Poetry should be beautiful

How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?
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Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Mic » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:55 pm

Geoffrey Hill (Oxford prof. of poetry). (CONTENT WARNING for Bri - he uses the word 'soul')

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero ... ffrey-hill

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Ros » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:14 pm

define beauty...
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Mic » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:19 pm

I expect he might say that he'd hope his poetry defines it.. in some way.
"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you" - Rumi

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:54 pm

Didn't think much of that video. Great beard though. I have a Selected of Hill which I have been intending to reread for some years now. I remember thinking that here was a bold, spunky poet who spent too much time worrying about god or the lack of him.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by brianedwards » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:39 am

Ros wrote:define beauty...
Exactly.

"a lifetime's anxiety [...] about the fate of my soul"

Well I find this kind of comment profoundly frustrating, that a man of such obvious intellect and talent should become so bound up in such a pointless endeavour. It does go some way to explaining what I have always thought about Hill's work - for all the technical brilliance and delicate handling of language, it is mostly humourless, lacking in joy. I confess I am not massively well-versed in his work, and there is quite a lot of it.

Cracking beard though, I agree.

B.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Tim Love » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:00 am

define beauty...

And yet, writers of many persuasions use the word.
  • "poetry is seeking to make not meaning but beauty", Basil Bunting
  • "I don't believe that one can dehistoricize and decontextualize cultural production and come up with anything that isn't stripped of a large measure of its liveliness. Isolation in the realm of bestness does, of course, tend to focus on a poem's beauty.", Lyn Hejinian
  • "Beauty reveals everything because it expresses nothing", Wilde
  • "We always take it for granted that all that is beautiful is art, and that all art is beautiful ... This identification of art with beauty is the root of all the difficulties of judgement", Herbert Read
  • "Art arises out of our desire for both beauty and truth and our knowledge that they are not identical", Auden
  • "Every poem starts out as either true or beautiful. Then you try to make the true ones seem beautiful and the beautiful ones true", Larkin

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:41 pm

Larkin wrote:Every poem starts out as either true or beautiful. Then you try to make the true ones seem beautiful and the beautiful ones true.
I don't think I've heard this one before but it's 100% correct as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Suzanne » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:08 pm

Are you serious about the beard? Since you brought it up.
What did you two mean? I seriously want to know. What the heck?`I ask myself.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:29 pm

Suzanne wrote:Are you serious about the beard? Since you brought it up.
What did you two mean? I seriously want to know. What the heck?`I ask myself.
Do you not think it's an impressive beard?
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Suzanne » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:19 pm

? impressive how?

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:45 pm

Suzanne wrote:? impressive how?
Big, bushy and unabashed? Nest-like, nimbiferous?
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by David » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:41 pm

Ros wrote:define beauty...
Oh dear. Must we? Really?
k-j wrote:I have a Selected of Hill which I have been intending to reread for some years now.
I have one too. I seem to remember the poetry getting progressively more difficult as it proceeded, but what there was of Mercian Hymns (1971!) - quite a lot, actually - made me think that it must be one of the great modern collections.
brianedwards wrote:"a lifetime's anxiety [...] about the fate of my soul"

Well I find this kind of comment profoundly frustrating, that a man of such obvious intellect and talent should become so bound up in such a pointless endeavour.
Oh I don't know. The way he puts it, he might almost have said "a lifetime of self-examination and self-questioning". Would that be such a bad thing? Probably it would, if taken to excess, but I wouldn't be put off the idea just because I have an allergy to the word "soul".

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:00 pm

Yes, the pieces from Mercian Hymns stood out for me too. I think I'll toddle off to the library this very minute. A good book for Decembral delvings, I think.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by David » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:03 pm

k-j wrote:A good book for Decembral delvings, I think.
Excellent, I would think.

Interestingly, ...


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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by JohnLott » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:49 pm

brianedwards wrote: Well I find this kind of comment profoundly frustrating, that a man of such obvious intellect and talent should become so bound up in such a pointless endeavour.
B.
Don't all those with 'religion' get hung up on a 'pointless endeavour' - genius or otherwise?

