Saturday, November 19, 2011

UU Church, Nov. 16: picks from Poetry Nov. 2011

We might not remember all the details, but we do remember how something feels to us.
This week's discussion focussed on what touched us in the vignettes each poem provided.

Bryant Park at Dusk:
The rhyme, along with the wordiness of the poem, feels like a confession of rambling thoughts about loneliness in a convenient, sing-song ballad. However, looking at one man's observation at a woman, reading at dusk, gives the reader eyes to see
more than this simple scene. Instead, it is an invitation to think about dusk,
how it is a dividing line between familiar, unfamiliar, the end of a work or public day, and the beginning of a private day.
But she is on intimate terms, it seems, with the rhythms of Bryant Park,
"And what I loved was this:
when dusk had darkened her pages,
As if expecting a kiss,

She closed her eyes and threw her head back,"

Note how the poem allows space for the kiss to skip across a stanza break. The "kiss" rhymes with "this" -- what the observer loves. He continues...

"For that’s when the floodlights came on, slowly,
Somewhere far above my need,
And the grass grew green again, and the woman
Reopened her eyes to read."

Grendel's Mother is a masterful non-story that sets up the powerful tale of Beowulf.
The Danes are no saints, and like any culture, demonize the very things they are and fear. Two stanzas; three sentences. 8 lines. Note the CH sounds of scutcheon, touches, vetch, the T's and double O's, the way SC appears in scutcheon, scar,
the X of foxglove. The tenses start with the future; move to the past (he stood) and end with the present, simultaneous with the past and future -- as if fate has already been woven, as it weaves again and again. Here is the poem:

When the moon’s worn scutcheon
touches the flint-gray flood,
I will lave him in foxglove
and vetch until the blood
of his wretched heart heals.

Without a scar, he stood—

as the men make their way
into the quaking wood.

In King Tut's wife, we enter the grandeur of King Tut, the immortality of his tomb brought to size by his wife's feet -- and how the poet allows us to think why we would like her better. Certainly, the poet makes us feel something for her, which we don't for Tut.

The world is in pencil
is a small gem of 16 short lines, with the first a last lines as singletons,
followed by succeeding couplets. Who cannot love the way the Title links
to the first line : m-dash not pen. And the way the repeat m-dash and resonance of O's
I’ll bet it felt good
in the hand—-the o

of the ocean, and
the and and the and

of the land.

Delightful "happy-go-lucky" tone, yet behind the shiftings and recirclings as Ocean, land, mapping, tracing, retracing, permanence and impermanence have a deeper final say.
It reminded us of a creation story or sense of evolution.

Enoch's Blocks is a small "tour de force" of a small boy with his own version of the tower of Babel.
To understand these lines:

So CAB was a whirring warbler.
BACH was the Spanish Armada crashing

you would want to connect A + B + C from their first mention to CAB:
A is the color of fleet,
B is the color of war and demolition,
C is the color of echo and blur,

He is learning language as color... and the complexity of understanding
"And ENOCH he couldn’t describe.

And when it reached the height of Enoch,
standing, he tore whole tongues
down to their colors."

John says to review Ravel: L'Enfant et les Sortileges;
and Das Capital: Vol 3. The fetishism of commodities and the secret thereof.

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