I went to a poetry reading at the incomparable University Press Books bookstore (support it!) this weekend, and the subject of accessibility came up. One reader, Rebecca Foust, mentioned that her mother, who never went further than high school, memorized and loved Robert Frost’s poems. Though his poems, to a poet, are layered and complex, Rebecca said her mother went to them for simple comfort.
This is very hard to achieve today, when we have largely shed form, and the adjective “accessible” often denigrates a poem. But here’s a great example of a layered, accessible contemporary poem by A.E. Stallings that includes rhyme, poetic and prosaic allusions, and humor:
Musicfor a new parent
The music that your son will listen to
To drive you mad
Has yet to be invented. Be assured
However, it is approaching from afar
Like the light of some Chaldean star. Continue reading “Contemporary poetry” →
Finally! This song has been happily playing in my head, sung by my favorite jazz singer, Molly Holm. You can’t hear a recording of her doing it, but you can hear Rosemary Clooney sing it.
Meanwhile, we’re in Calistoga, where we spent the night, about to take a mud bath. Ever done it? It’s a unique experience, sort of like floating in warm chocolate pudding, and a delicious rainy day experience.
I’ve been reading Keats’ selected letters, and have a few gems for you:
“An extensive knowledge is needful to thinking people–it takes away the heat and fever, and helps, by widening speculation, to ease the Burden of the Mystery…
…axioms in philosophy are not axioms until proved upon our pulses. We read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the Author.”
These excerpts from a letter almost 200 years old seem more vibrant to me today as any contemporary tweet!
If you want to try some poetry by Keats, I recommend “To Autumn,” “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” and “La belle dame sans merci,” for starters.
I rarely post poems by 19th century poets, preferring to stay with the contemporary. But in this poem by John Keats, if you simply substitute modern pronouns for “thy” and “thine” and “thou,” seems to me it could have been written tomorrow.
And Keats, 1795 – 1821, is just barely a 19th century poet. This poem is almost 200 years old.
The Living Hand
Continue reading “Keats” →