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Thu Sep 5, 2013, 11:34 PM

Rumination on the Poetical Process [View all]

I just recently finished re-reading Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est(topical poem right now: if you haven't ever read it you should, although it will not improve your day), and it has set me off into a rumination with which I have struggled off and on for the past decade or so. To whit, can a poem be so personal, so painful, so brutal that it profits no one to read it, and should it thus be exiled to the writer's trunk forever? I have struggled with this because my two best poems, in my own opinion, are exactly of such a nature, though speaking not of my own pain and anguish, but that of a loved one, giving voice to her fruitless rage against what had been done to her by those who should have protected her. They are not nice poems. But if they can only rouse fruitless rage, then cui bono? Lieutenant Owen wrote his poem almost 100 years ago, and yet the lie against which he railed is still very much with us, and the specific horror he addresses in the news quite recently. Who has benefited? Not even Lieutenant Owen, since he was dead by the time the poem was published. And yet...

The first of the two poems in question saw brief circulation in another venue around 10 years ago, and I received heartfelt (and tear-filled) thanks from a couple of readers that I was so able to express the feelings that had been so long pent-up within them.

So perhaps there can be some benefit after all. In a way, the manner is moot, since I did send the first out for publication and was turned down, so obviously whatever merit it has must really be limited.

Yet recent discussions on outrage and what might be thought of as "good taste" or "good form" lead me to lean in the other direction. While we are not talking Naked Lunch-level obscenity here, the subject is indeed obscene, and the feelings expressed not for the delicate of heart. And again, what purpose is served by inflaming rage about a subject that is both 30 years in the past and incapable of rectification anyway?

I really have not been able to come to a satisfactory determination about the question. We are enjoined to write what we know, that the best writing is from the heart, that powerful expression is its own best excuse. But somehow, I don't buy it. And even though I must confess to a creator's conceit that his best (possibly) work be seen, especially by those I would fain have as friends, yet that very conceit cautions that some sleeping dogs are best left to lie alone.

Any thoughts, Lounge?

-- Mal

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malthaussen Sep 2013 OP
CaliforniaPeggy Sep 2013 #1
malthaussen Sep 2013 #2
CaliforniaPeggy Sep 2013 #3
MiddleFingerMom Sep 2013 #4
malthaussen Sep 2013 #7
nolabear Sep 2013 #5
Tuesday Afternoon Sep 2013 #6