Monday, January 19, 2009

Sick of Roses...

a song in the front yard
Gwendolyn Brooks

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

Since this is supposed to from our favorites, I'm going to do one more of Gwendolyn Brook's poems! She's definitely one of my favorites, I don't know why, I always seem to like her poetry when I read it however, it has a certain rhythm to it that is so present in a lot of her poems, it's wonderful.

The voice Brooks uses is a young and longing voice. The main character desires to be like the other kids who are from "the wrong side of the tracks." She really admires these girls. You can tell that the narrator is very naive and young because of her use of the word "paint" for make-up which suggests that she is growing up in a very sheltered household and that her mother is very protective of her. Again, there is this rhythm that flows throughout the whole poem, like one could sing this poem as well as recite it.

Brooks also uses the front and the back yards as symbols for different parts of society. The front yard represents the author's disciplined and protected life style, she compares her lifestyle to a rose, and she is "sick" of them. In the front yard she watches life, rather than participating in it. The backyard represents a life that is grittier "Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows." These kids that live in the backyard, "don't have to go in at quaarter to nine" and she is very jealous of that. She wants to live a little and experience things, but her mother is always keeping her from doing anything like that.

The conflict of growing up is strong in this poem. The narrator wants to grow up, but her mother is an oppressive force who sneers at the kids in the backyard and the desires of the narrator to be like the other kids. The mother says that the girls "Will grow up to be a bad" women, trying to discourage the daughter from wanting to go play with the other kids.

As for external form, the poem has a sort of "couplet" at the end, which could suggest that this is a loose form of a sonnet, but there is no other indication of it being one.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What lips my lips have kissed, and where and why by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The rhyme scheme of this poem follows abbaabba cdefedf and this is typical for petrarchan sonnets. This poem also includes the octave talking about her former loves and how she wishes they would remember her, or she could remember them. The sestet talks about how she is very lonely and the fact that she has no passion anymore.

This poem is about rememberance, with a nostalgiac tone Millay talks about the lovers she's had, and the many people she has shown affection to. She can't remember exactly who they were, or why she has exchanged kisses with, but she wants to know where they are now, and she longs to know that. She describes her sadness by the imagery of the tree that "stands" in "winter" and the the fact that the "birds have vanished one by one." She feels extreme loneliness and she expresses that through the imagery of winter's effect on nature (the lonely and bare tree with now birds). she knows that she has loved, and had passion once, but "summer sings" in her no more, and she has lost all that passion that she once had. She hopes that the "unremembered lads" will remember her instead.

Range-Finding by Robert Frost

This is a sonnet that follows a rhyme scheme of abba abba ccad deffe so this is kind of deviating from the normal rhyme scheme that is present in other sonnets. However, the traditional useage fourteen lines is present but there is no identifiable rhyming couplet at the end of the poem.

This poem uses nature's point of view to describe the violence of war. This is what Frost usually does, he implements the use of nature to show a greater meaning with his work. This poem is about how war can effect everything and anything around it. It follows the "story" of one bullet that a soldier has fired in the act of Range-Finding (which means to adjust for the wind and distance and such). On it's travel through the air, the bullet manages to hit a flower, but the bird seems "indifferent" about it because "still the bird revisited her young" so she is more looking out for herself, which is kind of what happens in the midst of a war. Human instinct takes over, and survival of the fittest is the main operator when one is caught in a war. Even the butterfly is only concerned with finding a higher place to rest. The spider is upset that there is no fly in its web because of the way it "sullenly" withdraws back to its home.

Also, I believe the fact that Robert Frost had the bullet "destroy" two things considered naturally beautiful (spider webs and flowers) is his own way of showing how nothing good comes out of war and he demonstrates how brutally cold it is and its disregard for anything but death.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cobwebs by Christina Rossetti

I believe Christina Rossetti is describing her conscience and her mind. I believe she was very lonely here, because that is the feeling I get when I read this sonnet. The rhyme scheme in this sonnet goes abba abba cdcede and it goes 8-4-2 seperating rhyme scheme.

The imagery here is very somber and lifeless. She describes a land which is very flat and has nothing to it, everything is empty, and I believe that is her describing how she feels on the "loveless land" which shows she is lonely. There is absolutely no emotion as shown by her saying, "No future hope no fear for evermore," she is completely cold almost as if she is dead. I bleieve it is called cobwebs because she possibly feels old here, like she has been sitting here lifeless for ages. She hasn't felt anything in this horribly lonely place for so long, that all there is left are cobwebs. It also adds to the loneliness of the whole poem.

There isn't any change here is well, no "ebb and flow" or "no moons or season wax and wane," so that could also be the meaning for the title of cobwebs, she is in this grey and boring land and she is also stuck here because nothing is changing for her. So cobwebs have developed all around her.

First Fight, Then Fiddle...

After reading "We Real Cool" I decided to look at more Gwendolyn Brooks because I've read some other works of hers and I always enjoy them.

"First Fight, Then Fiddle" Is a traditional petrarchan sonnet. The Norton talks about stanzas and how they break up different thoughts, here Brooks breaks up her thoughts in two different "sections" so the first 8 lines have one idea, while the next 4 have a different idea. The poem has a Couplet as well at the end of the poem.

The first 8 lines of the poem are about positive things, which is strange because in the title she tells you to first fight, then fiddle, but here she is talking about tings like fiddling first. So in the beginning, there is no mention of anything violent, she mentions imagery such as "ply the slipping string," which drives home the idea of mentioning the act of fiddling before one goes to fight.

Once the reader gets to the 9th line, there is a sudden change in tone, it goes from pleasant to violent by using language such as "A while from malice and from murdering." In these next four lines she talks about war, and how ugly and dehumanizing it is. She makes it clear that people are senseless during a war by telling the reader to, "be deaf to music, and to beauty blind." She also shows how people need to forget their emotions when their fighting a war, by leaving behind "harmony." The mainly one syllable rhymes also gives the poem a rough feel to it, like "sing thing, hate late," it makes the poem sharp like a war.

We Real Cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike Straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

This poem I think is all about the economy of words and how she is able to convey a feeling of free spiritness into 24 words. I believe it is possible to hear a person saying this with an attidude of arrogance, and listening to her read it on and talking about it, I think that point is made even clearer. I'm fascinated by her thought process here, and how she went from "why aren't these boys in school," to "how do they feel right now," and I believe she was able to capture that feeling of mischevious play in this poem. I am amazed at how she can convey this very "cool" feeling in such a small amount of words.

Here is where you can hear Gwendolyn Brooks actually talk about her poem and then read it. I think it's one thing to read it yourself, but to hear the actual author read it, is a whole new story. I think it's great the way she reads this.

Reading by Gwendolyn Brooks

Tear the court down and make it a dance floor...

I believe this poem by Stephen Dunn is about how he is kind of inspired by whatever hits speaks to him at the time. Dunn wants to talk about how poetry is rooted from moments in life, you don't find poetry, it almost finds you, in "an apple orchard," or "an old hotel," whatever hits a writer at that moment. He talks about the "gray areas," where he finds the inspiration to write something. He wants his words to make him feel as though he's, "been taken somewhere." That is the beginning of poetry.

In the middle, he talks about how having a "fast red car and a winding road," is a good thing, which I think of as losing yourself in the poetry and letting it take you where it needs to go, so all you have to do is stear the wheel and nothing else. I really like that metaphor.

The book asks about the final two lines of the poem. "Strange music beginning, the dance floor getting crowded now." I think this is his pictation of how a poem hits him and he is inspired to write one. "Strange music" could be the language used to write the poem and the crowded dance floor could be his mind becoming crowded with ideas.