Monday, May 23, 2016

Poems for May 18-9

You might know the musical setting of the RL Stevenson poem, “Let Beauty Awake” by Ralph Vaughan Williams:

Cloud Study, for instance might send you to look at Constable Clouds and the Great Wallendas:
For a start with Wallendas:
And here:
Constable Clouds:

For the final poem by Wallace Stevens, I love James Merrill’s comment: “Sometimes I feel about this poem, the way others feel about the 23rd Psalm.”

If by Rudyard Kipling (highly anthologized)
Each Year by Dora Malech (from daily web in May 2016)
I Live Up Here by W.S. Merwin (from daily web in May)
God's World by Edna St. Vincent Millay (from memorial service for a radiant woman)
Let Beauty Awake by R.L. Stevenson (from memorial service set to music see above)
Cloud Study by Andrea Cohen (American Poet, Spring-Summer 2016)
Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour, by Wallace Stevens (from interview in American Poet)

Why are some poems highly anthologized? In the case of Kipling -- is it because it is palatable for the populace, predictable for memorization of a socially acceptable lesson to emphasize? Certainly the poem has been highly parodied, which speaks to the form, the rhythm and rich rhyme.
Actually, in Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula there are two towns, one called "Rudyard" and one called "Kipling". If is a strong pivot... if this (possible) then (likely) that, and allows balancing of extremes. A bit of a sermon... and if you dig deeply, one starts to question --
why are Triumph and Disaster both "imposters" and what does that say about "truth" -- perhaps a bit of Hindu philosophy, a bit of stoicism, and bit of Zen what is, is is there as well.
Does the poem set the bar too high? Or simply loving advice to a young boy... or a boy scout creed... an antidote... to corruption...
Many people don't like it, and for Pittsford, I goaded the discussion to see if perhaps it is disguised cynicism... we spent a good half hour with many inputs...

Each year, has a rather lurching rhythm, a few surprises like the one-word sentence. Sure.
Preponderant alliteration which almost interferes like
"re-learn" and the play on "re-fuse" and "un-flare" or the awkward "clutch" for take/give a handful of seconds. Neither a meditation, nor sermon. The theme has been treated well by so many--
"Nothing Gold can stay" comes to mind... Perhaps a Dylan Thomas.

The Merwin gave us quite a ride... the opening very pleasing, but then the accumulation of images with no markers of punctuation...
life as stairs, petals, choices (she loves me/not), glass knights and gauntlets. The discussion included the background of the time period of this poem which appears in "The Lice", when Merwin questioned what kind of life to live and had almost given up on writing/language.
The voice is like an angel looking down... and validates uncertainty...
Reminded one person of Calvino’s book... "The Baron in the Trees".
Confusing images -- what my votes the mice are accomplishing ?????

The Edna St. Vincent Millay is also widely anthologized and Judith brought up that some of her best poems never were because of various agendas of the editors. It captures a sentimental, but very authentic sense of overwhelming attachment to the world -- as a foil to the Merwin.

For the Stevenson -- for Pittsford I just played the music and we didn't discuss.
It seemed sufficient. For Rundel, people were disappointed by the combination -- felt that both the music suffered because of the lyrics and the poem did not receive justice because of the music, which drowned it in waves of sound.

Which brings us to the next poem, where I provided two possible associations -- Constable's clouds and the Wallendas, referred to in the poem. The rather infantile question, the anthropomorphizing of the cloud at the end seemed at first irritating, but it becomes apparent that the poem is rich in multiple perspectives. The clouds seem to be watching us -- and perhaps, like the music set to the Stevenson, for some, the Constable painting kills the poem, as it is so much more than cloud.

For the Wallace Stevens, you can hear James Merrill reading it here:
Merrill starts reading at about minute 51:15

The title is intriguing... the FINAL soliloquy could be the end of a day or a premonition of the very end of life, the soul speaking the poet, where the importance of the rendez-vous (mentioned twice) is infused with a sense of the sacred.
The repetitions, (one thing, single, single, God and the Imagination as one /Light, a light/candle lights/same light. There is a calming tone, a healing sense of writing
as a gathering of one's being and knowing this is enough.

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