Tuesday, August 25, 2015
A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman (Jan's pick)
Tomorrow by Charles Wright (Kathy's pick)
Mirrors by Tada Chimako (translated by Jeffrey Angles)
The Composition of the Text by by Adriano Spatola, translated by Paul Vangelisti
If I Were Another by Mahmoud Darwish
Song for the Last Act by Louise Bogan
What poems move us? Why? What poems beg an explanation from the poet, and leave us by the roadside? Tomes have been written about craft, the reader being the instrument to bring alive any sound of sense, but the questions remain.
Whitman's two stanzas are satisfying as they link in free verse, a natural world with lovely metaphors that transfer with ease to the spiritual plane of the soul.
Spoken aloud, the rhythm captures our ears the way the repetitions and alliterations do.
But for me, the joy is the sound of the words miming the spider/soul at work
You cannot hurry through the first line: A noiseless patient spider, z-ss-sh-s...
the sibilants are already at work, weaving.
Vacant vast surrounding. vv s rr d
Nor would you use machine gun fire for "filament, filament, filament"
The links of reeling / speeding with the bright ee is also woven with "tireless", a silent music joining noiseless.
Like ceaselessly... and the consonants threading the longest line of the poem:
musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
z / v/ tsch/ thr/s/sf/ arriving at the occlusive /k/ of connect, the "ct" feeling like a good sticky glue...
Jan explained she didn't like other things by Whitman,which to her feel overly effusive and claustrophobic, but enjoyed the spareness of this poem and the comparison of human spirit throwing out questions to a noiseless, tireless spider.
The topic of music came up -- what would this sound like set to music? And other references came up... and Jan has sung Ned Rorem's setting of Frost – stopping by woods. It's yet another way to appreciate the words. Poems have their own music... and good ones can stand on their own. It might inspire good music -- but not do the poem any service.
Kathy's pick, from Wright's Sestets, balanced the Whitman with an even more spare use of line, breath. The pull of the title "Tomorrow" and the density of the images, compressing time
sunrise (named) sunset (transformed to drop of blood in evening trees)
further transformed (a drop of fire).
Whether or not you agree that you are darkness if you do not shine, and the future merciless,
that is not the point. we join as names inscribed on that flyleaf of the "Book of Snow".
Images of snow as flake, each one different, gathering, only to melt, disappear.
Lovely idea of layering together, yet impermanent...
Kathy's comment: she never reads this poem the same way.. always learning from it.
Paul added he thought the first line was going to go to a playful place.
David wondered if the first line made the poem any clearer.
Indeed, Wright transformed the quotidien into the extraordinary. Kathy shared with us:
“If you can’t delight in the everyday, you have no future here... and if can, no future either.
We're only on the flyleaf...and that too is no guarantee...
You’re on your own now, together with everything.
The next poem, in three parts:Mirrors by Tada Chimako (translated by Jeffrey Angles)
We did check the Japanese and read the katakana for "Lacedaemon".
Judith gave us a good dose of Japanese culture: sun, sword, mirror and a memory of Cocteau's film, Orphée. Vitrier... I shared this quote about mirrors:
"Warning: Reflections may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty."
A poem to read again... person and mirror as conversation -- who starts-- how we breath a mist onto the mirror-- does it absorb us, or do we absorb something from it? There is just one gravestone -- and not for our mirror!
The next poem we dutifully read and concluded it was an experiment with more pleasure for the writer than the reader. Difficult to read, because so many lines could be read differently, with no help of punctuation.
Echoing the mirror is the Darwish:
I as other... and I as other within myself. I'd love to see the original and have that explained. The translation allows us a message about doubling... expanding yourself... be your best self... but also the nuance "who I am is also part of you... And the pull,
If I were another on the road, I would have said
to the guitar: Teach me an extra string!
begging to be taught how to play an extra string, but also humbled knowing everyone has the same distance.
We ended with a marvelously-crafted poem by Louise Bogan.
Did she think up the repeating lines first? Or simply have three strong opening lines with an echo at the end. Rhyme without sounding "twee".
Now that I have your face by heart, I look.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.
What a pleasure all these sharings. Thank you all for the contributions!