ENG 108 – The Nature of Narrative, 1

Weeks 6-7: Lyric Poetry, Literature’s Conversations with Itself, and What’s Your Role as a Reader?

Poetry: What is it, and how can I write some?
• See White Wall Review: www.ryerson.ca/wwr

Film and Television
• Favourites?
– Favourite – Favourite – Favourite – Favourite programme? film? directors? actors?

• Favourites?
– Favourite poet? – Favourite poem? – Favourite period? Romantic? Modernist? Renaissance?

• Has poetry become the “opera of literature”?

Poetry: Introduction
• Characteristics?

Poetry: Introduction
• Characteristics? • anything we say is going to get challenged in the 20th century and beyond • difference between lyric and narrative, • for example, or what makes a poem different from a novel
– Cf. Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red – Jeanette Winterson’s poetic prose – Free verse

• nevertheless, it’s useful to know the traditions

Poetry: Introduction
• Compressed form of communicating meaning
– Economy of expression

Ezra Pound
“In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;   Petals on a wet, black bough.

Poetry: Introduction
• Multiple ways of signifying
– rhythm, sound, form, tone, etc.

• Poetic forms connect poem to literary history

Poetry: Introduction
• Metrical forms create contract with reader that language is deliberate • Aesthetic distance:
– language as language – Abstract or avant-garde poetry

Poetry: Introduction
Poetry = verse, metred, rhyming, … or not

Poetry: Introduction
Poetry = 2. Lyric
• • • • • usually shorter than narrative poetry expresses an emotion, sentiment, idea expressed in a “subjective” way reveals POV or poetic persona’s “voice” most “poetry” is lyric

3. Narrative
• Narrative tells a story • Cf. also dramatic verse – Shakespeare, for example • Presents a story in verse

Robert Frost,
“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it's queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there's some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Poetry: Introduction
Blank verse = no rhyme, but still metred
• Metre = rhythm, stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry (still lots of rules) – Iambic – Trochaic – Etc.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet
To be or not to be, that is the question; Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

Poetry: Introduction
Free verse = no regular or set rhyme scheme or metre/rhythm, or line length
• Not to say that it has no rhyme or metre • Follows (or can follow) patterns of natural speech • Not to say that it has no rhyme or rhythm • these can flow and transform,

William Carlos Williams,
“This is just to say”
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold

Langston Hughes,
“Subway Rush Hour”
Mingled breath and smell so close mingled black and white so near no room to fear.

“Subway Rush Hour,” “This is just to say”

• Hughes & Williams, like others, were trying to write in the English of the everyday, of the street. • Language more “straight-forward”? • Does this make it easier to understand? • What about the following poem?

William Carlos Williams,
“The Red Wheelbarrow”
so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.

Poetry: verbal experiment
• • • • • • • What about modern poetry? Lyric? Narrative? Structure? Verse? Manifesto? Avant-garde verbal experiment? Abstract

Gertrude Stein
From “A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson”
What Do I See   A very little snail. A medium sized turkey. A small band of sheep. A fair orange tree. All nice wives are like that. Listen to them from here. Oh. You did not have an answer. Here. Yes.

Poetry and visual arts
Renoir and Robert Frost Rothko and Gertrude Stein

Tristan Tzara
on how to write a Dadaist poem
To make a Dadaist poem: • Take a newspaper. • Take a pair of scissors. • Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem. • Cut out the article. • Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag. • Shake it gently. • Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag. • Copy conscientiously. • The poem will be like you. • And here you are a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.

My Dadaist Poem
(Source: “Ryerson grads pronounce manifesto destiny.” Eyeopener vol. 41 issue 4) “So many people fall under the umbrella of hip hop. You have everybody from every part of the city, every sexual orientation, every class and every colour. It’s just love here.”
-- Boonaa Mohammed, second-year RTA

My Dadaist Poem
after prescribed reprocessing
Under sexual many every colour Every love umbrella Here class every orientation So and people just everybody City from part the it’s every hop You the hip of fall of have
-- Jonathan Rollins, Dada poet

Let’s back up a bit
• If you want to break the rules, you need to know them first • And there are many rules or formal conventions • The Dadaists and other members of the various avant-garde movements were reacting in part to this sort of over-regulation or the inherited baggage of art

Poetry: Metre
• Iambic = 2 syllables, with the long or stressed syllable following the short or unstressed syllable. Short Long
Was this / the face / that launch’d /a thou/ sand ships/

