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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Poetry XXXI -- TEXTBOOK POETRY 3.3

The subtitle for this section is about as off-putting as anything anywhere across the humongousness literature's pedagogy: "The Mechanics of Verse."  As far as my experience goes, this is the single most influential contributor to students' dislike nearly acatalectic (if you'll excuse the clearly slant usage there) poetry--even more so than just the difficulty of interpretation.  As I look at An Approach to Literature's editors' very limited selection (you'll see in a moment) for exemplifying and explaining the mechanics of poetry and versification, I can't decide if, on the one hand, they're really into it and, at that, only in its purest, most abstract form, or if they understand how dismal counting syllables can be and decided to keep it as short as possible.  But here's the problem: the section isn't short.  In word count, it certainly exceeds the previous two sections, but there are only (are you ready?) TWO POEMS.  (Section 4, by the way, has nearly thirty to choose from!)  Whether it would have been better for the editors to have included a dozen poems, or just two for the entire bloody concept I'll leave to you.  Here, then, I reproduce all of the poetry in this section--no personal selection necessary:

An Approach to Literature
Brooks, Purser, Warren

That the Night Come
William Butler Yeats
She lived in storm and strife,
Her soul had such desire
For what proud death may bring
That it could not endure
The common good of life,
But lived as 'twere a king
That packed his marriage day
With banneret and pennon,
Trumpet and kettledrum,
And the outrageous cannon,
To bundle time away
That the night come.

Come Down, O Maid
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (clearly a favorite of the editors’)
Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:
What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang),
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills?
But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine,
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;
And come, for Love is of the valley, come,
For Love is of the valley, come thou down
And find him; by the happy threshold, he,
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,
Or red with spirted purple of the vats,
Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk
With Death and Morning on the silver horns,
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice,
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors:
But follow; let the torrent dance thee down
To find him in the valley; let the wild
Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave
The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill
Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,
That like a broken purpose waste in air:
So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales
Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth
Arise to thee; the children call, and I
Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,
Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn,
The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.


  1. What do you think? Neither of these really captured my imagination.

  2. Eh -- Each has a good line or two, but neither is wonderful. This seems to be the most common issue with textbook poems defining meter and rhyme and "mechanics." This is the first time this book has really fallen flat for me. However, the next section makes up for it. I don't know how I'm going to be able to do less than post ten of them! (Gotta keep it to five. Gotta keep it to five. Gotta keep it to five. ...)


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