Sunday, April 12, 2015

poems for April 6

Enough by Katie Peterson
Love (III) by George Herbert, 1593 – 1633
The Birthday of the World by Marge Piercy (also discussed 4/9)
Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire by Brenda Hillman
(Titled after Satie)
1st Ramage from "Turkish Pears" by Robert Bly (also discussed 4/9 with other "ramages")
For a Coming Extinction by W. S. Merwin

The first poem has a wonderful title! The sound of "enough" can be huffed, sighed, adopt many tones ranging from a sense of completion and gratitude, to the opposite of wanting and seeking. The plenitude available, if we choose to see it, is represented not just by any old flower, but the particular one of
"forget-me-not" whose appearance is compared with the abundance of stars. Such careful layering of a "they", onto which the reader seems to eavesdrop, creates a theatre in which the poem seems to promise a logical script, and yet the sense of disconnection as he and she look at the "dark woods", he with protractor and she with skeleton, mirror back to us to look at our own perishable pursuits.
This is a poem worth reviewing... our discussion left a desire to listen again, knowing more waits to be discovered.

Love, by George Herbert, known for his "shape poems" such as "Easter Wings", seemed to answer the questing speakers of the first poem. Love invites us as guest... and we can recognize how hard we resist the invitation to sit down and eat...

My question about the Piercy poem was whether it could work as prose as well as in the columned look of a poem. Reading syntactically, the shorter sentences appear, and also there is a sense of acceleration towards the end with terrific end words: rhetoric / slithering (enjambed to choking pythons)
the suspense of "here" ... gates/dazzling/weapons/sparks... the energy of words candled into celebration.

The Brenda Hillman poem reminded us of Satie, since we wrote it, thinking of him -- there's a bit of Robert Bly's Turkish Pears in August about it too... the readiness is all / the ripeness is all...
(Shakespeare) – pre-pear-ed... human experience recognizable, or is it as tear can be pronounced to rhyme with pear, which is quite a different "rip" than tear, which rhymes with shear which has nothing to do with the oblate form of a teardrop.
Things in threes, metaphors, personification, the old women who cannot ripen, like the Greek fates or Norse Norns and yet, in the same breath, they are young and in braille -- blind seers/ new world-- the intrigue of the poem is not about deciphering meaning, but tasting the divergence of understanding something that has been called 3 pieces in the shape of pear-- with a French connection which perhaps has nothing to do with the pear-shaped King, but only the Greek-titled "Gynopédies" by the French composer. It's worth a look at wiki to find out this 1888 music was breaking with tradition, and creating dissonances that would have challenged late 19th century ears. Perhaps inspired by a poem by Contamine de la Tour which mentions the gymnopaedia.

Slanting and shadow-cutting a bursting stream
Trickled in gusts of gold on the shiny flagstone
Where the amber atoms in the fire gleaming
Mingled their sarabande with the gymnopaedia

It's wonderful to travel through associations, but also important to return to what is actually on the page. The intertwining of 3 pears, only the middle of which is a conversation; the presence of change, unchanging perhaps in the tension of implied ripening in the first piece, the certitude there is no ripening in the last. It is a poem that calls forth senses, union, blushes, something so delicious, just out of reach, indescribable.

Bly's Ramage, with the long explanation about flute trills and vowels seeking consonants and this union producing nouns seems wordy and although can point the reader into a greater appreciation for the sonic color of "im" of slim, nimble, simplicity, imperishable, impermanent (twice) as opposed to the short "i"
sound in dignity, ish, engine, hermit, kingdom and the other vowel sounds "ee" and "er" short and long "o"
an exercise in delight... One comment was, "great word music... too bad he works so hard to explain it...
compare with George Herbert..."

The final Merwin poem brought up the issue of the different voices of a poet. I'm not sure when "For a Coming Extinction" was written, but it has the feel of a Vietnam War protest, and a much younger Merwin, although there are still the "suspended" sentences with no guide from punctuation.
I sent out this link:
"For a Coming Extinction" follows the series of war poems in The Lice and ties their despair to Merwin's more metaphysical speculations on the void.

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