Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sixties’

Love and Limericks!

The Sixties loved poetry! The Beat poets of the 50s like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were being read everywhere.  Everyone loved ee cummings lack of capitalization—very anti-establishment! The Beatles not only were writing great poetical lyrics, but using the poetry of published poets as well, a la Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Richard Cory.

And everyone wrote poetry! I think it may have been the freedom from rhyme and meter that was so popular, that allowed everyone to think of themselves as a poet.  Absence of these discipline releases lots of totally undisciplined rubbish—but we all did it anyway.  Especially if we were in love!

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet” (Plato)

OK, here is the gem you have been waiting for.  When Sherrylee and I first started dating in 1969, she had just joined our summer mission campaign team in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I, being much older and wiser, made the first flirtatious moves, including teasing her—a very sophisticated thing to do, I know.  So I wrote her a limerick—a very educated verse form, of course. It went something like this:

There was once a girl from Bononson

Who liked a young man name’ed Hanson.    (my first name)

She had a cute lisp–

S and J weren’t too crisp.

Too bad she was named Sherry Johnson!

Terrible, I know, but we—at least I—still laugh about it!

And then there was Rod McKuen! Every girl had Rod McKuen books of poetry sitting on her nightstand—typical flower child kind of poetry. Very much about nature, love, fluff, and more love.

While Sherrylee and I were dating long distance—she was in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, and I was in Oxford, Mississippi, so I would drive down about once a month to visit her—I would lie on her living room floor and listen to Rod McKuen’s album called The Sea, which was his sea/beach/love poetry set to music with sounds of breaking waves through the transitions.  I guess it was such a hit that you can’t find it anywhere anymore!  Not even on ITunes—not that I ever looked J

I need to just say that all of these stories occur before I took my aforementioned course in Modern Poetry, so I can just plead ignorance.  Then I read Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, and many others who opened a whole new world of reading to me.

Of course, I took courses in the Romantic Poets (Shelley, Keats, Byron, etc), but the more modern poets I was reading captured me mostly because to understand the modern poets required an exegesis—much like I had learned to do in my biblical studies.  Why does the poet choose this word that you stumble over? Why does the alliteration carry you only this far and not further? What other possible meanings could this word or this phrase have?

You know how the best movies make you think as compared to the superficial ones that you figure out about five minutes into it. Great writing is often difficult enough that you can’t get it with just a cursory reading, but a close, thoughtful reading rewards you with something magnificent!

Yes, I’m on a crusade to bring poetry back from oblivion!! Have I whetted your appetite at all?  Here’s a great poem from T.S. Eliot that you should be able to read and enjoy with thinking—but not to the point of a headache J!  It’s a Christmas poem—or is it?

Journey of the Magi

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: