economical use of sound; poetry is more free to use the logic of the imagination and emotion to make its point more succinctly.

There's no strict dividing line between prose and poetry. Some people write in prose that is very close to and could easily be written as verse, for example:

Four score and seven years ago,
Our fathers brought forth upon this continent
A new nation:
Conceived in liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal.
This particular piece of prose is very arguably very close to poetry. Clearly it has a strong rhythm, it employs rhyme ("four score") and alliteration ("Score" and "Seven", "New Nation"). The artful flow of the language is not accidental, since this piece of writing was written to be read aloud. What may not be as immediately clear is that it is very close poetry in its metaphors as well. It is describing the Union as a kind of mathematical theorem that is being put to the test, or perhaps a great scientific experiment. This is not strictly speaking logical, but it works to elevate the conflict from one of mere politics into the plane of ideas. Later we are told that these ideas are worthy of dying for. It's not an argument that can be made easily with prosaic logic.

What is Enjoyable About Poetry

This is a highly personal question. For me it is the sound of a poem. I began to appreciate this much more when I began to read to my kids. Efficient readers of prose do not subvocalize, or if they do they don't pay much attention to it. Consider the difference between speed reading the following and reading it aloud:

    Cradle Song

From groves of spice,
O'er fields of rice,
Athwart the lotus-stream,
I bring for you,
Aglint with dew,
A little lovely dream.

Sweet, shut your eyes,
The wild fire-flies
Dance through the fairy neem;
From the poppy-bole
For you I stole
A little lovely dream.

Dear eyes, good night,
In golden light
The stars around you gleam;
On you I Press
With soft caress
A little lovely dream.

Here, Sarojini Naidu writes in English with an exquisite ear to the way the language sounds. Most of us were taught to write poems in iambic pentamter: in lines of five pairs of syllables, where the stress is on the second syllable. However, the reason why was probably not explained: the two syllable foot with stress on the second syllable is a natural cadence for English. Ten syllables paired this way is a good structure because shorter lines tend to be sing-songish and monotonous. Here Naidu is aiming for a sing-song effect with short lines, but avoid monotony by varying them by alternating two lines of two iambic feet with a line of three. Naidu also makes use of other textbook aural devices, such as alliteration and rhyme, but does so with great skill and charm. Poems this good can't be made by formula.

For the most part modern poets are not my favorites. This is because I think that many late 20th C poets have something of a tin ear with respect to the music of language. I also think that poetry was deeply infected with psychoanalysis in the twentieth century, so that many poets have dispensed with the persona and have given us the psychological equivalent of the bore who regales you with endless accounts of his health problems. A few do this with a certain skill, such as Jane Shore, who in one poem describes a hot day when she was a young girl, a day that turned out to be the last time she felt comfortable shirtless in front of her father. However, her poetry doesn't "rock". It is a good read but is not particularly musical. Few of these confessional poets have much of an ear (in my opinion), and fewer can write with the kind of poignancy that Shore does. I think it just boils down to the fact most of them aren't as interesting a Shore is as a person. Older poets worked with a construct called the "persona". This was the person speaking in the poem, who was usually understood to be fictional, or at least someone who is not necessarily the author. The persona has faded away and in many cases the author has stepped forward.

This does bring us to the pleasures of a poem's content. Chief among these pleasures are well chosen ideas and metaphors. Here modern poets are fully the equal if not the better of older ones:


The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Here, I think Nye perhaps overworks the theme a tad; comparing the boot to the dress shoe is toying with poetic conceit. Here we also see an example of the disappearing persona; I believe we are expected to understand the "I" is Nye herself. This is not a case of the egregious poet-bore who drones on about his psychological health, but I don't think introducing herself strengthens this poem. It's flirting with a kind of "I want to buy the world a Coke" sentimentality. Nonetheless, I judge this as a very good poem because of a well chosen theme and imagery. I admire Longfellow's poem on the jewish cemetary at Portsmouth for the same reason: he juxtaposes the "backward" writing of Hebrew against the backward progress of history for them: the days of their greatness as a nation were in the past.

Difficult Poetry

The examples I've given above are, I think, immediately enjoyable and understandable by anyone. However, many poems demand much effort and thought, like working out a puzzle. With this kind of poem, I think we see compression of the ideas and language at its greatest. You simply cannot say what the poem is about in any definite way, and certainly not in a way that is shorter than the poem itself.

I don't want to start a long critical discussion here, so I won't quote any. I'm trying to convince you that poetry is enjoyable, that it is fun, so it would be counterproductive, but practically all "important" poems fall are difficult (e.g. T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland famous for observing that "April is the Cruelest Month"). With all difficult pleasures, you have to develop your chops before you can partake of them. However I bring these poems up because they are where, in the long term, most of the pleasure of poetry is.

Further Reading

I've gone through a number of introductory books on poetry, and by far the best I've found is Burton Raffel's How to Read a Poem. It explains both the logic of poetry and the geeky (and neglected) pleasure of its mechanics: you'll be able to correctly identify a dactylic hexameter once you're through it. It explains the various ideas of critical theorists, but takes a common sense and practical approach to understanding and enjoying poetry.

Of course,there are all the poets themselves too. I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps Tennyson would be a good start for many readers. He did produce a few metaphysical stinkers (Flower in a Crannied Wall), but he is both musical in his style and in many cases interesting in his content. Once you have gotten used to some of his poems, you might try your hand at Locsksley Hall (easily googled from several sources), a medium length poem (about 194 lines) and, I expect,very interesting to the kind of people we have in this forum. It's a very good example of how a poem can be hard to describe: it's part lament for lost love, part madman's rant, and in places borders on science fiction. People interested in Arthurian legend will be interested in his Idylls of the King; the part dealing with Sir Bedivere's passing of Exacalibur to the Lady of the Lake is, in my opinion, his best work.

(I am soliciting other suggestions for good starter works)

tmoertel suggests (and I strongly concur) Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. xah has many useful suggestions, starting with The New Penguin Book of English Verse and including the glorious Milton (also author of a fine political work: Aereopagitica).

Shaunak suggest several websites on Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and Lord Byron.


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"Half a league, half a league, half a league onward" is
o iambic pentameter 2%
o three dactyls followed by a trochee 64%
o bad advice 33%

Votes: 75
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Percy Bysshe Shelley
o John Keats
o Lord Byron
o Also by jolly st nick

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Enjoying Poetry | 193 comments (167 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Have you ever heard of 'hip hop'? (3.76 / 21) (#1)
by turmeric on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:41:44 AM EST

Scuse me but I think hip hop is a billion dollar business. I dont see where you get off saying nobody does poetry. That is simply ridiculous. People spend hours memorizing the newest jay-z rhyme,then parodying it, then re mixing it and working it, making their own rhymes. their own beats. their own movement.

"Go back even further, and poetry becomes a dominant form of entertainment, along with music and story telling. "

Uhm, what the hell do you think rap is?

I am so friggin tired of intellectual academics blabbering all this shit about how the culture has gone to hell this and tehres nothing out there. The truth is, there have been oceans of intellectual revolution coming from the bottom up in this country for the past 100 years, and the idiotic artistic establishment, which is made up mostly of wrinkled old racist white people whose friends all own the multinationals that spent the last century exploiting their third world and the cold war for profit, well, these are the folks who define what 'art' is and what gets studied at university.

meanwhile, the history books will speak of an 'underground renaissance', the rebirth of poetry, story telling, music, combined, and funnily enough, packaged as an extremely succesfull commercial product. '911 is a joke' will be pasted right next to the canterbury tales, and i will be firstin line to see the old white professors shit their pants when they see this show up in a textbook or three.

Actually I like rap (4.00 / 5) (#5)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:01:10 AM EST

But it is kind of a hybrid between poetry and song lyrics. Again, exactly where the line is drawn is really more of an academic question than anything; there is no question that rap is poetical, any more than there is a question that song lyrics are poetic; neither is exactly poetry however.

Lyric writing is an interesting case. Works written as poems are usually stilted when set to music, and lyrics usually suffocate outside the symbiosis they have with the music. I expect that the same applies to rap lyrics. Taken away from the musical groove, committed to page and the read back at something less than a chant, and something is going to be lost.

I think of lyrics as poems that are stretched over a musical frame. Poems in their independent form are either constructed over a regular metrical frame, or thay have a freeflowing pattern that plays off what your ear expects to hear next. When this is well done, it approximates a different African American art form: jaz.

[ Parent ]

Billy Bragg: The Price I Pay (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:22:57 AM EST

The Price I Pay

My friend said she could see no way ahead
And I was prob'ly better of without you.
She said face up to the fact that you weren't coming back,
And she could make me happy like you used to.
But I'm sorry to say I turned her away,
Knowing everything she said was true.

And that's the price I pay
for loving you the way that I do.

This stands up fairly well when read as a poem. It's a fair poem. As a lyric, however it is superb. The music changes the rhythm and stress of the lines radically. Also, Billy's working class English accent makes this read a little different than you might expect.

[ Parent ]

thats deep yo (none / 0) (#83)
by turmeric on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:19:32 PM EST

but rap doesnt necessarily need music, you spoke of the 'sound of language' , the feel and way the words flow, rappers talk about 'flow' all the time, they dont necessarily need music, the music is nothing more than the sound of their language as they string words together. ps. i seem to have a bit of an anger problem, sorry about ranting so harsh.

[ Parent ]
Do some raps work better on their own than others? (none / 0) (#89)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:53:35 PM EST

I think the music you are talking about is the same music that is in poetry. But I'm sure some raps can stand on their own and others need the support of the musicians. At least I think so, I don't know much about rap, but I don know I've heard some that I like a lot and others that seem pretty flat.

[ Parent ]
I like Robert Service (none / 0) (#148)
by BLU ICE on Fri May 10, 2002 at 01:45:02 AM EST

Cremation of Sam McGee is a great poem.

"Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
"As good as gold."

-- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

[ Parent ]

here's an old-school rap (none / 0) (#10)
by xah on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:09:27 AM EST

God Give to Men

Arna Bontemps  (1902-1973)

God give the yellow man
an easy breeze at blossom time.
Grant his eager, slanting eyes to cover
every land and dream
of afterwhile.

Give blue-eyed men their swivel chairs
to whirl in tall buildings.
Allow them many ships at sea,
and on land, soldiers
and policemen.

For black man, God,
no need to bother more
but only fill afresh his meed
of laughter,
his cup of tears.

God suffer little men
the taste of soul's desire.

[ Parent ]

Rap is crap (none / 0) (#45)
by bugmaster on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:34:51 AM EST

Ok, maybe not all of it. But 99.9% of it that I have heard so far has been purely formulaic, and the formula isn't even that great. You've heard one monotonous chant about bitches, bling-bling and drugs, you've heard them all.

Before you flame me, please post some lyrics to what you consider to be good rap. Thank you.
[ Parent ]

Gil Scott-Heron (4.50 / 2) (#46)
by FredBloggs on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:21:11 AM EST

Here are 2 sets of lyrics. You might want to check out the lyrics to 'B Movie' too.

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.
There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

"Whitey on the Moon"

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)
I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)
The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
I wonder why he's uppi' me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I wuz already payin' 'im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
An' as if all that shit wuzn't enough:
A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an' arm began to swell.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Was all that money I made las' year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain't no money here?
(Hmm! Whitey's on the moon)
Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I'll sen' these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

[ Parent ]

Niven's Law (none / 0) (#56)
by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:40:49 AM EST

90% of everything is crap.

I think an art form deserves to be judged by the best it has to offer. In addition, it may be hard for somebody who basically dislikes an art form to judge between its good and bad examples. Like Mark Twain said, "Wagner's music is better than it sounds."

[ Parent ]

That's Sturgeon's Law (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by wiredog on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:48:58 AM EST

Niven's Law (well, one of them) is "Don't throw crap at an armed man."

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
I heard it was Terry Southern's quote (none / 0) (#150)
by jugglhed on Fri May 10, 2002 at 02:01:55 AM EST

More likely one of those things a lot of people came up with simultaneously and decided to attribute to someone after the fact.

[ Parent ]
The derivation (none / 0) (#155)
by wiredog on Fri May 10, 2002 at 08:46:36 AM EST

Here is the derivation. It's been known in SF fandom for decades.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Ahh, Thanks for the Link (none / 0) (#159)
by jugglhed on Fri May 10, 2002 at 12:11:04 PM EST

Whoever is ultimately responsible, the law is very true in my experience...

[ Parent ]
No flames... (none / 0) (#78)
by Zeram on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:03:43 PM EST

but here some examples...

Jurrasic 5 "Jurass Finish First"

Because of cash in a purse
Guns blast then a hearse
A vast universe when the last is the first
The past been a curse
I need some aspirin, a nurse, it's your casket in earth
But why ask when it hurts
A passionate verse or some last minute work
First the human bodies a living mass
Then it's dirt
Puffin grass when it works, a bastard at birth
But at last planet earth
5 Jurass Finish First

Jurrasic 5 "Quality Control"

A yo my quality control, captivates your party patrol, your mind body and soul
For who the bell tolls, let the rhythm explode
Big bad and bold b-boys of old
Many styles we hold, let the story be told
Weather platinum or gold we use breath control
So let the beat unfold, intro on drum roll
We be the lick like e- tash and j-ro
We harass brothers like we was the po po
We can rule the world without kurtis and still blow

Well unfortuantely that's all I have, I cant dig up lyrics for Black Eyed Peas or Gangstarr and I'm too lazy to type the words out.
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Flame me but... (none / 0) (#104)
by rasactive on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:10:17 PM EST

I think ludacris has to be one of the most hilarious rappers of our time, and he follows the bitches, bling-bling, and drugs formula like he invented it. Any rapper who will say "Put your belly on the plate and watch your weight/ You frosted like a flake and ludacris feels grrrreat." is worth listening to in my book. Word of Mouf has to be one of the most unintentionally funny CDs ever.

[ Parent ]
Ludacris (none / 0) (#111)
by CHIMPO on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:33:32 PM EST

I am by no means a rap expert. I have pretty much all of Kool Keith's stuff and some Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang, and Tribe Called Quest. I picked up Word of Mouf and laughed my ass off. I didn't take it as unintentional humor though. The stuff he raps about is so over the top that there is no way he can be serious. I thought he took it to the next level to make fun of the people that actually think stuff like that. If he is serious, this world is in a lot more trouble than I previously thought.

"You're coming up shorter than five Danny DeVitos!" - Ludacris

[ Parent ]
Rap (none / 0) (#69)
by jmzero on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:53:55 AM EST

I'm sure that all forms of "modern" music will be subjected to a great study in the future.  As with Jazz before it, it will likely take some time before it is considered a legitimate musical enterprise.

I honestly have not listened to much rap music - and I'm guessing lots of us middle class white folk have not.  I've tried at times, but "whatever was on MTV" was not particularly good.  

Here's the rap I've enjoyed the most, in my very limited experience:

Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins - "It's Like That"
Beastie Boys - "Root Down"
Public Enemy (?, been a long time) - "911 is a joke"

This likely identifies me as a complete rap neophyte.

