Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More about poetry

I was reminded of two more poems that take me back to Rick's class (elementary school). One, I adore: The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol...

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I assert that though most of the meaningful words here have no actual meanings, the parts of speech, at least, can be inferred through context, and the meanings can be imagined (perhaps through onomatopoeia). We had an assignment to define the words in the first stanza. Pretty cool. But how do you pronounce gyre?

The other I appreciate not for itself, but because it made sense only when my teacher (Rick) read it aloud. He really performed it. (We had been studying the Rennaissance, and were to perform Shakespeare's The Tempest. I was one of three Ariels.)


Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

I thought of it in the context of our discussion of line breaks. I had read it using pauses where I thought the pauses ought to be (at the end of each line), but when Rick read it, he read as if he were giving a speech, and these were sentences instead of lines. He seemed to be ignoring the line breaks, and putting natural emphasis on words, rather than adhering to what I thought the line breaks implied. This, my poetry therapists, could be the start of my poetic confusion.

1 comment:

  1. Ah.

    You make an excellent point, and your poetry teacher was doing exactly what you're supposed to do. You are right to be confused, and you may not like the answer. I will respond as soon as I am able -- probably not in tonight's post, but soon! I am more interested in this conversation than almost anything else I would like to write about, but I want to be clear and so I put off my answers because they have to be good ones. :-)