Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I Am So Sick of Nature Poetry

I am so sick of nature poetry. Today, I was browsing in Readings and came across a book of poetry by David Brooks, an old lecturer of mine at university. It was full of the most insipid nature poems you could imagine. Not only is this thing boring, it's dishonest; you'd think that Brooks would have a little to say about life at university, marking students essays, editing anthologies, that sort of thing ... which is how he makes his money. Not a bit of it!

Wordsworth and the Romantics started it all, and it all went downhill from there. It's one thing to have a mystical experience like Blake, and 'see the world in a grain of sand'; it's another thing altogether to write, at great length, about insignificant items like a thorn and expect to learn something about 'society':

There is a thorn; it looks so old,
In truth you'd find it hard to say,
How it could ever have been young,
It looks so old and grey.

Wordsworth goes on this way for another twenty-two stanzas. You wonder how anyone could stand him. I could write a poem about, say, a rock that sits by the road and derive just as much meaning and significance from it as Wordsworth did from his bloody thorn:

There is a rock, a little rock,
Its home is by the road;
And ever and anon I pass
Its pebbly abode.
"Sir Rock, good day - good day, Sir Rock!"
I shout as I pass by,
But, being a rock, it does not talk,
And thus makes no reply.

What does it do all day, this rock?
I really would not know:
The rock will never tell me
(I think about it, though)
Perhaps it spends its rocky day
With its sedimentary friends,
While ever and anon men pass
Before turning round the bend.

Nature poetry! Bah!


Tim said...

My heart grows cold when I behold
Wordsworth's clap-trap with my eye:
So it was when I was a little shit;
So it is now that I've grown a bit;
So be it when I am an old
And smelly guy!
The child is father of the man;
I could wish myself to be
As far from Wordsworth as humanly possible

TimT said...

Comedy gold!

Keri said...

Here's one for you:

A swirling mass of foam,
Rides the crest of every wave.
As hungrily it searches,
For the shoreline that it craves.

The darkened depths are churning,
Lost in lifes embrace.
And salty tears are forming,
Upon Poseidens face.

He watches over oceans,
And all the seas contain.
Unleashes his unmatched anger,
On those who break lifes chain.

I though it said something important too, until I realised it was just a bunch of pretty words that I could make rhyme!

TimT said...

Most poetry sounds more important in the head than on the page! Though I like this one, it's hard to resist a reference to Poseidon. Also liked some of the other poems on your site, especially the one about airline food. Airline food being just about as far from nature as is artificially possible, you know.

Don't want to give the impression that I hate all Wordsworth. He could be damned good, look for some of his sonnets. They're remarkable. They just show what a bit of discipline does for a poet! *Swishes cane in a schoolmasterly manner*

Patrick said...

I saw a leaf fall from a tree
I watched it twist and fall
It seemed to have ethereal grace
Not very much like me

It hit the ground and seemed to twitch
as the breeze did give it life
Then came the dog who cocked his leg
and I thought what a bitch.

TimT said...

I think we can all learn something from that.

ras said...

life's lovely on laudinum

Keri said...

Thanks. I didn't think anyone read that anymore, but anyway. Airline food is indeed the work of the devil. The last time I flew overseas, it was a twenty seven hour flight, and because of the time differences all we could have was breakfast. Which would have been fine, had it not been omlette (I cant eat eggs) or fish curry (I don't eat fish) The orange juice no longer looks radioactive though...

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