Sunday, January 25, 2009

Favorite Poem #2: Ultimatum by Dorothy Parker

I'm wearied of wearying love, my friend,
Of worry and strain and doubt;
Before we begin, let us view the end,
And maybe I'll do without.
There's never the pang that was worth the tear,
And toss in the night I won't-
So either you do or you don't, my dear,
Either you do or you don't!

The table is ready, so lay your cards
And if they should augur pain,
I'll tender you ever my kind regards
And run for the fastest train.
I haven't the will to be spent and sad;
My heart's to be gay and true-
Then either you don't or you do, my lad,
Either you don't or you do!

Dorothy Parker is one of my favorite poets because of her blunt, satirical and feminist take on life. I liked this poem very much because of the conversational style she chooses to have the speaker take on. Discussing whether to fall in love and begin a relationship but, in a funny brash tone. "Before we begin, let us view the end,And maybe I'll do without." The speakers tone is like a strain of emotions, just waiting for the reaction of their lover. I like how she lists what could happen but cuts herself short because she doesn't want to dwell on what could happen and just wants to know if it can, "I haven't the will to be spent and sad; My heart's to be gay and true-Then either you don't or you do, my lad, Either you don't or you do!" I like how blunt this statement is, of the ultimatum of love. She successfully expresses the pain in the unknowing reaction of the ultimatum reciever from the ultimatum giver. I felt that Parker was summing up relationships and love as being two people who either do or don't. Simplistically solving one of the most complicated things in a young persons life.

Favorite Poem #1: If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

I really like this poem because of the descriptions of the love and emotion he feels for his lover. In the first stanza especially,"everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me." It has a very romantic tone from the language used. I found it interesting how the middle of the poem, Neruda contradicts his deep emotional love with the warning,"If suddenly you forget me, do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you." The middle stanzas tell of how easily this discovered love can be forgotten and how unattached the speaker can become if the lover they are talking to does as well. But, in the end Neruda switches once again to that love entrenched speaker, "But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine." I really like how in the end the speaker recants their speech on easily forgetting their beloved and essentially cements all the strong rapturous emotions they spoke of in the beginning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

External Form (Sonnets) #2: Sonnets by Billy Collins p.1035

I love how this sonnet makes fun of the structural forms of sonnets and the "stress" over sticking to the guidelines. "All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now, and after this one just a dozen," describes the typical fourteen line stanza of a sonnet. Collins sarcastically pokes fun of the typical themes of sonnets, "launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas" and the more intricate Elizabethan sonnets that "insist the iambic bongos must be played and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines." The irony throughout "Sonnet" is that is follows the fourteen line form of a sonnet and sometimes uses a rhyme scheme (see quote above).
The typical Petrarchan or Italian form of 8-6 line sonnets, Collin's notes at the end of his sonnet. "But hang on here while we make the turn into the final six where all will be resolved." Ironically, Collin's last six lines ending not only his own literal sonnet but, his fake love themed sonnet he mentions in his octave, "where longing and heartache will find an end." Specifically targeting the originator of the Italian form, "tell Petrarch to put down his pen, take off those crazy medieval tights, blow out the lights, and come at last to bed." These final words show that although Collin's clear message showcased his cynical view on sonnet writing and style. He would ironically and intentionally end up writing a sonnet, following the very guidelines of the poets whom he criticized.

External Form (Sonnets) #1: The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus p.1027

In the first eight lines or octave of this sonnet, the Statue of Liberty or "Mother of Exile" is described. In the sonnet, the Statue of Liberty is idolized into the "beacon-hand glowing worldwide welcome" between the "twin cities frame" a.k.a. Manhattan and Brooklyn, serving as the beacon of hope and symbol of freedom to all the immigrants coming to Ellis Island. The title "The New Colossus" draws connection to the "brazen giant of Greek fame,"referring to The Colossus of Rhodes, the 100-ft statue of the sun god Helios and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This comparison shows the great symbol of power the statue is to the many immigrants "teeming (the) shore."
In the last six lines (or sestet) the statue of liberty broadcasts the message, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" to all the tired and battered immigrants entering the U.S. This poem held such a connection to the Statue of Liberty that in 1945, all fourteen lines of the poem were engraved on the main entrance of the Statue. This 8-6 sonnet form is usually called the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. Named after the early master of this structure, the Italian poet Petrarch.

