The bizarre notion of a favourite poem

2022-01-06 @Arts

Some derive poetry from within: from pain, from emotions, from the visceral. I seem to derive it externally: from the imagery, from dreams, from disagreeable sectors.

Maybe that’s why I struggle to define my ‘favourite’ poem whenever I encounter such an odd inquiry, usually to follow some lengthy art and literature discourse.

Be it that I’m too level, stoic, or disconnected, I don’t think I respond in the same degree of emotion to works classified as poetry. Maybe I’m still in the immature evolutionary development, but I view these works first and foremost from the aesthetic.

On a parallel note, I also associate poetry with structure: form, style, cadence, rhythm, caesuras, tonality, the musicality - factors which, I’m slowly learning by far don’t universally concern poets when it comes to composition.

And because such an inexhaustible pool of poetry strongly appeals to me, because so many sound simply divine, how does one choose a personal favourite, from the sonnets, elegies, sketches, narratives, epics, and all that categorization which the emotional poets likewise don’t necessarily ponder? Among poetry ranging from two lines to ten thousand?

Item: what might intuitively trigger as a favourite is not necessarily what I yearn to reread, opting rather to maintain the visual, the memory.

I suppose what I refer to is yet another kind of emotional manifestation, though instigated by no sort of inner strife.

Over time I’ve felt remarkably strong surges of delight in the readings and rereads of Edgar Poe’s To Helen (1848), Ulalume or the longer Al Aaraaf; or similarly in the works of the Acheismic poet Gumilev (among my favourites of the Russians) - particularly a handful of the Italian themed sketches; or Shelley’s elegiac Adonais; or about two-thirds of the Divine Comedy, despite the translated experience.

I could as easily contend with Wordsworth’s blank-verse Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, one of those minor efforts I couldn’t otherwise imagine as someone’s ‘favourite’.

Lately I’ve entertained an increasing amount of T.S. Eliot’s shorter and longer modernist poems. Though hardly reminiscent of anything classified as poetry I’ve enjoyed prior, at the very moment, much of it could very well speak favourites: something like the Preludes, the Journey of the Magi, or much of the Four Quartets.

Favourite poem … It’s hopeless, hopeless while I encounter poetry day to day, from one graffitied alley to the next, at the cracked rooftop, in a poorly insulated coffee cup that twice demands a microwave, in an empty Old-West style village street on New Years day, in a sawed off plastic coke bottle serving as a plant vase, in a soggy hut, in an ant assembly next to a camping unit.

It’s a question of unity with that which surrounds. I imagine Alastor, the spirit of solitude, in an endless and desperate pursuit to reach that unity, to attain the higher consciousness; or Horacio Oliviera in that fatal quest to reach the ‘kibbutz’.

But I don’t really seek it. I feel already part of it, or part of something satisfying.

Sometimes I feel part of a Joan Miro painting, one of the earlier, Arcadian ones of village churches and plantations of strangely neglected perspective.

And I don’t think Miro lacked the ability to paint perspective like that protagonist of Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Window. I think Miro was communicating something. And I feel the lack of perspective highly pertinent with relation to my placement in these paintings.

Or maybe I’m the lone, ambiguously detached figure in one of Edward Hopper’s urban plains of emptiness and melancholy. Or one of those hardly discernible archaeologists rummaging within Piranesi’s decaying basilicas and amphitheatres. Or better yet, one of those confounded detectives with a monocle and magnifying glass in Delvaux’s neoclassical portrayals of railroads, female nudes and rather vivacious skeletons.

It feels like a journey, a labyrinthical journey, an ergodistic journey. En fin, poetry.

Questions, comments? Connect.