Do you have any particular recommendations of great rap to start out with?  


"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Possibly (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by broken77 on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:07:15 PM EST

I am also no expert on the subject. But I think that makes me a better person to take advice from. Someone who listens to rap as their primary music is, in my experience, going to listen to a lot of crap. So, first off... In my opinion, Beastie Boys is not rap. It's hip-hop. Some people will want to lump rap into hip-hop, but nobody would try to label hip-hop as rap (rap being a subset of hip-hop). Second, yes, everything you mentioned above is good. If you want quality lyrics, which is what I go for in hip-hop, try Arrested Development first off. Get the album "3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life". And really _listen_ to the words. You will not find much other hip-hop with lyrics this intelligent and insightful. Then, if you don't mind lyrics with a somewhat Black Panther-esque, anarchist bent, pick up some more Public Enemy. Start with "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back", then "Fear Of A Black Planet" (the album with the song "911 is a joke"). Again, you just don't hear such good lyrics from the likes of the Snoop Outkast Ice Dre Jayz crew. Then if you're daring, go pick up some 2Pac Shakur. Just go ahead and pick up the Greatest Hits double CD. You might not like every song (I certainly don't). But there are some real gems in there. People generally think of him as the best poet in rap (before he was killed anyway). He had a turbulent life, so you'll hear some angry shit in his music, and a lot of what he did is in the same vein as a lot of other gangsta rap. I personally hate that stuff, I can't stand to listen to people sing about bitches 'n ho's, drop-tops, benz, 40s and etc. So just skip over these songs if you don't like 'em and get into the good stuff. Again, incredibly poignant lyrics, with lots of emotion. If you've never heard the song "Changes", fire up a P2P program and download it now. If you like, email me and I'll send you a copy. And read the lyrics. You won't hear stuff like this from Easy-mutha-fuckin-E. Then maybe some old-school KRS-One. I generally don't like the new stuff. It's all sugar-coated garbage. May as well be playing Brittney Spears...

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Hip-hop suggestion (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by 'abstrakt on Fri May 10, 2002 at 05:27:24 AM EST

I *love* Australian hip-hop. I really recommend the following:

  • "The Herd" - The Herd
  • "Daily Affirmations" - MC Trey

    OK, so its not "rap" as such, but it is creative music well worth checking out :)


    [ Parent ]
  • I agree somewhat (none / 0) (#84)
    by Dphitz on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:23:24 PM EST

    Rap/Hip hop music can be a powerful medium as well as entertaining.  The biggest problem is that most of what the public sees and hears is rappers talking about blunts, 40s, and women shakin dat ass.  Take the latest PDiddy and Busta Rhymes video, "Pass The Courvoisier" for example.  It's difficult to take this seriously as an art form when the only thing on screen is T&A jiggling all over the place or a no-talent hack like Sean Combs rapping poorly over someone elses music time after time.  The more talented and socially conscious acts like The Roots, Blackalicious and J5 are virtually ignored by the mainstream.

    God, please save me . . . from your followers

    [ Parent ]
    Most poetry (none / 0) (#119)
    by DeadBaby on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:09:11 PM EST

    Most poetry is very stale and boring too. How many poems are there about "love"? Billions maybe? I think rap artists can get away with doing a few thousand songs about smoking blunts and drinking 40's.
    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    [ Parent ]
    Yep (none / 0) (#118)
    by DeadBaby on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:07:33 PM EST

    I'm not a big rap fan but it's pretty obvious rap is a very true and gritty form of poetry. I think it's very funny how all these people turn up their nose at it while trying to tell me some rich white fuck from the 18th century's poems are "meaningful" while a rap song about something I've seen with my own eyes is "trash"

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    [ Parent ]
    Yep (reply) (none / 0) (#176)
    by kness on Sun May 12, 2002 at 11:10:14 AM EST

    perhaps that rich white fuck's meanin'ful poetry from centuries ago expressed a coherent and higher ideal, one attuned to the subtleness of existence... one that eclipses a mere description of ghetto-city events.

    [ Parent ]
    It is Pop (none / 0) (#130)
    by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:28:59 PM EST

    Unfortunately for the whole Rap + Hip Hop genres they are perhaps the most popular form that popular music takes today, at least to the younger audience.

    This means that it is mostly crap made for stupid people to buy.

    Although I don't listen to any rap or hip hop myself (maybe a few groups with an influence from those genres but non that are truly part of them), I do have friends that tell me that some underground rap is good and intelligent, but this is overshadowed by the vast majority of niggaz rappin' about their gats and ice....

    "We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
    [ Parent ]

    hm? (none / 0) (#165)
    by paelon on Fri May 10, 2002 at 09:46:55 PM EST

    is your point then that it is poetry or isn't? i would postulate that prevalent quality of output should not be what you judge hip hop by. and surely if you judge hip hop by what 'most' of it is, you should judge poetry by what 'most' of it is: crap. most of anything is crap. especially anything commercialised.

    [ Parent ]
    Answer (none / 0) (#166)
    by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri May 10, 2002 at 11:23:09 PM EST

    To answer you I will conclude that mainstream rap/hip hop is perhaps poetry, but not worthwhile poetry.

    "We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
    [ Parent ]

    I write poetry!! (none / 0) (#147)
    by BLU ICE on Fri May 10, 2002 at 01:44:06 AM EST

    A Jolly St. Nick
    Has had two front page stories
    I have not had one

    "Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
    "As good as gold."

    -- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
    It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

    [ Parent ]

    Bling Bling, Every Time I Buy a New Benz (none / 0) (#186)
    by roprice on Wed May 22, 2002 at 02:39:36 AM EST

    that's poetry?

    [ Parent ]
    Rap and poetry (none / 0) (#190)
    by sean23007 on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 01:15:59 AM EST

    So, sir, you would say that hip hop and rap are the same thing as poetry. Okay, as a response to someone talking about how great poetry is, I dare to presume that you think hip hop is just as good or better. Am I right? Well, hopefully there is some form of rating system for the quality of hip hop, other than just how many albums were sold last week. I mean, there are good poems and there are bad poems. And then there are really bad poems. Conversely, there are good hip hop songs, there are bad hip hop songs, and there are really bad hip hop songs. Some of these songs, like Vergil, will be bought by the masses regardless of what they sound like, simply because of the author, the man who published the work. Reputation, in this case, is the greatest seller. These works usually aren't very good, but there are certainly exceptions to the rule. Audiences usually like this kind of work, because it is pretty much guaranteed to be popular, much as Vergil's Aeneid was guaranteed to be popular, and was thus impervious to the possibility of failure. Just as impervious to failure are the latest albums from the wealthiest of the pop stars today, and they will remain that way until such time as they alienate their fan base by doing something that will make them unpopular. A second type of work is something that might well be a beautiful thing, and might hold a deep, profound message, but is communicated in a vulgar manner that is repulsive to many in the audience. The Roman poet Catullus was very much this type of author. He had a great message to relate to the people, and indeed he had some great poems, ones that will stand the test of time for as long as humanity can remember how to speak, but such a great percentage of his work was simply so vulgar as to be unreadable that it may well be best to forget him. A great many modern artists will most likely go the way of Catullus. They will be loved in their time, forgotten instantly, and remembered by historians as a tragic flash in the pan with but a few memorable or worthy works. It is unfortunate that so very many artists can only see their next beautiful paycheck glimmering just within the bounaries of the vaunted "Top 40," and would rather chase that than timeless quality. The final kind of artist is one who might not be well respected in his own time, indeed might be hated, but who produces work that is rivalled by no one. The Roman poet Ovid is a classical example of such an artist. His work was banned at the time, and he was exiled from his home for publishing it, but the work itself has stood the test of time and it still considered beautiful today. He can say something incredibly naughty using nothing but the brightest words, indeed his words are innocent and beautiful, much like sunshine on a particularly desirable day. Not many modern artists are like Ovid, and for them it would not be desirable, as it does not garner riches in the short term, or indeed at all. The people who are attracted to this type of work are the kind of people who would produce "art for art's sake," and that is most likely to be, simply, a poet. Singers produce for money, poets produce for art. That is not to say that an artist who produces his/her songs for the glorious dollar cannot produce good music, or a good "poem," just that it is not forefront on his/her mind. In an entire album, there might be one gem of a song, an excellent poem, ideally worded, with an astounding message, that is surrounded by absolute crap. And unfortunately, this diamond in the rough might actually be the worst "song" in the bunch because, despite its superior content, the artist perhaps did not spend as much time mapping it to a beat as he/she did for the other songs. The songs that make the most money are usually not the ones that are the best, just the ones with lyrics that most closely match the beat, or perhaps the other way around.

    Ultimately what I'm trying to say here is that not all poetry is good, and not all rap is good. If one likes poetry, that does not mean that he will like rap, nor does it mean that he will not like it. They are separate, though similar, entities, and should be treated as such. An article speaking about the merits of poetry while ignoring the merits or shortcomings of rap does not shortchange rap in any way, in fact a paper about the merits of poetry may well lay down many merits of rap, in that the merits may be the same. You should not feel insulted that this person's essay on poetry did not devolve into something promoting rap and hip hop and preaching their respective merits from the highest hilltops. Indeed, if someone were to write something about how rap was good, you would not want him to then drop the subject of rap entirely and speak instead about poetry? He said nothing about rap, for good or ill, and as such you should not feel slighted.

    Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
    [ Parent ]
    good (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by xah on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:03:54 AM EST

    Good stuff. I would have recommended The New Penguin Book of English Verse but hey, whatever rows your boat.

    It says you want feedback, so here is a little. You should mention that there are distinct schools of poetry. You should mention that there are poems in every language. You should mention that there are poems in the Bible. You should mention The Illiad and The Odyssey in an off-hand manner before segueing over to Beowulf, which was written in English. This sweeps us into a history of the English language that takes us from Chaucer to Shakespeare to the glorious accomplishments of Milton. Then we have the dark days of Alexander Pope, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and generally the horrors of 18th Century verse. Then, the spark of genius fires with Blake at century's end, and followed by Lyrical Ballads with all those famous poems. Then we have Wordsworth and his betrayal of Romantic values. We have Byron, Lord of scandal. We have a handful of American poets. Then syncretism and psychobabble execrably take as their victim English verse in the 20th Century. More history is called for. Alfred, Lord Tennyson employed poems to glorify death, as many other poets also have. A poet has a serious ethical responsibility to not entice violence while yet enticing emotion. Poems have a political character. One good poem to recommend is Stevie Smith's "Paw Paw." Finally, don't forget Sylvia Plath.

    Yes these are good suggestions (none / 0) (#12)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:11:26 AM EST

    Particularly the the New Penguin Book of English Verse, which I will include. In particular, a good reading list would be a great improvement to the article. I am not particularly scholarly when it comes to poetry, I just know what I like ;-)

    With respect to your other points; I was trying to be brief as possible. In some cases, I think they are obvious (that there are poems in other languages, for example), in others it would be impossible to do justice to them in an article of readable length, at least when they are brought together as you suggest. Personally, I think the influence of the King James Bible on English is worth a book, if not its own post.

    I think if the article makes it out of the queue a post on your part which makes some of these points would be welcome.

    [ Parent ]

    Just out of curiosity... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:26:11 AM EST

    What do you mean by "Wordsworth and his betrayal of Romantic values?"

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Maybe his turn away from ecstatic nature worship (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:04:59 AM EST

    and towards the Church of England.

    Like a lot of men who reach middle age and found himself saddled with responsibilities, he simply became more conservative. This process was affected by the course the Revolution in France took. I don't know that I'd call it a betrayal exactly, but young romantics are a rather judgemental lot.

    [ Parent ]

    Delve a bit more into the oral versus written (4.66 / 3) (#11)
    by turtleshadow on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:09:34 AM EST

    I always found it difficult to reason why all "great" poetry must be written down; and when it is people say "read it aloud!".
    Poetry is missing exactly because of this conflict -- it been seperated from conversation, entertainment, music and story telling so when it's present it appears to be out of place.

    I have a great memory of listening to my Niece learning to talk -- her babbles were poetry to me and to her were entertaining to her via their musical, lyrical and a spontaneous account of rabbits and cats.
    Homer's epics are poems -- of the oral tradition. Until they were written down there was no "correct" form; when they were spoken they could fit into everyday life's of people in terms of the content could be understood by everyone.
    I think your trying to get to the point that poetry are patterns of thoughts that "sparkle" to the audience when presented in written or verbal form.
    I can't find the study but Somewhere on the Internet, someone did a lot of research to find that even epic poems are handed down via generations not line by line but as a framework of telling "similar but not exactly the same tales/experiences." The tales are set within framework of pacing -- the meter and language.

    The bard is actually free to embellish and add, delete or completely modify stanzas that form the performance without anyone knowing it -- if they stick to the rules of story coherence, language and pacing.

    Good suggestions, but a bit off my purpose (none / 0) (#24)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:44:32 AM EST

    Again, I am trying to inculcate the idea that poetry is an enjoyable experience, rather than to give a historical or critical overview of poetry as a whole. If you can fit your suggestions into that purpose, it would help me use them.

    [ Parent ]
    Millman Parry (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:17:50 AM EST

    I believe the researcher you are probably thinking of is Millman Parry. He and Alfred Lord went to Yugoslavia in the 30's to record and research the last of the Yugoslavian bards. I don't believe either Parry or Lord was the first to suggest the possibility that the Homeric Epics were originally recited from memory, but their research demonstrated that it was possible. The bards they worked with were able to recite from memory in excess of 6,000 lines of verse. If you're interested in this subject I suggest reading Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy.

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Gah! (4.00 / 3) (#15)
    by xriso on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:17:34 AM EST

    What good is a discussion about poetry that doesn't mention Vogon Poetry?
    *** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
    Now that you mentioned it (none / 0) (#23)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:41:49 AM EST

    you are honor bound to produce a sample.

    Of your own original poetry in the Vogon style that is.

    [ Parent ]

    To thee I say... (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by rusty on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:25:13 AM EST

    To thee I say
    by snot-bejewled
    and frubrous moon.

    To thee I say
    'side glabrous sludge
    of treacly creek.

    To thee I say
    "By whoosisnatch!"
    for groodling pangs
    of torturous rash.

    But nevermore
    to thee I'll say
    till night's long day.

    Not the real rusty
    [ Parent ]

    But (none / 0) (#50)
    by Kugyou on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:41:45 AM EST

    Can it not be expultated upon the lurgid bee?
    That once did Jeltz in frammishamitz grot
    That once did Dent in languimornish frop
    That Prefect did once hooble in his flot?

    And unto thee, O mighty Medkutation
    I do blong this goomashefit question
    And voon I implore thee, tharlingji
    To expultate upon the lurgid bee.

    Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
    [ Parent ]

    "I fear thy kisses, gentle maiden" - P. (3.00 / 1) (#28)
    by shaunak on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:01:25 AM EST

    I FEAR thy kisses, gentle maiden;
      Thou needest not fear mine;
    My spirit is too deeply laden
      Ever to burthen thine.

