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 Set upon a golden bough to sing - Miscellaneous Debris – Archive

Set upon a golden bough to sing

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

17 Apr 2008

I have never been a big proponent of poetry. I’ve always favored blunt prose, blunter blogging. Even when cryptic, it is straightforward in its secretiveness. Poetry always seemed too roundabout, too contrived.

So, given this presumptuous predilection, I had no choice but to throw myself headlong into it, taking a class on American Poetry last year, and a general, entry-level Poetry Analysis class earlier this year. If you can’t beat’em, I say, analyze the hell out of’em.

So I did. And it was fun. Because poems, surprisingly enough, are words. Words arranged on a page. And they are just as cryptic or as accessible as you want them to be. Just like fine wine, 17th century antiques or Golden Age comic books, you can see in them as much you’re willing to invest. At first they’re a lump, just a big mass of words arranged haphazardly, occasionally looking very pretty. And some people keep it at that distance, and all is well. But the more you dig deep, and the more you actively look for distinctions, the more you can see the patterns forming. Just like learning to differentiate between Highland or Islay Scotch Whiskies, you learn to focus on the nuances.

Metaphors start to pop out of the page. You always knew they were there, but they seem to percolate and permeate. Your eye rests on each bird and fish and try to match it to the poem’s symbolism. Alliteration illustrates. Assonance resonates.  Meter chimes its well-versed beats. Rhyme-schemes, forms, themes, Yeats and Keats.

Sometimes it remains blank. Opaque. Inscrutable. You look at the page, raise an eyebrow, wonder if it’s worth your time. Someone throws you a word that decrypts the whole poem and you feel like tearing your hair out and yelling “Then why didn’t you just SAY so?”. But still, it’s fun.

For my trip, I was given a copy of Weebyt‘s “Sailing to Byzantium“, quite a well known poem but not one I had read or analyzed before. So I’m sitting here in this Tel-Avivian cafe before my flight and reading the poem, and.. you know… understanding it. I went to check if the wikipedia entry adds any more value (which it did), but basically I got it right. I got his basic theme. I got many of his images and metaphors. I caught the ABABABCC rhyme scheme. Moreover, I understood why these things added to my enjoyment of the poem, in addition to plainly pretty turns of phrase that make me want to change my Facebook status accordingly every 3 lines. I missed some references that wikipedia kindly filled in, like the golden mechanical bird, but the spirit was evident.

In short, I am enculturated into yet another discipline. A new jargon, a new set of technical terms. All monuments of their own magnificence.

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