A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  ShortcutsShortcuts  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 What is poetry? And what makes good prose?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2566
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Wed 02 Jan 2013, 18:08

We have threads exploring the painted and plastic arts, and others discussing music ... But what about the beauty of the written word whether poetry or prose? Why is some deemed great and eminently quotable, timeless, errudite, even revealing of great wisdom .... while other tracts are judged at best to be just comedic verse and at worst cod prose?!

For example, why should, say, Viv' Stanshall (late of the Bonzo Dog Doh Dah Band) ... why should his : "Sir Henry of Rawlinson's End" be treated as just a bit of silliness, a bit like 'Monty Python', an' all that ..... Compared to other "great" poets"?

Compare, say Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood" :

'It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now'.

to Viv Stanshall's "Sir Henry ......" :

'Sir Henry Rawlinson surfaced from the blackness, hot and fidgety, fuss, bother and itch, conscious mind coming up too fast for the bends, through pack-ice thrubbing seas, boom-sounders, blow-holes, harsh-croak Blind Pews tip-tap-tocking for escape from his pressing skull. With a gaseous grunt he rolled away from the needle-cruel light acupuncuring his pickle-onion eyes, and with key-bending will slit-peered at the cold trench Florrie had left on her side of the bed. Tongue like yesterday's fried cod: "Mind over batter? Tongue sandwiches? Bleah! Eat what? But it's been in somebody else's mouth!". Black spot! The Blind Pews were now thrashing with their canes. "God's turban and tutu! Do I need a dare of the hog?" ....'

Quite! And are either of them really so different from Philip Larkin's (in)famous:

"They f**k you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do...." ........ which I see still has to be censored even here.


But then scratching deeper, why should Chaucer (apparently listed in the top 50 most famous Britons) be great ... whilst the the much ridiculed William MacGonagall be seen as universally dire?

Chaucer is still widely applauded yet I doubt very few current Britons can actually make sense of:

"Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,".....



As compared to the almost universally mocked Willam MacGonagall (and at least we can all understand what he's on aboot!):

"Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time."


.... So why is "good" poetry/prose recognised as that? Why is MacGonagall so bad, and Chaucer so good? Or is it all just down to fashion..... ?






Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5428
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 12:22

The US journalist Roger Ebert once remarked; "a book is not about what it's about - it's about how it's about it". This is now one of my maxims when judging any literature. Defining why a particular piece contains appeal to one individual reader is of course very subjective, but when a piece appeals to many then its qualities can be adjudged a little more objectively. The evolution of appreciation to the point of becoming universally recognised as "good" seems to be pretty standard, starting with a point where the application of the above maxim reveals a worthy piece to several individuals, then enough individuals to find they agree on this assessment, then a second lease of life in terms of popularity fuelled by the enthusiasm generated by this agreement, and finally an acknowledgement that the sheer length of time in which this enthusiasm has been sustained renders the piece worthy by default - and recognised as such even by people who haven't yet read it.

Changing tastes and appreciations of linguistic style can still render a piece thus exalted a cropper later on of course. However those which still satisfy according to Ebert's maxim above can surmount this difficulty.
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 13:13

Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 13:23

Should in all fairness add that one critic described Dead Poets Society as "sentimental crap".
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5428
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Thu 03 Jan 2013, 13:49

Here's what the abovementioned Ebert said at the time:

"Dead Poets Society" is a collection of pious platitudes masquerading as a courageous stand in favor of something: doing your own thing, I think. It's about an inspirational, unconventional English teacher and his students at "the best prep school in America" and how he challenges them to question conventional views by such techniques as standing on their desks. It is, of course, inevitable that the brilliant teacher will eventually be fired from the school, and when his students stood on their desks to protest his dismissal, I was so moved, I wanted to throw up.
...

"Dead Poets Society" is not the worst of the countless recent movies about good kids and hidebound, authoritatian older people. It may, however, be the most shameless in its attempt to pander to an adolescent audience. The movie pays lip service to qualities and values that, on the evidence of the screenplay itself, it is cheerfully willing to abandon. If you are going to evoke Henry David Thoreau as the patron saint of your movie, then you had better make a movie he would have admired. Here is one of my favorite sentences from Thoreau's Walden, which I recommend for serious study by the authors of this film: " . . . instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them." Think about it.


Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 10:08

The posting of a YouTube clip was a lazy way of answering your question, MM, but I've always found that particular scene - the plotting of a poem's worth on a graph - as amusing.

There was indeed much to criticise in the film: the peddling of pious platitudes - or impious ones, for that matter - is always to be deplored. All the "O Captain, my Captain" stuff - decidedly suspect. But to be fair, that Scottish teacher who came in briefly during the scene did warn Keating that one day those boys would hate a teacher who simply filled their heads with Romantic nonsense.

