I have been reading the works of Philip Larkin, but for the last few years I have delved into the art of poetry by Canadian, American, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Welsh, and English writers. Though some have been translated into Modern English (I need to distinguish it this way, as a number of my collection is in Old English).
On Thursday I did try my hand at writing a poem, but it was a reminder for me to finish The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry. I think I need to learn how to do this. Modern poetry does not have the a-b-a (so on …) format and there is no need to have rhyming bits. You do not need to have a poem look “normal”:
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) (1)
Of course, you have your standards:
The Song of Hiawatha (excerpt, you will thank me)
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part I: The Peace-Pipe
On the Mountains of the Prairie,
On the great Red Pipe-stone Quarry,
Gitche Manito, the mighty,
He the Master of Life, descending,
On the red crags of the quarry
Stood erect, and called the nations,
Called the tribes of men together.
From his footprints flowed a river,
Leaped into the light of morning,
O’er the precipice plunging downward
Gleamed like Ishkoodah, the comet.
And the Spirit, stooping earthward,
With his finger on the meadow
Traced a winding pathway for it,
Saying to it, “Run in this way!” […] (2)
OK, that is all I can take.
And here is one of my favourites:
“To a Mouse”
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear! (3)
In case you are wondering, quotation marks are used for individual poems, e.g. “To a Mouse”, italics or underline is used for a collection, e.g. The Canterbury Tales or The Divine Comedy.
The Divine Comedy is not to be confused with The Divine Comedy:
Poetry, at its core, is essential to writing. Some of the earliest English stories were in poetry form: Beowulf by an artist unknown, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Confessio Amantis (a 33,000-line poem by John Gower, friend of Chaucer), Nibelungenlied or The Song of the Nibelungs by another unknown poet (this is considered to be one source for Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen). I think we take for granted the value of poetry and we label it as avant garde, beatnik, a form of protest, you name it. Then again, when you see poem spoken you do get the sense of hippage:
After the murder of King Richard II (starved to death in the Tower of London, put there by King Henry IV), John Gower was forced to rewrite portions of Confessio Amantis due to hints at support for King Richard II. Up until recent times poets, composers, and artists were commissioned to create works of art. The threat of death influenced a number of commissioned poets to change allegiances. Today poets are using words to protest established laws and current governments. Some writers are still being threatened with torture or death for their writing. Unfortunately, the idea of freedom of expression through word art is just not allowed in some places.
OK, I lied, I have written a few poems in my day, as found in my book Short Poems
“Unnamed 11” (4)
(1) “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
(2) Steve. “The Song of Hiawatha.” Poets’ Corner. © 1994 – 2009 Poets’ Corner Editorial Staff, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
(3) Pechman, Alexandra. “To a Mouse.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
(4) Jensen, Wendalynn P. “Unnamed 11” Short Poems © 1982 Used by permission by the author.