    I fear thy mien, thy tones, thy motion;
      Thou needest not fear mine;
    Innocent is the heart's devotion
      With which I worship thine.

    Main Entry: mien
    Function: noun
    1 : air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality : DEMEANOR <of aristocratic mien>
    synonym see BEARING

    Is a variant of burden.

    The poem is by P. B. Shelley. (none / 0) (#29)
    by shaunak on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:02:47 AM EST

    The subject got cut off ...

    [ Parent ]
    Yes, Shelley (none / 0) (#32)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:13:49 AM EST

    This is a good examle of a poet with an excellent ear (Shelley of course). The lines alternate ending on unstressed and stressed syllables, which produces a kind of tripping cadence. If it were a longer poem it might be cloying, but it works here.

    By the way, unfortunately until I submit this article for a vote, your comments will be marked as editorial, and some people won't see them. I'll try to put it out for a vote tommorow AM.

    [ Parent ]

    Exactly. (none / 0) (#36)
    by shaunak on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:29:21 AM EST

    But don't go around telling newbies about stressed and unstressed syllables.
    Don't hurry for a vote.
    Edit it, include more short poems.
    I'd also suggest Byron's "She walks in beauty".
    Keats is wonderful, but unfortunately, his best poems are also his longest (IMHO).

    If you get time, I'd like to invite you to read my poems.
    They're at http://shaunak.8m.net
    I recommend Satiety, Why is Daddy Dead and maybe War and Peace. (The poems in Boldface are the best of the lot there).
    (Quite a few of my better poems have been classified as PRIVATE by my girlfriend, so can't be of any use in the Obviously Romantic Poetry department - my favourite ;))

    [ Parent ]

    Actually, I decided to put it up to a vote sooner (none / 0) (#37)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:42:03 AM EST

    Because I think it is getting good discussion right now. People are volunteering examples of poems they like, and I believe this will work better than my selecting them. I have shortened the article somewhat (so the poems are a relatively larger piece;-), but I've retained the discussion about specific poems. I don't think this will scare off the newbies; in fact this sort of thing helped me when I started reading poetry.

    [ Parent ]
    My favorite Shelley (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by wiredog on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:53:16 AM EST

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
    [ Parent ]
    Shelley's good, but (none / 0) (#109)
    by thither on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:03:00 PM EST

    although what I know about him appeals to me, and though I've read poems by him I like, I can't quite find it in myself to forgive him for writing:
    I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
    ("Ode to the West Wind")

    [ Parent ]
    Water (Tao Te Ching selection) (4.50 / 6) (#30)
    by snowlion on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:07:13 AM EST

    The best of men is like water;
      Water benefits all things
      And does not compete with them.
    It dwells in (the lowly) places that all disdain-
      Wherein it comes near to the Tao.

    In his dwelling, (the Sage) loves the (lowly) earth;
    In his heart, he loves what is profound;
    In his relations with others, he loves kindness;
    In his words, he loves sincerity;
    In government, he loves peace;
    In business affairs, he loves ability;
    In his actions, he loves choosing the right time.
      It is because he does not content
      That he is without reproach.

    --LaoTse, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8
    Map Your Thoughts
    My personal favourite (4.00 / 2) (#38)
    by pwhysall on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:45:27 AM EST

    The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy.

    I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-gray,
    And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
    The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
    And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

    The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
    His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
    The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
    And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

    At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
    In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
    An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
    Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

    So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
    Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
    That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
    Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.

    What is poetry? (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by i on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:50:06 AM EST

    My preferred answer is here (longish but worth reading).

    and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

    Brodsky, excellent! (none / 0) (#41)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:57:54 AM EST

    And while perusing your link I came across this fabulous specimen:

    It is only if we have resolved that it is time for Homo sapiens to come to a halt in his development that literature should speak the language of the people. Otherwise, it is the people who should speak the language of literature.

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Seeing as everyone's replying with poetry. (3.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Herring on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:03:12 AM EST

    I must go down to the sea again
    To the lonely sea and the sky
    I think I left my trousers there
    And they must be almost dry
    T.A. Milligan

    So I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said "eh, I know you and you cannot sing"
    I said "that's nothing you should hear me play piano"
    S.P. Morrisey

    Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
    Some other great works... (3.00 / 1) (#47)
    by tml on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:26:54 AM EST

    ...which I can provide, should anyone be interested:
    Robert Frost
      The Road Not Taken
      Mending Wall
      Acquainted with the Night
      Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    (The latter is my all-time favorite)

    Ranier Maria Rilke
      You, darkness
      This is the Creature

      Sonnet XXIX
      Sonnet CXVI

    We Wear the Mask - Paul Laurence Dunbar
    somewhere i have never travelled - e.e. cummings
    I Arise from Dreams of Thee - Shelley
    Good Timber - Douglas Malloch
    The Village Blacksmith - Longfellow
    The Highwayman - Alfred Noyes
    O Captain! My Captain! - Walt Whitman
    Song of Myself - Walt Whitman
    Invictus - Willam Ernest Henley

    I was going to post some of these here, but I'm not too sure about (c) on some of them. I mean, Shakespeare is probably safe, but some of the others...

    How could I forget... (none / 0) (#48)
    by tml on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:50:04 AM EST

    Tichborne's Elegy? An amazing piece of work written by a man name Chidiock Tichborne, "...with his own hand in the Tower before his Execution". (He was hanged for plotting to murder Queen Elizabeth I.)
    In the same vein:
    If - Ruyard Kipling
    A Psalm of Life - Longfellow
    Funeral Blues - W. H. Auden
    This last one was made famous by the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral", which I watched simply to hear someone recite this poem. I had never been able to wrap my brain around the meter until I heard it out loud...

    [ Parent ]
    Sonnet 73 (none / 0) (#55)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:33:13 AM EST

    That time of year thou mayst in me behold
    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
    In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
    As after sunset fadeth in the west;
    Which by and by black night doth take away,
    Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
    In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
    That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
    As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
    Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
    This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

    [ Parent ]
    Robert Frost (none / 0) (#57)
    by cetan on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:43:43 AM EST

    One of my favorites of his is "Range-Finding."
    The battle rent a cobweb diamond-strung
    And cut a flower beside a ground bird's nest
    Before it stained a single human breast.
    The stricken flower bent double and so hung.
    And still the bird revisited her young.
    A butterfly its fall had dispossessed
    A moment sought in air his flower of rest,
    Then lightly stooped to it and fluttering clung.

    On the bare upland pasture there had spread
    O'ernight 'twixt mullein stalks a wheel of thread
    And straining cables wet with silver dew.
    A sudden passing bullet shook it dry.
    The indwelling spider ran to greet the fly,
    But finding nothing, sullenly withdrew.

    ===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
    [ Parent ]
    The Pasture (none / 0) (#58)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:50:09 AM EST

      The Pasture

    I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
    I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
    (And wait to watch the water clear I may):
    I sha'n't be gone long. -- You come too.

    I'm going out to fetch the little calf
    That's standing by the mother. It's so young
    It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
    I sha'n't be gone long. -- You come too.

    [ Parent ]
    Cringe. (4.42 / 7) (#49)
    by prana on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:07:58 AM EST

    Though your efforts are appreciated,
    this is not an article about poetry.
    Trash your romantic preference--

    Particularly the dreck of "modern poets."
    Out with the mopey artist stereotype;
    your "starter poets" are the shining stars.
    We're not talking Sexton/Plath confessionals.

    Do you think humans evolved between then
    and the modern age?  That we're different?
    For Christ's sake:  keep it in your diary.

    Let's talk for real:

    Men at Forty

    Men at forty
    Learn to close softly
    The doors to rooms they will not be
    coming back to.

    At rest on a stair landing,
    They feel it
    Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
    Though the swell is gentle.

    And deep in mirrors
    They rediscover
    The face of the boy as he practices tying
    His father's tie there in secret

    And the face of that father,
    Still warm with the mystery of lather.
    They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
    Something is filling them, something

    That is like the twilight sound
    Of the crickets, immense,
    Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
    Behind their mortgaged houses.

        Donald Justice (b. 1925)

    My "Romantic Preference" (none / 0) (#53)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:10:17 AM EST

    Well, I'm actually rather more fond of the metaphysical poets than the romantics. My primary enjoyment of poetry is in its music. My prefernce is for older poetry; in point of fact I prefer most older prose as well. I'm, fond of the elaborate prose of Thomas DeQuincy, for example. I prefer the cadences of the King James Bible to the New Revised Standard Version, although the RSV is clearly superior in accuracy.

    Since this is a personal preference, I see no compelling reason to change it.

    Do you think humans evolved between then and the modern age? That we're different? For Christ's sake: keep it in your diary.

    People haven't evolved, but tastes certainly have.

    Nice poem, by the way. It does illustrate my point though that the music of poetry has changed; aside from the reference to modern things like mortgages, this poem would not have been written until the twentieth century. This is not to disparage it, it is just different.

    This goes also to my point. Poetry is to be enjoyed. It's OK to have personal tastes independent of objective critical standards. I think enjoyment of poetry has been killed by the idea that poems have to be analyzed by some kind of universal stylistic criteria. It's OK to have a personal reaction to a poem.

    [ Parent ]

    One more thing (none / 0) (#54)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:21:46 AM EST

    I really oughtn't have made generalizations about "modern poets". What I really should say is the kind of recently written poetry one most often encounters. What you would see browsing the poetry section of your bookstore. This naturally skews the sample of older works towards the better ones. The Wasteland is a modern poem; it's still in print because it is a superior poem.

    [ Parent ]
    Modern or Modernist? (none / 0) (#74)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:41:06 AM EST

    Is it modern -- as in contemporary poetry -- or modernist poetry -- Yates, Eliot, Pound, Auden, etc. -- which offends your ear?

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Contemporary rather than modern (none / 0) (#80)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:11:02 PM EST

    And it doesn't offend my ear. It's just that the closer you get the King James Bible, the more I like it. This is not for religious reasons, but just personal taste.

    [ Parent ]
    Generally, I'd agree (none / 0) (#86)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:41:39 PM EST

    I, too, am inclined to prefer the "antique" diction of the Elizabethan and the Metaphysical poets, but, then again, I am a sucker for pomp and circumstance. Donne, especially, is a favorite of mine.

    I asked my question only because of the confusion which invaribly arises in discussions of literature when using the term modern. I am almost entirely ignorant of contemporary poetry -- and the little that I've read has not inspired me to investigate further -- but I adore the "modernists."

    On a related note, have you read A.S. Byatt's Possesion: A Romance? It is a wonderful introduction to the art of poetry in general and it miraculously manages to convey the pleasures and intigues of the seemingly dull mechanics of literary scholarship.

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Wallace Stevens (4.00 / 4) (#51)
    by Alfie on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:59:55 AM EST


    Call the roller of big cigars,
    The muscular one, and bid him whip
    In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
    Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
    As they are used to wear, and let the boys
    Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
    Let be be finale of seem.
    The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

    Take from the dresser of deal.
    Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
    On which she embroidered fantails once
    And spread it so as to cover her face.
    If her horny feet protrude, they come
    To show how cold she is, and dumb.
    Let the lamp affix its beam.
    The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.


    That strange flower, the sun,
    Is just what you say.
    Have it your way.

    The world is ugly,
    And the people are sad.

    That tuft of jungle feathers,
    That animal eye,
    Is just what you say.

    That savage fire,
    That seed,
    Have it your way.

    The world is ugly,
    And the people are sad.


    The romance of the precise is not the elision
    Of the tired romance of imprecision.
    It is the ever-never-changing same,
    An appearance of Again, the diva-dame.


    The moon is the mother of pathos and pity.

    When, at the wearier end of November,
    Her old light moves along the branches,
    Feebly, slowly, depending upon them;
    When the body of Jesus hangs in a pallor,
    Humanely near, and the figure of Mary,
    Touched on by hoar-frost, shrinks in a shelter
    Made by the leaves, that have rotted and fallen;
    When over the houses, a golden illusion
    Brings back an earlier season of quiet
    And quieting dreams in the sleepers in darkness--

    The moon is the mother of pathos and pitty.


    Two wooden tubs of blue hydrangeas stand at the foot of the stone steps.
    The sky is a blue gum streaked with rose. The trees are black.
    The grackles crack their throats of bone in the smooth air.
    Moisture and heat have swollen the garden into a slum of bloom.
    Pardie! Summer is like a fat beast, sleepy in mildew,
    Our old bane, green and bloated, serene, who cries,
    "That bliss of stars, that princox of evening heaven!" reminding of seasons,
    When radiance came running down, slim through the bareness.
    And so it is one damns that green shade at the bottom of the land.
    For who can care at the wigs despoiling the Satan ear?
    And who does not seek the sky unfuzzed, soaring to the princox?
    One has a malady, here, a malady. One feels a malady.

    Here's one of my favorites. I deciate this one to Michael Sorter, Brain McConville, and Gail Barker:


    A very felicitous eve,
    Herr Doktor, and that's enough,
    Though the brow in your palm may grieve

    At the vernacular of light
    (Omitting reefs of cloud):
    Empurpled garden grass;

    The spruces' outstretched hands;
    The twilight overfull
    Of wormy metaphors.

    Stevens is amazing... (none / 0) (#102)
    by thither on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:57:43 PM EST

    ...and in many ways seems like a natural bridge between the Romantics that are getting such good press in this thread so far, and the (allegedly) more obtuse Moderns. To wit, his sense of the pure music of poetry is astounding: "fire-fangled feathers dangle down," "some skreaking and skrittering residuum," "large-mannered motions to his mythy mind." He also shares a concern with philosophical ideas with, say, Tennyson and the Metaphysicals. Stevens also had an interesting life, making his way as a successful businessman and sometimes dictating his poetry to his secretary.

    To my mind, though I feel fondness for many of the poets already mentioned (especially Donne), Stevens is the most accomplished poet in English. Obviously this is an extremely subjective viewpoint, and I have plenty of reservations about him as well, but if you're interested in the music of poetry, he's not to be missed. You can find a fairly substantial collection of his works through the "fire-fangled" link above.

    Also for those interested in the mechanics of poetry, there's an oldie-but-goodie book by Paul Fussell, Jr., Poetic Meter and Poetic Form. It's fairly dry going, but admirably clear.

    I'm glad to see this much enthusiasm for poetry... I always suspect that it exists out there, but it often seems hidden from view.

    [ Parent ]

    My favorites (4.00 / 1) (#60)
    by jabber on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:18:38 AM EST

    My all time favorite has got to be Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson.

    I also very much enjoy, and have memorized:
    Lord Byron (She walks in beauty, like the night)
    Ben Johnson (Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine;)
    And of course Lewis Carroll.

