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Poetry: Composition and Appreciation

 
 
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 07:10 pm
But, lemme start to learn!

Edit the following please:


Fresh wind, though intended, could not make me to stay,
Bright moon unconsciously shows us the Way
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 08:41 pm
Fresh wind, though intended, could not make me stay,
Bright moon unconsciously shows us the Way
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 09:21 pm
Hi Oristar!
Poetry, as I suspect you know, is a very subjective enterprise. There aren't any rights or wrongs. Some people like it one way, some another. Generally, everyone agrees that it needs to have rhythm and meaning. This is just *my* opinion...

To improve the rhythm of your poem, if you take away the word "to" in the first line, the rhythm flows better and the phrase is more grammatical. It "feels" to me as though the second line needed to have a syllable removed. I have substituted "everyone" for "any of us" which changes the meaning slightly, but makes both lines have eleven syllables. To my ear, that makes it more rhythmic. Revised (and with a semicolon instead of a comma and a period added to be more correct) your poem might go like this:

Fresh wind, though intended, could not make me stay;
Bright moon mindlessly shows everyone the WAY.


I like the phrase "fresh wind" -- it is not exactly a new phrase for me, but it sounds new here. A fresh wind, to me, is one that blows up suddenly but is not too strong. A good wind for a sailboat! I like thinking about how it could be intending to make you stay, since... a wind usually blows someone along. Very Happy

I, being a fan of the bright moon, am surprised that you think it is mindless. I suppose it is, but I wonder if that is what you intend, or if you meant that it is dispassionate in providing light to all? I'd have to understand better what you were trying to say in order to make sure I was giving you good advice.

I think it is great that you are feeling poetic! Good!
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 09:54 pm
keep in mind iambic pentameter and the number of syllables in each line, also. I would remove everyone because it is implied without it, and the flow is better without it
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Sep, 2004 11:06 pm
Thanks, Stuh and Piffka. Smile

Piffka, I've changed "mindless" to "unconsciously". Please see what Stuh replied.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 07:03 am
Great! The most important thing is to please yourself.

Stuh mentioned iambic pentameter... do you know what that means?
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 09:12 am
I've just learned some iambic pentameter in Chinese language, not English language. So you've caught me on the spot. Wink

Please introduce me some.

Thank you.
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 11:41 am
read this oristar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iambic_pentameter

one of the great things about poetry is that you can do whatever you want. you don't have to follow grammatical rules if you don't want to. however, if your reader doesn't think you had a good reason for breaking a grammar rule, they might not appreciate your poem as much, so you should not use that as a license to wantonly break the rules.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 02:31 pm
This is from that Wikipedia reference:
Quote:
Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

When read aloud,


<Piffka note: all poetry is meant to be read aloud... even to yourself>
Quote:


such verse naturally follows a beat. Many feel the success of iambic pentameters is related to its sounding like a human heartbeat.

There is some debate over whether works such as Shakespeare's.. were originally performed with the rhythm prominent, or whether it was disguised by the patterns of normal speech as is common today. In written form, the rhythm looks like this:

da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM
(weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG)
Was-THIS the-FACE that-LAUNCH'D a-THOU sand-SHIPS


(That "da-DUM" btw is a common way for 'mericans to show rhythm. Does it seem strange to you, Oristar? There are many variations... da-da-DUM/da-da-DUM, or DA-DUM-da-DUM. Very Happy)

Quote:
Although strictly speaking, iambic pentameter refers to five iambs in a row (as above), in practice, most poets vary their iambic pentameter a great deal, while maintaining the iamb as the most common foot.


Wikipedia doesn't continue to show the rhythm of the rest of that poetic quote, so I will.

And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

Towers, which is a two-syllable word, would be read as a single syllable... something very much like"tars". That also makes the line fully I.P.

As for your poem, if you remove "though" from your first line and change the second as shown, your poem is almost fully in iambic pentameter.

Fresh wind intended could not make me stay;
da-DUM/da-DUM/da-DUM/da-DUM/da-DUM

Bright moon unconsciously shows all the WAY.
da-DUM/da-DUM/da-da/da-DUM/da-DUM

In reading this poem, it is highly unlikely that a narrator would emphasize the last syllable of "unconsciously" in order to fulfill every bit of the I.P. (Just a tip!)

Because you must catch an "ear" for poetry, this seems like a great way to learn English, Oristar. You must have an excellent teacher. I am impressed.


