Write a brief review (up to 500 words) of some of the poetry you've read as you've worked through Part One. Describe two poems that you've loved and two that you dislike.
Review of the poetry of Part One of the course.
When considering the poems specified within Part One of the course it is apparent to me that in order to like a poem it is necessary for it to resonate in some way. I found that I was unable to relate to the earlier ‘epic narrative’ style of poem at all. The first poem, Ezra Pound’s translation of ‘The Seafarer’ simply bored me. Having reflected on it I noted my reasons for disliking the poem in my blog as follows;
‘My initial response was negative. I thought it was unnecessarily long and tedious. It required a concerted effort to keep going long after I would have normally given up. The narrator seemed to me to be self absorbed, bitter and miserable which I found off-putting. The language was unfamiliar and made reading arduous, necessitating frequent re-reads that disrupted the flow. The lack of stanzas and line breaks didn't allow me any space to absorb what I was reading, it was like a never ending monologue. The copious alliteration appeared contrived and became irritating. I didn't get a sense of any real narrative, which I expected after the workbook described poetry of the 'heroic' age as serving as 'journalism of the day'. All in all it left me pretty cold.’
I researched a little about Ezra Pound (Poetry Foundation 2013), (Surette 2003). I found that rather than developing any empathy for his undoubted input into the evolution of modern poetry, his well documented bigotry added to my negativity towards the poem. There was simply nothing in its style or content that I could relate to or enjoy in any way.
I also struggled with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and for much the same reasons as above. Without access to the contextualisation and analysis of the SparkNotes Editors (2003) I would never had understood anything of the work. There was no imagery, no emotion, no power. None of the things I associate with the type of poetry that I enjoy. I’ve discovered that I don’t like extremely long poems whatever the era. I listened to Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The Laughter of Stafford Girls High’ and whilst the language is clever and the content and imagery is as vital and original as one would expect from Duffy it still didn’t hold me for the full forty-four minutes. Whether the twenty-two page written version would remains to be seen.
poem. Blake used such evocative imagery to portray the socio-economic,
architectural and political situation of the time;
‘And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls’.
His brevity ensures that each word is effective and affecting and the outcome is a powerful and moving poem. Although I like the free verse the four quatrains with the rhyme scheme of abab seems very natural and unforced and allows the words to reverberate in the mind long after reading the poem.
I also enjoyed Wilfred Owen’s ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. Again the imagery was powerful although using the sense of hearing rather than vision to convey the horror and loss;
‘The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires.’
To conclude, while the epic narrative has its place and supporters, I personally enjoy poems that convey powerful emotion succinctly and with clever wordplay, allegory and metaphor.