Blog Post for the Week of 12/6

     The Poem “Sun” by Michael Palmer is interesting because of the way it combines more tradtional elements of a poem with the form of blank verse and incorporates elements of the horrors of war.  Palmer frequently employs anaphora throughout his poem when he repeats line openings such as “Write this” in the first three lines.  His repetitions of line openings and of words throughout the poem help provide some sort of structure outside of the blank verse form. 

     Palmer also incorporates elements from different wars in this poem.  “We have burned all the villages and the people in them” is a reference to a town in Cambodia that was accidentally bombed during warfare (2).  War events like this are horrific and definitely help shape the poem as one concerned with the institution of war. 

     The issue of language also comes to mind through lines such as “I will converse with no one on those days of the week which end in y.”  In the English language all the days of the week end in the letter “y,” but it is not that way in all languages.  This brings up the question of which language is the speaker thinking of?  His native tongue?  Or the language of one of the peoples captured by war?  When the speaker mentions alphabet letters in his notebook near the end of the poem it also calls to question whether the speaker is one of those who facilitated war playing with letters or one of the victims of war who is trying to adopt a new language in an attempt to assimilate into a forced culture.

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Blog Post for the Week of 11/29

     The excerpt from Black Riders and Other Lines by Stephen Crane is interesting because it is not formatted in the same way as other poems in the Norton Anthology in that it is printed entirely in caps.  It is also notable that the poet/author, Stephen Crane, did not like to refer to the works in this poetry collection as “poems” but instead as “lines.”  The structure of this excerpt is interesting because each section has one thing in common; either a striking closing statement or a thought-provoking closing question. 

     Section III is intriguing because in the ten lines printed there is a depiction of a man consuming his own heart.  This scene is strange because when the speaker asks the man if what he is eating is good, the man says simply that it is bitter.  This seems to make some sort of statement on the man’s character as who would wish to consume his own heart and who would be content or even satisfied with his heart being bitter?  The last line “‘AND BECAUSE IT IS MY HEART'” gives another reason why the man might enjoy eating his heart; because it is his (10).  Perhaps the fact that it is his own heart is enough to cancel out the bitter taste that is more than likely symbolic of poor character.

     Section LVI is also notable because Crane manages to bring up a very thought-provoking question within three lines.  Although Crane does not pose a question within this segment of lines the closing line “ONE WAS MORE WISE THAN THE OTHER” poses one (3).  The question that can be infered is which man is more wise, the one afraid of finding an assassin or the one who is presumably an assassin who is afraid of finding a victim?  To answer that question the question of which act (being murdered or murdering) is worse needs to be answered.  If being murdered is worse that being a murderer than the man who fears the assassin is more wise and vice versa.  It can also be read that the presumed assassin in the wiser man since by fearing finding a victim he is preventing both someone being murdered and somone committing a murder.

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Blog Post for the Week of 11/22

     “In Memory of W. B. Yeats” by W.H. Auden is a striking elegy that mourns the loss of William Butler Yeats, a fellow poet.  The elegy is broken up into three segments and each serves a specific function in the poem. 

     The first segment, which is titled with the Roman numeral “I” seems to be written in alternating trochaic pentameter and hexameter.  This section introduces the subject of the poem, W.B. Yeats and the event of his death.  The language Auden uses even brings to mind death such as in lines like “He disappeared in the dead of winter” and “The day of his death was a cold dark day” (1 and 6).  Besides bringing to mind Yeats’ deathdate in January, the words “dead of winter” call to mind barren trees and gray skies which go along with the pallor of death.  The use of words such as “dark” and “cold” can also be associated with a corpse which makes sense in an elegy.  The first sectino also contains some elements of a pastoral elegy such as images of nature like “The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests” (8). 

     The second section, denoted with the Roman numeral “II,” is the shortest of the three sections and is dominated primarily by trochaic hexameter lines.  The second section contains an apostrophe in its opening line where Auden speaks directly to Yeats, who is not present; “You were silly like” (32).  This changes the dynamic of the poem in that the deceased Yeats is now who Auden is addressing directly.  This section is more personal because Auden makes references to events of Yeats’ life, “Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry” (34).  As an Irishman, Yeats was involved with his country. 

     The third section, denoted with the Roman numeral “III,” has the shortest lines of the three sections which are written in trochaic tetrameter.  This third section is almost like its own poem in itself.  It has a less mournful tone than the other sections as well, “With your unconstraining voice/Still persuade us to rejoice” (56-57).  This section moves away from the formal and sustained lament that defines the rest of the poem.

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Thanksgiving with the Family: An Attempt at a Villanelle

Ice me thou shall not for I have a block

Thanksgiving smells permeate the air

The family come once a year in flocks.

Many run around the house in their socks

The turkey cooks slowly throughout the day

Ice me thou shall not for I have a block.

The ice comes out, but never on the rocks

The cousins distribute without delay

The family comes once a year in flocks.