• Trochaic = 2 syllables, with the short or unstressed syllable following the long or stressed syllable. Long short
Tro/chee trips/ from long/ to short/ Slow/ spon/dee/ stalks/

• Spondaic = 2 long syllables • Anapestic = 3 syllables, with the first two short or unstressed and the last long or stressed. Short short long
With a leap/ and a bound/ the swift an/apaests throng/

• Dactylic = 3 syllables, with the first one long or stressed and the other two short or unstressed. Long short short

Poetry: Metre
• Iambic = • • • • •

˘ / Trochaic = / ˘ Spondaic = // Anapestic = ˘ ˘ / Dactylic = / ˘ ˘ Paeonic = ˘ ˘ ˘

Poetry: Lines
Lines can be of different lengths, from 1-8 ‘feet’
• • • • • • • • monometre – one foot line dimetre – two foot line trimetre – three foot line tetrametre – four foot line pentametre – five foot line hexametre – six foot line heptametre – seven foot line octametre – eight foot line

Figures of Balance and Parallelism are placed in positions of Words, phrases, or clauses

equivalence, either alike or opposite to suggest that these ideas are of equal importance.

• Parallelism: on the level of logic or syntax.
“She can so inform the mind that is within us/ so impress with quietness and beauty/ and so feed with lofty thoughts …”

• Antithesis: asserts similarity and difference
“I find no peace and all my war is done/ I fear and hope; I burn and freeze like ice.” (Wyatt)

• Chiasmus (‘criss cross’) repeats terms in inverse order: A is to B as B is to A
“My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love my heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim”

Figures of Repetition
Words are repeated to lend emphasis. • Iteratio: simple repetition.
“the woods decay, the woods decay and fall”

• Anaphora (‘carrying back’): repetition of word or phrase in initial position.
“The time of the seasons and the constellations the time of milking and the time of harvest”

• Epistrophe (‘turning away’): repetition of word or phrase in final position
“fortitude as never before / frankness as never before / disillusions as never told in the old days”

Figures of Amplification and Extend the meanings of plain statement, building a sense of Omission

• •

Catalogue: an extended list of anything. Parenthesis (‘put beside’)-a word, phrase, or clause inserted as an aside into sentence used for complicating, or commenting.
“they could not and fell to the deck / (crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled / with the searomp over the wreck”

• •

Correctio (‘setting straight’)
“These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines of sportive wood run wild.”

Periphrasis (circumlocution)—describing a thing without naming it
“a game too humble to be named in verse” (Wordsworth describing tic tac toe)

Figures of Address
• Apostrophe: “turning away”—when a poem breaks away from its subject to address someone inside or outside the poem. “And you, my father, there on the sad height…” Rhetorical question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” Exclamation: “O muse! The causes and the crimes relate”

Figures of Thought (Tropes)
• Metaphor & Simile –assertion that two things are identical • Metonymy—one object to stand for another related object • Synechdoche –substitute part for whole • Personification – embodiment • Irony –Dissimulation • Paradox – seemingly contradictory statement • Hyperbole - exaggeration • Meiosis – lessening, understatement
– Litote – understatement

Sonnet form: Petrarchan
Named for Italian poet Francesco Petrarch
 14 lines of iambic pentametre • Iambic = unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable (eg. Ta dum) • Pentametre = lines of five metrical feet.  Rhyme scheme: abba abba cde cde • variations allowed in the sestet.

Sonnet form: Petrarchan
Form: 2 parts

• the octave is eight lines long, and is used to present a thesis, an argument or an idea. • At line nine, a change occurs, known as the volta (Italian for 'turn). This is generally signalled by a word such as 'But', 'Yet' or 'Then', or an exclamation. • The final six lines, the sestet, give the reason, conclusion or counter-argument for what was presented in the octave.

Sonnet form: English/Shakespearean
• 14 lines of iambic pentametre
• Rather than being divided into an octave and a sestet, the English sonnet is divided into 3 quatrains, each rhymed differently, with an independently rhymed couplet at the end. Each quatrain takes a different appearance of the idea or develops a different image to express the theme. • The rhyme scheme of the English sonnet is

abab cdcd efef gg

Sonnet form: English/Shakespearean
• The 3 quatrains may be used to present three parallel images, tied together by the final couplet, or to set out three points in a argument, with the couplet providing the conclusion. • This format seems to allow more complex moral and religious arguments, and certainly Shakespeare was able to exploit the form to encompass broad ideas and profound feelings within the normal conventions of the sonnet.

