Why do we not have a thread yet on poetry?
You like it? Not? Some? If yes, what kind of poetry?
Found these today: s*: John Berryman, God among Poets
Why do we not have a thread yet on poetry?
You like it? Not? Some? If yes, what kind of poetry?
Found these today: s*: John Berryman, God among Poets
It's not something I've ever really thought about or gone out of my way to read. Other than the poetry studied in school, (Burns, Browning, Morgan) I would say I'm undernourished in that area. I've got a bilingual edition of Federico Garc?a Lorca's poetry, which isn't all that effective for me since I know no Spanish. But I've sometimes found myself picking up the occasional volume of poetry, the most recent being Sean O'Brien's The Drowned Book and a Penguin volume of Anna Akhmatova's poems.You like it? Not? Some? If yes, what kind of poetry?
Being from Scotland, Burns has an obvious place in the heart (even if a certain media personality would label it "sentimental doggerel". But Edwin Morgan is the one I remember most from school, because his regular poetry aside, there was a bulk of concrete poetry too, which was all over the place and, at the age I was, impressionable...and I liked it, even if I didn'e get the bulk of it.
Celan and Hopkins
as if i havent already given myself away to those who know me, and i write
speaking of celan
the celan/bachmann letters were published !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
originally sealed for 20 more years the heirs
(god bless #em)
apparently unsealed them earlier and here we go!!!
ordered a copy instantly upon seeing this.
A poem by Mirabell:
Short, but to the point. Why is poetry such a minority subject on this World Literature Forum website?Fuck yeah.
I share Spool-With-The-Six-Os' interest in both Celan and Hopkins.
But over the years I have also read and enjoyed (in no particular order): W.B. Yeats, Edward Thomas, Walter de la Mare, Boleslaw Lesmian, Wallace Stevens, Eva-Stina Byggm?star, Georg Trakl, Elo Viiding, Emily Dickinson, Czeslaw Milosz, D.H. Lawrence, Eeva-Liisa Manner, T.S. Eliot, and a few others I have forgotten.
Like Stewart, I mostly read prose, but when in the right mood, poetry, both rhymed and unrhymed can give enjoyment and insights. My father loved Browning, but I find his poetry rather long-winded. I'm keener on discrete, succinct poems, rather than ballads or tales told in verse. Celan goes to extremes of brevity on density.
Unless I know the language very well (e.g. Swedish and Dutch), I prefer to read poems in parallel text, with the original on one page, the translation on the other. Then you get the best of both worlds: the sounds of the original, along with the meaning as set out in the translation. In this case, the translation doesn't have to be polished - it is a mere crutch to lean on when reading the original.
After reading Pablo Neruda's Memoirs I got interested in poetry again: it made me try M?rio Cesariny, a late Portuguese surrealist poet, for the first time, and I wasn't disappointed.
Last week I bought Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, which is waiting to be read as soon as I finish Chesterton's book.
I love poetry. I have always read books yet come late-ish to poetry. I must have been 15 when I really dug poetry, having read batches of classics and contemporary novels, from all sorts of cultures, yet mostly in German with the few exceptions of the books I started to read in English at roughly the same time. My discovery of poetry happened when my self awareness really took off, when I was first really manhandled by depressions and desperate. I had, by that time, written hundreds of pages of prose, stories, mostly, parts of projected novels, this sort of stuff, (I burned all of this when I moved to East Germany at 22, because I didn't want anyone else to read it and wasn't able to lug the thick stacks of hard cover notebooks to east Germany. No place etc.), so I was familiar with expressing myself through artificially arranged words (yes, that phrase is questionable and imprecise at best, but that all you get for now), but at 15 or 16 I tried more compressed forms. At that time I started to act in our high school theatre, and the theatricality of a few well-placed words intrigued me, hence my early interest in writers like Reiner Kunze, Erich Fried and Said, anyone who knows them in German will probably know what I mean. I can't stand them now, mostly, and I am embarrassed, even, having liked them so much at the time. The major shift, however, was my discovery (via this story) of Kafka, first (if any prose writer is close to being a poet as far as density and precision is concerned, it is surely ol' Franz), then Hilde Domin/Rose Ausl?nder and then Ingeborg Bachmann. Bachmann was the writer who truly pushed me into writing and into poetry. Formal, passionate, humorous, enigmatic and clear at the same time, tender, wondrous and yet harsh and cold, within the same collection of poems, light and yet always at the edge of a strange darkness, if not subsumed by that darkness. Lowry's explorer from Hell, that was Bachmann, for me. After her, Celan, and then English poets, such as Plath, Hughes and Berryman. These days, although, quantitatively, I read far more prose, fiction and 'non-fiction', than poetry, my poetry shelf boards are the core of my personal 'library'. When I moved to Bonn, with only two bags, a friend's address and the decision to study literature there instead of economics in Chemnitz, the only books I took in my bag were volumes of poetry. Music and poetry, to sustain myself. The importance of poetry to me cannot be overestimated, although, more and more, my own production of poetry has become at least as integral a part as my consumption of it. Writing poetry can sustain me as well as reading poetry, sometimes. I only notice that now I write it but it's perfectly true. Strange, isn't it? I provide my own sustenance. Is that like drinking yr own urine? Does that mean I have developed to enormous an ego?
