Tag: Poetry

On the Why of Poetry

 

A Sierpinski sieve. Thanks to the magic of Ricochet this one is even more fractal than it looks; there’s a sixth level of the pattern hidden in the image resizing.
Last time I wrote about poetry I took a scientist’s view of the matter. This time I’m starting in math. Clearly, I understand what all this poetry stuff is about. Do y’all remember what a fractal is? It’s a pattern that repeats itself all the way down.

Imagine, if you will, that those white triangles are islands in a sea of black. You have a continent in the middle, a couple isles nearby, and more and more islands and islets the further away you get from that central continent. It’s bad water for navigating in because there’s an infinite number of rocks, pebbles, and even smaller navigation hazards poking up out of the surface of the water. Maybe it’s more of a swamp than an ocean. Okay, now zoom in. Let’s say you’re small enough that you live on one of the islands. You can deduce the pattern; you know that just over thataways there’s a bigger island. Is there another, larger one beyond it, or are we looking at the top of the pattern?

On the Nature of Poetry

 

Its stuff that rhymes. Only it doesn’t always rhyme. Usually the stuff that doesn’t rhyme is bad, but then if you look at poetry in other languages and traditions sometimes it doesn’t even rhyme at all. Hmm… maybe I should back up a bit. What I’d like to do is try and characterize poetry from a scientific perspective. That means I’ll be observing three samples of poetry captured in the wild to see what we can learn about them. Let’s move right to the first:

I come home during the 2016 campaign and @MattBalzer says to me “Hillary Clinton just called Trump supporters a ‘basket of deplorables.'” You know how I responded? “I don’t often have a good word to say about Hillary Clinton, but that’s a good phrase right there.”

Bonnie Kate: Christmas Day in the Morning

 

One late summer day in 2005, I was meandering through a local cemetery looking for inspiration for a topic in a local writing competition. Cemeteries are pretty reliable sources for quirky names, odd epitaphs, lonely souls, and the like. Not to mention just the isolation and quiet peace of the dead.

But these old Appalachian hills hold surprises. On the southern half of the Asbury Methodist Cemetery, I happened upon a small, heart-shaped tombstone. This is what it read:

Bonnie Kate Phillippi
Born Dec 25, 1905
Died Dec 25, 1905

Member Post

 

Je chante les combats, et ce prélat terribleQui par ses longs travaux et sa force invincible,Dans une illustre église exerçant son grand coeur,Fit placer à la fin un lutrin dans le choeur.C’est en vain que le chantre, abusant d’un faux titre,Deux fois l’en fit ôter par les mains du chapitre :Ce prélat, sur le banc […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

A Poem to CongressWritten by Poet Laureate Howard Nemerov, and read by him to the United States Congress on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Congress, March 2, 1989: To the Congress of the United States Entering Its Third Century, with Preface. Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

If I Were a Pirate, I’d Steal Thy Heart

 

If I were a pirate, I’d steal thy heart,
For something must a pirate steal, matey.
Ah, talking this way is not such a start.
No, no, we must discourse matters weighty,
Such as how to get representation
Of damsels fair of form in pirate crews
And thus to improve the pirate nation.
No people stands for long without it woos.
And men alone get up to deviltry
When left to their devices comical,
They turn their hands to outright ribaldry
And vile pursuits far more inimical.
Left are we to mull over thy beauty
And how that begets thy solemn duty.

It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day once more, a foolish bit of frippery. What better way to address one bit of foolishness than with another? Are you a participant in this ersatz holiday?

Member Post

 

Fishing bores me. I hate the taste of fish, so I would just be torturing the critters. Sure, I could sit in a boat or on the shore all day, maybe with a book. But fishing? It reminds me of Mark Twain’s description of golf, “A good walk spoiled.” And movies? Generally I had rather […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Group Writing: Myron Ferch’s Poems

 

Myron J. Ferch is not a household name, perhaps even among the Ferches. But Myron Ferch served as a private from 1941-1945 in World War II, notably in Papua New Guinea. He wrote a slim book of poems, Wartime and Other Poems. The cover shows him and his dog in front of a sheep wagon (Myron was from McCone County in Montana). His niece, Sally, owned a copy, signed by the author and autographed, “To a very nice niece. I hope your trail is a pleasant one.” Sally gave the booklet to her daughter, who gave it to me.

Myron set his down his war experiences in verse. I’ve chosen this one to share, entitled “The Letter from Mother”:

Doggerel Days of Summer: Boston Flights and Swedish Nights

 

Upheavals in life often leave us running, at once, for the new and the old. Unconfirmed reports say that I may have cut seven inches of my hair off, four days before flying home for the first time in almost eight months. I also may have downloaded two Longmire novels to my phone, and the second book of Winston Churchill’s The Second World War series to my Audible app. Tomas Tranströmer has played much the same role in my life, a touchstone for times good and bad, new and old. Laying in bed listening to a recitation of one of his poems a few nights ago was what inspired me to write this post initially.

