Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rundel September 4

Among the Elements in a Time of War by Eamon Grennan
First Song by Joseph Stroud
The Juggler by Richard Wilbur
Realism by Czeslaw Milosz (written in his 80’s)
Of The Work of Love and Why She Has This Book Made by Doreen Gildroy

In Dead Poets Society, Williams plays unorthodox professor John Keating, who rejects the conservative culture of the elite Welton Academy and implores his students to strive for meaning in their lives. In the film’s pivotal scene, Williams tells his students, “we don't read and write poetry because it’s cute, we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for...”
He goes on to quote Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!,” a poem that ends by speaking directly to its readers: “You are you, and life goes on... the powerful play goes on and you will contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” ‪‬‬

The poems last week reflected elements, such as fire, air, sky, water, earth, but juxtaposed with war; the transformation of blossom to hummingbird wing; a poem which juggled form and rhyme as it described a juggler and how it is that we defy gravity, turn the table on ordinary things; a meditation on Dutch painting and life; a description of what can happen by taking five minutes to oneself.

For the first poem, directions were to read, until you wanted to stop!
For some, that meant pausing at the end of a line; for others, at the end of a phrase, others to read a long line followed by an indented line...
So how does line inform an innate feeling tone? We noted the anthropomorphic fog, face of earth, the sounds that enveloped each element. Such great brokenness in one uninterrupted (aside from the lines) stanza with indents... silence of the present moment. This poem develops a sense of waiting, the way it is in war, someone pointed out, where 99% of the time one waits, and then the 1% of unimaginable destruction comes. Here the last line is the earth itself-- its indifference for a moment broken
could not stop sobbing... Powerful.

Joseph Stroud, born in 1943 in California, has an odd use of punctuation.We read up to each period to feel how the sentence (or lack of one) pulls against the line. It starts with a fragment, 3rd line ending with a period followed by "I thought" which does thread a sentence on the next two lines. Wonderful use of enjambement with 7th line,
heads/disappeared; and 5th line up from the bottom, "bloodstone/turned".
The poem ends with two mysterious fragments, allowing us to ponder "all these gone years". The group had varying ideas of the horses at the end, as well as the moon-crossing blackness, some feeling a sense of dread, others a sense of reassurance.

Wilbur has done it again -- wit, masterful form, still providing poems in his 90's!
The Juggler appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of American Poetry Review.
We read this one also up to a period, to see how the chaotic first stanza smooths into a more regular 6 line stanza with both rhyme and slant end rhyme. The explosion of exuberance, the crash in the penultimate stanza is following by three "if's"
in a quiet afterthought which made some feel "zen at work, clearing out the cobwebs, breathing in and out our energies." The props lie still, but we would clap for someone who can defy the ordinary, the weight of the world -- for once.

Milosz takes a different perspective of the ordinary. We again read up to a period to draw attention to the variety of line length and sentence. Yet more fragments.
Recognizable still lives. A spot of light in the stark and cloudy landscapes leads to the thought that all this was painted, here eternally, because once, it was. The next word is "Splendor (certainly incomprehensible)/touches... and then we have a series of paradoxical surprises -- cracked wall, refuse heap, jerkins of rustics, a broom and two fish bleeding.
But the surprise is not finished! A sudden duo of imperatives appear -- Rejoice! Give Thanks. At the end it is OUR song -- rising like smoke from a censer -- as if purified...

The final poem was an arrangement of one sentence in a couplet, two singletons; a couplet, one singleton; two couplets, one singleton a couplet.

Having a line stand by itself with white space of a stanza still hangs on to what precedes it, yet allow both to be independent. I love this kind of collage, and Gildroy does it well.

and made myself : could mean, compose oneself

think about : could be a command, as if another person is there under the tree.

and made myself think about, is a whole different story.
The creation of a voice grabbing her heart from this 5 minute pause feels as savage as an excavation in a mine. Great contrasts of tone...

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