Last edited by Mirabell; 06-Sep-2008 at 16:31.
I translated six poems today, but I chickened out of doing a seventh, which was rhymed. About 500 words in total. What I will then do is set them aside for a while, before looking at them again, because after some time, you see faults, uglinesses and sheer mistranslations all the more clearly. The poems were about belong, identity, nationality and so on. The rhymed one involved dance and Nausicaa, but as I said, the rhyme frightened me off this time.
The first one in the collection went like this:
Looking at it now, I think I'd change it to "the thread of life", but otherwise I'm reasonably satisfied. That ending is a bit tricvky, though. More later, I'm going to wacth QI on TV.Longing for home ? longing to roam,
two branches of a growing tree,
seeking shade ? seeking the winds
the borderlands between woods and the sea.
Fear of birth ? fear of death,
a thread of life knotted at each end.
Being ? non-being,
one of these is a dream
the other is not.
I've been reading increasing amounts of poetry over the last few years ? like Mirabell, I came late to it, though. In my case, I was primarily put off by school. It was the one part of the English literature curriculum that I never enjoyed ? not least Keats, whom I ended up having to study for around four years.
In the late 1980s, I read a bit of the Mersey beat poets (Henri, Patten and McGough), but it's only in the last couple of years that I've started reading a little more.
One of my favourite individual poems is Brecht's Ballade von den Seer?ubern (Ballad of the Pirates), which sent shivers down my spine when I read it first and really helped me to comprehend the idea of 19th century romanticism, as opposed to some soppy, sentimental idealisation of romantic love.
I've read quite a bit of John Betjeman ? technically very, very good, but I find the subject matter tedious, in that it's a chocolate box England that never existed for the overwhelming majority of English people, but yet retains a powerful almost mythological sway over many people. Like Tolkien and others, Betjeman was deeply anti-working class and industry.
One of my favourite poets in recent years has become Thom Gunn, after I read The Man With Night Sweats in a sitting and found it a very moving experience.
The Collected Philip Larkin is currently sitting by the bed ? misanthropic, but intriguing.
I write, but son't read so much poetry as of now, although i couldn't do without Celan, Hopkins, Beckett. As a kid i'd amuse myself by trying out parodies of Eliot, also HD. I've just now finished "The Recognitions" and you can hear, indeed see Eliot at work throughout the novel
I didn't cotton onto poetry before grammar school. Then, it was Lawrence and Chaucer. Hopkins, on my own. Later, I discovered Yeats, Dickinson, Stevens and others.
Betjeman and Brecht make me sceptical. The former was terribly English, in a rather twee, yet counties, way. The latter was an insincere pseudo-Communist MCP. He adored the working classes - as long as you didn't actually have to touch them. What a funny factory owner's son, with a harem. Don't worship him too much: the hangover will come.
Bigamist church cyclist Larkin is worshipped by Motion, the beach poet. What about a few translations? This high windows' poets' corner is becoming uncomfortably English-language.
Eliot wrote the "Four Quartets". Parody these as you will.
Brecht is amazing. His plays are tedious sometimes, but those which are good, are incredible. Dito his poetry. I own the collected poetry and return to it regularly, at least once a week.
I love Larkin, Dickinson, Stevens and Eliot, don't particularly like Yeats and have bought a volume of Hopkins last week which will be my first foray into his work.
To continue about Betjeman, I think that Sybarite and myself have the same problem with him, what Sybarite calls "chocolate box". I only possess a collection of his poems, and sometimes his evocations are good, but he is sometimes rather cloying. The only poem I read for many years was Death in Leamington which really didn't endear me to him. I found it rather morbid.
