Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Poems for May 21

(discussed aty O Pen May 18)
Parsnips by Eleanor Stanford
“Song of Speaks-Fluently” (from Hoagland, 20 Little Poems that could save America)
(the 4 below slated to be discussed June 1 at O Pen)
Musee des Beaux Arts by W. H. Auden
Musée des Beaux Art Revisited -- Billy Collins
Waiting for Icarus by Muriel Rukeyser (from Hoagland, 20 Little Poems that could save America)
Memory by Lucille Clifton

Beauty, truth, old Masters... it's worth a trip to wiki:ée_des_Beaux_Arts_(poem)
to find out that Auden was in Brussels, visited the museum in 1938, and other Brueghels can be involved. First the conclusive statement about suffering, then the observation...
lines that intrigue in their variations. My favorite is the juxtaposition in the second stanza, 4th line, "important failure; the sun shone.
the personal with the what seems given of universal...
Vanity... and how little an individual matters...

The Collins revisits the poem, not the painting, translating "suffering" to "mental anguish"
and quickly leaves Brueghel for Bosch in the museum.
What insights does Collins draw? Do you agree that the trappings on the fish are what drive us to despair? How do you understand it?

How refreshing to revisit Icarus, with a totally different point of view.
He said... and suddenly we are in a love-story gone awry... and wish she had been the one to put on the wings, with our turn next.

The final poem, also in the "20 poems that could save America" by Lucille Clifton, repeats three times, "ask me" -- as if her narrative also will run counter to the glimpse of facts from the mother's point of view.

See June 1 for a fuller discussion.
How do we remember? What poems will we remember and why? What challenges do we face, and how can poetry help us face them?

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