Thursday, February 3, 2011

-Mini Post #4-


So I was reading some poetry from a couple of books last night.  Incidentally, I fell asleep before midnight for a change.  One book was (Camille Paglia's) Break, Blow, Burn: An analysis of fourty-three of "the world's best poems", the other was the Broadview Anthology of Poetry (Second Edition), a huge collection of hundreds of poems without analyses.  The beginning of the Anthology featured several really really old poems in a form of English I had seemingly never seen before.  It was like a dialogue from a Tolkien novel of some verbally challenged, toothless dwarf.  I could just barely make out the words, so I chose to bypass these poems, as they'd be of no help to me right now (ever?).

   Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hir smiling was ful simple and coy,
Hir Gretteste ooth was but by saint Loy;
And she was cleped madame Eglantine.
Ful wel she soong the service divine,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely;
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe--
For Frenssh of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete wel ytaught was she withalle;

That's just one example, and although I can understand... ...most of's not something I want to read.  All of these poems, seemingly dwarven or normally spoken as they may be, usually seem to require their own background knowledge about random people, places and times around which they revolve.  Seems like a big pain in the ass, if you ask me.  Combined with a lot of easily read, but still-above-my-head poetry, as well as everything else I've studied so far in Intro to Literature (poetic structure/technique/meaning, drama, prose and general grammar), it seems to me that it's all just beginning.  I feel as I did nearly five years ago when I started learning the game of Go; as though I have overwhelmingly unlimited room for improvement.  Of course, I still doubt it can be as hard as Go.  Some people thought I had a knack for Go; my passion for it was unlike anything before in my life.  I studied and played Go all the time and even traveled to S. Korea to advance my prowess. Even after becoming a Fifth Dan-level player in Canada, which is comparable to a Fifth Degree Black Belt in Karate, it was clear that I still had (have) a long, long way to go, but never to achieve mastery. It seems a little less impossible to comprehend the end of the road in the study of literature, but as far as human limits are concerned, it may as well be equally futile.  Yesterday I read some poems from the last century: relatively easy reads. Although relatively easy, it seemed like I could never understand them on my own.  It was frustrating for me, made me feel stupid.  Made me feel like I could hope to write novels, but never poetry. Then I found some other poems amongst them: simpler, and seemingly more literal.

Surprisingly literal.

Although it dawned on me that I might just be too dimwitted to see their true meaning, it also occurred to me that "simple" poems, or "shallow" ones if you will, may in fact be just as significant in the world of poetry as Shakespearian sonnets or other such poetry so charged with meaning and edifying depth.  I'm referring to the kind of poetry with the depth of any person's capacity, whilst at the same time, requiring depth and fluorescence of imagination to entice a fine eye.

I stand within the stony, arid town,
   I gaze forever on the narrow street,
I hear forever passing up and down,
   The ceaseless tramp of feet.

I know no brotherhood with far-locked woods,
   When branches bourgeon from a kindred sap,
Where o'er mossed roots, in cool, green solitudes,
   Small silver brooklets lap.

No emerald vines creep wistfully to me
   And lay their tender fingers on my bark;
High may I toss my boughs, yet never see
   Dawns first most glorious spark.


Anyway, that's enough talk of poetry for now.

Here's a little riddle:
"What walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?" said Sphynx.

Although one of the things I plan to do today is go to EBGames for a Pokemon giveaway (they're wirelessly giving out special shiny Suicune right now, as well as "Ash's Pikachu"), I'm not so much as touching my DS for a while, except to use as an alarm clock :)  I'm also going to go to the local library, hopefully to borrow Silverwing and Firewing, having finished reading Sunwing with unanticipated satisfaction.

All this talk of novels and poetry reminds me that I need to pick up a copy of "The Fox", or anything containing it.  More importantly, I have to prepare for next class's in-class essay! I've decided to just do it on No One's A Mystery, the short story we did in our very first class.  As I mentioned a while ago, I got 77% on the half in-class half out-of-class diagnostic assignment that my class received immediately.  Despite my mark, the paper was littered with mistakes of all kinds (though few were grammatical).  This fact has played a part in my decision to do this story.  Our assignment is to talk about the design of the story, and all its elements.

On that note: Adios!


  1. Ha ha ha, this riddle is an old greek classic : D I'm not Oedipus so I can't solve it :P

    I always found 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe one of the most enigmatic poems in English. Do you know it?

  2. I know it, but I don't. I'll go re-read it, been so many years since I've read/heard that poem.
    The answer is man (infant, adult, old man w/ cane)