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King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography

King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography

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King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography

ratings:
5/5 (3 ratings)
Length:
163 pages
1 hour
Released:
Oct 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781784628765
Format:
Book

Description

David Hamilton brings together two poems and a dramatic monologue in King Alfred’s Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography. This contemporary, original poetry is inspired by the stories behind outlaw legends, and also takes the reader on a number of spiritual journeys. Hamilton’s first poem, The Journey, remains almost as it was first written. In striving to keep his writing spontaneous, he chose not to over-develop the form of his writing. King Alfred’s Jewel is the title poem and draws its inspiration from The Dark Night of the Soul by Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross. Using a journey to find the king’s jewel as a guiding theme, the poem is a metaphor for the depression many people feel today and mistakenly try to substitute with unhealthy pastimes. The dramatic monologue, Wolfshead, which comes at the end of the book, is an imaginative tale of outlaw legends. A ‘wolfshead’ was a resort of outlaws who formed a community, and this particular story is set in Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood presiding. Using two chorus figures to link proceedings and set the scene, this wolfshead is a ghostly gathering who return to tell their legendary stories… This unique book will make an excellent addition to the collection of any poetry and photography fans. It is also a fascinating read for anyone studying literature or theatre.
Released:
Oct 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781784628765
Format:
Book

About the author

Dave Hamilton is an ecologist by profession, working primarily in the area of wetland ecology. He has been carving and competing in shows for almost 20 years. While Dave enjoys carving a variety of bird species, he specializes in hummingbirds and in the wading birds common to the wetlands he works on professionally. He also enjoys carving stylized pieces and reproductions of antique decoys. Dave lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he carves, teaches classes, and is a member of the Northern Colorado Woodcarvers.


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King Alfred's Jewel - David Hamilton

Appendix

Introduction to King Alfred’s Jewel

New literary movements announce their arrival by denouncing the contemporary orthodoxy. One famous announcement of a new style was a preface to Lyrical Ballads, a volume of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The poems were claimed to be experiments written to decide if the language of the middle and lower classes was appropriate for poetry and to end ‘the gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers’. The contemporary style was not suitable for the expression of new thoughts, emotions and sentiments.

In the ‘Advertisement’ included in the 1798 edition, Wordsworth explained his poetical ideas: The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purpose of poetic pleasure.

Many reviewers criticised the new approach. Robert Southey noted that the writer of The Thorn (Wordsworth) should ‘recollect that he who personates tiresome loquacity, becomes tiresome himself’. Dr Burney dismissed The Ancient Mariner as ‘the strangest story of a cock and a bull that we ever saw on paper’, but ‘there are in it poetical touches of an exquisite kind’.

The wellspring of Wordsworth’s poetry was ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’. His co-author Samuel Taylor Coleridge grew dissatisfied with Wordsworth’s Harlian or Associationist premise to his poetic theories. That was the theory that all mental activity is based on connections between basic mental events, such as sensations and feelings. He retracted those views in his rambling masterpiece Biographia Literaria. Wordsworth developed as an individual poet on humble rustic subjects. The egotistical sublime, as Keats described it, was his standpoint. He contemplated the world from his own perspective in poems written about the self in the first person, the ‘Egotistical I’. Wordsworth influenced the whole Romantic generation with his new poetic interpretation of the world.

The abstract poet P. B. Shelley also applied a collection of principles in his Defence of Poetry (1840):

According to one mode of regarding those two classes of mental action, which are called reason and imagination, the former may be considered as mind contemplating the relations borne by one thought to another, however produced, and the latter, as mind acting upon those thoughts so as to colour them with its own light, and composing from them, as from elements, other thoughts, each containing within itself the principle of its own integrity. The one is the [Greek], or the principle of synthesis, and has for its objects those forms which are common to universal nature and existence itself; the other is the [Greek], or principle of analysis, and its action regards the relations of things simply as relations; considering thoughts, not in their integral unity, but as the algebraical representations which conduct to certain general results. Reason is the enumeration of qualities already known; imagination is the perception of the value of those qualities, both separately and as a whole. Reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things. Reason is to imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the spirit, as the shadow to the substance.