I prefer that C.S. Lewis quotation, "We read to know we are not alone." (Think it's C.S. Lewis - will check in a sec.)

And I suppose I'd better quote Coleridge:

I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose,—words in their best order; poetry,—the best words in their best order.

But then who decides these days what's "best"? All a matter of taste. Sylvia Plath or Pam Ayres? Chaucer or MacGonagall? "Hamlet" or "Homeland"?

Something to be said for them all perhaps - with the exception of Pam Ayres.
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 12:13

“Pam Ayres, the bestselling poet, writes as rhapsodically about the Wonderbra as Wordsworth did about daffodils.”
The Guardian

“Forget the corny comedian: Pam Ayres is a proper poet, whose wistful, funny, and perceptive verse captures both the joy and unfairness of life.”
Sunday Times

Her "I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth" came fifth in some BBC poll about the nation's best loved poems. I listen to Ayres and want to commit suicide.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6g1I37_r1E
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2566
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 12:27

But I'm sure some of Pam Ayres' stuff isn't that different in language and metre from some of Betjemen's. Maybe? From memory his church mouse one, perhaps? No?

Hmmm .... That was a very, very bold statement of mine. I will try to support it with some evidence. But I admit it may not be supportable Rolling Eyes

PS I liked the clip from Dead Poets Society. As a film clip that is. It's not a film I'm familiar with.

Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 13:13

I'm very fond of JB - so reassuringly Anglican and middle-class.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N5tDyGq9D4

It's a lovely poem.

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough...

What was the one about the brawny tennis-playing girl? Have to look it up.

PS Re what you said about St Paul and Corinthians - I'm reading Jack Spong's (John Shelby Spong, former Bishop of Newark) "Living in Sin" at the moment - may send you a PM about it. I like Spong - don't know why he's considered to be so outrageous; I think he's quite sane. Got "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" to read next. Sorry, off-topic.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2359
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 15:40

Oh, dear Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, she always made me think of Christine Truman.

Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 15:59

It was "Olympic Girl" I was thinking of:



The Olympic Girl



The sort of girl I like to see
Smiles down from her great height at me.
She stands in strong, athletic pose
And wrinkles her retroussé nose.
Is it distaste that makes her frown,
So furious and freckled, down
On an unhealthy worm like me?
Or am I what she likes to see?
I do not know, though much I care,
xxxxxxxx…..would I were
(Forgive me, shade of Rupert Brooke)
An object fit to claim her look.
Oh! would I were her racket press'd
With hard excitement to her breast
And swished into the sunlit air
Arm-high above her tousled hair,
And banged against the bounding ball
'Oh! Plung!' my tauten'd strings would call,
'Oh! Plung! my darling, break my strings
For you I will do brilliant things.'
And when the match is over, I
Would flop beside you, hear you sigh;
And then with what supreme caress,
You'd tuck me up into my press.
Fair tigress of the tennis courts,
So short in sleeve and strong in shorts,
Little, alas, to you I mean,
For I am bald and old and green.


But possibly as cringeworthy as anything by Ayres?
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2566
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 16:43

@Temperance wrote:

Pam Ayres' "I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth" came fifth in some BBC poll about the nation's best loved poems. I listen to Ayres and want to commit suicide.

I feel the same and do really like Betjeman, but if one reads, say, his "Diary of a Church Mouse" .... but in Pam's accent with 'er particleur way o' emphasizin' the rhymes, and milkin' it for all its worth, I'm sorry to say it but you could almost believe it to be one of her own, better, compositions:

"Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days
Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room
With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me,
So here I eat my frugal tea." ....
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 16:50

Seems even famous writers disagree about what's great. Virginia Woolf didn't rate James Joyce at all. She said of "Ulysses" that it was "the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples".

Nabokov on Hemingway: "As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early 'forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it."

But the "I Wish I'd Never Said That" prize must go to a drink-sodden journalist (clever bloke who had degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge) who wrote scathingly in 1592 of a new writer - dismissing him contemptuously as just another uneducated young actor who "supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you..."

EDIT: Just seen your message. I honestly think there's more to Betjeman than Ayres, MM, but then it is all a matter of taste. See above (and my comment about "Olympic Girl").
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 16:52

Oops, sorry, have misunderstood - Ayres makes you suicidal too. Thank God for that.

You have to read the whole Betjeman poem...
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2566
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 16:56

Most of Ayers stuff just makes me cringe, the forced rhymes in particular ... and it isn't just her accent. Smile

And yes I was being somewhat disingenious in quoting just the first few lines. I like "Diary of a Church mouse" always have, but it's funny - I really didn't like the way it was read in your youtube clip. Perhaps that in itself says something?
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1061
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sat 05 Jan 2013, 20:44

But you wouldn't call what Pam Ayres writes and recites poetry, would you? It's more a rhyming joke, she's a stand-up (or perhaps sit-down) comedian really, and you don't expect poetry from them.

