The latest class in the Poetry in America series has started, Modernism, and the first poem being explored is In a Station of the Metro.
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The discussion forum starts off with
“his first attempt to write the poem resulted in a thirty-line draft; his second, six months later, was half that length; the next year, Pound produce the haiku-sized final draft.”
We are then asked, “How does Pound's poem accomplish so much with so few words?”
Pound’s poem’s power comes from compressed comparison. The comparison is implied and a verb isn’t even needed.
Pound kept whittling away at the poem until he was down to just fourteen words (not counting the title). Why stop there? Why not keep going until you get down to just two words to compare and contrast, “Faces : Petals”? Down to one word, “Apparition”? Or no words, like John Cage’s 4’33?
What is it that makes poetry poetry? Especially if we abandon the subject, structure, and sonance of earlier poetry? Are we reduced to just comparison?
It makes me think of Billy Collins’ poem, “The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of Explanation”
In Collin’ poem, we find:
And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,
As we think about what it is that makes poetry poetry, I think about my own writing. Why do I write like I do? How does this relate to modernity, capitalism, and the industrial revolution? Is it time for the next phase in poetry? Post Modern? Post Structural? Or, perhaps like our Pre-Raphaelite predecessors, a return to some of the beauty of previous art, perhaps a Pre-Modern Brotherhood of Post Structuralists?
Subsequent thoughts: As I go through the comments in the course, one person writes:
the poem first invoked memories of Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
I like comparing the Pound's crowd to Whitman's crowd. The apparition of these faces in the crowd; how curious you are to me!
Many of the other comments focus on apparition, particularly the ghostly aspect, and it makes me think of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem Wraith
At times I feel like a digital aborigine
showing the digital immigrants
and their offspring,
the new digital natives,
the paths of cyberspace.
At times we come across a fence
one of the digital immigrants has built
obstructing the way
or a new bridge
over a difficult stream
that one of the new digital natives
has put up.
The digital immigrants
long for their analog homeland
distrustful of the ways
of this new world
and their digital offspring
by the nostalgia
for the old
of their parents.
I cherish my digital world
as I lovingly show
my newbie friends
the beauties of this place.
I show the digital colonialists
the ways of my world
knowing full well
It is Thursday, April 7th. I continue on pace for writing a poem a day in April. I’m a few posts behind averaging a post a day for the year. Last night I was out late and didn’t get a chance to post yesterday’s poem until this morning, and I may come back to it and work on it more later.
I have today’s poem mostly composed. I just need to do some editing, but I thought I’d stop to write some reflections this evening and post the today’s poem tomorrow morning.
My computer was acting up today. In part, I believe, because I had too many windows open. I close the windows, saving the links to various pages I had open, and some of them seem to fit together.
MOOCs: There are two MOOCs that I’m looking at participating in. One is MODERN GENIUS: ART AND CULTURE IN THE 19TH CENTURY. I believe it is set up using the Kannu learning management system. It is a good chance for me to see how that system works. The course already started, so I have to decide if I want to spend time on it and maybe try to catch up.
The other MOOC, which is starting tomorrow, is Poetry in America: Modernism. I’ve participated in a few of the other classes in this series, sometimes having time to complete them, other times not.
During my devotions, I ended up on John Donne’s page, particularly reading Annunciation. This led me to search Librivox to wee what is available. I found
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. I am listening to this in the car during my commute.
I also watched a little of Why is modern poetry difficult? Talk by Professor Geoff Ward.
All of this links together with an article that caught my attention today, Study: Poor Writing Skills Are Costing Businesses Billions. It pointed to the study, Are They Really Ready To Work?
Kim and Fiona are elsewhere, so I have a quiet evening at home. I’ll work a little more on today’s poem, maybe read a little more online, and then head off to bed soon.
She had developed a case of digital diabetes;
too many sweets online
and not enough meet, not enough substance.
Sure, there a little spice in her diet
the occasional political disagreement,
but she had already unfriended
most of the people who disagreed with her
except for those relatives she couldn’t unfriend
and had to just ignore.
Her digital footprint was virtually indistinguishable,
for any twenty first century teen popstar,
like the characters in sitcom
about teenage life
aimed at preteens
or in the carefully constructed
of teen aged music idols.
It was hard to differentiate between her
and everyone else
who was suffering
from digital diabetes.
What was it like when Saul set out for Damascus?
Did the Christians there talk anxiously amongst themselves,
“What will help to us?”
Did the zealot proudly proclaim,
“Let me be first, bound, carried to Jerusalem
to tortured, die, and gain the martyr’s crown?”
Did the mystic quietly predict
“God’s purpose will be achieved in an unexpected way?”
And when The Lord spoke to Ananias,
what was his reaction,
his first thoughts, his fears?
What went through his mind
as he entered the house
looking for Saul?
Now, in a twenty-first century home,
what does The Lord ask of us
that seems equally unexpected?