Sunday, November 28, 2004

"The Everyday"

Hi there!

Well, just to warn you, this is pretty much my first attempt at poetry (isn't that sad??). Rosita had encouraged us in tutorial to try and write a poem about the every day, so I thought that I'd give it a try. While the topic of my poem might at first seem a little morbid, I believe that it is something that we should all long for (you'll see what I mean at the end of the poem). So here goes nothing.....

I dread the day I will not see you here on earth;
The thought to me is like the dark clouds of a storm--
Looming in the distance,
A dark testiment to their inevitability.

Death encroaches into our lives with little warning,
Leaving us to feel drenched with sorrow,
For we do not understand the beauty that it can bring.

There is solice in Him who guides us
to the Light of a rainbow after the Tempest.
In Him, there is hope of peace;
A covenant of eternity.

So through Him, I do not fear your death
Like the unkown outcomes of a storm,
But yearn for when we will be together
For eternity in Paradise.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Challenge

As I was watching TV a while ago, I came to feel rather guilty about how much I enjoy this "stimulation box". Isn't it so very interesting how our society is so reliant on visual stimulation to be entertained. Gone are the days of late evenings with the family huddled around the radio to hear the latest installment of radio theatre. Gone are the days when cuddling up with a good book (fiction or poetic anthology) was considered a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Nowadays, there are so many other things to do (like watch TV, play video games, go to the mall), that our imaginations are becoming rather rusty as they collect dust in the remote depths of our brains.

I feel as if poetry has been put on the backburner, and has come to be seen as too much of an effort because too much mental work is involved. It is much easier to flick on the television and watch a mindless programme (a programme that you probably don't even like, but you're watching it anyway because there is nothing else on), because the actor's do the work of your imagination for you. I wish that imagination played as big a role nowadays as it used to. Consider Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Raven." This poem is such a masterpiece, and yet, I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find a non-English student who would know this poem (as long as they hadn't seen the "Simpson's" version on TV at one time). If only people could just turn their imaginations back on so that they could appreciate work like this:

Ah, distincly I remember it was in the bleack December;
And each separate dying ember wrough its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Nameless here for evermore.
(Norton Anthology, 881; ll 7-12)

These particular words are so unique and descriptive; they work so well to set up the haunting mood of this poem. This poem was undoubtedly intended as being a frightening one. It is so unfortunate though, that in today's day in age, we have become so extremely over-stimulated that a poem like Poe's "The Raven" fails to elicit the "fear" in the reader that it once was capable of. "The Raven" seems to be a mere distant memory of a time when poetry was appreciated by the average person as a form of entertainment.

I challenge all of you to take the time and really READ Poe's "The Raven." Try reading it when you're all alone at night. Clear your mind of all the jargan of the day, and just READ. Use your imagination and become a part of the words--you might even feel as if you're a part of the story!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

For a Love of Words

Well, I think that this week's blog is going to be a bit shorter than the ones I have written in the past, but I hope that you nonetheless find it interesting!!! For this week, I feel compelled to write about the movie we watched in tutorial called "The Postman". I felt so inspired by this movie! It really made me think about just how prevelant and important poetry can be in our lives. I was really inspired by Mario's character, for I think that he really grasped the struggle that most people have with poetry--it was also quite evident to see his transformation on screen too. At first, this man only seemed to have use for poetry because he believed it to be the sole way into a woman's heart--recite to her your poetry and she'll be your's forever!!! What I really liked was how the character of the professional poet in this movie (who fully understood how women would fall in love with his words rather than himself) showed Mario that one's number one reason for composing poetry should not be to get women, but should act as a form of deep and meaningful expressions of ones' self. The poet was not a poet because of a desire for public attention, but rather for the purpose of emotional gratification, and I thought it was so beautiful how he was able to show this to Mario!! Don't we all wish that we could be taught the purposes of poetry on the shores of a beautiful, quaint Italian village!!! All in all, I felt that this movie was extremely beneficial for our class to see. It communicated to us the reason why a class like "Introduction to Poetry" has been included within the curriculum at York University. Poetry is the essense of emotion, expression and content--Poetry is a love of words!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Living History within Shakespeare's Sonnets

I love reading Shakespeare's sonnets!!! I find them to be so deep in meaning, and because of the fact that I'm a history major, I love how deeply rooted the sonnets are in Elizabethan/Rennaissance culture. You really have to understand the context of these poems in order to really appreciate their true meaning (something that I actually believe is not entirely possible because of our vastly different world views today in comparison to Shakespeare's time). This is what I love most about his sonnets--discovering what various phrases or words meant back then, and trying to then understand these meanings outside of my own world view. But, how difficult this can prove to be!!! I would like to share with you one of Shakespeare's sonnets that I believe portrays the characteristic noted above. That sonnet is number 129.

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjur'd, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy'd no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
[Mad] in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, an din quest to have, extreme,
A bliss in proof, and prov'd, [a] very woe.
Before, a joy propos'd, behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
(From: The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd Edition)

I find this sonnet so interesting because of the way that the narrator (quite possibly Shakespeare) deals with the issue of lust. To us, nowadays, I think that lust has come to be seen as a natural aspect of human nature/behaviour. It is thought that you should indeed have lustful feelings toward your husband or wife in order for your relationship to work out in the long run. During Shakespeare's time, however, lust was seen as a sort of "illness." In a sense, lust was seen as sinful in a time when the church was in the forefront of societal structure. From this particular sonnet, the notion of lust as sinful and evil becomes quite evident. The narrator uses a handful of adjectives to describe the nastiness of lust ("perjur'd, murd'rous, bloody, fully of blame..."), which might come off as rather harsh to us today. But I fully believe that it is possible that Sonnet #129 actually sounded pretty standard to Shakespeare's audience. I definitely interpret this sonnet on the sheer hatred of sexual urges as being a reflection of Shakespeare's time and would have been a product of the culture of his reading audience. This is exactly why I love Shakespeare! The explanations to the "oddities" in his sonnets can seem very difficult to comprehend because of differing world views. Maybe this is why people often prefer to read modern poetry over the classic poems of the past because they are most definitely easier to undertand and thus relate to. My thought is, however, that one should never give up trying to understand 'old-fashion' poetry, because it can help you to open your eyes to the unique cultures of the past.