Poem Preview

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:07

So, I had a poetic breakthrough today. I've been fiddling with a 44 line poem since last fall. I'd work on it a bit, then leave it. It's grown slowly, starting from just a few small lines. But, I've had a growing sense it needed to be part of a much more ambitious work to really reach my goals for it. I am trying to experiment with the modernist style of T.S. Eliot, fused with my normal iambic pentameter, rhyming verse. I'm clearly no Eliot, nor is my goal to nail an imitation of his style, but rather I am trying to apply some lessons from his poetry to make my own style a bit less of a pseudo-neo-Classical style with too much raw emotion. Eliot advises, and I think for good reason, that the poet's job is to distill raw emotion into what the New Criticism dubbed “the objective correlative.” That term refers to creating objective descriptions that evoke particular emotions rather than merely describing the emotions themselves. A great example comes from Archibald MacLeish's “Ars Poetica,” which states, “For all the history of grief / An empty door / And a maple leaf.” Think about those lines for a moment — does not “An empty door / And a maple leaf” describe a biting grief far better than any direct description could likely provide?

At any rate, I'm not exactly a fast poet, but I managed to write another 78 lines today, consisting of parts of two more poems. Quantity is not how one should measure poetic success, but it is the way one measures how close one is to completing the framework of a project. ;) The project now may include up to ten poems which will form a larger poetic sequence. My original poem fits in as the third poem in the sequence.

Here are the first lines as they presently are written:

Shadows mark untrue casts of reality,
A silent world lacking validity,
Those visitants dance and flicker as
The dark wood, staid oaks and pines, sway now.
An ache beyond the words I know, will know,
Illude my muse to sing out in any key.

Re: Poem Preview

Sounds good - my son just got his ACT scores, and last week, got 200 pounds of literature books. I don't think I am going to get a work assignment today, so I'll line them up on the table, in the homeschool loft. Trust me, my day job is a lot easier!

13 out of 18 isn't bad, especially for a 13 year old, and the rest of the scores are 17 and 18's. So I'm not worried. College is still four years away.

That makes for a pound a week for his four years of high school. Poetry will be a part of his (and my) education - Plato, Chaucer, Calvin - even Eliot, in volume 60, or pound 196. I don't think many libraries organize by weight:)

Life has thrust me on an interesting stage. My son won a scholarship from Sigma Phi Epsilon, and, as I chatted with the gentlemen who gave him the award, I asked them if they were an honorary society (like Phi Beta Kappa). I commented that my college had a social fraternity - Sigma Phi Epsilon. They told me that's what they are. We started talking, and I remarked how much I appreciated the Greek system. I remember late nights in the kitchen, shooting the breeze with English majors, appreciating the aspects of literature.

This place (asIsaid) seems to be like that fraternity kitchen. A safe place for rookies with wimpy batting averages to bounce ideas around. Thanks for having us!

Posted by Mike O - Jun 21, 2007 | 23:43

Re: Poem Preview

Yeah, it's a good kitchen, even for old cranks who'd rather be making food. Buckwheat pancakes, anyone?

Posted by Ed Hurst - Jun 22, 2007 | 1:18

Re: Poem Preview

Yes, 13's aren't bad at all. He got some 17 or 18's too? Shesh, that's just too good! Wow, you have quite a bright son, Mike. I'm not sure about in California, but in Missouri, if your total ACT ends up being 30 or above, lots of magical things happen.

Exactly how did you buy your literature that it came by weight? Did you buy the grand Penguin Classic Library that Amazon sells or something? :-) Glad to hear Eliot is in there. Well, if there's ever any questions that come up, I can't promise I can answer them, but just so you know, I'd be happy to be at your disposal. I love chatting about literature, as you've gathered.

Thanks, Mike. I'm glad you find this place pleasant; it'd certainly be nothing without those gathered around in the kitchen! I'm glad you like the bits on literature.

Ed, sure, I'll take some. Got any strawberry syrup?

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Jun 22, 2007 | 6:00

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