Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;
then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.
In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.
(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.
I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.
It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion
but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)
Free Verse is probably the closest poetry gets to becoming prose before crossing over the line. It is a form of poetry with no rules or restrictions nor anything that must be done to classify it. In most free verse poems there is a story being told. In "This is a Photograph of Me" the speaker describes a photograph and in turn tells a story. The first image revealed about the photograph appears to be nothing more than a landscape. Through the first half of the poem we find ourselves questioning the connection of the title until we come to the parentheses.
The sudden shift in the poem, specifically distinguished by the punctuation, is suprising and shocking. The speaker has a non-chalant tone to his/her voice when stating "The photograph was taken/the day after I drowned." Suddenly, the poem is no longer peaceful but almost terrifying. Suddenly we realize that amidst this beautiful landscape with the hills and lake is a tragic story of someone's death. The free verse of the poem also contributes to the non-chalant tone of the speaker. With no specific structure to the poem it feels as if the speaker is casually telling this story that would otherwise be horrific.
In this poem the author uses enjambement to give a flowing feeling to the poem. Again, this contributes to the storytelling aspect of the poem. Since this is free verse, the author is not restrained to ending each line with a period or some type of punctuation. Instead, she is able to continue thoughts through multiple lines and even stanzas.
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The above poem is a mere two lines long, yet it is filled with perhaps more imagery than a poem sixty lines long. After writing this poem Ezra Pound said, "I wrote a thirty-line poem, and destroyed it because it was what we call work 'of second intensity.' Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later I made the following hokku-like sentence..." In other words, Pound discovered that sometimes one sentence can be ever more meaningful that thirty lines of poetry.
The essence of imagism is just that; say only what you need to say and be sure it presents the reader with an image. In "In a Station of the Metro" Pound almost paints a picture with only 14 words and two lines of poetry. The image of "apparition" is one of swift disappearance of one into another. Joined with the words "faces in the crowd" it seems that each person disappears into another and they appear to be one blur. I can picture a bustling Metro Station in which hundreds of people pass by, yet not one has any individual appearance. Each person's appearance blends into another creating everyone as equal.
The second line "Petals on a wet, black bough" presents a darkness to the poem. In cohesion with the idea of the faces blending into one another, they almost become a coating as water is on a bough after a rainstorm. The color black carries with it a negative connotation suggesting that there is some kind of darkness in this Metro Station.
In a way, Pound uses euphony in this poem in that he studies the beauty of the scene and the words. While he isn't directly talking about beauty itself, through the usage of Imagist poetry Pound is automatically appreciating the beauty of the English Language and the power it holds in presenting images to a reader.
In the end, there is quite an amount of analysis that can be done one two simple lines of poetry. That is the purpose of Imagism--achieve a purpose through a joining of words and images.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
DEFINITELY LISTEN TO IT =)
To begin, I think it's very important that slam poetry be listened to, as it IS called spoken word. To read a splam poem is nothing compared to hearing the author recite it because much of the importance is in the tone and delivery. The art of spoken word is so greatly dependent on the presentation.
In "On What Teachers Make", Taylor Mali presents an entirely different definition for the phrase "what do teachers make"? He focuses on the teaching, inspiration, and hardwork that teachers instill in their students, instead of focusing on the money. Mali brings to our attention the important role that a good teacher can play in a kid's life. I know, personally, that I have had very few teachers whom I will always remember. I won't remember the ones who made it easy, or the ones who simply made it fun. I will remember the teachers that made me work and made a difference; the ones who truly cared.
Mali brings up a great point--someone who has not had the opportunity to teach will never understand a teacher. To have the ability to affect hundreds of students' lives is a great responsibility. What you instill in them could possibly be one of the greatest lessons of their lives. Mali's passion and delivery of this idea and this entire poem truly show that he takes pride in being a teacher. He isn't simply trying to stand up for himself, but he is standing up for teachers everywhere who are not appreciated nearly enough for what they do.
In this slam poem, Mali uses the literary device of apostrophe in which he talks about someone who is not present. He is telling a story and mentions the CEO who began this conversation at dinner. As a result, the CEO is merely a character in his story who is not present at the time. In addition, he talks about his students are not present either, neither at the dinner table or the presentation.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue,
Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep.
