Poetry should be beautiful

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

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:14 pm

Geoffrey Hill's on BBC2 right now...
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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brianedwards
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by brianedwards » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:39 pm

Well, I have less of an issue with the word soul than I do with the concept. Even more so than the concept of God actually: at least there exists visible unexplained phenomena in the universe from which we have yet to eliminate the possibility of The Hand of God - I'm aware of no equivalent entities that can be held up as "proof" of a human soul.
The word soul is often used in literature and the arts to simply pander to some populist idea of "spirituality", but as a concept it underpins many of the world's major religions and spiritual organisations. Fearing the fate of the human soul after death is a prerequisite for the survival of religious institutions and archaic doctrine. As one who strongly believes in science and the scientific method, I am compelled to look at the evidence. And there is no evidence for the existence of a soul or for any kind of existence after death; in fact, most of the evidence points to its non-existence. If someone were to commit their life to finding evidence of a soul via scientific experiment I would respect their efforts even though I would doubt the possibility of any success. To spend ones life simply pondering its existence in a state of anxiety seems, to me, a pointless endeavour, especially for one possessed of both a great intellect and a forum for its expression. Hill's personal turmoil has produced some very good poetry so perhaps "pointless" is overstating things, but then I suspect his poetry is more than just the product of his fretting over the fate of his soul. In fact, the more I think about his remark the more it reads like a bit of casual hyperbole tossed out for the cameras.

Jeez Brian lighten up!

Yeah, I spend far too much time thinking about this stuff. A lifetime being aggravated about other people's anxiety about the fate of their souls. Arrrgghh!

B.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by k-j » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:46 pm

brianedwards wrote:it reads like a bit of casual hyperbole tossed out for the cameras.
That's how it struck me also. The whole performance seemed like he was going through the motions really. Pretty boring stuff.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by JohnLott » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:26 am

brianedwards wrote: Jeez Brian lighten up!

Yeah, I spend far too much time thinking about this stuff. A lifetime being aggravated about other people's anxiety about the fate of their souls. Arrrgghh!

B.
In passing, on my way to East Sussex, something to help you look on the bright side:

The Emperor, being a god of high degree
and of vain inclination
said: We shall not allow Christianity

He summoned his Grand Vizier
and said: It must be known
we shall have no soul,
is that clear?

Ah soo my Lord, so shall it be:

No! No! Soul! Soul! Soul! I said:

Ah soul it shall be: said he


:shock:

J.
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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Suzanne » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:47 am

First the beard, it is big, bushy and unabashedly nest-like and nimbiferous. Yes. It is those things.

And David, Lawes, what wonderful music on this blustery day. Thanks.

The Economist clip and the thread has introduced me to Hill and I will check into him when I get the chance.
Thanks for the direction towards Mercian Hymns. Perhaps I can find it on the net.

The interview didn't grab my attention but all your comments about it did.
Thanks for posting, Mic.

Suzanne

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Bloggsworth » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:12 am

I am tempted to say "bilgiferous drivel", "self-regarding twaddle" - Why does a poem have to be beautiful? Is the lyric of "Strange fruit" beautiful, are the poems of the despairing beautiful? Beautiful words and phrases may be used, the poem may be elegantly delineated, but does that make the totality beautiful? One might as well say that Picasso's Guernica is beautiful because he used the prettiest colours on the pallette, when the reality is that it is all the more ugly for using those colours.

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Antcliff » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:52 pm

Strange Fruit is an interesting case. I find it harrowing, as did the singer. She stopped singing it. I do not know whether it is beautiful or not. Perhaps it has what Yeats thought of as a "terrible beauty". But perhaps not. I dunno.

I do dimly recall that A.E. Houseman himself once claimed that the proper/"peculiar" function of poetry is to transfuse feelings. I'm inclined to differ...but, still, Houseman drew the conclusion that a poem could do this and very well without having much by way of beauty. Perhaps Strange Fruit is just such a case. It certainly produces a strong feeling of horror/anger at injustice. Feelings transfused in my case.

Ant.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Bloggsworth » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:19 pm

For me, Leni Reifenstahl's film "Triumph of the Will" perfectly sums up the phrase Terrible Beauty... It is positively poetic in its beauty, one of the best bits of B&W cinamatography you will ever see, its subject matter was nearly the death-knell of civilisation.


Strange Fruit was written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, he then, with his wife and singer Laura Duncan, set it to music. I'm not sure that Lady Day so much as stopped singing it, but wasn't allowed to, it hit home too hard - She used to close all her shows with it. It was certainly banned on the radio both in America and Britain. Billie Holiday had another of her songs banned - "Gloomy Sunday", a song so depressing it was claimed to have increased the suicide rate worldwide!

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Re: Poetry should be beautiful

Post by Antcliff » Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:04 pm

Hi Bloggsworth

Triumph of the Will is quite often mentioned as a possible example of something both beautiful+morally dubious. I know what you mean. Hypnotic and meant to be. I think perhaps I would not count it as beautiful, but only something that has beautiful parts. Holding out for beauty. Still, as you say, perhaps that is what Yeats meant.

Strange Fruit is a morally admirable work, so I suppose the threat to counting it as beautiful..if there is one(I dunno)..is different. Perhaps being very depressing is, well, part of it. Didn't the poet say "..a thing of beauty is a joy forever". Even fans of song like you/me will not be talking about anything along the lines of joy here.

Thanks for the correction on Lady Day, I had thought that Lady Day found it distressing to sing the song too much. (Not hard to see why.)

Ant






Bloggsworth wrote:For me, Leni Reifenstahl's film "Triumph of the Will" perfectly sums up the phrase Terrible Beauty... It is positively poetic in its beauty, one of the best bits of B&W cinamatography you will ever see, its subject matter was nearly the death-knell of civilisation.


Strange Fruit was written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, he then, with his wife and singer Laura Duncan, set it to music. I'm not sure that Lady Day so much as stopped singing it, but wasn't allowed to, it hit home too hard - She used to close all her shows with it. It was certainly banned on the radio both in America and Britain. Billie Holiday had another of her songs banned - "Gloomy Sunday", a song so depressing it was claimed to have increased the suicide rate worldwide!
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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