That reference goes on to discuss the variations of I.P. and mentions, at the end, my favorite poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I'll quote you some short poem of her work just for fun!


(This poem happens to be in iambic quatrameter... four feet, not five.)

THE GOOSE-GIRL

Spring rides no horses down the hill,
But comes on foot, a goose-girl still.
And all the loveliest things there be
Come simply, so, it seems to me.
If ever I said, in grief or pride,
I tired of honest things, I lied:
And should be cursed forevermore
With Love in laces, like a whore,
And neighbours cold, and friends unsteady,
And Spring on horseback, like a lady!


(A poem of nature, but a little silly, ironic and piquant - typical Millay.)
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 04:00 pm
Bright moon unconsciously shows the way.

doesn't it sound better?
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Sep, 2004 05:04 pm
I'm reading the article recommended by Stuh, and getting stuck by some describing. I'll be back here later to read Piffka's long post. Smile
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 05:30 am
Hi Piffka,

That is one the best posts I've received in A2K.
Thanks for the enlightenment.

My understanding of your favorite quatrameter:

THE GOOSE-GIRL

Spring rides no horses down the hill,
But comes on foot, a goose-girl still.
And all the loveliest things there be
Come simply, so, it seems to me.
If ever I said, in grief or pride,
I tired of honest things, I lied:
And should be cursed forevermore
With Love in laces, like a whore,
And neighbours cold, and friends unsteady,
And Spring on horseback, like a lady!

Please correct it.

I'll read the poems that you recommended later.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 08:41 am
stuh505 wrote:
Bright moon unconsciously shows the way.

doesn't it sound better?


The shows the way does, but the "sciously" still seems like a problem to me.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 09:54 am
oristarA wrote:
Hi Piffka,

That is one the best posts I've received in A2K.
Thanks for the enlightenment.

My understanding of your favorite quatrameter:

THE GOOSE-GIRL

Spring rides no horses down the hill,
But comes on foot, a goose-girl still.
And all the loveliest things there be
Come simply, so, it seems to me.
If ever I said, in grief or pride,
I tired of honest things, I lied:
And should be cursed forevermore
With Love in laces, like a whore,
And neighbours cold, and friends unsteady,
And Spring on horseback, like a lady!

Please correct it.

I'll read the poems that you recommended later.


Thanks, Oristar. I'm flattered that you thought so. I hope you like Millay! It looks like you did an almost perfect job of getting the emphasis of all those syllables in the right places.

line 3 -- I'm really pleased that you saw that the last two syllables of love-li-est could be slurred together as love-l'est. Good!

line 5 -- You did well with that bit of difficulty at the first. The word "ever" has two syllables. Poetically, if Millay wanted it to be slurred together, she would have written it e'er. If you look that up, it is usually defined as "ever, poetically." Because Millay didn't write it in the common poetic variation, I believe she was either making a slight variation on the rhythm or (and this is more likely to me and reads easier) slurring the last syllable of "ever" with the next syllable which is the single word and letter "I". Somehow it reads just fine, possibly because, when someone admits to a lie, they often want to de-emphasize the "I" and slur it all together.

line 6 -- same with tired... you're doing so well

line 7 -- the emphasis should be like this, I think:
and should be cursed forevermore

Despite the way it looks, "cursed" here is a one syllable word, pronounced curst. It is confusing because in certain instances, that same word with the same spelling is pronounced with two syllables. Usually that's in an older version of English -- here's a commonly used poetic example where cursed is pronounced curs-ed: "Let us fly this cursed place." --John Milton (1608-1674)


line 9 -- just a slight change... friends is one-syllable, and Millay allows the last syllable of steady to be a variation of the Iambic Quatrameter she'd been using so it should look like this (that little "y" left to dangle -- as she does in the last line, too, with lad-y):

And neighbours cold, and friends unsteady,


line 10 -- the word "horse" is one syllable and the "h" is pronounced.
And Spring on horseback, like a lady!

I'm wondering if you left out the "h" in horseback because you thought it was silent, as you did in honest. In honest, it is silent, but not in horse. It would also be better to include the silent "h" in honest as part of the emphasis, just to make it easier to read.


---Just for fun... it is interesting how Millay put her words together. She writes of horses, horseback, whores... all of which have the same root sound (But whores means something very different!). She also emphasizes the "Neigh" of neighbors which in English is one of the ways that we say a horse sounds "Neigh, neigh..."

