Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thoughts about Language...

... or why there are no good Soviet poets.

Ever since college I have believed that the only two things the world does well anymore are lust and despair. All "art" as such which is any good seems to be based on either or both of those strong emotions. The many nostalgic poems, like the ones I try to write, are a part of that despair.

But look at Gerard Manley Hopkins
GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
And Robert Burns
Thus ev'ry kind their pleasure find,The savage and the tender;
Some social join, and leagues combine,Some solitary wander:
Avaunt, away! the cruel sway,Tyrannic man's dominion;
The sportsman's joy, the murd'ring cry,The flutt'ring, gory pinion!

And W. B. Yeats
Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

Here an englishman, an irishman, and a scottsman all wrote soft pastoral poetry. Was it because they knew and understood country scenery better? Surely not.

Why did people give up? Was it too easy or too hard? I believe actually it is because the language itself has become less poetical. I believe it is because of the manipulation of the language by the elite, and by the media Furthermore it says something about the way we approach things. Instead of aiming for the universal, we aim for the "lowest common denominator" or for a level of abstraction only attainable by the professional. Thus art either becomes a speciality of the elite or merely fast food for the unwasahed masses.


Xavier Martel said...

i think the disappearance of pastoral poetry has more to do with the disappearance of the gentry. rural areas, where they still exist, are either overcrowded parks or working farms. neither the farmer nor the middle class vacationer is much of a poet.

this is why poetry became urban, industrial, and ugly. the poets are chained to the city, which they hate, and thus feel no need to elegize. but just for fun, i'll try some poems about the city...

Standifer Evasto Visum said...

I think it...curious...that you quote the laureate of the Freemason...as to poetry and your observations - have you considered that some "artists" create not for the masses, but rather, for themselves (selfishly) and for their God (and then, hopefully, in self-"less" (or less selfish)-fashion) (as only God may wholly will)?

That anyone else consumes any of it is a minor miracle in this "artist's" "eyeglass to the soul"; I find it a major miracle when I am able to read my own WORK twice as both farmer AND consumer (one should never trust a farmer or fisherman who does not eat the fruit or fish of his own labor).

Like a beast of the field swatting at those infernal flies (real work, I'd bet), I consider the consumer of this "art" to be in league with those swarms; I'll take the man who sees the beauty in the aftermath of the labor...the screams of the infant, creation (and all that effort that goes to make it more "tolerable" as it ages); I'll take him, each and every time.

It is not art that we create, Gentlemen; it is a society that we build - one brick of crafted character at a time.

To the writer! May his surly inks always stain the purity of the pages so alabaster white. But not, forsooth, to their degradation but rather as a working fuel for the enlightened conflagration!

Standifer Evasto Visum said...

Having said all the above, I agree with you sum total that the language is being diluted by a mass of over-trained morons in the media, and elitists who have lost the pure essence of language (and that, vocabulary).