There's also perhaps a difference between good prose and good writing. I think good prose shows care for words and language, grammatical structures that may depart from the norm but are understood and not used boringly - "She went to the fridge and took out the milk. She changed her mind and put it back again" - type of thing. Good prose doesn't use padding, though it may be quite long. But good writing needs also to be saying something; I have read books where the prose is quite beautiful but the book doesn't seem to be worth my time in that I can't seem to find any point to it. The characters float on the surface, analysing themselves, or chatting idly, nothing happens in the plot, no great insights are given, etc. (I haven't enjoyed anything that reminds me of Henry James, you might not be surprised to learn, though he does have something to say.)

On a readers' board a while ago I caused an unintentional fuss by criticising a book I was reading, whose prose was described on the blurb as beautiful and lyrical. It had sentences like: But he had done his best to grow out of all that; at the age of forty-nine he had passed from pale to grey with only the smallest shift in physical tone, a look of milky weakening that he described to himself as purification, a whittling away of moral indecision; and in the place of his superstition there was now a kind of solid dread - a territory to which he did not stray. To be wrong was a place to which he refused to travel." And I think my favourite of all time (I just think of this book as the 'gravy' book): "Suspicious of Celia's whereabouts, he felt reduced, a gravy boiled down to something black and much too sharp to be palatable."

There is such a thing as trying too hard. But opinion was divided between people who thought like me that this was appalling writing to others who felt that since lots of people liked and praised it it shouldn't be criticised. Things got a little heated after that and I wished I'd never mentioned it.

It is really very difficult to generalise about good writing, even if you know it when you see it. Passages of good prose are probably easier, but even those need to link to the book and not just be there for effect, I think. A lovely description is worthwhile (the fog beginning in Bleak House is perhaps the most famous) when it adds to the book, not when it is just there to show off the author's ability with words and bringing a picture to life.

Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sun 06 Jan 2013, 07:51

@Caro wrote:

There is such a thing as trying too hard. But opinion was divided between people who thought like me that this was appalling writing to others who felt that since lots of people liked and praised it it shouldn't be criticised. Things got a little heated after that and I wished I'd never mentioned it.



Well, I'm with you, Caro. But I know what you mean by saying you wish you'd never mentioned it. I now feel guilty about sneering at a National Treasure.





Pam Ayres collecting her MBE for "services to literature".

There's a story about George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, all getting the giggles listening to T.S. Eliot reading his "The Wasteland" - I think the Queen Mother described the occasion in a letter. Will try and track it down.


EDIT: It's mentioned here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/04/queen-mother-william-shawcross-biography

He also tries too hard to convince us of the Queen Mother's broad cultural hinterland, perhaps in an effort to counter her famous account (as revealed to AN Wilson) of how at a palace reading she and the princesses got the giggles when "this rather lugubrious man in a suit read a poem called The Desert". "Such a gloomy man [TS Eliot], looked as though he worked in a bank."


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 10 Jan 2013, 20:16; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Temperance
Virgo Vestalis Maxima
avatar

Posts : 4889
Join date : 2011-12-30

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Thu 10 Jan 2013, 20:13

And Jane Austen. One of our greatest writers - everyone agrees? Well, no...


Mark Twain:

"Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it."

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"I am at a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen's novels at so high a rate, which seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in their wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. ... All that interests in any character [is this]: has he (or she) the money to marry with? ... Suicide is more respectable."

Cardinal Newman:

"Miss Austen has no romance... What vile creatures her parsons are!"

Charlotte Bronte:

"Why do you like Miss Austen so very much?"
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2359
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Sun 13 Jan 2013, 11:22

This is an interesting article

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9797617/Shakespeare-and-Wordsworth-boost-the-brain-new-research-reveals.html

I was struck by this quote which I think is rather a neat summation.


“Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,”
Back to top Go down
Triceratops
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2715
Join date : 2012-01-05

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 09:43

With the focus on the centenary of the First World War at the moment, most attention in regards to poetry of the period is given to Owen, Sassoon etc. But how many people are aware of the poems of the pro-war poems of Jessie Pope:

Who's for the Game?

"Who’s for the game, the biggest that’s played,
The red crashing game of a fight?
Who’ll grip and tackle the job unafraid?
And who thinks he’d rather sit tight?
Who’ll toe the line for the signal to ‘Go!’?
Who’ll give his country a hand?
Who wants a turn to himself in the show?
And who wants a seat in the stand?
Who knows it won’t be a picnic – not much-
Yet eagerly shoulders a gun?
Who would much rather come back with a crutch
Than lie low and be out of the fun?
Come along, lads –
But you’ll come on all right –
For there’s only one course to pursue,
Your country is up to her neck in a fight,
And she’s looking and calling for you. "

JP was one of the leading lights in handing out white feathers. 

