Posts Tagged ‘literature’

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Poetry Sunday: Short Poems

May 20, 2012

Poems come in all shapes and sizes and most certainly cover every imaginable topic.  There are the lengthy epic poems like Milton’s Paradise Lost, decreasing in size like Rumi’s quatrains, until we arrive at the short haiku masters like Bashō.

The long epic poems read like novels.  They have room for plots and changes in mood and character.  Length dictates shorter works to be more singularly focused.  In fact, singularity is what makes them work.  You might think a short poem takes but a moment to compose.  Sometimes they do, but more often short poems take as much, if not more, time to construct as poems with lengthier word heft.  There are styles, like the Shakespearian Sonnet, that dictate length, but many works of metered and free verse employ the brevity short poems.

I consider a short poem to be any that fits on a single page, and that means one column.  We all know there are people out there that can cram War and Peace onto a grain of rice, I mean reading poetry under normal conditions.  Others arbitrarily define short poems as having six quatrains of less, or twenty-four lines.  With my definition in mind, most poems are short poems.

For me, short poems are more about that singularity than a specific length limit.  A true master of the short poem is Emily Dickenson, one of my

Emily Dickinson Daguerreotype

two favorite poets by the way.  She used a delicate turn of phrase to draw the reader to a single thought.  Here is a nice poem of hers that illustrates the point:

Hope

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

This poem obviously focuses on hope but expands out to show the impact hope has as well as the effect the world has upon hope.  With only eighty-two words, Emily explains one of life’s trickier subjects to grasp.  Yes, there is much more to hope than any one poem can encompass, but this is a complete view of one way to see it.  It is powerful and has a depth that goes beyond its few lines.  At the same time is shows strength, it also shows frailty.  That juxtaposition is common in shorter poems.

Not all short poems use comparison directly.  Here is a poem of mine that uses both simile and metaphor to explain what I mean by beauty.  It is markedly different from Emily’s example, and I do not mean to suggest I am as fine a poet as she is by the comparison.  While she employs direct metaphors (“Hope” is a thing with feathers) to open her poem, I use the poem as a whole to compare beauty to grace.  What the poems have in common is to explain a single thought.

The Beauty of Every Woman

The beauty of every woman
is not about the look
and to think it so would be the same
as the drop to sum the brook

Her soul’s the place where beauty writes
each volume of her tome
Then soon the essence of every book
finds her heart and calls it home

From her heart-page each measure is read
to discover her gentle ways
providing to all life’s caring love
and guide us throughout our days

The beauty of every woman
is all about the soul
Her spirit being life’s precious scribe
etching upon our scrolls

You see, true beauty is a woman
no matter what her face
for beauty is seen by special eyes
put simply, ‘tis godly grace

 

Bashō Statue

As a quasi-rule, the shorter the poem, the more it counts on comparison as a device.  As the length shortens, each word takes on greater importance in conveying the poet’s message.  On the extreme end are the shorter Japanese styles we in the West lump into the term haiku.  Traditionally, not only are haiku short, they also need to have a subject dealing with a season of the year or nature in some way.  Modern haiku are less restrictive on that point.  What all properly formed haiku have in common is juxtaposition and a cutting work known as “kireji.”  It is not always easy to pick out the kireji in haiku translated from Japanese; it is true that something is lost.  The most famous haiku is Bashō’s Old Pond:

old pond . . .
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

To really get haiku, the reader must take each line separately.  Read them with a pause, for a thought, and then read the next line.  Look at it this way, if we read “old pond a frog leaps in water’s sound, it is sort of flat.  If we read it with pause and use “in” as the kireji, it takes on depth: “old pond… | a frog leaps in | in water’s sound.”  It causes us to consider the thought of each line as well as the overall thought of the poem.  Read properly, a few little words can be very powerful.