While winning a Nobel Prize would be a breathtaking gift to most poets, for Tranströmer this attracted no small amount of criticism. As he was Swedish, some critics said, his mediocre poetry was being honored by a sense of national pride rather than for its merits. To me, this is complete stupidity. The Swedish former psychologist deserves far more attention than he gets in the English speaking world, for the beauty of his wordcraft and the profundity of his message. 

Group Writing: Conduct for the Good Life

 

Before we start, I just want to say that this is not doggerel. There is no such thing as doggerel in Khmer poetry, unless you count imperfect or near-rhymes as such. This is about chbab, which is one genre in Khmer poetry. Chbab is the Khmer word for law, but in poetry, it means code of conduct; it is referred to a series of didactic poems mostly composed by Buddhist monks to teach reading, writing, and morality in the monastery schools between the 15th to 19th centuries. But the origin of chbab dated back long before the arrival of Buddhism in Cambodia in the 3rd century CE. The oldest of these poems were passed down orally. They were only put on paper, or rather palm leaves, by Buddist monks near the end of the Angkor Era in the 15th century, when Hinduism was in decline and Khmer started to replace Sanskrit as the language of literature proper.

Most poems from the chbab genre are short, the shortest is only 27 stanza long. They deal with all kinds of themes, from how to raise children to how to safe-keep cultural heritage to how to take pride and feel enthusiastic in one’s own work. And their subjects range from etiquette to finance, education to marital issues to religion. As stated above, most of these poems were transcripted/composed by Buddhist monks, and as such, elements of Buddhism presented prominently in them, the oldest ones included.

Member Post

 

The Price of Gold Ridges on my left ring finger once flanked a wedding band. Cast aside, the poison heirloom hid among concert tickets and graduation gifts in a box inside another box inside a cage beneath a sign with self in the name. Sometimes wind will reveal the ridges’ remnants and the band returns […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

[ Note: I posted this once before, and then I somehow messed it up, and it got deleted. So, if it sounds familiar — it is.] Thirty years ago, on August 2, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I was driving up to Wyoming with my five children, ages 6-14, to a family reunion of my sisters […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

As it turns out I generally like poetry but don’t read it as much as I could. After reading this month’s Group Writing Posts seems the Ricochetti are well versed (see what I did there?) in poetry and why am I surprised, you all know a lot about a lot. I’ve written a little doggerel, […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

“Thinking” by Walter D. Wintle

 

I just discovered this brilliant poem. I’m going to copy it and put it up right next to my copy of Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech. I’m sure most of you Ricochetti are already familiar with this work, but for those who aren’t, enjoy:

“Thinking” by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost certain, you won’t.

A Day Late and a Doggerel Short: Rap and Henry VIII’s Tutor

 

I have spoken before of the fact that some “modern” developments in poetry are nothing new. For instance, rap battles are just an example of a much older practice known as “flyting” or “the dozens” or by any number of other names. Well, brothers and sisters, I am here to tell you that nothing about rap is new. As is said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

There is a relatively recent movie called Quartet about an elderly group of opera singers. One of the elderly gentlemen teaches a class about opera to kids. To get the kids interested and excited in opera, he first does research on what kids these days are listening to. In his lesson, he compares opera to rap and tells the youngsters that in rap, you bust a cap in a dude and shake out some rhymes, but in opera, you stick a knife in his back and sing an aria about it.

Member Post

 

Haiku, unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. The haiku first emerged in Japanese literature during the 17th century, as a terse reaction to elaborate poetic traditions, though it did not become known by the name haiku until the 19th century. –Encyclopedia Brittanica……………………………………An example:Toward […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Dana Gioia, a poet, writer, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dana discusses why the arts are so pivotal to the intellectual and civic development of America’s K-12 schoolchildren, allowing them to grow spiritually, emotionally, creatively, imaginatively, and even physically. He also explores how some of the specific skills students learn through music, drawing, poetry, and theater go well beyond traditional subjects. Dana explains why he believes the lack of arts education in our schools is a national problem, and addresses some misconceptions about why schools are not offering it. He delves into why poetry has such a profound connection to the human experience, and the many ways in which it builds self-confidence, emotional maturity, and can lead to intellectual transformation. Dana shares stories about learning from his Mexican-American mother to love the arts, teaching students to appreciate poetry at the University of Southern California, and the success of a national contest that he launched at the NEA, Poetry Out Loud. Throughout the interview, he treats listeners to recitations from Shakespeare and Poe, and concludes with a special reading of one of his own sonnets.

Stories of the Week: A new poll finds that 1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to return to their classrooms if schools reopen this fall, and in a separate poll of parents, 60 percent will likely pursue homeschooling options. A USA Today series highlights the benefits of high-quality dual-language programs to close achievement gaps among America’s five million English language learners, especially in states with a growing non-native population.

Member Post

 

“Freedom From Want” – Norman Rockwell, 1943 In his State of the Union address on the 6th of January 1941, in the height of World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous Four Freedoms speech. FDR envisioned a future where all of humanity had these four fundamental freedoms: Preview Open

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.