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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Poems for March 3

Silence by Billy Collins
Two, Three ---by Rae Armantrout (Kathy)
The Terraced Valley -- by Robert Graves (Judith)
A Graveyard by Marianne Moore


Don mentioned that the Collins poem reminded him of Szymborska’s poem “Reciprocity” which proceeds like catalogue from a single idea explore something like silence... beyond the usual clich├ęs such as “golden”. Note how silence is not repeated twice in the third stanza, how people are equated to petals through the link of silence, the before the accident and after the punishment; near/far; light/dark; the inside and outside linked (broken by the pen), and the regret for the purity of silence in and of itself.

The next three poems were chosen because of their difficulty and wanting a group to respond.

Armantrout brought in by Kathy,who also brought in Al Filreis' link, makes you wonder from the start with the title. Why two, and what is two, and why three, and why from two? Certainly there is much in the poem to go from thinking about singular as "one" but "unique", symbiosis, to Trinity... The discussion included Alan Watts: Christianity and Symbolism... molecules and rods...what is connected and non-connected; Writing as Rescue; the difference between pity (no understanding of the other) and empathy.

We discussed at length what happens in couples and a third element; the role of the echo -- and Echo,
an what is is we try to say in words. What happens when the only thing that responds is the lack of response? What if we did synchronize our speeches-- what would that give?

Perhaps the clue is in the final two stanzas. Three lines to two with a sense of some 3rd ghost.
"Is it the beginning or end
of real love
when we pity a person

because, in him,
we see ourselves?"

Please comment!


Judith brought in "The Terraced Valley" because she had a hard time memorizing it.
oppositions such as unnecessary sun/necessary earth; unnecessary sky without something necessary to counter-balance. A rhyming pattern ABBA, CC
AABA, BB CC
CDCDCD EE FF
mimics embracing, a coupling of likes; an odd-man out and a wreathing of unlikes only to fall to two new couples. What to make of the opening:
"For more than sunshine warmed the skin
Of the round world that was turned outside-in.
that morphs as well to
inside-in and outside-out and the opening

Jan brought up aboriginal song lines – each person 2 lines to memorize. The poet seems reconciled --
yet I believe it is Judith who quoted, " the poet is the most unpoetical thing in existence...
losing himself in his poetic imagination... and in loving..." perhaps that is what happens here.
I turned myself inside out for you... I am beside myself... outside of myself...

Please comment!

The Marianne Moore poem puzzled me -- what is the image of Sea as graveyard she wants us to understand?
There is acoherent idea but syntax is not easy like the sea which overwhelms our order-making impulses.
Moore seems to deal with perception -- the 2nd line
"taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have it to yourself—"
but the line opened a discussion until we agreed that "taking" was the sense of "allowing", not absconding with.
Discussion:

We had quite the time discussing the firs -- witnesses? masts? whether they distracted or created an important dimension to the poem.
Wallace Stevens came up : The placement of the jar in Tennesee... sea-surface full of clouds... order at Key west.
Sea as chaos, nullifying to look at. (desert... outside garden...)and yet that is what composes most of our planet..
Jan offered a narrative of a man about to commit suicide.

Please comment.

These scattered notes are for me, so I can recall the great joy of gathering a group to share our understanding of words which call up our experience, understandings. There is a great vital current of connection that nurtures us. Perhaps at this point in my life, I don't care as much about the "meaning" as the idea of a community of people who care to spend time listening to each other. It's akin to the needle sidling from groove to groove on the old records, to work the magic of so many instruments gathered, invisible to our eye, but creating a vision of a whole we cannot create by ourselves.





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