Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January 31 : Breughel w/ Nemerov, Wm Carlos Williams, Szymborska and Giovanni, Kavanagh

Ah, good taste, what a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness. -Pablo Picasso, painter and sculptor (1881-1973) Why do we say "I like it" or "I don't like it". The fact that poetry comes in many guises, allows us to look at poems to find out their emotional charge, how they are clear.

In The Spirit of Martin – Nikki Giovanni
The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm -- Wallace Stevens
The next two are inspired by Breughel paintings – links provided
THE DANCE -- William Carlos Williams
The Triumph of Time – Howard Nemerov
Landscape - Wislawa Szymborska
The Hospital - Patrick Kavanagh

This week's poems ranged from tones of conversational to academic, starting with Nikki Giovanni's inspirational "In the Spirit of Martin" -- and ending with Kavanagh's sonnet which demonstrates simply "what love does to things" --
Naming these things is the love-act and its pledge;
For we must record love's mystery without claptrap,
Snatch out of time the passionate transitory.

A poem chock full of names -- for the younger readers, somewhat overwhelming, for others,a chance to google, for Joyce who heard Nikki speak, she showed Giovanni's book, Rosa, which tells the story of Rosa Parks.
Names of Civil Rights leaders, teachers, alongside 1950's TV shows, Titles of songs -- civil disobedience by the mention of Thoreau and Emerson, "but what... are you doing out" --

The predominance of the ellipses... in the poem... allows us both space to meditate on a rich history and to fill in more...

Ella Baker's name will hopefully take you to re-view anti-war quotes:
How violence takes us so far away from truth... how if lies are big enough, said frequently enough, they replace what should be "sense".

images: pressure Earth exerts on carbon to make a diamond; soil pushing against the flesh, molding the moan that becomes a cry that bursts forth crystalline, unbreakable, priceless, the incomparable Martin. How much pressure do the sins of the world press against the heart of a man who becomes the voice of his people.

The rest of the poem swirls like multi-media overlay, to set up this 4th stanza... and then the idea of what if he had been just a regular man... "He should have had a tattoo, you know... Freedom Now.... or something like that... and suddenly, we have a chance to join him in our humanity, laugh over a plate of skillet-fried chicken, etc.

Moving poem!

The Wallace Stevens by contrast is a calming poem, with repetition, an aura of peace... the platonic idea of perfect thought in a different ideal world of a book. And what if we wrote:

instead of book, "i pad" instead of "access to perfection to the page" i phone, google...
How the sweetness of calm and a book, might be in danger.

Nemerov's poem, chock full of allusions, constrasts sharply with Giovanni. Babylon, myth, Cronos munching a child, wagons crunching over palette, book, crowns -- are far removed from us -- and it takes many readings to see this ramshackle traveling show including Death on his donkey, the trumpeteer angel puffing the resurrection and end of days. The syntax is hard,
examples become "everything that is, and isn't", what the Triumph of Time exemplifies.

What relief then, to dance to WCW -- with internal rhyme, the round, around, impound, ground, sound repeating of the stomp of dancing, where the last line is the first line... the whining "ing" of the gerunds. To look up : Pictures from Breughel -- 10 poems on peasants...
and working with the inner eye, regardless of the demands of the age.

And another antidote to the Triumph of time -- Szymborska's Landscape -- perhaps the Old Masters
were never wrong about suffering (Auden) -- but Szymborska brings in detail where suddenly life and painting seem so real, and the poem itself is living mystery.

The Hospital -- I don't know the context, but love how in this stark scene (an art lover's woe -- imagine white, square, devoid of anything vivid.) "Nothing by love debarred" is a curious turn of phrase -- with the sense of prison bar, yet meaning, nothing is excluded by love. Nothing barred, shut out, forbidden, hindered. In the last 6 lines of the sonnet, he lists what love does to things... without saying what it does... just the naming of them is the love act.
Rialto -- just the name. the main gate, with a hint of a story of an accident; a shed,
where someone must have sat, enjoying the sun. The small, common, things. Love's mystery without claptrap. Our attention brings our passion... allows us a snatch of "the passionate transitory" -- as if it is always there for the taking.

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