The Poetrys the Thing


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Does poetry still matter?

My space builds a layer of warmth around those eggs — mother-vibes I cannot help but send out with the wind. Clouds come like a few fish turning into a school, then sirens and the low-pitch howl of my dog Tom.

This is where his space begins: in the gut, where first the wind is felt. At university in Music Theory I learned about mathematics.


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I bought a Dave Brubeck CD and listened while I studied while I strove to write poems without counting syllables while I ate two minute noodles and drank six packs of beer while I tried to sleep to my roommate fucking in time to beats of jazzed up fives a coed from the second floor. I wanted to be that woman in red, that very sax because I wanted to believe that magic lies within the muse and the artist and the sound and the word and the pen. I was eighteen. I only just passed Music Theory then ascended to drinking bourbon and cokes and lost my virginity at a party.

Past the point of tree growth, where the sky opens to the wind, I open to you. I am not surprised- this was always our journey.

'Grief Is the Thing With Feathers' Pokes Around in Poetry's Carcass

We take each breath as if our last, the higher we get the dizzier the exhale, twisting our ankles and falling on the palms of our rubble-burnt hands. Mostly we indulge in water and views: things our bodies need. So now we are here — tree line. Where I can look at you freely without analysing my love.

Where I can walk toward you in this gaping space sturdy bare feet atop the rock and snow. Where I can say to you this is not a place where trees die; it is where they dream of living. It was a year post-wedding, a year pre-children.

Our tacker on the cushions with the stuffing pushing out yells Oh! He got it! Well done! The next one will show four shadows touching destination not yet known. I never watched football in America. Never watched a Super Bowl or had a favourite team. Never knew the uniform colours or mascots by name but then I never knew the smell of kindling from newspaper and a dead gumtree branch. Is water flowing in the tank? Abandoned Farmhouse.

While we have you...

By Ted Kooser. Think, for instance, of how we might savor a sad blues song. One doesn't need advanced degrees to appreciate a line like, "I woke up this morning, blues all around my bed," or "Oh, I hate to see that evenin' sun go down. Consider this anonymously written fragment of English poetry from the early sixteenth century:. Western wind, when wilt thou blow That the small rain down can rain?


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  • Christ, that my love were in my arms, And I in my bed again! We don't know the full situation of the speaker here, but there is no mistaking the heartfelt longing for home in the voice. It is that unmistakable human passion that has caused this scrap of poetry to live for more than five hundred years.

    There is a fine line between the poem which makes an authentic claim upon the core of our emotional being and the poem which seems to wish to manipulate us, to play insincerely, or ineptly, upon our heartstrings. When dealing with emotionally charged matter, the poet faces the danger of lapsing into sentimentality or bathos, of buttonholing the reader and trading upon what has been called "unearned emotion. It is perhaps the commonest of faults among inexperienced writers, and even great poets are not immune to this kind of error.

    Consider this line by Shelley:.

    'Grief Is the Thing With Feathers' Pokes Around in Poetry's Carcass - PopMatters

    The question arises, has Shelley gone too far into self-pity and sentimentality here? Many readers and critics tend to think he shows a momentary lapse of taste. Though quite real, self-pity is often considered an unlovely human emotion. Yet, because it is human and because nothing human is outside the scope of the poet's pen, a great poet like Shakespeare can examine it, even confess it, honestly.

    Fortunately, in the following sonnet, he also points the way out of the emotional swamp of self-pity. Notice how, toward the end of the poem, there is a change in the direction of the thought, a swerving or veering, as if from a thesis to an antithesis, or from a problem stated to a resolution discovered. This shift is quite typical of the sonnet's structure, and is one of its traditional hallmarks. At the beginning the author is wallowing in self-pity, down on himself, and depressed.

    He discovers that the way out of his thoughts of self is to think on another, his lover, and the entire mood of the poem is lightened, ending on a note of celebration. When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,. I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee; and then my state Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

    If there are hidden laws of the operation and economy of our human emotions, no class of investigators or interpreters have studied and observed them more closely or with greater results than the poets. The founder of psychotherapy Dr. Sigmund Freud resorted time and again to the poets and playwrights to discover the terms with which to describe fundamental motives and workings of the human mind.

    Shakespeare's plays and poems alone constitute a veritable textbook on the inner workings of human behavior. Poets not only accurately describe and analyze powerful emotions, they also convey or evoke them. Sometimes, as in the following poem by William Blake, they seem to do both. Some inner laws of the operations of malice and vengeance are described, and the speaker finally embodies these emotions, which gives the analysis an added, high-voltage charge. I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    And I watered it in fears, Night and morning with my tears; I sunned it with smiles And with soft deceitful wiles. And it grew both day and night, Till it bore an apple bright; And my foe beheld it shine, And he knew that it was mine, And into my garden stole When the night had veiled the pole: In the morning glad I see My foe outstretched beneath the tree. Emotion is also the motivating force of most poems of political protest and social criticism. The smarting wince we feel when we witness an injustice may turn quickly to anger, outrage, and indignation.

    The same cry against oppression and the abuse of power and wealth sounded by the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah can be heard throughout English and American poetry and down to the present day. At the time of the great flowering of English Romanticism, the British government had retrenched into a reactionary stance, halting or reversing much-needed societal reforms in fear and horror of the excesses of the French Revolution, raging across the English Channel. It was a time of abject political reversal for the liberal poets, who envisioned mankind progressing toward a freer and more equable society.

    Witness part of Shelley's devastating summary of the situation from "England in ":. An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king; Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow Through public scorn,mud from a muddy spring: Rulers, who neither see, nor feel, nor know, But, leech-like, to their fainting country cling Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow; A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field; An army which liberticide and prey Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield;.

    This same despair of wretched social, moral and political conditions brought this damning indictment from Blake a few years earlier in "London. I wander through each chartered street, Near where the chartered Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. Reforms envisioned by the British poets eventually came to England, and it is not far fetched at all to state that England's poets spurred this progress. Perhaps Shelley did not overreach when he said, "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. With the music of verse, richness of description, the wonder of creative imagination, marvels of metaphor, and the force of emotion, poetry can educate, ennoble, motivate, and enlighten us.

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    Poetry can also help us appreciate the plenitude, brevity, and beauty of human life. I hope I have given in this essay some idea of how these elements, coming together, constitute what we might mean by the word "poetry. Many of you reading this are presently wearing the uniform of one of the branches of the Armed Services, or are perhaps closely related to a service member.

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