I have not written many haiku.  Here is one that came to mind while watching a military funeral at Beaufort National Cemetery, in Beaufort, SC:

Sacred Stones

volley chases air
gathered loved ones flinch and weep
a lone bugle cries

It would have to be considered “westernized” as I did not employ a kireji directly but I do tie the lines together with the juxtaposition of “weep” and “cries.”  Still, it holds a powerful thought.  If you have ever witnessed a military funeral with full honors, this haiku will stir your soul, if not, it will give you an idea of it.

In the end, short poems are like a punch to the gut, they knock the wind out of you.  Each line has to get right down to business and move the poem along.  Part of the appeal is the space this leaves for the reader to fill in the gaps with their own personal feeling and experiences.  Maybe that is the appeal of short poems in the first place.

I will end with a free verse example that speaks for itself and has no need for an explanation as to my meaning.  It truly illustrates the emotional power a short poem can have.

Heartbeats

If all you wanted was my heartbeat,
you only had to ask.
Each beat, each pulse of it
is there only for you.
There is no need for deception,
though easy a mark am I.
I believe all you tell me, each lie,
I do not question them.
I cannot – I will not!
For I am lost in the promise of what might be,
what never was.

Take them all…
I have no further use for heartbeats.

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Poetry Sunday: Metaphor and Simile, Tools of the Trade

April 29, 2012

Poetry can serve many purposes with the emotions and meanings it conveys.  Some are sad, while others are happy.  Some take us deep into thought while others make us smile at some little point we’ve overlooked.  The point is poetry has a story to tell.  It is the poet’s task to tell the story in a way the reader understands.  This is where metaphor and simile lend a hand.

Though often confused, the two are quite different.  For example, to explain it with a metaphor, one might say, “simile is metaphor with an attitude,” while stating it as a simile, it might read, “Metaphor is like simile.”  In the first case, it states the two things are the same, in a point of view, in the second case, it states they are similar in general.

Of course neither is limited to poetry, though that is where they take up residence most of the time.  One of the most famous metaphors of all time comes from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It[i],

“All the world’s a stage.”

We know the world is not literally a stage but we treat it as if it were by our actions.  In this case, metaphor’s exaggeration helps us understand the

William Shakespeare

point.  Sometimes, such exaggeration gets in the way of understanding.  It makes no sense to say, “He found his way through the maze, after all, all mice are elephants.”  Showing the elephants and mice are the same is just too large a leap.  This is where simile takes over.

Using a simile to compare, you could write the prior statement as “Elephant like, the mouse remembered his way through the maze.”  The simile counts on us knowing elephants have good memories.  It shows mice are similar to elephants in that way.  However, without knowing the point about elephants, the simile has no meaning to the reader.  Simile counts on prior knowledge, metaphor tends to explain itself.  Returning to the Shakespeare quote, it goes on to tell us just how the world is a stage:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances.”

In his metaphor, Shakespeare explains what he means by his statement about the world being a stage.  Even without knowledge of what the stage actually refers too, we understand his meaning.    We can see his point and accept the whole of the world as a stage.  To state the same thing in a simile, you could write:

“Like actors on a stage, people come and go from our lives.”

Somehow, it just does not have the same impact.  In this case, to understand it, we need to know actors enter and leave the stage.  Shakespeare’s metaphor shows us, without knowing anything about actors or stages.  It is up to the poet to know when to use which form of allegory, it is up the reader to judge the poet’s success.

In poetry, similes are somewhat limited to a direct statement in a stanza within a line or two.  Metaphors can do the same but the poem as a whole can act as a metaphor.  In my poem Kite, I use metaphors throughout to describe the attachments in a relationship but the poem as a whole serves as a metaphor on relationships.

With the fairest of breezes,
off I go!  I take to flight.
A silken twine holds me fast
looking back, it leads to you.

You, only you hold the twine,
I rise further to the sky
until no sight of you’s left,
still, the twine holds me to you.

Drunkenly I ride the breeze
knowing that you set my course.
I reach for the high-up clouds
and then strain against your grasp.

Soon whipping winds have me caught,
and they sing upon the twine.
A song we both hear and know,
a sorrowful, wailing song.

Damage done – the string does part
and I flail within a cloud,
leaving you there, holding twine.
Stringy, stretched, useless twine.