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curl’s like a lambs back, was shav’d, so I said,
Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight,
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open’d the coffins & set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Tho’ the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm.
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
A dramatic monologue is a type of poem in which the speaker appears to be talking to an unseen audience. It is a way of telling a story through the words of poetry.
In this dramatic monologue the speaker is a "Chimney Sweep". He tells his story of his mother's death and father's having "sold [him] while yet [his] tongue, Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep." The speaker, however, does not stay on the subject of his own life for long. Instead, he talks about Tom Dacre who is a new child just sold to be a new chimney sweeper. When he "cried when his head That curl’s like a lambs back, was shav’d" his innocence is shown. He is unaware of what is to come for him and the speaker acts as a guide for him.
The dream that Tom has is significant to the conditions of chimney sweeps at this time in history. They were forced to live in terrible conditions, sleeping on the bags of soot that they had swept that day--shown in the phrase "in soot I sleep." However, Tom dreams of the young chimney sweeps locked in black coffins which are symbolic for the suppression of these boys. When the angel comes to free them from their coffins, Tom is dreaming of being released to freedom along with the other chimney sweeps. He has an innocent view of the situation he is in.
In having this dream, Tom is able to realize that one day he will be freed from the situation he is now in. The "Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, /He’d have God for his father & never want joy." In otherwords, if Tom has faith in God then he will be rewarded some day. Therefore, Tom wakes up the next morning happy to do his work along with the other chimney sweeps.
COMMENT ON THESE QUESTIONS! =)
Do you guys think this is a political statement in any way? What could William Blake be commenting on? Does it go further than simply chimney sweepers? How does he view religion as a force in one's life?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Of this World's theatre in which we stay,
My love like the Spectator idly sits,
Beholding me, that all the pageants play,
Disguising diversely my troubled wits.
Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in mirth like to a Comedy;
Soon after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I wail and make my woes a Tragedy.
Yet she, beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my mirth nor rues my smart;
But when I laugh, she mocks: and when I cry
She laughs and hardens evermore her heart.
What then can move her? If nor mirth nor moan,
She is no woman, but a senseless stone.
The Spenserian sonnet is made up of three quatrains and a couplet. The quatrains are connected through the rhyme scheme abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee. The rhyme scheme is a suggestion toward terza rima but it is not exact.
In this sonnet, Spenser relates his life to to a play. In a way, he is alluding to Shakespeare's "All the World's a Stage" but for a different purpose. He personifies the different aspects of life such as sadness, happiness, and love as actual beings in his life. In capitalizing words such as Comedy and Tragedy, Spenser is making them proper nouns.
He mentions how his "love like the Spectator idly sits" suggesting that his love for the woman he speaks of is never active. It simply sits and observes his relationship with this woman, never fully emerging from the depths within him. In addition, the speaker resents the woman in his life. "She laughs and hardens evermore her heart" when the speaker cries, and finds disgust in his happiness. To the speaker, the woman is nothing more than "senseless stone" meaning that she is inept to understanding the speaker's feelings. In reality, it is she who does not have feelings and because the speaker has these feelings and experiences these roles throughout life, she mocks him.
This may be a stretch, but it is possible that the woman compared to "senseless stone" can be an allusion to the story of the woman who turned to stone when she looked back after being told not to. Perhaps Spenser is suggesting that women are weak and incapable of having such strong serious feelings. Again, it may be a stretch but I thought I would bring up the idea!
Monday, March 2, 2009
You can also listen to it here.
Thomas Gray writes his elegy in the same manner of the common elegy--honoring the dead. His elegy consists of four-line stanzas in the rhyme scheme ABAB, CDCD, EFEF etc.
In the first three stanzas of the poem, Gray sets a very somber tone. He describes how he is left with the darkness of the world while almost meditating in this churchyard. He refers to how the "moping owl does to the moon complain" suggesting that the owl is sad as well, affected by the darkness and somber mood of the world around him. While the speaker never directly mentions a funeral or death he suggests it through his diction and tone.
It is not until the fourth stanza where the speaker finally mentions the rows of graves, or "cells for ever laid." In this stanza, the speaker inverts the word order to parallel with what he is saying of the earth around the grave. He says "Where heaves the turf " instead of "Where the turf heaves." In doing this, Gray is providing the image of the overturned earth as a result of digging the grave.
