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A very public attempt 4

At Understanding Poetry


When I was younger poetry was easy to identify. It was something that rhymed and had been written by someone long dead. Then I stumbled upon free verse. Everything changed.

I give you a sample. It's really nice. But why is it poetry? And why isn't it just broken up lines? As ever, resist googling for the poet.

Drawing the Line

What could be simpler than this?
To distinguish past from future,
old from new.

To turn the year like a page,
rediscover our taste for happy endings,
our need for regret.

“You have to draw the line somewhere”
you say.

But always the hand trembles,
the eye fails,
and the heart cannot keep
its memories straight.

Life, like poetry,
is never drawn to scale.

How strange that the shortest distance between two points
should be our most fundamental of separations –

the line,
that can both emphasise and cancel –

so that you draw a margin on the blank page
not only to underline the emptiness,
but also to make it yours.

We exist in a world of shapes and parallels,
imagining lines everywhere –
stencils of states we partition our maps with,
checkerboards of calendars,
and the diagonal of God,
dividing eternity from oblivion –

we are like children
cutting their food into squares,
inventing definition
to make the world easier.

You could say this is make-believe:
that the border between what was and what will be
is too absently crossed;
that the songbirds cannot tell night from day,
past from possibility.

Yet how could we live
without the parentheses of beginning and end?
How could we hope
without Time’s punctuation?

We exist in the hair’s-breadth
of the immediate,
creasing the stationery of our years
with birth, death and festival
to mark our place in it.

Let it be so:
to believe in the trivial
is to have a faith
that cannot be shaken.

Let us celebrate this day
not in the illusion that things will change,
or that the spilling over of time’s circle
means something,

but in the knowledge
that this day is special
because we share it
with each other.


Your turn.

Comments

Madura said…
My favorite lines:
"Life, like poetry, is never drawn to scale."
"inventing definition to make the world easier."
Without googling or reading anybody's comments, my wild guesses on the poet (since I cant analyze poetry!!!) ...
1. Gender - Female
2. Age - past middle age
3. Spirit - Philosophical
4. Past life - mostly happy
5. Citizenship - British colony (definitely not USA!!!
reason - stress on grammar and punctuation).
6. Politics - liberal democrat
7. Life partner - long term
8. Hobby - bird watching

:) ...
Conclusion: Definitely a good friend to hang out with for evening conversation and tea.
The comfort zone: She doesnt stick to rules, but blends them, question them and makes poetry out of them.
Madura said…
Man oh man, I didnt expect a person this close in the circle!!!

I really really hope my words doesnt sound too judgemental!!!

Please, I really meant it all in a good way!

Just in case it turns you furious,
Well, you get a right to slap me when you meet me! :)))) ...
Falstaff said…
madura: Your words don't sound judgmental at all, and I'm certainly not furious - on the contrary, I might hold you to the evening conversation and tea offer.

Just for the record, though, you're wrong about 1., 2. (unless middle age is defined as 25 now), 3., 7. and 8. And 4 is debatable. So much for learning anything about the poet from his / her poems.
Akira said…
I liked this one too maybe 'coz I thought I could make sense out of it...

The poet starts describing human nature and ends the poem with a lesson for everyone...nice...like this form better than finding meaning out of the obtuse and obscure..
sakthin said…
Well it is just broken up lines, but beautiful broken up lines that spends more time in how it says than what it says. Thats y its a poetry.
Madura said…
Thank you Falstaff! :)

Within one week I have made two mistakes in predicting age and gender! :) I have to agree I am really bad at this prediction game - specifically gender and age had been precisely wrong!!! :)
I completely love this one.
Free verse works best for me.
And like Madura, my favourite line is "Life, like poetry, is never drawn to scale."
Anonymous said…
Could you one day post one such poem as paragraph? I want to see if people will still identify it as a poem.
-Sachita

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