04 February 2007

(Not-So) (Silent) Poetry Reading

You all are so wonderful...I'm still slogging through some of the bitterest and most difficult parts of this chapter, with another whole chapter deadline looming darkly on the immediate horizon, but I feel so much better thanks to all the wonderful comments you guys are sending my way. Really, really and truly, knitters should be running the world. I haven't had time for posting or knitting, but since everyone's posting a poem today, I thought I could at least do that much to show you all I'm still alive (barely).

Many of my favorite poets have appeared on your blogs, so I picked one favorite poem I haven't seen elsewhere. The subject matter of it is depressing as all hell, but the language is so spectacular that it restores my faith in humanity, every time. You absolutely MUST read it out loud, because it doesn't work any other way.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)
"Carrion Comfort"

NOT, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.


EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to mention: you have to read it out loud, and FAST. Did you see the Sylvia Plath movie with Gwyneth Paltrow? Remember the scene where a bunch of Oxbridge poets are reciting poems as quickly as they can get the words out? Read it that way.

5 comments:

miss ewe said...

I love that scene in that movie! It has affected how I hear poetry in my head ever since!

Beth said...

I wanted to post one of my daughter's poems but I can't find any. She writes beautiful poetry and short stories but doesn't save any because she's very critical of all of them.

Marianne said...

Aye, read it fast!

Keep slogging Kate, we really are all here for you, cheering you on...

(ps I am a Peace Fleece virgin no longer, heee, thank you! for your written praises on their goodness)

jennie said...

it is eerie that you chose Gerard Manley Hopkins, who (it seems) hardly anyone has ever heard of and who, recently, I've been digging into quite a bit. I'm using his idea of inscape for my dissertation (ethnomusicology dissertation, 19th c. poetry? sure, why not). And yes, read it fast indeed!

Specs said...

I never feel like I really understand a poem until I've read it out loud and felt the way the words fit together.

Your poem is a perfect example of why I do this. Thanks for sharing!