Sunday, October 31, 2004

Taking a Look at "Sanctity"

I was reading through the Norton at the various poems within, and came across Patrick Kavanagh's poem entitled "Sanctity", which I came to find rather interesting.

To be a poet and not know the trade,
To be a lover and repel all women;
Twin ironies by which great saints are made,
The agonising pincer-jaws of heaven.

Stylistically, I did not find that this poem was much to write home about. First off, the rhyming scheme is extremely simple and common (abab--trade, made & women, heaven). Here, we see nothing special. But when looking at the syllabic structure of this poem, I came across something that really stumped me. Why is it that the first line only has 10 syllables, while the remaining three lines have 11 syllables. Does having extra syllables in a poem other than a sonnet mean that they are to be called truncated lines, or do these types of rules and terminology only apply to sonnets? I can't seem to figure this out--to me, the second line is a reiteration/repitition or a comparison to the first verse, and so it would seem to me that they should be of equal syllabic value. But perhaps the second line increases by one syllable to show an intensification of the first binary. Subsequently, I can only hazard to guess that the last two lines also have 11 syllables in them because they are explanations of the first two lines and should therefore not be given equal weighting...it's just like when a student asks a teacher a question--the majority of the time, the answer is more convoluted and lengthy than the question that prompted the answer. When reading this poem, lines one and two seem to be setting up the rest of the poem to act as a response.

But let's get to the good stuff--figuring out what this poem means! I was quite intrigued by the binaries in this particular poem, and I thought to myself how true these statements seemed to be. Namely, anyone can call themselves a poet or a lover without actually being one. Anyone can "write" something and call it a poem and conversely, anyone can flirt with a women and call themselves a great charmer of the female species, without there being any sense of truth to their claims. Undoubtedly, these are two very ironic statements, that will probably never decist in society. There will always be people who want to be more than they are; people who will always be living being the masks which they willingly wear. This then drew me back to the title of the poem, which to me seems quite fitting. There truly is a 'sanctity' associated with being a poet or a lover. Not everyone has the same qualifications or the same abilities, thereby creating a distinct following of those capable of performing these two roles. There is a sanctity associated with love, and there is a sense of sanctity associated with poetry--they are both creative forms of expression that not everyone is equally creative at carrying out.

2 Comments:

Blogger chriscouto said...

I really liked this poem also. I like the word "sanctity" in relation to love and poetics. I liked the poem in general, however the title really stuck for me. I wanted to know exactly what saanctity meant so I looked it up in the dictionary and found words like saintliness, and sacredness within its definition. What i think was meant by this poem is that one can be a poet without knowing, and one can be a lover and still repel. Referring to being a poet as a trade was also interesting. Perhaps in life what is saintly is love and your trades. How you love is your unique way of loving, though you may continually repel woman do notchange your way of loving for it is saintly. Perhaps those in the trade of carpentry for example are poets in their own style and can also express themsleves. Great Poem!!!!

November 7, 2004 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Rosita Georgieva said...

"Sanctity"--this word and your journal entry stay with me all they long. Good job!

November 7, 2004 at 3:56 PM  

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