Owen's Dulce et Decorum was written as a direct response to the above work
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 636
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 12:13

I don't hate Pam Ayres though I don't suppose she'll stand the test of time. Then again, McGonegal has lasted because he is in the "so bad is good" category. [Edit: I see I have written Mr M's name incorrectly and that Meles meles had referred to him above - don't know how I missed that the first time].

Trike's post about Jessie Pope struck home to me, because (as I have posted on another thread) one of my mother's uncles was "invalided out" of the forces in the First World War.  After convalescence he went to see a relation in Liverpool (in "civvies" of course) and a stupid woman handed him a white feather.  It doesn't have a happy ending; it affected him and he re-enlisted [I think by then they were being pretty cursory with their medical examinations] and was killed by a sniper in France.

"Dulce and Decorum" also affects me because my maternal grandmother was gassed in the First World War.  He survived but he had bad health ever after; he worked, I think as a timberman in the Welsh mines but he had a heart attack and had to leave that work, so there were times when he had to collect "the dole".  He wasn't a permanent "doley" though; he sold fish at one time I believe and improvised with other temporary jobs.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2359
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 13:33

Much of women's poetry from the time is little known as well and despite it being less evocative of the direct experience of the men, it is no less heart rendering.
The final part of this always makes me well up.

The Soldiers' Cairn

Gie me a hill wi' the heather on't,
   An' a reid sun drappin' doon,  
Or the mists o' the mornin' risin' saft
   Wi' the reek owre a wee grey toon.
Gie me a howe by the lang Glen road,
   For it's there 'mang the whin and fern
(D'ye mind on't, Will? Are ye hearin', Dod?)
   That we're biggin' the Soldiers' Cairn.

Far awa’ is the Flanders land
   Wi' fremmit France atween,
But mony a howe o' them baith the day
   Has a hap o' the Gordon green.
It's them we kent that's lyin' there,
   An' it's nae wi' stane or airn
But wi' brakin' herts, an' mem'ries sair,
   That we're biggin' the Soldiers' Cairn.

Doon, laich doon the Dullan sings—
   An' I ken o' an aul' sauch tree,
Where a wee loon's wahnie's hingin' yet
   That's dead in Picardy;
An' ilka win' fae the Conval's broo
   Bends aye the buss o' ern,
Where aince he futtled a name that noo
   I'll read on the Soldiers' Cairn.

Oh! build it fine and build it fair,
   Till it leaps to the moorland sky —
More, more than death is symbolled there,
   Than tears or triumphs by.
There's the Dream Divine of a starward way
   Our laggard feet would learn—
It's a new earth's corner-stone we'd lay
   As we fashion the Soldiers' Cairn.

       ……………………………

Lads in your plaidies lyin' still
   In lands we'll never see,
This lanely cairn on a hameland hill
   Is a' that oor love can dee;
An' fine an' braw we'll mak' it a',
   But oh, my Bairn, my Bairn,
It’s a cradle’s croon that’II aye blaw doon
   To me fae the Soldiers' Cairn.


Mary Simon
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5428
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 15:03

That's lovely, ferval.

Major Robert Gregory was killed in action, his fighter plane shot down over Italy in 1918, probably in a case of "friendly fire" by a mistaken Italian pilot. WB Yeats wrote four poems in all about him (Robert was the son of Yeats' close friend Augusta, Lady Gregory from Sligo). My favourite, which captures the frequent dilemma of divided loyalties amongst Irishmen of Gregory's class and background at that stage of Irish history, has always been:

‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
Back to top Go down
http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 636
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 15:14

I shall have to see if I can do some sleuthing about Mary Simon, Ferval.  I admit I have not heard of her before.  That is a moving poem.  And Nordmann, I obviously need to bear in mind that WB Yeates wrote other work besides the "Sally Gardens", albeit that (i.e. SG) is a nice (to me) poem.

I always thought "Keep Right on Till the End of the Road" was melodramatic in a sickly way, until I learned that Harry Lauder wrote it after losing his son in Word War I, which changed my opinion rather.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2359
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: What is poetry? And what makes good prose?   Fri 15 Aug 2014, 19:09

I'm sure you know this poem, LiR, but it's always worth repeating for its honesty and lack of sentimentality - dare I say it's just a wee bit Stoic?

Mouthless Dead


When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, 'They are dead.' Then add thereto,
‘Yet many a better one has died before.'
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.


Charles Sorley
Back to top Go down
 

What is poetry? And what makes good prose?

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of expression ... :: The Arts-