January 24, 2017

"Poetry. I too dislike it."


This is why it has existed in all cultures since the divine allocation of human speech.

Before the paintings were added to the walls of Lascaux, our brutish ancestors were declaiming. And when, at the forefront of technology today, we are deprived of poetry, it reasserts itself, often in monstrous ways. The poet Dana Gioia, whom I admire for dressing in a business suit when he goes to work every morning (or leaving that impression if he don't), stressed this last point in some lecture I was auditing, probably on YouTube. Brilliantly, he mentioned the over-genre of hip hop. Into the vacuum for poetry it exploded, in English and in Urdu, and every other global language, from its abstruse origins in the South Bronx — with an insistence that left all of its detractors (me, for instance) powerless to deny. It answered to a terrible hunger, in the way that false religion fills a void of true. Orpheus descending

"For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth."


"Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise."

In Memory of W. B. Yeats - Auden

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 24, 2017 5:05 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

When you can no longer see and speak delightfully of the poetry of ducklings waddling along behind their mother, be assured you have grown up to be a robot or a fool.
Poetry invites, awareness delights.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at January 24, 2017 7:51 PM

Most people should refrain...

Posted by: pbird at January 24, 2017 7:59 PM

I can't explain why, but Yeats may be my favorite poet.

Posted by: mushroom at January 25, 2017 7:52 AM

I'm neither a robot or a fool and I've never cared for poetry. I endured it from elementary school through college and IMO poetry is a great deal like many other things: an acquired taste, enjoyed by "special" people. Most of it is pure BS.

But Howard, I do like the duck poem so here you go:

Three little ducks that I once
knew fat ducks, skinny
ducks there were
two but the
one little duck with the feather in
his back, he led the
others with a
"quack, quack

Posted by: Jack at January 25, 2017 8:06 AM

Ducklings, which indeed, I find it impossible to not watch may or may not save me from the "a robot or a fool" epithet when I fiercely announce my dislike of hip hop and my utter abhorrence of reading TS Eliot apathetically demonstrating his boredom with his ENDLESS wretched poems about bored apathy.
"I should have really been a pair of dirty stink feet
Slogging through the vile mud in a bottomless chasm ..."
At least hip hop has a message, however distasteful, and it is seldom used as a vehicle to provide a smug glimpse into all those friggen words the poet knows as he goes on for pages without repeating himself. ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHH!

Posted by: Dink Newcomb at January 25, 2017 10:17 AM

***Addendum to above***
with all due respect to our host, of course.
And, I do like a lot of poetry, especially Yeats.

Posted by: Dink Newcomb at January 25, 2017 10:25 AM


Posted by: anonymous at January 25, 2017 2:27 PM

"I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle. Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in it after all, a place for the genuine. Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise if it must, these things are important not because a high sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful."

This is prose. Poetry is more than typography. And the waddle of ducklings may be delightful, but it's not poetry, either. Poetry is something very specific, and it has almost entirely disappeared from the English-speaking world.

Posted by: Steve at January 26, 2017 5:06 AM

*** "Poetry ... has almost entirely disappeared from the English-speaking world." ***
I sincerely do not think it has disappeared, merely changed into forms that you do not recognize, but if you see a basic definition of it-- a non-standard way of communication with the words compiled to stimulate the mind. Rap, indeed (to me) is poetry and serves its listeners well and I suppose you might even stretch the definition to fit Donna Summer singing a repeated 5 word refrain--"Love to love you baby"-- to a looped audio track with HUUUUUUUGE bass while she simulates orgasm between the verses. Who says poetry has to be intellectual? Summer's product certainly was stimulating to many people judging by how frequently I used to hear it at quarry explosion decibel levels and I walked down the street in its heyday.
Consider please:
The Shrimp
by Ogden Nash

A shrimp who sought his lady shrimp
Could catch no glimpse
Not even a glimp.
At times, translucence
Is rather a nuisance.

Color me nostalgic for lyric flights of fantasy by a TB "lunger" living in retreat on some mountainside far away, mourning over his trials in life rather than burning down a 7-11 ion rage because there are not enough businesses in his neighborhood.

Posted by: Dink Newcomb at January 26, 2017 11:12 AM

Poetry need not be written, read, sung, or spoken. There is something called
poetry in motion -- could be a graceful three-pointer, a tackle dodged,
or ducklings in locomotion.
An arhythmic rhyme (mea culpa) may be a crime, but as geese and ducks would quack their crack, 'No need to send your feelings south by feeling so down in the mouth.'

Posted by: Howard Nelson at January 27, 2017 4:39 AM