Print Story Poem of the Day: Marlowe's Shepherd and Co., Day 4: "Raleigh Was Right"
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By Beechwood 45789 (Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 02:49:08 AM EST) (all tags)
"We cannot go to the country
for the country will bring us no peace."


Raleigh Was Right
by William Carlos Williams

We cannot go to the country
for the country will bring us no peace
What can the small violets tell us
that grow on furry stems in
the long grass among lance shaped leaves?

Though you praise us
and call to mind the poets
who sung of our loveliness
it was long ago!
long ago! when country people
would plough and sow with
flowering minds and pockets at ease-
if ever this were true.

Not now. Love itself a flower
with roots in a parched ground.
Empty pockets make empty heads.
Cure it if you can but
do not believe that we can live
today in the country
for the country will bring us no peace.

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Poem of the Day: Marlowe's Shepherd and Co., Day 4: "Raleigh Was Right" | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Poetry as a craft is dead by marvin (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 06:54:54 AM EST
Call me a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, but I still think poetry pretty much died in the 1800's with the Romantics.

Perhaps it is due to the fact that my high school English lit class (one of my favourite classes) focused on works from the Elizabethan era through to the Romantics, but I haven't read much poetry written since then that I've cared for in any way, and most of it doesn't have the same impact. 

Marlowe and Raleigh said as much, if not more than the above poem. They managed to do it within the constraints of verse with both consistent meter and rhyming.

This modern stuff
leaves me cold and empty.
All it is
is just a few sentences,
with line breaks at random spots.

To make it appear "deep" and meaningful
when in fact
it is made without craftsmanship
and void of character.

So the above took me less than two minutes to write. If I were to try and say the same thing in a poem written while trying to attain a similar level of craft as Marlowe (not that I would succeed), it would take me hours or days. Who has done anything even remotely comparable to The Eve of St Agnes in recent years?

Okay. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 07:21:42 AM EST
You're a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist.

People have different tastes. That's why they make so much poetry.

I should point out though, unlike Williams' poem, yours lacks sense imagery, circular structure, the nice "l" alliteration in the first stanza, the odd shift in narrative voice (from poet to violet to poet? again), interesting metaphors, and the extended flower conceit, among other things.

In fairness to you, you did say yours took just two minutes. To really reproduce something like Williams's poem would probably take some time and careful effort. Though, that would be counter productive as the whole argument was that modern poets don't actually have to work at stuff.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps it was intended by marvin (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 07:40:00 AM EST
My "poem" could be construed as an echo of the emptiness and lack of substance or craft that is prevalent in modern poetry. Perhaps the lack of these minor details is in itself a statement?

The level of craftsmanship (skill + effort) required by Williams to change voice or create some rather weak alliteration is quite low when compared to that required to produce works such as those by Marlowe and Raleigh. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

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I don't buy it. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:23:35 AM EST
All snarkiness aside, I'm no poet, so I honestly don't know the the level of skill and effort (though the second element there seems like it is poor measure - one of the cruelest things about artistic effort is that there's no set relationship between effort and quality) that goes into any given poem. I'm not sure anybody but the individual poet could tell you that.

Ginsburg, for example, wrote without meter or rhyme. However, from contemporaries, we know he obsessed about word choice and structure, revisiting poems again and again. He reworked "Howl" for months. If we found that Marlowe had tossed off "Shepherd" in a day or two, would we say it was a lesser poem than "Howl" because it scored lower on the skill/effort matrix? What do we do about poets who work in meter and rhyme, but do so strictly for laughs (we've got a Nash poem coming in the series, for example)? Or poets who, even within a single poem, slide between meter/rhyme sections and free verse sections (T. S. Eliot does that sometimes)?

It seems to me that we measure poems by their impact on the reader - and that we can't quantify.

The boat floating problem.

[ Parent ]
Quantification by marvin (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:44:46 AM EST
It seems to me that we measure poems by their impact on the reader - and that we can't quantify.
Fully agreed. Good comment, as reading poetry is a qualitative task.

One thing I would add though, is that when it comes to craftsmanship, skill is much more important than effort, and effort is not equivalent to time expended. Michelangelo probably sculpted "David" in three years, and I have no idea what else he did during that time period. I couldn't come close even if I had 30 or 300 years.

Same with paintings - I don't care how long it took to paint Voice of Fire, or if Monet churned out paintings in 1/10th the time, paintings like Voice of Fire are merely shit posing as art. IMHO.

I have a similar feelings about much, but certainly not all modern poetry. Many of the ones you post are okay, some are really good (I think you posted one a month or so ago that I enjoyed,  for Blixco perhaps), but most are just "meh". There is worse out there for certain than the stuff you post.

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meh by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:06:04 AM EST
I'd take Yeats over Keats any day. And I don't even like Yeats.

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Nationalist!!! by marvin (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:23:46 AM EST
Supporting a fellow Irishperson like that. You clearly do not belong in the new EU.

I don't read enough poetry or care about it deeply enough to get upset about the fact that other people like different things than I do. Even if I did read more and care more about the subject, it's a free world. Enjoy whatever you want to, as long as it doesn't interfere with me. Your dislike of Keats has zero impact on my belief that Eve of St. Agnes is the best poem written EVAR.

Of course, I also believe that people who disagree with me are generally wrong and often delusional, but that is just my narcissism talking.

[ Parent ]
I saw a book at the airport this morning. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 08:57:52 AM EST
"The Ode Less Travelled" by Stephen Fry.  Seems to be a DIY guide to writing poetry, but was quite entertaining in the bits I read. 

Might be of interest for you; possibly a little lighter than academic tomes on structure, form and history of poetry.  Or it might be pitched a little beneath you.


I seen it before, but never read it. by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:25:59 AM EST
I thought it was about reading poetry, but it is actually about writing it? Interesting.

Man, is there anything Jeeves can't do?

[ Parent ]
It would appear by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:43:43 AM EST
The man's talents are unbounded!


[ Parent ]
Hot damn! by Beechwood 45789 (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:47:58 AM EST
That's the coolest thing I've seen in months.

[ Parent ]
I'm here for you by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 03:33:02 PM EST
Would you like for me to cancel this morning, given your libations of the previous eve?


[ Parent ]
Poem of the Day: Marlowe's Shepherd and Co., Day 4: "Raleigh Was Right" | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback