Friday, February 03, 2006

A day late

I saw this Blogger’s (Silent) Poetry Reading today on several sites... a day late. But never having been one to let a little thing like timeliness stop me, I decided to participate!

So I started thinking, what piece of poetry really means something to me? As I have a BA in English Lit., you would think that the list would be too long to count. But the truth is, I have never been a big fan of poetry. Only took the one (!) required poetry class in college that was required to get my degree. I know, scandalous. All through college and high school, poetry always felt boring and pompous and not-like-something-I-want-to-waste-my-time-reading.

But I DO have very fond memories of a middle school English teacher, who actually made reading a few poems enjoyable. He taught them more as stories to experience and less as “what is the meter and rhyming scheme of this piece?” So, in Mr. Taylor’s honor, I give you two poems that I first read in 8th grade and I still enjoy because of him: Emily Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death and Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess.

BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.


************************************************************
That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
"Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint"
Must never hope to reproduce the faint"
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men--good! but thanked
Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech--which I have not--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
"Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!****************************************************
Thanks Mr. Taylor!

1 Comments:

Blogger magikjaz said...

OMG! The Last Duchess is my favorite poem EVER! (and I'm not a poetry nut either) And I like Because I could not stop for death cuz i can sing it to the tune of "supercalifragilousdicexpealidocious" lol

5:05 PM  

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