Here are a couple more horsey images... "steady" is often the cue word to say to a horse that is acting up... as in "steady, mare, steady, now" and of course one "springs" up into a saddle. "Laces" is also a word that describe some parts on a horse's saddle and tack. Edna was a clever woman.
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Sat 11 Sep, 2004 10:43 pm
Hi Piffka, I especially appreciated "And Spring on horseback, like a Fairy!" Ah, I'm sorry, "i" lied, because I just like "fairy" for fearing of the lady is ugly. I'm sorry for interpolating the official word.

But please don't just blame it on me, because Millay has served us such a lip service:"With Love in laces, like a whore". God, so finally a reader might suspect whether the Love spring on whores'back, like a lady(fight for the loyalty of Love?)? I am frustrated in understanding the mysterious depiction -- in which dear Millay put "Love","whore","Spring","lady" together.

The poem is an excellent example for me to learn arduously. I'm very pleased that you explained it so carefully.

I will read the poem again to figure out why Millay wanted to put Love with whore together.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Sep, 2004 04:02 pm
Hi Oristar!
I'm sorry that poem seemed strange to you. I think...uhmmm... did you understand that all that about the "Love in laces, cold neighbors and unsteady friends" would be a punishment for lying? She says she ought to curse herself if she lied...

If ever I said, in grief or pride,
I tired of honest things, I lied:
And should be cursed forevermore
With Love in laces


If ever I said in grief or pride, I tired of honest things = if she ever said, because she was sad or feeling too sophisticated that she was tired of honest things (like the changing of the season, nature in its glory)

I lied and should be cursed = it was a lie and should be punished

with love in laces, etc... = (cursed by having) love with strings attached, bad neighbors, disloyal friends and an unnatural spring... a Spring coming like a lady on horseback.

Millay calls Spring a Goose-Girl. You probably know that a goose is considered a very silly, stupid animal in English, right? Sometimes geese smell, they make a lot of honking noise, they are messy... as, I think, their caretaker might be, too. Millay thinks that while springtime is full of promise, it shouldn't be stately and proud as a lady on horseback might be. Instead, an honest Spring is messy and unkempt... a Goose-Girl.

In another of Millay's poems, "Second April," she says that Spring comes "babbling like an idiot." She sees the season as ultimately silly. You'll note in this poem that she is speaking directly to "Spring" and also that this is definitely not in iambic pentameter... I'm not sure what you'd call this rhythm.

SPRING
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.


Now that poem has some quirks to appreciate. She is saying that Spring is so alive that it "pretends" there is no death, yet she knows there is and, in fact, life itself is nothing. She is trying very hard NOT to be cheered by the coming of spring. It is not enough. Sadly... that phrase about uncarpeted stairs is a presentiment of Millay's death... from falling down a flight of stairs.


Here's another poem of Millay's that you might enjoy more. It is a universal lament for someone and how she suspects that we all mourn in the same way, even someone far, far in the future. This poem also has some vividly beautiful nature imagery.

IF STILL YOUR ORCHARDS BEAR
Brother, that breathe the August air
Ten thousand years from now,
And smell--if still your orchards bear
Tart apples on the bough--

The early windfall under the tree,
And see the red fruit shine,
I cannot think your thoughts will be
Much different from mine.

Should at that moment the full moon
Step forth upon the hill,
And memories hard to bear at noon,
By moonlight harder still,
Form in the shadow of the trees, --
Things that you could not spare
And live, or so you thought, yet these
All gone, and you still there,

A man no longer what he was,
Nor yet the thing he'd planned,
The chilly apple from the grass
Warmed by your living hand--

I think you will have need of tears;
I think they will not flow;
Supposing in ten thousand years
Men ache, as they do now.
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 12:24 am
Wow, you've perfectly launched into a detailed explanation! Now in front of me are a clever Millay, and a clever Piffka.

http://pages.ivillage.com/crowyne/images/millaystamp.jpg

Millay has exquisitely composed those words together. Perfect!

I think I didn't get the last line of the poem. Since Millay called spring as a goose-girl, so the lady is the goose-girl. Has Millay implied that a lady riden on a horse meant the lady is MORE unkempt? Because originally, Millay described that "Spring rides no horses down the hill, But comes on foot, a goose-girl still".When spring which doesn' ride horses would be called a goose-girl, and now "I" lied, "I" felt the spring became more boring, like the goose-girl rode on horseback, like the neighbor became cold, and friends became disloyal? Because you explained:"an unnatural spring... a Spring coming like a lady on horseback", I am almost sure for this.

