Monday, April 21, 2014

Not Wandering Lonely As A Cloud

Poetry on sale! I was reading William Wordsworth's poetry this weekend, as it happens. You won't find any Wordsworth at Phoenicia Publishing, but you will find the Homeric, supercharged post-apocalyptic Thaliad by Marly Youmans, as well as works from many other contemporary poets who believe in form, beauty, line and meaning. Don't be scared! Go buy something.

And here's a bit of that Wordsworth I was reading, one of his shorter poems:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.
"Surprised by Joy" is even better, but you already know that. I have begun to really enjoy his longer poems, too. This is all digression, though: you should go buy a copy of Thaliad. I believe the book is on its second printing, which is a big deal in the poetry world.


  1. Wordsworth and Youmans -- a nicely managed literary "marriage" in your posting. BTW . . . when time permits, I will be posting my teacher's perspective on the ins-and-outs of teaching poetry to undergraduate non-English majors. In the meantime, take care.

  2. I read your post about teaching poetry. I have nothing to add to it because I am not a good reader of poetry. I do like what you say about just seeing the form and images. I remember learning to read past line ends, to understand enjambment and to pay attention to the punctuation, just to find the real shapes of the lines. That, simple as it is, was a tremendous help. There is a way poetry can beat, can vibrate with incredible energy, that most prose doesn't. I want to steal that beating, that vibration, for my prose. I tell myself that it's contained somehow in formal elements, and if I just understand those formal elements, I'll have it. I know I'm wrong, but it's a start. It's like poetry is not made of the same sort of words that prose is. "Is" in a poem is not "is" in a story, if you know what I mean. Maybe I don't know what I mean.

    1. My two cents: read the poems aloud; memorize a few good ones.

  3. Scott, as you have said, and as I "understand" poetry, the context(s), meaning(s), sound, and rhythm for each word in each phrase in each clause in each sentence are the keys to poetry. As an example, if you want to understand the beauty of a building (e.g., a Gothic cathedral), start by understanding the placement, shape, color, size, weight, and function of each stone.

  4. Scott, thank you so much for the boost and your kind words! Very much appreciated.

  5. Scott, here is a postscript:
    Please see my comment to Marly in response to hers at my teaching poetry posting (Beyond Eastrod). I tell about teaching Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night." You might find it a bit bizarre.