Poetic language and poetic form


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Poetic language and poetic form

  1. 1. Poetic Forms & Genres<br />Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  2. 2. Genre<br />‘In literature genre refers to the classification into ‘types’ or ‘forms’ or ‘kinds’…<br />How tightly or prescriptively genre can be defined has been a long-standing argument in literary studies as theorists propose new criteria and different classifications.’<br />(Wainwright, Poetry: the Basics)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  3. 3. Epic, lyric, dramatic<br />‘For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration - in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged - or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us.’ (Aristotle, Poetics, c. 335 BC)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  4. 4. Definitions<br />Epic: concerned with narrative, long poem<br />Lyrical: concerned with states, incidents and moments, often in 1stperson<br />Dramatic: verse as spoken, sung, or chanted in plays as part of a dialogue, voice of other character(s)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  5. 5. Hierarchy of Genres<br /><ul><li>Through the Renaissance and much of the eighteenth century, the recognized genres were widely thought to be fixed literary types
  6. 6. a hierarchy ranging from epic and tragedy at the top to the pastoral, short lyric, epigram, and other types at the bottom
  7. 7. appropriate subject to the appropriate form and language was known as the concept of decorum
  8. 8. Neoclassical Genre Theory</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  9. 9. Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />C18 onwards: confidence in the fixity and stability of genres gradually weakened. <br />Early C19 onwards: the lyric poem became the most important poetic genre, replacing that of the epic and dramatic poem.<br />Critics tended to use broader terms such as “sincerity,” “intensity,” “organic unity” which didn’t imply a particular literary genre. <br />
  10. 10. Points to bear in mind...<br />genres are always evolving and developing<br />we can bring our knowledge of poetic genres to a poem to see if these conventions have been employed, or omitted and subverted in some way. <br />Sometimes a poet will evoke a whole tradition through referring to a particular poetic genre:<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  11. 11. Elegy (W.S. Merwin)<br />Who would I show it to<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  12. 12. Relationship of Genre to History & Culture<br />Early Epic or Heroic Poetry<br />The Medieval Romance<br />The Elizabethan Sonnet<br />The Neoclassical Verse ‘Essay’<br />The Romantic Ode<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  13. 13. Developing definitions<br />Just as genres change and develop throughout literary history, so do our ideas about the nature of literary genre itself.<br />It is that capacity of the work to transgress boundaries that makes genres such protean and paradoxical conventions. The system is dynamic, multidimensional, constantly changing. (F & B)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  14. 14. Structuralism<br />Attention paid to all kinds of conventions and generic codes<br />‘a desire to isolate codes, to name the various languages with and among which the text plays...’ (Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics, 1975)<br />SYNCHRONIC occurring at one point in time<br />DIACHRONIC evolving over time<br />‘Literary Competence’<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  15. 15. Tzvetan Todorov<br />Poetry in general does not exist, but variable conceptions of poetry exist and will continue to exist, not only from one period or country to another but also from one text to another (Genres in Discourse, 1990). <br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  16. 16. Form<br /><ul><li>Forms (plural) relate to specific patterns or arrangements of meter, lines and rhymes.
  17. 17. Fixed Forms: set patterns, e.g. Sonnet, Limerick.
