Broken English (Something Akin To Poetry Book 1)
Drake is similar to Kaur in a big way: both poets reach out to their readers first and foremost through Instagram, and it has definitely paid off. Carrie Murphy is a poet who has got both hands wrapped around the pulse of 21st century girlhood — the beauty, the intensity, the utter messiness, the mystery, the sex, the awkward self-awareness, all of it. Alicia Cook is another poet who has taken her work to Instagram. Her second poetry collection and third book, the self-published Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately , was written in the style of an old mix tape OMG, miss those. Side A is all about life, love, death, hurt, endings, beginnings, family, relationships, and so much more.
Pretty cool. Sharing a publisher with Kaur, The Universe of Us by Lang Leav is another collection that tackles the universal experiences of being a human in the world: loving desperately and losing deeply, feeling small within space, losing oneself and discovery — things all readers will be able to identify with, on some level. I take the formal equivalent of this care to be the force of predication set in motion by the structural pattern of dividing the poem into four equal compositional units, with only one verb.
The position of the verb is occupied, in the succeeding stanzas, by three adjectival functions, each literally depending, for its complete grammatical and semantic functioning, on the single words that complete the stanza.
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The effect is to have the completion of meaning constantly delayed, and to make the delay a means of slowing us down or defamiliarizing the process of conferring meanings, so that we are led to recognize the miraculous quality of words and cares eventually taking hold. How resonant the word "depends" becomes, when we recall its etymological meanings of "hanging from" or "hanging over. And words themselves take on that same quality, because each part of speech reveals its capacity to transfer force. But the words' nominal qualities do not disappear.
Their incompleteness, and their shared position with the verb "depends," combine to create an effect of substance in action. Ultimately, so much depends upon our recognizing the complex ways in which we depend on the scene as the farmer depends on these specific objects for his sustenance. First, the etymology of the word "depends" reminds us of the fact, so dear to objectivist poets, that most of our words for mind's activity depend upon metaphors that initially had concrete meanings. The structural parallels also intensify this sense of the mind's dependence as a palpable dimension of the scene.
The word "upon," for example, occupies a position later occupied by a series of nouns, and it completes its verb, just as the nouns complete their intending adjectives. Rather than presenting an icon that we take as a perceptual reality, Williams makes the iconic force of art testimony for the most abstract, yet most intimate of psychological energies: those that define the very form of intentionality.
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We see this intentionality most clearly in the way that the three concrete stanzas enact the process of dependence by continually looking back to that initial opening that invests the scene with its governing verb and allows other elements to assume predicative force. By extending structural parallels into epistemological ones, mental acts become almost as palpable as physical objects. This palpable force actually thickens our sense of the interrelations between time and space. On the one hand, the reader's engagement in their dependency is profoundly temporal.
This assertion about dependency erupts suddenly, forcing us, in effect, to leap a resisting frontal plane before we get to the object, itself slowly unfolding in time and as space. That leap keeps the object dependent on us, and keeps us watching the powers of our own connecting energies as they unfold.
Yet no poem in English is more spatial and timeless. On the mimetic level, these objects seem to have no history, to have always been there, and to represent a form of rural life whose essential habits, and dependence on natural processes, have never really changed. On the testimonial level, all of this motion is so under the control of pattern, and so abstracted to pure function, that it establishes another dimension, in which the various conditions making for objectivity contain and sustain the temporal features of intentional desire.
One temporal sense refers to an immediate present that keeps changing; the other, Suzanne Langer has called an "eternal present" that we see in mathematical formulas such as "two plus two equals four" or "x is a function of y and depends on it. All of the energy leads back to this sense of sustaining interrelationships. This "eternal present" is not transcendental. It is simply our sense of visibility, made self-reflexively "ours" by the palpable form that works of art afford the mind.