    Ogden Nash is also quite worth getting to know.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    To His Coy Mistress (none / 0) (#63)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:36:01 AM EST

    To His Coy Mistress

    Had we but world enough, and time,
    This coyness, lady, were no crime.
    We would sit down and think which way
    To walk, and pass our long love's day;
    Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
    Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
    Of Humber would complain. I would
    Love you ten years before the Flood;
    And you should, if you please, refuse
    Till the conversion of the Jews.
    My vegetable love should grow
    Vaster than empires, and more slow.
    An hundred years should go to praise
    Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
    Two hundred to adore each breast,
    But thirty thousand to the rest;
    An age at least to every part,
    And the last age should show your heart.
    For, lady, you deserve this state,
    Nor would I love at lower rate.

      But at my back I always hear
    Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found,
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song; then worms shall try
    That long preserv'd virginity,
    And your quaint honour turn to dust,
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave's a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.

      Now therefore, while the youthful hue
    Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
    And while thy willing soul transpires
    At every pore with instant fires,
    Now let us sport us while we may;
    And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
    Rather at once our time devour,
    Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
    Let us roll all our strength, and all
    Our sweetness, up into one ball;
    And tear our pleasures with rough strife
    Thorough the iron gates of life.
    Thus, though we cannot make our sun
    Stand still, yet we will make him run.

    -- Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

    I am rather more partial to Marvell's sly wit than Lord Byron's adoration of his idealized lady who Walks in Beauty. "Vegetable love" indeed; exactly which vegetables do you think he had in mind?

    [ Parent ]

    Vikram Seth (3.00 / 2) (#64)
    by raahi on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:36:47 AM EST


    I see you smile across the phone
    And feel the moisture of your hair
    And smell the musk of your cologne
    Hello? Is anybody there?


    Advice to Orators

    In speech it's best -- though not the only way --
    Indeed the best, it's true, can be the worst
    Though often I...as I had meant to say:
    Qualify later, state the premise first.


    There are also some very nice parts in Golden Gate, but it's a novel and quoting it would give away the plot.  Yes, the entire novel is in sonnets.  It's a beautiful read.

    More information on V. Seth? (none / 0) (#65)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:40:59 AM EST

    Can you tell us a little more about him? He sounds like he's worth looking into.

    [ Parent ]
    Seth (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by rsidd on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:17:06 AM EST

    The book which brought him to fame was "The Golden Gate", a novel in sonnets. Since then he's written further verse ("All you who sleep tonight"), novels in prose ("A suitable boy", "An equal music"), a children's book ("Beastly tales from here and there"). I haven't read "A suitable boy", being discouraged by its length (over 1200 pages I think), but the rest were certainly worth reading. You could get plenty more information via google. Born in India, and I think presently lives in India, has lived/travelled in the US, UK and China.

    [ Parent ]
    Poetry Sucks? (3.66 / 3) (#67)
    by thelizman on Thu May 09, 2002 at 10:51:48 AM EST

    Unfortunately, poetry is forever lost to me by half-assed teachers who spend too much time breaking it into mathematical and scientific componants, and less time on the artistic merits of things like imagery. I'd like to thank teachers like Diane Collins, but pretty much all the rest can go to hell. At least I did'nt take music classes.

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    There's more than one way to enjoy a poem. (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:10:05 AM EST

    And its rhythmical structure is an important part of enjoying the poem. The analysis you are talking about here is scansion. Scansion can be valuable, but the problem is that it's taught too early and to the exclusion of other things.

    It's important before you get into scansion to have read a number of poems aloud. Starting poetry by learning scansion is like learning to score music before you've ever heard any.

    And then once you do learn to break down the lines of a poem by their sounds, it is important to move beyond it. There are patterns in the language which play against this -- patterns of consonants (alliteration but also softness and ahrdness), patterns of vowels and syllables (rhyme, yes but also patterns of long and soft vowels). This gives poems a musical structure.

    Wonderfully conceived metaphors and themes, apt imagery are all things you can enjoy about a great poem. But if the sound is dead, the rhythm monotonous, then the poem is not as good as it might have been.

    [ Parent ]

    More generally... (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by SIGFPE on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:14:32 PM EST

    ...formal structure is important to a lot of art - including poetry. Funny...I felt that was one subject that wasn't discussed when I studied English and I wish it had been!

    Much of poetry is highly structured - verses of a certain size with lines that scan a certain way. Often there is a degree of symmetry between verses or, say, a cyclic structure. These features aren't there by accident and can't be ignored - it's part of what makes poetry what it is. At the simplest level the structure translates directly into rhythm from which just about any person can derive pleasure.

    But look outside poetry too: music and architecture are the most obvious places to look for formal structure. Theatre - especially Shakespeare - often has lots of symmetry through the plot. Comedy is often very highly structured with constructions like running jokes that punctuate a story a little like a chorus in a song. I wish my English and Art teachers had pointed out some of this stuff to me at the time.
    [ Parent ]

    Bad Teachers (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by Kintanon on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:48:30 PM EST

    As an amateur (And frequently POOR) poet, one thing I hated about "studying" poetry at school was that there was a "right" answer to what the poem meant. If you said a poem was about the authors struggle with his social ineptitude, and the Teacher's answer book said it was a metaphor for the authors fear of commitment. Then you were wrong, straight up, no reasoning out why you felt the other way, no discussion, just a 'No, that's wrong, here's what it means, period.' and poetry isn't LIKE that! It's the VERY rare poem that means the same thing to every person. Poetry is meant to evoke emotion in the reader, the emotion comes from the reader, not the author. Two people reading "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" may get entirely different impressions of the poems state of mind. One may see the line "I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep..." as resigned and melancholy, while another may see it as commited and comforting. A kind of solidity within the fairy world of the snowflakes. And both would be correct! But not in Lit class, oh no, in the hallowed halls of the school there is but one correct interpretation of any poem and anything else is WRONG!



    [ Parent ]

    Yes! (none / 0) (#93)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:16:22 PM EST

    This is exactly the experience I had. It seemed like the teacher was in the business of gathering people around him who reinforced his views rather than teaching people to make their own interpretations.

    By the way, I think there is a third way to read the 'Stopping By The Woods' poem: ironical.

    I hit upon this when playing with the scansion of the poem. I think the ta-DA ta-DA ta-DA ta-DA rhythm of the poem is tedious. I tried reading the poem this way:Whose house this is I think I know/His is in the village though. There is no critical reason to support this stress, other than I don't like the way it sounds when read the obvious way.

    Anyway, this gives me a possible alternative reading. The narrator is a country person stopping to rest by a property owned by a rich person in town. Perhaps he knows who owns this land because it is fenced and posted, and there's only one person in town who does that. He has miles to go before he sleeps because like many hard working country folk he gets up before the city folk do and works until after they go to bed. Maybe he's a travelling doctor or vet.

    I find the narrator more attractive as a hard working homespun ironist rather than an a tired, depressive aesthete.

    And I think this gets to my point about the way teachers kill the enjoyment of poetry. A lot of the fun of poetry is creating a personal reading of a poem. There is no data which particularly supports my reading of the poem, so it has no critical force. However there is nothing which precludes this reading either. In fact I'd go further and say that if a reader enjoys reading a poem a particular way he is entirely justified in doing so even in the face of critical evidence to contrary. I'm sure Frost has been recorded reading this poem, and I don't ever want to hear that recording because I'm reasonably certain it doesn't support the way I prefer to think about it.

    [ Parent ]

    Just to be clear... (none / 0) (#96)
    by Kintanon on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:28:17 PM EST

    I was in no way meaning to imply that either of the two impressions I listed were definitive or the "Correct" impression, or even that they were the only two impressions. I imagine that there are as many interpretations of each poem as there are people who have read it, and possibly more than one per person. I know I've felt that poems meant different things when I read them in different moods. Kintanon

    [ Parent ]
    I know exactly what you mean (none / 0) (#106)
    by thither on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:33:26 PM EST

    It's been my experience that Robert Frost is a favorite poet to use for this teaching method. This is because, it seems to me, he has a tendency to load his poems up with ambiguity (and I like that about him, personally). These ambiguities are then used in a classroom setting like so:

    Teacher: So how are we to interpret "The Road Not Taken"?

    Student: Well, it seems to be about someone finding his or her own way in life and the value of individuality.

    Teacher: Ah, that's what it seems to mean. But if we look at the poem more closely, we find that both roads are "really about the same." So what Frost is really saying is that it doesn't matter which road he took, and he is furthermore satirizing the very idea he pretends to put forth, that our decisions are quite important in guiding our lives...

    ...etc. In my own mind I call this interpretational method "the old switcheroo," and I can understand why it's used; it's a very dramatic sort of way to get people thinking about the poem. But it leaves one with the distinct impression that there is a right and a wrong way to interpret a poem. This impression, no doubt, is valuable if you don't have much time to grade a lot of student papers, but it also ignores the very subjective nature of poetry.

    Incidentally, this line of reasoning was taken from a stimulating, if brief, exchange on the Wallace Stevens mailing list, and I did find the argument that Frost meant "The Road Not Taken" as a sort of fatalistic rejoinder to itself to be fairly compelling... until I went back and reread the poem. The poem itself supports both interpretations (at least) but doesn't seem to lean heavily in one direction or the other. That, to me, is a more interesting situation than one in which Frost says one thing and means another.

    Hmm, I hope this post came out clearly.

    [ Parent ]

    Frost reading "Stopping By Woods" (none / 0) (#108)
    by thither on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:51:30 PM EST

    (Hope this isn't a spoiler for you)

    You can probably find an mp3 of Frost reading the poem with your favorite p2p application. It took me a while to figure it out, but his voice sounds almost exactly like that of William S. Burroughs. He mostly sounds tired and old, but I don't think your reading would be contradicted by the way Frost reads it, for what it's worth.

    [ Parent ]

    Bad Teachers is right... (4.00 / 1) (#95)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:26:17 PM EST

    The language of a poem, or any linguistic construct for that matter, constrains the possible range of interpretation, but this is a far cry from the view that there is a simple pat "meaning" of a poem. Was this your experience in high school or was it at college. In my experience, other than ENGLISH LIT 101, the study of literature at the university level is much more satisfying.

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Hi Skool (4.00 / 1) (#103)
    by thelizman on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:02:38 PM EST

    It was high school; I refused to take "literature" courses in college with the exception of the required English Literature. Ironically, I did find it completely enjoyable and satisfying, and that teacher did wholly refrain from concepts like meter and scansion. But more importantly, we studied things like the accepted meaning of certain images, the vocabulary, and even the very choice of words before we even hit the poem, so that when we studied it we did have an understanding of what the poem is about. Without that kind of knowledge (which is what was lacking in high school), we were left to our own devices which were usually wrong given the context in which we live.

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    Education (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:30:57 PM EST

    How ironic that there's one and only one answer to questions in Literature... but in Math, they try to praise you for your effort and trying the correct "process".

    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]
    Poetry is far from dead (4.00 / 3) (#71)
    by jabber on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:00:51 AM EST

    Much of the appeal, and unapproachability, of poetry is that there isn't much of it created, or at least popularized, these days.. Umm, except for song lyrics.. And there are some brilliant ones out there.

    U2's Achtung Baby album is one of the most poetic albums ever, albeit incidentally - some of the lyrics are strikingly creative. Sting, while rather sentimentally naive in much of his work, is far better than most and brilliant at times. Morphine's Mark Sandman created some poigniant and sublime lyrics (All Your Way for example), which as with most good presentation, are much more poetic sung than recited. I suppose much poetic beauty is a matter of personal resonance.

    And then there is my personal favorite, Rob Dougan's (best known for Clubbed to Death, on the Matrix soundtrack) "Furious Angels":

    Like a sentence of death,
    I got no options left,
    I've got nothing to show now.

    I'm down on the ground,
    I've got seconds to live,
    and you can't go now.

    'Cause love, like an invisible bullet shot me down
    and I'm bleeding, yeah I'm bleeding
    and if you go, furious angels will bring you back to me.
    Will bring back to me.

    You're a dirty needle,
    you're in my blood and there's no curing me.
    And I wanna run, like the blood from a wound
    to a place you can't see me.
    'Cause love, like a blow to the head has left me stunned
    and I'm reeling, yeah I'm reeling
    and if you go, furious angels will bring you back to me.

    You're a cold piece of steel between my ribs
    and there's no saving me.
    And I can't get up,
    from this wet crimson bed that you made for me.
    That you made for me!
    'Cause love like a knife in the back's cut me down
    and I'm bleeding, yeah I'm bleeding,
    and if you go, angels will run to defend me, to defend me.

    'Cause I can't get up,
    I'm as cold as a stone,
    I can feel the life fade from me.
    I'm down on the ground, I've got second to live,
    and what's there waits for me, oh that waits for me!
    'Cause love, like a sentence of death, left me stunned,
    and I'm reeling, yeah I'm reeling,
    and if you go, furious angels will bring you back to me.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    not to mention rap (none / 0) (#82)
    by jpm165 on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:17:41 PM EST

    check out Deltron 3030 from your nearest p2p app. Very clever what Del Tha Funky Homosapien does with the English language. The entire album should appeal to the average slashdo^H^H^H^H^H^H^Herr.. k5er because its all about life in the year 3030, in a world where corporations have gone too far but it is too late to stop them.

    "But then, why should you listen to me? For I know nothing..."
    [ Parent ]

    Example? (none / 0) (#92)
    by jabber on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:15:21 PM EST

    My knee-jerk reaction is to say "Aaaarrrgh!! Rap SUCKS worse than Country!!" but I'm trying to be open minded..

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
    [ Parent ]

    Rap (none / 0) (#112)
    by DJBongHit on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:33:51 PM EST

    My knee-jerk reaction is to say "Aaaarrrgh!! Rap SUCKS worse than Country!!" but I'm trying to be open minded..
    Try some Outkast. I highly recommend anything off Southernplayalisticcadillacfunkymuzik or ATLiens (though Aquemini is good too). While I'm not otherwise a big rap fan, those 2 are my favorite albums of all time.


    GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

    [ Parent ]
    Also Mike Ladd (aka Infesticon #0) (none / 0) (#149)
    by jugglhed on Fri May 10, 2002 at 01:57:14 AM EST

    Mike Ladd, kind of a rap guy, fits in this discussion because he got his start in the Nuyorican Poets cafe, and some of the stuff on his albums (Ex: Feb 4th, 1999: For All Those Killed By Cops) is more poetry than your standard rhyming rap.

    Without posting a bunch of his stuff here, it's not your standard rap at all, his stuff is fast and complex at times (kind of like Outkast), sometimes very funny and at other times profound. He is the anti-P. Diddy. Anyhow, I am not related to Mike Ladd in any way, nor do I even know him, but while you're out there checking out Deltron 3030 (also cool) check out the Infesticons, which are kind of like Deltron in being kind of a sci-fi themed rap thing.


    [ Parent ]

    also the Roots (none / 0) (#158)
    by jpm165 on Fri May 10, 2002 at 11:47:54 AM EST

    And the Beastie Boys. One thing that makes rap stand out from normal poetry is that the rhyme is what is most important, and it is basically talking in code. What comes out of that can be very clever sometimes, if you try to look a little deeper into what they are actually saying. I sometimes listen to stuff 20 times or more before the actual meaning becomes clear to me. Or I might listen to something 100 times and still find something new in it on time #101. I try to avoid the bubble-gum pop rap though, and shit like DMX just annoys me.

