Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poetry and Me

We're not really friends.

I always feel a little bad about this.  Like I mustn't be cultured enough or educated enough to 'get it'.  I've read Tolstoy and Dickens and I love history and classical music.... but try as I might, I just don't like poetry.

I don't even think it's that I don't 'get it'.. I've studied it.  I've read a fair bit of it... I just prefer prose. I love poetic prose even. But just not poetry.

*heavy, defeated sigh*

Well, actually, there's one tiny little kind of poetry that I really like.  I mean, it's the beginners poetry.... most people probably don't even count these as poetry.... but I love couplets.

Like really love them.

One of my favourites is a little Emily Dickenson delight that mum taught me many years ago:

They may not need me, but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight.
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.


And, since we're on a roll, here's another one I read recently and have popped up on a card by my bathroom mirror:

But chief of all Thy wondrous works
Supreme of all Thy plan,
Thou has put an upward reach
Into the hearts of man

Isn't that wonderful? I love the thought, and how easy these are to commit to memory and pull out as life's situations dictate.

So... what do you think?  Do they pass?  Am I still cultured?


xo Tammy


  1. That last verse is lovely. It's from a poem by Harry Kemp:

    Who Thou art I know not,
    But this much I know;
    Thou hast set the Pleiades
    In a silver row;

    Thou has sent the trackless winds
    Loose upon their way;
    Thou hast reared a colored wall
    'Twixt the night and day;

    Thou hast made the flowers to bloom
    And the stars to shine;
    Hid rare gems of richest ore
    In the tunneled mine;

    But chief of all Thy wondrous works,
    Supreme of all Thy plan,
    Thou hast put an upward reach
    In the heart of Man.

    Harry Kemp


  2. Tammy you're not cultured. You would've had to know the whole poem, and who wrote it. Also, you have to be into at least soooome poetry that nobody really understands. I'm not cultured in this area either - I can't get into reading stuff that seems to make no sense to me, and I've never studied it long enough (aside from faking it through high school English, but let's be honest - they don't put that high a standard on 15 year olds when it comes to poetry) to understand the not understood! But I do LOVE a good Roald Dahl verse!!! ;)

    Mum, you definitely are.

  3. I think that you do both love poetry, you just don't love all of it. It's as if you're saying that you don't like music because you can't get into opera, or heavy metal (or jazz :) There are some styles you do love.

    Poetry in prose is one of my favourite things, but I think great poetry (great because of its impact on you and not generally because of its obscurity), expresses an intensity of emotion, and quality of beauty and thought, that is made more vivid and memorable because of the poetic structure. (To illustrate: 'Thou hast reared a colored wall 'Twixt the night and day' from the poem above is a beautifully poetic description of dawn and dusk with all the added meaning of 'Thou hast reared..') It's pithy. Poetry doesn't speak to us if we don't like or relate to what the poem is trying to say. I'm sure you love Wordsworth's: 'Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home' And Elizabeth Barrett Browning's: 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach.. and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.' ?

    Funny story.. Since I was about ten I've loved a couplet by Alfred, Lord Tennyson that I've remembered like this: 'Break, break, break. On thy cold, grey stones, O Sea! O that Thou could utter the thoughts that arise in Thee!' I recently reread the whole poem and realised that the correct rendering is: 'Break, break, break. On thy cold grey stones, O Sea! And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me.' - Which changes the meaning completely! And I like my version so much better, because of what it means to me! :)

    And since this comment is already waay overlong, I thought I might as well share another of my favourite Emily Dickinson poems:

    I'm nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
    They'd banish us; you know!

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public like a frog
    To tell one's name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

    Don't you love it? :) And yes, I think you are cultured, Tam! ('the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.) :)


  4. I got a card when I was about 10 that had a poem on the front and I've always remembered it.
    It said:
    "Look around the world, its true,
    There's no one else who's quite like you.
    No one has your smile, your face,
    No one else could take your place.
    So don't forget this special rule,
    Be glad you're you, that makes you cool!"

    Best poem card ever :)

    I don't mind fun little rhymes but as far as the deep poetry goes like what mum's talking about, I don't like it so much :S
    Not quite my cup of tea, you might say! :)