Because the acts of mind can be rooted in an objective world, there need be no idealist dialectic to reunite the poles of presentation and disclosure: Objects endure, and thus acts of mind that intensify them, and are intensified in turn, are infinitely repeatable. And, as Nietzsche knew, there is no greater test of will, of the spirit's capacity to align itself with necessities it cannot control, than this sense of infinite repetition.
Because art can realize levels of experience concrete enough to be this abstract, Williams can sustain what amounts to a religious appropriation of Cezanne's aesthetics: "A life that is here and now is timeless. That is the universal I am seeking: to embody that in a work of art, a new world that is always real" Selected Essays Williams' use of imaginary translation, both into visual imagery and from Spanish, appears to account for his creation of "The Red Wheelbarrow" CPI In fact, although published first, "The Red Wheelbarrow" appears to be the result of an experiment in imaginary translation that Williams performed on "Brilliant Sad Sun," translating it from a narrating representational painting to an abstract minimalist one.
And Patti, on her first concert tour sang at your house in Mayaguez and your brother was there. So much of what was important to Williams depended on Elena, and she poured out her vitality in nostalgia to escape his reality as an American and an artist. But Bill accepts her doing this as part of a tragic natural order, she being Latin and thus romantic by nature. Her pouring water to the chickens imparts a measure of life to him by producing sadness, which yields the fruit of another regeneration, the poem itself.
Thus the poem celebrates the pathetic fallacy: around them is "Spring! To arrive at "The Red Wheelbarrow," Williams translated the relationship between Elena, the poet, and her physical surroundings into visual images. The soul-dead Elena, who held in her hand the empty pitcher from which she had poured out the regenerative vitality of water, is compressed into the idea of something on which so much pende "hangs". The original "dangling," a suspected Nordic word that means "hang from," was thus translated into the parallel Latinate "depends.
But from what element in "Brilliant Sad Sun" did Williams get the "red wheelbarrow"? From an imaginary translation from the Spanish. In Spanish, to know things by heart or to do something by rote can be described by the phrase de carretilla : hacer de carretilla or saber de carretilla. The image evokes carrying around the knowledge using a small cart. Colloquially, one can refer to someone's habitually prattling on about some- thing as bringing back one's carretilla.
And carretilla also literally denotes "wheelbarrow. In "The Red Wheelbarrow," therefore, the central image is still a vessel bearing water, spring rainwater that falls on an outdoor setting similar to the suggested one in "Brilliant Sad Sun," with white chickens. But whereas in the first poem the narrative explains the network of relationships between metaphors, in the second poem the centrality of that semantic chain gives way to a purity of forms and colors. In sharp contrast to the cool, white, softly round chickens, the red wheelbarrow is flaming and angular. By virtue of being cooled and glazed by rainwater, however, it simultaneously belongs beside them.
The romanticizing Elena in "Brilliant Sad Sun" was the opposite of the concreteness of the chickens, and yet each was doing what came naturally: "Look! Williams, who habitually covers his sources "But they have no access to my sources" [ CPI 67] , of course, nowhere explicitly attests to his performing this translation.
And one can argue that "The Red Wheelbarrow" came to Williams not derived directly from "Brilliant Sad Sun" but by the original experience that remained with him so vividly that over time it inspired separate poems with the same imagery. But that argument would leave the poem hollow of important semantic possibilities, flattening the dimensions of the "red wheelbarrow" while disregarding parallel instances of the kind of imaginary translation that produced that image.
Such a parallel is found in Williams' preface to the works of Fernando Puma:. But a vessel to hold water is an objet d'art no matter how crazily you treat it. Whatever you do to it [sic] still remains an "object. Merely invoking the great Picasso sufficed to make a case for this kind of translation.
But, as observed earlier, in defending Picasso's quitting painting to capture the same objet d'art in ceramics, Williams was actually defending the acts of imaginary translation that he himself had performed. A closer look at his language in his essay reinforces this contention. His original subject had been Picasso's transition from painting to ceramics.