    "But then, why should you listen to me? For I know nothing..."
    [ Parent ]

    Eazy-E (none / 0) (#117)
    by Delirium on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:06:51 PM EST

    Fuck the White House
    It ain't my house
    So you can burn the motherfucker down for all I care
    'Cause tshirts and khakis is all I wear

    [ Parent ]
    Michael Franti (none / 0) (#173)
    by nermal on Sat May 11, 2002 at 04:17:44 PM EST

    ...was the first rapper I ever heard and really respected. His first well-known group was The Disposable Heros of Hiphoprisy, but most of my favorite stuff of his is from his later project, "Spearhead". Check out the songs "Hole in the Bucket" (for something that I find really moving, even if the lyrics read like an excerpt from 'Chicken Soup for the Hip Hop Soul') and "Red Beans and Rice" (for something that's just fun and makes me feel good). Both songs are from the album 'Home' which is hard to find in stores nowadays but can be gotten online. And it goes without saying that the songs can be found with no problem if you know where to look. The lyrics to both songs are also available online, but I wouldn't suggest looking them up. For me, you have to hear then in the setting they were written for with Franti speaking them and music in the background. Doing otherwise really ruins it.
    ---- Sorry, left the .sig in my other brain...
    [ Parent ]
    My Fave. (3.50 / 2) (#75)
    by sonovel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:51:44 AM EST

    Not drunk is he who from the floor
    can rise alone and drink some more

    But drunk is he who prostate lies
    without the power to drink or rise

    Thomas Love Peacock

    (or something like that. Written in the 18th century? 19th? Yo no se.)

    Correction. (4.00 / 1) (#79)
    by sonovel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:05:02 PM EST

    Not drunk is he who from the floor
    Can rise alone and still drink more

    But drunk is he, who prostrate lies,
    Without the power to drink or rise.

    [ Parent ]

    Please Stop Posting Poems (3.42 / 7) (#76)
    by codemonkey_uk on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:56:02 AM EST

    Posting other peoples poems wholesale without critique is just copyright violation and adds nothing to the discussion. Post links, or critiques, or analysis, or your own poems, please.

    I don't think poetry is dead, the comercialisation of poetry is in the form of lyrics to music, as has been pointed out by other posters, and the writting of poems is alive and well also.

    Who here hasn't written a peom as a teenager?

    Here are flowergrrl's Poems.
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

    Not all are violations. (4.50 / 2) (#77)
    by sonovel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:01:59 PM EST

    Many of the poems quoted are long out of copyright.

    Also Posting a segment of a poem in a discussion of poetry as an example of what you like is critique.

    [ Parent ]

    Answering a poem with another poem (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:36:14 PM EST

    is often the best way to respond.

    Personally, I'm not fond of Frost's Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening. The best way to explain what I don't like about it is another Frost poem: The Pasture, which is a superior work metrically and in subtlety.

    Likewise, I don't much like Byron's She Walks In Beauty. What I don't like about it is the way Byron idealizes his subject. It strikes me as artificial. The best answer to this is Marvell's To His Coy Mistress. Marvell's narrator appreciates his subject in a more, ahem, concrete way, which I find more believable. So much for my supposed romantic bias.

    [ Parent ]

    Frost and Byron. (none / 0) (#98)
    by sonovel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:39:53 PM EST

    I like SbtWoaSE far better than the "path not taken" thing. The path thing is just so overdone. Everyone who ever made a choice seems to think that poem is about them. Stopping is pretty overused too, but not like the other.

    I should find The Pasture (I think someone posted it). Offhand I am not familiar with it, but I have likely read it.

    As far as Byron goes he was a romantic! Of course his stuff idealizes reality. That is part of what they were all about.

    Totally coincidently, I was discussing romantic poetry in a diary about Nine Inch Nails. I think "You Bring Me Closer to God" is a modern varient of Keats' romanticism. Specifically, both Keats and Rezner make the point that physical love is a very spiritual thing. "You bring me closer to God", indeed!

    [ Parent ]

    You come too. (none / 0) (#101)
    by sonovel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:51:05 PM EST

    I remembered that part, so I had read it before.

    So what's the deeper subtle meaning of it.

    There's something to it, but I'm at a bit of a loss.

    Part of the problem is that I am at work so I can't read it aloud.

    The "you come too" part gives me shivers. Is that odd?

    [ Parent ]

    Yes, that's the one. (5.00 / 1) (#141)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 08:07:17 PM EST

    It's not much a poem if you can explain more succinctly than itself.

    I think the interesting thing about the poem is the questions it raises. This guy is talking about his chores and then suddenly says "You come too". It's arresting. It's clearly meant to be the way it brings the poem up short. So it raises the questions -- who is the narrator talking to and why does he want him or her to come? It's an unanswerable question, and you can fill in the blanks in an ulimited number of ways. Maybe the guy is talking to his wife and their marriage is on the skids. Maybe he's a bore who wants take his victim along.

    Perhaps the poem's a big cheat. Frost has a way of suggesting something is there and obstinately not giving you any hints about what it is. p.

    [ Parent ]

    No injustice or injury (none / 0) (#87)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:42:25 PM EST

    I don't believe any of the poems posted does any injury or injustice to the authors.

    I hesitated about posting Nye's poem because it is still under copyright, unlike most of the examples people are posting. However, there's no way to talk about it without quoting it, and I believe it is fair use. I also chose that one over others of hers that I have in my book coolection because it was already available on line, so that. Finally, I don't think anyone will not buy her books because they read the poem here, I hope the contrary will be the case.

    [ Parent ]

    re: No injustice or injury (none / 0) (#91)
    by codemonkey_uk on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:07:34 PM EST

    Hi, I was refering more to the comments, than the story. I simply felt that little would be gained by endless comments containing only quoted poems, and little commentry. The inlusion of poems in your article is clearly within the realm of "fair use"!
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
    [ Parent ]
    Poetry's not a dead art... (3.00 / 1) (#81)
    by skermit on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:13:34 PM EST

    *SHAMELESS PLUG* ...heh, at least the link's relevant. <wink>
    -Super Kermit


    Another shameless plug (3.00 / 1) (#90)
    by melquiades on Thu May 09, 2002 at 12:58:36 PM EST

    Thanks to the democratizing forces of the Internet, ordinary folks can bring poetry to the masses!
    I've tried doing a few things with my poems to make them work well in the online format, and to encourage (help?) web surfers to enjoy them. One is keeping them short: people are impatient these days, and it seems to me that a well-formed thought conveyed in a very few well-chosen words is most likely to be successful.

    Another thing I've done -- and I don't know whether it works -- is to post the poems in scanned handwriting, with the hope that it will slow people down a bit as they read, and encourage them to sound the poetry out in their heads a bit more than they would otherwise.

    Let me know what you think.

    Since nobody else has done it.. (4.75 / 8) (#94)
    by kitten on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:20:29 PM EST

    Oh frettled gruntbuggly
    Thy micturations are to me
    As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee
    Groop I implore thee
    My foonting turlingdromes
    And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
    Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts
    With my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!
    Sorry. Someone had to.

    I think a lot of people are missing out on what poetry is for the exact reason you stated: It's a forced march through school.

    In high school, when we "studied" poetry in "literature" "class" (all quotation marks are intentional), it amounted to one of the following:

  • Memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class. Usually, the whole class would have to memorize the same poem, so we'd get to waste the two class periods it took for thirty students to stumble, stutter, and stammer their way through it.
  • Analyze the rhyme scheme or meter.
  • Memorize a few useless facts about the poet's life which have absolutely zero bearing on the poem.
  • Listen to the teacher harp endlessly over an obscure "technique" employed by the poet.

    So on and so forth. It was a rare occasion indeed that we were invited to supply our interpretation of the poem's meaning, and on those rare occasions, if someone's answer did not match what the teacher's All Knowing Teacher's Edition book said, the teacher would berate the student at worst, or tell him he's just plain wrong at best. Leaves little room for creative interpretation or appreciation, eh.

    Memorizing a poem does not teach me how to appreciate poetry. It teaches me how to hate poetry.

    A mathematical analysis of the meter or rhyme does not teach me how to appreciate the artistic value of a poem. It teaches me to ignore the artistic value of a poem. (And furthermore we were never told why these things are important. Okay, great, such-and-such poem is written in iambic pentameter. That's all we were ever told; we were never informed why this is significant.)

    Knowing that the poet got married in 1625 does not help me comprehend the meaning of his words. It helps me divert my attention away from the meaning of his words.

    Listening to the teacher coo endlessly about how the poet used alliteration does not help me appreciate why alliteration is important or it's added value to a poem. It makes me go off into daydream land about the cute girl on the other side of the room, so I can escape this oppressive and boring idiocy. I think she smiled at me yesterday. I wonder if I should talk to her after class. Could be worth a try.. what would I say? She'd probably think I was a loser. Oh, hell, is she looking at me? She's looking at me! I bet my hair is messed up. Am I staring? Er...
    Yeah. Anyway. This goes double when the teacher grasps at straws to make his/her point. Merely because the poem happens to use two words in the same line that start with the same letter is not evidence of a deliberate use of alliteration - it happens from time to time in the English language. Get over it and try to come up with something better.

    Unfortunately, there are very few people interested in poetry today. I think they can be classified as one of the following:

  • Wannabe beat-poets who find the "counter-culture" culture appealing and wish to demonstrate what offbeat-yet-open-minded rebels of mainstream society they are and don't you just wish you could get inside their heads;
  • Pretentious jerkoffs who write truly meaningless garbage and then loudly announce to everyone that they are 'poets';
  • Angst-ridden teenagers who scrawl lackluster, formulaic tripe into spiral-bound notebooks decorated with pictures of Trent Reznor and ballpoint drawings of wilting roses;
  • Those with some natural gift and talent for poetry and artistic insight.

    I'd say that the vast majority of so-called poets and poetry-lovers fall into one of the first three categories, while maybe 5% of that demographic gets the last category. Maybe.

    And the way public education handles poetry and poetry appreciation, I don't think this will change any time soon either.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
  • Vogon poetry (none / 0) (#99)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:41:05 PM EST

    Too late -- rusty beat you to it (look at the early comments for his original contribution to the field of Vogon poetry).

    By the way, this reminds me of an observation Danny Kaye once made. He learned to fence, to dance and to sing because he felt that before you could really do something funny who had know how to do it well. Douglas Adam's vogon poetry is, to my ears, actually pretty good. He wasn't just a funny man, he was a damned wonderful writer.

    [ Parent ]

    Agreed. Saved by... (4.00 / 1) (#133)
    by Jel on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:12:48 PM EST

    ...haiku and chinese poetry.

    If it wasn't for a re-introduction to poetry through eastern philosophy, I think my bookshelf would still be devoid of poetic works.

    Thank god it's possible to unlearn what is commonly taught in schools.

    [ Parent ]

    If you like haiku (5.00 / 2) (#138)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:56:54 PM EST

    I highly recommend you obtain a copy of the Manyoshu. This of course predated haiku by centuries, but most of the poems are compact and are readily accesible. They are frequently on nature themes as well. In particular Ariwara no Narihira (Japans answer to Cassanova; or rather Cassanova is Europe's answer to him) and Kakanimoto no Hitomaro are well worth becoming acquainted with.

    [ Parent ]
    wow (none / 0) (#140)
    by jafac on Thu May 09, 2002 at 08:03:47 PM EST

    someone who "gets it"

    [ Parent ]
    Damn professors (5.00 / 1) (#151)
    by Rasman on Fri May 10, 2002 at 02:10:06 AM EST

    One day in my English class at college, one of the students suggested another way to interpret a poem. Several other students agreed with her and prefered her interpretation. The professor got so mad and said, "I've spent fifty years studying this stuff, and you just come in here today and decide that I'm wrong! Well if you don't need me, then I guess I'll leave!" He proceded to walk out of class and not return (that day). Each student has their own threshold for how long they'll wait in a classroom when a teacher is a suspected no-show, so eventually we all wandered out at staggering intervals.

    Anyway, my tale is a bit related you your post. Poetry is for enjoyment and personal interpretation. If the author meant A and you derive B out of his work, great! Being told that poetry has one cold strict meaning is ludicrous.

    If I could remember my professor's name, I'd post a mailto link so we could flame his ass... :-)

    [ Parent ]
    to be fair (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by kubalaa on Fri May 10, 2002 at 10:39:44 AM EST

    He was probably having a bad day. Never forget that other people are human beings just like you.

    [ Parent ]
    where fault lies (3.00 / 1) (#167)
    by darweidu on Sat May 11, 2002 at 01:14:57 AM EST

    I had great teachers, I have never liked poetry. I think it's unfair to always blame things on other people, like the teachers who (sometimes) try really hard. I love music, and visual art, and programming, but not poetry. There are a few poems that I like, but it's rare.

    [ Parent ]
    The Love-song of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (none / 0) (#184)
    by ragnarok on Thu May 16, 2002 at 07:01:47 AM EST

    It is the most meaningful love poem in the world, it is the only reason I haven't topped myself (sob, sob, sob), it makes the micturations micturate to mine eyen, it sure beats the fully automatic nuclear powered self propelled nosepicker for heartfelt conviction - ever tried to chat up a girl with the details of the fully automatic nuclear powered self propelled nosepicker? They fall into your hands swooning at the recital of The Love-song of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz ...

    Groop I implore thee
    My foonting turlingdromes
    For I am sick with love
    And am throwing up on the couch

    And your mother's watching me!!!

    Sorry about that

    Oh give me a Poetry Appreciation Chair
    Where the buffalo room
    And nobody can hear you scream

    "And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies
    [ Parent ]

    Alexander Pope (3.00 / 2) (#100)
    by isak on Thu May 09, 2002 at 01:42:45 PM EST

    I would also suggest Alexander Pope -- in addition to writing technically brilliant poems, he has a subtle wit that many of the readers here would probably appreciate.

    He is probably most famous for his satirical "The Rape of the Lock", as well as his "An Essay on Criticism" and "An Essay on Man." The latter were quite difficult for me to read without the use of a critical guide -- I didn't understand many of the references he was making -- but rewarding nonetheless. I find his shorter poems much more accessible.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any good links to his shorter poems online. You can find some of his longer, well-known works at: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/authors/pope.html

    "There is no gene for the human spirit." -- Gattaca

    Pope (none / 0) (#172)
    by nermal on Sat May 11, 2002 at 03:32:24 PM EST

    As someone who has never really found poetry accessable, I have really been enjoying this thread. I'm sure there are many reasons why poems rarely if ever do anything but bore me. School was certainly a contributing factor. The only time I remember someone even trying to teach poetry at school was when my fifth grade teacher made us memorize 'The Jabberwocky' and recite it back, one by one, in front of the class. There must also be some hindrance from aspects of my own personality as well. In high school, while my friends were all writing weepy, adolescent poetry, I was writing weepy, adolescent essays.
    In any case, my reason for replying here is to say that Pope has been the exception to this rule. Orson Scott Card quoted a snippet from Pope's 'Essay on Man' in his book, 'Saints', which I read in college. The lines so moved me that I finally donned a badge of distinction I had always lacked: lines of verse committed to memory.

    Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
    The proper study of mankind is man...
    Created half to rise, and half to fall
    Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all
    Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled
    The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

    I looked and looked for the complete text online and could never find it at the time. At one point, I chanced upon a student of literature who had an anthology in her backpack that contained the entire piece. I borrowed it long enough to read the poem in its entirety and enjoyed my first (and last) experience of being moved to tears by poetry.

    Now, I have no doubt that my own unfortunate penchant for melodrama played no small part in my reaction to the poem. That, and the fact that I wanted to much to appreciate something in this genre. But the fact stands that Pope's Essay on Man was the first poem that really affected me in a meaningful way. And this thread has provided for me a couple of very useful things: Some sorely missed advice on what it means to appreciate a poem (I tried reading one aloud and was surprised by the difference that it made) and a link back to the poem that moved me so and that I'd given up finding many years ago when it was harder to find things on the internet. =:)

    Thanks a bunch!
    ---- Sorry, left the .sig in my other brain...
    [ Parent ]
    Poetry of the People (4.00 / 1) (#107)
    by norbit on Thu May 09, 2002 at 02:51:22 PM EST

    PoemRanker is HotOrNot for literati.

    Reasons why people don't read poetry... (4.66 / 3) (#110)
    by zonker on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:19:55 PM EST

    I think it's a shame that poetry isn't a popular form anymore, but there are a number of reasons why this is so. People don't read poetry much anymore because it's largely irrelevant to our existence, because so much of it is so inaccessible for normal readers and because - frankly - the vast majority of modern poetry is mastubatory crap.

    Epic poems used to be widely listened to, not read, and were popular because they were the stories that people lived by. Beowulf is a popular story now, but it was a story that people told because they believed in it when it was a contemporary story.

    Our methods of storytelling have changed, so the vast majority of people no longer have any interest in what is, essentially, a dead means of telling stories or communicating. Sure, there are people who enjoy writing and reading poetry - but most poetry is aimed at that audience, and not at the average person. If it takes months or years of study to appreciate a medium, why would anyone want to take that time just to read a small poem? Movies, television, songs, novels and plays (to name a few) are usually instantly accessible and do a far better job of communicating with their audience. Had many of the ancient poets been alive today, they probably would have been songwriters, not poets. They weren't interested in communicating via an obscure and little-appreciated medium, they wanted to be heard.

    There are some poets who have written accessible poetry, Charles Bukowski for example, but they're few and far between.

    The Wasteland is the biggest piece of crap I had to suffer through in my lit classes. Sorry, but any "poet" who includes stanzas in Sanscrit is not trying to communicate with his audience, he's trying to play "how cool am I?" by demonstrating knowledge of obscure bullshit. Reading The Wasteland is pleasure in the same way that having your teeth pulled without the benefit of drugs is pleasure.

    If you really want to start with someone who was actually writing for real people, start with Bukowski or another contemporary poet who uses the medium to communicate and not obscure. You'll be glad that you did.
    I will not get very far with this attitude.

    Bukowski (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:58:16 PM EST

    I've always liked Bukowski's Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit and The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses over the Hills. Some of it is actually pretty damned good.

    As for Eliot, I couldn't disagree more, but I don't suspect I couldn't convince you otherwise. All I can do is to suggest that maybe you're not included in his intended audience.

    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

    [ Parent ]
    Eliot and Bukowski (4.50 / 2) (#120)
    by zonker on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:20:25 PM EST

    Well, I love most of Bukowski's work - with a writer/poet as prolific as Bukowski was, some of the work is bound to be mediocre but there were a number of poems that were absolutely brilliant. Some of his later work, and most of it published posthumously, is of lesser quality. But "Love is a Dog from Hell" and "You Get so Alone at Times it Just Makes Sense" have some excellent poetry. "Women" and "Post Office" are excellent novels that should be widely taught. They're crude, but they reflect the "American Experience" far more accurately than most books shoved down the throats of unfortunate students.

    The fact that Eliot has an "intended audience" is exactly why I despise his work. It's crafted mainly for snobbish intellectuals who are horrified by the idea that just anyone might be able to enjoy their work. It's elitist and obscure. (I'm not grouping you in this category, btw.) No, it's unlikely that you could convince me otherwise, I had some very heated conversations with the professor that required Eliot's "The Wasteland" in my Modern American Literature course. He, of course, thought that Eliot was the pinnacle of Literature and held Bukowski in quite low esteem - precisely because his work was accessible and based on "common" themes. It's easy for lit professors to prop up poets who write about delicate matters or themes of love and so forth - but a poet that thrashes out reams of poems on horse racing, whores and drinking... that's just beyond the pale.

    I think, first and foremost, any work of literature should seek to communicate with others. Deliberately obscure works like The Wasteland fail to do this. There is a fine line between being erudite literature and obscurist literature. A poem is not a failure if it requires some thought and reflection - and possibly a dictionary - but it is a failure if it cannot be grasped by a person of average intelligence on its own merits. So, if it requires an annotated text and the guidance of a Doctor of Literature to understand... what's the use?

    Perhaps I spent too many years working real jobs prior to getting an education to appreciate any work or text that will only be passed among the cognoscenti of literature instead of being something that average folks will enjoy. I'll take a Bukowski or Steven King any day over a T.S. Eliot.
    I will not get very far with this attitude.
    [ Parent ]

    The Waste Land (none / 0) (#137)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:52:00 PM EST

    There was some speculation that The Waste Land was some kind of practical joke when it was first published. Eliot himself once said, "I must admit that I am, on one conspicuous occasion, not guiltless of having led critics into temptation." So the idea that he was perpetrating something of a joke on people is not all that far fetched.

    The Waste Land is, I think, simply unintelligble without reference notes. There are now web sites which hyperlink the various references and obscurities of the poem. This is probably a better approach to the poem than going through the text.

    Waka (Japanese court poetry) presents similar difficulties. The reader is expected to have intimate familiarity with hundreds of years worth of well known poems in Japanes and in some case Chinese.

    [ Parent ]

    That sounds plausible... (4.00 / 1) (#146)
    by zonker on Fri May 10, 2002 at 01:14:26 AM EST

    There was some speculation that The Waste Land was some kind of practical joke when it was first published.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised. You're right - without a reference, it's unintelligible... which, to me, is a sign of a failed work. Now, hypertext may make it more convenient to study since professors will continue to insist on assigning it, but it hardly mitigates the original offense of publishing it in the first place. My professor made a point of noting that we should appreciate The Wasteland because there were academics who spent their entire career understanding the depths of the poem. To me, that's a sign that Eliot did a damn poor job of communicating with the reader and that some people have wasted their careers... I mean a highly educated person should be able to grasp an epic poem in less than a lifetime, don't you think?

    I don't really know much about Waka. I imagine it has great cultural value... but at least they have parameters - the reader isn't expected to know English or Sanscrit to understand a poem, only the prior works in the reader's native language.
    I will not get very far with this attitude.
    [ Parent ]

    practical jokers (5.00 / 1) (#171)
    by sparkane on Sat May 11, 2002 at 12:13:57 PM EST

    In fact, we can view much of modern art (that is "Modern" art, and I mean "high" modernism, which began in the early 20th, with Eliot and others) as a joke. Duchamp's Fountain was a pre-eminently successful joke by a man who actually held a non-ironic view of art, which we know because he continued to (attempt to?) create art long into his life, which I believe he did not aggressively market. I think there is some belief that the Fountain was a "serious" work of art, but IMHO that's the whole point of what is really a joke (the best of which, IMO, are not merely funny but a comment on something): to mock the museum and the shortsighted acceptance of the authority it had to determine what was art and what wasn't. If Eliot conceived The Waste Land in such a light it would have fit well with the tenor of the times.

    I think any judgment of The Waste Land must take this intention into account. Calling it a "failure" because it does not create some kind of unconscious, visceral connection with its readers is simply to state the belief that all poetry qua poetry does this; which of course is not a belief to which Eliot subscribed. It's possible that he may have agreed with zonker, that poetry _should_ do this, but I think he would have admitted that this was his own opinion and that not only did not all poetry, or even all great poetry, do this (or just this), but that there was a growing trend in Western society _not_ to do this, and to do it well. (Which Eliot did IMO, and in his and many others'.)

    Let us consider: is The Waste Land, as a failure, a failure of the workman or a failure of the workman's society? I think we could create substantial argument that an inability to appreciate The Waste Land, or poems like it, may be more indicative of a lack of education. (This is NOT a personal criticism of zonker - I'm NOT saying that only stupid people don't like this poem.) The sanskrit at the end, for example, I find visceral and symbolic without having to know what the words actually mean. Of course, I can recognize the language as Sanskrit or at least Indian - but there are other clues to that in the poem. the sanskrit is an echo of the thunder that is booming at the poem's end: DA. What does DA mean? We don't know literally, but the fact that it stands for the thunder (and thus the rain) in a dry waste land is very meaningful, regardless of your knowledge of Sanskrit or German or whatever else may help; and to me the concept of a thunder whose echos produce one of the oldest languages of humanity is a thrilling one. But it's not one you need extensive book-learning to enjoy.

    I guess my own opinion here is not that zonker's opinion is incorrect, because of course there's a ton of obscure references, and Eliot did that on purpose, and that can get in the way; I don't mind references but they're not always my cup of tea. I think that obscurity is not just bad though. Try convincing a Frenchman that Mallarme isn't a poet. Though I guess we could say that his type of unintelligibility is different from Eliot's.

    [ Parent ]

    The Crass are always Cleaner on the Other Side (5.00 / 2) (#131)
    by jzitt on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:33:14 PM EST

    the vast majority of modern poetry is mastubatory crap.

    You're falling for the classic fallacy of nostalgia here. Sure, as Sturgeon put it, 90% of everything today is crap -- but 90% of everything always was crap. We've just managed to forget and compost the bad old stuff. Some time in the not to distant future, when the current chaff burns away, this decade will be seen as a golden age of whatever. As will, in short order, the next.

    And I kinda like "The Wasteland", but then I think Finnegans Wake is hilarious.

    You also have to wonder what is meant by "modern poetry" when "The Wasteland", written 80 freakin' years ago is lumped into it. Shall we judge current cinema by silent black and white movies? >/p>

    There's a massive amount of poetry happening right under your nose, the most actively visible area being the Poetry Slam scene. And, as you may or may not have noticed, much of the current hit music consists of people speaking poetry over beats.

    BTW, those interested in poetry beyond what was squeezed in between Phys Ed and fire drills would do well to check out the Electronic Poetry Center at the University of Buffalo and the amazing collection of visual, concrete, and sound poetry at Ubuweb.

    [ Parent ]
    Looking for the author of a poem (3.00 / 2) (#113)
    by peace on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:35:07 PM EST

    Maybe someone here can help me find the author of a poem I saw while traveling on the NYC subway many years back. The New York subway had a "poetry in motion" campaign where they would dedicate some amount of ad space to snippets of poetry.

    I saw a poem that I really liked and wrote it down but have since lost the paper. I don't remember it well but it went something like:

    When I was a child, I was angry at my father
    Not for anything that he did, but for who he was

    [a few lines I forget]
    [and the poem ends with...]
    When I was a child I thought that when I felt hurt it was because I was not loved
    It was because I loved.

    If anyone knows the author of this poem I have mangled, I'd appreciate it if you could let me know.

    I really liked the "poetry in motion" camaign. Does anyone know if NYC is still doing this?

    Kind Regards

    Poem on the uderground wall (5.00 / 1) (#143)
    by aozilla on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:59:44 PM EST

    The last train is nearly due,
    The underground is closing soon,
    And in the dark deserted station,
    Restless in anticipation,
    A man waits in the shadows.

    His restless eyes leap and scratch,
    At all that they can touch or catch,
    And hidden deep within his pocket,
    Safe within its silent socket,
    He holds a colored crayon.

    Now from the tunnel's stony womb,
    The carriage rides to meet the groom,
    And opens wide and welcome doors,
    But he hesitates, then withdraws
    Deeper in the shadows.

    And the train is gone suddenly
    On wheels clicking silently
    Like a gently tapping litany,
    And he holds his crayon rosary
    Tighter in his hand.

    Now from his pocket quick he flashes,
    The crayon on the wall he slashes,
    Deep upon the advertising,
    A single worded poem comprised
    Of four letters.

    And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
    The poem across the tracks rebounding
    Shadowed by the exit light
    His legs take their ascending flight
    To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night.

    [ Parent ]

    Answered my on question, finally (none / 0) (#187)
    by peace on Thu May 23, 2002 at 11:35:19 AM EST

    While searching for this poem, I kept coming accross this post on google so I figured I may as well post what I found. The poem is:

    First Memory

    Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
    to revenge myself
    against my father, not
    for what he was--
    for what I was: from the beginning of time,
    in childhood, I thought
    that pain meant
    I was loved.
    It meant I loved.

    Louise Glück (b. 1943)

    Here is a link to the index of the NYC transit poetry in motion selections.

    Kind Regards

    [ Parent ]

    Shel Silverstein (3.00 / 1) (#114)
    by Teehmar on Thu May 09, 2002 at 03:55:39 PM EST

    For some reason poetry makes me think of Shel Silverstein.  Sure, many of his poems are downright silly, but if you make poetry (and reading) fun, kids might enjoy it.
    Even though many years have passed, I can still remember large bits of "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too", and "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out".

    Silverstein (none / 0) (#129)
    by Erbo on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:10:20 PM EST

    Never mind the kid stuff...I've made myself a hit at parties in the past by doing a dramatic recitation of his poem "The Smoke-Off," which originally appeared in Playboy magazine.

    "Beware of bein' the roller, when there's nothin' left to roll..."
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
    [ Parent ]

    Poetry... (4.66 / 3) (#116)
    by DeadBaby on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:03:58 PM EST

    I think music has replaced poetry for most people. Very similar ideas but it's much easier for a young person to relate to a rap star than some old white guy from the 18th century.

    Modern poetry is so pompus it hurts. Classic poetry is so cryptic it hurts. School's teach the worst of both, is it really any wonder people don't like poetry?
    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

    actually (5.00 / 1) (#152)
    by 'abstrakt on Fri May 10, 2002 at 04:48:53 AM EST

    I'm very grateful that I was taught about poetry at school. Poetry really shines when the teacher is passionate about it - mine was.

    The poetry on the school curriculum (NSW, Australia) seemed fine to me (if a bit heavy on the older stuff) - Keats, Coleridge, Chaucer, T.S. Eliot... It was a great introduction to poetry, and in my opinion, one of the more valuable things we were taught at school.

    I guess it boils down to the standard of teaching and an open-mindedness on the part of students.