The food keeps cooking as mom checks the clock

The ice is plenty and not in the way

Ice me though shall not for I have a block.

The rules are explained, which no one does mock

The playes are eager to begin play

The family comes once a year in flocks.

The game begins as the clock goes tick tock

The food is served this time on many trays

Ice me thou shall not for I have a block

The family comes once a year in flocks.

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Blog Post for the Week of 11/15

The Billy Collins poem “Aimless Love” has many conditions of the Greater Romantic Lyric such as opening with a description of the landscape, “This morning as I walked along the lakeshore” (1).  The poem also contains a shift from the external landscape to the poet’s internal one, “I fell in love with a wren/and later in the day with a mouse/the cat had dropped under the dining room table” (2-4).  The poet shifts from describing the landscape to explaining an internal emotion; love.  The poem does have a different ending than is typical for a romantic lyric, however, in that it does not end where it began with the poet describing a landscape, but instead describing a bathroom, “So at home in its pale green soap dish” (34).

This poem seems to be about, as the title suggests, love that has no real point.  The poem seems to throw the emotion around.  To me, it seems that the poem seems to be either a reaction of someone who has been hurt by love, or the disclaimer of someone who finds it easy to fall in love.  The poem seems like it might be the reaction of someone hurt by love because at times the poet seems to express bitterness towards romantic love, “This is the best kind of love, I thought,/without recompense, without gifts,/or unkind words, without suspicion,/or silence on the telephone” (10-13).  This stanza begins by refering to the things the poet loves in nature and ends with clearly describing love with another person as negative; which is the only way romantic love is portrayed in the poem.  The ideas of falling in love presented in the first two stanzas also go along with this kind of reaction because the things the poet falls in love with cannot reciprocate and therefore cannot hurt him.  Another reason that it goes along with this idea is that the poet might view love as meaningless after being hurt and therefore throw around the emotion more.

The third to last stanza can also be interpreted multiple ways to suit either way of interpreting the poem.  This stanza, “But my heart is always propped up/in a field on its tripod/ready for the next arrow” can be seen as portraying negative or positive vulnerablity (26-28).  The arrows mentioned can be viewed as daggers meant to pierce and destroy his heart or as Cupid’s arrows which cause the poet to continually fall in love.  If the poem is to be interpreted as the reaction of one who has been scorned, the dead mouse can be seen to symbolize the poet.  It is mentioned that a cat has killed the mouse and cats are carelss with their prey until the animal gives up and dies.  This could symbolize the way that someone has been careless with the poet and injured him to the point where he just gives up and refuses to partake in that sort of love any longer.  The burial of the mouse could be seen to symbolize the poet hiding his vulnerable heart, off an older, more trusting version of himself.  When the poet mentions washing his hands, “I founcd myself standing at the bathroom sink/gazing down affectionately at the soap” it could symbolize the poet permanently giving up on love by first burying a vulnerable version of himself and then washing his hands of the whole past ordeal and the idea of future ones (31-32).

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Blog Post for the Week of 11/8

William Collins’ poem, “Ode on the Poetical Charracter,” is interesting because it is broken up into three stanzas and each stanza is titled with an integral part of a sonnet; strophe, epode, and antistrophe.  Generally the antistrophe precedes the epode, but in Collins’ poem it is reversed.  The section titled “Strophe” seems to be an address to Edmund Spenser and The Faerie Queene, “Him whose school above the rest/His loveliest Elvin Queen has blest” (3-4).  Although the title of the ode and the title of the stanza seem to suggest that the ode would address odes and their subjects, the first stanza is more specific.  The second stanza also appears to address Spenser and his work although it seems to be in a more intimate way linking the poet to his creation, “Retiring, sate with her alone,/And placed her on his sapphire throne” (31-32).  This stanza seems to talk about Spenser and his inspiration and the way he created his masterpiece.  The last stanza seems to again be an address to Spenser, but this time Collins seems to mention how he feels inspired by Spenser, “My trembling feet his guiding steps pursue” (71).  The ode seems to progress from addressing the poet in relation to his work to addressing the poet as an inspiration.

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Blog Post for the Week of 11/1

“Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room” by William Wordsworth has a rhyme scheme of abbaabbacddccd.  This sonnet is similar in structure to an Italian Sonnet because the octave has the same rhyme scheme, but the sestet is slightly different.  The poem means that those who encounter a limited view of the world due to what they choose to devote themselves to are content because their choice allows them complete devotion, “And hermits are contented with their cells” (2).  The nuns are content because their Convent allows them to devote themselves more fully to God and the students are contented with their citadels because it is there that they are able to be more fully devoted to their studies.  Wordsworth goes on to suggest that those who have too many choices and too much freedom are frequently less satisfied and can find solace in writing sonnets.  It seems that he is suggesting that the sonnet is a rigid poem structure and can help contain the unconstrained minds of those with complete liberty.

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