You stand there, left wondering |
and I’m lost within the sky.
The twine floats back, back to you
and I’m numb without it there.

Away I fall lost to you
as I crash upon some tree,
leaving you with tangled twine –
the folly of flying kites.

The silken twine is the connection between two people in a relationship.  The kite serves as one person and the kite flyer serves as the other.  Wind acts as the turmoil couples encounter that pulls on the kite string.  Then the whole of kite flying serves as the whole of a failed relationship.  Unlike Shakespeare, I did not explain my metaphoric connections in the poem, as most people will see the links to their own relationships.  That is the great thing about being a poet; we get to make the choice.

Similes are more for simple comparisons.  It is an “A is like B” sort of thing.  For example, in my poem June Bug, I compare bugs getting too close to a light to Icarus.

On a starless night filled with haze
a porch light shines alone.
A yellow-pale reflects on dust
some breath of wind has blown.

And there I sit upon a swing
that moans its off-key sound.
Soon I’m joined by a million wings
that charge this light they’ve found.

They fly a path that’s drunkard-straight
imbibing on the light.
They dare to get but just so close
then escape away with fright.

The light has magic to a point
as they dart and flit around.
But, if to close they dare approach
like Icarus they find ground.

So there I sit and watch the sight
as they swarm and dance in air.
with too much fuss they chase the night
inspired by a porch light’s glare.

Of course, you need to know the mythical story of Icarus for the reference to work, so again, simile counts on prior knowledge, as explaining that myth is a poem all unto itself.  Did you see the direct metaphor I used?  There is one, but in this case, it is what I call a moronic metaphor as it directly disputes itself.  That is a hint by the way.

So both metaphor and simile have a fundamental role in poetry.  They are tools in the poet’s toolbox.  The poet needs to understand when to use which one; the reader needs to know how to connect the dots.   They both add depth to poetry specifically and all forms of communication in general.  Comparison is the way we understand things and that is exactly what they do, they compare.

 

On a side note:  Kite is an example of blank verse.  Blank verse will be the topic of next week’s post.  If you are not familiar with blank verse, read it over again knowing there is something more to it that free verse.  See if you pick up its natural cadence. 


[i] Shakespeare, William. “As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7.” The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Tech, MIT. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://shakespeare.mit.edu/asyoulikeit/full.html>.

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Poetry Sunday: Love and Love Lost Poems

April 22, 2012

Love shares a special relationship with poetry, both in love found and love lost.  Perhaps it is the very nature of poetry that lends itself to the subject of love.  Love is about emotions; poetry is about emotions too.  They seem a natural fit.  Poetry is the refuge for emotion and love moved in as a permanent resident.

Poems about love are also a great equalizer.  They touch both men and women, adults and adolescents, extroverts and introverts, the silly-hearts and the serious, and even the macho and the meek.  Love poems speak to one of our basic needs, the share the love we feel.  As the character, John Keating, the main protagonist in Tom Schulman’s screenplay The Dead Poet’s Society put it when he calls on his students:

John Keating: Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is – Mr. Anderson?  Come on, are you a man or an amoeba?

[pause]

John Keating: Mr. Perry?

Neil: To communicate.

John Keating: No!  To woo women!

At the very least, we must admit that communicating our love for others is one of our primary uses of language, and by extension, poetry.

When done right, a love poem keeps time with the heart; each foot becomes a heartbeat.  Just as emotion builds within a poem as the heartbeats continue, so too emotions build within our souls as our heartbeats force us to express our love or seeming explode from its pressure.  Poetry is a natural ally.

Love poems can be very basic.  As children, we all learned:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

It does not get much simpler than that.  As with most things with age, this little poem’s true origins are murky.  The earliest allusion to the lines is probably Sir Edmond Spencer’s The Faerie Queene[i] with these two lines:

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.[sic]

Regardless, the poem has become ubiquitous and even lampooned over the years.  Even with its simplicity, it has the poetic quality that conveys a feeling of affection.

