War is Kind?

November 29, 2007

                    I

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind. Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky And the affrighted steed ran on alone, Do not weep. War is kind. Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment, Little souls who thirst for fight, These men were born to drill and die. The unexplained glory flies above them, Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom — A field where a thousand corpses lie. Do not weep, babe, for war is kind. Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches, Raged at his breast, gulped and died, Do not weep. War is kind. Swift blazing flag of the regiment, Eagle with crest of red and gold, These men were born to drill and die. Point for them the virtue of slaughter, Make plain to them the excellence of killing And a field where a thousand corpses lie. Mother whose heart hung humble as a button On the bright splendid shroud of your son, Do not weep. War is kind.


Wow. Crane has a lot of guts to talk about War being kind. it would be interesting to see how a poem like this would be received if it were written now. Would people have the same views as Crane? It is such a controversial topic to deal with, it would be interesting to think of how it would be received.

A Man said to the Universe

November 29, 2007

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

i thought this short poem was really intense. It made me think about how we identify ourselves as existing, but in reality to everyone else all over the world it doesnt matter at all. It just made me think about the billions of people all over the world, each having their own existance. But other than the small view we associate ourselves with, it does not matter to them that we exist.

Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:
To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,

Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free

From man’s ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,

In an element that does not do for us,
so well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,

Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,

What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,

And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,

A sharing of color and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,

Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,

That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field

Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.

A new scholar replacing an older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.

The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,

The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit’s mannerism,
A glass aswarm with things going as far as they can.

i was able to relate to this poem a lot. “To think away the grass, the tress, the clouds, not to transform them into other things, is only what the sun does every day” This entire poem to me was all about not going with the norm, and making the change you wish to see. “What we think, a breathing like the wind, a moving part of a motion, a discovery part of a discovery, a change part of a change, a sharing of color and being part of it.” that color represents the change you want to bring.

A High-Toned Old Christian Woman Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That’s clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

the part about this poem that got to me the most was the first part. He talks of poetry being extremely unreal, and that you must make the ceter of it and build around it in order to take a moral from it. i thought it was interesting how he talks of making the poem the center in order to take a moral of it, especially because that is what we are trying to do with “carrying the poem around in your pocket.” The word that i had trouble with was palm. I looked it up, and it has so many different meanings to the word. This makes it hard because each meaning could result in a different interpretation of the poem. any thoughts?

The Snow Man

November 19, 2007

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

this poem reminded me so much of Richard Wilbur’s The Boy at the Window. Stevens personified the snowman, describing criteria you must follow. “One must have a mind of winter to regard the frost and the boughs of the pine-trees crusted with snow.”  It reminded me of Wilbur’s work in a sense  that the snowman must not think of the “January sun” and not to think of “any misery in the sound of the wind.” This was much like when the boy was looking at the snowman in boy at the window, crying because of what the snowman was going through, the “night of gnashings and enormous moan.” But the snowman must not look at it that way, because he is in his element. He can not think about what would come if he was out of it.

“For the listener, who listens in the snow, and, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”  You must be able to recognize the detail of the winter surroundings in order to understand. If not, you will “behold nothing that is not there.”

 any thoughts on the last line?

A storm in April

November 8, 2007

Some winters, taking leave,
Deal us a last, hard blow,
Salting the ground like Carthage
Before they will go.

But the bright, milling snow
Which throngs the air today
It is a way of leaving
So as to stay.

The light flakes do not weigh
The willows down, but sift
Through the white catkins, loose
As petal-drift

Or in an up-draft lift
And glitter at a height,
Dazzling as summers leaf-stir
Chinked with light.

This storm, if I am right,
Will not be wholly over
Till green fields, here and there,
Turn white with clover,
And through chill air the puffs of milkweed hover.

i thought this poem was cool the way it was written because the transition from winter into spring is my favorite change of seasons. i thought it was neat the first stanza when he talked of the winters dealing us a “last, hard blow, salting the ground like  Carthage before they will go.” the question is, is this poem a representation of more than just the changing of seasons? we have discussed how seasons represent different stages of your life (ex: winter=death, dark times) could this be a representation of some type of rebirth?

A Fable

November 5, 2007

Securely sunning in a forest glade,
A mild, well-meaning snake
Approved the adaptations he had made
For safety’s sake.

He liked the skin he had—
Its mottled camouflage, its look of mail,
And was content that he had thought to add
A rattling tail.

The tail was not for drumming up a fight;
No, nothing of the sort.
And he would only use his poisoned bite
As last resort.

A peasant now drew near,
Collecting wood; the snake, observing this,
Expressed concern by uttering a clear
But civil hiss.

The simple churl, his nerves at once unstrung,
Mistook the other’s tone
And dashed his brains out with a deftly-flung
Pre-emptive stone.

Moral

Security, alas, can give
A threatening impression;
Too much defense-initiative
Can prompt aggression.

the way wilbur used a snake to represent the fable i thought was very interesting because a fable usually has an animal or sorts to teach a moral. “He liked the skin he had: its mottled camouflage, its look of mail” as if to say the snake liked itself, the story it was becoming, and would use his “poisoned bite as a last resort,” or a bad guy or enemy.  once a a peasant, an outsider, comes into the story the moral is ready to be released. The one part i didn’t understand was the last paragraph, especially the last sentence. “Too much defense-initiative can prompt aggression.” i just couldnt understand what this part meant exactly. any thoughts?