The "vessel to hold water" was Williams' imaginary translation of an as yet unstated antecedent, the synecdochic olla "pot" image that represents Picasso's exploration of "ceramics. His declaration on how crazily one can treat an object of art is really a non sequitur. One infers from this illogic that Picasso was merely a vehicle that Williams was using to point to his own techniques, that the example foremost in Williams' mind was a vessel that holds water and which, like the glass pitcher and the rain-glazed wheelbarrow, he did treat crazily.
That the imagination can perform the kind of translation that produced the "red wheelbarrow" from carretilla de Rosa is what makes poetry or art possible. This interpretation of Williams' poem as a paradigm, of course, precedes and is independent of our knowing how the poem came to be.
But the evolution of its invention does reaffirm the poem's being a paradigm of the writing of poems, and gives another reason why "so much depends" on a red wheelbarrow. For the performance of imaginary translation that produced the image was also an application of conceptismo , specifically of the lessons that came to him through a major tributary, from whom he discovered early on how wild comparisons in the imagination can bring tremendous inventiveness to the poem on the page.
That mentor was Luis de Gongora, cubism's prime literary predecessor and one of several Spanish writers through whom Williams claimed Elena's literary bloodline. If one were to leave the importance of perception unnoticed, one would inevitably be baffled by some of Williams' more famous poems. So much does this poem center on the perceptive faculty that one critic has recently called it a poem by someone afraid of his own thoughts. Her bosom heaved—she stepped aside, As conscious of my look she stepped— Then suddenly, with timorous eye She fled to me and wept. She half enclosed me with her arms, She pressed me with a meek embrace; And bending back her head, looked up, And gazed upon my face.
I calmed her fears, and she was calm, And told her love with virgin pride; And so I won my Genevieve, My bright and beauteous Bride. And even though we are parting now, I will return, no matter what. And fare thee weel, my only luve! And fare thee weel awhile! And I will come again, my luve, Though it were ten thousand mile. It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me.
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I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea: But we loved with a love that was more than love— I and my Annabel Lee; With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven Laughed loud at her and me. And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her highborn kinsman came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven, Went laughing at her and me— Yes! But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we— Of many far wiser than we— And neither the laughter in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:. For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride, In her sepulchre there by the sea, In her tomb by the sounding sea.
As the history goes, she could not produce the male heir Henry wanted and he probably wrongfully accused her of incest and adultery just so he could have her executed. This love, hijacked by higher forces, painfully elusive, and wildly tempting is exquisitely real and compelling.
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind, But as for me, alas, I may no more. The vain travail hath wearied me so sore, I am of them that farthest cometh behind. Yet may I by no means my wearied mind Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore, Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, As well as I may spend his time in vain. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life.
Had we but world enough and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime.
10. “Since There’s No Help,” by Michael Drayton (1563-1631)
I would Love you ten years before the flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart. For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapped power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Through the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run. Keats brings an almost overwhelming sensuality to this sonnet.
Surprisingly, the first eight lines are not about love or even human life; Keats looks at a personified star Venus?
On "The Red Wheelbarrow"
The North Star? Somehow, the surprising juxtaposition of the wide view of earth as seen from the heavens and the intimate picture of the lovers works to invest the scene of dalliance with a cosmic importance. John Donne sometimes accomplished this same effect, though none of his poems made my final cut. This poem is not a personal appeal but a universal definition of love, which the poet defines as constant and unchangeable in the face of any circumstances.
Even death cannot lord itself over love, which persists to the end of time itself. The final couplet strongly reaffirms his commitment:. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved. It seems Shakespeare may be talking about a deeper layer of love, transcending sensual attraction and intimacy, something more akin to compassion or benevolence for your fellow man. Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove.
Conrad Geller is an old, mostly formalist poet, a Bostonian now living in Northern Virginia. His work has appeared widely in print and electronically. Give him some slack Robert! But hey — some good stuff here. And sometimes the sentimental can top even the brilliant. We crave for it, when young, in rage. Scared of it, when wise, to divulge. Love, the undeterring vice of any age underlines our life at every stage!