Thursday, December 7, 2006

It's Your Take: Interpreting Dickinson


Emily Dickinson is well known for--as far as I'm concerned--two things:

1. imagism: her imagery; the images she uses to capture a moment in time, or a physical or emotional state of being.

For instance, instead of placing the word "isolation" in a poem about "isolation," she will instead capture the emotions one feels when isolated and use them as an indirect indication of the overall theme of "isolation." Her poetry is therefore suggestive and rooted specifically in man's mental, emotinal, or physical experience of some state of being. More simply, a poem about God doesn't have to include God's name if we were to write one in Dickinson's poetic style.

2. ellipses: the omission from a sentence or other construction of one or more words that would complete or clarify the construction; her thoughts, then, are "elliptical" and this is most evident in her short phrases and the incomplete sentence structures within her verse. You'll notice various dashes and other breaks in lines of her verse that give the reader "pause" to reflect on the images she creates.

All that said, take some time this weekend to read and reflect upon her poems as excerpted in 101 Great American Poems. After parousing some of her work, take one poem that struck you and interpret it.

If you decide to read your fellow classmate's commentary and wish to respond with your own opinion, please feel free to do so. I recommend you doing it, but with discretion, open-mindedness, and respect.

Interpret away,

p.s. For those of you who have not published your own poetry in the previous blog assignment, please do so. I enjoy reading your work and find in it inspiration for my own.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Question for Bro. Rob

Hey brother, I wanted to ask, can we create our own blogs on here? For instance, if we are discussing poetry in class and you don't have a homework for us could we write our own poetry and express our own thoughts on the blog? Of course, rules still stand, with its appropriatness. But i was just wondering. The reason i posted it on here was to see other peoples comments and to see if you would consider. I hope its not trouble, you're of course the executive decision. So with that, I'll see you all in class.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Free your mind with some verse


Walt Whitman (1819-1892)--romantic, humanist, and transcendentalist--is professed to be the greatest American Poet and, if not that, then the "father of free verse": a type of poetry without strict meter (beat) or rhyme.

That's not to say, however, that Whitman's poetry was not rhytmic. It certainly had its "flow" as we might say.

You ask, but what is "poetry" in the first place? Well, that's not easy to answer. Poetry, origining from the Greek, poiesis--"making" or "creating"--is an art formed in speech and word.

It is a type of language, really. It is a way of expressing thought and emotion through images, through symbols, through description and metaphor (drawing on comparisons between objects and people, for instance).

That said, consider what we've done in class: taking an image, an emotion, or a theme; transforming it through the imagination; and expressing it through poetry.

Pick from the following list of abstractions (or make up your own) and expound on one "idea" with some lines of free verse. Try to stay away from rhyme, but keep in mind the importance of rhythm even though there is no professed "meter" (or syllabic beat) involved:

faith, soul, body, mind, spirit, eterninty, the forest, fire, water, the universe, the cosmos, the common man, music, buildings, home, hatred, love, the ocean, the mountain, the coast, prayer, family life, friendship, school, sports, clothing, heroes, enterntainment, villains, God, Buddha, the Over-Soul, religion, conformity, nonconformity, isolation, loneliness, solitude, joy, despair, hope, grief, baptism, funeral, the sacraments, war, peace, burning churches, fish, sea-faring adventures, animals and the list could go on..........


Monday, December 4, 2006

I went that I could live deliberately.


Seated by the shore of a small pond, Thoreau--Emmerson's contemporary--took up his abode in a log cabin amidst the tall pines of the New England forest. He lived for two years, from 1845 to 1847, in an area just south of Concord, Massachusetts in order to withdraw from society and its obligations.

During that time, he used nature as his inspiration to "rift" his way "into the secret of things" (68). Each morning, he awoke to greet the dawn with a renewing bath in the waters of Walden Pond. He watched the sun rise, "throwing off" the "nightly clothing of mist," to reveal the soft ripples of the water that reflectled the light of that "divining rod" in the dome of the great sky.

Thoreau's surroundings were "pasture enough for [his] imagination" (61).

That said:

What is pasture enough for your imagination? Where would you go to live deliberately, as Thoreau did? Would this place of refuge be one of solitude? Or would you have company? What would you do with your time in such surroundings? What would you take with you, if anything? What would be your dwelling place?

Be sure to use metaphor in describing your surroundings. For instance, if you describe the ocean's waves, how is it that they crash? Do they lay like blankets upon the soft bed of the shore? Or the trees of the forest: Does the sun's light pour through branches like droplets of rain from the roof of a house?

Where would you go to live deliberately?