Re: MD Poetic Quality

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Wed Oct 20 2004 - 15:06:59 BST

  • Next message: Joseph Maurer: "Re: MD Poetic Quality"

    Hi Platt, Mae, all

    Platt, I too think Jabberwocky is terrific. And I'm not surprised
    you're drawn to Lewis Carroll, as you are often through the looking
    glass :-)

    For the comparison, I thought it would be best to use examples of
    recent poetry, written in the same language and approaching the same
    subject. The authors of these poems are contemporaries (born in the
    20's a few years apart, one still going strong as far as I know; the
    other died in 1985).

    Mae, you may be right that the styles are too different for fair
    comparison, but I hope not because I think it would be interesting to
    see if people decide that style is a factor in determining quality.
    And don't worry about not having finished LILA. My friend Platt has
    read it dozens of times and STILL doesn't understand it.

    There's no reason why we should limit ourselves to these two poems.
    I hope everyone feels free to offer their own candidates. I just
    think it makes more sense to compare contemporaries, but that's me.

    Thanks to all,

    On 20 Oct 2004 at 8:15, Platt Holden wrote:

    My sense of quality finds both poems very low quality, especially
    when compared to:

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



    Mark Steven Heyman wrote:

    > >Hi all,
    > >
    > >I love the bit in ZMM where Phaedrus demonstrates to his students
    > >that they know what Quality is, even if they can't define it. I
    > >thought it might be fun and instructive to try something similar
    > >here. So, which of the following poems has the highest quality,
    > >and why? (Note: I think both of these poems are great, so this is
    > >no straw man operation here.)
    > >
    > > For the Anniversary of My Death
    > >
    > > Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
    > > When the last fires will wave to me
    > > And the silence will set out
    > > Tireless traveller
    > > Like the beam of a lightless star
    > >
    > > Then I will no longer
    > > Find myself in life as in a strange garment
    > > Surprised at the earth
    > > And the love of one woman
    > > And the shamelessness of men
    > > As today writing after three days of rain
    > > Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
    > > And bowing not knowing to what

    > > Sad Steps
    > >
    > >Groping back to bed after a piss
    > >I part the thick curtains, and am startled by
    > >The rapid clouds, the moon's cleanliness.
    > >
    > >Four o'clock: wedge-shaped gardens lie
    > >Under a cavernous, a wind-pierced sky.
    > >There's something laughable about this,
    > >
    > >The way the moon dashes through the clouds that blow
    > >Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
    > >(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)
    > >
    > >High and preposterous and separate--
    > >Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
    > >O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
    > >
    > >One shivers slightly, looking up there.
    > >The hardness and the brightness and the plain
    > >Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
    > >
    > >Is a reminder of the strength and pain
    > >Of being young; that it can't come again,
    > >But is for others undiminished somewhere.

    > >Thanks for any feedback,
    > >Mark Steven Heyman (msh)

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