Poetry Month Celebration

Because it’s always lovely to get a good poem recommendation.

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A little while ago, I discovered (via The Golden Echo) that April is National Poetry Month and that there’s a tag (via The Edge of the Precipice) to help us celebrate. It looked like fun and I wanted to participate. So I sat down to write this post and then realised National Poetry Month might just be an American thing and I might need an I’m-not-American-so-I-don’t-officially-qualify-but-I’m-celebrating-anyway disclaimer. I decided to check with Google and discovered that, as of 1999, National Poetry Month is also celebrated in Canada every April, so I can officially celebrate. Thanks, Wikipedia. πŸ™‚

–The Questions–

What are some poems you like?

I’ll keep this to one poem per poet, even though it’s difficult when it comes to E. E. Cummings, and especially difficult when it comes toΒ  T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins. These are some favorites that immediately come to mind.

Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare
The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot
“Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath
[love is more thicker than forget] by E. E. Cummings

It’s funny, I just noticed several happy coincidences between these titles. There seems to be some sort of trend of three: three of these titles include the word “love”; three start with the word “the”; three have a version of the word “song” in the title.Β  πŸ™‚

What are some poems you dislike?

I don’t usually finish poems that don’t interest me. If I do, I tend to immediately forget them, so it’s a bit difficult to name names. However, (and this may make me seem like a philistine) there is one poem I’m not very keen on: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken“.

My problem isn’t really with the poem itself, but more with it being ‘the [poem] not taken’ in context by so many people. As I’ve said in another post, it bothers me when things get taken out of context and given a meaning that is not even close to (or the opposite of) what the author was actually saying. The popularity of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” seems to lie in the fact that most people only, or mainly, remember the last three lines and forget the last two lines of the second stanza, as well as the first two lines of the last stanza.

Are there any poets whose work you especially enjoy? Β If so, who are they?

T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins. E. E. Cummings interests me greatly, but I can’t really say I’ve read enough of his poetry to put him in that “special” category.

Do you write poetry?

Maybe.

Have you ever memorized a poem?

Yes. Most recently, T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Last year, in September, I started memorizing T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, but got busy and forgot about it…this is a good reminder.

One of these days, I hope to memorize “The Waste Land” and all four poems in Four Quartets. (If I had enough time I’d probably memorize most of T. S. Eliot’s poetry πŸ™‚ .) I would also like to, someday, have memorized all six poems I mentioned in reply to the first question. One down, five to go. πŸ™‚

Do you prefer poetry that rhymes and had a strict meter, or free verse? Β Or do you like both? Do you have any particular poetry movements you’re fond of? Β (Beat poets, Romanticism, Fireside poets, etc?)

I don’t have a particular preference.Β  For me, it isn’t at all about form, it’s all about what the poet is saying. I think good poetry happens when the poet says something, not just because he can, but because he has to. There’s this great quote by Robert Frost that goes:

“A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.”
–Robert Frost, letter to Louis Untermeyer (1 January 1916)

A good poem is something that says ‘just what I mean’; it’s an expression of emotions and truth in a way that you never knew you’ve always wanted to say; it’s about using words to paint a magnificent scene (be it glorious or tragic) that everyone knows, but no one has quite seen before. A good poem happens when raw, honest, beautiful, terrible feelings and thoughts find the right words to embody them. As a result, a good poem makes you think. A good poem makes you feel something.

———

Well, that was fun. To be honest, when I started this post, aside from my great love for T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins, I didn’t think I was a poetry fan per se. Now that I’ve finished, I realise I’m more of a poetry fan than I thought. πŸ™‚

Do you have any favorite poets or poems? Any poems or poets you especially dislike? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

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12 responses to “Poetry Month Celebration”

  1. Christopher Adamson says :

    I’m glad you joined in! Some of us Americans feel especially commonwealthy, so you’re completely welcome. I second the frustration with the adolescent misreading of “The Road Not Taken.” The worst is when it’s turned into a commercial.

  2. noteablepad says :

    I’ve studied Tennyson’s poetry and Milton. I really liked those πŸ™‚

    • Meg says :

      That’s awesome. Tennyson and Milton are both poets I’m interested in. Any tips for reading them?

      I started reading Milton’s Paradise Lost last year. Managed to get about 1/3 of the way through, but it was tough and I felt like I needed to build up my poetry muscles before continuing on with him. I also started Tennyson’s “In Memorium” last year, but got side tracked. I’m hoping have another go at it, this time, reading a little at a time and more frequently.

      • noteablepad says :

        I think both poems are easier to understand when you contextualise and read up on what was happening at that time in their life. I forced myself to get through Paradise Lost, and it really does get easier the more you read it. But then again, it’s not a text to be read for fun, or that you can rush through. Appreciate the language, and maybe annotate too πŸ™‚ I studied In Memoriam, or excerpts of it, so I annotated it mostly. Both are great πŸ™‚

      • Meg says :

        I bought the Norton Critical Edition of both poems, for that very reason (I thought I would need to read up on them). πŸ™‚ Both editions are also annotated, but I often end up adding additional annotations and comments too. πŸ™‚
        It’s encouraging to know that Paradise Lost gets easier, the more you read it. I guess I just need to stick to it. Thanks for the tips!

      • noteablepad says :

        That’s great! It might also be helpful, particularly with Paradise Lost, to try and go through each part and summarise what is happening and underline the main events. πŸ™‚

      • Meg says :

        Hadn’t thought of that. Good idea. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  3. hamlettethedame says :

    I love that quote from Robert Frost — that sums up poetry for me pretty well too.

    My goodness, you’ve memorized “Prufrock”? And now you’re on to “Hollow Men” too? My hat is off to you! That’s very cool.

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