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Ptah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:09 AM
Original message
Is poetry intentionally obtuse?
does plowing the fertile
soil

thrive?

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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:12 AM
Response to Original message
1. not of all of it --
There once was a girl from Nantuckett....

:blush:
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DS1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. girl?
I haven't heard this variant
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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. That is my version...
I write poetry, too ;)
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:13 AM
Response to Original message
2. My dear Ptah...Updated at 3:43 PM
I've been wondering this myself...

It seems as though there are at least two schools of poetry...

One is the esoteric, mysterious type, that is hard for me to get...

And the other is the clear, concise, plainly written stuff...like mine.

I think the esoteric stuff is what poets like to read, much like modern music is what today's musicians like to write.

They like it for their own reasons, never mind that the rest of us don't get it...

:shrug:
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Ptah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. My mother quit high school to marry and have a family.
When the youngest finished high school, she went to the
university and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.
She credits her children often for her language skills.
When I read her poems, I can see clearly, and feel strongly
her thoughts and images.
Others poets, not so much.
I'm just rambling, and
your poetry is as clear as ma's.

:loveya: :applause:

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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Thank you, my dear Ptah...Updated at 3:43 PM
That means a lot...

:hug:
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. Does that rule out Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens for you?
I just LOVE getting into deconstruction of their poetry. One of my favorite wastes of time (but immensely rewarding to the soul).
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 08:21 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. My dear CTyankee...Updated at 3:43 PM
Oh, I love Emily Dickinson!

I'll read her anytime...

Haven't had much exposure to Wallace Stevens, though...

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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Here's one of Stevens you can tackle!
The Idea of Order at Key West
Wallace Stevens

"She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds."


I read this poem about 5 times before I started "getting it" about the singer being the artist interpreting nature which nature alone can't do. The Speaker is the teacher who then interprets the artist's voice. All this in the context of "order" -- along the lines of William Blake who wrote "Where man is not, nature is barren." Interesting point!

I think this poem shows how great poetry leads the reader through the consciousness of words on the page to a greater understanding of the poet's own sense. It's just a beautiful poem, in my estimation...
BTW, I had to look up the reference to Ramon Fernandez. He was a Fascist critic back in the late 30's who Stevens detested.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. Stevens take a lot of work to parse...
but there is nothing as beautiful as 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, as well as many of his longer poems.

He's a wonderfully deep poet.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. That he is. And his other poetry is pretty hard to deciher alsol See my post in this thread.
An excellent poem! You are so wonderfully right. Tell me how you understand this poem, in your own word and sense. I am interested in hearing about them!
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Neoma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:14 PM
Response to Original message
6. Most poems are intentionally complex.
Just to make you look into the dictionary and figure it all out yourself.

At least, that's how I write my poems.
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janx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
7. Good poetry isn't.
It's complex enough to render itself interesting, but it's not intentionally meaningless or tough to understand. The latter kind of poetry is sort of like throwing shit against a wall and then wondering why people can't see the pictures. ;-)Because after all, YOU saw the pictures when you threw the shit, no?
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IntravenousDemilo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
8. Do you mean abstruse?
Obtuse means stupid or slow of perception. Abstruse means hard to understand.

I remember once being told that my music was "obtuse" and I got really offended. Then the guy went on about the complexity and I realized that he meant "abstruse". But I made sure to let him know the difference between obtuse and abstruse.
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Ptah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Thanks for the correction.
Yes, I meant abstruse.

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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
9. We have this debate in our writer's group
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 01:44 PM by LisaM
I don't think that poets generally write intentionally obscure poetry, but I know that I think that a good poem should always exist on at least two levels, like a good painting. I wrote one the other day called "Odalisque" and frankly, if people don't know the word, what am I supposed to do? Of course, there are poems that are DELIBERATELY puzzling. My s-i-l wrote one once that had everyone confused as to who she was talking to. It turned out to be a turtle.
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southpaw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Didn't T.S. Eliot admit
to being deliberately difficult?
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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Well he was certainly an academic poet
But just think how bored and frustrated he probably was, stuck working at that bank all day long every day until Ezra Pound came and rescued him!

I read a LOT of poetry, and at some point, you want something of a challenge.
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #9
22. Sometimes you have to know your Greek mythology.
Louise Gluck, a contemporary poet who was the Poet Laureate of the U.S. a few years back, has written several Persephone poems, my favorite being "A Myth of Devotion." http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19144

This ancient myth has been the subject of countless works of art, including a sculpture by Bernini (which dumbstruck me when I saw it at the Borghese Gallery in Rome) and a painting by Rembrandt (both fabulous -- view them on Google Images, I think they are both entitled "The Abduction of Persephone").

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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #22
27. so much of it has to do with the poet him or herself
and the complexity of their world/ worldview.

That can be a great journey to take with them!
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #27
31. It does seem this way. That ancient myth just keeps on popping up again and again.
But that is the way with art. It is a contstant cycle; the subject of the project just keeps informing us again and again of the value art has to our lives! And how wonderful is that!!!
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Wapsie B Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
12. Yes, it certainly does seem that way at times.
It's a feeling of the poet talking down to the reader rather than to them; that if you don't get it you're not smart enough to comprehend what's being said.
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DarkTirade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
15. Mine is. I can't speak for other poets though. :)
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
23. Who is your favorite poet? n/t
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DarkTirade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #23
28. Hmm. Hard to say.
I like some of the crazy ones. Any of the weird ones Lewis Carrol wrote for the Alice books, William Blake, ect.

T'was brillig and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe
all mimsy were the borogoves
and the mome raths outgrabe.


-- Lewis Carrol

Tiger tiger, burning bright
in the forest of the night
what immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry


-- William Blake
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. You know, in this thread, when I introduced the American poet Wallace Stevens,
I said something about his believing in William Blake's statement that "Where man is not, nature is barren."

How interesting about his poem which I introduced here on this thread. What do you think? "The Idea of Order at Key West" is one of Stevens's most important poems.I think it is a masterpiece, but what do you think?
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Beetwasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
16. A Verse To Aversion My Only Perversion
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 04:06 PM by Beetwasher
Sillooey soo-ay saw salloo
Padacious padigeon but only a smidgeon
Callacious callay caw calloo
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
19. Actually, I have an answer
If it's SO obscure nobody else gets it, it don't work.



O.K., so that wasn't the question. The key word is "intentionally".
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:17 PM
Response to Original message
21. Maybe...maybe not
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skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
24. There's a lot of poetry I really like
Other stuff makes me scratch my head and say :wtf: I've never been able to understand the big deal about the infamous Red Wheelbarrow, for instance, which is always trotted out in poetry classes.

On the other hand, poetry that evokes a certain mood, even if I'm not really sure what the poet is trying to convey, can be really rewarding to me.

I guess it's a lot like art - people's tastes differ and there's something out there for everyone. :shrug:
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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 01:39 PM
Response to Original message
25. There once was a guy from Nantucket
maybe
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