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The Poets

November 28, 2011

Love's Secret

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.


Of the Poem:

Love that is desperate is deplorable- it crowds out the emotional rapture that gentle affection evokes. That seems to be the point of Blake's poem here … let me explain.

Advice goes out in the first stanza: Never seek to tell thy love / Love that never told can be. As we’ll see in the following stanza, the ‘telling’ Blake refers to is that unduly adulation that suffocates the beloved; it is that almost servile disposition that begs and begs the for the love of the beloved. Never do this, says Blake’s voice. In modern day terms: desperation is a turn off.

Love, line 2 implores, is made possible where a desperation for it lacks (i.e. love that is not desperate can be). When love is rightly expressed through the silent and invisible speech of affection it is felt much like a “gentle wind” is felt (lines 3 & 4) – indeed, it is itself gentle, and not in the least imposing. But we see the transgression of this made in lines 5 & 6.

“I told!” “I told!” “I told!” … a wearying barrage of proclamations that, as said earlier, suffocates the beloved, and is deplorable. It becomes so unbearable to the young lady that she’s finally reduced to trembling, coldness, and even fear! Invariably he scares her away (line 8).

In the following and final stanza he notices how she’s wooed by a traveler who, following the advice given in the first stanza, expresses his love for her gently- through the silent, invisible speech of affection. (Notice the parallel of words between lines 3 & 4 and lines 11 & 12, and how the ‘sighing’ of line 12 mimics the ‘wind’ of line 3.)

The title of the poem should almost be, The Secret to Attaining Love, or, How Not to Screw It Up. The first stanza is a warning; the second stanza an example of the transgressing the warning; the third, of heeding it and achieving love (all this from the perspective of the transgressor).

Let me know if you guys are digging this poem, or if you have a different take on it (and there are different takes).

Awesome poem, Blake … thanks!

Happy Date of Birth, Blake!

William Blake is one of the more eccentric poets of the Romantic period- indeed, he’s sometimes so unique and so different that it’s hard for me to associate him with Romanticism (and sometimes I just don’t). There’s a strangeness and darkness about his works that I’ve never been able to quite articulate, a sort of eerie mysticism that pervades the inner life of both his poems as well as his art- he’s a sort 18th century version of Baudelaire. Yep- that’s him.

Anyhow, he was born this day in 1757, and I just wanted to thank him for leaving such great works of poetry, and give him props … happy birthday, big guy …

November 09, 2011

Her Kind - A Sexton Poem

Yep, yep … it was on this day in 1928 that the beautiful Anne Sexton was born. Along with her friend Plath, she’s one of the most recognized of the Confessional poets.

Collectively speaking, her poetry is a vivid reflection of her personal struggles internally and externally (she had a very troubled life).

What I learned from Sexton was that poetry doesn’t have to revolve around flowers and bumblebees and golden suns … no, poetry can touch the dark, deep internal recesses of one’s own writhing pains and struggles … but I also learned, after having learned she killed herself, that it can be very, very dangerous to do so.

Anyhow, with that said, I celebrate the poet’s birth, not death.


Now it’s very rare to find poems written by the Confessional generation that are written with a rhyming format. Needless to say, I was shocked, and utterly delighted, to find that Sexton had such a poem- it’s call Her Kind.

In it Sexton expresses, indirectly, of course, three aspects of her life that she seems unhappy with: that some have deemed her to be crazy like a witch (1st stanza); that others have tried to enslave her as a house wife (2nd stanza); and then there’s the life of adultery. Though a tragic reflection of self, it’s a great poem. Check it out.


Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.




Of the Poem (Poetic Parameters)

Stanza: Septet (i.e. 7 lines per stanza)

Meter: Mixed
1st stanza’s syllable count: 8 9 9 9 9 11 5
2nd stanza’s syllable count: 9 9 9 9 10 10 5
3rd stanza’s syllable count: 9 11 9 7 8 11 5

Rhyme Scheme: ababcba (per stanza); and, of course, the refrain I have been her kind.

If you'd like to hear Sexton read this piece, click this link ...

November 07, 2011

End Time

The vultures, circling and soaring,
Marveled at how Gog was warring
Brutal on the sons of man
Whose mortal blood kept pouring, pouring.

That northern king, blood-thirsting, killing-
Drunk from blood he kept on spilling-
Sacked the sacred temple stones …
The sight was something chilling, chilling.

When one third fell by heavy brawling
Blood soaked grounds to God came calling:
Will you turn a deafened ear? …
Jerusalem is falling, falling!

-jwm



Of the Poem (Poetic Parameters)

I totally enjoyed working with this poem. The structure, especially when read aloud, flows gorgeously … almost sing-songy.

The first and forth line of each stanza consists of a nine syllable count; the second line and eight syllable count (i.e. a
tetrameter); and the third line, a seven syllable count.

The rhyme scheme is interesting as well: aaba per stanza (similar to a
Rubaiyat stanza).

And obviously the stanza itself is a
quatrain (i.e. a four lined stanza).

Side Note:
Gog is the name of an ancient northern king whose kingdom, Magog, plays an important, albeit sinister, role in Ezekiel's apocalyptic vision of the last days.

Anyhow, hope you like it- let me know ... peace.

As of April 9th, 2010