My poetry crusade

2020-06-06 @Literature

It required a little emphasis of that holy minimum yielding the greater stock.

Suddenly, after a lifetime of having deemed the poetic form all but unattainable, she submits to my whim. She acquires a transparent shape, a tractable shape, an appreciable shape.

She begins to seem as natural as any other exchange, the inconceivable a thought it were weeks prior.

Poetry always felt an aching struggle I might revisit at perhaps the ripe age of fifty. To think of it, I never appreciated it, excepting the little of Pushkin - a few fairy tales, an occasional short poem, a fragment here or there, voilà.

Today, by the way, marks the poet’s birthday. Cheers.

In the last year I’d entertained an assortment by Edgar Allan Poe, one of the more versatile masterminds to gain fame, regretfully posthumous, by way of prose, verse and even prose poetry. The Raven particularly pleased my craving for the Gothic.

Among the mixture I’d also scanned a few shorter poems by Byron. These I fancied less.

In all, however, I felt limited and reluctant to really address the infrastructural gap.

Then it happened quiet incidentally. I reopened the Pushkin anthology and began to methodically peruse diverse poems that caught my eye, consuming these slowly, one after another. The winter thematics, the elegies, attracted much of my attention. So did many of the historic derivations.

I continued with the unread fairy tales (in verse). Сказка о медведихе must strangely have become my favorite. I’ve a taste for the macabre, the satirical, and stranger yet, the unfinished.

I then set to reattempt my previously failed readings of Руслан и Людмила. The last occasion hadn’t advanced past the cute lyrical prologue.

Over a few days of meticulously focused attention, overcoming that dyslexia for the longer poetic compositions, I’d reached the finale. What a sense of triumph such a trivial deed inspired…

There’s nothing cosmically challenging within Руслан и Людмила, or across Pushkin works in general. Most that I recall feature a fixed meter of hardly any rhythmic fluctuation. (I could err on the latter point, not having decomposed every structural nut, bolt and hinge.)

Yet that’s how extensively my poetry cognition had degenerated. For us poetry dyslexics, even a quatrain on a greeting card is enough to flummox the senses.

As with the shorter verse, I resolved to read with that intensity I might direct at a computational complexity theorem: no attention divide; even ambiental music seemed to dilute focus! So much for my unrelenting faith in that medium.

Руслан и Людмила, certes, is a plain wicked of a narrative; and sensational of a poem. Had I emphasized the infusion of dark magic, shamanism, allegory, ancient Persian/Arabic influence, and even a touch of meta poetry?

That followed with another narrative poem Медный Всадник (Bronze Horseman), which I read in a single, unheard of, continuous session.

Having barely wet the appetite for more, one day I abandoned all pursuit in favor of poetry theory research. I needed a bit of theory (just a tiny bit) to read with the sense of justice those poetic works necessitate; to conceptualize, appreciate, and feel equipped to converse on the matter.

Until then, I’d only read by intuition, yet clueless with regard to the terminology, the metric footing, the syllable decomposition, the structure, the forms, the genres, and the rhythm, in the broader sense of the meaning.

The same minimal theoretical backdrop did I require of myself to begin to appreciate Jazz in my mid-20s, although then I read a whole book.

And prior I’d taken a college course on pre-20th century classical music history and theory. I still reference the notes when certain fundamentals escape me.

But neither a course nor a full length book are strictly necessary to attain that cost-beneficial minimum I earlier alluded to. A single day of guerilla Wikipedia scavenging more than facilitates.

To add to that, I’ll mention that anyone sharing even a cursory interest for linguistics, grammar, or syntax, might just find poetry theory fascinating in and of itself. I did. Once I understood even a fraction of what Shakespeare was doing with those confounding lines, it felt as if a big bang had erupted within my cognition.

That one day of research changed everything, mixed perhaps with a prophecy of the self-fulfilling. No matter.

By day’s end, I began to indulge in fragments of all sorts of classics, with a certain obsession, and a perverse degree of parallelism: Milton, Chaucer, Goethe, Ovid, Luís de Camões, Shakespeare (for which the previous exposure to Victorian/Elizabethan prose assisted to no end), Byron, and even the whimsicalities of Carroll or Nabokov - all that I’d already a genuine curiosity for, and all having suddenly taken shape of a pleasant, readable, and appreciable vessel; a total metamorphoses.

My past obstinacy in avoiding classical works strictly for being written in verse, perplexes me. I notoriously favored the prosaic form. And now I’d be frightened if the prejudice has not given in to the inverse.

Philosophically reasoned, an abundance of a pleasure inspires as much ill as that of a malice. I observe it everywhere and within myself. Yet to recognize and respect that threshold proves a rather tough ordeal for most humans … this one included.

Balance, if unmaintained, enables the pursuit to mutate into another sick obsession. And I already sport enough to exhaust five and a quarter lifetimes.

Questions, comments? Connect.