In the next stanzas, the speaker goes on the speak about class and its effectiveness in the afterlife. He warns the rich not to look down on the poor in life because the afterlife does not discriminate according to class. Despite wealth and beauty, everyone dies. So he encourages all of us to live life as a good person. The speaker then talks about all of the things that the poor missed out on in life because of a lack of money and education.
The speaker also reasons that perhaps because he is recognizing the poor people and writing this poem about death and the losses people experience, someone will remember him after he dies. He imagines an old man remembering him. In the end, he wishes to be buried with the common people no matter how famous or rich he may end up being. He is quite aware of his place on the earth and definitely recongizes that no one person is better than another.
Gray uses enjambment many times throughout this elegy. Enjambment is the continuation of a single idea from one line to another. I would not have recongized that this literary device had a specific name if I hadn't looked up the meaning of this word. Gray uses them quite often-for example in the third stanza he says:
"Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower/ The moping owl does to the moon complain,/ Of such, as wandering near her secret bower, /Molest her ancient solitary reign."
Gray continues one idea across four lines, especially between lines one and two where he puts no grammatical symbols. This literary device pushes the reader to continue from line to line, making the idea flow across the entire stanza.
Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" is seen as perhaps one of his greatest poems. It is split up into 11 stanzas in which Wordsworth discusses his connection to nature and his confusion with humans' disconnect from the natural world and the afterlife.
In the first stanza, the speaker says that at one time in his life the earth and "every common sight" was mystical and quite dreamlike--"appareled in celestial light". However, now, as hard as he may try the speaker can no longer see that mysticism. He goes on in the second stanza he says that while he can still see beautiful wonders such as "the sunshine [with] a glorious birth" there is something missing. There is no longer "a glory from the earth."
While the speaker is saddened by the birds singing "a joyous song" he chooses not be to depressed. Instead, he decides to embrace the beauty of the season because everything on the earth is happy. However, the speaker finds it hard to enjoy the beatuy of the earth because he still feels that something is mission as "the same tale repeats....Whither is fled the visionary gleam?..."
In the fifth stanza, the speaker recognizes that "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting" in that we are born with the knowledge of heaven and God but as we grow into adulthood we loose this knowledge. The connection of heaven "fade[s] into the light of common day" as we grow into adulthood and begin losing that love and connection with nature. In the sixth stanza he simply states that everything on earth, from our birth, is conspiring against us to make us forget of heaven or "that imperial place whence he came."
Next, the speaker imagines a young boy, perhaps himself, making his journey through life. He becomes a "little actor [who] cons another part" throughout his whole life. His efforts will simply consist of "endless imitation" becoming someone who he was not meant to be. He goes on to confront this child in the next stanza, asking him why he wishes to rush into adulthood so strongly and bring on the "blindness" it accompanies. As a child, he is so close to heaven and yet he rushes to get away from it.
In the ninth stanza the speaker has a bit of a revelation. He realizes that he and all humans will be connected to nature: "Our soulds have sight of that immortal sea." He means that because of our souls and memories, we will always connect with our childhood and therefore with nature and heaven. Therefore he rejoices in the tenth stanza asking all of the animals which earlier made him sad, to "sing a joyous song!" He knows that because he has memories of his childhood he will always be able to connect with it, and therefore with nature.
Finally, in the eleventh stanza, he says that he believes that everything in his life grows from nature. His memories and belief in heaven and immortality relies greatly on the beauty and faith in nature.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
· Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
· Son of Edward and Rebecca Haswell Clarke Cummings
· American poet, painter, essayist, playwright, and author
· Received B.A. and Masters from Harvard University between 1911-1916
· Wrote both untraditional and traditional (sonnets) forms of poetry
· Interesting Fact: Despite popular belief, he did not, according to his widow, legally change his name to “e e cummings.” He actually never specified whether he preferred the lowercase or uppercase version of his name.
Paintings by e. e. cummings
[l(a] by e.e. cummings
· separation of the words "loneliness" and "a leaf falls" as the basis of the poem. The poem seems to be mainly about just that--loneliness. Cummings is comparing a leaf falling from a tree to loneliness, which, I believe, is quite a valid metaphor. The image of a single leaf falling from a tree in the fall gives a feeling of loneliness and emptiness.