    [ Parent ]
    its worth reflecting upon. (3.00 / 1) (#121)
    by grandpa jive on Thu May 09, 2002 at 04:44:11 PM EST

    Things fall apart.
    The center does not hold.

    on writing a poem (4.00 / 2) (#123)
    by xah on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:14:31 PM EST

    The very concept of the poem is arrogant, but that does not mean a poem is not worth writing. As in any art, a poem done well is a delight, poorly an abomination. Amongst the handful of delights, educated people may have differing tastes.

    There are various methods to write a poem. One good method is to start by clearing your mind in a place and time where you can concentrate, then writing down on paper whatever stream of consciousness comes into your head. Write down everything. Eventually, you have some raw material. Later, in the second stage, sit down at your computer or typewriter or whatever and try to fit the jigsaw pieces together into a poem. Eventually, it will make sense to you. You can add and delete material that you need, change the tense, change the punctuation, and in general fit the raw material into your developing vision of your finished product. During this stage you will make many choices about the structure and style of the poem. There are various schools on how a poem should look and sound. You can heed their advice or not.

    In arrogant fashion, I prefer poems that are spelled correctly and have proper English grammar. I also prefer poems that do not speak from the first person, but instead tell a story about people. Since effective poems can have political impact, every poet has an ethical duty to promote what is just and right, and to denigrate violence. Finally, an attempt to ironically refer to the poem within the poem itself is usually doomed to failure. Good luck.

    Violence [OT] (none / 0) (#125)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:27:39 PM EST

    What does denigrating violence have to do with promoting what is right and just?

    Very frequently, what is right and just can only be had at the expense of the people who are demanding or perpetrating what is wrong and injust. If you're unwilling to accept this, your promotion of what is right and just is empty at best, and hypocritical at worst.

    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]

    violence is not the answer (none / 0) (#126)
    by xah on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:42:18 PM EST

    In this modern age, violence will not lead anywhere. The ability to kill masses of people makes nonviolence more important. I am not a pacifist, but I say violence should be restricted to self-defense. A poem should not stoke fear or hate, or glorify violence.

    [ Parent ]
    violence (none / 0) (#139)
    by jafac on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:57:12 PM EST

    In this day and age, or ANY day and age, for that matter, nonviolent solutions to problems only work if BOTH sides are committed to a nonviolent solution.  If one side doesn't believe in peace and harmony. . . well then, your nonviolent solution-seeker has a problem.  One that can likely only be solved by growing up and facing the reality that in the real world, all life is a struggle to survive.

    [ Parent ]
    Violence Is Always A Valid Problem-Solver (none / 0) (#174)
    by Corinth on Sat May 11, 2002 at 08:29:41 PM EST

    There is no problem that cannot be solved with violence. That is an eternal truth.

    [ Parent ]
    First Person, Grammar, Violence and other issues (5.00 / 1) (#134)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:34:12 PM EST

    First Person: this is probably one of those personal prefernce things, but I make the distinction between the case when the poet assumes a foreign persona, and one where we are to assume the persona is the poet or somebody else very like him. When the poet is presenting himself to you there is a degree of arrogance assuming you should be interested in what he has to say.

    Grammar: While poems may or may not be grammatical according to some rules formally instituted by somebody, they are clearly not naturalistic utterances in any dialect. Thus I wouldn't consider most poems strictly grammatical even if they don't violate any specific rules. I think the issue is whether a grammatical "transgression" is deliberate or not. If a poet has a reason to do so, he should do so. If he makes a "mistake" becasue he doesn't know better, it realy is a mistake.

    Ethics: Personally, I am unwilling to assign any ethical duty to poets above those of any other person. It's not like they're cutting somebody's abdomen open or occupying a position of trust by virtue of being a poet. It's tricky to judge an artist this way. An artist may sometimes need to write disturbing stuff. Did Stanley Kubrick celebrate violence in A Clockwork Orange? I think perhaps he did, but this is not the same as advocating it. Can you understand violence without understanding its attraction?

    If an artist has any special moral duties, they are to be original and to be honest in the face of offending sensibilities. Probably the worst offenders against this are people who write flattering nationalistic poetry; but the offence is writing dull poetry of no value. When the poetry is good, it remains valuable.

    Hitomaro, one of the greatest Japanese Court poets of the Manyoshu era, wrote one of the great battle poems of all time on the occasion of his lord's death. It shrewdly magnifies the prince to near godlike levels by exalting the valor of his vanquished enemies. He uses a beautiful image of flocks of birds playing on the winds to describe the frightening speed and reckless courage of the enemy. This is undoubtedly a patrotic poem, and one that glorifies violence. It is also an extremely valuable one, that leads the hearer to reflect on the transience of even the greatest of accomplishments and reputations.

    [ Parent ]

    English Teachers (3.66 / 3) (#124)
    by Bad Harmony on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:26:59 PM EST

    I think the "poetry appreciation" part of my brain was destroyed in high school. Look at the cute puppy. Now dissect it so that you can properly appreciate its doggy nature.

    54º40' or Fight!

    I'll throw my hat into the ring (3.00 / 1) (#127)
    by NoNeckJoe on Thu May 09, 2002 at 05:48:51 PM EST

    Favorite introduction to poetry: Perrines _Sound and Sense_.

    A great poem: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot.

    A good book of poetry to wet your feet with: _A Book of Luminous Things_ edited by Czeslaw Milosz.

    I keep forgetting how much I love poetry.  Thanks for the article.

    Radio first, then TV (3.00 / 2) (#128)
    by Rainy on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:09:52 PM EST

    They finished off popular appreciation for poetry. Well, music played its role, too. Speaking of which, music nowadays mostly has inane lyrics, but if you go back in time a bit, there were some beautiful lines penned during the gold age of Art Rock (aka Progressive Rock) - late sixties to late seventies. Here's a few examples:

    Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds - Free Four

    You are the angel of death
    And I am the dead man's son.
    And he was buried like a mole in a fox hole.
    And everyone is still in the run.
    And who is the master of fox hounds?
    And who says the hunt has begun?
    And who calls the tune in the courtroom?
    And who beats the funeral drum?
    The memories of a man in his old age
    Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
    You shuffle in gloom in the sickroom
    And talk to yourself till you die.

    Dark side of the moon - Time

    Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
    You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
    Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
    Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.
    Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
    You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
    And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
    No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
    So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
    Racing around to come up behind you again.
    The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
    Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
    Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
    Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
    Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
    The time is gone, the song is over,
    Thought I'd something more to say.

    Wish you were here

    So, so you think you can tell
    Heaven from Hell,
    Blue skies from pain.
    Can you tell a green field
    From a cold steel rail?
    A smile from a veil?
    Do you think you can tell?
    And did they get you to trade
    Your heroes for ghosts?
    Hot ashes for trees?
    Hot air for a cool breeze?
    Cold comfort for change?
    And did you exchange
    A walk on part in the war
    For a lead role in a cage?
    How I wish, how I wish you were here.
    We're just two lost souls
    Swimming in a fish bowl,
    Year after year,
    Running over the same old ground.
    What have we found?
    Same old fears.

    Animals - Dogs

    You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need.
    You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street,
    You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed.
    And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight,
    You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.
    And after a while, you can work on points for style.
    Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
    A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
    You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
    So that when they turn their backs on you,
    You'll get the chance to put the knife in.
    You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder.
    You know it's going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you
    get older.
    And in the end you'll pack up and fly down south,
    Hide your head in the sand,
    Just another sad old man,
    All alone and dying of cancer.
    And when you loose control, you'll reap the harvest you have sown.
    And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone.
    And it's too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw
    So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone,
    Dragged down by the stone.
    I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused.
    Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used.
    Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise.
    If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this
    Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending
    That everyone's expendable and no-one has a real friend.
    And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner
    And everything's done under the sun,
    And you believe at heart, everyone's a killer.
    Who was born in a house full of pain.
    Who was trained not to spit in the fan.
    Who was told what to do by the man.
    Who was broken by trained personnel.
    Who was fitted with collar and chain.
    Who was given a seat in the stand.
    Who was breaking away from the pack.
    Who was only a stranger at home.
    Who was ground down in the end.
    Who was found dead on the phone.
    Who was dragged down by the stone.

    Boby Dylan - All along the watchtower

    "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
    "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."
    "No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
    "There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
    But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
    All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
    While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
    Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
    Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

    Brian Eno Warm Jets


    Oh cheeky cheeky
    Oh naughty sneaky
    You're so perceptive
    And I wonder how you knew.

    But dead finks don't walk too well (oh no)
    A bad sense of direction (oh no)
    And so they stumble round in threes (oh no)
    Such a strange collection.

    Oh, you headless chicken
    Can those poor teeth take so much kicking?
    You're always so charming
    As you make your way up here.

    And dead finks don't dress too well
    No discrimination
    To be a zombie all the time
    Requires such dedication.

    "Oh please sir, will you let it go by,
    'Cos I failed both tests with my legs both tied
    In my place the stuff is all there
    I've been ever so sad for a very long time.

    My my, they wanted the works:
    Can you this? and that? I never got a letter back
    More fool me, bless my soul
    More fool me, bless my soul."

    Oh perfect masters
    They thrive on disasters
    They all look so harmless
    Till they find their way up here.

    But dead finks don't talk too well
    They've got a shaky sense of diction
    It's not so much a living hell
    It's just a dying fiction.

    Okay I think that's enough.. There's many more of course. Yes, Procol Harum, Family, Fleetwood Mac, Zappa, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Beatles, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Police, Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Tom WAits, The Who, The kinks..

    I don't know about you people but for me it's not good enough if a song has nice melody. Lyrics must not be insipid as well.
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

    It's still with us... (none / 0) (#144)
    by Perianwyr on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:17:12 PM EST

    This sort of poetic spirit in music is certainly still with us. Of course, popular music has stifled much of what requires mindwork, leaving those who can't get by without it looking for more.

    Being a fan of industrial music, I find much in the genre to feed this craving. True, there's a lot of doggerel, but certain bands shine through. I'd personally recommend Death in June (dark nihilism), VNV Nation (epic struggles from the personal to the global), and Coil (journeys in dreams and harrowing nightmares.)

    [ Parent ]

    It's still with us definitely (none / 0) (#156)
    by jgerman on Fri May 10, 2002 at 09:08:32 AM EST

    There are plenty of bands with poetic/meaningful lyrics. Prrianwyr mentioned several industrial bands. I'd like to add Bad Religion just to make a showing for punk, as well as Pennywise, Social Distortion, Youth Brigade, the list is just as long/

    It's not that music now is inherently insipid any more than music during your 'Golden Age' (I have an entirely different definition of Progressive Rock). There were hundreds of bubble gum bands during that time that put out pop crap (Well crap from my point of view and yours too I'd imagine).

    if textbooks were a kuro5hin user, they would probably be Silent Chris. because textbooks piss me off. -- anaesthesis
    [ Parent ]

    Must be the computer (4.00 / 1) (#132)
    by vadim on Thu May 09, 2002 at 06:46:59 PM EST

    I used to read more poetry when I didn't have computers. But now sometimes I read some online, although not as much as I used to. One of my friends writes poetry I think is good, but for now I won't post a link because I think she might not like it. I will post a link if I get permission.

    BTW, it's possible to make this one longer. It's complete nonsense, but it's fun at least. I'd add something myself but unfortunately my knowledge of English isn't good enough.
    <@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

    Get a palm pilot (none / 0) (#135)
    by jolly st nick on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:35:00 PM EST

    Then raid project Gutenberg. Problem solved.

    [ Parent ]
    A poet on poetry: (3.00 / 1) (#136)
    by JohnZed on Thu May 09, 2002 at 07:49:13 PM EST

    A.E. Housmann explains one reason for listening to poetry:

    Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough; There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear, To see the rate you drink your beer. But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, It gives a chap the belly-ache. . . .
    The rest of the poem can be found at: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/housman9.html

    A modest observation (3.50 / 2) (#142)
    by psychonaut on Thu May 09, 2002 at 09:29:05 PM EST

    I think, like many things we learn about in school, we have lost the sense that we can obtain pleasure from something that admittedly requires some effort to understand. People today have to be introduced to poetry because it is no longer part of our daily experience.
    Well, then, poetry is much like chaw, isn't it?

    Suggestions (4.80 / 5) (#145)
    by Pseudonym on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:24:08 PM EST

    Soliciting for "starter works",
    Response has been diverse.
    But really if just starting out
    You must begin with verse.

    Of course this artform doesn't fit
    With lofty thoughts high-browed.
    But e'en the artsy must admit,
    They're fun to read aloud.

    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    science and poetry (5.00 / 2) (#160)
    by wolf trap on Fri May 10, 2002 at 04:02:24 PM EST

    Ours is not the first generation to have difficulty enjoying poetry. Since a number of people here have given T.S. Eliot as an example of an inaccessible poet, I thought it might be interesting to read some thoughts from his contemporaries on why this might be so.

    In 1919, Richard Aldington praised T.S. Eliot for his "power of apprehension, of analysis, of the dissociation of ideas, with a humour and ease of expression which make you not the best but the only modern writer of prose criticism in English;" but criticized his poetry for being "over-intellectual and afraid of those essential emotions which make poetry."

    I.A Richardson, another contemporary of Eliot's, attributed a poet's inability to make an emotional connection with readers on not only a lack of common intellectual framework, but on what might be thought of as a basic schism between emotional and rational faculties.

    In his Selected Essays, Richardson wrote, "If you deny the theory that full poetic appreciation is possible without belief in what the poet believed, you deny the existence of 'poetry' as well as 'criticism'; and if you push this denial to its conclusion, you will be forced to admit that there is very little poetry that you can appreciate, and that your appreciation of it will be a function of your philosophy or theology or something else."

    As a result, Richardson thoght, people may not be able to "access" emotive language without possessing some form of belief towards certain statements (approaching them as if they were scientific statements), and wrote of this obstacle to poetic appreciation in his 1926 Science and Poetry:

    "Briefly, if we can contrive to believe poetry, then the world seems, while we do so, to be transfigured. It used to be comparatively easy to do this, and the habit has become well established. With the extension of science and the neutralization of nature it has become difficult as well as dangerous."

    So I guess the basic question here may be, has the ability to enjoy figurative language increasingly been eroded by the influence of science? In other words, do we now expect too much of poetry as it attemkpts to tell us the "truth"?


    Il faudrait les inventer, those hooks, on purpose for me alone, for, if you only knew, Alyosha, what a blackguard I am.

    Unlikely (none / 0) (#182)
    by epepke on Tue May 14, 2002 at 05:25:40 PM EST

    Read some Loren Eiseley. He was an exceptional science writer whose writing is poetic, and he even wrote some actual poems. Here's one, called "Things Will Go:"

    When it is all done
    WHo will know? Who will care?
    The snake will still be gliding by the stone,
    Thr frog stare
    From his place on the lily pad.
    Things will go
    Like water, like wind,
    As they always have gone since the first
    Ooze sprouted and finned.
    THis does not matter. What's done
    Has always been so.
    I shall tell myself this, not believe
    Like the others I know.

    I like his prose better, though.