  18. 18. Traditional fixed forms such as the sonnet can also be a genre, because apart from the specific pattern, it also builds up various conventions of structure and content, which have a history. </li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  19. 19. Limerick<br />There was a young woman from Norway<br />Who hung from her toes in the doorway<br />She said to her beau<br />‘Come over here Joe<br />I think I’ve discovered one more way!’<br />(attrib. Swinburne 1837)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  20. 20. Poetic Form<br />Poetic form (singular): everything that goes into a poem – the way the poem is structured.<br />‘The form of a work is the principle that determines its organization’ (Abrams)<br />the organization of the poem’s contents in order to generate specific meanings or effects<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  21. 21. Formal devices specific to poetry<br />The poetic line<br />Rhythm, rhyme stand out more<br />The double pattern: looking at a poem’s formal structure together with its individual language and phrasing<br />Look at the shape of the poem: visually patterned poetry is known as Emblem (traditional) or Concrete (modern) poetry.<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  22. 22. ‘Easter Wings’ (George Herbert 1633)<br />Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,<br />   Though foolishly he lost the same,<br />     Decaying more and more,<br />      Till he became<br />        Most poore:<br />        With thee<br />      Oh let me rise<br /> As larks, harmoniously,<br /> And sing this day  thy victories:<br />Then shall the fall further the flight in me.<br /> <br />My  tender  age  in  sorrow   did   beginne:<br />   And still with sicknesses and shame<br />     Thou  didst  so  punish  sinne,<br />       That  I  became<br />         Most thinne.<br />         With  thee<br />        Let me combine<br />    And feel this day thy victorie:<br />  For,  if  I  imp  my  wing  on  thine<br />Affliction shall  advance the  flight in  me.<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  23. 23. ‘Swan and Shadow’ (John Hollander, 1967)<br /><ul><li>                            Dusk                         Above the                    water hang the                              loud                             flies                             Here                            O so                           gray                          then                         What             A pale signal will appear                        When         Soon before its shadow fades                       Where       Here in this pool of opened eye                       In us     No Upon us As at the very edges                        of where we take shape in the dark air                         this object bares its image awakening                           ripples of recognition that will                              brush darkness up into lighteven after this bird this hour both drift by atop the perfect sad instant now                              already passing out of sight                           toward yet-untroubled reflection                         this image bears its object darkening                        into memorial shades Scattered bits of                       light     No of water Or something across                       water       Breaking up No Being regathered                        soon         Yet by then a swan will have                         gone             Yes out of mind into what                          vast                           pale                            hush                             of a                             place                              past                    sudden dark as                         if a swan                            sang</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  24. 24. From ‘Song of Myself’ (Walt Whitman, 1855)<br />I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth<br />Anaphora: a word or phrase repeated at the start of lines<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  25. 25. From ‘The Lads’ (Eleanor Brown, 1966)<br />Away the lads. I love your poetry. <br />It strips the artform down to nakedness, <br />distilling it to spirituous drops <br />of utter purity. <br />I like the way you shout it all so loud, <br />revelling in the shamelessness <br />of its repetitiousness; the way it never stops <br />delighting <br />you. You've every right to be proud <br />of your few, brief, oral formulae – <br /><ul><li>Double syntax: ambiguity due to line breaks</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  26. 26. From ‘Paradise Lost’ (Milton, 1667)<br />…For so<br />I formed them free, and free they must remain,<br />Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change<br />Their nature <br />Double syntax on ‘change’<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  27. 27. From ‘Tintern Abbey’ (William Wordsworth, 1798)<br />Therefore am I still<br />A lover of the meadows and the woods,<br />And mountains; and of all that we behold<br />From this green earth; of all the mighty world<br />Of eye and ear – both what they half create,<br />And what perceive…<br />Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  28. 28. Relationship of form to content? Possible answers include:<br /><ul><li> (a) poetic form is an aesthetic container in which a poem's contents are delivered; it is a kind of ‘sweetener’ which makes the poem more pleasurable to read but isn’t intrinsic to the message or meaning of the poem itself;
  29. 29. (b) poetic form echoes or reflects content/meaning but there is still a distinct division between the two aspects of poetry;
  30. 30. (c) poetic form and content are organically interrelated. It’s difficult to talk about one aspect of the poem without acknowledging the work of the other.</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />
  31. 31. Sarah Law Poetic Language and Poetic Form<br />All [poems] are verbal spaces, marked out deliberately, with deliberation, and for deliberation. The poet feels for a space that seems at one demanding and accommodating, whether given by tradition or made anew. It is a space marked for special attention... the deliberate space of the poem. <br />(Wainwright, Poetry: The Basics)<br />