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John

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Weird headspace... [Aug. 16th, 2012|12:55 pm]
John
I'm not fatigued any more, but I think I'm maybe still depressed. Maybe. It's hard to say.

But how do I tell the difference?

Well - yesterday, I got a copy of the collected poems of Elizabeth Bishop, and started reading.

Poetry is funny.

"Doughnut-like our life shall be
hollow in ways both small and great
except when it's not - delightfully!"

No real structure, there. But it has a meaning that can go beyond just the words. Why were those particular words chosen? Not just to express a direct thought, but to try to give a shade of meaning. What meaning?

And sometimes you need to know the person, or culture of the person, who wrote the poem. If you know I grew up in a world of yeast doughnuts (technically, I grew up in Philadelphia - which isn't world of yeast doughnuts. I was speaking metaphorically. Where was I? Oh, yeah), you know that there are often small hollows throughout doughnuts - whereas someone more used to cake doughnuts won't understand "hollow in ways both small and great" because cake doughnuts have less pronounced holes in their texture. And of course, one sort of needs to know that there are toroidal doughnuts for a "great" hollow!

Does one also need to know that the author loved doughnuts with fillings, so that the great hollow is not hollow, in a delightful way? Or is that part of culture?

Is the author really trying to equate the delights of a full life to a mere sweetened cream or jelly filling, or simply referencing the delights of the non-visible joys one might find where one might otherwise find nothing?

I'm able to read poetry, and think about it, both in general and in particular - there's some energy there. Happiness is a bit muted.

Any suggestions on particular poems that I might want to read? (Looking at you, pernishus, though anyone can offer suggestions.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pernishus
2012-08-16 08:46 pm (UTC)
Two additional bits of information which I find pertinent to my own (highly personal, no doubt) interpretation of the tercet cited above (indented and in quotes -- belt and suspenders?) are that:

(1) the author has a certain level of mathematical sophistication, and
(2) the author is the recent recipient of a small volume devoted to zero...

My favourite Elizabeth Bishop poems are:

(1) "Santarém"
(2) "Poem"
(3) "At the Fishhouses"

Many others, of course, including the one EB poem everybody knows if they know any EB poem: "One Art."

Many thanks for your HaliCallahanicon reportage -- still trying to figure out the anagrams.... [grin]

Edited at 2012-08-16 08:46 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: wcg
2012-08-16 08:47 pm (UTC)
Have you read anything by Robert Service?
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-08-16 08:55 pm (UTC)
Not knowingly - probably not at all :-). Anything you'd recommend?
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[User Picture]From: wcg
2012-08-16 09:23 pm (UTC)
The Creamation of Sam McGee to begin with. After that, whatever else strikes your fancy. Poems by Robert W. Service.
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[User Picture]From: acelightning
2012-08-17 10:27 am (UTC)
New York radio personality Jean Shepherd used to read the poems of Robert W. Service on his radio show sometimes, and they left a profound impression on me. My favorite was The Ballad Of The Northern Lights - scientifically wrong, but so evocative! (I got to work with Shep, along with my two other radio heroes, Long John Nebel and Murray "The K" Kaufman, when I grew up and became a radio engineer, but that's a story for another night...)
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[User Picture]From: acelightning
2012-08-17 10:16 am (UTC)
Marge Piercy. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Gary Snyder. And wcg's recommendation of Robert W. Service.
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