External Form #2: Sow by Sylvia Plath

God knows how our neighbor managed to breed
His great sow:
Whatever his shrewd secret, he kept it hid

In the same way
He kept the sow--impounded from public stare,
Prize ribbon and pig show.

But one dusk our questions commended us to a tour
Through his lantern-lit
Maze of barns to the lintel of the sunk sty door

To gape at it:
This was no rose-and-larkspurred china suckling
With a penny slot

For thrift children, nor dolt pig ripe for heckling,
About to be
Glorified for prime flesh and golden crackling

In a parsley halo;
Nor even one of the common barnyard sows,
Mire-smirched, blowzy,

Maunching thistle and knotweed on her snout-
Bloat tun of milk
On the move, hedged by a litter of feat-foot ninnies

Shrilling her hulk
To halt for a swig at the pink teats. No. This vast
Brobdingnag bulk

Of a sow lounged belly-bedded on that black
Fat-rutted eyes
Dream-filmed. What a vision of ancient hoghood

Thus wholly engross
The great grandam!--our marvel blazoned a knight,
Helmed, in cuirass,

Unhorsed and shredded in the grove of combat
By a grisly-bristled
Boar, fabulous enough to straddle that sow's heat.

But our farmer whistled,
Then, with a jocular fist thwacked the barrel nape,
And the green-copse-castled

Pig hove, letting legend like dried mud drop,
Slowly, grunt
On grunt, up in the flickering light to shape

A monument
Prodigious in gluttonies as that hog whose want
Made lean Lent

Of kitchen slops and, stomaching no constraint,
Proceeded to swill
The seven troughed seas and every earthquaking

The stanzas in this poem i thought were very important. They were broken up so much that when you literally say the poem aloud, you're forced to pause. This i felt Plath did on purpose, to create a type of dialogue that a person would have to themselves, when sneaking up on a mysterious barn with a "sow" or female hog inside. Another interesting part of the poem is the title "Sow". The word has different meanings other than just female pig ( "rows of molds in pigs bed" and "a kind of covered shed" relates to the setting of a barn with a "vision of ancient hoghood" hidden inside. The speaker of the poem is contemplating the image of the female hog inside the barn and inflating the image with fantasies of its grandness, "a monument, prodigious in gluttonies." The tone is wonderment from the mysteries of the symbolic "sow" around the corner of the barn doors. Plath chooses to change the typically "gluttonous and greedy pig" to a symbolic form of aspiration and interest to the speaker. Overall, i felt that this poem held many different interpretations and meanings in every stanza.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

External Form #1: Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

This poem uses the terza rima rhyme scheme like in Dante's, The Divine Comedy. The repetition of the beginning stanza's "I have" creates the authors tone of true factual statements. I thought the poems title suggests night to be dark and scary simply because of the phrasing of it "Acquainted with the Night". The word "acquainted" isn't as warm and inviting as "meet" or "became bffls with" (But this is just my opinion). After reading the poem a couple times I thought Frost used the night as an allusion for his inner soul or conscience. He lists the different directions he has traveled "in the night" and his reactions, metaphorically relating these paths to different tests of his soul, that he has endured. The "night" i felt was the ultimate metaphor for the strange and unpredictable ways of life. (Also literal, the night is dark, you can't see what's coming at you and in life you can't predict what's going to happen). I liked this poem because of its use of terza rima and its overall meaning towards a wandering soul.

External Form: Adrienne Rich

Poems by Adrienne Rich

Reading "Terza Rima"