Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Good Morning, Akhmatova

My mother-in-law, Marie Stewart, sent me these brilliant comments as per my essay on the "normalization" of poetry.

"The poetry discussions are difficult but interesting to me--I will have to digest them slowly. I do get one thing though: When I taught poetry in high school I never liked the idea that a poem had a "deeper meaning" which the teacher--read expert--would impart or "lead the students to". Why use secret code to say what you mean? To me, poetry was always a sensory, emotional experience. If that experience made a student want to talk about some concrete or prosaic notion, fine. I just wanted to try to aim for an actual experience, not just a "discussion." A poem will send 10 people in 10 different directions if they are paying attention. As will a film, a painting, a song........."

Here is an example of this possibility. A poem by the Russian godess Anna Akhmatova.

Twenty-First. Night. Monday

Twenty-first. Night. Monday.
Silhouette of the capitol in darkness.
Some good-for-nothing -- who knows why--
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing about love.

But the secret reveals itself to some,
and on them silence settles down...
I found this out by accident
and now it seems I'm sick all the time.

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