· Cummings begins by separating the word loneliness from the beginning to the end of the poem. He is conveying that loneliness is separation and that it's both physical and mental. While we may feel mentally lonely (as represented in the metaphor of the leaf falling) we can also be physically lonely as represented by the spacing of the word.
· the letters "la" and "le", the first two lines of the poem, are the feminine and masculine forms of the word "the" in French. In putting such a large gap between the two, he may be suggesting the separation of men and women. He is saying that without a companion or lover, humans feel the ultimate separation and loneliness.
· The 5th line is simply two lowercase L's next to each other: "ll". These L's can be looked at as "ones" when they are viewed as a single line in a poem. In putting them together, Cummings is saying that in the middle of loneliness, that the root of loneliness is one on one contact. Humans simply want one person to attach to and then loneliness is demolished. This can be further supported by his putting the letters O, N, and E on a line together spelling out the word "one." This seems intentional because it is one of the only lines with more than two letters on it.
· Born on June 6, 1925 in Philadelphia
· Daughter of Jewish parents
· Received her Bachelors and Masters from Radcliffe college
· Wrote poems, essays, short stories, children’s books, and novels
· Won Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1973 for Up Country
· She was a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire
· Interesting Fact: In 1995, Kumin became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets but resigned four years later, along with Carolyn Kizer, in protest over the board's reluctance to admit poets of color. This act led to an entire reconstruction of the institution's bylaws.
A PIECE OF THIS ARTICLE- From One Poet's Notes
Friday, June 6, 2008
When encountering Maxine Kumin’s poetry one can sometimes become lulled by the steady and resolute direction of her unpretentious sentences. Whether guided by traditional forms and a regular rhyme or filled with the more relaxed sense of free verse, Kumin’s work normally ends up engaging the reader as she steers the content toward a determined end. Even the patterns in her poems, deliberate meditations on nature or mortality and dramatic pieces reflecting personal or political perspectives, rarely seem very surprising and are hardly suspenseful. Yet, this poet’s usually careful control of language and overriding tone frequently prove persuasive enough to enlighten and enrich.
"Woodchucks" by Maxine Kumin
Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.
Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.
The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets' neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck's face.
He died down in the ever-bearing roses.
Ten minutes later I dropped the mother. She
flip flopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next. One-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawk eye killer came on stage forthwith.
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form. I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they'd all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.
Some different POVs:
i. Lauren- parallel with the Holocaust
ii. Tommy/Charlie- the “hawk-eye killer”
iii. Michaela- possible parallel between people and woodchucks?
What do you guys think? Is Kumin paralleling the killer with humans or the woodchucks? Is it possible that it is both? Are we both the murderers and victims at the same time?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Click here to reference the poem that I am referring to. It's different than the one in the Norton.
I have actually wanted to discuss this poem since we read it in class earlier this year. I found so many things within it interesting.
I think the most obvious place to begin is cumming's separation of the words "lonliness" and "a leaf falls" as the basis of the poem. The poem seems to be mainly about just that--lonliness. Cummings is comparing a leaf falling from a tree to lonliness, which, I believe, is quite a valid metaphor. The image of a single leaf falling from a tree in the fall gives a feeling of lonlieness and emptiness.
However, Cummings seems to go even deeper into the subject of lonliness. In the Norton, the spacing of the lines is different than the other forms I found online. Cummings begins by separating the word lonliness from the beginning to the end of the poem. He is conveying that lonliness is separation and that it's both physical and mental. While we may feel mentally lonely (as represented in the metaphor of the leaf falling) we can also be physically lonely as represented by the spacing of the word.
Also, I am not sure if this is too far fetched, but the letters "la" and "le", the first two lines of the poem, are the feminine and masculine forms of the word "the" in French. In putting such a large gap between the two, he may be suggesting the separation of men and women. Further complicating the idea of lonliness. He is saying that without a companion or lover, humans feel the ultimate separation and lonliness.
Finally, right in the middle of the poem Cummings touches on the major theme of this poem. The 5th line is simply two lowercase L's next to each other: "ll". These L's can be looked at as "ones" when they are viewed as a single line in a poem. In putting them together, Cummings is saying that in the middle of lonliness, that the root of lonliness is one on one contact. Humans simply want one person to attach to and then lonliness is demolished. This can be further supported by his putting the letters O, N, and E on a line together spelling out the word "one." This seems intentional because it is one of the only lines with more than two letters on it.