While love poems work to convey love in its positive aspects, there is love lost too.  Its emotions and feeling are just as strong, if not stronger.  Certainly, the rawness of them is well understood by anyone past the age of twelve.

The subject of lost love has many sources in poetry, not all are about rejection.  The source can be a death, distance, or circumstance as well as rejection.  For instance, Robert Burns’ poem A Red, Red, Ros[sic], has nothing to do with rejection:

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Though Burns is credited as the poet, he claimed it is based on a song he heard a Scottish lass sing to her lover no longer with her.  Rather than sorry for her loss, she sang of her willingness to do whatever it took to regain her love.  It speaks to love’s ability to endure.

Separation often plays a strong role in love poems.  Sometimes it is physical distance; sometimes situation creates the separation.  In either case, the poet uses poetry to express the desire for it to be otherwise.  In my sonnet Distance, I talk about how two souls are entwined regardless of the distance between them:

Care not my love, of this distance between
’tis like two hands on arms reaching full wide
though no greater space will ever be seen
I still hold you near, as if by my side

For connected we are, as parts to a whole
with emotions of love, a life blood shared
Distance does nothing to weaken the soul
keep that in mind at times you are scared

A touch on the hand is known body wide
though it’s only one hand at times involved
We are the same when our love is applied
love is our touch and distance’s problem solved

Together in life our hearts beat as one
two souls entwined, our life-course is run

It does not say if that distance is miles or some other obligation.  It simply shows love can overcome.  As sad as the distance is, the poem holds out hope.

Compare this to another my sonnet The Day I Found You, that celebrates finding love:

We sat upon a swing that day
and made the world our own
We talked with more than words could say
with seeds our thoughts had sown

For love began upon that swing
our souls became as one
For us the world had joys to bring
through this life that we’ve run

I look back now, that day I see
and know I found my soul
It’s from life’s dark you set me free
and with your love made whole

I love you for you, but really much more
you taught me to love, you opened love’s door

While both talk of love found, in the first, distance stands in its way.  In the second, it speaks to the power of love and its ability to make us more than we are alone.  It celebrates love and has even greater hope for the future.

Still, there is that nagging other side to love poems – love lost.  As powerful as poems about finding love are, poems that speak to its loss have at least as much impact upon us.  Perhaps it is our knowing just what it means to lose a love that gives them the punch.  Perhaps it is our memory that makes us relate so well to them.  They often speak directly to the soul, bypassing the conscious.  I mean we hear them, for sure, but is a deeper feeling within the soul that is moved by them.  Just as poems about love found speak to love’s joyful possibilities, poems of love lost show the depths love can drive us down.  This is exactly the point of Heartbeats.  It speaks to the raw emotion I felt the day I wrote it:

If all you wanted was my heartbeat,
you only had to ask.
Each beat, each pulse of it
is there only for you.
There is no need for deception,
though easy a mark am I.
I believe all you tell me, each lie,
I do not question them.
I cannot – I will not!
For I am lost in the promise of what might be,
what never was.

Take them all…
I have no further use for heartbeats.

Poetry is about expression.  When expressing love lost, it tends to cut, not with derogatory and hateful words but more by showing vulnerability.  Often, when hurt by love, it is within the gentlest spaces in our hearts.  It makes us wish to callous them and never be hurt again, but gratefully, that is not how it works and we seem foolish enough to step back into love’s light again and again; again finding the need of joyful love poems.

In the end, perhaps Keating was right.  We developed language not so much to communicate as to communicate out emotions.  Perhaps this is exactly why love poems carry such strength within our souls.


[i]Spencer, Edmond. “The Faerie Queene.” Spencer, Edmond. The Faerie Queene. London: William Ponsonbie, 1596. Book Three, Canto 6, Stanza 6. Book.

 

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Why Write Poetry

April 14, 2012

photo courtesy of National Park Service, via Wikipedia

Poets may not change the world, but we do start the quiver in the snow that leads to the avalanche of change. That is enough for me.

