Friday, November 14, 2003

Poetic Theories

Yah, back to poetry.

I have a very high opinion of poetry. Honestly, I love to read it. I even enjoy analysing it, which is admittedly twisted. I enjoy exploring the mysterious "underneath" -- where rhythm, beats, allusion and all those other words lurk. I think of it as the girders and bolts of a poem, as if I've walked around the beautiful movie scene to look at all the support structure and lighting that makes it look like it does. I'm also perfectly happy just staring at the pretty picture in front when a backstage tour isn't going on.

My very joy in such is the very reason I won't listen to most people read their own poetry. I most especially avoid "open mike nights" and "poetry slams". I limit my exposure to poems written by anyone under 18 (especially my own, and I have a certain tolerance toward THOSE) and by anyone over 70 who has only recently started writing it. In fact, I try to contol my exposure to poetry written by anyone who has just started writing it.

And it isn't so much self protection (well, ok, so it is pretty much) as to prevent the innocent from seeing/hearing my reactions. I don't like to be cruel to poets. It doesn't really help, anyway.

Poetry is a highly concentrated form of communication. I compare it to Rose Absolut -- a very expensive essential oil. Just in case you don't know anything about essential oils, it takes a lot of the raw product to produce an oil. ) With Rose, it takes an INSANE amount of rose petals to produce a small amount of highly concentrated oil. The stuff is stunningly expensive, but wonderfully sweet. The same goes for poetry -- the very best of it is highly condensed but heady stuff.

I believe Heinlein said "a man who reads his poetry in public may have other bad habits". I won't go quite THAT far, but I will say that, in my experience, those poets most eager to read their works to an audience are really indulging in...mental masturbation. With High Art overtones. I don't want to watch.

With all this said, I thought I would take a cue from Gwydion and post a poem I love.


O my love
The pretty towns
All the blue tents of our nights together
And the lilies and the birds glad in our joy
And the road through the forest
Where the surly wolf lived
And the snow at the top of the mountain
And the little
Rain falling on the roofs of the village
O my love my dear lady
The world is not very big
There is only room for our wonder
And the light leaning winds of heaven
Are not more sweet or pure
Than your mouth on my throat
O my love there are larks in our morning
And the finding flame of you hands
And the moss on the bank of the river
And the butterflies
And the whirling-mad
Butterflies!


- Kenneth Patchen

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