Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 1 May 2009

Time to get out of the poetry game

WHY I AM UNFITTED FOR, AND PROFESSIONALLY PREVENTED FROM,WRITING POETRY
The Rubik Cube is not my sport. The sides
Proclaim restraint, the shape a symmetry.
The garish colours act as childish guides
The aim a transient diversionary.
To write a verse, to form a brick of words
To take on rules that help to close our eyes,
To rhyme (like this) and risk what rhyme affords
We tumble into wretched compromise.
The language of a verse demands a blur
Else why not take the compass point of prose?
Why hint, evade, constrain, fail to concur
When truth and clarity all worth enclose?

For truth and clarity are hard-won gain
And fall in rhythmic rhyming’s false domain.

8 comments:

Plutarch said...

"The language of verse demands a blur"? Rather a surge of energy, a concentration of laser-like intensity! Discuss.

Barrett Bonden said...

I prefabricated my own point. Prose for directness and no ambiguity; poetry for allusion, unexpectedness, beauty and creative doubt - qualities which all had to be loaded on to my poor little "blur". Incidentally, you temporarily stopped my heart; the quotation didn't scan. In the original it carries an (admittedly weak) indefinite article.

But here's another Discuss which I wanted to include. Long poems terrify me. And not just me

Plutarch said...

Sometimes a break in scansion doesn't matter, in my opinion. The definite article, which I inadvertly missed (sorry) restores the rhythm, certainly. But how important is it? Sometimes it can be helpful to change the rhythm, dop a syllable even , alter the stress. I nearly congratulated you, incidently, on "to rhyme (like this) and risk obscure hazards", where the stress ought to be on the first syllable of "hazards) but the iambic pentameter form places it firmly on the second syllable. Though some might disagree, I find this variation refreshing.

May I at this point, recommend a book which if you can get hold of it, you may find useful. It is called Art of Versification and Technicalities of Poetry by R. F Brewer BA. My edition was published in 1908. It is of course out of date because nowadays classical and traditional verse forms are ignored by all other than the most rigidly inclined academics. Above the title on the title page is the word "Orthometry", to be found in the Oxford Dictionary but missing from shorter versions and from Chambers.

Plutarch said...

I haven't looked at Abe Books but Amazon offers that book through its dealer network and it is not expensive.

Barrett Bonden said...

Please point out more failings. I think your suggestion about the shifted stress of "hazard" being "refreshing" was rather too kind. To me, in its new glaringness, it felt like a stone in my shoe. So I took out my adze and my sagbut and came up with a substitute which is not only twice as good, it's ever so slightly daring. Regard my elbow as a regular point of contact.

Your suggestions about breaking rhythmic rules are not only alarming but carry a strong smell of déja vu. It's French all over again. A couple of years spent learning the rules, the rest of your life devoted to the exceptions.

As to writing sonnets, I detect a small increase in facility coupled with an ever-increasing maggot of dissatisfaction. Too complex to discuss here. I may be loading another of those long emails on you. With Julia I felt it necessary to apologise for keeping her away from her children; with you - ironically - I may be keeping you away from writing poetry.

Barrett Bonden said...

Just ordered Brewer through ABE Books - £5.85 inc p&p.

In the meantime may I assure anybody else that this is not a two-man blog and anyone can stick in their oar if they like. In fact if you can make an improving suggestion as Plutarch has just done feel free to join my Blog-based Community-written Poem Co-operative.

Lucy said...

Very swish!

Tagged you for a meme: seven pieces, or collections, or whatever, of music, appropriate to the season please!

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Seasons are defined by the weather and the weather here is variable. So straight off we'll have Goldberg, followed by the Diabelli plus LvB's variations on WAM's "Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen" (dig those crazy umlauts; they add so much authority). It's corny but he only lived a few miles away (and in any case they're almost his magnum opus) so we'll add in Enigma. That's four. And since jazz is all variation let's say Bird's "Embraceable you", Miles's "Summertime" and Albert Nicholas's "High society." I'm sure I've cheated but surely you'd expect no less given my seedy former profession. Now, is there something technical I'm supposed to do?