Shelley wrote several poems that were dependent on myth. In Ode to the West Wind, for example, myth is evoked but not made clear. Queen Mab (1812) was his first attempt at a mythological poem and carries the abstract ideas he had taken from Godwin, the philosopher. Queen Mab has an underlying optimism in the utopian idea that the world can be made a better place through our ideals. It leans heavily on Godwin’s idea that we are potentially good and have fallen, but can lift ourselves up: ‘The universe in nature’s silent eloquence declares…’

This uses Shelley’s usual theme of the struggle for universal control, which was abstractly influencing his thought processes. He had a cerebral, etiolated style and was a utopian thinker. The opposite of Wordsworth, Shelley was a poet of ideas and anti-religion, as ideologues are. The dominant ideology was a secular replacement for religion with its version of heaven, a utopia on earth. Shelley was expelled from Oxford for his pamphlet "The Necessity of Atheism" an attack on religion in five tracts. He later reconciled to Christianity.

Queen Mab is a long poem opposing an idealised future to the present, with its corruption caused by history, a prejudice he took from Godwin. Presumably, when history is erased, humans can get back to ‘natural goodness’ and can evolve. Shelley added explanatory notes. One feature of the Romantics was writing about themselves or aspects of themselves in relation to the community.

The Romantics used myth as a means of universalising personal issues and avoiding seeming too subjective in writing from their own personal standpoint. Keats also used myths in a traditional way because of his admiration for Milton; William Blake’s myths were personal and complex. Nationalists like Yeats used myths to create an Irish history, like Seamus Heaney after he discovered the history of Ireland and northern Europe. Heaney developed an idea of ‘Irishness’ in Station Island and in his translation of Sweeny.

How did these accomplished writers begin writing? With an idea, an image or a feeling but the first obstacle to writing is what a prospective author does when he sits before the computer, looking at a blank document. Where do I start? A creative writing tutor would say, ‘Write, then get it right’. In other words, writers should just pour words and ideas out in free form, then begin organising them into something recognisable. The writer is tempted to write what he or she thinks is poetry, rather than what he or she wants to say. Sir Philip Sidney, in his Apology for Poetry (1595), said accurately, ‘Look into thine heart and write’. That is, write what you think and feel, and you will write as you are, not adopt a theory and follow it slavishly in an ideological project.

In the early twentieth century, T.S. Eliot attacked the Romantics to replace the dominant features of poetry with new features deemed more appropriate for the era. In his essay In Praise of Metaphysical Poets (1921), Eliot dismissed ‘The look into thine heart and write’ advice as ‘not looking deep enough; Racine or Donne looked into a good deal more than the heart. One must look into the cerebral cortex, the nervous system, and the digestive tracts...’

Romantic writers wrote from their own perspective, the Egotistical I. They experienced profound and visionary emotions that appeared spontaneously in verse and were often didactic. The poems seemed to pour out, or write themselves. In Memoriam’, Shelley’s ‘The Triumph of Life’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale, Keats’ odes use personal emotions expressed through the first person.

In his early work, Eliot united disparate elements; he tried to adapt poetry to the circumstances of a different age, a contrast with Romantic poetry, which had aimed to reproduce elevated states of mind.

Telling people what and how they should write is theorising and building an ideology that requires people to adhere strictly to a formula or have their thinking corrected, as in early twentieth-century arts movements. In his essay on Hamlet Eliot called for a formula to encompass both the world of the senses and the world of forms or ideas put it in Platonic terms.

I have made some critical observations on T.S. Eliot’s early works, but not his later ones. His choice of language showed his wrong choice of subject. After his conversion to Anglicanism, he chose different subjects. Eliot began the decline of English poetry, but previously, Tennyson had transformed it into something both delightful and transcendental

In 1914, Blast magazine was launched with a vicious, general attack on the Victorians. That is everything from 1837 to 1914. It was the magazine of the Vorticist movement and a seminal work of the modern art movement in England. The first preface and two-part manifesto are important statements of Anglo-American modernism which convey the destructiveness of Vorticism, an avant-garde movement in the literary and visual arts. Ezra Pound, the movement’s main figure, left the Imagists to join Vorticism. English writer and painter Wyndham Lewis founded and edited Blast, which, ‘means the blowing away of dead ideas and worn-out notions (it also suggests explosion, and damn!)’. He drafted much of their manifesto and designed the cover to shock, a legacy with which the contemporary art movement upholds. He thought of Blast as a ‘battering ram.’ After a couple of taps, it folded.

Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians was also to undermine the Victorians. In his introduction to the Oxford Book of Modern Verse (1936), W.B. Yeats wrote on Victorian Imperialist poetry and the trend against it from 1892 to 1935:

The revolt against Victorianism meant to the young poet a revolt against irrelevant descriptions of nature, the scientific and moral discursiveness of In Memoriam – ‘When he should have been broken-hearted,’ said Verlaine, ‘he had many reminiscences’ – the political eloquence of Swinburne, the psychological curiosity of Browning, and the poetical diction of everybody. For all the scepticism currently being directed at the high Modernists themselves, their charges against the Victorians have not altogether lost their sting. An aura of sentimentality and prosaic discursiveness still hangs about the images of Tennyson, Browning and the rest. Though there have been individual studies of note, nothing like the feminist affinity for the novel or the deconstructive fascination with the Romantics has brought the Victorian poets back into critical fashion.

The new Modernists were redefining poetry and replacing the pantheon of Tennyson, Browning and Arnold with their own influences: Catullus, the Jacobeans and the French Symbolists and what the critics were saying. The ideological grouping the Symbolists had a manifesto:

In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals. In a nutshell, "to depict not the thing but the effect it produces."

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  • (5/5)
    The poetry genre as a whole holds many avenues for display and understanding, a very long history of controversy, and much debate over its wellsprings of inspiration in psychology, literary influence, and social evolution. All this is covered in depth in an introduction which basically takes the genre's history and synthesizes its influences in a literary examination of poetry's evolution and philosophical influences.It's unusual to see this kind of introduction in a collection anticipated to be free verse explorations of self; but then, this kind of opening should offer the idea that King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography will be anything but your usual gathering of personal insights, offering something both extraordinary and a cut above the ordinary - and in this, it does not disappoint.King Alfred's Jewel is actually two long epic poems that sweep through themes of a journey undertaken and a jewel unearthed because of it. The book consists of two narrative poems and a dramatic monologue. The poems deal with depression and the Dark Night of the Soul, while the dramatic monologue presents deceased outlaws coming back to tell their stories on a May evening in Sherwood Forest. The title poem uses the imagery of journey and jewel as its shining light as it probes essences of spirituality and psychology, examining the sources of modern angst and depression and considering the stormy road to spiritual and emotional redemption.There are dragons and inheritances, outlaw legends and metaphors that connect past to present, and streams of consciousness impressions. In choosing these particular formats and weaving a cloak of inspection, history and psychological depth, King Alfred's Jewel is actually much more accessible - despite its lengthy presentations - than one would expect, making it a recommendation for readers who might normally consider the poetic form too constrained, too regulated, and too inaccessible.King Alfred's Jewel is a delight on many levels. Add black and white photos throughout and a selection of color photos by the author, which act as both illustration and interlude to the written word, and you have a collection that stands out in the genre: something firmly rooted in literary, historical, spiritual and psychological traditions, but most definitely more than the sum of its parts.
  • (5/5)
    The poetry genre as a whole holds many avenues for display and understanding, a very long history of controversy, and much debate over its wellsprings of inspiration in psychology, literary influence, and social evolution. All this is covered in depth in an introduction which basically takes the genre's history and synthesizes its influences in a literary examination of poetry's evolution and philosophical influences.

    It's unusual to see this kind of introduction in a collection anticipated to be free verse explorations of self; but then, this kind of opening should offer the idea that King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography will be anything but your usual gathering of personal insights, offering something both extraordinary and a cut above the ordinary - and in this, it does not disappoint.

    King Alfred's Jewel is actually two long epic poems that sweep through themes of a journey undertaken and a jewel unearthed because of it. The book consists of two narrative poems and a dramatic monologue. The poems deal with depression and the Dark Night of the Soul, while the dramatic monologue presents deceased outlaws coming back to tell their stories on a May evening in Sherwood Forest. The title poem uses the imagery of journey and jewel as its shining light as it probes essences of spirituality and psychology, examining the sources of modern angst and depression and considering the stormy road to spiritual and emotional redemption.

    There are dragons and inheritances, outlaw legends and metaphors that connect past to present, and streams of consciousness impressions. In choosing these particular formats and weaving a cloak of inspection, history and psychological depth, King Alfred's Jewel is actually much more accessible - despite its lengthy presentations - than one would expect, making it a recommendation for readers who might normally consider the poetic form too constrained, too regulated, and too inaccessible.

    King Alfred's Jewel is a delight on many levels. Add black and white photos throughout and a selection of color photos by the author, which act as both illustration and interlude to the written word, and you have a collection that stands out in the genre: something firmly rooted in literary, historical, spiritual and psychological traditions, but most definitely more than the sum of its parts.