It rather surprises me to read in the Wikipedia that Betjeman was taught by T.S. Eliot. They certainly went different ways, regarding content. Sybarite says:
Flicking through the collection, what strikes me most is that he lived in a very clearly defined world of Englishness with billiards and padres, quads and church bells and the rolling English countryside. And rather haw-haws at his own little very English in-jokes. This makes the technical prowess rather irrelevant. I think that is why half of me tugs at the other and says: "...he's not that bad, really". I live abroad, and although I caught the merest of glimpses of what Sybarite terms the "England that never existed" while living in Warwickshire, Betjeman does evoke a kind of nostalgia for the spirit of something that was never there. It is maybe this spirit that people connect with.I've read quite a bit of John Betjeman ? technically very, very good, but I find the subject matter tedious, in that it's a chocolate box England that never existed for the overwhelming majority of English people, but yet retains a powerful almost mythological sway over many people.
But some of the imagery. Oh dear:
We're supposed to chortle in delight...The heart of Thomas Hardy flew out of Stinsford churchyard
A little thumping fig, it rocketed over the elm trees.
I translated a few more poems this afternoon, after a bout on Friday. These were all rhymed ones, with an AB AB, CD CD type of rhyme scheme. So, this first time round, I adopted my usual method which is to stick to the meaning and imagery the first time round, and tackle the rhyme later. This, in my opinion, reduces the risk of forcing rhymes and thus creating doggerel, where the meaning is bent in a Procrustean way to fit the rhyme scheme.
Of the various poets that Mirabell mentions, we like mostly the same. But where he doesn't like Yeats, I don't like Larkin so much. For me, he is in that same kind of "jolly English" group as Betjeman and Motion. No coincidence that all three were Poet Laureate material. (That is to say that Larkin would have been Poet Laureate, but declined the offer of free port for life.)
Hopkins has a very sophisticated rhythm & rhyme scheme, which he himself describes as "sprung rhythm". I can't honestly say that I've ever quite understood the technics of it, but I love his poetry. The subject matter is often religious, but Hopkins was in touch with life beyond the cloister. I was originally attracted to his poetry because he was a Roman Catholic priest, something rather exotic for the Church of England teenager I then was. But reading the poems in the Penguin edition, I was attracted to the alliteration, especially in The Windhover: e.g. dapple-dawn-drawn falcon; run upon the rein of a wimpling wing; blue-bleak embers, and so on.
Also Hopkins' peculiar hyphenation, which I have rarely seen, except in the works of the works of the Flemish poet Karel van de Woestijne. For instance, Hopkins hyphenates things such as: bow-bend, Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, wilful-wavier, very-violet-sweet, deadly-electric, care-drowned, thunder-purple, arch-especial.
Hopkins is remarkable. When i began writing again, my friends assumed that i'd read Hopkins. I didn't know his work at all then, but Hopkins, Celan, also John Clare are the three i read most often
Betjeman isn't for me at all
I too have, so good as never, read anything by John Clare. Just looked up his life on the Wikipedia. Considering his pretty miserable life, he lived a long time. I shall read some poems here:
John Clare Page
Just discovered Crow by Ted Hughes, a poet mentioned by Mirabell. Wonderful. Have to read Brecht poetry in English translation, but still great. It has ironic twists that linger in the mind. Also bought a complete Blake recently, with annotations. Cannot get into his abstruse mystical stuff but a line here and there almost physically grabs me. Can't take much poetry at a time in general- very dense and intense. Elicits emotions that no other reading does and I start to strut around the garden reading it aloud. One thing I am certain of though, you need to born with the gift to write it well. The music and deep use of words cannot be learnt. I don't have it, although my daughter does. Asked her when she was around 8 to give me a metaphor for the lights of city we were looking down at. Told her no necklaces or Christmas trees cliches. Quick as a blink she said it looked like "A twinkle in the eye of God". That reminds me that Hopkins' diary (of which I have seen extracts) contains prose poems about the way things look. He just saw them that way as he walked around. Amazing.
I finished Rimbaud's A Season in Hell and I felt a disappointment, in spite of some beautiful sentences (his prose poetry doesn't really have verses). Just for trivia, my version was translated by the late M?rio Cesariny, a Portuguese surrealist poet whom I like.
Just got hold of double CD of poetry read by Linton Kwesi Johnson. Haven't listened to it yet, but heard him live a few years ago. One of the greats.
Someone above or below (cant find the reply) said of Brecht that he was a poser and a MCP. I can well believe the MCP bit at least - read something about that. But there are plenty of poets and other artists whose works I enjoy who were or are truly shitty human beings. Not sure that you can judge an artist on the basis of his or her character or politics. One test might be if you read the work without knowing who the artist is.