Friday, April 15, 2005

Coming to a Close:

Seeing as it is the end of our poetry class, I thought that it might very well be fitting to look back on what I thought about poetry at the beginning of the year and reflect on how my conceptions of peotry have changed throughout the course.

Coming into this class, I was very skeptical about my past experiences with poetry, but was somewhat willing to give the discipline a second chance. I am remined of the comment I made in my first blog that was quite indifferent to the fact that one could truly 'understand' poetry from the eye of the poet himself/herself. I didn't quite understand how I could truly comprehend the inent of the poem when all I had to look at was the poem itself. I used the excuse that because I am an historian, I can only reach sure conclusions about things with the popper research. That is to say, that I always wanted to use more than one source to be able to draw conclusions--simply reading the poem was not enough because it provided little to no historical context for the author's words.

But thanks in great measure to the Romantics, I have come to realize that a poem and thus its interpretation, requires imagination, and not more sources. I don't need a pile of books beside me when analyzing a poem. Rather, I need a willingness to be open-minded. I am reminded of the poem we talked about on our exam: I Wander Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth. This poem has SO many different interpretations that can be applied to it's words. And although it might be hard to pin point exactly what Wordsworth was thinking when he wrote the poem, it is more important to remember that the poem was written about one's imagination and thus, has no singular interpretation that fits it best. Any interpretation can be valid. If anything, this is what the class has taught me: to be open-minded and not just within the context of poetry, but in life in general. Things are not only as I see them to be; others are entitled to their interpretations too!!!

So, as the year comes to a close, I will leave with this one thought: unlike the discipline of history, where we can only learn so much as the past provides for us, poetry is not merely the past, but rather, the past, the present and the future, because interpretations of poetry never stay the same--therefore with poetry, we can never stop learning--poetry has endless possibilities, unlike history.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Well I must appologize for my late postings. I had been under the impression that blogging was now werely optional. It wasn't until I read Dr. J's Blog that I realized otherwise. Anyway, I'll be blogging like mad for the next few days to make up.

-As I was flipping through my Norton, I came across some poetry by Edward Lear (1812-1888) and knew at once that I needed to write about his poetry. I have included two poems by Lear, and if you give them a read, you just might understand why I was so intrigued:

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrappped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to teh stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long have we tarried:
But what shal we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
Hise nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
You ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

There Was an Old Man With a Beard

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It's just as I feared!--
Two Owls and a Hend, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!"

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the reason I seemed to be drawn to these poems was because they seem to be about complete nonsense! After studying so many serious poems, I found Lear's work to be highly entertaining and light! What fun it was to read! All of the simplistic rhyming was delightful! What I particularly enjoyed about the first poem was how there would be rhyming within the lines! For example, consider line 14: "O let us be married! too long we have tarried:" In the stanzas of this poem, the rhyming scheme of this poem is quite unusual because there is not much of a pattern within the actual poem, and yet it seems to flow so wonderfully when it is said in a rather "sing-song" voice. To me, it almost takes on the appearance of a nursery rhyme. It is a rhyme that an adult or a child could easily remember!

Because I was so taken with the silly stories of these poems, I wanted to do a little searching on the man behind the poems. And I came across a website dedicated to the nonsensical works of Edward Lear! What a fun man he must have been to be around! This man had an unbelievable imagination! As I would read his poems, my imagination went wild too, and so when I came across some of the drawings Lear had done, I couldn't believe just how much they seemed to match his poetry! Unfortunately, I am not that computer literate, however, so I can't figure out how to include some of his pictures into my blog, so if you want to see what I'm talking about, feel free to go to this site: http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/#toc. Very fun!!!! Reading these poems and seeing the pictures that correspond with them will undoubtedly brighten your day!

After attempting to write a nonsense poem of my own, however, I have come to the conclusion that just because they sound "simple" doesn't by any means mean that they are easy to create! Rhyiming can be very difficult, especially when trying to follow the 'pattern' used by Lear in "There was an Old Man with a Beard!!"