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Old 10-02-2015, 04:26 PM View Post #11 (Link)
lalodragon (Offline)
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Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
But take a poem like "Invictus: the Unconquerable" by William Ernest Henley. Many of the descriptions are vague and the images are unclear.
oooh, I do disagree with you. Descriptions and images are real af in that poem. "fate" and "soul" are the only abstractions present, really.
Spoiler:
Invictus: The Unconquerable

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

But forget all about words, this poem is kinetic imagery-- read it aloud! That stalwart roll of the lines, the hard foot-stomp of the rhymes. There's something we could talk about. The sense of the poem is alive and well in the feel of the poem.
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:29 PM View Post #12 (Link)
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Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
I think that - for the poet at least - there might be something pleasurable about viewing the world via metaphors and similes. For example, today, when I was walking to class, a girl's heels going clack clack clack against the pavement drew my attention. I thought "the clack clack clack-ing of heels is like a mating call", and I was pleasantly surprised at the strange connection my mind had just made. I jotted it down later and thought that I might use it in a poem.

I think that those little connections that we make in our minds are idiosyncrasies. And underneath all the love of words, intellectual exercises, etc., poets might just want to express those idiosyncrasies and be understood. But I don't know. That's a guess. That's what Anne Carson believes too. We studied her last semester.

I'm curious as to why readers enjoy reading poems that ask them to bend their minds and make strange connections that they couldn't see at first.
So, human connection (I've played with this idea before)-- the poet catches that idiosyncrasy and wants to share it. The reader gets to see the thing through someone else's eyes. Imagery attempts to make that seing real-- you know, if I say "love," you have your own idea of it. You are seeing only your own construction. Same with concrete things like "lake". But if I can describe my construction, if I can convey that to you, you get to look through someone else's eyes for a moment.
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:32 PM View Post #13 (Link)
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I don't know. I actually don't really like that idea of expression of idiosyncrasy.

Have you ever heard of solipsism? Its the belief that no matter how hard we try, we will never truly be able to express our being, and thus, will never be truly understood. And I think I agree with that. Some part of wants to be understood. Some part of me wants the world to know what I'm really like. But the rest of me couldn't care less about expression. The rest of me wants to create something beautiful in the mind of a reader.
  
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:36 PM View Post #14 (Link)
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oooh, I do disagree with you
Lol okay. Please explain? I'll grant that there are some images in the poem.

Black as the pit from pole to pole
For example, this gets a nice and strange image of a guy covered in something black. I see a black, heavy, dripping liquid, like that one scene in Carrie, in which she's covered in blood, and the blood looks black.

We get about one image per stanza, and the images don't flow together very well. And they're not very concrete, like the images of William Carlos Williams.
  
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:41 PM View Post #15 (Link)
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That stalwart roll of the lines, the hard foot-stomp of the rhymes. There's something we could talk about. The sense of the poem is alive and well in the feel of the poem.
I'm very aware of this, and I love it.
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:48 PM View Post #16 (Link)
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Have you ever heard of solipsism? Its the belief that no matter how hard we try, we will never truly be able to express our being, and thus, will never be truly understood. And I think I agree with that. Some part of wants to be understood. Some part of me wants the world to know what I'm really like. But the rest of me couldn't care less about expression. The rest of me wants to create something beautiful in the mind of a reader.
In response to myself: now that I think about it, I realize that it doesn't have to be one or the other. I could see this little idiosyncratic connection and be like "that's really cool" and feel the urge to parade it around and be like "guys look at this cool connection my mind just made" in a way that's beautiful that the reader will appreciate.
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:57 PM View Post #17 (Link)
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Have heard of & do appreciate solipsism. It doesn't preclude the search to be understood, though, whether or not we've hope of achieving that. Solipsism & nihilism go hand in hand after all. (And pride is a legitimate reason as well.)

To examine what makes an image beautiful we've got to examine what makes an image. Hold that thought.