If one can't define 'beauty' how can one define another great abstraction?
Are we not victims of our 'wiring' that allows us to think of abstractions but not prove them?

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by brianedwards » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:30 pm

David wrote: Oh I don't know. The way he puts it, he might almost have said "a lifetime of self-examination and self-questioning". Would that be such a bad thing? Probably it would, if taken to excess, but I wouldn't be put off the idea just because I have an allergy to the word "soul".
I don't have an allergy to the word soul. And his quote is not the same as "self-examination and self-questioning" is it? It is perfectly possible to accept that human's have no soul, that we cease to exist at the moment of death, and yet still spend your life (or at least a significant part of it) "self-questioning". Hill's comment is very precise - he is talking about the possibility of an after-life, which is pointless.
JohnLott wrote:
brianedwards wrote: Well I find this kind of comment profoundly frustrating, that a man of such obvious intellect and talent should become so bound up in such a pointless endeavour.
B.
Don't all those with 'religion' get hung up on a 'pointless endeavour' - genius or otherwise?
Did I say otherwise?

B.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by JohnLott » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:22 pm

brianedwards wrote: Did I say otherwise?

B.
No.
I was agreeing and expanding

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by JohnLott » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:27 pm

David wrote:but what there was of Mercian Hymns (1971!) - quite a lot, actually - made me think that it must be one of the great modern collections.
I tried those and sank without trace

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Mic » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:32 pm

k-j wrote:
Larkin wrote:Every poem starts out as either true or beautiful. Then you try to make the true ones seem beautiful and the beautiful ones true.
I don't think I've heard this one before but it's 100% correct as far as I'm concerned.

For me too.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Antcliff » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:16 pm

Every poem starts with one or other of these great virtues? Every...? :o
I fear a tidy few start out ugly and false (and even remain so...sadly).
Last edited by Antcliff on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by David » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:19 pm

brianedwards wrote:I don't have an allergy to the word soul.
Sorry Bri, that was probably too facetious a way of putting it, but you do have problems with it. And, to judge by her intro, Michaela does too. That's fine, that's part of what makes you what you are.
brianedwards wrote:he is talking about the possibility of an after-life, which is pointless
But here I can't resist adding - sez you! I'm not actively disagreeing with you - I'm too agnostic for that - just not assuming Geoffrey Hill is a mindless sap.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:55 pm

I read Mercian Hymns last night. It's very short so was able to linger over it and still spend no more than an hour. Definitely going to reread it once or twice before returning it to the library.

It's certainly got the brawn to go with its brain; compelling stuff. Especially for me as I'm from that neck of the woods, viz. Offa's. I suppose some people might find it "difficult" but Hill is pretty generous with his notes at the back of the volume, and it's difficult only in the sense of being dense and allusive (as opposed to being vague and pretentious).

Recommended particularly for anyone interested in Englishness.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by David » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:15 pm

k-j wrote:Recommended particularly for anyone interested in Englishness.
Amazingly enough - although if you've been paying attention you really shouldn't be surprised - that includes me.

Another one is Briggflatts by Basil Bunting. Available now (in UK, at least) in a very nice edition with accompanying DVD and CD. BB adds notes to his as well, and one of them is brilliant:

O, come on, you know that one.

To skerry, by the way.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Antcliff » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:23 pm

Good grief, I am reading Briggflatts at the moment and was half thinking of asking if anyone on site knew it.
What a coincidence.
At first read I was annoyed and it was returned to the mouldy pile. Nae attempt at sense. Words.
Thought: I'll try again. And now here I am reading it over a third time, so it must have something. A baffling work. If anyone on this site has views on Briggflatts I would be interested to hear them.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by David » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:33 am

David wrote:
brianedwards wrote:I don't have an allergy to the word soul.
Sorry Bri, that was probably too facetious a way of putting it, but you do have problems with it. And, to judge by her intro, Michaela does too.
That's wrong! I meant to say:

but I think you do have problems with it. And, to judge by her intro, Michaela thinks so too.

Sorry, Michaela!

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