• Shepherds (idealized or romanticized, not real) • Nature, peaceful, uncorrupted or prelapsarian life (Edenic)
• Nostalgia for a past “golden age” • A constructed or imagined past – not a real one • Looking backwards to a harmonious, peaceful experience of love and a connection with nature

• Love is not “courtly” here, but natural • Strong contrast in certain respects (love is not laden down with the trappings of the court but is “innocent” or natural) • As always in this period, there is a trace of spirituality in the convention – Christ as the shepherd/lover, the church as the beloved or the sheep

• Pastoral seems to be in conflict with many of the ideals of courtly love • Here, the beloved is not a tormentor, nor is she beyond reach • Cf. Miranda vs. Ferdinand in The Tempest: She is operating from a pastoral convention, while he is a courtly lover. Their early conversation is discordant – he tries to play the tormented lover, she asks him if he loves her and if he’d like to marry her.

English madrigal
John Farmer, “Fair Phyllis” (1599)
Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone Feeding her flock near to the mountain side. The shepherds knew not, they knew not whither she was gone, But after her lover Amyntas hied, Up and down he wandered whilst she was missing; When he found her, O then they fell a-kissing.

• Pastoral • Straight-forward – “Come live with me and be my love” • Idyllic • Pre-lapsarian connection to nature • Nature is romanticized/idealized • no working, not really shepherds

• Ralegh replies to Marlowe’s poem – how? • Does it propagate, deflate the pastoral convention? • Gender issue? Who is speaking here? What does she say? • Cf. Cervantes, Don Quijote: Grisostomo and Marcela
• the student-shepherd and his friends • a similar kind of reply to the pastoral – and one in which we hear the female perspective in that the beloved answers back

• Written in 1930s (Great Depression) • Not a “reply” so much as a parody (repetition with critical/ironic difference) • Mix of pastoral idyll and the squalid reality of modern urban life • An undermining of the kind of English (pastoral) golden age that some (Leavis’ and others) had been positing • “…We’ll hope to hear some madrigals” (?) • Cf. Farmer and Dowland’s 16th-century popular songs vs. a more contemporary variant such as one might hear along the “sour canals” at night. Sung by birds?

Courtly Love
– Provence 12th – 14th century – Gender issues:
• Whereas women are frequently inferior or simply absent from literature before this, in courtly love we have an “elevation” of or Idealization of women • BUT… • Objectification of female (object of adoration) • False idea of “empowerment” (Lady is said to have power over lover, but that’s a projection rather than a real power) – cf. the so-called power of the temptress over the man (Eve issues) • The woman remains in a passive role (she does nothing, is not an agent; she merely exists) • Power and sexuality – a policing strategy (see Foucault)

Courtly Love
– Feudal base:
• Lord = Beloved = female • Serf = lover = male • A reversal of the gender power hierarchy (but this is without real effect; it’s just a conceit)

Courtly Love
– Literary conventions/tropes of courtly love:
• Love at first sight – privileging of sight/gaze • Love as a disease
– – – – – Lovesick Obsessive Torment Fever (“I burn”) unrequited

• Beloved (Lady) is idealized beyond reality, objectified • Enslavement (torment) – s/m rhetoric • Lover’s internal conflict
– War – Martial language – Cupid’s arrow starts the war

Courtly Love
Christianized conventions:
• Soul’s longing for union with divinity // Lover’s longing for union with Beloved • Beloved represented as divinity on Earth • Beloved as Goddess or Queen of Heaven (Mary) • As time passes, the spiritual content becomes more and more secularized

• In Troubadour version, this love is adulterous, often consummated • In subsequent version, it is “cleaned up” – the woman as Beloved becomes off-limits, unobtainable. • Long influence through West’s love poetry • Cf. Spenser’s “My Love Is Like to Fire and Ice” on the same page

English madrigal
John Dowland, “Come Again, Sweet Love (1597)
Come again! sweet love doth now invite Thy graces that refrain To do me due delight, To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die, With thee again in sweetest sympathy. Come again! that I may cease to mourn Through thy unkind disdain; For now left and forlorn I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die In deadly pain and endless misery. Gentle love, Draw forth thy wounding dart; Thou canst not pierce her heart; For I that do approve By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts Thy shafts did tempt while she, For scanty triumphs laughs.

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