    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

    [ Parent ]
    rock and roll (2.00 / 1) (#161)
    by eeee on Fri May 10, 2002 at 04:42:54 PM EST

    "Poetry" fans would do well to remember that not all great poets are English professors:

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I'm a man of wealth and taste
    I've been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a man's soul and faith

    And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
    Had his moment of doubt and pain
    Made damn sure that Pilate
    Washed his hands and sealed his fate

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name
    But what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game

    I stuck around St. Petersburg
    When I saw it was a time for a change
    Killed the czar and his ministers
    Anastasia screamed in vain

    I rode a tank
    Held a general's rank
    When the blitzkrieg raged
    And the bodies stank

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
    Ah, what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

    I watched with glee
    While your kings and queens
    Fought for ten decades
    For the gods they made

    I shouted out,
    "Who killed the Kennedys?"
    When after all
    It was you and me

    Let me please introduce myself
    I'm a man of wealth and taste
    And I laid traps for troubadours
    Who get killed before they reached Bombay

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
    Oh Yeah
    But what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
    But what's confusing you
    Is just the nature of my game

    Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints
    As heads is tails
    Just call me Lucifer
    'Cause I'm in need of some restraint

    So if you meet me
    Have some courtesy
    Have some sympathy, and some taste
    Use all your well-learned politesse
    Or I'll lay your soul to waste, um yeah

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name,
    But what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game

    Poetry has ceased to be relevant. (4.00 / 1) (#162)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Fri May 10, 2002 at 06:52:38 PM EST

    Here I go again, argumentitive, extreme. I want to make people think once in a while, and a smack to the head often works better than begging on bended knee....

    So here it goes:

    Like the classical music crowd, poetry fans assume that people no longer share their interests because people are more stupid than they used to be.

    The idea that culture has changed making it harder for people to relate to poetry (or classical music) and therefore less relevant, escapes them (the poety pushers). Alas, the pushers of dead culture are screwed, since western culture now offers many other forms of entertainment and communication.

    Guys, culture is an animal that serves the living and poetry (like all art) is but an aspect of culture. If poetry no longer soothes Joe the Janitor's soul, why should he care that poets are filled with deep anguish over their inability to speak to him? Why is it Joe's fault that they no longer speak his language?

    To quote Kurt Vonnegut on a related subject: "Wha fo I wanna read no 'Tale of Two Cities'? Wha fo?"

    I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....

    Ever see "Yes, Minister"? (none / 0) (#168)
    by Lord Snott on Sat May 11, 2002 at 01:37:20 AM EST

    Great satire.

    In one episode Hacker (the minister) was going to cease government funding of operas and such, and re-direct the funding to football and other mainstream entertainment.

    Although the show is satire and had extreme examples of beaurocracy etc., it made me think about this issue.

    Give a little kid icecream, lollies, cake, just about anything with sugar, and they'll eat it till they vomit.

    A mother has no choice but to say "eat your vegetables, or no desert!" If she doesn't, her kid will grow up to be Roseanne.

    It's not that poetry is part of a dead culture, it's that other things now available to us allow us to have "thinkers by proxy".

    When Bush or Le Pen talk about "them" in the collective, the general masses no longer have to worry about who "they" are, just that someone else is doing the thinking for them.

    When the ultra-gamer whats his Geforce 12 with N meg of quantum RAM onboard, he doesn't have to build it himself - someone is already on that doing the thinking and designing for him.

    I know this is coming across as a troll, (thats what I am!), but can you see through my bullshit to what I'm saying?

    We need to be taught HOW to appreciate poetry, as part of our mental development. You don't have to appreciate the same things, or even the same kind of poetry (you could examine the complexities of music or art), but you have to have your own understanding of things.

    Thinking is good!
    This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
    registration number 2,347,676.
    Bummer :-(

    [ Parent ]

    Yeah, but it's a two way street. (5.00 / 1) (#170)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Sat May 11, 2002 at 10:28:49 AM EST

    It's not solely the listener's job to understand the speaker - the speaker needs to make sure the listener can understand.

    I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....

    [ Parent ]
    Hip Hop / Philip Levine (none / 0) (#179)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon May 13, 2002 at 10:04:45 AM EST

    I agree with you. As far as I'm concerned, hip-hop is the poetry of the twenty-first century. It speaks to a large group of people who can not only understand it, but can make their lives better by hearing it. And most importantly, it is a commercially viable medium that people can respect (which is a feat in and of itself).

    As far as modern poets go, Philip Levine is one of the few poets today who writes poetry that is accesible to the hypothetical "everyman." It's about blue-collar work, and what life means from somebody who isn't tortured with Existential Dread (TM). In particular, I would recommend What Work Is, and The Simple Truth. AFAIC, the confessional poets (Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, etc.) ruined a great deal of the accessibility poetry used to enjoy (even though I enjoy them a great deal). Poetry lost its grip on the American mind with the passing of Frost and Sandburg.

    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    My favorite poems. (none / 0) (#163)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Fri May 10, 2002 at 06:59:04 PM EST

    You'll notice a pattern:

    • Jabberwocky
    • The Hunting of the Snark
    • Mockles

    Since you might not of heard of Mockles (since the author is a Polish science fiction author named Stanislaw Lem...

    Mockles! Bent on silpen tree,
    Blockards three a-feening!
    Mockles, what silps came to thee,
    In thy pantry dreaming?

    The best part about Mockles is (like all really good Nonsense) you never stop thinking that you can figure it out...

    What is "Nonsense"? Well, Louis Carroll was it's biggest proponent - he felt it included most sorts of poetry.

    I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....

    A word for your vocabulary (none / 0) (#164)
    by Pseudonym on Fri May 10, 2002 at 08:59:44 PM EST

    If you really want to sound pretentious, don't say "nonsense", say "amphigouri".

    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Lol (none / 0) (#169)
    by porkchop_d_clown on Sat May 11, 2002 at 10:26:32 AM EST

    Actually, all three poems are really considered to be "Nonsense" - as a literary genre, not a condemnation.

    I'll save "amphigouri" for a special occasion, though!

    I feel like I've lived my live in screensaver mode....

    [ Parent ]
    Speechmaking poetry (4.00 / 1) (#175)
    by Scrymarch on Sun May 12, 2002 at 05:58:00 AM EST

    Just to add to your point about the poetry of speeches, great speechmakers are often well read in poetry (Lincoln was a keen reader of Shakespeare and the King James Bible), but explicitly use its techniques in writing speeches.

    The most impressive example I can think of is Churchill, whose carefully prepared speeches were written out beforehand in blank verse format.  This helped him get elements such as pauses right.  There's some examples in the Cabinet War Rooms Museum.

    Poetry and the rise of recordings (5.00 / 1) (#177)
    by Pseudoephedrine on Sun May 12, 2002 at 07:40:18 PM EST

    I don't think we've gotten rid of poetry, so much as it's become easier for us to enjoy poetry in the form of lyrics.

    When you look at it, the last great poetry of the western canon was written just as mass media, and in particular, the ability to accurately record music, was coming along (say the 1920's-30's with the rise of radio and records).

    The advantage of poetry is that you can recite it on the spot, without requiring a trombone, or a trumpet or a guitar or anything else. You just need a voice and a memory. In fact, though it seems strange to us to think of it, instrumental music above a certain complexity (in other words, barring the occasional fiddler) was relatively uncommon to most people's experiences. People sang quite a bit, but songs and poetry are much the same thing.

    With the rise of radio, though, instrumental music became much more available to everyone who could afford one. While previously, one needed to attend a symphony or other live performance in order to hear music, you could now have the entire library of western music at the touch of a dial (at least in theory). The rise of records and record players as household items also helped.

    In a sense then, poetry is song without instrumental music accompanying it (which isn't intended to demean poetry). But, if you look at it, our relationship to music is much the same as it once was to poetry. People memorise the lyrics, recite them fairly frequently (who here has never broken out into song at least once in their life?) and a full recitation of the lyrics of songs is as well regarded now as poetry recitations were back in the 19th century.
    "We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    The Poetry of War (4.00 / 1) (#178)
    by treefrog on Mon May 13, 2002 at 06:57:41 AM EST

    I'd highly reccomend an aquaintance with the First World War poets. I was introduced to them by my English teacher at school.

    Siegfied Sassoon and David Jones are both excellent, as was Rudyard Kipling (his epigrams on the War are some of the pithiest and biting comments I have read - he wrote them after his son was killed in the trenches). But Wilfred Owen must surely rank head or shoulders above either of them. "The Send Off", "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Dulce et Decorum est" and "Strange Meeting" are all world class pieces of literature.

    From the 2nd World War I would also reccomend some of the Gallic Poetry of Sorley MacLean - most of his stuff (admittedly only read in translation) I can take or leave, but some of his war poetry I find to be just brilliant.

    Finally (and on a different tack), I would reccomend Shakespeare. That guy could write. My personal favourite is from The Tempest ("Be not afeared - the isle is full of noises..."), but the way he uses language is exceptional.

    Bets regards
    Twin fin swallowtail fish. You don't see many of those these days - rare as gold dust Customs officer to Treefrog

    Recommendations for getting into poetry (none / 0) (#180)
    by discoflamingo13 on Mon May 13, 2002 at 10:21:37 AM EST

    My grandmother was the first person to really get me into poetry - in particular, Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee), Alfred Noyes (The Highwayman) and Robert Frost. On my own, I got into limericks in a big way (The Oxford Book of Limericks is an excellent collection of thoughtful/ribald/bawdy limericks for all occasions).

    For the most part, I hate free verse - and by hating free verse, I can be in good company (I think it was Robert Frost who said that free verse is like playing tennis with the net down). If you hate free verse, or presumptuous confessional poetry, try anything by Philip Levine - in particular, What Work Is. It's hard to describe just how powerful his work can be, with a self-contained structure. Definitely worth a read, and your local library probably has a copy (among other awarsd, it won a National Book Award).

    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    WHa? (none / 0) (#191)
    by Joe Foster on Mon Jun 17, 2002 at 05:53:14 PM EST

    I got into poetry as an 11-year old - I read Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) and then Frost, Sandberg, cummings, &so on. Never got over it. Studied Poetry in college (didn't help much but kept me motivated) with some good writers (Gluck, Raab).

    The impulse that leads you to say "i hate free verse" (even if you've hated every free verse you've ever read you haven't seen them all) is the same impulse that makes rejected women say "I hate men" or poor white crackers say "I hate black people" or whatever stupid generalization you can think of. This hits home for me a little because I not only write free verse but I play free music; both forms are often considered self-indulgent or undisciplined. What's more, as with modernism (and post- or whatever) people are buying the concept of a hi/lo cultureal divide hook line & sinker. Which is more than unfortunate: It is tragic.

    You don't have to understand something to 'get it' once you realize that 'it' is whatevery YOU have gotten, not a puzzle to be figured out, or a battle to the most sophisticated analysis. If you have eyes you are qualified to see a Jackson Pollock painting. If you have ears you can listen to Webern (or Stockhausen or Sun Ra or Anthony Braxton, Derek Bailey..shit).

    I know I sound like a hippy, but man, it's dangerous to speak negatively about things you don't have direct experience with (or even if you do) because you might prevent somebody from experiencing them for herself. I mean, no matter how much I hate Kenny G., chances are his music is providing good things in somebody's life much as Cecil Taylor does in mine.


    completely unqualified

    freaky deaky
    Hott JoeFoster Pixxx!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    Okay, so it's been a few months - (none / 0) (#193)
    by discoflamingo13 on Wed Nov 20, 2002 at 02:06:50 AM EST

    but I am now very capable of enjoying free verse, and have in fact written quite a bit of it myself. It took two classes and a lot of study on my part, but it's like a whole new world opened up to me. Just FYI, ya'know. I was kind of a fascist in the preceding post.

    The more I watch, the more I learn ---
    If you set yourself on fire, the world will pay to watch you burn.
    --- Course of Empire

    [ Parent ]
    Here we go (none / 0) (#181)
    by Tatarigami on Mon May 13, 2002 at 10:36:39 PM EST

    In spring, my thoughts turn to roses
    And nubile wenches in indecent poses
    Hot babes in leather with rubber hoses.

    Or even better, one supposes
    Ponytails and freckled noses
    on cute young girls in latex clotheses!


    I think I completely switched off to poetry when I was required to analyse The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock in highschool. Left to my own devices, I never would have read such a downbeat work -- c'mon, goth wasn't even popular back then. I don't think my generation ever tumbled to the entertainment potential of depression and self-loathing. It was the ones who came after us who had to get more extreme than listening to the Beastie Boys in order to shock their parents.

    The public education system down here was developed by the nation's leaders way back at the start of last century, sometimes in my more paranoid moments I think the whole point of highschool is to instill a healthy hatred of higher learning in the children of the masses...

    Education (none / 0) (#192)
    by bigbtommy on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:36:30 PM EST

    It's purpose is to make people intelligent enough to be useful, but not so that they are dangerous.

    Unfortunately, two or three break the mould and go on and become artists, scientists, politicians, doctors, lawyers and purveyors of social change.

    Curse them! Ignorance is Strength.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
    [ Parent ]

    Now you come to mention it (none / 0) (#183)
    by ragnarok on Thu May 16, 2002 at 05:55:31 AM EST


    She walks in legality like a legislature
    How shall I praise her beauty
    - or is that sexual harrassment?
    She is her own best condom,
    too, too bitter a pill.

    - it's like being with your own mother,
    a child again
    Her bosom and thighs full of THOU SHALT NOTs,
    in bed incest lurks unbidden on every lust ...

    I have here my travel documents, herein detailing me as
    quote a Momentarily Not Undesirable Alien unquote

    You will note I do not qualify for a
    Multiple Re-Entry Visa
    I am licensed to let my hands explore
    every projection and crevice
    under strict medical supervision
    I am not permitted to take advantage of a favorable climate
    except under supervision in triplicate

    - she is measuring my cock tomorrow:
    she throws the tiddlers back ...

    "Jacobation, and that were Mosiah; and they might not be saved. For he feared them all....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

    The nuances of modern poetry (none / 0) (#185)
    by tebrow on Sat May 18, 2002 at 10:44:08 PM EST

    Masterful use of bold and italics. Virtuosity in the application of caps. Verdict: delicious.

    [ Parent ]
    my two bad penny's (none / 0) (#188)
    by Walpurgis on Tue May 28, 2002 at 04:48:05 AM EST

    Wilfred Owen

    William Blake

    A. C. Swinburne

    Ezra Pound

    No mome rath can outgrabe me.



    Contemporary poets: (none / 0) (#189)
    by Joe Foster on Fri Jun 14, 2002 at 02:28:18 PM EST

    John Berryman (r.i.p)
    Louise Gluck (w/umlaut over u)
    Robert Hass | Czeslaw Milosz
    Frank Bidart
    George Oppen

    Also and I can't stress this enough:
    EZRA motherf^ckn POUND

    H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)

    And...Marvin Gardens

    Hott JoeFoster Pixxx!!!!
    Enjoying Poetry | 193 comments (167 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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