-MH Benton

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Poetry Sunday – Sonnets, A Bit Harder but Well Worth the Effort

April 1, 2012

Sonnets are one of the harder forms of poetry to master.  To make matters even more muddled, there are many forms of sonnets.  In the United States, when we think of sonnets, it is the English, otherwise known as the Shakespearean, form we think of.  Other popular sonnet styles are Italian, Occitan, Spenserian, Modern, and many others.

I like Shakespearean most, but when I write them, I modify the style a bit.  A classic Shakespearean sonnet uses three quatrains and a couplet with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG and a meter in the iambic pentameter style.  To put that into English, each stanza rhymes every other line and no two stanzas use the same rhyming words as other stanzas.  Further, each line is ten syllables long in most cases with a natural strong stress on the even syllables.  This is where the word foot comes in.

Iambic means the syllables of a line are grouped in pairs with the stronger stress on the end syllable.  One of the best examples comes from one the Bard’s plays:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:[i]

It is hard to read lines like this from Hamlet in anything other than its Iambic form.  The words are naturally stressed on the even syllables.  With the stressed syllables emphasized, it looks like this:

 “To be, or not to be, that is the question:”

Remember, the line is from his play and in his plays the lines do not always contain the right number of syllables. Such is the case with the example, but it does illustrate extremely well the proper use of iambic meter.

The syllable group is called a foot.  Some groups have two syllables, and some have three or more. In the Shakespearean Sonnet’s case, there are ten syllables making up five iambic pairs or five feet. The word for five feet in a line is pentameter and when the two work together it is called iambic pentameter.

While this is not the technical definition, it works for a general understanding of how Shakespearean Sonnets work.  Here is one of William Shakespeare’s famous examples, simply titled Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 

You can see Uncle Bill’s (Shakespeare is every poet’s good ol’ Uncle Bill) use of the rhyme scheme and meter.  We must give deference to the changes in language since then that makes the rhymes seem forced in some cases.

Another writing device used in most sonnet forms is the “turn,” or volta, as poets like to call it.  By the way, volta means time or turn in Italian.  This turn is a distinct change in the thought and flow of the poem.  While it is not a spelled out rule, many poets place the turn in the third quatrain (stanza) and return from the change in the ending couplet.  Shakespeare placed his volta at the couplet and so do I.  It really is up to the poet.

While Shakespeare is one of the true masters of the form, I find sticking to a constant meter (iambic pentameter for instance) does not blend well with modern though and speech patterns.  I like to break the quatrain into couplets with the first line having four feet and the last having three.  It just reads easier to me and gives the work a more song-like quality.  Here is one of my sonnets for example:

The Day I Found You

We sat upon a swing that day
and made the world our own
We talked with more than words could say
with seeds our thoughts had sown

For love began upon that swing
our souls became as one
For us the world had joys to bring
through this life that we’ve run

I look back now, that day I see
and know I found my soul
It’s from life’s dark you set me free
and with your love, made whole

I love you for you, but really much more
you taught me to love, you opened love’s door

So, why not take out your pen and give a sonnet a try.  It is the first day of National Poetry Month after all!  Pick a classic style or modify one and I did.  It is up to you.  The point is to create something that is uniquely you, something that expresses your feelings and thoughts.  I know some of you are thinking “eeew – I can’t write a mushy love poem.”  The good news is sonnets can be about anything, it is the style of the poem, no its subject matter, for example:

What Stars Know

The far off lights that paint the sky
as dark does veil the Phoebus stage
and the crescent moon’s winking eye
do know the truth of wars we wage

For land, for God, for things profound
we give as reasons why we fight
but orbs up high retort the sound
of angry words proclaiming right

Tis death and pain that man does sow
upon this home, our home – the earth
the cost exceeds what we can know
are we so vain to set life’s worth?

To learn from stars is what we must do
Live and let live is the path that’s true

 Sonnets are harder to write, that is certain.  Once you do, you will understand the fun of it.  The rules make the game fun, but like with any game you must practice before you become good at it.  Write well, write often!