Overall, I think Cummings has presented a complicated an deep poem as simple to fool us into thinking he has overlooked something. Yet, I think he planned it out to a "T" and was pushing us to look deeper for a meaning.
John Keat's sonnet, "On the Sonnet" follows neither the traditional Shakespearean or Petrarchan forms of the sonnet. Keats is actually criticizing both of these forms of the sonnet, saying that have such a restricted structure loses the essence of poetry.
Keats begins by alluding to Andromeda; it is a Greek myth of a woman who was chained to rock and left to die by the sea. He is paralleling the poem with Andromeda in saying that by using these "dull rhymes," poets are leaving their sonnets and poems out to be swallowed and forgotten forever. Keats wants the reader to think out of the box and go beyond Shakespeare and Petrarch. He refers to a letter he wrote called "Poesy", in which he expressed his distaste for the current accepted forms of the sonnet.
He also talks about the"misers of sound and syllable." A miser is someone who is afraid of spending money. In reference to this poem, Keats seems to be saying that in writing sonnets, poets become misers of sounds and syllables and instead of using them as they please they savor them and ultimately lose the meaning of the poem. Keats' final advice to use is to "let the Muse be free" and allow our imaginations to wander. He doesn't want us to be afraid of stepping out of the restrictions of a traditional sonnet. Actually, he encourages us to do so and move beyond the restrictions of time.
Monday, January 12, 2009
This poem has multiple factors contributing to the external form and its significance to the poem. To begin, the apparent changes in punctuation and grammar stand out quite a bit. The author puts in a lot of spaces and commas as well as punctuation marks where they don't belong. I think he did this to give an exaggerated feeling to the poem. He puts spaces where he wants the reader to feel the detachment within the poem. For example, he uses a lot of spaces when he talks about the old woman in the beginning. We feel her detachment from the world through the author's use of the large spaces between words and phrases.
In addition, the author didn't use any capital letters, including in the title. I think this makes the poem feel more casual and like a story. He is telling the reader a story and giving warning at the same time. However, we do not pick up on the warning right away because of the casual nature of the poem. If the author had used all capital letters then we would get a more alarming feeling; but he chose to use all lowercase which presents a laidback feeling in the poem.
I think that the author used these methods to drag us in to the poem. Ironically, he is warning us not to get dragged in. He is warning us to stay attached to the world outside like the woman with the mirrors did. His imagery of the poem physically swallowing the reader is wen I finally caught his point. He wants us to step back from poetry and instead of letting it eat our minds and bodies, just enjoy it for what it is. Do not become like the old woman with the mirrors and simply become obsessed with your own mind. Share poetry with others and therefore make friends, if you don't listen to what he says then you will be separated from people forever.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
This sonnet by William Shakespeare is one of his few outright humorous sonnets. It is written in the traditional English Sonnet format consisting of the abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme. It is fourteen lines, just as a sonnet is classified to be.
Shakespeare uses the 4-4-4-2 format, meaning three quatrains and and one couplet in that order. He uses each quatrain to build up to his ultimate point made in the final couplet. The first quatrain in Sonnet 130 consists of four separate comparisons of the speaker's lover. Each comparison (or lack thereof) is described in one line. For example, the speaker describes his mistress' eyes in line one, her lips in line two, and so on.
However, as he continues, the speaker builds up his argument and utilizes two lines for each argument. This gives the feeling of more passion and thought in the speaker's mind. The speaker uses two lines to describe his mistress' cheeks, breath, voice, and walk. The extra description and space gives more significance the the speaker's opinion of his mistress. However, we must remember that the speaker is building up to a certain point which he reaches in the final two lines, or the last couplet.
Here, the speaker admits that despite the most human characteristics of his mistress, he loves her more than anything. He would much rather love her for who she is than try to make false comparisons to make her seem more beautiful.
I don't think Shakespeare's only purpose in this sonnet is to speak of the mistress. He also seems to be mocking many kinds of the traditional love sonnet. He says that while this mistress may be ugly and less than graceful, she is true and rare. Petrach, an Italian writer, wrote most of his poems describing a woman he did not know but was in love with named Laura. It is possible that Shakespeare was mocking his style and subjects of writing in writing this sonnet.