Re: Inviticus. It's not as imagery-laden as WCW or Howl, for sure. But each thing that comes up in the poem is an illustration of the larger point-- that the soul is unconquerable-- and so I consider them images.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
I don't think that the head is literally bloody, but whether it is or not, this is an image to give the reader the sense of of unconquerability. The bloody head is a thing, and the idea is in the thing. Which WCW would approve of.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
He could have said, It doesn't matter how hard it is; or, It doesn't matter how narrow the constraints, but instead he gave us a physical gate and scroll.

There are abstractions of course in 'horror,' etc. It's not an imagist poem. But it's still thick with images. It doesn't need, and couldn't bear, more elaboration in every stanza. It's got to fit to form, and we don't want to overlay the point anyway. I'd say it's as concrete/descriptive as it could be.

ETA: I took "black as the Pit from pole to pole" to refer to the night. note, in the original poem, every 2nd and 4th line is indented. This sets them up as subsidiary to the preceding line. So I read the second line as commentary on the night from the first.

And there's something to discuss in form, here, both the kinetic sound and strength of it and that indentation.
  
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:07 PM View Post #18 (Link)
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I took "black as the Pit from pole to pole" to refer to the night
Because of the comma, "black as the pit from pole to pole" modifies "I" not "night", so the night has covered him and made him black as the pit from pole to pole. The weird image of dripping black was an entirely subjective thing that my mind conjured partly on its own and partly because Henley gave me the leeway to do so with his wording.
  
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Old 10-02-2015, 05:20 PM View Post #19 (Link)
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Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
Well, I did too, but what does it mean if night "covers" someone? And also, because of the comma, "black as the pit from pole to pole" modifies "me" not "night", so the night has covered him and made him black as the pit from pole to pole. The weird image of dripping black was an entirely subjective thing that my mind conjured partly on its own and partly because Henley gave me the leeway to do so with his wording.
If he didn't have the comma it would be "the night that covers me black," which definitely modifies "me". Even so, someone being covered in night != a gooey pitchy covering, you know that. The idea of night covering something is time-worn and obvious.
But regardless, this is a rabbit trail. You can deliberately misinterpret any image. You can picture someone dripping with pitch. And I could complain about how Pound refers to metal as clear, when it's opaque. But that doesn't invalidate the image or imagery as a whole.

I think we're going off on rabbit trails now. We've set up a few reasons why we think imagery exists:
  • Words might be the product of an effort to communicate images.
  • Imagery might be a way of being specific and returning to familiar sights that are easier to perceive.
  • "That's a lot of images...generating the minds and people that he's writing about." Goal: to generate those minds and people.
  • underneath all the love of words, intellectual exercises, etc., poets might just want to express those idiosyncrasies and be understood
  • you get to look through someone else's eyes for a moment
  • create something beautiful in the mind of a reader

So we're all getting at the same thing. The writer sees something and wants to communicate what they see to others. Often, we want to communicate it because it is beautiful, so we want to make something beautiful to the reader. We want to our reader to see what we see, vividly. No matter what our reasons are for wanting that. (Pride, to be understood, to convey beauty, etc.)

EDIT: I use the verb "see" as a standin for whatever sense the image is targeting. Maybe we feel something and want them to feel it, maybe it's a smell. Same idea.
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Old 10-02-2015, 06:01 PM View Post #20 (Link)
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I think we're going off on rabbit trails now.
Haha sometimes it's fun to explore rabbit trails once in a while. I was just interested in your reading of the poem, and I was arguing for my own.

But sure, let's return to the topic.

We want to our reader to see what we see, vividly.
Okay, yeah, I think I can agree with this, but then we, as poets, must also strive to see (or be prone to seeing) beautiful thing at times. I don't think it's enough to just express the idiosyncrasies within us. Beauty is, of course, very subjective. I'm just acting out against Carson's ideas that art is nothing more than a mode of expression of self.
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