Let poetry be the muse of dance, not pontification

Wicked TyrannosaurusAlan has written the funniest and cleverest posts on pompous pontificating on poetry since we lost cynicalsteve.

. . . 4. All poetry must be accompanied by a non poetic translation in order to reveal the message of the poem to those who would have been denied it by their cultural background.

5. All poetic devices (similes, metaphors, neologisms, and other word use which is not directly informative) should be referenced with explanatory notes. Poets should provide an accurate description of the conditions the poem was composed and recorded in, so that the poem may be confirmed by other poets. . .

Such blessed relief, thank you TA, thank you, thank you . . . Why do poetry threads – like poetry in general — seem to magnetise so many insufferably pretentious blather artists?

There might be a clue in this famous remark of Nabokov’s:

Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.

What is most mysterious and indefinable also leaves room for the most posturing, vacuous speculation, specious claims to authority – and tedious sniping without end. If there were a Nobel prize for windbaggery, scientists, who specialise in demystification and whose pronouncements are severely constrained by rationality, couldn’t begin to compete for it against the self-appointed ‘experts’ on literature (never mind how many degrees they pile up for ‘credentials’).

What is most wonderful about (good) poetry is that it overlaps with music, the most inexplicable branch of the arts. I’ve been reading George Steiner — that rarest of litcritters, who offers actual food for thought — and who says,

To understand music is to be confronted with the surprisingly confining limits of language. Only dance, perhaps, can explicate music. Asked to explain a difficult étude, Schumann simply played it a second, then a third time.

Now there’s a response – Schumann’s – I can perfectly understand and respect.

Steiner, in the same iconoclastic essay on education I’ve been devouring like chocolate oranges (‘School Terms’) reminds us that Plato restricted music ‘to athletic and military functions in the ideal polis.’

Perhaps because of our discussion of the WWI poets, that old Greek’s fence line recalled music’s ability to kindle the kind of enthusiasm able to ‘set armies marching’ in a hoary Chinese book of divination I loved as a sapling. The passage continues:

From immemorial times the inspiring effect of the invisible sound that moves all hearts, and draws them together, has mystified mankind.

So I’d say, by all means, play the poetry again. . . and again . . , but keep the explaining to a scant minimum. And why not try dancing it instead, if you can — or dare?

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Let poetry be the muse of dance, not pontification

  1. Ishouldaoplogise

    Hello!

    About TA, well why bother? I don’t see anything interesting there. But you are most perspicacious wordnerd, so I shall pay attention.

    Like the big font.

  2. 3p4

    So I’d say, by all means, play the poetry again. . . and again . . , but keep the explaining to a scant minimum. And why not try dancing it instead, if you can — or dare?

    on a connected tangent to dancing poetry i would like to offer you the bill the bard set to dramatic sound recorded by me and recently shared with
    baroncharlus,, its dick3 opening joke,,best joke in all of shakespeare,,mishari and iamnothere have also heard it,,

  3. Gentle 3p4 (or so the Bard might say),

    Sorry for a slow reply but that’s a munificent offer that has created a dilemma. I told @suzanabrams only last month that I couldn’t take her up on her equally kind offer to send me her copy of Evening is the Whole Day – from anxiety about the possibility that I mightn’t like the book, after she’d gone to all that trouble. . . So if I say yes, please, to a disc with dropin doing Will, I’m afraid she’s going to feel snubbed.

    [fshhhhhhh. . .. fshhhhhh . . . . fshhhhhhh . . . sound of a nerd stewing . . .]

    . . . My dilemma is hardly diminished by a discovery: Suzan, if you are reading this, I’ve hugely enjoyed what I’ve read so far of my library copy of Preeta S’s book. You are absolutely right about her using a lot of adjectives, but they seem to fit Malaysia’s tropical lushness . . . More when I get to the end . . .

    . . . Now 3p4, you seem to understand people rather well, so I doubt if this post will surprise you. . . as I continue to dither awhile. :)

  4. wordnerd7

    Ishouldapologise, how nice that we can also disagree over here, now . . . I’d come to your own site more often, only reading your blog makes me feel guilty about not doing more to ‘save the world,’ as a consumer activist friend likes to say of himself, settting out for work in the morning. . . . But about your inability to appreciate TA’s fiendish wit, what _can_ I say? I’ve even seen you complain about pompous pronouncements on literature by pseuds.

    I see that you’ve paid me the kindest of compliments, but no, I never perspire, and you should know better than to address a word of more than two syllables to me. . . I mean, after the dog’s dinner I made in trying to type accacciatura too fast for my user name. I’m going to stick with being plain old wn from now on.

    Hard to believe, I know, but until you pointed it out I hadn’t noticed how large the type is, in this blogging template. I was seduced by the layout and the chance of a pictorial masthead.

  5. 3p4

    wordnerd stewing
    offers queueing
    hubble bubble
    conundrum double
    batwing doghair
    dilemma to spare
    i’ll still be here
    you’ll still be there,, :)

  6. wordnerd7

    It’s beginning to feel like Christmas, 3p4. . . perhaps I’ll ask Santa for some _batwing_ _doghair_. Just how did you think of that?

  7. 3p4

    “”””Just how did you think of that?”””

    hit it first time,,there it was in the back of the net,,

  8. dropinbucket

    are ya cooked yet nerdy ?

  9. 3p4

    did i just leave a dropinbucketpost by mistake ?

  10. acacciatura.wordpress.com – cooooolest domain name)))
    ————————
    sponsor: http://jackiedr8.far-cry-far-cry-2.ru

  11. wordnerd7

    @afissaky, are you just a spammer — putting this on every site? . . . Hmm, I’m afraid the answer is probably, yes. : )

  12. Pingback: Get poetry out of the ivory tower and give it back to poets « acciaccature

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