Thursday, May 15, 2014
Poems for Lunch May 15 + 22
to finish up from May 8: /Rain Song, by Mattawa (see May 12)
The Pregnancy of Words by Bob Hicok
from the sequence The Word and the World by Gregory Orr “There’s a Japanese term...”
They Flee From Me by Sir Thomas Wyatt
Sonnet 135 by William Shakespeare
For the Anniversary of My Death by W. S. Merwin
for May 22
Hard Life with Memory Wisława Szymborska, (see May 12)
Mirror by Sylvia Plath (see May 12)
Autobiography by John Skoyles
Triolet with Pachyderm by Hayley Leithauser
Northern Motive by Philip Levine
I will not be there to comment on the Skoyles, Leithauser and Levine May 22.
The first question I posed after we slid through the Hicok poem, sentence by sentence, was how the poem left you feeling. It took a bit of work for some to slide through the homonyms, the double possibility of pronouncing "live" as verb and adjective; "read" as present or past tense, the backwards spellings. The sound and play is very strong, but it was only after discussing how the poem provides a commentary on words, that Nancy, new to the group, pinned an aggressive tone, with a sense of raping, especially getting to the anal egg. Is the poem purposely arrogant, or pretending to shrug off
responsibility as we "tinker and smash", and ignore that we have no clue to our nature as a disaster. Finally, the crux of the poem reminds us that words need a "u" an audience to hear them, discuss them.
For the Word and the World, a very different approach to word, and use of a foreign language. Sabi, which if from the Japanese Wabi-Sabi meaning transience and imperfection, would be the loneliness of things. In the final stanza he does not repeat "the heart doesn't change" -- but repeats the loneliness of things.
Poets as connectors, poems as needing "midwifery"-- a bit of gestation as we read them line by line, and discuss.
Because "newfangled" came from the Wyatt, we look at the Wyatt poem which addresses love, the fickleness of those who give it. We find it is no dream, and yet, it feels
dreamlike "through gentleness into a strange fashion of forsaking".
And from Wyatt, to whom the Ballad of Will is uncertainly attributed, why not Shakespeare's sonnet where "will" is not only desire, but filled with bawdy puns and definitions of "will" and Will as male and female sex organs, lust, obstinacy, and the name of William.
We ended on Merwin's poem, "For the Anniversary of my Death".
Such an unusual title -- to celebrate something which has not yet happened.
What is beloved is yet to be discovered. How do the stanzas bow to each other?
Role of "And" -- the suspension of each line. We addressed the second stanza as a way of summarizing Merwin's biography, but also the distraction of "and the love of one woman/and the shamelessness of men which could take a biblic turn.
coupled with the other two "And"s, one with the final line; one in the first stanza
"And the silence will set out."
We did note the 3 days (time between death and resurrection) and wren. The Celtic symbolism would suggest that since both male and female birds take part in raising the young, they represent a fresh, innovative angle... and since they don't rest on their laurels, they further suggest that progress is made each day.
And so,with the wren in mind, we bowed, with humility, deference, to the unknown, to the one thing that is true to all, yet not yet clear and may (in the sense of perhaps might) never be known.