I haven’t written in a while; my life is busy. Poetry analysis to come!
Posts Tagged ‘life’
SONGS OF INNOCENCE by William Blake
PIPING down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of peasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he, laughing, said to me:
‘Pipe a song about a lamb!’
So I piped with merry cheer.
‘Piper, pipe that song again;’
So I piped: he wept to hear.
‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’
So I sang the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
‘Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.’
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stain’d the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
At first glance, this poem had nursery rhyme resonance for me. It just seemed so happy and joyful that I knew there had to be more meaning behind the words. This piper choses to live life in a way that makes him happy: spread song and joy to all he meets. The special child from a cloud tells the piper to record these songs for every child and in doing so, the piper stains the water clear.We are all sinners. We are all in a sense, stained. We try and cleanse ourselves. The piper says to make ourselves clean by spreading joy and creating. He is creating, with each note, and each letter formed by his pen. This written language units us all as humans. We are all creators, especially in poetry. So life doesn’t suck…that outlook simply taints us more. We create our lives. Sure, we can’t control everything, but we create our world based on our reactions to mishaps. The piper says to reject the belief that everything is out of our hands. We have to power to think, write, create. We make our lives.
Gazing at the Sacred Peak
For all this, what is the mountain god like?
An unending green of lands north and south:
From ethereal beauty Creation distills
There, yin and yang split dusk and dawn.Swelling clouds sweep by. Returning birds
Ruin my eyes vanishing. One day soon,
At the summit, the other mountains will be
Small enough to hold, all in a single glance.
I notice, as seems to be the case with Chinese poetry, lots of nature imagery and metaphors. The strongest one is “At the summit, the other mountains will be/Small enough to hold, all in a single glance.” I think that this means the speaker will die “one day soon” and be in heaven and practically close enough to hold these immense rock formations in his hands. Earthy things will seem smaller after death. The mountain can represent both life and death because the sun rises and sets as a Creator each day, and “yin and yang split dusk and dawn”. In this same way, a poem can take us to a place of eternal beauty and creation. A poet creates a poem as the sun creates the day.
The above image resonated with me when reading this poem. It actually was taken in Cruz del Condor, Peru, on the top of a mountain where there is omage paid to the Mountain God Apu. The summit is so high that if one reaches out, it seems as if the mountains are within our humanly grasp. Here’s a photo of the Shrine to Apu.
May poems always take you to the top of a mountain to meet the author, in the spirit of Vladimir Nabokov
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to it yourself, it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot at the top, reserved as their contours, saying nothing; repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look – whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them for their bones have not lasted: men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave,
and row quickly away – the blades of the oars moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx – beautiful under networks of foam, and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed;
the birds swim throught the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore- \the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them; and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bell-bouys, advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound
to sink- in which if they turn and twist,
it is neither with volition nor consciousness.
When first looking over The Grave, one realizes that the speaker is the poet while observing a man looking into the sea. Ms. Moore notes that everyone has the same right to view the sea. The sea is universal. She says “it is human nature to stand in the middle of the thing, but you cannot stand in the middle of this”. I think that “this” is referring to inevitable death, especially with the mention of a grave.The sea collects the dead as God collects the dead, but the sea has a ravenous( “rapacious look”) appetite, and we like to think of God as a little less savage. I found the image of men lowering nets “unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave”. It’s a paradox : men getting fish (life) from the depths of death. The last few lines remind us that although the world may not care about us, we can find our own value and meaning in this life. after we die, life goes on. The whole world continues on without consciousness of who we were, what we were, why we mattered. It’s an unsettling thought to think that our secrets, our achievements are all washed away- pulled in the depths.
This poem reminded me of the movie The Guardian, with the coast guard captain who drowned. He might live on in memories for a few years, but after the inital grieving period, things will resume as they were “heretofore”.
LINES COMPOSED A FEW MILES ABOVE TINTERN ABBEY, ON REVISITING THE BANKS OF THE WYE DURING A TOUR. JULY 13, 1798
FIVE years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.–Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view 10
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit’s cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:–feelings too 30
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world, 40
Is lightened:–that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,–
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft– 50
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart–
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity, 60
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man 70
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.–I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.–That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes 90
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels 100
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,–both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul 110
Of all my moral being.
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once, 120
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; ’tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all 130 The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, 140
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance–
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence–wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream 150
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love–oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
In the beginning of this poem, Wordsworth paints an image of a glorious stream with “beauteous forms”. He almost seems alone with nature and is in “deep seclusion”. Because of the repetition of “once again” in this first paragraph, we realize that Wordsworth is returning to a place he has been before. He felt run down (“weariness”) by city life and was amazed by the beauty of the landscape. He feels renewal after visiting this place when “the fever of the world have hung upon the beatings of [his] heart”. We all have times like that!
Moving into line 58 is the shift in the poem to the present, as Wordsworth visits this Wye. He says that things have “changed, no doubt, from what I was first”. He realizes he cannot go back to the way he was. Although his youth is over, “other gifts have followed; for such loss, I would believe, abundant recompense”. He sees nature differently. I’m wondering if he’s reminded of his own mortality, with the “still, sad music of humanity”. He goes on to say that there is a motion and a spirit than impels objects of all thoughts (God??). Then he starts capitalizing Friend and how she is always with him (GOD??). There is definitely a relgious undernote considering this is about an abbey, (denotation : A monastery of religious persons secluded from the world, and under vows of celibacy). Can nature be one’s church?