Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Defense of Poetry

Hi, everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been out of the picture recently; unfortunately, it’s due to college, and the situation is unlikely to get better soon. It’s not really that I don’t have time to post—it’s that I don’t have time to read, and that’s probably not going to change much unless I seriously overhaul my life. Which, y’know, could happen. But for now: Onward!

We talk a lot in the book blogosphere about books; fiction, non-fiction, how-to guides, even cookbooks and the sorts of books you’d keep on a coffee table. I’ve very rarely heard anything being said about poetry, and I think that’s a great shame. When we think ‘poem’, the word seems to conjure up images of either incomprehensible strings of words we had to dissect in English class and never fully understood, or the sort of terrible angst people tend to choke out during a bad breakup.

That doesn’t have to be the case. For four years of high school, I took a class in ‘The Speaking of Verse and Prose’, a set of drama classes and exams (Gold medal, woohoo!) that focused on performing poems and short extracts of fiction. I came across many of my favourite poems that way, and I’d like to share snippets of them with you now. Click on the titles to see the full poems!

 You open the door and you enter the studio,
And you feel less cheerio than nudio.
The hard light shines like seventy suns,
And you know your features are foolish ones.
The photographer says, Natural, please,
So you cross your knees and uncross your knees.
Like a duke in a high society chronicle
The camera glares at you through its monocle
And you feel ashamed of your best attire,
Your nose itches, your palms perspire,
Your muscles stiffen, and all the while
You smile and smile and smile and smile.

My Rival- Rudyard Kipling

The young men come, the young men go
Each pink and white and neat,
She's older than their mothers, but
They grovel at Her feet.

They walk beside Her 'rickshaw wheels--
None ever walk by mine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is forty-nine.

I can't imagine how the pea
got under your mattress. I apologize
humbly. The chambermaid has, of course,
been sacked. As has the frog footman.
I understand that, during my recent fact-finding tour of the
      Golden River,
despite your nightly unavailing efforts,
he remained obstinately

Pity Me Not- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Pity me not because the light of day
At close of day no longer walks the sky;
Pity me not for beauties passed away
From field and thicket as the year goes by;
Pity me not the waning of the moon,
Nor that the ebbing tide goes out to sea,
Nor that a man’s desire is hushed so soon,
And you no longer look with love on me.

TimeDoes Not Bring ReliefEdna St. Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied   
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!   
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;   
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,   
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;   
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.   

What's your feeling towards poetry? Do you read it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!



  1. These poems are all fantastic. (Especially the one by Adrian Henri... I'll have to track down more things by him!) Thanks for posting them!

  2. I second that.

    I like to write poetry, and like to hear it read aloud, but I simply can't enjoy when I read to myself. Poetry is largely a performance art, and most of the time people fail to recognize that.

    The Speaking of Verse and Prose sounds like a great class, and is something I could definitely benefit from -- when I read my writing, it is always in a Ginsberg monotone.


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