[i] “Hamlet.” – Act 3, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare. Web. 01 Apr. 2012.
<http://www.shakespeare-literature.com/Hamlet/8.html>.

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National Poetry Month

March 29, 2012

Here is a little poem to celebrate April being National Poetry Month and help get you in the mood to write one for yourself.  It really does not matter if you are a poet or not, give it a try.  You may just surprise yourself.  Feel free to post any you write here in response, I would love to read them.

National Poetry Month

April’s here and the time has come
to dust off that mighty pen
scribe a few lines and pick a plum
that rhymes as the lines do end

Give us your thoughts on many things
whatever comes to mind
Then you will fly as birds with wings
and freedom you soon will find

We need your words to fill the cup
allowing our souls to drink
takes little time to fill it up
then causing our minds to think

Believe it or not, a poet’s there
sleeping deep within your soul
So take a chance and show your flair
and let your words take control

You can read more about National Poetry Month at Poets & Writers.org at this link: http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/41

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Free-verse, free-verse everywhere, but still no poets think

March 20, 2012

Walt Whitman
Father of Free-verse

I am often asked where my inspiration comes from regarding my poetry.  I am taken a little aback by this, as I think my poetry is self-evident. I guess they are asking more about what makes me see the world as I do rather than what a particular poem is all about.

For me, my life is poetry, not some free-verse prose form that runs on like a bad version of Hemmingway.  No, the poetry of my life is more like Frost, Dickenson, and Yeats.  In other words, it has something to say, a singular point to make.

I will never be a modern poet.  I do not understand spoken-word or slam poetry.  I’m not knocking them, it’s just not me.  I am all about metaphor and form, that and a good selection of adjectives.  It has been said I write “like a nineteenth century poet.”  I am sure it was not meant as a compliment but for me there could be no greater.  I am lost in a romantic time when true craftsmanship existed in poetry.

In the end, modern poetry has just passed me by.  In fact, I see free-verse much the same as Robert Frost.  He put it like this: “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.”  I tend to think the form is over used today.  In a sense, it is advanced poetry.  It requires the poet to be poetic without the use of ninety percent of poetry’s tools.  It is like a carpenter building a house with just a hammer.

Still, it does have its place, there is no denying that.  To be honest, some of my more popular poems are free-verse.  My point is I use the form sparingly.  I produce a work in that style, and then retreat back to the safety of rhyme and meter.  It is like coming home after a vacation.   It is good to get out and see the world, but nothing beats coming home.

Perhaps it is the fast-paced world that promotes free-verse.  I mean if all you have to do is move from a to b and not worry over structure, results come quickly.  I am not sure “quickness” is what Walt Whitman wished to inspire or that the controversial poet, Ezra Pound accepted a “fire and forget” approach to poetry.  They mastered the use of words and kept a poetic feel to their work.  Pound’s great free-verse The Garden has little in common in approach, style and feel of works produced today.  The effort he expended is obvious and the result speaks for itself.

Opening Stanza of The Garden:

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
of a sort of emotional anemia.

Of course Ezra would be happy with poetry going beyond where he left it.  He even said to do just that.  My point is not about the newness, it is the seeming lack of effort I feel with much of what I read in today’s free-verse offerings.  I feel it debases the art of poetry.  I get the sense a young poet reads some T.S. Eliot and thinks “I can do that,” never realizing the painstaking time and deliberate word selection Eliot struggled with.  Even one of his best poems, one of the best poems ever, The Waste Land has been criticized for its disconnection and disjointed style, more a criticism of free-verse than Eliot.   Still, when you read it, then step back from it, the symmetry and beauty of the work stands like a beacon in the night.

The opening lines of The Waste Land:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

What all these champions of free-verse had in common is the ability to pick and choose the elements they used and remain poetic.  They knew how to color outside the lines.  That is what seems to be missing today.  While they abandoned the rules, they never abandoned style.

In the end, each poet must walk their own path.  My 2¢ worth of advice will not hold even that value to them.  My only hope is young poets wake up and put in the effort to produce true poetry and not just slap a few catchy words together and think themselves brilliant.

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