I was so unfamiliar with English poems because poets often broke grammatical rules in their poems, and because I just began to learn English poem, so I'd read more times before talking my understanding to you about the two new poems that you recommended to me.

Thank you.

PS I am totally beaten by Millay's handwriting:
http://www.handwriting.org/images/samples/emillay2.gif
Who would like to type the poem for me?
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Sep, 2004 10:51 pm
Hi Oristar,
You are so good to keep at it!

I think Millay is contrasting what Spring really is with what she imagines it it might be under a curse. In the beginning she says "Spring comes NOT on horseback" and "like a Goose-Girl"... but, if she were cursed, then not only would neighbors & friends be unlovable, but Spring (she imagines)would also very different...like a fancy lady riding a horse.

What a conundrum you've set here with Millay's AWFUL handwriting. I can't decipher it either and I've tried very hard to do so. She must have been in a big hurry, don't you think? She's so sloppy, she's the Goose Girl!

What I've figured out doesn't make too much sense. Rolling Eyes I think there are some gross errors here!

I fear that these words, written
cast awares of your clinical dose
tho., will not be quite there,

nevertheless, here they come,
with good wishes,


Edna St. Vincent Millay

Very confusing!

I look forward to hearing how you understand the other two poems. I hope you enjoy them.
Piffka
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oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 01:30 am
Hi Piffka,

I'm glad to see that you've (almost) figured out the riddle-style letter. Becuase for me, the handwriting is too scratchy to recognize it.

I think the two poems are of prose poem, and I think before you indicate the
best points in the poems for me I'd tell you how I understood them. That is, the first step is to exactly get the poems, then comes the second step - to properly appreciate it.

(1) To what purpose, April, do you return again?
==>> Dear April, why do you return again? What purpose do you have in the return?

(2) Beauty is not enough.
===>> Yes, dear April, you are so pretty, like a belle, the most beautiful girl in the world, but being pretty is not enough. Life is so complicated that being beautiful is just as a drop in a great sea, though the drop is as clear as crystal!

(3) You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.

===>> Your beautiful buds, as the soft lips of the beautful girl, have ever kissed and made me quiet when I raged as a lion. But the tender grace of the day will never come back to me now (quite sad, the line will be echoed by the last five lines of the poem).

(4) I know what I know.
===>> Because I am aware of what a life is, because I do see life. While, Love is blind.

(5) The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.

===>> The crocus, in Britain, it implies to an envoy from the Heavens to report the arrival of Spring? The great Spring sun's passion warms me, and flowers are bloomy.

(6) The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.

===>> The atmosphere of the earth is so peaceful and sweet that is beyond terror and death. What a wonderful day it is!

(7)But what does that signify?
===>> But what does the graceful atmosphere imply to?

(8) Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.

==>> I know what I know. My sharp eyes have penetrated the peaceful surface of the earth and reached the underground. Where maggots mercilessly gnawed the heads of men.

(9) Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.

==>> Life is just a dream, we labor for nothing. In the dream, we drink good wine and sashay around our great palace; but when awake, we find out that we are just holding a vacant cup and just walk on a tiresome road.

(10) It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

==>> Alas, dear April, your annual coming cannot entertain me enough. You are an idiot, like a flower child, babbling universal peace and love and trying to ease my great worry. You walk down the hill and pet me yearly... You idiot!

Literarily speaking, it is worthy to ponder the poem's literary skills.I am sorry I could not tell you now whether I like it or not before I've exactly got it. And in reality, I'd smile away the pessimism outpouring from the poem.

Just stop here for the time being.

Thank you and see you later.

Oristar
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Sep, 2004 05:08 pm
Beautifully done, Oristar!

You might want to add to your good analysis that the poem was written a year after someone close to her had died, someone with whom she had shared the giddiness of love in the spring. Don't be shocked, but it likely was a woman. Also, when she says "Beauty is not enough," it is her own personal beauty she is ruefully rejecting. It had not been enough, nor her friend's beauty enough, to keep death at bay.

I think in this poem she wonders whether the sheer whirligig of life, personified by the silly & brash & extraordinary April rush of growth & fecundity can really overcome the winter and death we all face.

You'll be happy to know that after reading some of EstVM's other poems, you will see that her mental outlook was as often optimistic. She enjoyed life... sometimes too much perhaps... and she reveled in the sensuous beauty of nature. She also had a serious side and studied & worked & wrote a lot. Altogether a wonderful poet!


The first line of this poem, may be her most famous.

Recuerdo
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