Poetics and Poetry Discussion


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  • Michael Shepherd (8/6/2005 11:32:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    I'd say, a propos Levertov, that if you only read poetry by eye (does anyone?) you might miss that subtle line-end-break; if you read it to yourself it's more apparent. It's a mind-break.
    But on the other hand, it's not just a sound-break; it's still an eye-break when it's on the printed page or the screen here. Either way can get you there. But it's still best demonstrated when a poet reads their work - unless they're adopting the fashionable dead-pan objective delivery. (Objective's for the printed page only?)
    I think that the point I stop fiddling with a line is when the internal rhythms and breaks of rhythm match the line-break and vice versa. Then it's a mind-bite.

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    • Michael Shepherd (8/6/2005 11:44:00 AM) Post reply

      Sorry - further thoughts: the line-break is free verse's reflection, development, whatever, of the Shakespearian actor's requirement - the delivery of closed lines mixed with enjambed lines, which how ... more

  • Max Reif (8/6/2005 8:08:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Thanks for those other essay tips, Michael. It seems to me that most (all?) poets would benefit vastly from reading the thoughts (prose) of other poets ABOUT poetry. BOTH sides of the brain need to be fed. Who knows what unconscious fermentation of new ideas goes on inside the poet's brain. (If the place smells like a STILL even if the guy's a teetotaler, that's creative juice flowing!)

    Levertov is saying that the written text of a poem is a *score*, as much as sheet music is a score, and that line-breaks are slight pauses, convey emphasis, etc, so a poet ought to use them consciously.

    I have to say I may not have clarity about the prosody of 'free verse' (out of discipline comes freedom, I once heard Carlos Santana tell a vast throng of acolytes filling a courtyard in the Mission District of SF) . Studying Dylan Thomas' wonderful poem, 'Fern Hill' in college, after reading Paul Fussell's POETIC FORM AND POETIC METER, I titled my paper, 'The Mad Syllable-Counter Attacks Fern Hill.' Thomas was famous for being very conscientious about his rhythm.

    My impression has been that free verse DOES have meter. Often, not always, I try to give a *regular* meter to my free verse poems...the same number of syllables every line. One gets into a flow, and they just start coming like that.

    The other assumption I've had has been 'lines should be more or less a similar length', and I've let this perception determine my line breaks a lot. I sort of figured 'a poet *owns* his or her poem, and can read it any way he wants. Levertov is saying there's an *objective*, music-like score there, and the more objective a poet is, the better the poem communicates, can be read by others, etc. Here's her last sentence: 'Only if writers agree about the nature
    and function of this tool (Max's note: the line break as part of a score) can readers fully cooperate, so that the poem shall have the fullest degree of autonomous life.'

    We do all want the poem to have the fullest degree of autonomous life, I think. Our poems are to be born from us like Athena from the head of Zeus, and go on to have their own life. No neurotic, clingy, parents, we! A WRITER, as opposed to, say, a psychologist's client, is 'objective' in the sense of communicating so fully that his/her experience BECOMES the reader's too. This is the only caveat to Michael Phillips' dictum the other day about 'writing only for yourself', I feel.

    Anyway, here's a link to some more essays. This is just one page, there are likely lots of others on the net: http: //www.ualr.edu/~rmburns/RB/essays.html.

    This is a real Forum, eh!

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  • Michael Shepherd (8/6/2005 7:21:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Max, PS, Sherrie, thanks for the recommendations. I've just read Denise Levertov's lengthy poem-essay on the poetic line in free verse, which is magnificently clear and which my intuition instantly gnosed. She says some memorable things.

    Marjorie Perloff (Googleable) has an extensive survey of the theory and practice.

    I can't find any excerpt from Hartman; I guess it's Amazon and £/$ 10 plus...

    Eliot's Glasgow lecture on The Music of Poetry ought to be interesting since he was the distinguished exponent of Laforgue's and Pound's principles of free verse; but it's not in the first Selected Essays.

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    • Max Reif (8/7/2005 10:13:00 AM) Post reply

      I can't find that on online. It's in a collection, 'On Poetry and Poets', published in 1957. 'The Sacred Wood', on the other hand, is almost all online at: http: //www.bartleby.com/200/. Eliot was ... more

  • Poetry Snob (aka Jefferson Carter) (8/5/2005 7:59:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Oh, Herbert, you are your own best enemy! ! ! Your silly poem proves my point, 'infantile'/'bile' indeed! You go, girl! ! ! Can you rhyme 'girl' and 'curl'? Oops, gave it away! Dang, there goes another chance for you to join the immortals. P-Snob

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/5/2005 9:15:00 PM) Post reply

      As my best enemy I value the caliber of my opponent. Beats going up against a limp washrag any day. And here I thought envy had left the forum... : -))

  • Poetry Snob (aka Jefferson Carter) (8/5/2005 12:28:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Ill skip it too. When I start rhyming, Silverstein creeps in with a little bit of Ogden Nash and Dr. Suess. Some poeple on this site thrill to this kind of stuff, I find it infantile and boring. Herbert, you go, boy! ! P-Snob

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/5/2005 4:38:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      The infantile word 'infantile' brings up in me a bit of bile. The other word (he called it boring) reminds me of him never scoring in posting something vaguely pleasant though I enjoy the title ... more

  • Max Reif (8/5/2005 8:50:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    I missed it; what's the competition?

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  • Michael Shepherd (8/5/2005 6:24:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Alas, no time
    for line-end rhyme,
    no hope
    of trope,
    no commandment
    of enjambment,
    only dimmily
    aware of simile,
    and none the better for
    the use of metaphor;
    and don't speak meutsch
    of Pennsylvania Deutsch..

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/5/2005 6:54:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      The first time I have come across someone knowing that it is not Pennsylvania Dutch but Deutsch. It's almost like it's and its, a few more years and the rules get changed and it won't matter. It look ... more

  • Poetry Snob (aka Jefferson Carter) (8/4/2005 12:25:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    Jefferson and Lamont, Im going to post a new poem, its about Richard III working out in a health club, and you two dont need to read it or comment on it. Your both too critical and to paraphrase Herbert not broadminded enough. Also Herbert dont you read it either. You have too much fun ridiculing others poetry even though Id rather have you slam my poem than praise it, then I knw its pretty good. P-Snob

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/4/2005 4:36:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      Thank you for inviting me. And no, it isn't. Definitely not. Maybe next time. H

    • Michael Shepherd (8/4/2005 4:32:00 PM) Post reply

      Now I've read it - it would make a good stand-up sketch for the comedy circuit if you expanded it.

    • Michael Shepherd (8/4/2005 1:24:00 PM) Post reply

      Sounds like a limited Summer Discontent Offer to me, but I guess it's good for backs that have gone crook...or poets with weak knees or lily livers... c'mon, PS - into the cannon's mouth, live up to y ... more

  • Max Reif (8/4/2005 9:45:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Is it fair to use italics in a poem for emphasis?
    Or should a poet be able to nuance his words without resorting to such things?

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  • Jerry Hughes (8/4/2005 12:26:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    greetings Herbert, sounds rather odd the whole thing. You shouldn't be asked for a password to submit a poem, cos you're already a member. Try without a password and see waht happens. Apropos retrieval in situ, like Sergeant Shultz, I know nothing! Cheers, Jerry

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/4/2005 3:25:00 AM) Post reply

      Jerry, without exaggeration, it was one of my top poems. I am still a bit furious. So I did sit down and wrote the gist from memory, I had to struggle as it is almost impossible to write a poem the se ... more

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